MASCULINE PLURAL

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As if life wasn’t complic8ed enough, Zander doubled his DNA.

 

                                                                                   (1)

 

                                                       

My name is Alexander Unger-Avakian.

Just before my lover’s birthday I woke up to my usual newsfeed on the hypernet. It’s always set to BBC© in the morning because I figure a news corp that’s been oper8ing for about 200 years must be the news corp. More turmoil in the Middle East, it said.

That reminded me: I recently viewed some old 2D-TV news reports by the BBC© from the early 21st century. I noticed the word turmoil was overused back then too. But already I digress.

Turmoil on the global currency markets, the journobot said. Turmoil in the energy sector. Increasing turmoil in the Caucasus. More refugees fleeing what’s left of Japan. More turmoil after the l8est volcanoes and earthquakes. More bits of Asia and Polynesia likely to sink into the sea.

So it was business as usual.

Lesbia was already up and about. She was my lover. Her real name was Octaviana Threadgill-Rios, but I always called her Lesbia. Not for the reason you’re probably imagining right now, but because that was the nickname the ancient Roman poet Catullus gave his lover. I’ve always liked Catullus. He was born about 2,200 years ago but his kick lives on.

Over breakfast I raised the subject of Lesbia’s upcoming birthday. Would she like me to fess what kind of gift I had in mind? Or would she prefer a total surprise?

Pas de surprises,” she said, looking up from her wrist-o-com. “No, my sweet. I know exactement what I want for my birthday. Another you!”

“Ah, how très gentille,” I purred. “One of me for the daytime and one of me pour la nuit. What a perfect arrangement. You could …”

“No, I mean it,” she said with unusual force. “I really want another you. There’s a corp in Kandy with a 24-hour FCC service. Not too cher either, if you spread the payments over 1 year.”

“FCC? Isn’t that some kind of friend-finding service? Friendship Contact Coordination or something? And why do you need a Sri Lankan corp to find new friends? Or any corp?”

“You’re so out of touch, Zander! I’m not talking about pal-popping. FCC means Full Condition Cloning. In 24 hours you get a clone of yourself with all your up-to-d8 memories and everything else built in. It has a 365-day lifespan, so you’re not stuck with it forever, only for 1 year. Très cool, n’est-ce pas?”

It was like she’d just tanked my brain. “You mean you want me to pay for a clone of myself and then have the thing live right here? Avec nous?”

“Only for 1 year, like I said.”

“But…but…here, Lez. Right here in our own hab? And in our futon?”

“That’s the general idea, oui. And it’s seulement for 1 year, like I said. Pas toujours. Anyway, I have to sprint or I’ll miss my subshuttle. We’ll talk about it tonight. We can open that bottle of Swedish Chardonnay and parler some more. Bise bise!

So that’s how it started.

Let me tell you about Lesbia. The current land shortage means we can’t put people in coffins and bury them in the ground like people used to. But if that custom still existed they’d have to bury Lesbia in a Y-shaped coffin. She has a take-no-prisoners attitude to the m8ing game, just like that Lesbia in ancient Rome. When she finally became my lover and started sharing my hab I already knew that 1-and-only-1-sex wouldn’t be a part of the deal. But I was happy to have access to her most of the time. My main fix was to keep her satisfied. And I thought I did.

But now this?

 

 

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                                                                                         (2)

                                                                           

Over the Swedish Chardonnay that night I came str8 out with it. “You think I can’t satisfy you, do you? So you want a clone of me. To shag instead of me. While I’m hard …” She giggled suggestively. “While I’m hard at work in the Lang Lab.”

“Zander, think about what you’re saying. You make it sound like I’d be ‘shagging’ – what a cute oldy-fashioned word, by the way – somebody else. But it would be … well .. .you, wouldn’t it? Je veux dire, the clone would be you, right?” Lesbia had stopped off at the gen-mod salon on the way home and her irises were purple that night. She knew how wild I was about purple eyes. All part of her plan.

