The Copies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A man living on a space station governed by an evil sheriff.

“I hate doing this,” Deputy Barnes says to my back. “But if I don’t,” he sighs, “you know how the sheriff is.”

I try to curse at him but my jaw refuses to open. The door in front of us shoots a beam of light into the Deputy’s eyes, then it slides into the ceiling, allowing us access once it recognizes his retina.

“Welcome back, Deputy Barnes.” A robotic voice emanates from a speaker above the door.

We enter the station’s police center, greeted by a man sitting in front of a desk, a series of images projected in front of his face causing him to have a hue of green light. He doesn’t even notice us as his hands move across an invisible keyboard, inputting data into the system or maybe sending a data log to someone on the lower levels of the station.

Barnes clears his throat, alerting the other deputy of our presence. With a flick of his hand the man clears the images off the screen and looks at Barnes with a bored face.

“What is it this time? Some kid trying to steal rations from the farms?” He yawns, not even attempting to cover his mouth.

“It’s Henson,” Barnes responds, pushing me towards the desk, making the cuffs pinch my skin.

The man looks at me with disbelief. “You caught him?”

“Sure did. Got a guy from IT to track the IP from the computer he was using. Seems like Henson here likes the coldies,” Barnes says, adjusting his belt, a grin plastered to his face.

I smile at this, knowing I let him find me in the cryogenic room, allowed them to track my IP and catch me. The man at the desk looks at me with interest, catching my smile before I can wipe it from my face. He shrugs, probably assuming I’m insane, and waves us past him. Barnes takes my arm and moves me towards the holding cells near the back of the room, adjacent to the sheriffs office.

Various people sitting at desks turn their heads, some recognizing me with raised eyebrows and others engrossed in their work before them. If only they knew what I knew.

As we approach the cells, a small hum becomes audible, growing louder with each step towards the cages. Barnes holds his thumb out to a spot on the door while it reads his fingerprint. A low beep and red light comes from the door to the cells and it opens, letting Barnes push me inside. Instead of the electrified metal rods the livestock from the farms are held in, a symmetric glowing force field lines a side of the room, surrounding a few cots and bare toilet chutes.

“Open.” Barnes says, chuckling at my amazement with the slightly undulating walls.

When the stations A.I. hears him, a red light flashes above the cells and he pushes me in, harder than he needed.

“Lock.” The light changes from red to green.

As he pushes a button on his belt, the cuffs dematerialize from my wrists and appear on his hip. He sits in a chair worn with use and turns on a computer. After pulling up a form he begins typing in the air, humming gently to himself. I smash my fist against the surface of the cell, angry at how easily this man can work knowing the difficulty of others on the station. The pain in my mouth making me punch the wall harder than I needed.

Barnes turns his head to look at me. “You can’t get out of that.”

I point to my mouth, glaring at him.

“He told me specifically not to let you talk.” His hand moves to his belt, index finger hovering over another button. “I knew you before you went apeshit, Henson. Why’d you do it?” He looks at the floor and shakes his head sadly.

“Barnes!” a voice explodes, causing the deputy to jolt and a flare of anger to run through me.

The station’s Sheriff storms into the room, his hair disheveled and face bearing an angry scowl.

“I was to be notified on the comm if Henson was caught!” the Sheriff yells at Barnes.

Before he has a chance to respond, the Sheriff shoves his face into Barnes and asks quietly, “Did he say anything?”

“Uh no. I locked his jaw before he could,” he stammers.

“Leave,” the sheriff commands, pointing out of the room.

After Barnes walks out of the room, similar to a dog with a tail between its legs, the sheriff’s gaze turns towards me.

“So you know.” He states.

I ignore him and sit down on the cell’s cot, anger coursing through my veins.

He sighs and walks to the doorway between the cubicles of the officers and the cells.

“It hurts to know what I know,” he tells me after the door slides closed. “After the riots we couldn't let that happen again.”

I jump out of the cot and bang my fist against the force field. A bright web of lines bursts from the impact before fading. I hold my hand against the heat of the energy and point back to my jaw.

The sheriff looks at the door again, making sure it’s fully closed before allowing the force on my jaw to disappear.

“You’re a lying piece of-” I stop, massaging my jaw, still feeling as if it's wrapped closed by a piece of steel.

