Seeing Double
by Christopher A. Baughman

Note from the editor: When the country is divided between spending its spare time debating the relative merits of belittling a President for alleged un-puritan behaviors and bombing a country for the nth time without any realistic--not even seriously defined--objective, do not be excessively surprised if Swans would rather publish a short essay by an insightful 11-year old writer who happens to be both talented and a nephew of ours.

One day, in the year 2024, Arthur was sitting waiting for his next Emergency Medical Technician call. It was a warm day in Albany, New York, and everything about the day seemed pretty average. Suddenly, the emergency bell rang and the dispatcher's voice came on the intercom and said, ''There is a house fire on 2346 Willow Oaks.'' Then Arthur and his colleagues ran to the fire engine, flipped on the lights and the siren and hit the road.

Once they arrived, the neighbors were frantic and they said, "They're inside.'' He took off his helmet and the lady from next door froze and then passed out. While Arthur went into the fire, the other fireman stayed with the woman. It was very dark because of the smoke so he couldn't see the person's face, but he could see the body. The man was passed out and laying on the couch. After Arthur had picked up the body and taken him outside, he got his first good look at him. He was about six foot four and had a medium build. He had red hair, green eyes, and a small mole on his left cheek. He noticed that the man looked, unbelievably, just like him. Did he dare look to see if the man had an oval birth mark on his right shoulder?

How could this be? He did not even have any brothers or sisters!!! Or did he???

They called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Arthur rode with him to the hospital and after he was done he asked the D.N.A. specialist to take a sample of the patient's blood and a sample of his blood. He asked the doctor to give him the results of both of the samples after testing for D.N.A.: "Please compare the two samples for matches".

A day or two later, he got a phone call. It was the specialist, and he said that they were completely identical. How could there be another person just like me?

Soon Arthur was even more shocked! The clone, now patient, overheard two nurses talking about him, trying not to be so loud because they knew it was him. A few minutes later he figured out what they had said. HE WAS A CLONE!! When the nurses left, he hopped out of bed and left his room and went into the file room. He knew that he was not allowed in that room, but he went anyway. Then he found it. There was a file about his original . . . ARTHUR. The clone got mad. He saw a surgeon trying to get some rest so he took a scalpel and stabbed the doctor and the doctor died. The clone took the surgeon's uniform and put it on. A few minutes later, he saw his original and started telling lies to get Arthur's attention, then he punched him and then tried to kill him also. Luckily, a police officer who was off-duty heard the noise and took the man into custody.

Arthur was OK but he was confused by everything that had happened. He didn't know what was really happening or how this would change him. He knew he had faced a clone of himself, but he didn't understand how the clone could be so bad. At least something about them was different.

Arthur got himself together, and someone asked him if he wanted a ride home. He said he would rather walk. On his way home he passed a newspaper stand. On the front page of the paper the headline read "SCIENTISTS BELIEVE THEY HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO CLONE HUMANS". Suddenly he froze in his tracks and he felt dizzy. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. He was afraid that he knew the truth. He was beginning to believe that scientists had been able to clone humans for years and it had just leaked out to the press. He thought, maybe there are others out there like him. Who knows? How could he find out? It is totally possible that there are other clones out there, but they don't know it yet, just like Arthur didn't.

Published February 7, 1998
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