Stepping inside the door was one of the biggest mistakes she could have made in her life. The room was lit only by the light of the security screens behind the large desk. Her initial impression was there was no one in the room. The desk was empty and no sounds other than the slight sound of breathing could be heard. She stepped inside and did a quick survey.
Before she looked anywhere else her eyes rested upon the glowing color monitors, she had never seen them on before. She scanned them quickly and stopped on one screen in particular. The scene it showed had no particular label. It did look familiar, since she had visited it many years ago.
She, like many others on an arbitrarily picked day had attempted a mass walkout on their company. They organized the strike against unfair and unjust labor. This was in the early days of the robotic revolution when they were forced to work at least sixteen hours a day ramping production on thousands of bots to get them out on the streets. This was the largest mass production in the history of the entire world, and it just happened to be her company to do it. She was one of the leaders of this walkout. She remembered being tired of working continuously, on a product that would someday replace her. Once the strike began, hundreds of workers left their positions and ran for the doors to the outside. She was one of the first ones out. It was lucky for her too, because when they broke the blockade, the security officers opened fire. Bullets and the then rarely used laser fire killed a large number of the people towards the back of the movement.
The majority of the runaways were caught by the patrolmen farther down the street. Not one was hurt for they surrendered willingly in order to prevent more killing. There were a few who did manage to escape. Those people were assumed to have left the country and started a new life, but they were never seen in this area again.
She and the other survivors were brought back to that security office. That was her first encounter with Horacio Estevez. He personally punished her and several others who admitted organizing it. After this, the other leaders didn't last long in the company, but Estevez kept his eye on her. He knew that she had much potential and could do something good for the company in the growing business of robotics.
He was right and now here she stood. Staring at a screen where a man could encounter her same fate. She wondered exactly why Julion was there. He was not in her office when she awoke this morning. Could it be because he was trying to escape? The gash in his head seemed to confirm it along with the red security bot holding him by the collar. By the way he was acting yesterday he probably deserved what ever was going to happen to him. Yet she couldn't help being sympathetic towards him, after all there still were times that she wished she had been one of those killed years ago.
Her gaze left the screens and passed over the rest of the room. She had only been looking at the screen for five seconds at the most and was startled to find the Boss walking towards her. In one hand was the swatter still glowing red from recent use. He paused halfway to her, unexpectedly offered her a chair that had never been in the room before and asked her to sit down. She did with hesitation.
When he moved out of the way, she took the advantage to finish her inspection of the room. From the direction that he had come, in the shadows, was an immobilized body on the floor. The still form must be his latest victim that he had not yet removed from his office. She couldn't tell much of it as shadows hid the form.
The Boss moved swiftly behind his desk. The swatter was placed within easy reach and was not deactivated. Cynthia soon developed the feeling she was not going to have a good day.
"So, how is your new project going?" He asked casually. Obviously he hadn't seen the security screen behind him.
She swallowed some bile that had built up in her throat, causing a gulping sound she regretted. She never wished to show her nervousness in the presence of the Boss. She also did not want to tell him of her failure yesterday, yet she felt compelled to tell him. She straightened in her chair. Her discomfort was very apparent.
"Honestly, I have no idea. As we began, I fell unconscious. My assistants did not even attempt to wake me. They began the work without me and left me to sleep. When I woke it was quitting time, and they were finished for the day. I was unable to look at any of their work, and therefore I have no clue as to how they progressed."
As she finished, she saw him reaching for that dastardly weapon. She knew he wouldn't approve of her report. She hoped that she could endure the punishment better than the last session.
When he lifted the swatter from the table, it was not aimed at her. An orange beam lashed across the room. Cynthia had not noticed that the other worker was starting to stir. With the effect of the light, she was able to tell some detail about the still form. It was a middle class woman with long blonde hair, much like her own. The rest of the woman's features were indiscernible as the light had faded.
He turned his attention back to Cynthia. "Now where were we?" Estevez gingerly placed the swatter back onto the desk as he gathered his thoughts. "Oh, yes. Your assistants? Are you having some kind of trouble with them?"
She did not understand why, now of all times he was being polite and counseling her through her difficulties.
"Julion Montclair is cooperative but somewhat insubordinate. Sally Loda has always been a fine worker." She praised them despite her unhappiness with yesterday's events.
"Do you approve of their actions?" He asked skeptically. He amazingly let her talk and give her opinion.
"Not entirely. I had already expressed my feelings towards them on the matter."
Her own words did not sound right. She normally did not talk like this. She was being professional.
"Do you feel they threaten your authority?"
He smiled. "That is because you are superior to them. Do not let this worry you, for I have grand plans for you." Cynthia worried that he might be going insane. She saw him glance towards the hurt woman. This time he did not reach for the swatter when the woman began to get up. Before this, he must have felt it was too early for her to rouse. Perhaps she should warn the other woman to stay down.
"Have you ever wondered Cynthia, why I the owner of Robonotics of Brazil and member of the Board of Directors of the UN should show any interest at all in a worker such as yourself? Has it not occurred to you that you are the sole exception to my rule of having no contact with anyone below middle class?" He watched her to see if she would respond. She switched between bewilderment at his questions and of the woman who was slowly rising to her feet. "Perhaps you believed I was showing interest in your projects that may have some significance to the company? I do not care about them and I can always have another worker do the job. I was, however, showing interest in a specific project that will skyrocket this company into world power. Do you know what that project is?" He leaned over Cynthia, hands behind his back, unthreatening yet very imposing.
Cynthia watched as the woman stood slowly, the light of the monitors allowing Cynthia to see what she looked like. As the face became visible in the light, Cynthia couldn't help rising from her seat in shock.
Behind the red and gray uniform was a body formed exactly as her own. Behind the blood that was the same color of the jacket was unmistakably her face. The blonde hair, small mouth, green eyes, round cheeks, and sharp chin were hers. There was no difference and no mistaking the woman as a mirror image of herself.
How could this be? A twin? Definitely not, the thought was ridiculous. Her parents wouldn't have given up her twin, if they could help it. Another thought struck her. Was this the anthropoid prototype made to look like her? Absurd, that idea was too unreal to be true. Cynthia was a worker, not important enough to have an anthropoid modeled after her.
That wasn't a bad idea though. Making an anthropoid to look like someone unknown would not bring attention to it, and the tests would be more precise. That could not be the case, though. Of all the people in the world, they would not pick her.
Cynthia studied the other woman. She did not share the shock and surprise Cynthia experienced. Did this other woman know of Cynthia's existence? Cynthia looked to the Boss. Perhaps he could provide some answers to this puzzle.
The Boss laughed as he watched the two face off. "Cynthia Aldin, meet Linda Aldin." So it was true! They were related. She wondered how they had kept it secret for so long. Estevez was not finished with his introduction.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please send me any comments you might have, good or bad. Copyrighted 2008 by Christine Schnell. Go ahead and share it with others just keep my name with it.