The final notes of the national anthem rang out through the venue. The location was Bethel, New York. The year was 2069. The centennial celebration had been in the works for years now and each day had gone out of its way to top the last. I just could not get over the fact that Jimi Hendrix was standing on stage a matter of feet away from myself in the flesh. It was so surreal to be living in a time where this was possible. Jimi was moving on to Purple Haze as I sat back in the grass to just marvel at what an amazing prospect it was that all of this had finally come to fruition.
You see, the clones have been around for quite some time now. They do not live amongst us of course, at least we are made to believe that they don’t. There are plenty of conspiracy theorists who will tell anyone that will listen about how anyone who dares to question authority is quickly collected, replaced, and the world keeps on moving like nothing happened. From what I read about the intense training the clones must go through to accomplish the tasks that the people they are cloned from were once able to, it seems unlikely to me personally.
To think, I have just witnessed Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, and Grateful Dead among other legends perform live all these years after their passing. It is just beyond me to be able to wrap my mind around the magnitude of what is unfolding. Woodstock has always been remembered as the greatest music festival of all time, although there have been plenty that can be mentioned in the conversation. The attempts to hold new Woodstock festivals with new bands and artists never really went over well. It was the essence of the original that they were always after but that was just not going to happen without the people that made it the greatest event of the 20th century.
Dolly the Sheep in 1996 may have been the first public announcement of a successful cloning, but the general public had always been quite ignorant of the true extent that cloning had reached. In the early 2000’s it was already possible for the rich to have their beloved pets cloned in the case of their untimely death or whatever the reason. Looking back it is really a bit strange that many of the people of that time would not be aware that the ability to clone humans was out there during such a period, but the truth is scientists had been collecting DNA of the powerful and talented for the time that they were able to clone for long before then.
This, of course, is how I can enjoy this once in a lifetime experience that is before me right now. It is also the reason that sports fans are finally able to see who the better boxer is, best home run hitter, or if Jordan was truly the greatest 1 on 1 player of all time. The reason that certain Christians hold out hope that one day the true Shroud of Turin will be unveiled so that they can worship at the feet of the clone of their true savior. There is another group of Christians of course who see this as heresy and are entirely against clones in general, but especially one of their Lord which they believe would surely bring about the apocalypse by way of the second coming and all that.
Jimi had made his way through a song that was originally improvised for Woodstock in ’69 but of course, was now just a recreation. The next up was the last song of the night and one of my favorites from the legendary performer, Hey Joe. A song about infidelity, passion, and a perfect way to end a night that none of us in the audience would ever forget. As he finished his final song to the sound of thunderous applause Jimi grabbed the microphone and began to look a bit out of character from how he had for the entirety of the performance. He said “Thank you all, but there is something that you need to know. There is something that they are not te—”. Jimi was cut off and a misty look entered his eye as he began to stare off into space.
A man in a black suit came out from behind the stage and grabbed Jimi by the shoulders while reaching his head forward to the microphone. He said “Thank you all so much for joining us for the Woodstock Centennial celebration. We would like to wish everyone a safe trip home and please be courteous to event staff and pick up after yourselves on the way out.” The man led a still very dazed looking Jimi Hendrix off the stage and back from the area from which he came.
“Man, they must have given that clone a little bit of the actual Jimi Hendrix Experience if you know what I mean bro.” my friend Nathan said before sipping the last of his overpriced beer. “He looked like he was frying his balls off at the end there.” I rubbed the back of my head and considered this as I had been taken aback by this last portion as well.
“I don’t know man.” I said “That’s not really what that looked like to me, and it sounded like he was trying to say something before he started to daze off like that. He looked pretty disturbed and worried before just kind of zoning out like something had stopped him from finishing his sentence. Not the feel-good ending I was hoping for.”
“Well, life isn’t always just a bunch of roses and flower power man, deal with it! I’m gonna head back to my place and start up a movie marathon are you down to join?” Nathan asked
“Nah, I think I’m going to pass, but thanks for the invite,” I replied. “It’s been a long few days and I think I’m ready to go crash at home and sleep it all off.”
“Suit yourself, see you later Joakim! Don’t let the market crashing get to you, enjoy your time off man, you have earned it.” Nathan relayed this message and then reached in to shake my hand and turned it into a one-arm hug.