“You think I’m happy ordering people around, after the riots killed the last leaders of the city? Happy with how many lives I had to cut short to keep us all alive?”

“Cut the bullshit.” I say, voice trembling with anger. “I found some data on the stations server, hidden within some part orders from your comm. Ring any bells?”

His eyes twitch as this information sinks in.

“I know you killed them. I know you sent hitmen to kill the overseers once the riots started. I know you kill those who discover what your plans are. I know the riots weren't started by some psychos but by you.”

“Who did you tell?” he says quietly.

I remain silent.

“WHO DID YOU TELL?” he suddenly yells at me.

I grin at his outburst and continue my silence.

He jams a button on the side of the forcefield and my body seems to grow a mind of its own. All of my muscles contract, and searing bursts of electricity go throughout my body, making me collapse to the floor.

“I said, who did you tell?” he repeats, softer this time.

I look up at him from the floor, my body still stiff.

“Everyone’s going to know.” I tell him, smiling again despite the pain I’m still feeling.

“You’re not going to be able.” he responds before commanding the cell door to unlock. He grabs me by the arm and pulls me roughly to my feet.

I attempt to swing a fist into his face but he catches it. Either my rage or stupidity causes me to forget about his downloaded strength upgrades. A crack in my hand causes me to cry out and clench my eyes shut. He continues squeezing my hand until another crack sounds out. The pain almost causes me to black out.

Everyones going to know, I think through the pain. He won't get away with this. Or the riots. None of his minions will be around. The people will be in control again. Not the sheriff. Not after this. She will finally be avenged.

Her face enters my thoughts, filling me with warmth and calm despite the pain im going through. I think of a joke she used to tell that got me to laugh every time even though I knew the punchline. Thinking of it causes me to laugh in the sheriffs face

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” he yells at me, each shut up followed by a punch. The third causes a rib to snap. I smile and spit some blood in his face.

He wipes the blood from his nose, shaking it to the floor. His arm quivers in anger.

He pulls me roughly and shoves me in front of the airlock doors. His arm slaps a cover off of a button near and pushes it roughly. The doors pull apart from one another, similar to a zipper, and he plants a foot on my sternum, kicking me into the airlock with a surprising force. I knock my head on one of the walls and flashes of black swim through my vision, causing her face to vanish and making me collapse. I lay on the floor, too hurt to stand, each breath causing an explosion of pain to come from my rib.

“No one is going to remember you. Your name will mean nothing.” the sheriff spits at me, smiling.

He presses the button again and a red light starts flashing above the door.

“Warning! Lifeform detected.” The robotic A.I. says in her sing song voice.

“Override.” The sheriff replies to it and the door closes.

As soon as the top of the door closes a shiver goes up my spine, as I realize only an inch of wall separates me from the vastness of space.

“Well Barnes. This is it.” The sheriffs voice permeates into the airlock through the comm system, his voice cracking slightly with static. I hear a clunk and a timer starts going down.

“10.”

I reach into my mouth with my non injured hand and pull out a small electronic device, wires surrounding a small button at its core.

“9.”

“What is that?” I look up and see the sheriff looking through the porthole in the door, his face covered in lines of worry.

“8.”

I sit in silence and push the button, but nothing happens. Did I mess up the wiring? I jam the button harder and the light finally turns on, telling me the computer received the signal.

“What is that?” the sheriff asks again, yelling.

“7.”

“Your death.” I respond quietly

“Open doors!” the sheriff yells at the doors, and starts hammering various buttons on the wall.

The computer responds with a low negatory beep but now the countdown has slowed, allowing me a few extra moments.

“6.”

I hear the sound of a gunshot through the intercom, coming from where the deputies were working, accompanied by a yell.

The sheriff looks at me with his jaw clenched and eyes widened.

I simply smile at him.

“5.”

“What have you done?” He asks quietly.

“Something someone should’ve done earlier. Tell me sheriff, when you sleep do you see the faces of those you killed? The faces of the 2,000 people you killed?” I say, my voice growing louder with each word.

“4.”

I place my hand on my knee and push myself to stand, letting me look into sheriff's eyes.

“What about the face of my wife? Do you see her?” I ask him, a tear of both anger and pain rolling down my face.

“3.”

The only response he has for me is a sullen stare.

