The Sharpest Cut
My Thursday is shot. The razor told me there was one out here that needed eliminating. I’ve been on a patio for four hours, with no sign of it. Any more coffee will trigger my acid reflux, a side effect of all the physical activity. The razor is a marvel, it pinpoints the right spots to cut in order to kill the things. I don’t even have to know how to fight.
This is a presidential appointment. I’ll bet you didn’t know that. Congress swore me in, a bunch of suits picked my brain about the cloning. They hadn’t actually known about the clones. The president did. I hadn’t known about the razor. The president had. They made me swear never to tell anyone else, gave me a side arm and told me to go hunt. I never use the sidearm. It wouldn’t stop them.
I have to call the razor from a pocket dimension. The same limited sentience that allows it to direct my muscles when I kill summons it when I call. I make ninety thousand dollars a year to wield this thing. They say it’s not killing me. The razor reassures me that it’s not as well. I believe the razor.
One more coffee and them I’m leaving. Before I can even take a sip, though, the roar (I told you they roared) makes me spill my sugar. It’s tinny and mechanical, and at the same time robust and destructive. Like nails on a motherboard. When the crowd hears the roar, they do as people do and start running. I think the suits are trying to separate me and the razor. It takes a few seconds longer to respond to my psionic impulse, a few more seconds before it materializes in my right hand. When they designed it, they went for flash and substance. It’s an ancient longsword, wide-bladed and the tone of gray that makes you think of . There is an inscription in gold, D’OCKHAM. I don’t know what that means. I’m sure the suits do.
The clone knocks about fifteen people out of its way with one sweep. They’re all the same sickly flesh tone, but this one has vestigial breasts and impossibly perfect hips, covered only modestly by a grey trench with the price tag still attached. Contorting images replace its face, first an Asian woman with pouty pink lips, then a Black woman with golden eyes, a grimacing Native American, piggish European features. I see the clay nothing that is its real face behind the holograms. The razor hums, glows bright blue. It knows when killing is near.
The clone knows when the razor is near, too. It breaks out into a wild sprint. Each step the thing takes cracks the concrete. They have adrenaline, like us. It increases their physical abilities, like us. Why didn’t they have blood anymore, then? The suits didn’t know. They were looking into finding more scientists for the project, ones with knowledge of the cloning process. They were also looking for army boys to replace me, most likely. The razor didn’t want that.
It gets close, tries to rip off my head. A quick contortion has me beneath the blow, the razor snick removes the offending arm at the shoulder. No blood gushes from the wound. I’ll never really be able to accept that. The second attempt to kill me is a low blow, aimed at my waist. In an instant, I’m ten feet in the air. The clone’s clawed hand whistles through the space where my guts had been. From high up, I can see the suit as he appears from behind a building.
Why would they send a suit now? I never get back-up. The razor hums as I land, right into the path of the charging clone. Its arms are spread wide, like a grotesque, faceless bear. With a fluidity fueled by the consciousness of the razor, I dash into the meat of the clone’s embrace. Before it can crush me with its slender, too feminine arms the battle is over, ended with a too-efficient thrust in the soft space between jawbone and neck. It sputters, mechanical hiccups. The suit draws his gun. I never get backup. The suit sights and fires, a muted pop and a flash of flame. The razor’s high-pitched hum sounds like a scream. The clone is already turning to dust, unraveling in a tan spiral from its feet.
A flaming spear blasts through my lower torso, all red pain and heat. The razor clatters to the pavement, the clone’s dust swirling around it. Golden D’OCKHAM flashes in my eyes. I’m a fly in honey, unable to move quickly enough to grab the razor before the suit scoops it up. Through all of this it wails, a supersonic ululation.
“Why?” is the only thing I can say, and I barely manage it. I wonder if my teeth are red.
“You’re obsolete. We realize this now. All we need, all we’ve ever needed is the razor.”
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