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The center.

by Leonid Sakharov

The first authorized translation of the sci-fi script about scheme for eternal life of rich and power by cloning yourself and transplanting brain with head.

An early morning. There is an interior of cozy out-of-town house in the country with a subtropical climate. Through the leafs of garden, along the room, a sunbeam reflects gather for a casual dance. Two young bodies lie in the bed. A girl is a first one to wake up. She is tall, slim, in her early thirties but appears considerably younger of her real age that could be guessed only on the base of observation of special features of behavior by the trained eyes of divorced man or single women. She raises herself on the elbow and engagingly examines the person near her. He is not noticeably taller than she. His face obviously belongs to the typical intellectual person; a figure is a sport type but does not show overbuilding muscles of professional athletes. The man comes around much slowly and very unwilling. With certain distrust he looks at the female partner.

- Listen, what is your name?

- Irene. Yours, mister scientist?

- Doctor Feit.

- Is that all or probably you will give: the same not so official for a very close partner?

- Lak.

- Hey you, why so grim? Don't panic. I am completely healthy. Stewardesses are checked regularly.

- I am simply trying to understand, why did you immediately jump with me into bed. You were surrounded by such elegant supermen in the bar that remained me even slightest chance for one look.

- Why, why, why. Tell me why. OK but later. What the hell. It was about your face. It was shining on me as if you had been awaited this encounter hundreds years, met me at once, were happy finally and will not lose me ever since.

- I had terribly detestable mood. The chick I dated platonically whole week flushed me away yesterday like a trash. Nobody can stand the girl, who is freaked out from tamtam-dumdam music, drinks like a horse or politician's daughter. On the top of all she smokes. Plus her lexicon... I wanted to seize the initiative lecturing the theory of sexual connections on the basis of the analogy with laws of the kinetics of gas-phase reactions, but it could be much better to me instead to undress, climbs up to the palm and to begin to bawl the Tarzan call. Most likely, entire her band would follow an example and there would be much of peaceful merriment.

- Am I the first?

- I will not say. What the matter? It was bad?

- Quite the opposite. But it was over passion to tear out my cloth. I have little compassion about the shirt but after only the hour I should be in the airport. And what I wear instead of a skirt... In the end, however, you were very tender and this is your style. Just make a big milestone on your nose.

- I feared you... I will purchase everything along the way.

- One solution another problem - how I will reach the car?

- Don't bother. There are no neighbors around.

Open convertible car runs along the picturesque almost forest road. Irene is sitting in man's shirt with the intricate pun on colorful necktie.

Lak returns from the supermarket with the bags. Girl dresses over in the inside. She was pleased by purchases. The car leaves near the airport, she kisses fellow into his lips.

- When again you will fly here?

- In the week. More precisely I do not know.

- Call me. OK? -

- Never beg. - She takes his bossiness card - Do not wait especially.

- Call.

- So long.

Pretty women depart. Before the airport entrance Irene turns around and smiles by the dazzling and stewardess trained. The smile pure professional, although in this situation it was extra efforts, but she wanted to gratify the gentleman.

Lak goes in the airport himself. He breakfasts in the open bar. Aircrafts take off and lands. One of them has to be with Irene on board.

Lak drive along the narrow one-way road. Trees approach directly to the asphalt. Even an u-turn could be a problem here. He passes the unnoticeably located posts of protection. Through the not guarded gates it enters into the garage, which is located in long two-story house with one of walls of which it is abutted against perpendicular cliff. After leaving the machine, Lak approaches the door, he opens it with own key, he goes into the bathroom, moves aside the wash together with the part of thewall then he walks into the opened space to the narrow room with the naked walls and the eye checker on the opposite wall, positions his eye into it and presses button. Moderate light flash appears.

There is the photograph of his retina on the screen of computer in the security room. Several seconds a sequence after sequences occurs the collation of photograph with the patterns. Appears inscription "the Dr. Lak Feit, 24 years. The research surgeon. Education: Oxford, Harvard. Ph.D. in Biology. IQ=170. Unmarried. Clearance level - 2. Agent A7C conducts routine annually check according to the procedure Y13 ".

