It wasn’t easy being the only daughter of the most famous scientist on Earth. My Nobel Prize winning father didn’t seem to listen as clearly as the fathers I’d seen on my week long camping trip. My father didn’t come. He was too busy experimenting with his new cloning device. He was, however, all too willing to explain its entire workings to me the day I got back, disillusioned and dissatisfied.
“Kari, you should see how this works! It’s amazing! It will change the course of the study of cloning!”
“Dad, I need to talk to you.”
“Sure. Anytime. But right now, follow along. This is important so you’ll understand how the machine works.”
The machine was a closet sized apparatus that could contain any size organism and grow it to full size in a matter of days. My father, Anthony Gene Barrett, had cloned a human organism from the DNA of a dying child and was able to restore a new child to the grieving parents. The controversy that exploded after he announced it to the world still hadn’t died down. I couldn’t walk down the street without being accosted by reporters or angry human rights activists who would demand to know why my father would do such a thing. My answer was always the same,
“Why don’t you ask him that and leave me alone!”
But I did learn how the machine worked, inside and out. I had my reasons for learning. And when my father went on his two week vacation to Maui, I stayed home. I had my own work to do in the lab. If my father wouldn’t act like a real father, then I would clone him from his DNA and make one that would.
I only had two weeks, so I needed to get busy. I couldn’t hesitate in my resolve. There was a small apartment attached to the lab where my father would sometimes stay when he was working. So, I locked myself in the lab and would stay here until my “father” was finished growing. It wasn’t hard inserting the frozen DNA into an agar petrie dish and placing it in the machine. My father had stored DNA on all his relatives, including me. It was horrible having him punch my stomach with the needle and watching him draw out the tissue and blood. I decided to destroy my frozen sample so he wouldn’t be tempted to clone me. I didn’t want to be cloned. We’ll see how my father feels when he discovers he’s been cloned.
Anyway, I waited. After an agonizing week, I got ready to open the machine. But as I held my hand over the controls, the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number. It could have been my father, so I answered it.
“Kari? It’s your father. I’m calling to see if you need anything.”
“Hi. No, I’m fine.”
“What have you been doing all week?”
“Oh, just hanging out.”
“Okay, that sounds a little vague. Why don’t you read a book or study something?”
“I am. I’ve been reading about cloning.”
“Excellent. We’ll have to talk when I get back. Why don’t you try cloning something small? You have my permission to use the machine.”
Click. I had his permission. That was too good to be true! Would he like my choice of subjects? It didn’t matter now because the machine was signaling that the clone was finished. I swallowed hard and punched the button to silence the alarm. Then I opened the door to the machine.
I hadn’t looked at the clone while it was forming, so when I saw the product of the DNA I was relieved. Before me stood a naked replica of my father. His baby pink skin glistened in the soft light of the machine. My cheeks reddened, having never seen him without clothes before. He looked back at me and smiled. I stepped back, trying to keep distance between us. Then his eyes narrowed and he balled his fists up, pulling against the straps holding him in the machine.
“Let me out!” His voice was a duplicate of my father’s only more demanding.
“Wait just a minute. We have to get a few things straight.”
“I’m your daughter and I’ll be in charge here.”
“According to my understanding, a daughter is not in control.”
The computer had downloaded him with all the pertinent information except the fact that I was in control. “This one is. If you want out, you have to agree to that.”
I carefully released his straps and the first thing he did was take ahold of my arm and pull me to him.
“Listen you, if I’m your father, then you’ll obey my every word. Feed me, now!” He pushed against my arm so hard I fell to the floor. He walked right past me without giving a second look to my plight. After sitting down in a chair, he waited for me to crawl onto my hands and knees before he said,
“Hurry up or I’ll have to punish you!”
My God! I’ve created a monster! I would wait until my real father came home and let him deal with this evil clone. He was everything my father wasn’t. Maybe my father didn’t pay me as much attention, but at least he was kind and caring.
I brought the clone food. In fact, that’s mostly all I did that week. He wanted food more than a normal human should. Was his system burning faster? Or would he weigh a thousand pounds next year?
My father didn’t show up the day he was expected. I got worried, plus I couldn’t deal with this monster I’d created. By now I had bruises from where he had pushed and hit me, and I knew I couldn’t take much more. I was on the edge of a breakdown. The doorbell rang. It was the police.
“Are you Kari Barrett?”
“I’m sorry to inform you that your father was in a plane crash over the Pacific Ocean. They couldn’t find any survivors.” The policeman stood there in impotent silence while I took in the news. This was more than I could take right now.
I slumped to the floor after the police left. What was I going to do? I heard footsteps behind me. It was the clone. In a daze, I stood up.
“Who was at the door?”
“It was a paperboy selling newspapers.”
“Did you send him packing?”
“Where’s my dinner?”
“In the kitchen.”
I led the clone into the kitchen and had him sit facing the window, his back to me. I picked up a large butcher knife and ran over to him, plunging it in his back with all the force I had. He lurched forward, cussing as he fell onto the table. I stabbed again, again, again.
He was dead.
I cried for my father then. He would leave an aching hole in my heart. Alone and angry, I knew I would not make another clone of my father. Probably not, anyway.