I die. They make a copy. It looks like me. It sounds like me. It thinks like me. It thinks it is me. But I am dead. I've been dead for a long time now. I am not really writing this. A copy of me is writing this.
I live. I am reborn time after time, death after death. I am the same person I've always been. This body or the next it matters not. What matters is who I am inside. I am me inside.
Two ways of looking at my existence. Only one is sane. But which one?
I awaken with a headache in a familiar room. This is the room where the new mes wakeup, when the old mes die. I'm a new me. A copy, a fraud, a shame. I try to think back, what happen to the last me? Fire and the smell burning flesh waft through my mind. Better not to remember I think.
"How are you feeling?" the nurse asks me while fiddling with something behind me. She's not supposed to talk to me. I'm a super secret government project. I'm not even supposed to talk to me. Or her. But I do.
"Fine," I say, "Bit of a headache. How's your sister?"
She flashes me with her white teeth. "She's doing better," her smile slips a little, "The chemo is working and she's in remission. How about I get you something for that headache?"
"Sure," I say as she walks out of the room. I watch her backside sway with each step until the door closes and locks with a thump behind her. She's only person I know that isn't a government spook. She's the closest thing to a friend I have. I wish I didn't have to die to see her.
She brings me aspirin in a little plastic cup. I toss them back and drink from the lukewarm glass of water by my bed.
"Besides the headache are you experiencing any discomfort?" her hand rest lightly on my forehead. It's coolness feels good to my skin.
"No. Just the splitting headache," I say. Her hand slides down the side of my face cupping my cheek for a second before moving on to my shoulder and squeezing it gently.
"It's late you should get some rest. They'll want to start the test first thing in the morning," she reminds me.
She turns down the lights before leaving. I close my eyes and fall asleep before the door closes and locks with a thump.
I dream of a smoke filled hallway.
People cough and stumble through it to the stairwell. I can see and breathe easy because I am wearing firefighting gear. I'm not a firefighter.
I walk against the flow of people, checking rooms for stranglers, guiding them to the stairs. No one in the hotel is supposed to die tonight. Except for one man.
I see him. Half his face is behind a wet towel and he's crouched down low, his free hand following the wall to the stairs.
He's followed the wall into a small alcove. I make my way to him. He sees me as I walk toward him but does nothing to stop me from kicking him in the crotch. I've landed one solid blow but he isn't down yet. My kick to his stomach is intercepted and he nearly makes me fall but the first blow left him gasping and the lack of fresh air is hampering him.
He looks at me, our eyes meet and I can see the accusation in his eyes. I'm not playing fair. I've stacked the deck in my favor. For a second I think about feeling sorry for him but I don't.