“Yeah, I will do that, I assume that doesn’t affect your, um, clientele very much does it?” I asked.
Nathan let out a laugh and answered. “Nah man, people have got to have their edibles and coffee no matter what.”
We chuckled a bit at this and patted each other on the back before heading our separate ways. I had made my way up in the wide world of stocks and Nathan had taken a more unconventional route by opening a cannabis coffee shop which turned into the biggest chain of them in the New York area. It is hard to believe that there was a time when marijuana was illegal, and alcohol was legal. Surely it was for political reasons and not logical ones, how could something that causes no deaths per year be held in worse esteem than something that causes so many. The only deaths caused over marijuana back then must have been due to the legality of it forcing criminals into the picture.
I headed towards my exit which was on the other side of the venue from Nathans. Something caught my eye as I made it to the edge of the stage though and I felt an immediate sinking feeling in my stomach. It was Jimi with a group of men in black suits surrounding him. He was fighting and struggling against them trying to free himself and head back toward the stage. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I tapped the side of my glasses and zoomed in to be sure of what I was seeing. The men restrained Jimi and shoved a hypodermic needle into the side of his neck. He became instantly unresponsive and they formed a wall blocking the view. They took him off into a limo that pulled up with more men in black and it seemed that most people had been too busy making their ways to the exit to pay any attention.
What in the world could be going on here? I feel like I am losing my mind. I made it back to my vehicle and set my path for it to take me home on the large touch screen display in the center. The car backed out of the spot I was in and began to take me in the direction which I had set. The face-scanning technology read my face through the camera in the steering wheel (that was mostly useless besides in emergencies) and suggested a playlist for what it considered to be my current mood. I agreed as it was usually spot-on and drifted deeper into thought.
I knew that there was something off about the way that those men came and got Jimi off the stage at the end of the show. Seeing what I just saw on the way out proved that to me beyond a shadow of a doubt. I felt the need to find out more and try to get to the bottom of what is going on, but there is surveillance everywhere that you could go. I formed an idea of how I might be able to get away with it without drawing too much attention and used voice control to re-route my vehicle’s destination. “Take me to the Library.”
The car responded in the affirmative and I was on my way to the closest haven of education. There had always been chatter about how inhumane cloning was and that the process behind the use of clones for our entertainment had a dark side to it that none of us were permitted to see. It is just so hard to read into things like that because the only things that we see are the ones that they want us to see. The country still maintains the guise of freedom, so there are ways around it if you try hard enough. They do their best to ensure that we are all drinking the kool-aid and accepting whatever lies they tell us along the way, though.
As I pulled up to the library, I had a nagging sense of dread. Did I want to get myself into this mess? Where was I going to end up if this didn’t go well and the government found out that I was snooping into their classified business? My sense of duty was greater than my sense of fear, however, and I dragged myself out of the vehicle and made my way into the building. I let the lady behind the desk scan my library ID, which was kept somewhere inside of the chip in my right palm where all our information was. Driver’s Licenses, credit cards, debit cards, all those rewards programs for the different stores that you go to. It was all contained within this little chip that they put either in the back of your right hand or your forehead, whichever you prefer.
I let her know I was hoping to make use of a computer for a project. She scanned me in and handed me a tactile keyboard that had a mousepad and mouse attached to the side. The mouse held to the pad with some magnetic type of force that I never fully understood. The whole setup was very light and easy to carry, she pointed me to the direction of my pod after handing me back my library card and told me I was in number 7. I stepped over to my pod and scanned my right hand to gain access. As I did the hatch lifted and revealed the large padded chair that sat in the middle of the full-screen sphere that was beginning its log on process and welcoming me by name.
I slid into the chair and hit the button on the side of the armrest to close the hatch. First, I was going to create some diversions that would hopefully aid in my plan to throw off anyone who might snoop through my flagged terms of search. I typed in “how to outline a research paper” and clicked through a few results. I found an outline that appeared to be useful and dragged the window around to the back of the kiosk’s sphere-shaped screen behind my chair as I would not be needing it. Next was the search “understanding the mind of a conspiracy theorist”, I dragged this one to down below my feet and moved on to the next window.