She looked at me with a lingering gaze. Those purple eyes!

“If anything, Zander, you should take my wish comme un compliment!”

“But,” I said, “you’d get 2ce as much of ‘me’ but I’d only get 1/2 as much of you!” It was a kiddish thing to say. But I was stressed, and the wine wasn’t helping.

“Now now, Zander, don’t look at it comme ça.” Lesbia toyed with the stem of her wineglass. There was a vague sexual spin in the way she did that “I should fess quelque chose. That Conrad Polyakov-Huang at the Clinic wants to ‘shag’ me. He told me so himself, although he didn’t use that word. I just said I’d think about it. Ha! But actually that’s what gave me this idée. That Conrad looks a bit like you, you know. Mais, I prefer my Zander. So maintenant I can have 2 of you. And my birthday’s coming, right? So say oui! Say oui, my sweet!”

 

 

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Of course I said oui. I had the gravest misgivings. But those purple eyes! And now I knew about that Conrad Polyakov-Huang sniffing around Lesbia. And, well, it was only for a year, like she said. Then the clone would be defunctioned and she’d get all this out of her orbit and we could get on with our lives.

That night in the futon Lesbia did The Special Thing that I liked by way of gratitude and the next day I left for work feeling remarkably good. All morning in the Lang Lab I buried myself in my research paper on pronomial transformations in some dead or as-good-as-dead Himalayan dialects. Perhaps only 20 or 30 people in the world would ever want to read it. 20 or 30 out of 19 billion isn’t bad, I thought. Anyway, comparative linguistics isn’t what it used to be. Most things aren’t these days. So I reminded myself how lucky I was to get a salary for something I love to do anyway.

During lunch I TELed my Gr8 Uncle Cody to set a meeting. He was over 100 years old and could – when his mood was right – dispense the wisdom of age. But 1st you had to let him vent a few minutes and get some complaints about our early 22nd century out of his orbit.

After work we met for ginger tea at his hab. He preferred a solo hab, without a homebot, and his 98th-floor hab was spacious to the max. Not for the 1st time I wondered whether it would 1 day be mine. Or be ours if Lesbia stayed in my life.

 

futuristic, skyscrapers

 

Gr8 Uncle Cody was old enough to remember when people still played golf outdoors and had their own houses with outdoor grass patches (lawns, they called them) and used money made of paper and metal (he gave me some coins when I was a kid). He remembered when the population was a lot less than now. That triggered his usual rant about how there were waaaay too many people (but he was against compulsory defunctioning for the over-100’s) and how this old world was on its last legs and how everybody now is just stupid and shallow and we’re all consumed with greed and how the weather was crazier than ever.

I let him have his say and then cut to the link:

“Unc, my Octaviana’s birthday’s coming up, and I have to get her a present. She wants to go to Sri Lanka…”

“Why on earth are you going there? It rains nonstop and it’s sinking into the sea, right?”

“It won’t sink for a while yet, Unc, and it doesn’t rain nonstop. Anyway, the thing is, we’re going there because there’s a corp in Kandy that makes adult clones. Octaviana wants me to clone myself so we can come back here and live as 3. So, 2 of me and 1 of her. You understand what that means?”

Old Uncle Cody activ8d the windows and stared at the massive hab towers and corp towers surrounding us. Had the old boy even heard me? Or was he still thinking about ‘the good old days’?

“Ha! That Octaviana. She’s the 1 who really loves to do the juicy, right? I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her. What about that other 1, the 1 with the cheek bones?”

“That Sybil Zirakashvili-Romanescu, you mean? Or that Fabia Terreblanche-Miyamoto? Don’t you remember, Unc? They’re both long gone. But what do you think? I’ve already said yes and we leave for Sri Lanka soon. Is this a big mistake?”

