Matt isn't quite sure why Cecelia
has hidden him away all his life but he knows that everything is about
to change. Some kids from the main house have found out about him.
He knows he should hide but he is also curious to know what other children
are like. What he finds is that he is different from the others.
He is a clone! Not just any clone. He is El Patron's clone.
El Patron is the most powerful man in the country. As a matter of
fact, he founded the country. Opium is a country that lies between
the United States and Aztlan -- formerly called Mexico. The economy
is entirely based on the sale of drugs. El Patron is now 142 years
old and relies on clones to supply the needed spare parts to keep him going.
It is the law that clones have their brains destroyed when they are harvested
but Matt is an exception. As the years go by, Matt is educated and
gets to live under El Patron's protection. But he is still a clone.
No better than livestock. Harvested from a cow. Does El Patron
have other plans for him?
In the Beginning, there were
36 of them, 36 droplets of life so tiny that Eduardo could see them only
under a microscope. Water bubbled through tubes that snaked around the
warm humid wall. Air was sucked into growth chambers. A dull red light
shone on Eduardo's face as he scanned the glass dishes, each containing
a drop of life. As Eduardo scanned the dishes with a microscope, the cells
seemed perfect. Each furnished with all it needed to grow, so much knowledge
hidden in that tiny world. Even Eduardo was awed. The cell already knew
what color hair it was to have, how tall it would become, and even whether
it preferred spinach or broccoli. It might even have a desire for music
or crossword puzzles. All of that was hidden in that tiny droplet of life.
The round outlines quivered
and lines appeared, dividing the cells into two, Eduardo sighed and thought
that it was going to be all right. As he watched the samples grow, he moved
them to the incubator. But something about the food, or the heat, or the
light was wrong and Eduardo didn’t know what it was. Soon half of them
died, and now there were only 15. Eduardo had cold lump in his stomach.
If he failed he would be sent to the Farms and then what would become of
Anna and the children and his father who was so old.
Lisa, a senior lab technician
said, “It’s OK. The cells were frozen over a 100 years ago. They can’t
be as healthy as samples taken yesterday. Some of them will grow.” For
a month everything went well. The day came that they implanted the tiny
embryos in the brood cows. The cows lined up patiently waiting. They were
fed by tubes, their bodies were exercised by giant metal arms that flexed
their legs as though they were walking through endless fields. Perhaps
the cows hated what had been done to them, because one by one the infants,
no larger than a minnow died, until there was only one. That infant grew
until it was clearly a being with arms and legs and a sweet dreaming face.
Eduardo looked through the scanners and said, “You hold my life in your
hands.” Then the day came, the cow gave birth to the baby, Eduardo grabbed
for the needle that would blunt its intelligence. Lisa stopped him saying,
“Don’t fix that one, It’s a Matteo Alacrán. They’re always left
intact. Eduardo wondered, “ Have I done you a favor. Will you thank me
for it later?
Marilyn Bunker (Colorado
Blue Spruce Children's Award)