Next, it was time to input some pointed questions about the cloning programs. I typed out a few searches such as “where does the cloning program take place in the US?” and “are the clones mistreated in the US?”. Both searches yielded plenty of results which would be helpful and most likely land me on a watchlist all at the same time. I opened a document to start a rough draft of the supposed paper just to go the extra mile and have an alibi. My point in coming to the library was to make it that much more believable in case anybody decided to look into what the heck I was doing. I used the joystick on the left arm of the chair to turn back toward the outline I had placed there earlier, read over it a bit to get a rough idea and then turned back to type up a passable amount in the draft. It would be well worth it because I was treading on territory that the government did not take lightly.
The first search led me to the realization that each state has a cloning program and that the one for New York was held in a rural area of Ithaca called Newfield. The second search led me to more of the conspiracy type sites. I read about how they had reason to believe that every state had mass graveyards for all of the clones that did not adhere to the plan that they had for them, or just were not able to live up to the incredibly high standards that were set for them. They spoke of the inhumane living conditions that they are made to suffer through, and even spun off the rails a bit rambling on about how there was an entire clone army at the ready for when the government would impose martial law and enslave the whole of humanity. That level of cooperation between all the world’s governments seemed a bit farfetched to me, but I guess it is crazy times that we are living in and anything is possible.
I considered all this information carefully and thought about what my next move would be. I right-clicked and selected the exit all windows option before signing out of my profile and opening the hatch to the computer kiosk. I indicated on the outside of the sphere that I was done using the computer and scanned my hand to ensure that I was logged out completely. After this, I returned to the librarian and handed her my keyboard and mouse set up before thanking her and making my way for the exit. I still had some time to burn on my vacation, and this was just too interesting to pass up. I weighed my options and considered all of the things that I had studied. There was no avoiding it, I was going to have to see what Ithaca was like at this time of year.
It was about 2 and a half hours away by car, but it will be significantly less than that in an air taxi. The drone-like vehicles were much faster than traveling by street and luckily you could call them out no matter where you were so I decided that I would leave my car at the Library and call one out to take me from here. I called one up and let them know that I would be needing a ride to the Robert H. Treman State Park which was just 10 minutes down the road from the cloning facility. This would be an interesting way to spend my vacation, but I had to keep my self-interest at mind. If at any time I felt that I was jeopardizing myself I would leave and in a hurry.
The air taxi arrived, and I made my way into the back seat. This model was like a huge drone large enough to fit 5 people, 3 in the back seat and 2 upfront. Other models were much faster and used newer technology, but this one would do just fine for my short trip. I scanned my right hand for the driver both for identification and for payment. I let him know that I was just heading over to the state park for a hike, luckily due to my informal festival attire, it was believable enough. Once the payment was authorized and he had my information all set up we were good to go, and he took off from the library parking lot en route to the state park next to my true destination.
I wasn’t even sure what my initial plan in heading to the direction of the cloning facility was, it had all kind of been on a whim in the first place. I thought that maybe I could do some research in the area and maybe even sneak a peek if I was lucky enough. I pulled out my phone which was also my laptop, tablet, and could fold into all kinds of different shapes for different uses. I thought I would look at what there was to do in the area in case this whole “spying on a highly protected government facility” thing didn’t work out. I was very happy to see that there was a tour of the facility available to those that were interested. I considered letting the driver know to bring me straight there, but I thought it might be worth it to go for a little hike and ease my mind. This was a lot to take in after all. I folded my phone up into the slimmest form factor and shoved it back into my pocket.
Once we arrived, I thanked the driver and made sure to tip him well for his troubles. I got out and took a look at the beauty that surrounded me. This park was known for its beautiful waterfalls. I had been a few times as a kid during the summer, but it has been a long time since I was able to take it all in. I tapped the side of my glasses 3 times which brought up my favorite relaxing playlist. This would be a nice way to take my mind off the insanity that was being presented if only for a moment. I took the stone pathway that ran alongside the water, carved into the side of the cliffs. It was so relaxing that I could almost take my mind completely off the terror that was being caused, and what I might be getting myself into by trying to get to the bottom of it.
