The Wrong Button
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
She had already defeated her arch nemesis in battle. Now she had to kill the love of her life.
The office was strewn with chaos, half formed clones who had barely staggered out of their tanks were slaughtered mere steps from the breach point in the wall. The doors were hanging from single hinges as incapacitated body guards lined the floors. Lee Victin – the crazed genius behind this facility – was dead at her feet, the mad grin still plastered to his face. And embroiled in a life and death struggle over the oaken desk was her lover – Kurt – with his clone.
“Kate!” Kurt spluttered as his clone – or vice versa – put him into a choke hold.
“Really, Kurt?” She said as she staggered over Lee’s body and trained her pistol on the wrestling match. “You couldn’t take out ‘your’ clone at a distance?”
The Kurt in a headlock pulled a knife and slashed at the dominant Kurt’s arm. He pulled back with a snarl, drew his own knife and the tide of the struggle tipped dangerously between the two. As Kate feared, it ended in a stalemate. With their arms locked, each knife tip edging closer towards the other’s vitals she yelled.
“Would both of you just pull back?”
“If I do that Kate, he’ll kill me, then kill you!” She wasn’t sure if this was the Kurt who spoke earlier or not, she was so woozy from the battle, she must have hit her head.
She cocked her gun.
The two stopped shaking with their exertions as they looked to her, pistol wavering between the two.
“Kate.” The other Kurt said. “It’s me, I’m wearing the shirt you got me!”
“Jessie’s clone had her clothes too, Kate!” The first Kurt said. “They stripped me down when they took my DNA.” He gestured down with his head, wearing nothing but a pair of ill fitting security uniform trousers.
“Fuck.” She frowned. “Would both of you just drop the knives and step back for a second!?” Her voice was hoarse from screaming, it had been a hard day.
“He’ll kill me as soon as I let up!”
“He’s the killer, Kate! He was going to knife me before the power gave out, before you and the team came to save me!”
“Tell me something only Kurt would know!” She said.
“They imprint memories Kate! Don’t listen to anything that thing says!”
“Kate,” The shirtless one said, lowering his voice with strain. “You know me, you know who I am.”
She took a deep breath, pointed the pistol and fired.
The Kurt with the t-shirt jolted as the back of his head exploded. Shirtless Kurt flinched back with wide eyes as Kate aimed the pistol at him, tears flooding her cheeks.
“Tell me I didn’t just kill my husband!” She screamed. “Just fucking tell me!”
“Kate.” He stepped off the desk cautiously, dropping the knife, shaking as he tried to avoid looking at the lifeless look alike. “Kate, it’s okay, it’s me.”
Her throat was constricting under the strain of fighting back a sob, she had made her choice, now she had to have faith. She dropped the gun and staggered into his arms. They embraced in the ruins of the office.
“Hey, how did you know it was me?” He pulled back, taking her face in his hands, caressing the stray hair off her brow.
“God you smell awful!” She scrunched her face as she laughed, and sobbed.
“I think the guy I took these pants off wasn’t very hygienic.” He grimaced. “I don’t really want to think about it.”
“Neither.” She pulled away, grabbing his arm. “Come on, we need to blow this place to hell.”
She gathered up her bag and dragged Kurt to the secret passage behind Lee Victin’s bookcase. It lead to an elevator, tiled and lit in sterile white, completely different to the once cozy interior of the office. It was a short ride down to the sub levels, the doors opened to more sterile hallways strobed with orange from the alarm lights and they made their way to the vat chamber.
“This is where they had me.” Kurt grimaced again.
They looked out over row upon row of incubation vats. Adult sized embryonic life forms floated within each, bobbing up and down in the blue liquid, fed by a tube into the centre of the blob like organism.
She caressed his arm. “Come on, one charge every three vats. Jason and Steph would have already dealt with the archives and support columns.” She handed him a cluster of charges.
They set out down different corridors of vats, placing and setting the charges. As Kate made her way towards the end of the vast room she found that the vats were in different stages of development. Changing gradually form blob like organisms to fully formed people, with the tubes that fed them linking into their guts. She slowed, pondering, a terror rising within her.
“Kate.” She jumped as Kurt rounded the corner. “Kate you’ve been dawdling, we need to link up with the others.”
She glanced down, down to his belly button.
“What?” He said.
“They, they have feeding tubes.” She said, almost a whisper.
“Yeah? How else would Lee keep them viable?” He asked, stepping closer – she stepped back.
“The feeding tubes go into their gut, like an umbilical cord.” She said again, her voice growing. “Forming a belly button.”
“Yeah? What’s your point? Why would Lee not utilise a natural port of nutrition for an embryo?”
“I always thought a clone wouldn’t have a belly button.”
Kurt stepped back this time, “Oh.” He looked down at his belly button. “That’s, that’s why you killed him.”
Kate didn’t realise she was gripping her pistol, Kurt’s gaze was flicking between it and her.
“Tell me I didn’t just kill my husband.” She said, so quietly this time.
“Tell me!” Her gun rose with her voice.
His hands spread out, “Kate.” His eyes turned dark, scanning, understanding his situation, then he smiled. It made her skin crawl. “I can see why he loved you.”
He leaped forward, she squeezed off a round.
Making their way to the vat chamber, two figures – Jason and Steph – snapped to a halt, hearing the first round, then a second. They sprinted into the chamber and down the corridors with their weapons up to find two bloodied figures, one standing over the other.
“Kate…” Steph said.
“She was a clone.” Kurt turned, his hand gripping the gun, the side of his face grazed by her bullet. “My Kate is dead, I did what I had to.”
“Kurt.” Jason said, lowering his weapon. “She… We…” He snapped his weapon up again. “You were the one held captive here.”
Kurt sighed, “I tried to spare you two as well.” He clicked the detonator in his other hand, and the charges along the vats on either said of Jason and Steph exploded, shredding them to bits.
Coughing and spluttering, Kurt emerged from the rubble, burned and bloodied, but alive and ready to carry out Lee’s dying wish.
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