The Replacement

Clones have one purpose: to replace deceased children.
But some people have other ideas.
Ariya is in trouble. She and her Clone are running. To the other side. Will they make it before they're caught?

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4. 1: Chapter 3 – The Sudden and Unexpected Realisation

1: Chapter 3 – The Sudden and Unexpected Realisation

 

Date: 10th May 2072

Time: 3.10pm

My dad’s desk at the front of his office is cluttered with stationary, various papers and folders. With influential parents who own a powerful business, I get the feeling they expect me to show that I’m worthy to be a part of the revered Khan family. I’m finally going to prove my worth now. I’m not as useless as they think I am. I can be like my siblings – successful, graceful and intelligent. And that’s why I’m applying for an internship at the prestigious Wells, Blaine and Smith law firm. Frantically, I search for a pen and lined paper in the drawers.

The bottom drawer is locked. Thankfully, I’d discovered where my dad kept the key for it when I was 7 but I’ve never used it before. He hasn’t changed its hiding place in 13 years. He doesn’t know that I know where it is. I walk over to the rug in the middle of the room, bend down and use my hand to fish for the key. My hand touches a cold, metal object. I grab the key and use it to open the drawer. There’s just a piece of paper in it. A single word on the paper catches my attention, as if it was in bold in a large font – stolen. I pick up the page. It’s a carbon copy of a letter. Written by my dad to a ‘Mr Dumas’. I read it carefully. I finish it. I’m in utter disbelief. If this letter means what I think it does, then my father has committed fraud. He’s a criminal.

The doorknob turns. The door opens. My parents walk in. I’m still holding the letter. They see me.

 “What is this? Did you steal this money?” I ask, holding up the letter so that they see it. But I don’t need their answer. I already know what it will be.

Their eyes bulge. A silence falls over us.

“Look sweetie...what we did was in the past,” my father tries to explain to me, “We did it for the good of the family. You can understand that, can’t you?”

“Now you won’t be telling anyone will you? We don’t want anything to happen to this family now, do we? Your father and I just made a small mistake. Let’s not make a big deal of it. After all, you’ve been benefitting from that mistake your whole life. Why unbury things from the past and ruin what we have now?” her tongue is a needle wounding me with venomous words.

“But...but...this whole life isn’t meant to be ours. You’ve stolen someone else’s life. Someone else’s money.”

“You’ve always been such a disappointment. Don’t make our view of you worse by spilling this little secret,” she hisses. Her malicious eyes look as if they are staring at something weak and feeble that disgusts them.

“Swear you won’t tell! Swear it!” my father screamed at me, his face turning beastly and vile. If he were a bull, he would probably stab me with his horns right now.

“I-I’m sorry. I can’t keep this a secret. It’s too terrible.”

She opened the desk drawer. Her hand reached in. Out came a knife. She edged closer to me. Automatically, I knew what she was doing. I tried to weigh my options. I could either run past her and get stabbed in the side or wait for her to come next to me and stab me in the gut.

“Listen to me carefully. I don’t want to hurt you but I won’t hesitate if you don’t agree to keep this all between us.”

I so desperately want to make a break for it. She’s right in front of me now. She draws the knife to my neck, ready to cut it if the situation calls for it. My legs begin to shake violently.

My voice quivers as I say “I s-swear I-I won’t tell. I won’t tell a soul. Please...please...” I can say no more. My throat is too dry.

“Good. I’m glad we’ve come to a nice agreement.”

She backs away but doesn’t put the knife in the drawer. They walk out of the office, her hands still clutching the knife like it’s precious gold. 

. . .

Date: 14th May 2072

Time: 5.35pm

Just one more day of waiting. And then I’m free. Tomorrow I’ll be able to move out and they legally won’t be able to do anything to stop me. Ever since that day, they’ve either ignored and avoided me or watched me in the same manner that a tiger would spy on a gazelle before pouncing to tear it to pieces. The nights are the worst. I don’t sleep in case they suffocate me with a pillow. I don’t eat or drink anything from the house. I’m probably being too wary but it is unnerving not being able to trust your parents anymore. My relationship with them before was less than stellar but at least I knew they would never harm me. But my mother’s “breakdown” has left me shaken. Paranoia is the only companion I have in this house. I live in a building that feels more like a dungeon than the place I grew up in. But it will all be ok tomorrow. Because tomorrow I’m untouchable.

My bedroom is sickeningly luxurious with plush cream rugs and magnolia walls with intricate caramel flowers stencilled on one. Annoyingly, a king-sized bed takes up half the room so you can hardly move around. The ivory colour of the duvet compliments the vanilla pillows. The headboard climbs up the wall like ivy on a grand old building. A chandelier hangs in the middle of the room with diamonds flowing down in three separate spirals. It usually emanates a soft cerise light across the room but the sunlight coming through the window has lit up the room with enough light. A bedside table holds a small vase of St Bernard’s lilies and white oleanders. Everything in sight is a supposedly ‘elegant’ shade of brown. My room is designed for a refined elderly person, not for a teenager.