I followed the trail past many happy campers, waving as I passed by and enjoying the scenery and a little bit of light exercise. I made my way to a place that was a main hub in the park. A breathtaking waterfall that was called Lucifer Falls. A favorite of the locals and a spot that you could almost always find plenty of campers swimming and relaxing. I would not be doing any swimming today myself though, so I followed the carving trail alongside the water and up the side of the cliff. I made my way towards the top of the falls and gazed out upon the rest of the park from the high ground which I stood.
It was truly amazing, and I knew then it was the right decision to have made the stop here at the park before taking on the daunting task that lies ahead. After taking my time to take in the scenery for a moment I turned back feeling ready to follow through with my effort that brought me this far. There was still time to make it to the last tour of the day, and I had plenty of research to do after that appointment was made. As I turned to head toward the stone path though I saw something that I found to be strange. There was a slight deviation to the trail that led to a large metal door built into the cliff. It was left open though I could tell it was usually a highly secured area. It seemed a bit too secure for just a state park area, it felt out of place.
Something else drew me closer and as I did my blood ran cold. There were bloodstains on the door. The stains were fresh, heavy, and down towards the bottom with traces of a trail of blood leading toward the inside. My thoughts began to race. I know I had to worry about my self-preservation, but someone is in trouble. There were signs up around the door that made it clear there was no entry for the general public, but I could cite the fresh blood as my concern if I was confronted about it. There was no other choice to make, I started to head for the door and did not look back.
I made sure to stay as quiet as possible as I made my way into the hallway. I stayed close to the wall and shimmied alongside it before peeking around the corner to make sure the coast was clear. There was a wide-open room with many doors along the side that appeared almost prison-like in structure. Some men in white coats were heading my way, I began to panic internally. I spotted a door close to the hall and dashed over, praying that it was not locked. The door pushed right open and I made it before the men were close enough to suspect a thing. I was now sitting with my back to the door in a dark corridor with faint flickering lights.
There was a window on the door which did not do much to aid with my level of anxiety as the two men grew closer. My glasses detected the darkness and entered their night vision mode automatically. A set of stairs much like in a parking garage were close by. They were only leading down as we were at the top of whatever facility this was that I have stumbled upon. The men were drawing near, I made sure to hush my breathing and began to listen in hoping to hear anything of use. Where we were, what was going on, what had happened with the bloodstained door, anything that could help shed some light on my current situation.
“Johnson has become increasingly careless, I am dumbfounded that he would just leave the door wide open like that.” I could hear one voice saying, the other man replied as they made their way toward the hall I had just left.
“Could you imagine if a camper were to wander in on all of this? We are going to have to terminate him without a doubt, we cannot risk losing our funding. That would be catastrophic!”
The first man spoke again as they drew uncomfortably close, I cringed and hoped that they did not decide to make a quick detour in my direction for any reason. “Yes, it surely would have. Not nearly as bad as if that clone had gotten loose and started running its mouth to the campers though. Johnson at least did well to capture the clone and eliminate the threat. A shame that it will be the end to his time here, but it is a much better end than he would have met if he did not deal with the problem.”
I can’t believe my ears, are these people saying that they just murdered a clone? Beyond that, are they implying that they would have murdered this scientist, or whatever he is if he did not murder the clone in time? This is grim, I wandered upon something that is much more sinister than what I could have possibly imagined. I think it is the Bible that says knock and the door will be opened unto you. Right now, I am wishing that I did not knock on upon this freaking door.
The two were passing by right behind me and heading towards the trail of blood in the hallway I entered through. I tapped both sides of my glasses to initiate the recording function. This would upload to my cloud so I could have some type of documentation of what was going on here. If the worst was to happen, then my loved ones would be able to have some kind of explanation. I moved to the stairs and began to make my way down carefully. My dread was reaching a fever pitch and I had no idea how I was going to make it out of this situation in one piece. As I reached the next floor down the lighting became clearer, there was a door on this floor as well. I snuck up to the window of the door to see what the floor contained.
There were entirely too many bodies moving around on this floor, I would have to try my luck on a lower one. I couldn’t make out much through the window other than more men in white coats and some more imposing men holding guns and dressed in what looked like riot gear. I tried to keep my cool and continue back to the stairs in a hunched over position, making sure to avoid being seen through the window. I went down the next flight of stairs and nearly jumped out of my skin as I heard the door above come open followed by the sound of footsteps. There was a small broom closet on this floor, and I moved quickly and found my way into it and closed it behind me in one smooth motion.
