Wyld FLASH July 16th 2021
We got a call on a rogue clone in downtown Tampa.
I stepped out of my squad car and met officer Rukscad just outside the alley. I shifted my bullet proof vest to ensure a tight fit; I’d seen clones go haywire and wasn’t about to be caught off guard.
“About time you got here.” Rukscad shot me that dirtbag sneer of his. His forehead was already slick with sweat from the muggy air. I couldn’t blame his irritation. Our uniforms are hot as hell. “What do we got?”
“Restaurant owner said there was a clone going gyro in the alley behind this place. He didn’t approach or try to talk to him. He doesn’t want to trespass, just doesn’t want him here, bothering customers or disturbing the peace.”
“Yeah, looks like he’s still sitting there.” Rukscad pointed down the alley.
I looked and saw a bald white male, late thirties, early forties, sitting with his knees to his face against the brick wall behind the restaurant dumpster. I walked into the alley with my hand resting on my Glock.
Even mid-morning the alley was pretty dark, I pulled out my flashlight and shined it on the suspect’s chest.
His head lolled a little. He mumbled something I didn’t catch, but he didn’t look up.
“I’m Officer Cortez, this is Officer Rukscad with the Tampa Police Department. Is everything all right?”
“I’m sorry, sir, we can’t understand you.”
No response. I shot Rukscad a look. Maybe he wasn’t a clone gone ‘Gyro’ and just a guy who OD’d on something.
I kneeled in front of him and gently lifted his head.
His mouth hung open, and he moaned like I was hurting him. I flashed my light in his eyes and sure enough, they were yellow with jaundice, his conjunctiva injected, full of popped blood vessels.
I almost fell backward when he looked at me.
“Yep, he’s Gyro. Call it in,” I said to Rukscad.
The science of cloning wasn’t perfected by any means, and all clones eventually went Gyro. It was some genetic imbalance in their brains that the geeks hadn’t quite figured out yet. It caused insane, violent behavior as the condition progressed in a clone’s life. The genetic issue would eventually kill the clone. But not until after the clone did a great deal of damage to themselves or other surrounding citizens. That’s why cloning was illegal. But that didn’t stop people from making them or buying them, even though it was clear what would happen when the clones gyro’d. Besides, you couldn’t distinguish a good clone from a non-clone, so it was hard to identify them until they Gyro’d. We were lucky to catch this one in the early stages.
Rukscad reached for his radio and called it in. He tilted his head and pushed two of his fingers against his earpiece, turning away from the busy street.
“Copy,” he replied. He looked at me and nodded.
My chest was tight, my stomach felt suddenly hollow. I hissed out a ragged sigh.
Rukscad reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a small thing that looked like a lipstick container.
“Hey Cortez, wanna mess with him first?”
He pressed a button on the small cylinder. It was a green laser pointer. The clone looked down at the dot on the pavement. Mesmerized, eyes tracking it like a cat.
“Come on man, don’t do him like that.”
“Chill out, dude. Why are you so soft on them? It’s not like they’re actual people.”
That pissed me off. I shot upright, fists clenched, and looked him right in the eye. My blood surged with adrenaline.
He stuck his chin out, daring me to make a move. “Real brave, sticking up for a fucking Gyro. You like people killers, huh? You get in bed with clones, Cortez?”
I tried to keep a level head. I reminded myself that there were always going to be dirt-bags like Rukscad, men and women who abused the privilege of the badge. Nothing I said or did in that moment would change that.
“Let’s just get this taken care of,” I said.
His eyes still bored into me when I grabbed a pouch from my belt and retrieved an injector pre-filled with a sedative. I turned from his burning gaze and again kneeled next to the clone.
“I’m sorry. This won’t hurt.” They told us it didn’t, anyway.
Rukscad scoffed, and I ignored him.
I inserted the syringe into the clone’s neck and slowly injected the sedative. He looked up at me. His mad eyes met mine, at peace for just a moment, before they glazed over and shut. I eased his unconscious body to the pavement and laid him on his back.
“You fucking Gyro hugger!” Rukscad said.
I clenched my fists again, and reconsidered punching him square in the face, but the ambulance showed up just in time. Two paramedics jumped out and removed the gurney. I watched them load the clone onto it and strap him down.
I couldn’t watch anymore. They’d take the clone to a hospital and euthanize him. Like he was a sick animal, recycling the usable organs.
The world was a screwed up place.
I stormed from the scene and got back in my squad car.
My hands trembled. I took several deep breaths and tried to get my breathing under control. I fumbled for my phone and texted my mom.
I love you. Thanks for always treating me right.
She never asked for her only son to die in a car accident. But I was glad she cloned me, glad to have her as a mom, and glad to try my best to fill her void. I never understood what was so illegal about that.
I looked in the rear view mirror and pulled my eyelid down. One day soon, I knew mine would be yellow too.
Author Bio: Eric Fomley is a member of SFWA. His work appears in Daily Science Fiction, Flame Tree, Galaxy’s Edge, and The Black Library. You find more of his work on his website www.ericfomley.com and follow him on Twitter @PrinceGrimdark.
We published Eric’s story War Crimes in Wyld Flash in December 2020. You can read it here.
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