This piece is featured in Issue No. 2 Fake News

short fiction

Generation Loss

It only took you a year to write that book? And you’re up for an award for it? That’s amazing. It took me eight years of writing every day before I finished my first novel. Way too long, I know. But there’s a reason for it. See, I had way too many ideas for stories. Still do. And I did my best to keep up with them as they come. But then I read that book, On Writing by Stephen King. Have you read it? You really should, it’s full of great advice. But the one piece that stuck with me the most—and I don’t remember the exact quote—was the idea that half-finished books are no good to anyone. If you get a new idea, he suggests, you should spend an hour or so writing down every single thing about it you think of, and then put it away. You can come back to it later, and if it’s a great idea, you can run with it. But you have to focus on your current project, otherwise you end up with a hard drive full of half-written stories and neglected dreams, which is exactly what I had.

Anyway, that’s what I started doing, and that’s why I now have a finished novel. I got it published, too, with this little publishing house out of Ottawa. I wasn’t nominated for anything, not like you and most of the others here tonight, but still, I’m proud of it. It’s a proper published book on a proper shelf in a proper bookstore, which is more than most writers can say, right? But once the excitement wore off, I had to decide on what to write next. So I opened my folder of project ideas, excited to pick one, but I found thirty seven different documents staring back at me, doe-eyed and excited for the attention. I went through them all, and yeah a few of them were terrible, but most of them could be something. But I had to find one single story to write. I shortened the list down to three projects, but each of the three was just as interesting as the others.

I mentioned my indecision to my friend Danielle one day over coffee, and she suggested I just make three clones of myself, and give them each one of the stories.

And I mean, yeah, why didn’t I think of that?

I’m lucky Danielle works at a cloning lab, so I could skip over all that bureaucratic junk standing in the way. Have you ever cloned yourself? Of course you haven’t, what am I saying? Unless you yourself are a clone, and the real you is sitting at home relaxing because you find awards ceremonies like this unbearably dull. I know I do, which is why I’m talking to you instead of paying attention. Anyway, the best way I can describe it is like having a vacuum cleaner made of light run over every inch of you while you’re naked. It’s kind of pleasant actually, but painful at the same time. A bit like acupuncture, have you ever had that before? I did, once. But I’m getting off track. The point is, Danielle and I went to the lab after hours and she hooked me up to the machine. I arrived as an only child, and left as one of a set of identical quadruplets. We got a lot more weird looks on the subway than what I’m used to.

So we got home, and I gave them the story ideas. I thought I’d be fair and democratic and let them choose. But they were exact duplicates of me, so none of them could decide which story they wanted to write either. Not only did each of them love each of the ideas, they also loved a fourth idea I’d been planning on doing myself. We argued for hours about it, and eventually we decided to sleep on it.

Little did I know, they had other plans. Maybe they snuck out of the house while I was sleeping and broke into the lab to make more clones. Or maybe one of them just asked Danielle if she could go back, and Danielle wouldn’t have been able to tell because after all they’re clones of me. I don’t know. The point is they cloned themselves, which means there are sixteen of us now – me, my three clones, and four each of my clones’ clones, twelve in all—I call them my grand-clones. Why did they think their clones would be any more decisive or agreeable than they were to me? I guess it’s because they’re direct copies of me so they think exactly like I do. Anyway, their clones were… well, you know how a photocopy always looks a little bit worse than the original? And then a photocopy of that photocopy looks even worse? I guess that’s the case with clones too. So my grand-clones weren’t quite as sharp, but I didn’t know what else to do with them so I just gave them some space to live in my basement and told them to write books. Each of my clones took care of their clones and gave them each a story to work on, while I had to work overtime to keep us all fed. But I guess they did what they were told, because that’s one of them up on stage right now, accepting her award for the novel she wrote. It’s weird as hell, but even I have to admit it’s better than anything I’ve ever written. Oh, that’s the award you were up for? Sorry about your luck. Shush now, she’s about to give her speech.

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Sophie Edwards

Sophie Edwards is a transgender woman who works as a career ghostwriter and internet marketer. An activist and lifelong Star Trek fan, she dreams of a brighter future while floating in the mud of the present. She lives in Toronto.