This story is by Maya Smith and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
When the file had come to her desk, Rosie was intrigued to say the least. In an effort to avoid anymore incidents of reality TV creators becoming president, Arty Rothesberger, the CEO of CAO Tech chose to undertake the greatest biotech task of all time, cloning all of the previous American presidents. Unfortunately, she hadn’t really estimated the undertaking it would be. Rosie sighs for the nth time that morning, causing her cubical neighbor to pop his head up over their divider.
“Don’t you understand how important an undertaking this project is? Don’t you understand how popular we will be among Americans once this is over?” Trevor asked, glaring down at the work Rosie was doing,
“In all honesty Trevor, I did not get into this business to please the American people,” Rosie scrubbed a hand over her face. All she had wanted was to spend her university internship at CAO, working in the bio labs. Instead, Arty Rothesberger, or someone underneath him, had stuck her with Trevor in the advertising department, running copies. “I don’t understand why they don’t just pick one to clone-“
“Alright Interns!” Rosie pursed her lips and turned to face her boss who was clapping his hands above his head. “It’s time to go and label the clones!”
This was the part that had perplexed Rosie the most. All of the presidents were already practically clones of the one that came before, with the exception of a few differences in beliefs. She rolled her eyes as the interns around her jumped up with excitement and pushed towards the stairs.
Once downstairs, the excitement seemed to dispel when the interns were faced with the daunting task ahead of them. Arty was speaking quietly with a couple of lab technicians in the corner. Coffins holding dead presidents lined one wall, and the cloning booths were on the other side. It only took a few seconds for Rosie to clue into what was wrong. The booths were empty and the steel door at the end of the hallway stood wide open, sunlight streaming in. Trevor looked at Rosie in shock just as Arty turned towards them. The sunlight glinted off of his balding head as he glared down at the group of university students.
“Here you go interns, your first adventure here. To put it simply, the Presidential clones have escaped, thanks to Ben here who didn’t lock the door,” Arty takes a second to glare at Ben “and the American public knows nothing of this project. Your task is to keep it that way and get all of America’s finest leaders back in this room.”
Trevor, always eager to please, grabbed Rosie’s hand and pulled her towards the open door. Chaos had not yet spread, at least not near the CAO headquarters but the idea that Ronald Reagan or Thomas Jefferson could be walking the streets of New York scared Rosie half to death.
They found Lincoln wandering Broadway, eagerly peering into the different theatres. “I simply can’t decide which one to see!” He told them, frowning as they guided him away from the crowds.
“That’s probably for the best Mr. Lincoln.” Trevor chuckled.
They tracked President Ford to the Ford dealership on 86th and found FDR trying to navigate the New York stock exchange. Jefferson and Madison were found wandering outside of a Bank of America, muttering about how Hamilton and Washington had screwed them over by bringing the banks to New York. Trevor seemed to find it all quite funny, while Rosie wasn’t convinced. As they drove back to CAO headquarters, Rosie peered into the backseat, which housed the few presidents they’d managed to round up. They all looked strangely identical to her, and it wasn’t just a mishap with the cloning. Why clone all of the presidents when you could simply take one white, mid 60s, balding man and clone him 45 times? Hel, why not just clone Arty Rothesberger and just call it a day? Rosie did not know what could possibly prompt Arty to think that cloning a bunch of egotistical politicians would work out well for him.
Back at the headquarters, the scene unfolding seemed to cement her position on the subject. Arty was trying to explain to every president of the United States what was going on. To say it wasn’t going well would be an understatement.
“You’re saying that the government is funding this project?” Herbert Hoover asked incredulously, “Amateur move.”
“I agree,” Reagan chimed in, “This sounds like communism!”
Suddenly, everyone in the room began to argue over each other. Trevor gently pulled them out of the earshot of Nixon, who seemed to be eavesdropping on the conversations going on around him. Some things just never change, Rosie thought.
“We have a problem.” Trevor leaned in close to be heard, “I count 44 presidents.”
“Well they obviously didn’t clone Donald Trump.”
“I counted 45 cloning booths, someone must have made a mistake.”
Just as Rosie was about to say that this whole project was a mistake, the steel door at the end of the hallway banged open, and two men walked in carrying a clone between them. At first, all Rosie could see was a white balding head and it could have been anyone. Then the men surrounding the clone began to speak,
“Sorry for the delay, sir. We found him trying to flee to Russia.”
“That is fake news,” The clone said, raising his tiny hands, “I did nothing wrong.”
“Mr. Trump, we literally found you on a plane destined for Moscow.”
“All I’m saying is, wouldn’t it be great if we had a relationship with Russia?”
Rosie pulled away from Trevor and walked out the door of the cloning room. She promptly sat down at her computer and purchased a plane ticket. By the time she had finished collecting her things, the printer had finished with her boarding pass. She grabbed it, grinning as she walked out the door and read the words, Toronto One Way.