Old Cody sighed. “Well, I never was big on cloning people. Too many things can go wrong. Sure, clone ginger and all the plants and animals for food. Clone spare body parts till you’re blue in the face. Clone away, I say. But whole people? That’s waaay different. Recreational cloning is what it is. And I’m against it. Anyway, it’s illegal, right?”

“Not in Sri Lanka, Unc. And not if the clone’s only temporary. This 1 will be kaput after a year. That’s the main selling point. The clone’s yours for 365 days and then it’s auto-defunctioned.”

Gr8 Uncle Cody sipped his ginger tea in silence.

“So your Octaviana wants 2 Zanders to play with? Both in the same hab, and both in the same futon. That’ll…”

“Not at the same time,” I said. “Not in the futon at the same time. That’s something I was adamant about.”

Adamant. Now, there’s ay word I haven’t heard in ages!”

Gr8 Uncle Cody had that old-fashioned custom of sometimes pronouncing the indefinite article like the 1st letter of the alphabet. I like to speak “old-fashioned” myself, but I’m not fond of that particular speech-habit. He went quiet for a moment and then activ8ed the windows again and looked out. It occurred to me that watching the mess outside somehow gave old Cody comfort, as if the exterior chaos confirmed the orderliness of his own life.

“Well,” he said, “I know this whole thing’s going to be messy. Ay real mess. I feel it in my old bones. And I confidently predict you and the clone will lead lives of higher than average stress. Yeah. The clone’s going to resent you as much as you resent it. You’ll be at each other’s throats!”

What else was new?

“And will the clone know it has only 1 year to live?” Old Cody asked.

“No,” I replied. “If it knew about that then it would get all rebellious, wouldn’t it?”

“True. True. And it’s ay full adult version with all your memories and habits and everything else that makes you you, right?”

“That’s the promise.”

“And you’re putting yourself through all this for ay woman? She must be some woman, that Octaviana. When can I meet her?”

“True. She’s some woman. We’ll drop by some time for ginger tea after we get back from Kandy. But it’ll just be the 2 of us, without the clone. That thing will stay permanently locked up in the hab, if I have my way. No outside privileges. We can’t have 2 of me out in public simultaneously, can we?”

“True. True.” A brief silence followed.

Old Cody looked up and said, “Is that Octaviana paying for some of the clone’s upkeep? It has to eat while it still breathes.”

This was true. In all the talk and blather I hadn’t even considered that aspect: paying for the upkeep of something I don’t even want. And now I recalled there was vague talk of budget cuts at the Lang Lab, meaning salary cuts. Or worse.

“Well, not as far as I know, Unc.”

Not as far as I know, Unc? What kind of a shit answer is that? Either she is or she isn’t.”

For a minute he contempl8d the mess outside and considered my messy situation. Then he slapped his thighs.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I think. You should go ahead with it. Maybe I’m as stupid and shallow as everybody else these days. But she must be worth it if she really does the juicy like her butt’s on fire. In that case she’s worth all the stress and expense. The temporary stress and the temporary expense.”

“O.K. Thanks, Unc, I really apppreci8 your input.”

“But hang on, I’m not finished yet. With that clone there’s ay simple way you can cut the stress and the expense right down, you know.”

“How’s that, Unc? Keep it 1/2-starved and sed8d?”

 

 

                                                                                 (4)

                                           

I should tell you Gr8 Uncle Cody used to work in law enforcement. He was in Homicide. A top detective, too, when he retired. The Cody Koslovich-Unger Tower bears his name. That’s how highly his anti-crime corp thought of Gr8 Uncle Cody.

But everybody in our family knew he was a dirty cop.

We’ll never get the whole story. But while he was a detective lots of people were incarcer8d or walked away free because he tampered with evidence or perjured himself. He was some cop. So with all the enemies he must have accumul8d how come he hadn’t become a pile of ashes before I was even born? Maybe he had powerful protectors. My Gr8 Aunt Maddy (that Madison Haralambopoulos-De Waal) must have known, but she took her secrets to the urn.

