The Parallel Lives Of Lauren Barnes

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She had never seen blood before. It took her a moment to realize that it even was blood; there was no precedent for it to be there, so why should she think that this strange red substance on the floor had any relation to the secretions of the human body? A full three minutes went by before she realized that this find was any sort of a problem. Her fingers dipped in and out of it and her hazel eyes focused and unfocused. She even tasted a bit of it. That's when it hit her:

BLOOD. HUMAN.
TYPE AB POSITIVE.
IDENTIFY: HRISTOPHER JONAS QUINT. IDENTIFY.

She stopped for a moment. Her mind fired on and off. On and off.

On.

Off.

One.

Zero.

She looked to be thirty, but this woman had never seen a dead body before. She had never tasted blood before. She had never eaten, spoken, or even breathed. This woman was no woman at all, and her first act upon her creation had been to stumble upon the mangled corpse of her creator. Hristopher Jonas Quint was dead, and it was not known who killed him. Was not known. Unquantified pieces of data. It must be known. Killer must be found.

Her mind focused to a pinpoint, sending a radio signal far across the structure to a small room filled with surveillance equipment. They had not seen a thing from there, because even perfect creations are fallible.

“REPORT. This is model Rosanna-234-A. REPORT.”


She looked to be thirty, but this woman had only ever seen the inside of this room. She looked at monitors all day and night, living her life through others. It was her duty. It was her only function.

“ACKNOWLEDGED. This is model Rosanna-212-B. You may proceed, model 234-A.”

“Homicide. Homicide. HRISTOPHER JONAS QUINT. DIRECTOR OPS. Acknowledge.”

Rosanna-212-B stared at one of the video screens for a long time. She looked again and again. There was a dead man there on the top left, but she had never seen him until now. She had never missed anything. She was flawed.

“TRANSMIT. Model Rosanna-234-A, you will now report to Carolyn-113-A. This model no longer exists.”

“ACKNOWLEDGED. Model Rosanna-234-A is purging memory of Rosanna-212-B.” And like that, the other woman was gone. Rosanna-212-B entered a small booth on the opposite side of the room, where her components were ripped from underneath her false skin. Her usable parts would be recycled, and all of the data from this faulty unit would be purged from the system.

Rosanna never existed.


Lauren was running. She had been ever since she killed Quint. Running, grasping, searching for a way out. She had killed herself several times over, doing whatever she had to in order to disguise herself.

Lauren knew what she was. It wasn't going to stop her.


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