This started as a vague idea for a long-term story. Thoughts would be welcome, although I fear I didn't do it proper justice.
All I wanted was to get married, ok? That’s how it all started.
“You want to get married?” Caroline said, her voice astonished. I had been the world’s most eligible bachelor for so long that my staff had grown accustomed to the constant stream of one-night stands and relationships that anyone with my money and handsome features can have. “Mr Rich, who do you want to marry?”
Mr Rich wasn’t my name, of course, although I have considered changing it by deed poll. I wasn’t born a billionaire, after all, and if I ever had children, I wouldn’t want to lumber them with a name like Richie Rich. It would have been funny, but…hey, I can be ruthless at times, but hardly cruel. My real name is Alex
“I want to marry myself,” I said. Caroline stared at me. “I think I need to talk to Doctor Hamilton.”
Caroline tried to talk me out of it. Caroline is a tall blonde woman who looks a lot like Reese Witherspoon, but there is no way that she could be mistaken for a dumb blonde. She had been my personal assistant – get your minds out of the gutter – for the last ten years and I trusted her as far as I trusted anyone. I would have had to share the plan with her, just because I needed her help; I had to trust that she wouldn’t take it at once to the police. There were laws against what I was planning.
(Of course, the vast amount of money I paid her every year and the fact that no CEO would ever hire her again if she betrayed me might have had something to do with her decision.)
“Sir – Alex – there must be someone out there for you,” she protested, once I had outlined my plan. There was no reason, I was sure, why it couldn’t be done – at least, there was no scientific reason. “What about Jane, or Darla, or even Sabrina?”
“All boring gold-digging tarts,” I said, cheerfully. I had managed to get both Jane and Sabrina into bed at the same time once, something that proved that rather than loving me for myself alone, they wanted my money. “I insist on a true equal.”
Caroline bowed. Many employers would insist that she wore a low-cut blouse, allowing them to see her fine breasts when she bowed, but I had merely asked her to wear a conservative business suit. I needed her to be loyal; pawing at her wouldn’t have helped that, would it?
“I will call Doctor Hamilton to the office,” she said finally. “Are you sure I can’t talk you out of this?”
I nodded; Caroline bowed again and left, leaving me to think. It had been years since I managed to get in on the ground floor of the genetic engineering boom…and that had made me a billionaire. The people who had been against genetic engineering had been fools – worse, they’d underestimated the power of human desire. One of my scientists had come up with a pill that caused a female body to burn fat much faster than normal…and it was the perfect slimming pill. It actually worked, for one; every woman wanted one and politicians found themselves forced into permitting the expansion of the industry. Years later, with better medicines, improved immune systems, and even the conquest of AIDS…who had been worried about genetic engineering again?
But I was alone. I had always been smarter than my contemporaries, from the children at school to my fellows at university; I had always been able to see through them like glass. Oh, I wasn’t one of those geeky bespectacled nerds; my insight into human behaviour allowed me to lure plenty of girls and even a handful of boys into my bed, but I was always alone in my head. My mental abilities set me apart.
Doctor Hamilton, by contrast, was older than me, a grey-haired woman with glasses and a permanently nervous disposition. I paid her enough to have a proper makeover, enough for her to end up looking like Caroline, but instead she was comfortable enough with her looks to remain the way she was. I found that reassuring in a way.
“Let me get this straight,” she said, after I had finished explaining. “You want me to grow a female clone of you, right?”
“Yes,” I said. The advances in human cloning and memory transference – all because of my funding and private interests – made such an action possible. “You can do it, can’t you, Doctor?”
She stared at me. “Mr Rich” – everyone called me that, except a handful of people – “there are laws against human cloning, laws that we cannot break.”
She stood up and paced, revealing her tension. “We can clone individual body parts, and God knows we do, everything from a new arm to a new penis,” she said. I smiled; the penis enlargement program brought in almost as much money as the slimming products. “Cloning a human body is technically forbidden.”
“Those laws were meant to prevent the creation of an entire human body for organ mining,” I reminded her. “They don’t apply to what I want, do they?”
“The letter of the law says that they do,” Doctor Hamilton said. I scowled. “The second problem is that of transferring all of your memories to her; you do know that you are very definitely a man, don’t you?” I looked down automatically, and then looked up. “She is going to be very confused when she puts her hand between her legs and instead of a penis finds…”
“She’s going to be me,” I said, dismissing her thoughts. I had coped with worse in my life. “she can cope…”
“There’s also the danger that your memories might get damaged in the transfer,” Doctor Hamilton concluded. She went into a long stream of technobabble while I listened with half an ear. “She will never have the chance to develop into her own person.”
“But Doctor, I don’t want her to be her own person,” I said. “I want her to be me, with breasts.”
