• This is an ongoing story as part of National Novel Writing Month
  • Sira brought out a tray of steaming bowls of noodles.
    “That ought to stem your hunger for a bit,” she said as she placed the bowls in front of Ford, Lawrence and the younger Ford.
    “Are you sure you don’t remember?” the elder Ford prodded.
    The young Ford furrowed his brow. “No, I don’t.  I’m sorry Fathyer.  My only memories are of you.”
    Ford knew they had been experimenting with memory implants but this was amazing. The young Ford clone ahd been made to believe he had grown up in Omaha, been taken to the Moon by Ford’s wife and then abandoned by her. He had been in an orphanage until he was captured and brought o this apartment.
    And that still left Ford and Lawrence wondering whether they should trust Sira. She had explained that an anti-Fundy group she belonged to had been contacted a week ago by an unnamed source. That source had delivered them the captured Ford clone and later fed them information on how to capture and release the original Ford and Lawrence.
    Ford looked into the boys adoring eyes.  The way he said Father truly reminded him of his own children who missed so dearly.
    “How do you know to trust your sources?” asked Lawrence.
    Sira dropped a spoon in the kitchen and exhaled. “I told you we don’t know, bu they’ve come through every time. My bosses say they have reasons to trust them.  I don’t know what they are. Why are you so suspicious?”
    Lawrence didn’t know where to begin after all he’d gone through.
    “Because they’ve made a perfect clone son for me, and that was never a part of their plan that I knew of,” said Ford muttering.
    The clone-child looked as if he was about to cry. “What do you mean, Father?”
    Ford’s heart almost broke.
    “Look what you’ve done!” Sira protected the young Ford with the care of an older sister. She had been taking care of him for weeks in this apartment. “He’s  aboy.  He’s real.  He’s you!  He’s not a thing.” She handed a tissue to the clone boy.
    Ford knelt down in front of the boyish version of himself. “Son, you’re memories aren’t real.  I know that’s very difficult for you to grasp, but they’r enot.  They were implanted. You are my son in a way. A nd I can’t help but care for you.  You were made from my genes, from my flesh.  But you were not born to me.  You never knew the woman you think was your Mother.  If you think hard, as painful as it is, those memories will fall apart.”
    “No!” the young clone threw his soup bowl across the room, smashing it agains t the wall. “Why do you hate me Father!   Why!  After all I’ve been through why must you reject me too!” He ran off into the bedroom.
    Sira glared a hole in Ford. “I hope you’re happy.”
    Fod sighed and sat back down. Yes.  In some way I am.”
    Before he could continue, Sira began to yell at him again. “How can you say that!  That boy has been through a war, pulled into a totally different world, abandoned by his Mother, captured by the Fundys, sold to black market operatives and then brought to us, only to have his Father treat him like a science experiment!  You’re heartless and I’m sorry I ever brought you here!”
    “Sira, please try to listen to me. What our young John Ford just experienced is known in brain programming as a psychic break.  It’s painful to learn that memories have been implanted.  But the procedure is not so good that it can’t be self-broken by the subject.”
    “There you go again,” she yelled. “He’s not a thing– a – a subject he’s your son.”
    “No Sira” and here Ford raised his voice as well. “He’s not my son, he’s me!  Every cell, every genetic bit, everything but his mind is me.  You haven’t known that but I have ten times over.  And th ebond is much different than a father and son.  I am him. And I know what he goes through here.  He must be angry.  It’s part ofth e process of freeing him from his programming. If you want him, the other me, in there, to be truly free, free to hope, free to feel honestly, free to love, then you must let him hurt a bit first. If that means you wish me to leave then I’ll go!”
    Someone knocked at the door.
    Sira stood frozen.  She didn’t know what to do about Ford and she couldn’t deal with that argument and an unexpected caller.
    “Hide!  Go!” She shunted them off down the hall and went for the door. “Who is it?”
    “It’s Chong.  Is Lawrence there?”
    Sira risked opening the door. “President?  President Chong?”
    “Get in here quick.”
    Lawrence came running out from the other room. “Mr. President!  We’re so happy to see you!We’re so glad we found you!”
    Chong smiled and hugged Lawrence.  Which Lawrence found odd but figured what the heck. He then shook Ford’s hand.
    “It’s good to see you Ford.  We’ve been through a lot together.”
    “Yes we have Chong,” Ford said smiling.
    “Who’s this behind you?”
    Ford turned to see tear-streaked face behind him. “This is my son.  John Ford Jr.”
    Ford smiled a bit at being introduced that way and shook Chong’s hand. They paused just a moment longer than normal as they shook, staring deeply into each others eyes.
    “A pleasure to meet you Junior,” said Chong.”
    “A great honour to meet you Mr. President.”
    Only Lawrence noticed that they blinked three times synchronously.
    “What happened to Malinao?” lawrence interrupted.
    “She’s fine,” said Chong turning.  He looked uncertain as he faced Lawrence. “At least as far as I know,” Chong looked as if he were trying to remember something. “We got back to Tranquility and Vice President Hashimoto and Speaker Malinao were headed back to Cana to look for you. I was headed back to New Canaveral to try diplomatic channels when I was contatced by Sira’s group, letting me know you were here. I sent word to Tranquility but I haven’t heard back.” Chong smiled when he got to the end of the explanation.
    “Where are the guards?  Outside?” Lawrence prodded.
    “No,” Chong answered more quickly this time. “I came alone this time.  I didn’t want to attract undue attention to Sira’s group.  It was part of the deal.”
    “Risky, Mr. President.”
    “You know me,” he smiled in the way only Chong could.  Lawrence still felt puzzled by something.
    Meanwhile Ford had been whispering to his young clone self.
    “I’m so pleased you’ve come now Mr. president.  Sira, your young friend here is a marvel. Tell them junior.”
    “I hear dwhat Father said about the psychich break and I channeled my anager against my memories.  And they broke.  They were gone, yuou know flimsy.  Liek I read them in a abook, not actually lived them.  So I understand now.  And I want to live with my Father, even though he’s my clone-Father.”
    Ford turned to Chong with the widest smile anyone in the room had ever seen on him. “You have a brilliant chance here, Mr. president.  A chance to whip the rug out from under the Fundys.  YOu have the chance, with junior here and I as a test case, to enact the first clone laws ever.  To move it out of the realm of forbidden practice and in the realm of regulated responsible activity.  And we’re your poster family.  Loving father and clone son.  This is ahte face of cloning here.”
    Ford looked down beaming on his junior self. Sira had tears in her eyes, touched by the scene.  Chong rubbed his chin, pondering the idea. Only Lawrence looked worried.