Clive’s attention was drifting away from Alex. This was a good thing; he doubted there was much he could say that would soothe the powerful feelings of anger and shame that emanated from the embittered amoebic man. Alex hoped their earlier bonding would stand the test of time, or at least the next ten minutes.
The two mutant men’s eyes were locked on each other. The fresher second growing more and more alert, gripping his own leg and jerking them both with desperation. With every second the new clone looked smoother and cleaner – newer and stronger, while the primary, Clive seemed weaker and more tired. The palpable hatred of Clive for his identical twin meshed with the fear that sweated from Clive2. Though that fear was ebbing as he neared biological freedom.
While fascinating and horrible, it was a fine opportunity to creep away. But Alex had left it too late. With an appalling stretch of skin and tendon the men’s ankles and heels snapped free; the recoil of flesh made Alex retch. The mutants faced each other like a creepy pornographic version of the Marx Brothers’ mirror gag. They dispensed with the dancing and face-pulling, instead posturing, trying out their independent musculature. They both looked hard and dangerous. New Clive was tense, covered in a film of some bodily secretion alien to ordinarily-sexed humans. Old Clive still had a horrid fleshy rift down his side where the clone had torn himself free, and a sad murderous expression on his face.
Should he try to save the clone? Alex already had an imminent doom vibe and the thought made it vibe all the harder. But right now it looked bad for them both. Maybe if they ran for it Clive wouldn’t be able to hunt them down… in his super-fast flying car. Yeah, great plan. A deep hum rose from outside the barn. Oh… they weren’t even alone. Somehow, between being dropped on a pile of metal tubes and watching a man hatch out of another he’d managed to forget there was an even bigger jet outside. Alex didn’t know if that was good news, but the as the hum grew to a whine it made the trepanned discs of bone he wore round his neck vibrate. He fell to his knees to vomit an instant before the wall behind him dissolved in a violent shower of pulverised iron and brick, burying Alex in a pile of barn powder.
He felt, rather than heard, the massive footsteps thunder past him, but definitely heard the deep lisping of Man Ho-Tjusk.
“Vat’s enough Clive. Y’ain’t killin’ anovver one.”
Clive’s voice rose to a desperate shriek, “Fuck you elephant boy. It’s my clone. I didn’t ask for this.”
“Dad says no Clive.”
Alex excavated just enough powdered brick to see what was going on. Good view. The twin-things were dead ahead; nakedly glaring at each other. Just to Alex’ left the giant shaggy form of Man Ho-Tjusk rose up in the air, looking like a woolly mammoth on its hind legs. Next to him slouched his Beastlie Brother, Mu-Tant Ra’koon. The smaller, but brutal looking beast man was idly carving spirals into a helium can with his extended claws. On Alex’ other side the hissing beeping Boytronic Wonder toted a weapon that for its brutal compactness and branded lethality (Kills What You Want 100% of The Time) was evidently what had killed the wall.
“Just leave me alone. I just want to be alone.”
“Probably shouldn’t have started knocking off clowns then, eh Clive?” the Boytronic Wonder chimes in, ”could have just stayed at home instead of running off. You know that thing,” he pointed his gun towards the Petulance, “you do realise it’s trackable right?”
“Shut up Boy Toy.”
“I mean at least be smart about it, make some plans. Don’t just run off in Daddy’s car and go on a clown hunt. Don’t make me come and bring you back again.”
“Yeah I alwayth liked the clownth at the partieth Dad threw for uth. Remember Mithter Bimbolino? He wath a good one.”
“Oh yeah, I remember him – didn’t you two eat him or something?”
“Only his fingers.” Ra-Koon smirked at the memory.
“Come on then, let’s get the two of you back to the lab.”
“Stay the fuck away from me Wonder-Bot.”
“Hey, happy birthday new Clive! I wonder what you’ll get?”
“For pity’s sake Boyt’. What number’s this one Clive, twenty-three? Twenty-four? Where do they all go?”
Ra-Koon’s idle question visibly shook the clone, who had been watching his twin/father intently during the exchange, no doubt trying to figure out where he stood in this awkward family reunion. Alex also grasped the implications, they were definitely the same wavelength as his doom vibe.
The clone sprang into action, diving onto Clive with his arms spread and fists balled. Ra’Koon bellowed, “no!” and leaped forwards as the clone reached for his progenitor. Man-Ho Tjusk merely snickered, a curious sneezing laugh that bounced down his trunk, blowing dust off the top of Alex’ head. With swiftness that seemed incredible for a naked man with a hole down his side, Clive spun and seized from the floor a vicious bladed instrument that probably had a medical name. The blade whirled and flashed down at the clone. In a flash Alex caught the clone’s terror at the imminence of death and the miserable, hated shortness of his existence. As the gleaming edge descended towards the clone’s face a blinding bolt of violence spurted out of the Boytronic Wonder’s arms and Clive exploded in a spray of bloody wetness, evenly coating his clone and the insides of the barn.
“Fuckth sake Wonder Boy”
“What? He’s literally, exactly the same as Clive. Dad’ll never know the difference.”
“That’s really not the point. And you know that’s not true.” Ra’Koon looked seriously annoyed, teeth bared at his metallic sibling.
“Whatever. I’ve had enough of keeping an eye on that tool.” The Boytronic Wonder didn’t seem the least bit chastised. “Hey,” he called to the blood-soaked figure, “hey, Clive. Yeah, you. Think you can manage not to be a dick?”
The clone looked shocked, which was no great surprise. Still dripping with the pulp of his predecessor he took a step backwards. Alex sympathised; such casual annihilation of the clown slayer wouldn’t fill him with confidence either, but then nor would being attacked by your own mother-brother-dad-thing. Asexual relationships looked complicated.
“Mmm. Come on, Dad wants to see you.” Mu-Tant Ra’Koon retracted his claws and took the new Clive by the arm and dragged him, bloody footprints and all out of the barn. The Boytronic Wonder clicked, beeped and thunked off after him.
Alex breathed out slowly and started to dig himself out. He stopped when a gruff laugh came from right behind him, blowing the brick dust off his head. He turned slowly, into the face of Man Ho-Tjusk crouched in front of him. The man’s eponymous tusks were inches from Alex’ eyes. They looked at each other for a moment. All he felt from the mammoth man was a mild amusement. The giant man snorted and lifted a massive finger to the tip of his trunk, “Shsss. Lucky little man. Be watching you.” He snickered again and stomped off.
Alex cautiously stood up in a shower of ex-barn particles. The Vortex had vanished from outside, leaving him alone in a big room covered in blood and gas cylinders. An interesting day. He had no idea where he was and no way to get home. Unless… the Petulance… Really? Had caution entirely escaped him? Given his surprising bout of luck that night there was no reason to push it any further. Alex sighed, and started walking. After a few paces he scrabbled frantically through his pockets until he found his mobile phone. Still recording. Excellent. He turned off the sound recorder and granted himself a little hop and heel kick. Maybe he’d have something for Neil after all, as long as he could find his way back to town.