Caroline looked intrigued and disgusted at the same time. “I don’t think I can do that,” Doctor Hamilton said. “The moral issues…”
I stood up. I wasn’t that intimidating, not compared to…say, Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, but I possessed more power than even the former President could dream of possessing. I could break her…and we both knew it. One day, head of the largest research team in the world, the next, a penniless pauper down and out on the streets of New York.
“Doctor, I am not interested in your moral issues,” I said. “I insist that you begin work at once…”
She wilted. “It will take around six months to force-grow her,” she said. “Can you wait that long?”
I’m something of a hands-off manager, not least because my company is so large that any attempt to micro-manage would make it impossible to keep up with progress on other parts of the company. These days, I have thousands upon thousands of people, on nine different worlds, working for me. Some of them don’t know that they’re working for me – I keep some of my assets hidden, just in case – while others are proud to work for me. I own enough of the space program to give me a considerable amount of political power; normally, I only use it to make life easier for my people.
And so I didn’t supervise Doctor Hamilton all that closely. My security staff reported, from time to time, that she was working on her new project, but little else. I don’t hire the staff to watch all of my staff, just the secure areas to prevent industrial espionage. One of the more irritating things about the local legal environment is that proving that something has happened is tricky; what one man sees, the competition has a good chance of duplicating, without actually stealing any details from me and mine.
“We finally have some progress,” Doctor Hamilton said, at the end of nine months. I had been irritated when she had informed me that six months wasn’t long enough, but I wasn’t willing to take risks with her. “Do you want to come see her?”
“Of course,” I said. “We’re on our way now.”
Caroline and I took the aircar to the laboratory, placed on Accession Island, somewhere far from any supervision or civilian populations. I had bought the island years ago from the British Government; by law, all genetic research had to be conducted in isolated locations. It was the final throw of those who hated engineering; it was paranoid enough to make us all laugh. Sure, some terrorist could bioengineer a virus, but hey, we had done enough to boost the human immune system that not even the worst possible virus could kill more than a handful of people. Half of the ‘lab’ was nothing more than stores and personal quarters; the quarantine zone consisted of a handful of bunkers deep underground, safe and secure.
“Welcome to the lab,” Doctor Hamilton said, as she led us into one of the bunkers. It had been sealed off from even the rest of the compound, I had heard; Doctor Hamilton had done most of the work herself, without even a single assistant. “Progress on the project has been surprisingly good, at least in the first stages of growth, something remarkable for the future. As you know” – I didn’t – “force-grown clones can exhibit…flaws in their genetic structure; half of the task was not to clone someone, but to find a way of growing her without inflicting serious incurable damage on her.”
I glanced around the lab. “And have you succeeded?”
“Oh yes,” Doctor Hamilton said. She touched a switch. “Behold; Alexandra.”
A door opened; I stabbed forward, drawn by an impulse I couldn’t explain. The centre of the room was dominated by a clear plastic tube, filled with a clear liquid. In the centre of the liquid, a naked girl floated, her eyes closed against the pressures of the liquid. Two thin lines were connected into her head; smaller tubes were connected into her arms, providing substance and medical support. She was…
I stared. Her face was like mine, only softer, more feminine. I knew, somehow, that we would share the same eyes. Her body was most definitely not mannish, with breasts and hips and thighs, but there was a definite hint of…robustness in her figure. I stared, again and again, and hardly heard the Doctor’s question.
“Does she please?”
“Yes,” I said. I hadn’t known what love was until I saw her, floating there; it was like looking at a mirror of myself. “When can I have her?”
“Physically, she’s around sixteen at the moment,” Doctor Hamilton said. “We intended to take her out and wake her within the next week, once we had run through the final tests. You and her are genetic twins, apart from the sex, so children are out of the question. It would be more like masturbation than incest, but frankly…”
“I never intend to share this with the world, Doctor,” I said. I couldn’t take my eyes off my twin. “Have her brought to me when she’s ready.”
Caroline and I flew home in silence.
My home was built, years ago, by a millionaire who hadn’t kept abreast of the very rapid changes in the field of human accomplishment. It was one of humanity’s major weaknesses, I had always felt, that humans never prepared for change, the one constant in the universe. He had lost his money and I had bought his house; in its vast walls, only myself and a handful of staff lived and worked. The night that Alexandra came, I had sent away almost all of the staff; they wouldn’t get to see her until later.
She stepped into my room. In her tube, she had been beautiful; walking, she was astonishing. It was like looking at a warped mirror of myself, something very alike and at the same time very different. She walked like me, talked like me; deep inside, I knew that she was me. I had been standing; it was a surprise when she flashed me a challenging smile and took the chair that I always loved.
