Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 36

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XXXVI

Richard sat in a room with four other people. Two of them he had known his whole life, or at least his whole memory. Either way, his parents had always been around. His grandmother had also come, and while he’d certainly met her while he was young, she hadn’t always been around. The fourth he had met only recently, and she was apparently his cousin. Richard wasn’t sure about the exact nature of that relation, because he hadn’t known she existed for more than a few weeks. Nobody wanted to be the first to say something, and thus everyone sat in the basically empty room, in silence.

Richard had all kinds of questions, but he wasn’t sure what he should start with. His parents obviously had some things they hadn’t been saying. Richard found that was fine for the most part. Everyone could have their secrets, but there seemed to be more than he even thought could exist. On the other hand, maybe everything had a perfectly normal explanation, somehow. Richard glanced over at Susan. He could see the resemblance to his mother, but his mother didn’t have any siblings. Richard supposed she could be his older sister or something, but that wouldn’t explain why she hadn’t been mentioned ever. Besides, there was something weird about her. Richard didn’t want to think of it in a negative manner, but it was certainly the truth that she was weird. For one thing, it didn’t seem like she had done anything. She hadn’t been to a cafeteria, which was perfectly possible. She hadn’t had ice cream, which was extremely unfortunate for her, but not unreasonable. However, she seemed almost entirely unaware of how school worked, but she still seemed educated, except for large gaps in her learning.

Richard’s father certainly had his quirks as well. Some of them were fun, but there was still a large amount of mystery there. Richard had only recently found out that his father and mother used to be explorers before they got him. He had the feeling he’d only been told that because it directly related to him, and even then only because strange things were happening with him. It was not that anyone had ever lied to Richard, but he hadn’t really been told anything. Did his father normally teach history? Richard didn’t think so. It seemed like he was here to watch over Richard, which he supposed he appreciated. Richard did know that no teacher had need of muscles like his father, not that there weren’t plenty who were physically fit. Yet, everything still felt ‘human’, which was very strange. Richard did recall a few vague mentions of his father having siblings but they had apparently already passed on before he was born. They hadn’t had any children, but even if they had Susan would have been unexplained.

Susan was obviously related to his mother and grandmother. The blonde hair and facial features were one thing, and could possibly have been coincidence. However, Richard could feel that they were all related. Though now that he spent more time with his mother, he noticed something strange. He wasn’t sure, though, so he didn’t bring it up. Besides, that would require talking.

Finally, Richard’s grandmother spoke. However, she didn’t particularly clear anything up. She stuck out her hand toward Susan. “Nice to meet you. I’m Irene.”

Susan leaned forward in her chair and awkwardly shook her hand, “Um… I’m Susan. Nice to meet you.”

Richard’s mother sighed. “Where should I start…”

Richard shrugged. “I don’t know. At the beginning?”

She shook her head. “That story would be much too long. How about I start with the most recently relevant piece and work from there. As you already suspect, Susan is not technically your cousin. However, I would appreciate if you would still treat her as family after this.”

Richard nodded. “I can do that. We even get along pretty well.”

Anna smiled. “Good. While it is not entirely fair to her to talk about it, it is also not fair to you to not, and I suppose sooner is better than later. Actually, Susan is a clone. Of me.”

Richard looked between her and Susan, studying them carefully. Strictly speaking, he didn’t need to use his eyes for what he was doing. Still, it was the polite thing to do, and got his point across. “Yeah, that makes sense.” When Susan had first appeared, Richard had felt the genetic similarity, like family. However, he hadn’t seen his mother except that brief moment since he developed those abilities, so he didn’t really have any memories of what she “felt” like. Though he later spent more time with Susan, he didn’t have a complete picture to compare to, so that was where his thinking stopped.

After a few moments of silence, his mother spoke again. “Well, is that your entire reaction, or are you still thinking things over?”

Richard shrugged. “That was basically it. It makes sense, and it’s not the weirdest thing I’ve heard lately. I mean, I’m not human, and I’m probably cursed.”

Susan looked at Richard with wide eyes. “You’re not human?”

“Oh, yeah. Well, that depends on how you look at it. If I took a dna test, I would definitely come out as human.” Richard went on to explain what he really was, as best as he could. Some of his understanding was more based on feeling than actual words and knowledge, though he supposed in some ways it was those things as well. Just not in a way that was easily expressed. Half of him, not in terms of body but in terms of mind, was a strange thing composed mostly of energy.

Susan watched Richard intently, and when she had determined he was finished, she spoke. “That’s weird.” She immediately put her hand in front of her mouth as if she had said something horrible. “I’m sorry, was that mean?”

Though Susan looked genuinely worried that she had offended him, but he couldn’t reassure her because he was too busy laughing. After he managed to stop, he smiled. “Sorry for laughing. It’s just that ‘weird’ is a very apt way to describe it… me. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

“Oh. Good.” Susan smiled slightly.

Richard turned to his mother. “So… why is there a clone of you, and especially one that turned up suddenly and we didn’t know about?”

His father and mother looked at each other. His mother was the one to finally speak. “Well, that is a bit more complicated. It definitely wasn’t something I authorized.” She looked over at Susan. “Of course, she is obviously not responsible either. As for why they would want to clone me… they didn’t know that the results would be different than they expected.”

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One Reply to “Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 36”

  1. MysticJazzEnforcer says: Reply

    Oh shit, I knew something like this was going on. Thank you very much for this chapter!

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