I was raised in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday. I have been going to the same church all my life until I eventually graduated and went to college in 2014. My dad wasn’t always able to come to church with my mother and I, because sometimes he had to work on Sundays in a genetics lab. The church was small, and I never mingled with the other kids in my youth group. I didn’t go to the same school as them, and they were often in their own clicks. I was mostly quiet around them, but I usually had conversations with my youth pastor.
However, I did have two close friends at the youth group, May and Max. They were siblings, May is two years older than Max, and he is one year younger than me. May was tall, had long brown hair, blue eyes, and her facial features made it look like she always had a smirk on her face. She had a friendly personality, and always asked questions to people she talked to. May took karate for 8 years and got a black belt, but she had to quit after getting badly injured in a sparring match. Max had a pair of green glasses, brown eyes, and short black hair. He was shy, but as I reached out to him and his sister, we became good friends. He was into Marvel and DC comics, and whenever I asked him about a character in the comics, he would ramble everything about the character as if he was an encyclopedia. Their father worked the same genetics lab with my father, and their mother died in a tragic car accident.
Although May was very friendly to everyone around her, something always felt off about her. When she talks and asks things like, “How was your week at school?” her voice always sounded like she was reading a script. She hardly displayed any emotions whenever she was having a conversation. This made her feel robotic, but whenever I asked people in the youth group about it, they told me that they don’t notice anything wrong with her. Max wasn’t like this in the slightest; when he gets interested in a conversation, he is full of energy and gets bubbly.
Whenever I ask May for a social media account or phone number to contact her, she always gives the same response in a gentle tone with no hesitation, “I’ll give it to you later.” If I tell her that she said that last time, she just repeats what she said in the same tone. It felt a lot like a pre recording, and when I tried to ask her friends if they had her number or something, they said that she never gave it to them. Luckily, Max gave his number to me, and whenever I wanted to hang out with him, I always made sure to include May unless she is unavailable. Another thing I found odd was that as soon as the youth group session and the service was over, their family would leave church almost instantly without talking to anyone. I just assumed that they were busy, but it always felt suspicious.
Over the years, I got to know more about May. She apparently has been going through a major existential crisis for a long time. I was asked if she was suicidal, and she replied softly, “If I die in this world, I can easily be replaced, and nobody will know what happened to me.” I had no idea what that meant, and when I tried to ask what she was talking about, she gave the same response repeatedly in the same tone. This made me worried about her, but she told me that she knew things would get better later in life.
One Saturday morning, Max invited me to his house to hang out for the afternoon and have supper with his family. When I came to their house, I noticed that May wasn’t around, and Max told me that she was at a track meet. We spent about an hour playing on his PS3, and then Max wanted to do something else. He had me wait upstairs in his bedroom while he went to get things in the basement. His room was large, and he had two shelves on the wall. The top shelf displayed Marvel merchandise, and the bottom shelf displayed DC merchandise. I waited in his room for about thirty seconds, and then I started to get bored.
I walked out of his room and headed to the basement. “Max, what are you trying to find in the basement?!” I said. “It’s a surprise! Give me a few more minutes and get back in my room,” Max replied. As I walked up to his room, I decided to sneak into May’s bedroom out of curiosity. Compared to Max’s bedroom, her room was small and basic. At first, I didn’t find anything interesting. Then I noticed there was a diary on her desk, and I decided to look inside. Here are some of the things that she wrote.
Tuesday, March 5th, 2010
“I don’t understand what my purpose is in life. I get decent grades in school, and took karate for a while, but they don’t mean anything to me. I only study hard so I don’t drop out, and I initially took karate as an exercise, but everyone kept pressuring me because I was talented. My father doesn’t even let me have a phone or social media account, and I am not even allowed to tell my friends about this. But Max can have them, so why can’t I? If I die in this world, who would anything about me? I am lost with the life I have, why did God put me on this Earth?”
Friday, March 16th, 2010
“My mother has always been a secret for some strange reason. My father would often tell me and Max about her at the dinner table, but neither of us have seen a single picture of her. When I asked what she looked like when I was little, my father said that I strongly resemble her. I don’t understand why our mother has been kept a mystery. When my father talks about her, it only raises more questions than answers. I guess I will never know who my mother was.”
Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
“I have started going to therapy lately. My father claims that it will be helpful, but I would prefer being left alone. Today, while my father drove me home after an appointment, he revealed something about my mother. He told me that this was the reason why I can’t have a phone or social media account. I am in too much shock to write down what he said to me. If I tell anyone what he said, no one will believe me. Flowers…so many of the same…and so many unneeded.”
Of all the diary entries, this one confused and unsettled me the most. What could her father have said to put her in so much shock? Suddenly I then heard Max calling from downstairs. “Okay, you can come downstairs now. Sorry for keeping you waiting!” he said. I closed the diary and came downstairs. Max was holding a big box. “This is where May and I store all of our Nerf guns and accessories!” said Max. I looked inside and was amazed of how many Nerf guns they have collected. We spent the next two hours shooting each other and experimenting with all the guns and accessories. Later May came home from the track meet and joined us in our Nerf battles outside.
After the Nerf battles, May went upstairs to take a shower. In the meantime, Max and I set the dinner table. Their father cooked us burgers and a potato salad for supper. When we finished preparing for our meal, May came downstairs to join us. After a short prayer, we ate. The burgers were decent, but the potato salad was very dry. May told us about what happened in the track meet; one of her friends did a prank involving fake worms and a can to the coach of a different track team, and everyone laughed at the coach. After dinner, I thanked everyone for inviting me and having a good time.
Several weeks later, it was Bring Your Child to Workday. My dad took me to the genetics lab that he works in. I was surprised not to see May, but Max was with his father. “Where is May?” I asked. “She is terribly sick and had to go to the hospital, the doctors told me that she will be okay by tomorrow,” said Max. Our fathers then showed us three elephant beetles displayed in a large enclosure. “Magnificent, aren’t they?” said my dad. “Normally they live up to 3 months, but we modified these beetles to live up to 3 years.” Max had an amazed look on his face. “Why would you want to extend their lifespan?” said Max. His fathered smiled at him. “So that people can enjoy them as pets!” he said.
After the presentation, they started to work with various lab equipment. Max and I started to get bored, so we decided to sneak out of the room, and explore the facility. We then walked into a dark room with a big blast door. Max noticed a nearby switch and opened it. What we discovered completely caught us off guard. Behind the blast door was a massive tank filled with a mysterious green liquid. There were dozens of bodies that resembled May floating lifelessly in the tank with their eyes wide open.
Max ran out of the room in terror. I ran with him, but I dumped into a desk and I heard something fall. It was a photo frame, with the photo facing the floor. I picked it up, and it was a wedding photo of May and Max’s father. The woman he was with looked exactly like May. I looked at the photo, and then looked back at the tank. May was never Max’s sister, but rather a clone of her father’s wife. Flowers…so many of the same…and so many unneeded.