The men in black were surrounding my cabin. A scientist was with them and readying a needle that he likely planned to plunge into my neck. They shouted out a warning. “We have you surrounded Mr. Fredrikson, if you come out with your hands up, we can make this as painless as possible.” Shit! This was impossible, how had they found out that I was in their facility. There must have been cameras, of course, there were cameras, what was I thinking? I don’t know why I decided to stay in the same place that I had just seen all those atrocities. The clone’s bodies stacked in neatly organized boxes, just waiting to be incinerated for not adhering to their wishes.
This was not good, I had to think of a way out of here. I don’t know who I think I am kidding, there is no way out of here. This will be my end. I tapped both sides of my glasses to start recording a message for my family. “Mom, Dad, I love you and this may be the last thing I ever get to tell you. Check my drive, there is a video that I recorded last night. You must get to it quickly before they take my phone and erase all the data. Jag älskar er båda, hej då.” I sent the message and marked it highly important in hopes that they would be able to do as I said in time. Though in my heart I found it highly unlikely.
“Joakim Fredrikson, you have ignored our request to exit the cabin peacefully. Therefore, we will remove you by force.” The voice came from the door of the cabin and I began to call out for them to wait.
“I will come peacefully, please I am on my w-” I was cut off by the sound of crashing glass from the window directly beside my bed. A flaming bottle came flying through the newly open window and flames began to spread across the room. It was so hot, I was burning and there was nowhere for me to go. I thrashed about in the bed, and suddenly, I awoke still thrashing and in a cold sweat. The warm sunlight was shining through the unbroken window directly onto my body.
I was starting to lose it, but how could I not be after seeing what I saw just last night. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do with this evidence that I have collected. I knew one thing was for sure though, while I was over here, I had to get a load of this so-called tour of the cloning facility. There was no way they were going to show the public anything like what I had just witnessed. I was interested to see what it was that they did present to the public though, and the next tour was starting in about an hour. Plenty of time to go catch a bite to eat before heading over, I was starving.
I made the hike to the front of the park and asked the rangers up front where the nearest terminal was. They let me know it was just a stone’s throw up the road and that I could take that into town if that was where I was headed. I told them that it was and thanked them for the help. As I arrived, I couldn’t help but think of how nice it will be once they have these terminals set up for long-distance travel. As of now, they were only to make your way around a certain city or town. Everybody knew that it would not be long before we were able to take one from New York to Los Angeles, but for now, they were still useful for what they were.
The station consisted of a pod that was about 9 feet tall with a 6-foot diameter and a large tube with tracks that the pods shot across at incredible speeds. I scanned my right hand at the payment screen and the terminal accepted my payment and information. The clear door to the pod opened and revealed a large cushioned chair with a harness to strap yourself into. I tapped on the touch screen to input my destination and the hatch door closed. A voice came over the speaker and thanked me for choosing to ride the pod, it ran through the safety procedures that I would need to follow in case of an emergency, and then I was on my way.
It was a scenic little ride with my favorite landmark being the Newfield Covered Bridge. Directly by this was where the pod came to a stop and opened my hatch door to let me out. The trip was a very short one, but I didn’t see the point in walking down the side of the busy roadway. There was a diner next to the pod stop and it was right on the way to the Cloning Facility Tour. My stomach growled at the thought of a nice hot meal and I followed its lead before I even realized what my feet were doing. The Diner was a quaint little place, the kind that you could hardly tell wasn’t just a house from the outside. I walked in and took a seat at a table, a man who looked like he might own the place came up to me quickly and asked what they could get ready for me.
Most of the big chain restaurants had been completely automated for quite some time now, it was refreshing to have real human interaction while grabbing some grub. I told him I would take some pancakes as high as he could stack them and a cup of black coffee with the promise of more when I finished that one. He chuckled and assured me that it would be out shortly before heading back to likely make the food himself or at least aid those who were doing it. In just a moment he returned with a full steaming coffee cup and an ornate carafe with plenty more for when I finished that one. After making sure there was nothing else, he returned to the kitchen.
