Monday, July 7, 2014

Prompt: What does it mean to have a soul?

I sit on Granpapa’s knee and clutch the steel counter for balance. “There,” I point to the bottom right display. “That one is different.”

“Very good, Tevya. Now, watch what happens when I realign the system.”

I lean against his chest and feel the warmth and weight of his arm around me, grounding me. I relax my eyes like he’s taught me, to watch all dozen monitors at once. His fingers dance over the input board, and the bottom right display shudders, then resumes its pattern in alignment with the others.

My eyes start to drift closed. “They’re the same now.”

“Just watch,” says Granpapa.

“Through half-closed eyes, I see the patterns of all twelve monitors merge into one. Then, a hiccup, a blip. The middle left display is out of sequence. I lift my hand and point to it.

Granpapa whispers in my ear, “They are identical in every way. How can they behave differently? How can they have individuality?”

I reach up to rub his scratchy chin with my palm, sleep drawing me into the warmth of his chest. “Maybe, Granpapa, maybe they have souls…”


My hand knocks the cold coffee mug on my desk, and my head jerks up. I focus on the chronometer. 2:34am. Great. I lean back to study the 12-panel display. No one else in the lab has mastered the trick. Maybe you have to learn it when you’re young. Stretching, I lean forward to get a closer look at the upper right. Tapping the comm button, I keep my voice calm. “Eric, I think you should come to the lab.”

“I’m in the middle of an assay right night, Tevya. Can it wait?”

“Number four has an independent sequence. Your call.”

“I’m on my way.” I grinned at the excitement in his voice. This was good. This was very, very good.


We lay tangled in the teal silk sheets I found on sale at Barney’s, watching the lights from the late night police drones sweeping through the streets. Eric’s arm was wrapped around me, and I pressed my ear to his chest. He was saying, “This is huge, Tevya. Identical clones in every way. How can they be showing independent characteristics?”

I lifted up on my elbow, sweeping my hair aside and tracing a spiral on his chest. “Maybe they have souls—”

Eric gripped my wrist. “Don’t say that! Don’t ever say that again, Tevya. Not a word, do you hear me?” He sat up, still gripping my wrist. “Dear God. Tevya, you don’t understand. They’ll shut us down and destroy everything.”

I pulled my wrist free and rubbed it, climbing out of the bed. “Jeez, Eric, melodramatic much?” I pulled on a tshirt and headed for the door. I didn’t feel like being with him at the moment.

“Tevya,” he called after me. “Please. I know where you were coming from. But think about it. Clones aren’t the same as computers. They’ll say we’re playing God.”

I looked back at him. “Well, aren’t we?”

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing
75 minutes, including interruption

July word count


  1. Writng report (two days worth)
    Novel editing, moved new POV's first appearance earlier, added another chapter in first location. Now adding to Ch27. I think I'm getting closer to getting her right.

    Time: ~60min/~40min

  2. Ooo, really interesting! I like the echo of the scene with the grandfather; it makes the sudden tension even more startling as you are lulled to think back to that cosy scene.

    1. Thanks! I had an interesting conversation w/Daughter about computers and clones, and this came out of it. Clones are still on my mind...might be more story there...

  3. I'm glad you keep reporting here! (Sorry I don't reply more often.) Although I know you are frustrated by the slow pace, you *are* making progress! And I know the extra work will be worth it! :)

    1. Thanks! Sometimes it feels like I've been doing this particular section for ages. But each time I redo it, it feels incrementally more right. I just hope I'm soon to that final increment...