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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3. Two months later

 

Two Months Later

 

            The reception of CorpseCloneCorp was spotless, thanks to the dust inhalers that sat around the circumference of the circular room. These discrete silver boxes could attract dust from up to fifty metres away, ideal for a well-sized entrance such as this. Best of all, they only needed emptying once a decade. Bright yellow spotlights shone down from metal rails that criss-crossed over the ceiling, illuminating the pale marble walls and floor. It was a true feat of design, a wondrous blend of technology and decor that had won widespread praise from architects across the globe. Mrs Webb didn't care for it, though. She thought the floor was too sticky.

            She stopped at the sleek black reception desk and waited to be acknowledged by the bubble-headed teenage girl sat behind it. Eleven seconds later, the girl stopped typing, swept her short black hair from her eyes, and smiled.

            ‘Hello, welcome to CorpseCloneCorp, how may I be of assistance?’

            ‘My Jeremy has passed on,’ Mrs Webb said, clutching her shoulder bag with both hands. ‘I can't cope without him. I was told you could bring him back.’

            ‘Do you have an appointment?’

            ‘Oh, dear, I’m not sure that I do.’

            ‘That’s okay, just take a seat and someone will come see you in a moment.’

            Mrs Webb perched on the edge of a long, curved bench and waited. How long she wasn’t sure, as the reception was devoid of clocks and she’d forgotten to wear watch on this morning. In fact, she’d forgotten to wear her watch for the past seventeen years.  Come to think of it, did she even own a watch? She was still pondering this when a sprightly male doctor with glasses and a flowing black lab coat strode up to her and smiled, offering his hand.

            ‘Mrs Webb, is it?’

            ‘Oh, yes,’ she said, taking his hand and rising to her feet. ‘That’s me.’

            ‘I’m Doctor Phillips. Right this way, please.’

            The office was just as spotless as the reception, sparsely furnished with just a desk, two chairs and a filing cabinet. Mrs Webb clutched her bag and watched Doctor Phillips take a seat across the desk from her.

            ‘So,’ he said, glancing down at a sheet of paper in front of him.  ‘What is it that CorpseCloneCorp can do for you today?’

            ‘It’s my Jeremy,’ Mrs Webb said, perching on the edge of the remaining seat and rubbing her nose. ‘He passed on in April and I’ve been lonely without him. It’s just me and Douglas now, you see.’

            ‘Jeremy is your husband?’

            ‘Yes, that’s right. Sixty-eight years we’ve been married, come November.’

            ‘Well, here at CorpseCloneCorp, we can resurrect your loved ones with just a single strand of their DNA. It’s as if they never died. If you decide to bring Jeremy back, he will look the same, sound the same, smell the same. He will have all of his old memories, and like all the same things he used to like when he was alive. He will be your Jeremy.’

            ‘Oh, yes, that sounds just fine.’

            ‘Excellent.’ Doctor Phillips twirled in his chair, snatched a form from the top of the filing cabinet and scribbled across the front in bold red ink.  ‘We need you to bring a couple of things, then we can do all the necessary prep work.’ He slid the leaflet across the desk and Mrs Webb peered down at it over the top of her glasses. ‘Most important thing is a sample of Jeremy’s DNA. This could be a strand of hair, an old flake of skin, pretty much anything you have lying around. Second thing is a legal death certificate. We’ve had people here in the past, trying to clone people who were still alive.  Ex-boyfriends and girlfriends are the usual ones, right after the split. It’s highly illegal and unethical, as you might imagine. One subject that we cloned, a young man from Essex, actually bumped into his real-life counterpart a month later. Almost sued us for millions.’

            ‘Oh, dear.’

            ‘Anyhoo, is that okay for you, Mrs Webb?’

            ‘Oh, yes, fine, thank you. Do you want them now?’

            ‘You have the DNA and certificate with you?’

            ‘Oh yes, here in my bag,’ she said, lifting out a plastic folder. ‘All of his bits and pieces are in there, his passport and driving license and what have you. And I have a piece of him right here.’ She pulled out a jam jar of murky yellow liquid and placed it on the desk. Doctor Phillips moved his head closer, squinting through the speckled glass.  It was hard to tell, but there appeared to be a lump of something resting at the bottom. He picked up the jar and held it to the light, tilting it so the object slid into the corner.

            ‘Am I correct in thinking that this contains part of a nose?’

            ‘That’s right. They let me keep it after the accident.’

            ‘I see. Well, that should do nicely, I guess. It’ll take us a couple of days to process this, we’ve got quite a back-log at the moment. We’ll call you when Jeremy is ready for collection.’

            ‘That would be very sweet of you,’ Mrs Webb said, smiling and rising to her feet.

            ‘Feel free to bring your son along too,’ Doctor Phillips said, opening the door for her.

            ‘My son?’

            ‘Yes, Douglas wasn’t it?’

            ‘Oh, no, Douglas isn’t my son. He’s my little cat. See?’ She opened her bag and Doctor Phillips glanced inside, his jaw dropping. Douglas stared back through back sockets from the bottom of the bag.

 

 

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