REPLACEMENT… A New Sci-Fi HyperShort by Ethan Lawrence

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Today’s HyperShort is a double whammy. Imagine that all you have to do to get out of a sticky situation is create a xerox copy of yourself. See what happens…

“REPLACEMENT” by Ethan Lawrence

Ryan Jacks is on Death Row awaiting execution when a mysterious figure stands outside the bars of his cell, face obscured, a voice telling Ryan that he doesn’t have to die, that someone else can do it for him.  Then, the shadowy face is revealed to be that of Ryan Jacks!  Ryan stares at his own face in disbelief as another figure appears, a man dressed as a priest.  He smiles at the Ryan inside the cell, tells him that it is all arranged, that he has brought Ryan a replacement.

Sometime later, the replaced and now free Ryan Jacks sits in a diner booth, a young waitress, Jenny, taking his order, obviously interested in the good-looking and moody young man.  They have a brief exchange, then the man who had appeared outside the Death Row cell and been dressed as a priest arrives and sits down with Ryan.  Mr. Hobbs is no longer dressed as a priest.

“How are you feeling, Mr. Jacks?”

“Pretty good for a dead man,” replies Ryan suspiciously.  “But I still don’t understand what happened or how it was done.”

Mr. Hobbs keeps it simple.  His company arranges for replacements in special cases.  The replacements, he explains, are not clones, because they are not complete and exact DNA duplicates of the originals, but simply disposables.  They look exactly like the original, but they cannot think or talk.  His organization has taken the trend toward disposability a step further.  Diapers, bibs, paper napkins, Kleenex, towels, all ruthlessly used once and thrown away, from cardboard milk containers to the rockets that power space vehicles, products that are created for short-term or one-time use have become crucial to our way of life.   The people replacements are a natural progression in our throwaway society.  They provided a disposable for Ryan because they felt that he could be useful to them economically since he has a talent for stealing that is irreplaceable.  Funding is a problem for them.  But Ryan can now repay them for his new life.  Ryan is hard, bitter, guilt-ridden and tells Hobbs he didn’t ask for a replacement…

“I killed a man during a heist and I don’t care about your threats!  Dying means nothing to me.  I deserve it!  You should have let me get my punishment.”

But sometime later, Ryan finds his life taking on new meaning with Jenny, the waitress, love giving him reason once again to live.  So when Mr. Hobbs continues to press for payment, Ryan goes along with stealing again to keep the company from taking retribution.  Payment, however, seems to have no completion, Hobbs pressing him for more and more.

Jenny had been happy in the beginning, but is now more disturbed by Ryan.  She’s found a new job in the Governor’s office, and she is having a much better life.  Ryan becomes jealous, his temper flaring, taking it out on Jenny when she tells him to stop stealing and find an honest way of life.  Ryan becomes more and more violent as he is forced to continue payments to Mr. Hobbs.  Jenny finally can take no more of Ryan’s abusiveness and one night she takes his gun from a drawer and kills him.

But as she is led away by police, someone is standing in the shadows watching.  It’s the creepy and sinister Mr. Hobbs.  He leads the real Jenny out of the house where they stand for a moment and watch the replacement Jenny being taken off to jail.

“Listen to me, Jenny.  Because you are the Governor’s assistant with access to his secret computer files, and since he is running for the Presidency of the United States, you might be useful to my organization.”

©2014EthanLawrence

Screenwriter Ethan Lawrence has served on the writing staffs for the TV series The Pretender, Murder in Small Town X, Fearing Mind, So Weird and SyFy’s acclaimed series Eureka.  He’s also developed web series for Alloy Entertainment’s Full Metal Alchemist, TV pilots to NBC, ABC and The Gold Company and wrote the screenplays Hellraiser 5 for Dimension Films, Nevermore for Propaganda Films, Mortal Velocity for WB Studios, Creepers for Papa Joe Films (based on the David Morrell New York Times bestseller) and the feature film Asylum for MGM/Hyde Park Entertainment.  

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