“Alexandra,” I said. The situation seemed to call for strict formality. “Welcome to my home.”
She smiled at me. “My home,” she said. There was just the slightest hint of confusion in her voice. My memories were conflicting with her obviously subordinate position in the house. “This is my home.”
The first months flew past like a dream. Alexandra…was me; I was starting to realise that Doctor Hamilton had tried to warn me and I hadn’t understood. Like me, she loved Lemon Chicken and had it ordered as often as she could. Like me, she liked to walk and ride and play chess – do you know, I never managed to beat her, nor did she beat me. There were times when we felt so close, and times when she annoyed the hell out of me, such as when she accessed my computer and spent a night trading stocks and shares on the datanet.
“They’re my stocks and shares,” I snapped, that night. “You had no right at all to trade them!”
“I’m you, you’re me,” she snapped back. Like me, she never backed down from an argument. “Look, Alex; I earned thousands of dollars and thousands more in Euros!”
I had given her an allowance. She found that as irritating as I would have done, under other circumstances. I had always earned my own money and God knows, I had done very well. Alexandra thought she was me; in a very real sense, she was me. Worst of all, she had the same talents as I had when it came to making money; the tiny amount she had traded rapidly became a million dollars of her own. I didn’t understand at the time, but…
Our relationship was changing. Living with Alexandra gave me a sense of what living with me was like. We were both demanding in the bedroom and we both liked the same things, but only from the same point of view. Submission didn’t come easy to either of us; deep inside, we were the same person. I wondered, after becoming the loser in a contest to see who were underneath, just where our relationship was going.
That night, Alexandra didn’t come home.
I spent a few hours enjoying the peace before it dawned on me that she wasn’t here. I had taken the liberty of implanting a tracking implant in her body before she was decanted, something that would let me know where she was, all the time. It had been one of the handful of devices that I sold to the government; I believe that they used it for keeping track of wreckers and terrorists. When I checked, the signal said that she was in the bedroom, but when I went there, I found nothing. She was gone. I hunted, quickly, for the tracker and found it on top of our desk.
The phone rang. “Alex, this is Kara,” a female voice said. Kara was Caroline’s assistant, the Secretary’s Secretary, the woman who handled tasks when Caroline wasn’t around. “Sir, there’s a major trade war being mounted on us, and…”
I swore. I hadn’t realised how much I was worried about Alexandra until Kara butted in. “Kara, is it really that important?” I asked. I had most of the company’s assets carefully secured to prevent just such a disaster. “They can’t do more than irritate us, can they?”
“Sir, they have all the knowledge of the company and they have already taking half of the shares,” Kara protested. “They’re right on course for a hostile takeover!”
I leapt for the computer and brought up the information – or tried to. The password had been changed. I felt my blood run cold as I closed my eyes and picked a second password, gaining access to the system at last. It didn’t take a genius to know what had happened; Alexandra had altered the password, but being me, she had picked the same password I would have done. I was starting to realise, grimly, that it was Alexandra who had launched the hostile takeover and…
It was disaster. Alexandra could pose as me – hell, she was me – and had used it to weaken confidence over a period of weeks, before making major offers to some shareholders that had gained control over their shares. I didn’t understand, at first, how she had obtained that much money, before checking some of the secret accounts; they had been emptied, my fingerprints had been used to clear the transfers. Alexandra had struck again.
I launched myself into the trade war and tried to save what I could. Alexandra’s attack had been perfectly planned, as well as I could have done, unsurprisingly. Entire blocks of shares were being traded within the Internet, moving onwards within seconds, and thousands of dirty tricks were being pulled into the datanet. Companies no one was supposed to know about were being used as weapons, targeting my companies; the entire system was having a civil war.
It was like fighting myself…
I blocked her thrusts through the datanet, wherever she was, and she blocked mine. I tried to trace her and failed; she probably knew where I was already. It didn’t matter; she was tearing me apart…and then I realised that something else was wrong; Caroline had vanished as well. I had known, at some level, that she was a lesbian; Alexandra had somehow seduced her and brought her to work for her, rather than for me. I could guess Alexandra’s passwords, but Caroline’s? Not a chance. Undoing the damage was impossible.
So I did the only thing I could. I sued for peace.
Naturally, she had anticipated that as well.
It all came out afterwards; I should have known better than to expect everyone else to ignore my company tearing itself apart. Alexandra and I actually cooperated to hide the extent of the damage, but she was very firmly in control. She was me, after all, and she hadn’t liked the role I had privately envisaged for her. I wouldn’t have liked it either.
There’s little more to say. Alexandra runs the company now, with Caroline as her partner. I’m just…alone.
Back where I started.
But I have a plan…