I’m staring at my chest of drawers, uncertain about what I should take with me once I leave. I keep yawning every two seconds – sleep seemed like a distant dream I was refused to have. After a few minutes of this, I decided to take everything. The moving vans I’ve secretly hired can carry it all. I won’t be lifting a finger tomorrow.

I’m hungry. I need to find something to eat.

I creep quietly down the stairs. I don’t want my parents to hear me – I feel uncomfortable when they know where I am.

“How will that even work?” I hear my father’s voice as I pass by his office.

I pause near the door.

“It will work.” It’s my mum speaking.

“It’s insane. Someone will notice. A-and besides, she’s our daughter.”

They’re talking about me.

“Oh shut up. You have to stay detached ok? This girl could ruin our lives. She’s not our daughter anymore.”

It is as if someone has just scratched my heart with sharp talons. I don’t know why I’m hurt by this. She’s not really my mum anymore either.

“I just can’t go through with this. Anyway, she said she wouldn’t tell.”

“Listen to me – you have never cared for this girl, don’t you dare start to now,” she was growling.

“I-I...” he couldn’t say more.

“And are you really going to trust her? We can’t rely on her to keep it a secret. She’s a loose end. I could see it in her eyes – she’s going to tell. And that will mean the end of us. That’s why we need to get rid of her. I have the potassium cyanide. Thirty minutes after she ingests it, she will no longer be a problem.”

If this is a nightmare, I would love to wake up right now. But I know this is real. She has a killer’s heart. If she can hold a knife to my throat, it would be easier for her to poison me.

“Ok fine. Fine. Just...just repeat the plan. I need to get my head around it.” His voice is weary.

“We poison her water tonight and bury her body in the garden. I’ve written a letter to Viacamp asking for Ariya’s Clone. I’ve said that she’s died from Cancer and that the death has been confirmed by Dr Mendes. I’ve paid her off so if they ask for proof of the death, she will verify it. We then take the Clone in and pretend she’s Ariya. The Clone will comply and pretend to be her. It won’t let go of its freedom just to send us to prison. And if not, I have other methods to keep its mouth closed. Viacamp has a privacy policy which prohibits it from disclosing information to anybody about any purchases. Nobody will realise that Ariya’s dead.”

“What about the Clones that live at Viacamp’s Artificial Habitat? They’ll know that Ariya’s Clone has been bought if she suddenly disappears. If one of them is ever released there is a chance that they will reveal our secret.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve timed it perfectly. Tomorrow the Clone is supposed to be destroyed. The privacy policy means Viacamp cannot any humans or Clones when a Clone is bought so when we buy our Clone, the others will assume it has been destroyed.”

I move away from the door. I ascend up the steps. I need to sit down. It disgusts me how foolproof their plan is. They have thought of everything. It’s shocking. Electrical sparks go off in my head. How could they even think of doing this? I didn’t comprehend the magnitude of it before but I do now. They’re going to kill me – they’re own daughter. To protect themselves. My body is neither red with anger, nor white with rage. It is shaking with black fury, as dark and bottomless as an abyss. Not only do they want to murder me, they want to force my Clone to take my identity as their own. Well they won’t touch me. I’ll just move my escape up by a day.

 

. . .

Date: 14th May 2072

Time: 4pm

 I once again find myself sitting in front of my drawers and staring at it blankly. My face is soar from rubbing my sleeve against it to dry away the tears. I would cry more if my headache would let me. My anger is gone, leaving my body as just a chasm with no hope. I look out of the window and see the gentle drizzle of rain outside. The sun melts and trickles down the sky. The roof over the world turns from a silky cerulean to a marshmallow pink to a velvety cobalt. I stand up. There’s no time to be lazy. I need to get ready. After throwing some clothes into a backpack, I sneak downstairs, past the office where I catch the minute sound of the mutterings of my parents. I grab whatever food I find in the kitchen and fill up a water bottle to the brim, tossing it all into the bag. I walk to the front door and grab my waterproof coat from the hat stand and slip into my wellington boots. I pulled up my hood and swung my bag onto my back.

My parents walk out of the office.

“Where are you going?” my mother asks me harshly.

“Um...I’m just going for a walk. I need some air.”

“With your backpack?”

“Yes.”

Her eyes sharpen.

My father takes one step forward closer to me and says “You’re not allowed to go outside.”

They know.

With the agility and speed of a falcon, I open the door and twist around to bound of it. They scream. I keep going. My feet nearly trip over the stones on the pathway. I push open the small gate. I hear them trying to put on their shoes. The raindrops are like cold bullets against my face. I’m at the end of the road. I turn left. They chase after me. I don’t stop until I’ve turned seven more corners. They’ve stopped running after me. I pant heavily. Only allowing myself a minute to recover, I drive myself forward. Little droplets of rain flow down from the sky and sprinkle onto the ground. Gradually and slowly, the light drizzle turns into a full on downpour. It cascades down from the sky – hitting my face like hailstones. It grows harder for me to walk – suddenly moving takes a great amount of strength and all my energy is being spent on trying to move forward. I am weak. And it’s cold. I just want to lie down somewhere.

I don’t know where I’m going. I just keep crossing roads and taking turns at random points. I decide to go to the park. I’ll be able to calm down there. Hopefully. 

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