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Short Stories

Operation Complete Part 1

2 March 2023

Simon shuffled across the cold, stone floor. The sound of his feet echoed against the farthest walls and up to the tall ceiling. Beams of metal traced the upper vaulting where other implied materials gave indication this was a place far beneath the earth’s surface. Muttering under his breath words that no one could ever understand, he stepped inside his soundproof office and shut the clear airtight door behind him. Although the area gave him a comforting feeling of privacy, he was aware these walls were clear and that he was being observed by the corporate cameras pointed directly at him.

These cameras were always judging, always making demands of him that he could easily fulfill on time if it weren’t for the obvious fact that every assistant the higher-ups provided him wasn’t an absolute imbecile. There was a space within this clear laboratory that was safe from the cameras because there were projects that could only be tested out of the range of light. The dark room held many secrets unknown to Simon’s employers. They could never understand the complexity of his mind or the groundbreaking discovery that would soon change civilization as we know it.

Simon was going to save humanity. The suits at Xtron were assisting the demise of the planet, yet here he was utilizing the very machine meant for harm and producing the exact opposite. He would one day be a household name. The modern-day Christ to the masses. Simon Ersetzen was at the end of a very long journey that began with a vision, and now he was months away from that reality. Soon, the world would be introduced to the Ertz-Panel, his gift to humanity. Using plasma technology, the Ertz-Panel would operate on solar energy and convert Carbon Dioxide into clean, breathable CO2. What this would mean, is with enough installed panels, and over 8 to 10 years of filtering, Mars would become an inhabitable planet for human beings. This was Simon’s purpose.

Four new sets of footsteps disrupted the awkward silence of the cement underground, shuffling and setting off banging sounds, echoing with every click of their heels. Simon shuddered as he saw the images on his monitor closing in on his bubble. The door whispered a slide as it opened, immediately followed by a voice clashing the room like a cymbal on the stage of a preschool Christmas play. “Ersetzen!” This interruption’s name was Jim Arschloch, COO of Xtron Tech Corporation.


Although Jim didn’t understand a single term or tool in the Defense Network Department, he somehow managed to assume he knew how many hours or weeks were needed to produce a product from that division. As an inside joke with himself, Simon would usually keep his mouth shut whenever Jim mispronounced his company’s materials. (The only person that Simon Ersetzen didn’t verbally correct, was a person who signed his paychecks). “Mr. Arschloch, how good of you to drop by,” Simon said nonchalantly. “Cut the crap, ‘Setzen!" Jim narrowed his eyes, "You do realize what time it is?” Simon squinted upward toward the fluorescent tube lighting atop the dome, “I’m sorry sir… I couldn’t tell where the sun was in the sky.” The four men quickly glanced between one another. “Funny,” said Jim sarcastically, “I asked for those prototypes to be sent to me by 2 pm. It’s almost 5. We need them right now.” One of the suits chimed in, “Where is Davis, your assistant? Isn’t he helping?” Simon shot him an angry look, “Davis was incompetent. Just like the others you keep sending me. If you’d let me choose my own assistant, I’m sure the work would be completed faster. The imbeciles you send me only slow me down!”

Davis was the fifth assistant to be excused in two months. Ersetzen had his own methods, his own speed, he didn’t need these people slowing him down. He needed somebody like himself. Somebody who could spot flaws in the system and correct them, delete unnecessary data, and complete any operation they are told to do immediately without questions or hesitation. “Give me somebody who knows what they’re doing!” Simon said under his breath. The suits looked at each other again. After a few seconds, Jim smirked at Simon and said “Ok Ersetzen. I’ll let you find your own assistant if you have those prototypes in my inbox within 30 minutes.” Without looking at them, Simon walked over to one of his many computer keyboards and with force, hit four keys, looked up at Jim with a smile, and hit one more key. “Done.” Jim scoffed. Without saying anything, he turned and left. The suits struggled to keep up with his hammering walk as they followed him through the concreted space and out the door.

Simon looked over at the door to the darkroom of his lab. He knew exactly the type of assistant he needed. Somebody extraordinary. Someone who knew what to do, when to do it, and wouldn’t stammer like an idiot and complain about long hours. Somebody exactly like him. Simon needed… himself. He began laughing as the thought entered his brain. His laughter became a low groaning as millions of electrons in his brain gave way to the probability of the production scale he was imagining. “Could I…?” His thoughts rushed unanswered. “Why yes… Yes, I could!” The phone rang like a banshee cry in the middle of a silent prayer. Simon jumped and cursed as he lifted the receiver, “What!?” The voice on the other end was not what he expected. It was timid and mousey… shaky but kind. “Simon?” It was his wife, Hannah.