Door slides back. There is empty accommodation with two doors. Lak enters into the right. Long hallway with numbered doors. Lak enters into one of them. He undresses. Adjacent room - takes a shower. He washes, enters to the parallel corridor. Along it there is a poll filled with a discreet disinfecting solution. After muttering profanity, he dives surfacing subsequently in another room after swimming through the tunnel. In the following cabin he meets a powerful flow of dry air and later a kind of some of corona discharge around entire space. Here Lak's the hairs arise like a porcupine's needles. Thin lightings beat throughout the body. This is the only procedure that gives him a hint of the pleasure. Finally the researcher dresses underwear and an air isolated half transparent suit looked like a space-dress. He connects the hose of to the plug. Through several seconds at the screen appear two almost identical curves with many peaks one over another. On the black line there are the small spikes, marked red by inscription "A Revlon lipstick #21. Xa-xa".

- Iron foolmate.

Surgeon room. Lak carries out the mutual transplantation of heads of two monkeys. They are completely identical.

- Unregekt.! Are you going to sleep, Suzi!?

- Employing procedure today does not include Unregekt injection! Doctor? Didn't you read a procedure, did you?

- Certainly, not. Stupid work. I image the title in the evening newspaper. "Doctor Feit reseated the heads of macaco- monkeys in 22 minutes 31 second. This is for 5 seconds better than the local record, but two seconds short of world one. But doctor is still young."

- works ought not be discussed.

- Nobody does any discussions..., these monkeys are twins, indeed?

- ...! - The reproachful look of Suzi.

Working office room of Lak. On the screen of computer there is the spreadsheet of the database about the experimental monkeys. Numbers in two columns are identical. Lak brings cursor to the cell "supplier", he click by mouse. The message - "Clearance is insufficient" on the screen.

Lak enters the neglected urban apartment. At the one of the several terminals the fat fellow sits half naked up to the belt periodically convulsing moving the mouse and taping several letters. Lak flaps his arm. No reaction. Fellow without being visible distracted with the invasion stares at the screen, his fingers somnambulistic run on the keyboard and catches a mouse. Lak slowly pours out the bottle of water on the head of this pretty male species.

- Thanks. Exact what doctor prescribed. - without turning head Fred converses, so was the name of computer freak.

- Fred, I have told you that I operate monkeys. I want to learn, who has supplied us the party of twins. My level of admittance did not enough.

- Two hundred - work, plus tree - risk. In advance.

- Last time for the risk there were one hundred.

- Now more. After the firewall of your center they recently put free on hunt an evil watch dog without the muzzle and the curb. - His arm with oven palm moves on shoulder waiting until Lak will count off and put into it money. Without inspecting them Fred put papers under keyboard and continues evaluations. Nothing that could have any sense for amateur eyes do not happen. All these not too long time Fred did no even once turn away from screen. Once he begins to speak out:

- Transaction is executed through five import/exports companies; the branch of your center in Honolulu was the third of them. They are financed via three charitable foundations; the counselor panel is from ministry of sport. Your center is one of the founders of two of the funds... Center did purchases sort of from itself. - The bottom line is that all its assets after these transactions did not change a coin.

-  

Twilight yellow illumination from skies immediately after sunset. House Of Lak. Irene comes in. She approaches him, takes for the hand and pulls into the bedroom. Without speaking a word. They are making love as if fulfilling a religious ritual. Both of them are completely occupied by sex concentrating on desperately attempt to create event that partner will have difficulty to extract from mind ever.

Black southern night. They sit on the open terrace for the coffee. Irene asks:

- Well, baby genius, did you behave well without me? Did something fabulous invention worth Nobella? Is it the name of you childhood sweetheart?

- It seems that I begin to understand what was my occupation last three years.

- That's so delightful! . Do you know, I already lost a hope that anyone will say that he knows what working for? Money is most often mention reason, but it's highly questionable justification - just a paper.

- Do want to die? To have eternal life?

