Tropical Leaves

I Have Been Cloned

I am looking for a man named Jensen. Have you seen him?

I mean him no harm, but there are a few things the two of us need to straighten out. You see, I have a sneaking suspicion that Jensen has had me cloned without my express consent, whether verbal or written, and this I can abide no longer.


It would be one thing if the man had cloned me once and left it at that. I admire moderation in all its many forms, and a single clone of myself running amok through the town is really no great hardship. However, it was not long after the emergence of the first clone that I began to suspect additional clones had been developed, and this is no simple paranoia, for I have good evidence to support this theory of mine, evidence which I shall present in due course.


Now as even the most obtuse schoolchild will tell you, a great proliferation of clones of oneself running amok is nothing to sneer at. Suppose one of them happens to leave his tab unpaid at the Lumpy Radish? You may very well then find yourself on the receiving end of the innkeepers ire, having committed no malfeasance yourself, and yet you are indistinguishable from the true perpetrator, who walks free and unmolested by his

creditors.


But this is far from the worst of it. I am certain that Jensen somehow modified these clones to make them several orders of magnitude more troublesome than the original, yours truly, ever could be. Either that, or he is incentivizing them to do evil, for how else can I explain what these doppelgangers did to the wharf? Not even to mention what supposedly transpired at the old gristmill.


I write all this at the risk of sounding like a deranged lunatic, for in truth the evidence of these clones' existence becomes rather flimsy when viewed with the requisite intensity.


For starters, I have never seen more than a single one of them at a time, though I suspect they number in the thousands, or even the tens of thousands, Jensen being the sicko that he is. I know the clones are toying with me, allowing me to glimpse them only in isolation, and not in their great destructive multitudes, as though to say "You see? We are only one man! One clone of you has wrought all this havoc!"


Oh please. No one who has seen the remnants of the botanical gardens could ever believe their barbarity to be the work of one man.


I must admit, even what glimpses I have of the doppelgangers are highly dubious. It may be little more than a scrap of clothing, glanced through the spokes of six wagon wheels as three carts chance momentarily to align as they careen through the cobblestone streets, a scrap which bears an uncanny resemblance to my own garb. And yet in the wagons' wakes all that can be found is turbulent air.


Or perhaps I might pass a shop window and spot the fleeting image of a doppelganger imitating my every move. I never catch these specters, though, for mere moments later the display window shatters under my furious onslaught, and the phantasm escapes into the night.


In some of my darkest moments of self-doubt, I am forced to admit to myself that there are lengthy swathes of time for which I cannot account, obscure patches in the tapestry of my life where an impenetrable fog consigns all memory to oblivion.


What is it that I do during these spaces of unknowing? Is it possible that I myself am responsible for the atrocities which plague our fair city? The grimaces and jeers of my fellow citizens certainly seem to suggest this, but again, their adverse reactions to my visage may easily be explained away by Jensen's clonic conspiracy.


But suppose it is me who terrorizes our municipality? In this case, the clones would actually amount to noble justiciars, for they naturally move to thwart my every design.


But no, even to entertain such ideas amounts to self-betrayal, and I know these dastardly notions have been seeded into my mind by the cunning wiles of the clonic hordes. They leave all sorts of forged evidence for me to find, in order to drive me into despair and self-destruction. They have even gone so far as to plant my nude, slumbering form at the epicenter of the O'Roolian Orphanage Incident, a debacle which by this point begs no further discussion.


What of the cloning tanks I've discovered in subterranean catacombs beneath my own property? These are little more than further red herrings, I can assure you. I have no knowledge of such tanks, and I am certain the clones themselves, under the direction of Jensen, of course, constructed this underground complex in order to foster further doubts in my already-mangled psyche.


They are ingenious, though. Within this faux cloning bunker can be found thousands of volumes which outline every aspect of the cloning process in painstaking detail, and written in my own hand. Naturally this would be child's play for the clone brigades to achieve, given their implicit understanding of the cloning process, and the fact that they all share my same script, but even so, this development troubles me.


And what of Jensen himself? I ask if you have seen him, and yet I can provide no meaningful description of him to cross-reference, for I have seen the scoundrel only once, more than a decade ago, and my memory is notoriously porous.


It was a rainy day, and I was on my way home from the bakery. My arms were laden with fresh baguettes, when suddenly I saw him. There, in a puddle directly beneath me, was Jensen. He stared up at me with infinite smugness, a sight which so startled me that I launched my baguettes into the air, jettisoning all ballast in preparation for flight. Incidentally, the baguettes were immediately whisked away by a troupe of stray dogs, in order to safeguard them for me.


As for Jensen, by the time I had mustered the courage to look back into the puddle, he had already vanished into the murky evening, and the puddle had become hopelessly agitated by my panicked stomping.


Recently I have decided to withdraw indefinitely into the cloning facility beneath my acreage. I have come to the realization that I can only triumph over such multitudes of clones with a counter-force of equal size at least, and perhaps greater.


So I have set to work, single-mindedly, purposefully. The many logbooks in the laboratory are helpful in the extreme, and feel almost like old friends.


Such a tremendous output of clones requires an immense quantity of resources and raw materials, substances which do not 'grow on trees', so to speak, and these I must acquire from the world above, at times by unsavory means.


However, the atrocities these acquisitions necessitate would be intolerable to my fragile psyche, which still clings to some withered vestige of a moral compass, and so I have taken to producing a serum which renders me totally amnesic during these nocturnal forays, and this enables me to procure vital ingredients while my conscious mind remains ignorant of the fiendish means required.


Blessedly, the formula for this amnesic serum was scrawled in the margins of one of the cloning notebooks, and yielded a viable tincture after only a few minor modifications.


And so, everything now falls into place. Soon I and my newborn army of clones will demonstrate to Jensen the error of his ways, and perhaps also pay back the populace, who have unjustly persecuted me for so long.