Anyway, I was brought up never to raise this subject with him. But now he sort of raised it himself.

“Zander, sometimes you’re as thick as pig shit!”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you can be ay real idiot sometimes. Pay attention now. The clone’s going to complic8 your life for sure, but it’s a necessary complication if you’re going to hang on to your Octaviana.”

“True. But Unc, you know I’ve been meaning to tell you: I don’t actually call her by her real name in our hab. I call her Lesbia.”

“I … er … Really? Why on earth didn’t you say this earlier? We’ll definitely have to discuss that some time. Now, what was I saying?”

“A necessary complication.”

“True. When you get yourself cloned then that Alexander Unger-Avakian #2’s supposed to be around for a full year. But why do you have to obey that condition? I mean, unforeseen developments happen all the time, right? The cycle of life and death, and all that.”

“True,” I said. “True. But I don’t quite see what …”

Old Cody cocked his head a little and said, “Zander, I just happen to know 1 or 2 people. Not the kind of people you’d usually mix with. But people all the same. Anyway, they’re all just a TEL away. They all owe me for past … assistance I was able to offer.”

Now I got it.

“People? You mean murderers? Assassins? Criminal elements?”

“Let’s not go into unnecessary detail. But they really know their business.” Old Cody broke into a 1/2-smile, like he was remembering a secret pleasure. “I mean, these indivs can make a death look like ay tragic accident. Or even make it look like suicide, if that’s your pref.”

My brain, slow though it might sometimes be, was now on rocket fuel.

“Unc, you have an interesting idea there. But what’s the price?”

“That’s the thing. That’s what I’ve been telling you. These indivs owe me. They’re in my debt. It won’t cost you ay single cred. Consider it a gift from an older Unger to a younger Unger.”

This was the answer to my situation. With the clone’s untimely death assured, I could go ahead with my promise and keep Lesbia in my life, and rid myself of the clone before it sucked too many creds out of me and became too much of a nuisance. And it would cost me no more than the clone itself and the trip to Sri Lanka (2 round-trips and 1 1-way).

“Unc, you’re a genius. She’ll definitely fall for it. I’ll make sure the clone sinks into something that looks like suicidal depression because of everything it has to endure. She’ll definitely get why it was driven to ‘suicide’ so soon. Stuck in that little hab 24-7. Dealing with all her mood swings. No life of its own. All that would drive anybody out of orbit. I almost feel sad for its untimely demise.”

“I knew you’d like my little gift,” he said.

I smiled. “Gift in German means poison. Did you know that, Unc?”

Old Cody made the that’s-news-to-me sign and then stood up with extraordinary speed. Heaven’s g8! I thought. His biofibe hips and knees let the old boy move better than me!

“But before you get too excited, listen to me 1 more time,” he warned. “I know how you think, Zander. You’re full plus about this plan now, but you’re so hyper-analytical that soon you’ll start having doubts. Moral doubts. They’re all crap. Forget them. It’s not murder we’re talking about. We’re dealing with ay clone, not a human. It’s not the same at all, right?”

“The World Fed’s still deb8ing that issue. But I know what you mean by ‘it’s not the same’,” I said.

“Good. Then hold that thought. And TEL me when you’re back from … er …”

“Sri Lanka.”

“Sri Lanka,” he said. “And we’ll talk again.”

And with that I left his hab and subshuttled home. I ordered Sri Lankan food for dinner. Lesbia asked me what old Uncle Cody and I talked about.

“Oh, nothing much,” I said. “We just had a little conversation. But he started complaining about le monde moderne again. He said it’s become an ant colony.”

Lesbia stopped chewing and asked, “What on earth is an ‘ant colony’?”

 

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                                                                                     (5)

                                                       

Sri Lanka was hot and it did indeed rain nonstop. 45,000,000 people jammed together didn’t improve things either.

