Life Take Two

Life Take Two by Chris Barraclough, Science Fiction, 4,500 words

A controversial new agency returns the deceased to their loved ones via the process of cloning. But the consequences become obvious to two cops investigating the accidental death of an elderly man...

A darkly comic short sci-fi tale. Check out www.chrisbarraclough.co.uk for more ebooks, and my novels Bat Boy, Crack, Kitty and Dead Dogs on the Amazon Kindle Store. Thanks!

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4. Back to life

 

When the machine is in use, light 4b will glow red. Do not attempt to open the machine or operate the controls, except in emergency situations. Any failed clones should be quarantined, prior to execution.

 

‘Okay, subject is a Mr Jeremy Webb, aged eighty-seven. He died in an automobile accident April 17th. Authoriser is his wife.’ Doctor Lazarus signed the file and hung it on the side of the tubular chamber. The chamber was barely larger than a coffin, and just one of a hundred that sat upright in the vast ice-white cryonics lab.

            ‘I remember Phillips mentioning this one,’ Doctor Arlington said, tapping his pen against his teeth. ‘His wife’s a total loony. Brought a piece of his nose in as a sample.’

            ‘That’s nothing,’ Doctor Lazarus said. ‘Last time I was on desk duty, this lady brought in a thermos full of her dead husband’s sperm, frozen solid.’

            ‘A thermos? What the hell was she keeping his sperm in a thermos for?’

            ‘Good question, one which I refrained from asking. Must’ve taken a while to get that much out of him.’

            ‘Oh man. But anyway, the nose thing wasn’t all. Apparently she also brought her dead cat along.’

            ‘A dead cat? But we don’t do pets, that's Best Friends Forever.’

            ‘Oh, she didn’t want it cloned. Poor old bastard thinks it’s still alive.’

            ‘What? You mean she’s mentally unstable?’

            ‘Crazy as a bag of parrots. Phillips was shitting rocks after the meeting.’

            ‘Why the hell didn’t he report it? If she’s unbalanced, she might react badly to her husband's return.’

            ‘Forget it, man. We get all sorts of crazy old coots coming in, it’s nothing new.’

            ‘I just don’t think it’s right,’ Lazarus said, peering at the holographic display on the chamber door. ‘Fuck it, nothing we can do about it now. He’ll be done in thirty seconds.’

            ‘Cool. Draining the fluid.’

            The pipes leading from the chamber gurgled as a soupy liquid flowed into the waste tunnels beneath. Half a minute later, the automatic lock on top of the chamber turned and clicked, and the door hissed open. A dramatic ball of yellow smoke mushroomed out. Doctor Arlington wafted the gas away, then leaned over the edge and grinned.

            ‘Hello, Mr Webb. Let me be the first to welcome you back to life.’

 

The subject should be kept in Reconditioning for no less than 72 hours, until he or she has adjusted to life and come to terms with their situation. Completion of the Stability Insurance forms and the standard health check are mandatory before release.

 

Mrs Webb embraced her husband and planted a kiss on his forehead, then stood back and beamed. He was sat in his brand new mobility pod, clothed in an old brown jumper and loose pants.  A tear blackened with mascara had fallen onto his brow and was creeping down his cheek, leaving an ink trail in its wake.  He silently stared at his wife.

            ‘It’s so good to have you back, darling,’ Mrs Webb said. She wiped her eyes with her handkerchief. ‘I missed you so much.’

            ‘Be sure he keeps out of trouble this time,’ Doctor Arlington said, patting Mr Webb on the shoulder. ‘He’ll probably be a little disoriented for a couple of days, it’s completely natural. Just keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn’t wander off or anything.’

            ‘Oh, yes. Thank you so much doctor, you don’t know what this means.’

            ‘No problem, Mrs Webb, it’s just our job. Take care, you hear?’

            ‘We will, we will.’

 

 

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