I thought about the whole situation and just drifted off in thought for a bit as I waited. I began to question everything I had ever known about the clones. One year, there was a dream boxing matchup that was held in Madison Square Garden. I was lucky enough to go with a few colleagues on the company’s dime. The matchup was between Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. Ali came out on top and won by points after a long battle, but Tyson rocked him hard a good number of times. Mike’s hands were like machine guns and it was plain to see that they cloned both boxers from the height of their prime.
What brought me back this memory though, were the protestors out front. There were not many of them, and the masses wrote them off as conspiracy theorists who needed to lay down the pipe and get more fresh air. Something they said though now chills me to the core. One of the men caught me as I was passing by and gave me a handout that said: “Save the Clones” with a bit of information underneath, including their website. He told me of the inhumane conditions the clones were made to train in. At the time they sounded laughably false and it was all I could do not to be rude to the man and ask him to leave me alone so I could get back to my friends.
He said that they made clones of their opponents for them to train. That they even made clones of only their top half so that they could train in place against their foe. The most gruesome of all were the mannequins that were topped with the heads of clones who had not fought hard enough and the mounds of bodies that lay as a constant reminder of what waited in store for the clones still alive and training if they did not push with all their might to become the best they were capable of.
I thought it would be impossible for atrocities like this to not make its way into public knowledge. Surely there was some decency left in humanity that this type of thing could not exist in the world. Sure, in the ancient times there were macabre acts of torture where men were pulled apart and had their flesh ripped off with red hot tongs. This was 2069 though, and that type of Gore would not go unnoticed. Those were my thoughts at the time. Though after what I have seen, I fear that I was all too wrong.
The gentleman appeared from the back with my stack of pancakes topped with butter and syrup. I pushed my coffee cup and the carafe out of the way, already well into my second cup. I told him everything looked delicious and thanked him before asking if I could go ahead and pay now as I had an appointment to make. He obliged by taking out his scanner that was noticeably older than those in the big city and scanning the chip in the back of my hand. I tore into the pancakes like I hadn’t eaten in days and to be honest it almost felt like the truth. After I was finished eating and had my fill of coffee, I stepped up out of the chair and made my way for the exit.
The facility tour was just a little walk down the street and I would be making it there in plenty of time to look around before the tour started. The building was easy to spot. It was a large structure made up of mostly glass and steel as far as I could tell. It gave the visual appearance of trying to seem transparent and letting the public know there was nothing to hide. A notion that I knew to be entirely false although I understood well why they would put up such a facade. The people would be rioting in the streets if they knew even half of the truth. There was a sign on the front of the building, Hans Driesch Cloning & Training Facility.
I walked into the lavishly decorated lobby and was greeted right away by the receptionist. She let me know that I could purchase my ticket to the tour with her and that there was fresh coffee and hot water for tea in the sitting corner. I walked over to her desk and scanned my hand to ensure my access to the next tour and thanked her before walking around to take in the scene. There was a family of three waiting in the sitting area, presumably going on the same tour I had just arranged to take. A father, mother, and son that must have been somewhere around 10 years old.
I tapped both sides of my glasses to initiate recording mode. I might want this tour to be analyzed in further detail later, it is always better to have more information in cases like this. On the walls were pictures of past presidents at the facility alongside the pictures of clones who appeared to be getting much better treatment than those that I saw just yesterday. I did my best to hide all emotions as to not draw any unwanted attention to myself. Inside though, was an overwhelming feeling of disgust. I decided to take a seat in a chair far enough away from the family to give them their space and took my phone out to waste some time before the tour started. I ran across a local story about a man who had become lost at the Robert H. Treman state park yesterday and was screaming for help, but they assured the readers that he was found by park rangers and assisted. The story supposedly took place right around the same time the clone got loose and was murdered by the staff of the facility. They were very thorough, that much was clear.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you would so kindly join me by the entrance to the facility, I would be happy to guide you along the tour. My name is Ian and I will be overjoyed to lead you through what many have described as a life-changing and eye-opening journey through the incredible world of the cloning program.” The tour guide was overly cheery, and I could not help but wonder if he understood the truth behind what was going on here or if like most of the world he was just blindly being led along to think that there was nothing amiss. We all made our way over to the man who was dressed formally which made me worry about my homely appearance. I had not changed clothes since before Woodstock but had at least been able to wash up the night before at my cabin. The family were all dressed quite casually as well, so I put it out of my mind and prepared myself for what lay ahead.