We sat with lawyers and I had to sign this and that, waivers and agreements. Then we dealt with a staggering number of immigration documents. The clone would get a 1-year visa (how exact!) and needed 2 guarantors. A Sri Lankan orderly kept us company while we w8ed for permission to finally leave that dreary office when the last document was in the bag.

“You have beaucoup de customers recently?” I asked, just to make idle chit chat.

“Sir?”

“I mean, do you have a lot of customers recently?”

“Sir, not like your good self, sir. We are having many Short Clone Service customers. Not so many of FCC-1-year customers, sir.”

“What’s Short Clone Service?”

“Sir, they are clones for customers who wish to have clones of themselves for only 24 hours, sir. Or maybe 48 hours. Yes, sir. They then proceed to have all kinds of … er … physical relations with their clones, sir. It is becoming quite popular now, sir. And madame.”

Lesbia had mentioned something about this on the sub-orb flight. People frantically shag their own clones for a frenzied day or 2. Or some people just savagely beat and torture them. You usually do this kind of thing on your shrink’s recommendation. But some shag their own clones just for the buzz of it, as a heightened form of masturbation.

Self-sexing wasn’t something I could ever imagine for myself. I’m so very conventional about these things. Lesbia said my negitude ( ‘negative attitude’ in Lesbiaspeak) was  further proof of my unique oldy-fashionedness. She said this oldy-fashionedness, combined with the ‘oldy-worldy’ way I speak, absolutely proves I was born in the wrong century.

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After they took my DNA and I’d signed the last waiver we had to w8 the full 24 hours. No shortcuts, they said. We spent a sullen night. Lesbia was tanked by the heat and the pounding rain and our tempo hab’s primitive envirocon. I had the jeebies about meeting this thing the next day – a thing meant to look and sound and move and even smell like me. How was I supposed to act when it appeared? Were we expected to shake hands or something? How was Lesbia supposed to address each of us? And was its name Zander too?

As it turned out, the clone had a large C tattooed on its head. They obviously forgot to mention that, but anyway the problem of distinguishing the copy from the original solved itself. 3 corp minders brought it out, checked my I.D., had me “confirm acceptance of purchased item” and walked away. The clone and I sized each other up. Lesbia was the 1st to break the awkward silence when she said – pretty much as I’d expected – “Oh, my sweet, it looks just comme toi!”

Then the clone cleared his throat and spoke for the 1st time. “Just a minute. He looks just comme toi. Not it. I’m a man, not a thing. Henceforth, Lez, you will kindly oblige me by keeping that particular detail firmly in mind.”

“It even talks old fashioned, just like you, Zander!” Which was exactly the way it was supposed to talk. The clone was like me in every single respect. The thought occurred to me: Trust Lesbia to st8 the perfectly obvious as if it were a revelation to us all.

My sentiments exactly,” said a voice in my head.

Was that my voice?

 

 

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We spent the night in Kandy, even though neither of us liked the place. But Lesbia was keen to – as she put it – get acquainted with the l8est addition to our habhold. So I moved to a different tempo-hab while she shagged his brains out.

It was strange. Even though I was in a completely different tower the whole time, it actually felt like I was in the room with her – with them – all night. I could taste her juices with my mind’s mouth and hear her pleasure moans with my mind’s ears and experience The Special Thing with all my mind’s senses. Uncanny.

The shagging was frantic, fierce and suffused with – what’s the word? – hostility. Yes, hostility. It was like the clone urgently needed to vent h8red. And it made me feel strangely liber8d. I couldn’t say why. Yet I was sure this synchrotude wasn’t a mere memory trick or the product of an overactive imagination. But would it repeat itself?

Anyway, in the morning I felt remarkably good. Lesbia and I had arranged to meet for breakfast at her tempo-hab (the clone used room-service). After the usual morning pleasantries I cut to the link.

