80

I’ve been thinking...

About Quack Grant?

... and his lamebrain
theory. It would explain...

Why what’s-his-name?

... and who’s-its turned
out so disappointingly.

Rockefeller, yes. Samuel is unconfirmed. Maybe you slipped up.

Meaning Samuel is
our replica?

Making your abduction of Rockefeller a monumental blunder.

Except I used the
same skin cells

when altering
Juliana’s eggs.

So maybe neither of our chips?

Came from our old
block.

We being "absorbed," in theory, whereas...

That aspect aside, if
we are a chimera...

Goat, lion, snake; who’s the serpent; Lucifer?

... your DNA must be
lodged someplace other...

Other than the lining of your big mouth? Where would you suggest?

It doesn’t really matter.

It most certainly does to me.

All that really matters
is that our DNA is dual.

In which case we’re fraternal not identical twins?

Contradicting what we
heretofore believed.

You believed; I’ve always regarded myself as brighter and better-looking.

Not to mention male?

Don’t get offensive; I surely know my gender. Naive of you to mistake a clone for a perfect carbon-copy.

I was young,
impressionably
ambitious.

You mean certifiably schizoid and latently homosexual.

Let’s leave psychoanalysis,
if you please, to
dispassionate professionals
I'll retract my slur with
respect to your masculinity.

Do whatever you like; I stand by my analysis.

Stuy-Rem waxes blank, stares as though oblivious to an unannounced visitor, and simulates a trance in response to his overwrought guest.

ROCKEFELLER

There’s been a fire.

As desperate as he is to choke information from his fatherany and every bit of data that might prove helpful in stabilizing Suzette (left at home unattended, locked in a closet), Rockefeller falters, guilt conspiring with panic to stymie his resolve. Like a disconnected islandthe same land mass ripped suddenly asunderoffshoot looks to origin... their differences irreconcilable:

he who feels compassion for a tragic human guinea pig

vs.

he who caused that tragedy

he who wants to cure Suzette, or salvage what is left of her

vs.

he who decided on traits to alter, traits to leave intact

he who first abused then tried to safeguard Suzette's isolation

vs.

he who made a specimen that society never would condone.

Look at the poor boy.

Tearing himself to shreds, he is.

Worried sick about you-know-who...

Provided she survived.

... would be my guess.

Mine would be he’s worried about what punishment lies in store for playing with matches.

Assuming he’s the firebug.

It’s written all over him.

Wants to have his cake.

And to eat her, too.

Wants to be forgiven.

And to revel in self-righteousness.

ROCKEFELLER

How could you, Rem?

Told you so; here it
comes.
.

ROCKEFELLER

How could you create, concoct those wretched aberrations...

The ones you cremated?

ROCKEFELLER

... in that Godforsaken lab?

Oh, oh; has America...

Or his fiancée?

... shown our lad
The Light?

God's Moral Luminescence?

ROCKEFELLER

Forget religious considerations; let’s focus on ethics.

Did you speak aloud?

Not I.

Me, neither.

STUY-REM

You’re reading our thoughts?

ROCKEFELLER

Tit for tat, Rem. Tit for tat.

That's two tits.

Very Freudian.

Very chauvinistic.

Must have Suzette on ice.

STUY-REM

Tell us, if you would, how the conflagration started. You have our undivided attention.

His old self again (even the tics and twitches have come to a halt), Remington views his clone with opprobrious affection, emotions overlapping, overwhelming his bifurcated consciousness—a battleground dichotomy young Rockefeller shares.

ROCKEFELLER

It was an accident. There was a brief power outage. In my fumbling for the backup I must have hit a switch. As power came back on, your secret room opened. Was she—it—ever viable? I mean before you pickled her? I thought it was a child until I saw how she’d been alteredcustom-built, you might say. To sate some psychopathic pedophile? What could have possessed you to conceive such...?

REMINGTON

You were talking about the fire, how it started accidentally.

Rockefeller, reining in his outrage, tries to refocus.

ROCKEFELLER

Accidentally on purpose, in a sense; I started smashing things. Threw a regular tantrum, if you want to know the truth. Some chemicals got spilled; they must have been combustible. Before I knew what happened, the place was an inferno. It was all I could do to get Suzette...

REMINGTON

Ah, yes; your pet pussycat, your interim fiancée—or has Suzette deposed altogether her knocked-up predecessor?

Reminded of his urgent situation, Fell bites his tongue; lengthy explanations and/or condemnations will hardly serve his purpose; Rem’s cooperation must be won, without delay, to keep Suzette alive.

ROCKEFELLER

I need your help. I realize I’ve ruined...

REMINGTON

Everything I’ve achieved in twenty-plus years of research. Like THAT.

(He snaps his fingers.)

Destroyed without a smidgeon of scholarly comprehension. Robotics is your chosen field, whereas I have spent a lifetime working in flesh and blood. How can you begin to fathom that which your sanctimonious anger just reduced to ashes? Ignorance may be bliss, young man, to those of lesser wits; to ours it earns contempt for wreaking such disaster. Suzette is all that’s left? What a fucking irony.

Like pulling down a visor, Stuy-Rem reconfigures his formerly deadpan face—as its gargoyle-like contortions fitfully recommence.

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