A large metal sliding door was sealed behind him and after thanking us for our interest in the facility he scanned his forehead at the door and stood back as the light on the screen flashed green and the door came sliding open to allow our entrance. I never understood why some people chose to have their chips implanted in their foreheads rather than the back of their hand, but to each his own, I guess. I have seen the statistics on it before and the overwhelming majority of people choose their hand because of the convenience factor. As we made our way in the sliding door closed behind us and we followed our guide down the hall and around the corner.
“To your left, you will see the state-of-the-art training facilities in which our clones can achieve the glory they are destined for. They must push themselves very hard to obtain the level of capability that you have all no doubt seen at some point, but we make sure they are well taken care of on that journey.” The tour guide spoke while gesturing toward a wall that was made up of a thick plate of glass. On the other side were a few clones being tended to by personal trainers in a facility surrounded by the best exercise equipment as far as the eye could see. It made me wonder how some of the clones ended up on this cushy job where they were able to put on a show for the public about how well the clones were treated. It had to be the ones who were compliant from the very beginning and possibly even sold out their counterparts.
We continued down the hallway after taking a considerable amount of time to gawk at the gym. I had glanced over at the family whole we were still admiring the world-class exercise room. The young boy was wide-eyed and full of wonder. If only he knew the truth of what was happening to the clones. I shudder to think of how a child would react to what I have seen.
The next stop was the spa, clones were relaxing and getting massages next to those who had hot stones across their backs. There was a large sauna in the corner of the room with a see-through wall there were two clones inside sweating it out presumably after an early workout in the previous area. In the other corner of the room, there were steaming hot tubs that appeared to be made of natural stone and had the appearance of hot springs rather than man-made structures. There were a few clones at the back of the room getting their feet rubbed with a hot towel over their face. It truly was like a little slice of heaven, but the hypocrisy of it infuriated me. It was all so fake, and nobody who came through even had a clue.
“As you can well see, the clones are in the lap of luxury and are treated with only the finest here in the Hans Driesch Facility. If you follow along this way, we will make it past the Olympic-sized swimming pool and over to the cryogenic and sensory deprivation areas.” The tour guide said smugly with a voice that I couldn’t help but resent. I know it is possible that he could be entirely in the dark about it all, but I just hated this whole situation and to me, he was a part of it.
We moved on through the rest of the incredible areas intended for the treatment and training of the clones, but it was what we saw after that which truly caught my attention.
“Now for the final and most miraculous section of our tour. Here is the scientist’s facility where they do their cloning and much of the rest of their work behind those closed vault doors for privacy. Nobody likes having someone look over their shoulder while they work on something special. There is something quite more interesting though for you to feast your eyes on right here on the other side of the glass. The cloth that those two scientists are working on is the fabled Shroud of Turin.
It was once thought to be completely myth and only created by swindlers for the monetary gain of showcasing it to the faithful. This one was unearthed only this year and we believe that we might be on the brink of making an exact clone of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some might call it the second coming as it were.” Ian the tour guide finished his piece and sat back to let us stare in wonder and amazement at what was truly a world-changing event. This was like an out of body experience to be witnessing and as soon as he spoke of it as the second coming my blood ran cold. I have never been much of a religious man, but I knew enough to know what comes with the second coming of Christ.
