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We have watched this video thousands of times.
The one about our history on planet earth. A lot has happened in the sixty-seven years since the fatal war, that left only one small piece of land not yet affected by the radiation of nuclear weapons. Everyone lives in our big city called Rissen, but the population is a low three million.
Yet these past six decades have been looking better for humanity. It has been a period of extreme science advancements. Teleporters, holographic phones built into our wrists and buildings that float using magnetic pulses have been among some of the biggest.
The clip finally ends and I search the crowd for my best friend, Ziro Oriol. She is in the inventions unit while I am being trained in the medicine unit. All youth from age ten to twenty-two are trained in our huge school, for a profession based on their skills and weaknesses. Ziro and I are in year six.
I meet Ziro outside the school. “Hey Ziro! We’re going to your lab right?” I ask. “You said you had a new invention to show me.”
“Why would I want to show you, Palleni? Besides, I hate that lab.” she says and storms away.
Ziro loves her laboratory. That is where she tries out all her experiments. She would never say anything like that.
I decide to go to her lab anyway, in case there are any clues as to why she is acting so strangely.
I arrive at Ziro’s house and walk straight through the teleporter that takes me to her laboratory. I search for clues (or anything really) that might explain her abnormal behavior. Hours pass yet I find nothing. But there has to be something here…
“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”
She’s here? I thought she said that she ‘hated’ the lab.
What is going on? “Ziro?” I ask.
“Palleni! Is that you?” she exclaims, as I try to figure out where on earth she is.
“Yeah I’m here. You have a lot of explaining to do. Also, where are you?”
“I’m in my storage vault.” I locate the room she describes to me. I notice that the door requires a password to open. As if to read my mind Ziro says, “Passcode is ‘OriolZ3002’ ,” she tells me. I enter in the code, and the door clicks open.
“Why are you locked up in here?” I ask as I tentatively walk inside.
The heavy metal door suddenly latches behind me but not before I see who closes it from the outside.
I start to scream. I am so terrified. I kick that metal door so hard that something in my foot crunches, which makes me scream louder. Ziro manages to get me to sit down. Her eyes wide, she begins to explain.
“I was putting some finishing touches on my cloning machine, which is what I wanted to show you, when it came on. It cloned me because I was closest to the machine,” She takes a deep breath. “But the thing about the cloning process is that we look exactly alike, but act opposite.”
I am slowly starting to understand. Ziro is super nice to everyone, which means that her clone is… evil.
Ziro continues. “She forced me into this room and locked it. I have been stuck in here for six hours.”
“And then she came to school. I thought that she was you,” I finish.
“Appearances can be deceiving.”
“Anyway, I’ve almost found a way out of here,” Ziro tells me. But it involves mixing dangerous chemicals together to explode a hole in the door. If we do it wrong, we will die.”
I nod somlemly. I understand the stakes. But we both know we have no other option.
Ziro assembles the materials and instructs me to drop a weird looking mineral into the solution on her count.
“Three, two, one, go!” she shouts. My heart racing, I put in the rock and sprint to the other side of the storage room, away from danger. I watch as Ziro throws in a few more ingredients. It seems to take her too long. She sets the mix beside the door and runs to me.
But she couldn’t get to safety in time. The door explodes and so does Ziro’s leg. I scream, but blood doesn’t faze me. Her left leg is severed at the knee. I scramble, trying to find something to stop the blood from pouring out of the stump. Since I am in the medicine unit, I know how to fix up her wound. But this is an experimental lab, not a hospital and I cannot find anything but a simple first aid kit. I bandage her knee with the sterile white bandage that I find in the kit, but she is still losing blood fast. She moans in pain, and tells me to leave her. With the hole busted in the door I can go stop her identical. Yet I can’t leave her to die here.
From the storage room, we watch in horror as Evil Ziro flicks on Ziro’s cloning machine.
“NOOOOOOO!” Ziro shouts weakly. I reprimand her and tell her to save her strength. Dozens of Ziros are exploding out of the invention. The blood drains from Ziro’s face. I am worried that she will go unconscious. Despite my scolding of her talking, Ziro yells to me, “We need to get my electrifier. If we shock the machine, it should stop.” I agree because I can’t just sit there and watch her die. Once we stop her identicals, I can go get help.
I pick up Ziro’s broken body and shove my way out the door and through her clones. I try to move as quickly as I can, but the ever-growing crowd makes it difficult. Yet what I notice makes me stop short. The new clones… they’re acting differently than the first one. They are helping each other off the floor and when they see me and Ziro standing there, helpless, they spring into action. One Ziro grabs the electrifier and hands it to me, while three others take Ziro from me and take her out of the lab. I am inclined to follow them and make sure that Ziro is safe, because I don’t completely trust them, but think otherwise when I remember her words. ‘But the thing about the cloning process is that we look exactly alike, but act opposite.’ So I take the tool that one of her clones had handed to me, and aim at Ziro’s invention. A ray of electricity flies from the stick to the target.
WHIRP! The machine shuts off. Next, I locate the first clone, the evil one, and hit her with a blast of electricity, to avenge Ziro. Evil Ziro falls over, dead, and then… disappears. I wasn’t prepared for her to just vanish, and have to lean on one of the good Ziros for support. But I suppose it makes sense, seeing as she doesn’t actually have any life form, except for being a copy of Ziro’s.
I am worried about Ziro, and her clones seem to share my concern, as several dozen of them follow me out of her lab. We teleport directly to the hospital, and find Ziro laying on a white bed. The nurses in the room don’t seem alarmed at all by the thirty Ziros that come in to add to the four that are already there. I guess they can probably infer what happened.
“Palleni…” Ziro calls to me, her voice weak. “Did you do it?” I nod, tears threatening to spill over if I open my mouth. My response makes her smile. She hugs me, and the tears start to flow. We sit there for a while, me sobbing, Ziro getting weaker and weaker and her identicals soberly bowing their heads.
We all knew.
And then it happens. Ziro dies smiling at everyone in the room. Me, her best friend of four years, the nurses who attempted to save her life, and finally the dozens of copies of her filling the room, who she had come to love in the half an hour that she had known them.
The next few months were tough, yet somehow reassuring. My life went mostly back to normal, except for the fact that I know had one-hundred best friends instead of just one. But I knew Ziro would have wanted me to carry on and live life with my new friends, and so I did. They all joined different units and the government had a huge, dorm style house constructed to house them all. They were registered as citizens of Rissen, and each given new names, because apparently you can’t have that many people registered under the same name. Everyone missed Ziro’s cheerfulness and intelligence, but mostly her kindness.
Ziro’s clones loved her like a sister and were almost as sad as me at her funeral.
Though I will never forget Ziro and the fun times we had, I now had one-hundred copies of her, to remind me that she is never far from my heart.
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