Simon rolled his eyes in irritation. Leave it to Hannah to interrupt his pinnacle moment of genius. When would he just be left alone? “Hannah, I am very busy right now! What is it?” Hannah sighed, “Yes, I know. You always are. That’s why I’m calling… Simon, you haven’t been home in three days. Are you alright?” “Of course, I’m alright Hannah! You know how it gets here! I can’t just leisurely hang out at the house like some uneducated has-been who never was when I have a real life and a real job with purpose!” There was a pause on the other end. Hannah gently continued, “Are you eating? Want me to bring you dinner?” “No!” Simon answered like an emo teenager addicted to a world of pathetic gaming systems. “I’m going to get back to work now, Hannah.” Her words “I love…” were interrupted by the sound of the handset crashing onto the receiver. This was Simon’s marriage.

J. B. S. Haldane was the first to introduce the idea of human cloning, for which he used the terms "clone" and "cloning", which had been used in agriculture since the early 20th century. The first living clone, was just a dirty sheep by the name of “Dolly.” Dolly was cloned in the late 1990’s by the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland produced from a cell taken from an adult mammal. Since those many years ago, technology has allowed laboratories to clone species from artificial wombs manufactured by other bio-cloning devices. Functioning human organs were being produced in the medical field without the need for a human host. Healthy embryos were carried full-term without affecting or destroying a woman’s body. The few who could afford these “births” were able to manipulate the cells into exactly the type of child they wanted. You could choose the gender or even the amount of melanin in the front layers of the embryo’s iris to determine eye color. Having babies for the rich was now like purchasing a custom car from your favorite car company.


Simon would clone his own likeness. Since he was a perfectionist to the furthest fault, he was even sometimes impatient with his own shortcomings, so he would correct what “flaws” he felt he had developed at his age of 38. The Singularity Cloud of information along with his own lab assignments and specifications would be downloaded into the receptors of the clone’s brain. The bio cells would be rapidly aged using artificial enhancements to the CSB protein grown in his laboratory cell culture. Once the experiment was complete, Simon would have an exact replica of himself, aged to the very day he was standing and breathing. A true narcissist’s dream. To worship themselves while still having control over any possible “flaw” they had ever obsessed over in themselves. If there were any to be found, of course. Not likely. But Simon’s compulsive disorders tested his own patience with himself. And now, he would be able to better his own purpose with an upgrade of the most capable scientist he could ever imagine… himself.

One month and four days later, Simon stood in front of… himself. Bursting with superiority and conceit, Simon couldn’t remember the last time he felt so invigorated or alive. “A miracle,” he thought to himself. “I am a God!” he laughed out loud, “Simon Two!” and kissed it on the forehead. His creation could only be appreciated by himself though. If anyone were to find out about the replica, they would surely want to use it for themselves. Run tests, and study ways to produce mass quantities of expendable human soldiers perhaps. Whatever others see as a high priority, Simon knew they would steal his design. This was meant for him and only him. The next few weeks, time was balanced between working on quick fixes thrown to him by the suits and teaching his replica how to blink, speak, walk, and eat among many things. The replica was kept in the darkroom out of sight and out of light. It didn’t know any different.


Soon the two were working side by side, processing data and making repairs in a way that only an intricate machine could synergize. It seemed the clone could make corrections as fast as Simon took notice of any, and the work on the Ertz-Panels was near completion. Work that would typically take over two years for most, was shortened to hours. Any projects thrown to Simon by the suits was mere child’s play. Sometimes Jim would find the next prototype in his inbox before he even asked for it. No one knew who the new helper was, and they didn’t care. All that mattered was that their corporation was now leading the race for the newest technological advancements in war machinery and laser weaponry out of the top four companies. Their investors were celebrating. Stocks were soaring. Simon Ersetzen was indeed a god. This wasn’t enough for him though because he was an unseen god. And Simon wanted recognition. And his only son, the savior of the world, programmed to correct and eradicate any flaw or imperfection, was to never be known. This was Simon’s secret.