- Thus far, no. Besides, if I will be encounter several mad scientists more then I do not guarantee that such thought will not hit my psyche.

- If you had sufficient authority and money - you could live eternally. At least it is not clear limits so far. In any case a biological limits. Of course someday sun will blow out. Stupid meteor…

- From this point on, very detail specific and for the record! - Irene kidding pretends to be a reporter taking an interview. She takes a pen and presses its button as if starting a tape recorder and put it in the front of Lak's mouth.

- The idea of the procedure is simple. Today you will order your clone, a precise copy yourself. She will be like your identical twin. She will birth in nine months. Through twenty years you will changed with her heads and bodies. And she will remain young and foolish head and your athletic perfect... khm... forty years age body... As for you, there will preserve a wisdom, but it will be necessary to make a lot of fitness job on the body of young stupid to save a husband.

- Thanks. - Irene is giggling and bending over the table kisses a lobule of his ear. His compliment and in generally tone makes her warm feeling. He pronounces a word "husband" that on this stage of relation is a promising hint. Too early to make any conclusions but...

- Then repeat the operation every twenty years. - He thinks. - It can have to be more frequent. Who knows? Thus far until one tries nobody will know.

- Why have I hear nothing about?

- Try to image how much it must cost? What the reason for the twin to agree on the surgeon? All of this is impossible. In legal way of course.

- Where is your work is here in that tale?

- I have being transplanting heads of monkeys already three years in the center. Allegedly it's for studying of the formulation of drugs to prevent rejection of organs. They pay to me well. More then competitively. Large vacations. Everything is just perfect. Very, very good.- They silently continue late cups thinking over each about own.

The image of terrace begins to change a palette as if changing visible spectrum into infrared. An emitter incorporated in one of the earring of Irene becomes evident. Following the modulated ray to the receiver that located in the foliage of tree not far from the house. The signal flies in the form of the digital code through the half of the globe and the pair of satellites. Its destination was inside of the dead end micro-chip.

On the parallel screens evidently as charges change positions inside the semiconductor crystal, and on other screen there is in the window that is fulfilled with lines proceed from more the lines of the program code, highlighting some the values that includes numbers and words. At one moment of exhibition it slows down and the words: "to live eternally, clone, transplantation, center, authority, law, twin, clearance=2 " begins flushing. The program jumps inside another function that returns a value - 0.9997.

Sharp signal sounds on the terminal of the officer on a duty of the security service and inscription appears. "The security breach of the highest level of confidence. Lak Feit, research surgeon; Irene Cole, agent. Recommendation is immediate liquidation. All contacts revealed from the given moment three month retrospectively are to complete disinfecting".

The sports airplane loads by canisters at a small airfield. It takes off and moves toward of the Lak house.

The phone is ringing on the very stylish table with antique and luxurious office gadgets. On the plasma flat screen a copy of security alert appears. But here it is much more detailed and accompanied with the short bio films about Lak, Irene, Fred and other contacts of all them. Much more time is devoted to analysis and prediction of the possible actions. Not too much an outside witness could understand from this professional videoconference.

- Let's go for the night ocean swim?- offers Lak.

Young couple jumps up and racing toward the car. Irene manages to be the first to sit on the driver place; she turns keys left by Lak and they run away in the night. Lak turns on the radio and scans stations not staying long on any one. The scrap of news "... hour it disappeared from the screens of radars. Toward the point of impact the cost guard... "

Terrible end. To live, to dream about romantic dates, real love and suddenly without the warning - the explosion. You are fling in different directions at the same time...

- As the matter-of-fact the warning can be. Take a look. - Irene shows him a ring with the transparent stone. - Here it is a fantastic sophisticated electronics. When time bomb is activated this piece of civilization can recognize specific pattern of electromagnetic fields. There were rumors at once that only seven seconds was left before diffusion of the bomb in parcel of the grandmother going to leave a fortune size of insurance for dentist tuition... But most likely there will be not enough time even for praying before personal meeting with The Creator.