“I reprogrammed the copies. Upgraded them. I told them what you did. What you still do. They will not have mercy for you nor your men. It’s time for a change in power.” I tell him.

The noise increases exponentially as the door to the deputies stations open and three forms step through the door. Looking past them bloody corpses litter the floor, just like after the riots. Their faces show no signs of emotion, their muscles ripple due to the upgrades and their eyes glow with a sinister look. One has a large cut on its face that slowly closes on it’s own, showing a faint scar before disappearing completely.

“2.”

They step forward towards the sheriff, causing him to back against the door to the airlock. He slams a fist into one of the copies, causing its head to jerk and jaw to pop out of place. It turns it’s head slowly back to the sheriff, face still devoid of emotion or pain. He tries to bolt past them but their speed is superior to his and one grabs his throat and easily lifts him into the air.

“Please.” he gurgles past the force on his neck.

“1.”

“I can,” his hands scrabble against the copies hand, coughing when he gets a breath of air. His fearful eyes flick to mine in the porthole, seeking mercy. Something he took away long ago.

“I can let you out!” he yells.

A sickening pop and squelch sounds out as the copy rips his entire head off, sending a spray of blood against the porthole. The copy drops the sheriffs corpse, allowing the other to begin feeding, hungry after their long time in the cryogenic tanks. The copy who killed the sheriff walks up to the porthole and wipes the blood off.

“We will remember what you did.” It says, a hint of sadness in its voice.

I smile and slump down to the ground, knowing my work is done.

“Zer-”

I don't even hear the full word as the airlock opens, sucking all sound as well as me into the cold emptiness of space. My lungs explode and my body starts screaming in pain before my vision fades.

She can rest easy now. Soon I will see her again. We will be at peace. Wait... How am I still thinking? I try and open my eyes but see only blackness. Not even the outer lights of the station. Death can't just be blackness-- Suddenly my body feels as if it’s being boiled. Bubbles percolate all around me and I feel as if I’m in water? I try and look around at my body but my head hits a surface with a low clang. Then the sound of flowing water enters my ears. Sound? I’m dead in space. This is impossible.

Another clunk sounds and a small hum enters my ears. I’m hit in the face with a surprisingly bright light, causing my eyes to clench shut against the infernal light. The water I now realize I’m submerged in begins to lower from my sides, leaving me with goosebumps.

“Hanson!” A voice exclaims in happiness.

I open my eyes and see a framework of metal bars above me. My field of vision increases as the 2 pieces of metal retract and face enters my vision. My eyes begin to focus and begin to water the instant I see her eyes, the smile she has and her dark brown hair that for some reason is wet. But I don't care. It’s actually her. Finally. Her hands pull on a lever and surface begins to raise into the air. Her eyes begin to water as she sees mine doing the same and her hand rushes to my forehead, wiping back loose wet strands of hair stuck to my face.

I try and talk but my the muscles in my throat hit something solid, almost making me gag. She sees my distress and pulls at something near my mouth. The thing leaves my throat and see its a blue feeding tube, like the ones in the... I cough, a blue liquid bursting from my mouth.

“It worked.” I gasp.

I hug her, both of us ignoring the liquid on my skin and just enjoying one anothers embrace. She weeps into my shoulder as I look around at the cryo room.

“It worked.” she says, pulling back from my shoulder and looking in my eyes.

I smile and lie back on the cryo tanks bed and close my eyes, glad my program worked. I discovered how to live indefinitely, whenever we grew old or sick we could replace our outer selves with fresh copies stored in the tanks. The tanks regen new copies every year or so for every member on the ship. Something the sheriff hid from all of us.

“Where is he?” I ask suddenly, almost making her jump.

She looks at me in confusion before realizing who I’m talking about. She points at a tank a few rows down from me. It’s controls have been ripped out, cords cut and water drained. Above where the control panel was a machine printed F. STEELSWORTH. I lean back and close my eyes. The sheriffs reign was finally over.


Submitted: December 17, 2014

© Copyright 2021 The Yeti. All rights reserved.

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Rhynne Asad

Just as awesome, if not more than the other two! You have a gift for giving a huge amount of detail with minimal words, something I myself do lack. I saw no mistakes in grammar or spelling, telling me that you take a great deal of pride in what you do, and I greatly respect that! Keep it up!

Thu, April 2nd, 2015 3:19pm

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