first of the bombs was dropped on America - on Manhattan. It wasn’t a
dirty bomb. It wasn’t terrorists. While we were busy trying to fight
the terrorist threat by invading middle eastern countries, the Russians
were amassing military strength like never before. The prices of oil
had skyrocketed and their imports made them wealthy once again. They hid
their weapons programs in obfuscated budgets and shook hands with and
smiled at US Presidents. The Soviet Union would rise again.
We bombed them back. It didn’t take long for both sides to lose huge amounts of infrastructure and technology centers lay in rubble as well. Ted was sixteen when the bombing started. When the bombings stopped, he was seventeen but the war still raged on through foot soldiers and tanks. No one would allow the other side to get last licks.
America had, since World War II, a reluctance to send soldiers out to die. We had sent unmanned drones into war for years. The destroyed cities, though, made it difficult for a drone to find targets. It was decided that human soldiers would be needed. But no one wanted to send their sons into war. There would have to be a draft.
When it looked like there was no other choice but to start the draft, the US came out with a shocking revelation. We had cloning technology. We had it for years. The clones weren’t perfect - they couldn’t think for themselves. The clones had to be controlled by an operator, by the original. Now a soldier would sign up for war, have a clone made of himself and then spend his day in a control pod, fighting the war from the safety of hidden bunkers. Young men were encouraged to sign up to be the clone warriors.
Ted signed up for the army the day after the announcement. His mother cried. He told her it was okay, he’d be safe. She was going to miss him anyway. He wouldn’t be getting time off. He’d be fighting in the war from some secret bunker. She asked him to write and he said he would if he could. He had to go to boot camp, still. All of the soldiers needed to be in fit shape when they were cloned so that their clones turned out fit. They also had to learn how to use weapons and all of the basic military skills and tactics. They would be controlling their clones, so they needed to know all of it. It seemed straightforward enough.
After bootcamp, Ted and his graduating class were flown to Alaska and then driven a long ways from any town. The procedure was easy. He just had to get into the control pod and while he slept a clone would be made. He didn’t even have to the look at the clone. While their clones were shipped off to Russia, the men enjoyed a day of leisure. When his clone got to Russia, Ted got back into his pod. He had to be sedated for a day in order for him and his clone to properly sync up.
When he woke, Ted had no awareness of the control pod. He saw through his clone’s eyes instead. They said it would feel like this. His brain was interfacing directly with the clone’s brain. He felt everything the clone felt. It was as if he was in that body. His platoon was filled out with the men he had gone to boot camp with - well, their clones at least.
was after a hard offensive that the men sat at night, eating their
field rations. They were exhausted but exhilarated at the same time. The
adrenaline hadn’t worn off. They were in pods but still they felt the
“Why do we have to eat?” said one of the guys in Ted’s platoon.
“Don’t be an idiot, George,” said Jordan, one of the other soldiers. “The clones need food, too. We have to feed them.”
“Why don’t we have to eat while in the pods, then?”
“They probably have us on tubes and shit.”
“Why don’t we get to leave the clones and come out of the pods?”
“Dude,” said Ted. “You’re a regular conspiracy theorist. I mean, come on, the clones would be completely vulnerable if we left them without our control. The Russians could sneak in and kill them.”
“I don’t think there are any clones,” said George. “I think they tricked us.”
“That’s stupid,” said Ted.
Ted didn’t realize how right George actually was. It was two weeks after that conversation that Ted lay bleeding in the battle field with a shot to the gut. He was dying and there was no one around to help him. He wondered why he wasn’t being woken in the pod. He was stuck feeling the sensation of dying, which he assumed was his clone dying. He didn’t want to feel this but was sure that when his clone died, he’d wake up in the pod - there’d no longer be a connection to the clone’s brain.
His body was shipped to his mother, with the explanation that there had been a bombing of the facility by the Russians and shrapnel had killed Ted and a bunch of the other men. It was released to news stations that this had happened - we even made up convincing pictures to give to the news stations. It put the American people into even more of a fervor to go to war. People signed up willingly. The draft was avoided thanks to the sacrifice Ted and his compatriots didn’t know they were making.
At the time, we believed this was a necessary evil. It would win us the war, we said. I said it, too. Now I regret it. We sent so many men to war and so few came home. As our world lays in rubble and we struggle to rebuild, I feel nothing more than the guilt. I will write every man’s story. Every man we tricked, his story will be told. This is my penance. It may take years, but I will tell their tales.