This conversation is a source of excitement for Lak. He impersonalizes himself in the shoes of fly marshal who could cut red wire in the very last second, entirely like real boy. The car parks at the embankment. Lights of bars and casinos there and here are promising a joy of boasting with happiness of love in a front of lonely strangers.

A fuel truck is moving towards them. The Irene's ring begins to shine from blue passing yellow and reaching red and increasingly loudly shrill sounds.. Lak is suddenly feeling a power cold gust of from the grave. The pint of sweat just instantly pored from all around of his body. He comes to a decision that he is a target of assassination. There were no direct proofs only too many out of normal life coincidental events like from the mystery books he is so fancy about.

A respectable looking gentlemen come out from the nearby car opening and closing big umbrella two times in the spite of clear star rich sky. He wrote about such sign about JFK killing plot. The last small filament, which connects him with the human society, was broken. A lock in the cell of beast inside of the shell of civilized person soundlessly was released and the basis instinct of saving his own life not paying attention to the brakes of moral or creating a decent impression launches to act on its own.

Lak is sitting on the passenger place put a transmission to the backward motion; pushes the gas pedal over Irene's leg; push the button to open baggage carrier, drives back to the hatchway of sewage system. He jumps out of the car without opening a door, grabs big screwdriver from the open car's back, begins to raise bar cover of the hole and is able to do this in the spite of real resistance of the heavy staff.

The gas truck is coming already entirely close and the distance is shorting fast. The umbrella guy runs towards them and open it again. Lak shouts "Irene. "Follow me" and practically falling inside the black hole. Irene is not under shock, but she are somewhat stiffed comparable a man. She opens the car door and stepping after Lak. Simultaneously with the moment, when she head has already been hidden from the surface and hand still holds for the edge the tank strikes and rumpled their vehicle that looks like as small as a toy in comparison with the gas carrier. The tanker overturned, leaks a gasoline in the fountain style.

Irene is not able to hold any more and falls, knocking against clamps by knees and elbows. Lak, who already runs along the tunnel, when she smacked up to the layer of water covering the surface of the underground, stops for the moment. He is examining the situation doing instant estimations of chances to carry her out in time. They are slim. The gas is poring down quite significantly. He has a possibility to rescue himself only. Their eyes are encountered. She shouts to him- "I checked you..." He is turning and runs.

The gas is finally flared up. Enormous, as a red exotic flower a sphere of fire covers everything all around and penetrating the tunnel moving after the Lak. He jumps out in the ocean and dives underneath at the fairly last moment, already covered in fire. But in his ears the desperately bitter and improbably loud weeping- cry of Irene stands. In the silence of deep the very clearly recognizable how the terrible sound of fired women is transformed into the weeping of small girl and dies. Probably this is only imagination.

He surfaces just after the pool of fire. On the embankment besides normal mess of the coming fire, medical and police vehicles he notes bikers distributed at the approximately equal distances from each other. They are not separated among the randomly moving idlers. They are attracted Lak's attention only because off he is focusing on finding hunters after himself.

He quietly is swimming along the coast and it finally reaches the point after the last agent. Lak comes out of water fairly far from him. He is crawling almost naked along the rock embankment to the biker. The large razor-sharp peace of seashell is selected and taken by him along the way. His enemy stares with observable stress into the sea direction and cannot notice sound of paces masked by the noise of surf. By the precise gesture of surgeon Lak break the neck of foe. He does not release the agonizing body immediately shielding himself by him from neighboring security fellow. Lak changes cloth with the guard. Approximately in one hour in the headset of helmet there is a voice of the command "Abort" and bikers one by one are leaving the scene. He awaits, when the last one passes and then by the knife of guard chops off the right thumb and cut out a right eye of the corps.

He moves on the motorcycle in the direction of disappeared band. He already deduced the point of their destination. That was his working place. The Center.

The is an already familiar building of the entrance hall of the Center. Lak follows tracks of sand on the stairs to the second floor and come in the bathroom identical to the one he uses as an backdoor to the research department. This time he put the eye of guard to the ocular sensor and presses the button by his finger. The door is opened in three seconds. Lak never before was in this part of the complex. Guards already left somewhere into their barracks.