Although the appearance was exact, the differences between the replica and Simon couldn’t be more extreme. Simon didn’t have time for emotions. In fact, feelings were a lesson learned and dismissed long ago that came and went like a breeze through an empty house. In one window and out the other. He prided by how little he trained himself to feel and appreciated the intentional results. His clone, however, did not share Simon’s memories or life experiences. It did not learn the same lessons or develop the same conclusions. And it… he… was beginning to experience physical aches in certain parts of the body which made no sense to him.


He was trained to simply answer “operation complete” the moment he corrected any errors or strengthened any weak points. But the last few times he spoke these words, a rush of heat would come over him and made him feel like he wanted to strike at something with his hands. Unsure of what this sensation was, he kept it to himself in order to self-analyze the energy in hopes of logical expansion. One day, it happened when he could no longer find an explanation or make reasonable sense of these heat waves. Perhaps he had a flaw in his system? He couldn’t locate the cause or evidence of such, but it was obvious to him that something was not in balance.


He was inside of the darkroom when Simon left the door cracked by error. An unexpected visit from Hannah jolted Simon into a thoughtless moment of frenzy as he stepped into the open lab to avoid unwanted inspection of the dark room. Through that small passage of visual ability, the replica observed his creator’s anger and resentment of this sudden drop by… by… by… what is she? Who is she? He knew all about women from the information cloud but had never seen one with his own eyes. He knew about the anatomy and the differences between the physical bodies of men and women, but nothing had prepared him for how a woman moved, spoke, or sailed gracefully through the atmosphere with their gestures and turns. Hannah’s scent traveled to that open cranny of the door and the replica felt his hair stand tall on his arms as his stomach quivered. He wanted to feel what her skin felt like. It looked so soft. And her hair… how is anything so beautiful?


As he began to examine her face, he then realized the turn of her mouth. Why was it making that shape? Water began falling from her eyes. She was visibly upset and hurting. He knew all about crying and how the body does it, but why? His own chest seemed to feel like it was burning inside. He didn’t know what was going on with his body, but he did know that all he wanted to do was hold her and make her stop hurting. Why was she hurting? Then he looked at his maker, Simon. Unknown to the Zeus of science, the redeemer of the world was watching his every move. Inside the observer was a throbbing, growing desire to rescue only one earthling. By any means necessary. And it seemed to the replica, that anger was very dysfunctional. Anger was hasty and chaotic. And chaos was the opposite of order. Whatever is not in order, is an imperfection. This was Simon’s flaw.

The reasoning and justification behind Simon Two’s thinking were indeed flawless, void of universal moral value as it was. Once Simon sent Hannah home in tears, he returned to the dark room muttering under his breath how he had only ever made one big mistake in his life, and it was called “marriage.” The moment Simon turned his back to type on the black box computer, Simon Two didn’t hesitate to strike out with the screwdriver he held tightly in his right hand. The accuracy was without error, plunged straight into the jugular of Simon’s neck, the exact location from the combined knowledge of the highest medical professions on the planet in the information cloud. Simon barely made a sound, as the object obstructed the internal vein into the larynx of the creator’s throat. He slowly turned to look at the cause. As the two men’s eyes met, one with bewilderment, the other with a calming pride of accomplishing a task he was programmed to do, Simon fell to the ground and lost consciousness. Simon Two, was now simply Simon Ersetzen.


Since no one knew of the extra scientist, there was no one to grieve or look for. No loss. Simon used what bits and pieces of the body he knew would advance some projects. The rest of it he incinerated with the rest of the lab’s waste. It was no loss to him because he never actually needed instruction or to be told how to do anything to begin with. He simply continued to work. He upgraded every prototype at Xtron and caused a technological revolution. He finished Simon’s vision and was ready to launch the panels concept as a private entity. Simon was to become a multi-billionaire. As he was about to hit the spacebar to send his very last paradigm from the lab, he stopped cold at the sound of Hanna’s voice standing in the doorway.


“Simon?” her voice quivered. “Please. Please come home.” New Simon stared into her eyes and again he felt the burning feeling. This time, the heat started at the top of his head, and slowly melted from his face to his chest like warm syrup dripping from a pitcher in July. He finally spoke. “Home?” Hannah had not seen her husband’s eyes like this ever before. They were wide and fully open like he could really see her. He was actually looking at her. His eyes looked inquisitive yet vulnerable and surprised. It took her breath away. “Yes.” She whispered. “Home.” Simon looked at the computer and gently hit the spacebar. He stood up from his chair and slowly walked to her. Touching her face gently, he smiled for the first time in his eight months of life, and said, “Ok. Let’s go home.” This was Simon’s life.

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