Alors, Lez, how was last night’s getting-to-know-you session with the clone?” I asked, pretending I didn’t already know. “Satisfactory?”

“Oh,” she said, “I can’t complain. Can’t complain.”

“Good. Good. Then the birthday gift’s acceptable, I take it?”

Mais oui,” she purred, and stirred her ginger tea.

I felt the urge to change the subject.

“By the way, Lez, what’s the clone’s name? We can’t call him Zander, can we? Or Zander #2. How about Virgil? I’ve always liked that Roman poet. Virgil has a certain histori …”

Mais non,” she replied. “Tu sais, I was thinking about that last night.”

During a lull in the proceedings?, I asked myself.

“Zander, you read books and stuff. You remember that story from the 19th century or something about that mec who had a picture that looked just like him?”

“A portr8, you mean?”

“True. And as he got older the painting stayed the same. Or … no! W8! He stayed the same but the painting got older. What was son nom again?”

“Dorian Gray, you mean?”

C’est ça! Durian Grey. So we’ll call him Durian, then. You’re Zander and he’s Durian. Parfait!

Ton souhait est mon ordre, ma belle,” I murmured. If she named the clone after a stinking tropical fruit, so what? And it would only have to endure that idiotic name until Gr8 Uncle Cody’s hitman had seen to the clone’s untimely death, after all. Not long at all.

“So Durian measured up to my level of skill and enthusiasm, did he?” I asked.  “I suppose he’s now enjoying all that coconut rice and that huge fru-salad because he built up such a ginormous appetite last night!”

Lesbia dropped her mango kebab and looked at me intently. “Zander, how on earth did you know Durian ordered coconut rice and a gr8 big salade de fruits? Have you seen him déjà this morning?”

Good question. How did I know that? “Oh, well, you know, Lez, it just kind of occurred to me. I thought that’s what he’d have for breakfast if he was really hungry. Sais pas, Lez. The thought just popped into my head. Kind of.”

“Hmmm,” she said. “Mais it’s what you’d order if you’d been le roi de mon lit the night before, you mean. Because you’re Durian and Durian is you. How on earth could you forget that?”

She had a point there. And now she was on a roll.

“So what should I call you collectivement?” she asked with a sly grin. “Durander? Zandrian?”

But the pieces were all now falling in a place. There was a psych-link between the clone and myself. The corp mentioned nothing about this. No mention of a possible psych-overlap. Maybe they assumed it would be so obvious that there was no need to discuss it. Well, thanks a lot.

So how could I keep my thoughts to myself with Durian now on the scene? And, come to think of it, how could Durian keep his thoughts to himself? If I could read his thoughts and feel his feelings then he could reciproc8. Heaven’s g8!  Does this mean we have 2 heads but 1 brain?

“I have a pressentiment this coming year will be funner than I thought,” said Lesbia with unusual conviction.

But I knew right then that I had to watch myself. If I didn’t want Durian to know about it, then I shouldn’t think about it. For instance that recent conversation in Uncle Cody’s hab. But warning myself of that risk already made it too l8. What was that old expression? The cat’s jumped out of the bag. Meaning I was already in deep merde.

 

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                                                                                   (7)

Don’t think about blue monkeys. Don’t think about blue monkeys. That was the old mindshot from the distant past: trying not to think about something was the surest way to cement that very thought.

Could Durian read my thoughts and feel my emotions? There was only 1 way to find out. Lesbia said she had to TEL some people and she badly needed a nap (ha!), so while she was in her room I flashed Durian the thought:

“The Special Thing last night was particular …”

… ly compelling,” he flashed back. “As you well know. And you very clearly detect…”

“… ed the hostile underpsych during the shag after shag af …”

… ter shag. I know.

I thought to myself (if that was still possible): So this is how it’s going to be from now on? No privacy in my thoughts?

I had to ask: “Are you and I doomed to always finish …”

… each other’s sentences? Did you expect otherwise, even with the corp’s silence on this subject? You expected to have an exact copy of yourself who thinks differently from yourself? You obviously hadn’t thought ….

