Thank you for coming. Please sit down. First I need to tell you that we are going to kill you today.
Yes, I am quite serious. I’m sorry to have to tell you, but there is no question about how this day is going to end for you, and the quicker you get used to that the better. You have had a life, and we’re going to go over exactly what that was, but you need…
No, really. This is happening. Look into my eyes, and you will see I am not joking.
Why? Well, because, because you are a clone, and your body is needed now.
You are going to die. Today. I really need you to understand that, Mr Green. To accept it, because only when you’ve done that can we move on.
Yes, Mr Green, that’s a good question, and one everyone asks.
Yes, everyone. Everyone you have known who left the compound went through exactly what you are going through now. Which is to say, they were all used for rehousing their owners’ brains.
Yes, that’s fine, Mr Green. You can’t do anything about it, and if shouting helps that’s fine, although we have taken the precaution of drugging you so you won’t be able to damage the body. We need it, you see. Only your head will be able to move in a few seconds. That gives us enough time to talk.
Of course we have something to talk about, Mr Green, because believe it or not, this is a voluntary scheme. How do you think we got authorisation for it? The clones – you – must live a luxurious enough life prior to harvesting that you yourselves approve the scheme.
Oh, come, come now, Mr Green. Don’t be like that. Let’s just sit back and have a bit of a think about what’s happened in your life, shall we?
You were born and accelerated, with memories implanted, but that’s only the early years. Everything from six years old is genuine. So, let’s go through it, shall we?
Yes, it really is important, and yes, you are going to die today.
And yes, I can wait for you to stop screaming. Mr Green, please calm down.
No, there’s nothing I can do to you more than killing you, but we have to ask you some questions, and we have to set the scene first. So…
So, everything from six was genuine. Your gang at school was real, and your friends were real. Mark was harvested, which is why you never heard from him again. His owner was hit by a car at the age of fourteen, which is a very unusual occurrence, it has to be said. He voted against continuing the programme, which is always disappointing. But returning to you, that crush you had on Wendy – that was real. That was the two of you, enjoying your young lives. Your first kiss was real. Joan at the end of the school sports day – that was real. You lived, and you loved, and you enjoyed real connections with other human beings.
No, Mr Green, that doesn’t make it worse.
I’m getting to that. I just want to go through another couple of events in your life.
Your films. They were amazing, and people outside the compound have enjoyed them. Your owner was even impressed, and has taken a media course thinking he might have innate talent, although I do wonder if this is where clones…
Yes, your owner. He knows about your life.
Oh, that’s what you’re going to focus on now? Mr Green, with all due respect, you’re living in an artificial compound where we’ve lied about the global contagions, and we’re going to kill you to transplant your owner’s brain into your body, and you’re worried about surveillance?
There. That’s better. Well, not better as such. But we’re back, aren’t we?
Yes, Mr Green. You need to stop shouting again.
I understand being paralysed isn’t pleasant, but I can reassure you that you will die very painlessly indeed. If that helps.
No, no, it very rarely does, that’s true. It seems odd to me, though – I’d have thought it would be quite important, once we’ve settled that you are dying in… oh, around twenty minutes’ time.
Yes, Mr Green, there is something important to do. We have to ask you a very important question. It’s a matter of approval. Do you accept your life has been worthwhile?
No, Mr Green, I’ve told you. You are going to die. That’s been decided.
Yes, approval. And since you’re not going to get calmer, I should tell you from this point there will be an official government observer to this conversation, and I need to tell you the question.
Yes, the question I brought you in here to answer.
Do you accept your life was worthwhile, and therefore give approval for two future clones, unrelated to you or your owner, being created, living their lives in luxury, and then if needed being harvested for their owners?
It’s a very important question, that’s what kind of question it is.
And that, Mr Green is a good question. What do you have to gain? The answer, I’m afraid, is nothing. But if you think your life was good enough to have been worth living, then it follows it is worth it for others. For other people’s clones to live in the compound.
I think you will, yes. Because think of the alternative. It isn’t that you live a long and free life. The alternative is that you never lived at all. And the two clones you’d be approving – would it be better for them to have the life you’ve had, with all its ups and downs, and your absolutely-real connections to Wendy, and Joan, and all your friendships…? Or would you rather not have been at all? That, Mr Green, is the question. So, before we make your body available for your owner, and for the record, do you give approval?
When not writing, Robert Kibble finds himself spending unhealthy amounts of time complaining that Russian oligarchs always seem to favour buying football teams over building zeppelins. You can find more of his work, and his zeppelin-related complaints, at www.philosophicalleopard.com.