“Did you hear about Johnson?” came a voice from the floor above.
“Yeah, rough deal. Those damn clones can be a pain to work with. That one he had been training seemed to be docile enough, but you never know when they are going to get a wild hair up their butt and make a run for it.” The man sighed and continued. “What can you do though? At least he is going to make it out of here with his life. Would have been a shame to see him end up on the bottom floor with all the other failed experiments. Can’t believe how many they have to go through just to get one that can carry out their duties.”
The other voice came back, “Yeah, we probably shouldn’t be talking about it right now though. The higher-ups are pissed, and we don’t want the wrong person to walk in on us spreading the word. From what I hear Johnson could still end up down there depending on the way things go. On the poor guys’ birthday to top it all off, what a tough break. I’ll see you tomorrow man, I’m pulling a double today.”
“Jeez, better grab some coffee in the break room. You don’t want to fall asleep on the job. Plenty of strange crap going on around here lately, keep your head on a swivel.” He laughed a bit as if to lighten the mood on what seemed like a serious statement. “Catch you later.”
Heavy steps came down the stairs beside me which likely belonged to the guard who was sticking around. I also heard some footsteps ascending to the top floor as the other one made his way to the exit. The bottom floor, that was the place that I had to see. Video evidence of something like that could make this entire trip worth the trouble. Though I would have to be careful to keep it encrypted and be very selective of how I used it moving forward. I heard both doors close and gave the men a moment to continue on their paths before sneaking out of the closet and making my descent down the stairs.
I quickly rounded the stairs for the 3rd floor as I could gather that this was where the man had gone for the break room. The next floor is where the stairs bottomed out and I began to worry about what I was going to witness. I lifted my head when I drew nearer to the window and saw a long hallway. I did not come this far to turn back now, I took a deep breath and pushed open the door, moving quickly down the hallway. At the end of the hallway, there was a secure door, the handle had a touch screen above it that asked you to either scan your ID or enter username. I knew this could be a mistake if I set off some kind of alarm, but I had a sense of purpose at this point that I would not push aside.
I keyed in the last name Johnson and waited to see the reaction. It greeted me by saying “Welcome Johnson, please enter your PIN.” This one would be a complete shot in the dark. I became enveloped in a cold sweat and thought back on all I had heard since entering this facility. What could this man have used as a PIN, it could be literally anything. An anniversary, a day that someone passed away, a year of graduation, a birthday. Wait a second, today. Today was his birthday. Jesus Christ let it be his freaking birthday. If not, this could be the last thing I ever type. I went to the number pad and typed the numbers in. 0818.
The handle clicked open and a green light appeared around the edge of the screen. I turned the handle and pushed the door open. The stench was something I would not wish for anyone to experience in their lifetime. The pure rot and decay. I pushed through the smell and found my way to an incredible yet entirely horrifying site. The bodies were segregated into groups that were stacked on shelves that were detachable and could be moved by a forklift or some type of machine like that to another destination. I took a closer look and realized that each group contained stacks of bodies of the same exact clone. This must be where the ones go that do not adhere to the training protocols or are not able to excel in the manner that is needed.
My stomach wretched, but I continued down the path for a bit just to make sure that everything was well-documented. I saw the ovens where they must eventually cremate the bodies. I even saw the tables where they did the autopsies and sick experiments surrounded by all sorts of medical tools and plastic lining. None of this struck me quite as much as when I walked by one certain group of bodies that were in one of the giant cubbies. It was a pile of naked, dead, clones of Jimi Hendrix. All in a neat stack just waiting for their turn in the crematorium. He was trying to warn the people at the concert. That clone was trying to make the atrocities that were done in this place be known, but those men in black suits stopped him. I got the message though, and now that I had this evidence his cries for help will have not been in vain.
I turned and headed back for the exit. I made it back up the stairs carefully with no problem. After making completely sure that nobody was coming at the top floor I bolted out and back down the first hallway that I had seen in this facility. The blood was now conspicuously absent from the ground and the door had been shut tight. I was able to make it out of the door with no problem and was back atop the beautiful Lucifer Falls. I was going to find a nearby hotel room or maybe even a cabin in the park. I needed some rest, and after all, I had a “Cloning Facility” tour to make tomorrow. This should be interesting..