They are four abreast and glisten with sweat. They wait and watch doe-eyed at the open door, unaware they have done anything wrong, and the explosive they slipped in sits on the floor like a dead animal, lifeless, dangerous.


Meanwhile through the maze of halls leading to the kitchen the rhythmic, granular breathing of the tiny clone barrels off the walls and rattles throughout the skull like the deep bass of distant claps of thunder. What else to do but invite them in. They take off their shoes when they enter. The leader picks up the clone and sets it on the table like a slaved-over entrée, finishes the dressings, perfect presentation, and the rest of the team prepares the sides and desserts, without speaking and moving like ghosts.


In the corner the human-machine has powered down and seems to have already collected dust. Everything seems dusty. The dining table, alive with shuffles and movement tangible as blood, almost glows. The midwives finish. The clone is asleep, clean and dry, its breathing calmed and lungs billowing like clouds. It’s wrapped in tea towels and bed sheets, growing by the second. By morning it will be fully grown. The midwives don’t say this but it is understood. Instead they sit like babies by the door putting their shoes back on. Then they stand and say, all of this can go away if you want. The leader points at the explosive still on the floor. It takes about thirty seconds. Just push the button. Stay or go, it’s up to you. In an instant they are gone from the house and the clone wiggles in a dream, the moonlight filtering through the dirty kitchen window over the sink casting shadows over its horrible, beautiful face.


this installment was written by matt perez