Grandma’s Boys

“Bye grandma, I love you!” 15-year-old Matthew hugged his grandmother one last time before she got in the car.

“Bye dear. Thank you for coming to watch Pepper,” his grandmother said. She kissed him on the forehead and pulled away. “See you in a week.” She ducked into the car and closed the door while still waving at him. Matthew waved at her car was out of sight, then he walked back into the spacious country home that was his for a week. He couldn’t believe his luck when his grandma asked him to dogsit for a week so she could go out of town.

As he walked toward the kitchen to fill Pepper’s bowl, the hall door caught his eye. A simple wooden door with a “Keep Out” sign on it. He smiled to himself.

I’ll get to you in a second,” he thought. He grabbed the sack of dog food and poured it into Pepper’s dish. The coppery schnauzer ran into the kitchen and attacked the filled bowl. With that chore out of the way, Matthew walked back to the front room again. He looked out the window, afraid his grandmother might have forgotten something. He felt glad to see no sign of her. He walked back through the kitchen, grabbing a chair on his way, and walked to the door at the end of the hall. He placed the chair in front of it and sat facing the door.

If it’s so important, she’d have a lock on it, right?” He rationalized it to himself dozens of times when he found out he’d be alone with the door. Something inside urged him to do it again. He stared at the door while he pondered the rule. “I”m the only one,” he complained in his mind. He’d never seen anyone else open the door, but he also never heard his grandma warn anyone else not to open it. Everyone knew that he wasn’t allowed to open the door, but he didn’t know if that applied to anyone else. Matthew tried asking his mom about it once but her only response was “Don’t you ever open that door,”

There’s nothing in there,” Matthew stood from his seat. “It’s all just a big joke on me.” He took a step toward the door. “I’m gonna open it and see an empty room. I’ll close it, no one will ever know, and things will stay normal.” Matthew reached for the handle but hesitated. An overwhelming sense of dread welled up inside him and kept his hand from touching the knob.

It’s just an empty closet you chicken!” Matthew won out over his fear. He grabbed the handle, turned, and swung the door open. The first thing he saw was his reflection. “Weird place to keep a mirror,” he thought. After a moment his amusement turned to terror when he realized the ‘reflection’ smiled. It kept smiling while Matthew began to scream. He saw his duplicate step forward out of the small room, but Matthew blacked out after that.

He woke up on his grandma’s couch. He looked around the living room and saw the other him petting Pepper. The stranger noticed Matthew was awake and stood from his seat to walk to the couch.

“Who are you?” Matthew collected himself on the couch, he pulled his knees up to his chest. “Why do you look like me?” He asked.

“I’m you, obviously,” he shrugged and gave a half smirk.

“What? How, like a clone? The stranger chuckled.

“Kind of. Although, if you want to get technical, YOU are the clone. I’m the original,” he smiled.

“I’m not a clone! I have memories. This is MY grandma’s house!” Matthew tried not to yell, but he could not keep his voice from raising. The other one shook his head and shrugged.

“Like it or not, you’re a clone,” he reached into his pocket. “And, you’ve already served your purpose. I don’t need you anymore,” he pulled a gun out and aimed it at Matthew. “If you want I’ll take a moment to explain what your purpose was, but if not I’ll just shoot you now.”

Matthew’s head spun and he felt faint again, but he knew one of the options would give him more time.

“I want to know.”

“You opened the door,” the armed one said. Matthew stared at his doppelganger and waited for more.

“That’s it? I’m a clone that’s supposed to open doors?” Matthew asked.

“No, actually the other way. You’re not supposed to open doors,” he used the gun to point at the hallway door. “specifically that one.”

“I don’t follow,” Matthew said with a confused look. “And how are you making clones if we’re only 15?”

“The short version is I’m trying to explore genetic memory. Every time you open the door, you die. Then we clone you from that clone and try all over again. To see if eventually you can remember to not open the door,” he readied the gun.

“Wait! what about you? How are you 15?”

“That’s a different experiment,” he smiled and pulled the trigger.

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