(the following is part of an ongoing 'column' I did for Suspect Thoughts, and, no, it's not supposed to make sense)
He’s going to be through that door any minute. I thought about the snail-whip I’d bought last SumSpring in the Underneath Market. You know, the one with the carved face of a weathered old Lunar nomad - the one that looked like my mother? But my place is small, and - well - have you ever tried to use a snail-whip in a room where your head hits the ceiling if you stand on tip-toes?
I could have used the reaction pistol a Hitchcock synthetic sold me, but I quickly threw out that idea - reactions are still really illegal and a sharp-eyed Priest would naturally have spotted the head-sized hole in the corpse, scratched his pink-dyed skull and drawn the obvious conclusion that a promotion was in his future.
The only knives in my kitchen were the degradables they give away with Tinkonese Take-away, and they were all green-spotted and way too soft to slice through a brick of jelly-water, let alone a throat.
Whip too long, gun too illegal, knife too soft ... the question of the morning remained: how to kill myself?
I finally decided on the collected works of Bart Bransom, the thief poet. It was one of my favorite books, but it also weighed a nice, hefty 60 decimars - more than enough to crush a skull. So I pulled up a friable wood chair next to the front door, climbed up and gripping the book tightly - with one finger lodged somewhere in middle of The Tale of the Gold Job - I prepared to bash my skull in as I walked through the front door.
Killing yourself is something I’d had to think about quite a lot - as everyone does, and that doesn’t include suicide. The problem with trying to kill yourself - no, wait, ‘murder’ is more like it - is you have to try and out-think yourself. The way I figured it, he’d walk home, as usual, down Fire Lane, stopping here and there to check out the changes in the shop windows or even indulge in a little purgative at one of the express blow-out booths - so I’d say twelve to twenty dulwhich minutes, maybe eleven mid-range minutes, tops.
He’d also be a little disoriented - okay, a bit more disoriented - than I usually am. Being decanted from a Noh Bureau tank will do that to you. I was counting on him being a bit fuzzy around the edges (and in the cases of some of the older tanks that’s quit literal). Come home, I thought at him as my arms quivered under the weight of the book; come him like you usually do - it won’t hurt. Well, I hope it didn’t hurt much - he might be an official copy, but he was still me. The last time this happened I was a bit more prepared, and had borrowed a spring-gun from my downstairs neighbor, the one with the bathing-in-fresh blood fetish, and had managed to ambush myself on the front stairs.
This time, to be honest, I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I should have been - thus my mad scramble to find something fatal. I’d been way too into my new micro-dome. It was a treat to myself for finally finishing the last draft of my new book, A Fall From A Moderate Height, and I was way too involved in giving the little half-life critters religion, guilt, paranoia, and half a dozen other ugly, unnecessary things to make their lives (and thus my viewing of their little world) interesting - so interesting that I completely missed the notice of my impending imitation.
I was a little cocky, I admit it. I mean, I hadn’t lost a duplication for over twenty nuyears - since ... well, since the last me lost and I took over. While I thought the Noh Bureau was a bit over zealous in the execution of their duty, I sort of agreed with the idea of facing yourself in a life or death struggle every five dolamars. There was something savagely poetic about having to look at your life and decide that it was worth killing to defend, and if it wasn’t then all you had to do was wait till the next you showed up to give it a better shot - suicide by not living a meaningful, happy existence. It also satiated natural human bloodlust, turning it away from some innocent stranger and instead directing it inwards, towards self-examination ... and self-execution.
Yeah, it can be rough to have relationships change overnight when your loved one looses to a copy, or when an artist’s work-in-progress is interrupted by a less-inspired duplicate - but by and large the system worked rather well. Of course, I think that after winning every battle since the third Mumbar SumSpring.
And I wasn’t about to loose this one. Standing there, legs quaking from the weight of Bart Bransom’s rhymes, I rehearsed my motions, running them through my mind, trying to cover every contingency: door opens, down comes the book, door opens, book comes down, door opens, book comes down - crushed skull and five more nuyears of comfort at the end.
It had been a good time, a rich, full time - many loves, many successes, a few failures. Standing there on my chair, the heavy book in my hands, I flashed a few of them through my mind - a mental background to my plans for self-murder: the Coronation of the Black King, getting my fingers lengthened, the Festival of Lust, writing ... lots and lots of writing. Salari, Miss Postilla from down the hall, Valencia, Domache - and all the other good friends and lovers. Yes, it had been a good nuyear.
Maybe that was it - I was so lost in memories, in rewinding the past, that I forgot why, exactly I was there. Whatever the reason, I didn’t think - and then it was too late.
Even as he came at me, from the kitchen door I had completely forgotten about, a knife in his hand he’d managed to find somewhere, I refused to admit that maybe it was time to be replaced, that my mind was so clogged with experience I could no longer think straight.
Just dumb luck - that’s what it was. At least, I admitted to myself as his knife arced towards my heart, I’d finished my book. But as his knife met my chest, sinking deep within, I couldn’t suppress a flash of anger that he’d be the one to get the good reviews.