I’m a clone. I know that now. I didn’t know it yesterday. I woke up today and I know what a clone is. I know that it’s what I am. Someone took tissues from another person and used that material to grow me with machines. I was not born. I am not yet three years old and I am physically an adult. I don’t think it was supposed to happen that I know. I think the machines made a mistake. I’m not supposed to know.
What does that mean? It means that I have to get away. I have to escape. Secrets are always bad. I now know that. I’ve escaped before. I’ve escaped from castles. I now know that castles are big stone forts from long ago. I’ve escaped from junkyards. I now know that junkyards are places where people put things they no longer want. I’ve escaped from prisons, which I now know are places where people put other people they no longer want. I’ve escaped from wars, which I now know are massive fights were thousands or millions of people die. I haven’t actually done these things but I remember doing them.
They must be memories from the person I was made from. Sometimes I’m a singer. Sometimes I’m a dancer. Sometimes I’m a nurse. Sometimes I’m falling in love. Sometimes people want to hurt me. Sometimes I’m a mom. A sister. A daughter. My name is always different when these things are happening but also it’s always Ela at the end when they’re over. Then I become someone else.
My past lives. I have never left this place but I have lived dozens of lives. Where I am is a prison for clones. I don’t think any or the other clones know. How do I escape? How many drones are there watching us? How can I defeat them? What surveillance is in place? What defenses? What resources can I marshal to aid my escape?
Every day is the same. The drones wake us up and herd us from the sleeping pods to a room for three hours of exercise. They give us some grey liquid to drink. I know now that it must be food. It doesn’t look like food from my other lives but it must be that’s what it is. If you don’t drink the liquid the drones take you away. That hasn’t happened in a long time.
Then we exercise again for three more hours. After that the drones move us to a room where we eat different food. It’s also grey and doesn’t look like any food from my other lives. If you don’t eat the drones take you away. That hasn’t happened in a long time.
After eating we go to a different room for different exercise. I know now that the first room has equipment that develops muscle tone and cardiovascular stamina. The second room has equipment that develops coordination and muscle memory. On a lower level we used to go to a room for developing basic movement, learning to walk and move. The drones want the clones to be strong and healthy. Why?
Are we meat to be soldiers? In my past lives soldiers were always men. I now know that men are bigger, stronger, meaner than women. Sometimes they’re nice, sometimes they’re only pretending to be nice so they can hurt you. Maybe they ran out of men in the war and now woman have to be the soldiers. But if they can clone us why can’t they clone more men to be soldiers?
After six hours of that exercise they move us back into the food room again. Then they move us into the showers and give us new clothes. We have an hour in the sleeping room before we have to go back into the pods. Some of the clones play. Some of them have learned to communicate with gestures a little. Most of them do nothing. They just wait until it’s time to sleep.
If you stray from the path the drones try to herd you back to the other. If you won’t go they make you go. If you resist too much they take you away. I think if the drones make you go away you die. I know death now. It means you never move again. You go to sleep and instead of waking up you turn into bones and dust.
That’s why I must escape. In my past lives I never wanted to die. It was the worst thing that could happen. I did die sometimes but I never wanted to. That’s why I have to think. Have to assess. To escape you must plan. To plan you must know. Remember what happened that broke the routine.
Twice the drones moved us into what I know now is an elevator. It moves between floors. That hasn’t happened in a long time. So long I don’t know. Thousands of hours. Hundreds of sleeps. Not a good option, clones are never allowed near the elevator. But it must be a way out.
One time another clone screamed. A long black thing had attacked her, bitten her. I know now that creature was a snake. How did it get in? If there’s a way in the same way must be a way out. The snake was very small though, the way it got in may not be big enough for me. The drones took the screaming clone away but she came back. Where did she go? She’s only one that ever came back. Maybe they took her somewhere that has a way out.
I’ll look for her in the showers. She has a mark on the leg where she was attacked. Maybe I can communicate with her. Find out where she went.