In the midst of flickering flashes from digital cameras and news reporters carrying their microphones like fishing rods, casting question after question, young Albert stood there semi-paralyzed, responding only with his confused nods. Unable to answer any of the queries thrown at him, he simply gave away smiles every time he was jostled by one of the suited men standing beside him. A grim looking, neatly clad reporter hurled a question at him, “Albert! Albert! How do you think your brain will shape our world this time around?” Another reporter shrieked with a snicker, “Albert! Do you also want your brain to be preserved?” He immediately looked around to find appreciation for his wit. Albert replied, “Uh yes. No. Well, the authorities will decide on that. Besides, I will be pretty much dead so I wouldn’t care.” Everybody laughed and so did the suited guys. “Albert do you think it is wise to be working on the equations that Albert Einstein, your “Apex Being” only started to work on when he was quite older than yourself and–dare I say–much experienced?” Albert, as he was about to utter a reply, was intercepted by the suited guy. “Well, you see dear, if Albert here was not smarter than his Apex Being, the whole idea of selective cloning would be plain useless, right?” And without any break, he dismissed the reporters by asking them to submit their video queries. Albert and the suited men walked inside the building after a brief retina and skin scan.
The year was 2077. After years of protests against cloning, the higher ups had placed a ban, but there were only, according to the statistics both independent and authority declared, 2.2 million clones walking amongst us. Nobody could tell them apart. A bloody game was still in progress. It was unsure, every time a person was killed in the streets of the city, as to what it really was. It could be the cloned guy, or the real one. Nobody had a clue. The clones and the real ones would spend their days hunting each other. The Apex Beings, who had several clones walking around, usually ended up delirious. There were still communities and underground brotherhoods of the cloned, striving for their rights and the legitimacy of their existence. Monthly purges were still being organized to wipe off these communities. ‘Selective Cloning’ was the term used for clones that were brought into existence because of their “track record” or “history”. There were millions of clones of Gandhi, spread across the country to subdue the reactionaries. There were scientists, sportsmen, writers; in short people from all walks of life that had contributed in their times were cloned to “assist” the higher ups in their governing plans.
Albert sat in his lab as the clock ticked. He had twenty minutes before he was supposed to come up with some kind of a very important equation that he had no clue how to come up with. He sat there looking at the rising sun through the window. He could never get enough of the view of the rising sun. The rays of the sun falling slantingly over large buildings. The light bending around the leaves as it passed through the trees outside. He picked up his pen and started drawing the scene while keeping in view the suited guys.
He had been learning science ever since he could remember. Ever since he was a child he was told he was gifted and that he would change the world like his apex being did. All the pressure, all the expectations, all the cameras and all the mics… he had been dealing with it ever since he could remember, while learning math, physics and science every day. In the beginning it was alright, until the demand for a new theory intensified. The suited guys told him he had been invested in it for far too long now and the higher ups wanted to see results. Something so substantial and colossal that they could use it to justify cloning in general again. Something that would hit the right sentiment. He could not understand why he did not enjoy numbers and figures and all the divisions and the multiplications. He was supposed to be good at it like no one else on the planet. They had been working on the right hemisphere for as long as he could remember. He was usually very productive right after he got his dopamine shot, but that didn’t last for very long and he often found himself racking his brains numb for the explanations of the equations he had derived during the dope effect.
“He isn’t producing any results lately,” said someone in the other room. “The clock’s ticking Steve and you know how much we need, how much the industry needs this to work. If this guy keeps fooling around like he had been, I’m afraid that, if not on my decree, then perhaps soon the industry will collectively pass the execution orders. I know you don’t want that. I am sorry but you don’t have much time.”
“I know, I know,” Steve replied with clear agitation. Albert somehow conjured his last moment equation as the suited guy entered the room.
“Is the equation ready?” Steve asked, his voice benevolent.
“Yes…Yes it is,” Albert replied and they started walking towards the lab for another day at work.
