Excerpt: Freeborn


It’s been a while since I posted an excerpt. I figured, Why the hell not?
[Hopefully, the administration still gives me my hard-earned diploma even though I used that dirty, little word.]

From Chapter 2:

Katia interrupted. “Hold on. What the hell kind of name is Mom?Or Adam even? I’ve met a hundred other Katias, Gastons, and all the normal names. Mom and Adam aren’t on the list.”

Adam grinned.

“Mom—Nana—will explain all that. She likes telling the story.”

Before she could object, Adam reentered docent mode. “Now, as I was saying before being so rudely interrupted by Katia-2198-04, these are the private quarters.”

He pointed out his own room, Gaston’s, and those belonging to the other residents. Twelve in all. Only one remained vacant. He explained that the fifth floor contained the rec room and lounge areas where the clones spent most of their time. Katia, aching for a hit of Ambrosia, asked to skip that part of the tour. Adam shrugged, and they descended one story to the third floor. It was laid out the same as the fourth, except the exam room was subdivided into four separate dwellings.

Inside one of them, a wrinkly old man rubbed lotion on his stomach. While the skin stretched taut across it, the rest of him sagged with age. A pair of the infected exited their adjacent rooms. They were identical in appearance down to every last detail: hairline, lush lips, posture, bundled parasites cradled in their arms. The longer Katia looked, the more their subtle differences stood out. One was a man, the other a woman.

Adam explained. “They’re the only clones I’ve ever seen who actually look alike. Usually there’s no issue telling clones apart. That pair is from a batch of duodectuplets. We only have two of the twelve. Some experiment the Surgeons tried with one of the crops. They played around with creating six males and six females with 98% identical genes. The one on the left is Dash-C. Dash-J is on the right.”

Katia kept staring. Not so much at the clone-copies, as at the squirming blankets in their arms. Perhaps there was something to the whole safehouse thing. The parasites were rumored to kill their victims, but this pair of previously infected clones looked alive and well. They even seemed to be doting on the living tumors.

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