Kendra and Lil
She's here now.
Wearing the heart-shaped locket wasn’t required for Kendra’s clone to function. It was more of a memento or possibly a form of advertising, that the clone company included with the delivery of Lil, the name she had chosen for her new arrival. Kendra immediately fastened the delicate chain around her own neck. The locket itself was slightly corny – the clone company’s logo engraved on the outside, the left side of the open locket containing a photo of Kendra, the right side containing a photo of Lil.
Kendra wore the locket constantly however, as an expression of gratitude for her tremendous luck. Clones were typically reserved for the wealthy, not only due to their upfront cost, but the added costs that tended to accompany them. Most buyers while wanting the novelty of a clone, would rather not share their home with one more adult, so separate living quarters were usually an additional expense of having a clone.
Kendra was not wealthy enough to purchase separate living quarters for Lil, nor wealthy enough to pay the exorbitant clone purchase price, but she had evaded the latter by winning Lil through a lottery held by the clone company.
Sharing her living space was a worthy sacrifice Kendra decided, as having a clone would provide her 40 extra hours each week to devote to the activities in her life she enjoyed most. Due to the ethics surrounding custom designing humans, clones were required to be almost identical to their owners, including skill sets at the time of purchase. This meant Lil could be deployed to perform Kendra’s full-time job.
Kendra was aware of three exceptions to the no-modification rule that were not only excepted, but required:
The first exception was that clones did not require food to survive. Activists had heavily protested the increased pressure that would be put on the food supply if the population of adults requiring food suddenly exploded.
Secondly, clones were able to take care of themselves, to the same extent that their owners were able to take care of themselves at the time of purchase. The appeal of purchasing a clone would be lost if having one meant that purchasers would suddenly have another dependent in their life. Should something happen to Lil rendering her dependent, the insurance company would repair or replace her.
The clones also could not be materialistic, even if their purchasers were. Once again, activists had protested the increased pressure on resources that could result from a sudden explosion of adult consumers in the world. Despite this modification, the clone industry had still caused demand for consumer goods and in turn prices to skyrocket to the point that even the middle class was struggling to afford or find many items, services and activities. Many clone owners, viewing their clone as an extension of themselves, or some viewing their clone as a pet of sorts, began spoiling them. They regularly bought their clones items they might like to have themselves. Some also brought their clones on vacations, even though the clones were designed to not require such luxury.
Additionally, because clones existed primarily in wealthy circles, there was an unspoken expectation in these circles that the clones exude wealth. So the clones were well dressed and immaculate, with wardrobes rivaling their owners’ and regular beautification by hairstylists and estheticians.
Despite these detriments to society and the many other questionable ethics of cloning, the company was still allowed to operate. There was a demand for this industry and its lobbyists were powerful.
Kendra herself had even struggled with the decision to accept her prize. She had bought the ticket on a whim not even considering the ethics at that time, daydreaming only of the perks of having a clone but not genuinely expecting to win.
Her growing desperation to escape 40 hours per week of a job that was slowly killing her inside led Kendra to accept Lil though, so she transformed the spare bedroom into Lil’s bedroom.
Lil was wonderful! Having arrived with identical skill sets, she was able to transition into Kendra’s job as a sales representative with ease and without detection by her employer or clients. Kendra didn’t disclose her replacement to her employer. There was no need, she reasoned. The company would still be receiving exactly what they were paying Kendra for. Kendra also primarily worked remotely, spending the majority of time meeting clients and working from her home office, so there would be low risk of anyone noticing “Kendra's” habit of not eating.
Then the call from Kendra’s employer came – she was far from reaching her sales targets this month. This came as a surprise to Kendra, it was her understanding that Lil was slightly above target. Yes, the old target, reasoned her manager, but now there was her and Lil. The company had learned of Lil through another employee who had also bought tickets in the lottery and saw Kendra’s name when checking to see who had won. Kendra argued that the company was only paying one salary still so sales targets should not increase, but the company had checked with lawyers and because there were still grey areas about whether clones were really humans, the company was not required to pay a second salary. Kendra however, having this added resource available to her was expected to use it to sell more.
