, , , , , ,

Lucy opens her eyes to concrete and dim fluorescent sterility. Weak, unnatural light filters through a vertical slit of a window. An old nuclear bunker, she thinks. She is clothed in soft green pants and a beige long-sleeved jersey. Standing like soldiers by the door are a pair of canvas and leather boots.

The lights of the room brighten as she sits up and the mechanized click of her door unlocking echoes.

“Welcome to The Crown, Dr. Hassier. The Director requests your presence for breakfast. Take a left, head all the way down the hall until you see a staircase on your left. Take that up and go through the doors at the top,” says a speaker from somewhere in the ceiling.

Lucy pulls the boots on and nervously runs her hand over her scared and stubbled head. But instead of rough ridges of scar tissue she encounters soft hair, over an inch long. She touches her face with both hands and it too is smooth. She has been restored. Casting her eyes around the room she sees nothing she can use as a reflective surface. Clever. Stripping us of one of our senses, forcing faith.

Left with no other choice, she opens the door and follows the disembodied instructions. Passing doors identical to hers in the hallway she sees behind some of them shadows of pacing feet.  She tries planning her opening words to her captor, tries constructing a sentence so perfect, it will spring the lock on her prison. But deep down she knows that the Director has already won, Lucy’s questions outweigh her indignation.  She pushes open the doors, momentarily blinded by sunlight streaming in from a skylight and an arch of windows. The space is the size of a large Soho loft, complete with upper floors which she imagines are sleeping quarters.  There is a kitchen area, living area and office fanned out before her.

At an oval cherry table sits a lean, dark haired woman who bears such an eerie and unnatural resemblance to the man young man who brought her here, that before she can think to censor herself Lucy blurts, “Are you the clone, or they?”

Not the sentence she had in mind, certainly not the one to free her.

“It’s a side effect of the earlier tissue regeneration treatments, not unlike the one you have undergone.”

“How long?”

“Were you under or until you look like us?”

Lucy shivers and the shakes don’t stop. The thought that she will grow to look like this woman, undistinguishable, a mere reflection from the other side of the looking glass makes her gag and heave decorating the pretty carpet with yellow bile. Even that burns with sameness.

“Come now. It isn’t as bad as all that,” says the woman in the same predatory voice and  bearing the same sneer that her captor had.

But they both know it is.