Suddenly it was no longer about me and my little situation of hoping not to get caught for seeing what I saw. Now it was about an epic problem on a global scale. Listen to me, I sound like one of those religious nuts I always made fun of. Preaching their doomsday messages and urging us not to fall into temptation. Being this close to what was about to happen in the flesh though gave me a sort of gut-reaction that went straight past any type of thinking process that I might muster. This was going to be bad, I could feel it. My logical brain might believe this would be just like any of the other clones that they make, but my pure animal instinct told me it was something much worse. Something that had been written of for thousands of years before they even knew exactly how it might happen. This would be Armageddon.
After we gawked at the scientist and the shroud for a while longer, we were led to the exit by Ian and thanked warmly for touring their facility. He made sure to let us all know individually that he appreciated our coming and invited us back for a tour anytime that we liked. I had to get home, this was all way too much. I needed to make my way back and give myself some time to process all of this information. Not that any amount of time would be enough to understand everything that is happening right now fully.
I pulled out my phone and summoned the nearest air taxi to take me back to my car at the library. My head was reeling, and it was going to be nice to finally make it back to my vehicle. The ride felt much shorter this time as my mind was going a thousand miles per minute. When we arrived at the library, I thanked the driver and tipped him by scanning my right-hand typing the number that I felt was fair on the touchscreen that he held out to me. My car was still there and how sweet it felt to open that door and hop right in. Maybe I would just go home and enjoy the rest of my vacation, act like all of this never happened. I doubted I would be able to, but it was a nice thought at least. I told the car to take me home and agreed to the playlist that it chose for me to listen to on the way.
I arrived at my home after quite a long drive from Bethel. I lived in a highrise condo in downtown Manhattan. I scanned my hand at the door to gain entrance and walked briskly through the lobby and to the elevator pod. I stepped in and scanned my hand as I sat in the seat to secure my harness and prepare for the ride. It flashed my information and residence before me to ensure that was my destination. I agreed by tapping yes on the screen and was ready to take my ride home. The pod shot up along the rail to the 92nd floor, once there it adjusted to the horizontal rail and shot me over to the 64th room. It opened and allowed me to step out of the pod before it returned to its original location.
Once more I scanned my hand at the door to gain entrance to my condo and stepped into my own house for the first time in almost a week. As stressful and eventful as this week had been it felt like much longer than just one week. I walked through the living room and into my bedroom and collapsed onto the bed. I turned on the telescreen that took up the wall opposite the windows for a little background noise. I looked towards the blinds and called out for them to open so I could look out at the beautiful view. After laying there for a while and reflecting upon everything that had gone down, I made my decision.
There was nothing that I was going to be able to do to help this situation, it was just too far out of my control. I decided to continue with my life which had been treating me very well before I stumbled upon all this madness. I took great joy and comfort in this idea and let my body relax. Letting all the tension release from my shoulders and sinking back into my pillow. My relaxation was abruptly ended when I heard a breaking broadcast cut onto the screen beside me.
After the alert that assured the watcher that breaking news was about to appear the reporter came onto the screen and began to speak. “Reports are telling us that today marks a new era in human history. Today the scientists at the Hans Driesch Cloning Facility have made a breakthrough that many thought would never be possible. They have attained a strand of DNA from the newly unearthed Shroud of Turin and were able to make a full and exact clone of Jesus Christ. We will shortly be cutting to footage of the clone that many are calling the second coming of the Messiah. This is an exciting and riveting time to be alive, we are so glad to be the first to share this breaking update with the public. Thank you for your viewership and please enjoy the footage and pictures from this groundbreaking day.”
The camera cut to the footage of the cloned Jesus who looked a bit out of sorts as if he was adjusting to his existence. I told my TV to change itself to another news station so that I could see another take on this new event. They had a pastor on the screen who was being interviewed on the topic. He started by reciting a scripture that they, in turn, put up along the bottom of the screen.
Revelations 13:16 – “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.”
My jaw dropped as I heard the man speak these words. We had all received the mark of the beast without even the slightest understanding of what we had done. My dreams of a normal and happy life that I once knew were over. Now was the time for action. Whether I like the idea or not, it seemed that a battle that would bring about the end of the world was just around the corner.