Flash Fiction Friday: Self-Replicating Psychopath
By Kirk Jones
One prison cell. A vast array of blades and automatic weapons. One man . . . make that two men. Shit. Now there are four of them. I guess I’d better start with the chainsaw.
I woke up in a prison cell this morning to a monotone voice blaring through a loud speaker. “You’ve just been infused with a catalyst for human asexual reproduction. To your left, you’ll notice an arm sprouting out of your waistline. To your right, you’ll see a head working through your rib cage. If all goes as anticipated, you’ll be replicating hundreds of times every hour. Do nothing, and you’ll all suffocate. Fight to stay alive, and maybe we’ll give you the antidote and grant you parole in five minutes.”
As I’m listening, the second me is already on the floor with another copy sprouting out of him. We look at one another, then to the stockpile of weapons. By the time there are four of us in the room, I have the chainsaw in hand. Number three comes at me from behind. A head works its way between his collarbone and shoulder blade. My chainsaw tears through both heads and I wonder how many times I’ll die today. Before I can reflect any further a hand claws at my stomach to pull itself out of me. I reach for a twelve-inch blade on the wall and lob the hand off. My innards spill to the ground, but the stump keeps growing out of my flesh until I’m bleeding out on the floor in front of number eight as he watches a foot work its way through the bleeding wound where his right hand should be. Then, with three minutes left on the clock, I’m dead again.
As I feel a set of toes squirm to the surface of my wrist, my shoulder begins to throb rhythmically. I’m thinking it’s a heart attack, but when a nipple surfaces on my bicep, I realize my copy’s coming out at an awkward angle. I drive the knife deep into the pulsating mass on my shoulder. Blood spurts from the wound, covering the conglomerate of men on the floor. Their mangled bodies look like a blood-soaked game of twister. My vision blurs. But before I’m gone, I decide to put an end to this madness. I reach for one of the grenades in the corner, pull the pin, and drive it deep into the pile of squirming copies on the floor. The grenade detonates in my hand, but the bodies squelch the explosion. Only a few die. A few more are dying, including me. As the world fades I watch an arm covered in hot shards of metal emerge from the heaping mass on the floor.
I try to ignore the fragments of metal seared into my body as I clumsily top the knee-deep pile of bodies. There’s one minute left on the clock, a foot writhing on my right ass cheek, and a gun in the far corner. It’s mine.
With the gun in hand, I wait for my next incarnation to fully form. A modest pain snakes like lightning through my right arm. The replica’s arm follows the trail of pain. Its shoulder buds at my shoulder. Its elbow buds at my elbow.
Thirty seconds left on the clock. As my replica’s head begins to tear through my skull, his fingers part from the flesh of my hand and grip the gun. I hear myself laughing behind me as warm steel grazes my chin. I worry he’ll pull the trigger too quickly, before he’s become independent of his host. But right before my skull fragments and scatters across the ceiling, I hear two heartbeats. One pumps a death dirge in adagio. The other thunders to the rhythm of life, telling a story in song of a man who died twenty times in five minutes and still managed to cheat death.
Kirk Jones is an instructor of humanities for the State University of New York. His work has appeared, or will be appearing in Amazing Stories of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, New Tales of the Old Ones, Bust Down the Door & Eat All the Chickens, Unicorn Knife Fight, Flashes in the Dark, and on Bizarro Central. His first book, Uncle Sam’s Carnival of Copulating Inanimals, was published by Eraserhead Press imprint NBAS in 2010.