Flash Fiction

The early sunset plunged the world into a winter chill. Caroline hurried to her car, gripping her keys and hoping to avoid trouble. In the employee parking lot, weak sodium lights filtered down on her trusty Corolla. The paint was chipped, but it was solid under the hood.

The businesses in this part of town strove to be legitimate. Both the real estate agent and the insurance office had professional lettering on their floor-to-ceiling windows to attract customers. The cremation office, the pot emporium, and the dicey tax place did not. Combined with the generous helping of homeless people who haunted the place after hours, it was clear to see who had won.

“Nice car.” Caroline heard an unfamiliar female voice behind her. She’d been the last person out of her office, who could this be? She turned and gasped. She could have been looking at a full-length mirror!

The woman standing before her had long brown hair, a garishly patterned dress, and tall brown boots. She completed the look with a blue plaid coat, the same one Caroline wore right now. Their blue eyes met. “What’s going on here?”

Her doppelganger sighed. “Remember when you sent in your blood and hair samples to lookupyourancestry.com?”

Horror blossomed in Caroline’s mind. Curiosity and a 50% off coupon sealed the deal. It seemed like a steal at the time. She just hadn’t realized what a steal it was.

“That was two years ago! That isn’t enough time for you to…” Caroline gestured at her clone. “You should still be in diapers, shouldn’t you?”

Her clone arched a brow. Caroline remembered how many hours she put into looking at a mirror, holding down one eyebrow, raising the other, just so she could learn how to do that. Her sister could do it naturally, which had driven her mad at the time. “I don’t have the time, and you don’t have the scientific background necessary to explain this. You didn’t read the Terms of Service, or you wouldn’t be so surprised.”

“Nobody reads the Terms and Conditions!” Caroline snapped. She was the last person out of any of the offices in this park. She was on her own.

Still clutching her keys, she backed towards the Corolla. She wanted to grab her phone, but the service in this business lot was terrible.

“I know.” The clone stepped forward, pulling a gun from her pocket. “You’re Caroline Sanders, born September 24th, 1969, in Walla Walla. Your favorite color is purple, you shop at Goodwill for your clothes, and Steve dumped you last night because he caught you cheating on him.”

The memory of their last fight replayed in Caroline’s mind. She had never been so confused, until now. Caroline heard the gun go off, saw the muzzle flash. In her final moment, she wondered what the clone would do with the life she’d just stolen.

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