One of the doors is half open. Lak stops near by and listens a business dialogue between the calm, very high-ranker managers. One of them has significant face of natural master. On the wide bald spot of the scalp there are three signs like after not accurate marking by drunken cowboy. The perfect suit decorated with only one jewelry, tie clipper with the diamond that easy could the only friend of anybody, confronts to his opponent's formal but appeared like a blue color uniform if anybody could have crazy idea to compare.

- …will find another surgeon. Only two extra years of trainings to wait.

- Without any guarantee that new boy will be clever adequately in order to do everything correctly and dizzy enough not to care about all scheme? And what for did you sent to him this slut? She is spy snake. You should protect him from such kind of attacks, not to provoke boiling young blood.

- It was simple routine security procedure. Check for the loyalty... Sorry, my fault, I did not anticipate all consequences.

The big boss quietly looks at his wristwatch, where instead of the time the image of Lak in the hall appears. Extraordinary man, as usual, suddenly makes a decision. He takes a pen, directs it to the subordinate and pull and release a holder. The needle shot from the pen penetrating the coat discharge a poison into the pody. The weapon acts instantly. The target lost ability to move and his time slowly flows from its body on the luxurious carpet of the office.

- Lak - quietly appeals chief toward the door. - I have freed out the position of the executive director. Your former chief did not manage the deadline, literally speaking. But time does not wait. My head should reseat after only in year. To do it to yourself you will not be able, but your turn will approach not soon yet. You will be able to prepare a replacement to your position.

- Offer accepted. - replays Lak, entering into office together with the pair of the well-built guards, whom paying to him no attention. They take away the body of killed. The marked man slightly smiles. He intends to have a talk, but this is disturbance of the rules of the game, when everyone understands everything without the words or die.

- Comfort yourself. Call me Quasimode. At the morning you will tomorrow select assistant. This night you will spend here. Your house does not exist any more. Plane crash. The life is full of fatal coexistences. One has aircraft to his head. Other one suffered with heart attack in empathy. Three is a bedroom after the bookshelves. You can use toothbrush of the predecessor. He is completely healthy.- He wants to add, "he was", but rapidly it realized that it would sound rhetoric. - He was. - Quasimode adds nevertheless emphasizing that he is over any rules here and everything is permitted for the owner of life, even tasteless speech. He makes rules about anybody and everything here. Quasimode intents to leave, but he decides after all to explain his motives. More for himself then for Lak.

- When everything is so arranged reliably, there is only one danger - an anger of Gods. You are lucky, happy fellow. This is much too important enterprise to relay on imageless officers. At least one lucky Lak is necessary to be here as a talisman.

-  

Quasimode writes short note on the slip of paper, approaches Lak, friendly flaps his shoulder and directing him to the free chair. - I am leaving master password to the system. He leaves the scene.

Lak turns on the computer and begins journey along the whole project. One of the episodes appears the picture shows three young people in the rooms with the sport equipments; one tool is like the enormous squirrel wheel. Each of men has red birthmarks these are on the exact the same places as a Quasimode has. Surgery. Laboratories. Database of client's files.

Lak arises from the chair. He is already completely otherwise, luxurious dressed gentlemen with unshakable self confidents looks almost as a apprentice of Quasimode. It is evident that passed about fifteen years since time we saw him last time. He come into the receiving room and tells to secretary with the forms of bad girl after model career as a playmate of the week.

- I am tired. Organize the pair of duplicates from the canned stock before any usage. I don't like these scars you know. And join us too. It is not always safe to deal with these animals, they do not understand a word, literally.

Against their background the secretary calls. The guards derive the dazzling beauty of two girls taking from isolated rooms for one. They clearly do not know how to talk. Women are calm, but is completely senseless. Girls could only inarticulately moan being subordinated to gestures of guards. They pass the office entering into the bedroom of Lak. He lies naked on the bed and watches TV. On the screen the young Quasimode is answering questions of journalists. Lak salute to him with a friendly smile, switch off the tv-set and turns to the dessert.

Nov. 7, 2018; 08:47 EST

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