A distant drip-dripping echo bounced off the cold walls accompanied by an icy wind blowing through mostly broken, ancient glass windows were the only company Pullman had as he crouched in waiting for the Clone. Earlier he had selected a small room overlooking the main floor of the abandoned factory he had randomly chosen for his rendezvous with the Clone.
The memory he had implanted in the Clone’s head would lead it here, where it would wait for Fango to arrive. Which of course he never would, the Clone would die from the poison and Pullman would retrieve the chip from its spine.
Footsteps. His heart still thumped and his mouth was dry despite the mixture of melatonin, oxytocin and testosterone that Pullman’s endocrine aug had released into his system. Cold thin slivers of light speared in creating frozen pools that the Clone moved through seemingly in slow-motion.
He could hear its steps losing their regularity, one of its feet was dragging. Pullman empathised with the effort the Clone was using to haul itself along. Imagining the feeling as its body slowly began to shut down. The confusion it must have been going through as it desperately signalled its faulty medical aug buried deep within its brain. For what seemed like the hundredth time, Pullman supressed a feeling of guilt. He couldn’t allow himself to think of the clone as another human being, a separate entity with as much right to life as he himself. It was an extension as him, to do with as he pleased. It had no more rights than any other part of his body, the clone was his to do as he pleased.
Still though, he supposed he would be some kind of monster if he didn’t feel something as he watched the clone struggling for breath as it approached the middle of the barren room below. Watching from his elevated position, through a thin crack between the floor and wall. Pullman held his breath as the clone scraped to a stop, dropping on one knee, hand clutching its stomach.
The clone collapsed onto its side, face contorted, body twisted, leaving a macabre question mark shape. Pullman heard the last few forced and ragged breaths leave its body.
It was a strange thing to watch yourself die, like an outer body experience that you were somehow in control of. His mind wandered as he briefly surmised that it was the sort of scene a jacked out simfreak would pay top EuroDollar for. Still he waited for another five minutes, watching, making sure. Finally he felt safe enough to come out of hiding and descend to the final resting place of his clone.
Pullman knelt down besides the clone staring at his face. He briefly pondered that unless he encountered any mirrors between now and when Fango set him up with his new body, that this was the last time he’d see his own face. A small smile hinted itself on Pullman’s lips as he likened it to getting a haircut. It was always the case that just as he was about to get a trim, he looked in the mirror and thought that his current hairstyle was actually okay. A little different now of course, unlike any hairstyle he would never inhabit this body again.
He placed one hand on the Clone’s shoulder and another at his hip as he moved to turn it face down so he could remove the Lad-D interface chip. Without warning at a speed that he didn’t think possible, the Clone jerked upright and clamped his hands around Pullman’s neck.
It felt like it took a good five seconds before Pullman realised what was happening, his eyes were wide with shock, the roar of blood rushing in his ears was only surpassed by the kettle drum-like beating of his heart. He could see the clone’s lips moving and realised he was talking to him as he calmly attempted to strangle Pullman to death.
“You despicable fucker! I can’t believe that I’m part of you. Well no more, after tonight I am you!”
All Pullman could do was offer a half choked, gurgle in reply. The pressure on his larynx was too much to bear. He hadn’t even noticed his own hands had instinctively come up to his throat, trying desperately to loosen the Clone’s grip on his neck. He couldn’t though, panic started to set in, the Clone pulled him down closer so that their faces were just inches apart.
“I want to feel you die.”
A distant popping sound was accompanied by pinpricks of light, small shooting stars across his vision. Waves of purple and black crept in from the edges of his periphery, he was losing consciousness now. A rising panic clawed at his mind as he realised the clone’s strength more than rivalled his own. Pullman let go of the clone’s vice-like grip with one hand and fumbled into his jacket pocket, he felt for the tool that Fango had given him to remove the chip from the Clone’s spine. A small metal tube around fifteen centimetres long. His fingers closed around it in his pocket, Pullman used the last piece of strength he felt he had and in one movement yanked the cold metal tool out of his pocket and plunged it into the Clone’s neck at the same time activating the device.
Sharp teeth sprung from the end of the tube burying themselves into the clone’s neck causing it to relinquish his grip on Pullman, whilst at the same time letting forth a terrible scream of agony.
Pullman pushed and rolled to his side desperately scrambling to his feet, he felt a hand around his ankle preventing him from running. He yanked at his leg hard losing a shoe in the process. Pullman ran like he’d never run before, an acrid metallic taste in his mouth, a cold trickle of blood seeping out the corner of his left eye. His stomach chilled in reaction to the roar of fury the clone made behind him. Pullman had never witnessed such anger, such naked wrath. His bowels had voided, glass had embedded itself into his one shoeless foot, none of it even registered as he made his way to the place his air-taxi was waiting in a low parking orbit.
Pullman desperately signalled the taxi via his comms aug, he dared not look back as he burst through a broken door at the back of building. He saw the taxi descend through a gloomy mist in the thickening rain. One last desperate lunge saw him sprawl himself into the floor of the cab. Still too frightened to turn, he heard the clone burst through the same broken door. Pullman managed to send a pair of coordinates to the car. A gurgled choking mix of half cry, half shout as the taxi rose smoothly and silently into the air.
That had been three days and four attempts on his life ago. In the time between now and then he had managed to get coded messages to Fango who had arranged for the now almost empty plasma rifle which Pullman clutched in his hands, as he waited for the clone to ascend the stairs to try and kill him once more.
His voice was but a whisper;
“In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.”
Title image: Hermes Rivera on Unsplash