The world had reached its intellectual pinnacle. At least that was the understood fact. It had been declared that no more original ideas shall be entertained for they were unnecessary and counterproductive. All heights had been achieved already in all the major fields of science, literature, art and humanities. It was up until they were successful in cloning Albert Einstein from the fragments of his preserved brain, that they realized it was important to produce a new theory, something ground breaking to have the masses believe there was still value in cloning, but only selectively. It was Steve, the suited man who stuck with Albert constantly. Who had, in his overwhelming pride for the country and his willingness to do something for the striped flag that waved outside the government office, agreed to volunteer his own sperms and his wife as the surrogate mother for the procedure. Since science had reached a “certified high point”, it was possible to clone human beings using minimum effort. It did not require, as per the necessary procedure, to even have a surrogate mother any longer, but the couple decided it was for the best to make them feel as human as possible and the procedure to be as natural looking as they could.
Albert was then born. The baby did not have his father’s green eyes or his mother’s blonde hair, but still nobody could tell it was Einstein’s clone at the point when he was born. As the years passed, Albert was kept under observation to monitor his brain activity and underwent multiple reconstructive procedures to make both his appearance and his brain structure, to look identical to Albert Einstein’s. This, of course, had to happen at the cost of both Steve and his wife agreeing to sign a consent letter that stated they no longer had any rights over the child as the child, being what he is, was too precious for any parent to keep. The child was for the world and hence was kept in a world class facility where he spent his childhood: being observed with digital shackles, surveillance cameras, thirteen different types of sensors and, of course, learning mathematics and physics before he even started crawling. The first full phrase that the child uttered was, not so surprisingly, “E=Mc2″ and it had caused jubilant sighs of relief at first which later turned into the biggest celebration party that the observers and scientists had ever seen. They could relax now. They had created the ultimate clone and it was already what Einstein became so later in his life. Steve was given the option to be employed as a government agent–one of the few that were assigned with the task to protect and look after Albert–which Steve took so that he could be with his child. Albert, of course, was told his parents had died (quite naturally) and so, for a very long time, he did not know that he was actually a clone. What perplexed Albert throughout his life was why he had to take the burden for humanity’s sake. Why he didn’t have friends, why he couldn’t just go outside and play tennis. He loved tennis. He had played real tennis only once and it was the single most memorable time of his life. Of course, he was allowed to play tennis, but only with a computer, in front of one, with a fake racket (which was wireless). For some reason it did not make it any special for Albert.
In his early years he had seemed to understand everything that he was taught. He was brilliant with numbers and calculations. It was up until one fine morning, when the staff at the facility left the colossal window open, that Albert fatefully happened to watch the sunrise. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before. How magically a few rays of light turned into a big orange ball that lit up so fiercely it lighted the whole world! At first he thought they had used a massive light, only to be made aware with the truth later. Steve had told him it was the sun and the phenomenon he had witnessed was called a sunrise. Steve was reprimanded for that.
It was not working out for Albert lately and today was no exception. He could not come up with the equation. He wasn’t helping. Humanity waited on him. The higher ups counted on him. So much had been invested. He had to deliver. And then the worst happened: Albert started to show signs of degeneration. During the midday lunch break, when Albert was given shots of steroids and other compulsory brain performance enhancement drugs, the quick scans showed he was losing his brain cells at a speed more than he was producing them. This had never happened before. Albert could not quite figure out what was wrong, but he certainly picked up signs that something had gone wrong. In minutes meetings were called, he was left alone with Steve in his lab still trying to come up with the equation.
“Steve! If you had children, would you want them to be as privileged as I am? Or would you simply be happy playing say… tennis with them?” Steve took his time in replying, he looked busy. As busy as he could appear.
“I don’t know Alby..Albert. I don’t know how it feels to be a parent or to be able to play tennis with your children.”
“You know, maybe I am not as good as the real Albert. Maybe I am better at playing tennis, or drawing sunrises than calculating equations.” Added Albert. He had a typical Einsteinian hairdo, and he scratched his scalp with a vernier caliper. Before Steve could reply, he was interrupted by a beep on his wrist band.
“Steve, is Albert in front of you?” the voice had said with clear alarm.
“Positive” Steve replied laconically.
“Stay there” and the wrist band beeped again. There was visible agitation over Steve’s face and clear perspiration over his forehead.
“We need to go..Albert!”
“Is everything alright? Look I’m trying Steve I just need some more time, I will fix this I will be what they want me to be.” Cried Albert.
Steve took Albert by the arm and approached the fire escape. “Go Albert and run as far as you can.”
“But, hey, Steve, I don’t know anything about outside, I have never been there, I am scared.”
“You will be alright, just go and do not look back. I will de-activate the security systems.”
“Steve, what is happening?” Inquired Albert calmly.
