While waves crashed around him, he pulled his tiny sailboat near to the rocks and moored onto the floating dock.
“I doubt you’ll be in one piece when I come back,” Juan said to the small craft, and he turned and headed into the lighthouse. “If I come back,”he mumbled to himself as he climbed the stairs.”
He’d braved the waters for one reason. He planned to meet the elusive Dr. Kreigenstadt, developer of the first cloned human being. He lived on this remote rock in the wave-battered lighthouse in the sea outside of Mammoth Gardens specifically to remain safe from uninvited guests.
He’d already found enough notoriety when the Brazilian government tried to simultaneously incarcerate him and steal his scientific research. Only with the help of a small determined army of devotees did Kreigenstadt successfully flee the authorities.
Now, his number one fan hoped to find an audience with the doctor.
Juan pounded on the door to the lighthouse, but received no welcome. He jiggled the door know, but the lock wouldn’t budge. Only when he heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being cocked behind his head did Juan know his presence made an impact.
“Ya got thirty seconds to clear out, or you’ll be without a head and I’ll toss you into the shark tank,” said the man toting the weapon.
“Dr. Kreigenstadt,” Juan said, “I’ve been waiting years to see you face to face. I know you don’t want visitors, but please listen, I’m not here….”
“I don’t give a damn why you’re here. Get your ass back in the boat and get the hell off my island.”
“No, no, please listen.”
“Fifteen seconds and I pull the trigger.”
Juan forgot the speech he prepared for this moment. He panicked. “I’m the clone. I’m your son, or rather I’m you,” he shouted above the crashing of the waves.
Dr. Kreigenstadt’s gaze softened slightly and he raised both eyes to stare at the man standing in front of him.
“You see? Really see?” Juan shouted. “Your genes are my genes. I’ve escaped Brazil and they’ll be coming to find me.”
Juan waited as Kreigenstadt performed some deep mental calculations. He was almost certainly judging Juan’s age, studying his facial features for similarities to his own at that age, and most importantly, Kreigenstadt would have been assessing the risk of Juan being a bounty hunter for the Brazilian government. Two decades apart from one another, years of staying hidden from the authorities, and a naturally suspicious disposition probably weighed heavily in Kreigenstadt mind.
“Hold up your hand,” Kreigenstadt said.
Juan complied. Kreigenstadt raised his hand and measured palm against palm. Despite the wrinkles and callouses on the older man’s fingers, anyone could see they were the same size and type. Still, Kreigenstadt seemed wary.
“My fifteen seconds is long passed doctor,” Juan yelled over the roar of the ocean. “You know you want to ask me more questions. Please. Take me inside.”
Kreigenstadt motioned for Juan to step aside. Moments later, inside the lighthouse safe from the world, father and son, brother and brother, self and younger self embraced as tears flooded their faces in a microscopic homage to the sea around them.
But meeting a copy of oneself isn’t always as joyous as one might hope….