Himself – Chapter Five

Hi! Here is the penultimate chapter of our first story. Come back next Friday to read the conclusion!

“Put the knife down, take a seat and I’ll explain everything.”

The command was met by a silent stare. The only of movement of the knife came from the unsteady shaking of the man’s hand holding it.

“You’re scared, I understand but killing me isn’t going to stop that. We can help each other get out of here.”

Still the man was silent. His fear hid behind a disguise of anger. The two men stood there for what seemed like an age until the doppelganger turned his back in submission and walked over to a desk with chairs on opposite sides facing one another. He slid the closest chair out from under the desk and then moved to other side to take his seat in the farthest chair. He gestured the man to sit down. The man fought to overcome the fear-induced paralysis that had him still standing, knife in the air. He focused on the droning hum of the many computers placed on desks around the room and the function over form furniture. Cheap, wooden desks formed ranks covering most of the floor space, lockers spanned the wall to his left and to the right deep cupboards almost ceiling high left little of the wall on show. Some had doors made of glass, showing years’ worth of files within, and others made of wood painted a sombre pale green. The door to right side of the cupboard closest to the entrance to the room sat slightly a jar. His focus was brought sharply back to the situation at hand as he arrived at the chair. He sat down slowly, never lowering the knife an inch. The doppelganger started to speak and the man, at last, looked him in the eyes as he cut him off.

“Who are you?”

“I am no one… And neither are you. You’ve probably come to the conclusion that this is some sort of an experiment. You’d be mostly right but it’s more of a test. They wan-”

“They?”

“It doesn’t matter. They could be anyone but what they want is the best. They want to create the best soldier or slave or whatever they can. We’re clones.”

The man stood up and turned as to walk away. The clone reached over and grabbed his arm and in a second the man pushed him to the ground with the knife at his throat.

“Let me guess, you have memories? ”

“Of course I do! That’s why I’m at the same damn forest I used to visit every year when I was a kid!”

“Ok, Ok.  Your memories are real. But they’re not yours. That’s the test. That’s how we’re different. They want to know what memories, what past works the best. Where they got them I don’t know but they’re not ours.” The knife pressed against the clone’s neck, stinging his nerves. “What’s your name??”

The man’s anger dissipated and the pressure on the knife softened. Despair filled the gaps that were left. He didn’t have a name. Naturally it hadn’t occurred to him but that single question had shattered every illusion that had made up his past. He stood up and solemnly walked back to his chair. The clone stayed on the floor until the man was firmly sat in his chair and then nervously got up and joined him at the table.

“Why? ”

“I don’t know. Does it change anything? We still have to escape, whatever their reason is.”

An uncomfortable silence followed. The clone waiting expectedly for some sort of acceptance and the man trying to make sense of anything.

“How do you know all this? ”

“I’ve been down here longer than you and you’re not the first one I’ve run into. The last guy had somehow found this all out. Don’t ask me how. He sat me down, similarly to what we’re doing now, and explained everything.”

“And you believed him?”

“Do you believe me?”

More silence followed as the man pondered his belief in the story. It sounded too far fetched but somehow it resonated. He knew it was true. He cast his eyes to the knife in his hand to give them something to do. A flicker of curiosity sparked in the man’s mind.

“What happened to the last guy?”

“What?”

“What happened to the last guy? The guy who told you everything.”

“Oh, he carried on ahead.”
They allowed themselves some rest during which the man had fallen asleep. He woke up to a slow dripping noise. The type that would drive you crazy in an isolated room. He was sat in the corner propped up against the wall. The clone was nowhere. Despite assuming he had gone on without him the man wandered over to the same chair he sat in earlier and waited. He didn’t want to leave on the off chance the clone came back but he knew this wasn’t a position he could hold for long. He still had to escape.

The slow drip combined with the electronic hum still emanating from the computers formed a rhythmic background noise that was only occasionally interrupted by the flicker of the room’s lighting. There were no taps in the room and despite the damp feeling there was no noticeable leak anywhere either. The man left his chair in the hope of finding the source. The sound came from the direction of the entrance to the room. As he approached the door a single seat desk no longer obscured his view of the end cupboard. The slightly ajar door masked the origin of the ominous puddle of blood just below it. Shaking more than he ever had the man clutched the cupboard and pulled it open. For the third time he found himself staring at himself but this time ‘himself’ was sitting slumped against the back of the cupboard, dead-eyed with his throat slit. Blood soaked everything from his neck all the way to the base of the cupboard. The man’s grip on the door weakened along with his knees. A warm breath swam over the nape of his neck. His head yanked back at the request of a forceful hand in his hair. The man watched, helplessly, as his knife came into sight. With no fight left in him he felt every millimetre of his throat the blade sliced through. That was his last feeling. He couldn’t feel the blood escaping his mouth or the blood trickling down the now two parts of his neck. He had no feeling as dropped to the floor and the man uncaringly stuffed the man’s limp body into position next to the other clone. He stared out, consciousness fading, as the doppelganger wiped the bloody knife on his trouser leg and closed the cupboard door.

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