So Kendra did what anyone who hates their job and doesn’t want to do it would do. She told Lil to sell more.
Lil had already been hustling and stressed and did not cope well with these increased sales targets. She had to work longer hours, find more clients, think of new sales tactics, whatever she needed to do. It began to kill her inside as it had Kendra, but she didn’t want to upset Kendra, so she persevered.
But she burned out and reached her breaking point with these doubled sales targets. One morning Kendra sauntered into the back yard horrified to find Lil looking almost comatose, lying on the lounger staring blankly at the clouds above. It was a workday. “You need to go to work!” urged Kendra. But it quickly became apparent that there was no chance, Lil did not move, did not speak. She was alive, but was having a meltdown from the work pressure and this was how it was manifesting.
It was a stressful day for Kendra, she had to go to work and achieve her now doubled sales targets (it didn’t matter that Lil was sick, employees were still expected to make up for illness at some point during the month). She arrived home 14 hours later, completely knackered. Lil had moved to the couch and was in the exact position she had been outside, now staring blankly at the ceiling. Now that they were both inside Kendra noticed a repugnant stench emanating from Lil. It was the smell of someone who was so depressed they had lost the ability to shower, to brush their teeth and to take care of themselves.
The odor was unbearable, so Kendra dragged Lil to the shower because she was too exhausted and depressed to walk there herself. She convinced Lil to brush her own teeth, but still had to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush for her.
Kendra now had a dependent, plus a full-time job with doubled sales targets. She considered simply killing Lil, but because of the grey area regarding the human status of clones, killing them was illegal and severely punishable.
It suddenly occurred to Kendra to call her insurance company – Lil could be repaired or replaced! Kendra slept well from remembering this solution then called the insurance company as soon as they opened in the morning. The insurance company found Kendra liable however. Sending Lil to work at any job, especially Kendra’s high stress job, was considered gross misuse. A repair or replacement was not in her budget, so she was stuck with Lil in her current state.
Perhaps Lil just needed some rest, Kendra reasoned. She would attend her own job for a brief period. Once Lil recovered enough to work, Kendra would speak to her doctor about stress leave, so that Lil posing as Kendra could attend the job without having doubled sales targets.
By Monday Lil appeared to be almost recovered, indicating success of Kendra’s plan. She went to work confident that tomorrow she would be able to send Lil in her place.
She returned home from work that evening to the unimaginable. Although clones didn’t require food for sustenance, they were prone to using it as a coping mechanism when under extreme stress, such as having experienced a diabolical employer. Along with food, they at times also used alcohol and large gatherings with others as coping mechanisms. Using all three is exactly what Lil had done on this day, using Kendra’s credit card to fund it all. The mess would take an entire day to clean. Kendra, near her breaking point, screamed at Lil to get to bed and that she would be woken up at 7 A.M. sharp to go to work, so that Kendra could stay home to clean up the mess.
“Are you kidding?” Lil screamed, “I’m NEVER going back to that hellish job!” Kendra had no choice but to believe her. There was no way to control what Lil did when out of her sight, so even if she did send her to work, the reality was she would just go somewhere else.
While Lil slept peacefully, Kendra experienced overwhelming despair and it was in that moment she saw no other option than to end her own life.
Lil entered the kitchen the next morning devastated to find Kendra’s corpse. Kendra, who aside from the job problem had provided her such a comfortable life, was now gone! She retrieved the heart-shaped locket from the kitchen counter – Kendra had for some reason recently stopped wearing it Lil noticed – and placed it around her own neck.
Lil would become Kendra, she decided. She would tell everyone Lil had died. She would eat as required to maintain the façade. She would work hard at her job, possibly even find a new job once or if the job market improved. Either way she would earn a comfortable living for herself.
Someday, she mused, she may even be able to afford a clone.