“The orders are out Albert, you are no longer needed! You failed to deliver. The higher ups cannot let their Selective Cloning Scheme poof into nothingness. They need someone better now. Someone better. Someone who could deliver!”
Albert went down the fire escape and was out in the open.
“Where is Albert, Steve?”
“I think he went to the nuclear lab he had..” Some words were mumbled by Steve.
“You son of a bitch” said the man in the long white coat who was accompanied by men in all sorts of suites. War outfits, Embroidered Cloaks and Chemical Costumes.
“Arrest him and take him there first, so that the last thing he sees before he dies is the one thing he had wished he never saw!”, said the man in the Embroidered Cloak indignantly.
“Find Albert, and finish him. There must only be one Albert out there!” Added the same man.
Steve was taken to a facility blindfolded. In the early days these facilities were called dungeons. It didn’t matter what they were called now. Steve was sedated and was held by his arms by 2 men in war outfits. A third man lead the way as they reached a rather dark place.
“So you thought you could save your Alby” began the man who had lead.
“You thought it was just another clone? You have no idea how far the higher ups have gone to make their Selective Cloning work. You think they would let an idiot like you implode the whole scheme?” He opened a giant door as he spoke and Steve’s heart stopped pumping for a moment that resembled eternity. The large hall had hundreds of Alberts, of all ages and sizes, being fed by doctors and scientists. There was a systematic cacophony in the hall, people running and Alberts walking, crying, eating, writing, reading, calculating!
“Once they made the successful clone they could not hold back. Albert Einstein’s Clone was too huge to be just tried once and to be so exclusive that with him gone, the whole selective cloning department will shut. New Alberts are created every day, and are taught science and calculations. The one that ran away was one of these, he just showed greater promise than the rest. He had been swapped before, not many people know which one of the clones showed up each day at the lab, no one even knows which one got away today!”
“I know, I could tell he was my Alby I know”. Cried Steve.
“They all look the same Steve, they all look the same”. Replied the man.
“No, I know today it was the real Albert that showed up! Because he spoke! He shared his rebellion, just like my little Alby. He told me he wanted to draw and play tennis!”
“Take him away”. Ordered the man. Steve was taken to an unknown place to be never seen again.
Albert ran and ran until he thought his lungs would collapse. He found himself inside a colossal sports stadium and as he tried to find his way to a safer place he happened to realize he was standing inside a tennis court. Empty tennis court. He had no racket. Oh how he wished he had a racket today. So he imagined. He thought to himself perhaps imagination is more important, perhaps imagination is the most important thing. Even more important that knowledge and calculations! So he played, played in his imagination. In front of a massive chanting crowd..Alby Alby Alby..he wanted to remain here inside this tennis court and watch the sunrise. He wanted to stay till the sunrise so that he could watch the rays first turn into a massive orange ball and then get so bright it will light the whole world!
His salubrious imagination was interrupted as the lights shut inside the stadium. And he looked up for the first time and saw stars! He had known there were so many of them through books and of course he had to know their physiology and composition to be better at calculating their movements but he had never seen stars before. It was difficult for him to decide in that anxious moment if the sight of the night sky was more beautiful or the sight of the rising sun. And he thought to himself, in my learning and my calculations, I wonder how many more things I have missed so far!
“Place your hands behind your head Albert, It’s over”. Announced a voice as 2 choppers rose above the stadium flashing and maneuvering giant spotlights over him. Albert was never taught what Albert Einstein, the apex being was like as a person. He had never read or seen anything that rendered him more than a calculating machine. Albert thought how nice it would have been to stare at the night sky a little more. Or to play tennis in his imagination for a little longer, or to wait until the sunrise with peace in his heart, for once to watch the sunrise like other people do. To draw the sun, to draw the rays, to draw how the light bends around the trees!
“Place your hands behind your head I repeat, or we will have to shoot you, I repeat we will open fire as we have direct orders! You have failed us Albert, you must be replaced now! You must be obviated!”
Albert moved his hands above is head at first and then let them go and thought to himself for one last time, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid!”
Thanks to my friends for “Debugging” this. I am very poor with punctuation and grammar. It might still not be perfect, but focus on the story and keep the Grammar Nazis inside the sheds. Thanks, and download it if you want. (I am not going to get a penny anyway. Just sayin’ )
Artwork by yours truly :S