A Fistful of Clones
by Seaton Kay-Smith
Henry Madison is an apathetic young man with little to no ambition. When he loses his job and his girlfriend in one day, he is destitute and signs up for paid medical testing. The doctor creates clones of Henry and when these clones escape and start causing havoc in Henry's life, he is hired in secret by the strange doctor and trained to hunt the clones down one by one and kill them. Henry soon finds out, however, that personality isn't genetic but made of the experiences you have, and as time progresses, his clones become less carbon copied than he was lead to believe, growing their own identities and challenging Henry's perception of what it means to be Henry Madison and of what it is right and what is wrong.
The midday sun sat high in the sky, that glowing orange orb of light and warmth. It cooked the streets and sent steam rising from the tarmac, warping the landscape beyond the crest of the road.
Henry walked along the main street dressed in his job seeker’s best: a pair of black jeans and a collared shirt rolled up at the sleeves to accommodate the weather. The main street of Duelham was quiet, only a few people wandering around: couples and families mostly, some kids eating ice-cream and other kids pointing at the ice-cream-eating kids, shouting, pleading to their parents or guardians for the day, “But they get to eat ice cream!”
Henry spied a Help Wanted sign lying in the window of the local bookshop, and entered. The bookshop, dealing in second-hand books primarily, was dusty and smelt of mould, like a damp loaf of bread. It was a comforting smell to the poor and out-of-work Henry. He was not above eating damp bread loaves.
The manager, a man of about forty-five, balding and thin, with braces holding up his pants, watched Henry walk up the “Self-help” aisle and towards the counter. “Can I help you with anything?” he asked, pushing his thin-framed glasses back up to the top of his nose as Henry arrived at the register.
“Yes, I was looking for a job.”
The manager’s tone perked up. He was looking for help, that’s why he’d made the sign. “Okay, great, do you have any qualifications?”
Henry thought about his illustrious career as a human being and what he had achieved. “I’m a Bronze Coach in swimming,” he began, before finishing with, “but that doesn’t really—”
“Apply,” the store manager said. He looked at Henry and changed tack, giving him an opportunity, a chance to impress. “Why is it that you want to work here?”
Henry’s stomach grumbled. “To earn some money?” The slight inflection Henry gave to his statement made it seem like he was unsure, but the point was made.
The manager’s expression changed to one of confusion, then his mouth twisted into a bemused smile. “Okay, tell you what, bring in your résumé and we’ll keep you in mind.”
Henry nodded, defeated. What else could he do? “Thanks, I will.”
Leaving the bookshop, Henry cursed the manager whom he was now sure was a villain. He didn’t have a résumé, he’d have to write one up. He needed money now; he was hungry now. Hungry enough to eat a horse but, short of a horse, he’d accept an apple. Ideally an apple the size of a horse, but he wasn’t going to hold his breath.
Entering a fruit shop in search of that apple, he fiddled in his pockets and counted his change: thirty-five cents. He looked at the apples and weighed them one by one until he found an apple that he could afford. It definitely wasn’t comparable to a horse. Perhaps a seahorse.
He paid for the apple and left the store, ready to sate that feverish hunger growing inside of him. He took a bite and, rather than filling him with satisfaction, it filled him with anger. Henry had purchased a floury apple. The worst of the apple textures, a consistency akin to having wet sand poured into your open mouth. He could feel a rage building up inside of him. So many dreams and hopes piled into the white flesh of the apple in his hands, the crisp green skin giving way to utter despair. His blood vessels pumped at double speed, beads of sweat began to express themselves from his forehead, his muscles tensed and ached, his vision became blurry, and a wall of dizzying white was all he could see. He threw the remaining apple into a wall, exploding it in a sticky, juicy mess. “Fuck!” he screamed.
Still he felt no sadness for the end of his relationship or his current poverty-driven indictment, just mountains of rage and sorrow for the poorly composed piece of fruit he’d wasted his last thirty-five cents on. Hell hath no fury like a person who’s just eaten an apple that was no better than a shit onion.
Regaining his composure, Henry walked away, feeling nothing but slight concern for his sudden and unnecessary outburst. He didn’t know why he got angry sometimes. He would have to beat that emotion into submission too. There was no need for anger. It achieved nothing.
On his way home once more, Henry’s eyes happened upon the poster he’d seen the previous night: Paid Medical Subjects—No Questions Asked. There was no street light shining on it now and yet still it seemed to glow somehow. He ripped it from the wooden pole on which it was taped and followed its directions to become a Paid Medical Subject.
Seaton will be awarding an eCopy of A Fistful of Clones to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.
Click HERE to enter - ends 3rd October
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AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Seaton has written for The Roast on ABC2, Lost Pilots on FBi Radio, and is a regular performer of stand up comedy. Currently he is Head Writer at Paper Moose, a film and design collective based in Sydney.
You can get in touch with Seaton on Twitter. @seatonks