“…t his through, I know. I should’ve asked the corp. It just didn’t occur to me that it …”

… would be this noisy inside our heads. I know. Of course I know.

Static in my head. We struggled to get our thoughts str8. But when the static died I resumed with:

“Let me ask about all that hostility last night in your underpsych when you were shagging Lesbia. Was that from you? Or from me?”

From me. And you. From you because of what she’d done to your life but you never admitted it to yourself. Personally, I h8 her. She summoned me into a 1-year existence on a mere whim. So now I’m doomed to be nothing but a sex toy for a shallow fool. A beautiful fool, but a fool nonetheless. In my situation wouldn’t you …”

“… feel exactly the same? Yes, I would.” I paused momentarily. “So, then, if you already know about the unavoidable 365-day time limit you must also know about …”

… your – our – Gr8 Uncle Cody’s idea to have me killed by 1 of his old lowlife associ8s? Yes, his idea to put both of us out of our misery.” I sensed Durian suddenly smiling a 1/2-smile. “You know, Zander, he was right. You really are as thick as pig shit sometimes! Merely …”

“… joking. Ha ha. So how do you feel about that? It would be a relief in a way, wouldn’t it? I mean, your life as a clone – such as it is – was always intended to be nasty, brutish and short. I imagine you’d welcome an early death as a …”

… release from my term of bondage. True. True. But I’d really rather spend my single year of life without that fool Lesbia around the hab. Then the 2 of us, you and me, could get on with what we really want to do with our lives: become the Lang Lab’s star researchers. Zander, we could really put comparative linguistics back on the map, you and I. Make it a thriving field again in these difficult times. You and I could accomplish more in 1 year than all the other researchers combined.”

” Ah yes,” I flashed. ” ‘These difficult times’ but also these badly underfunded times. The …”

… Lang Lab would never put a clone on the payroll. That’s obvious. But I don’t need to be physically present in the Lang Lab, do …”

“… I? True. True. Yeah, you have point there. And with Lesbia out of our lives we’d have no petty distractions in the hab, no more accommod8ing her sudden whims and moodswings, no more wondering who she’s shagging in secret. No more baby- …”

…t alk French. Yes, that’s how it will be. You never admitted to yourself what a mess she’s made of your life, and how she’s emascul8d you. Admit it, Zander, you’d do anything to keep her in your life, even pay to make a clone. That’s how much you’ve let her control you. But now we can overcome all these humiliations and end this negative cycle for good.”

“Durian, you’re right!”

Please,” he flashed, “call me Virgil.

He was right. Ridding myself of Lesbia was something I needed to do if I was ever to stand up and be free. I’d have to take action now, otherwise my resolve may weaken and I’ll start looking at the other side of the coin (an expression Lesbia wouldn’t comprehend) and start having doubts about what I would lose with Lesbia gone from my life for good.

“Right,” I said to myself. Ourselves. “I’ll do it. Death to Lesbia! I’ll make the TEL right now!”

No!” flashed Virgil. “Don’t!

 

                                                                                (8)

 

What?” I gasped. “Why don’t you want me to make the TEL?”

Don’t you do it. I want to do it myself. Let me make the TEL. Nobody can tell our voices apart, can they?

Virgil made the TEL that very minute, throwing my normal solicitude to the winds, not caring who he/I woke up or why.

Virgil and I said, “I woke you up, did I? There’s something we need to talk about. It’s too important to w8. You see, I’ve decided there needs to be a really big change.”

The voice at the other end was annoyed at being woken so suddenly and with such an imperious demand.

“What really big change? What on earth are you talking about?”

“Well,” we said, “it’s basically the same plan we discussed earlier, Unc. Just a change in the design8d target, that’s all.”

                                                                                 THE END

 

 

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One thought on “MASCULINE PLURAL

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