“The month of hell and its finale.”
By Lucas Harrell
‘I can’t believe they haven’t found out my double,’ Servo thought, ‘It’s been a month, one of pure hell for me, and they haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t know how much of this I can take.’ After a month of trying, the chains holding him seemed to be almost broken. He tried one last time, and they snapped in two. He let out a soft cheer and left the dampening patch, heading for home.
Meanwhile, outside of cyberspace, Bea was miserable. One week ago, Lucas had broken up with her. “You’re too much of a wimp,” he had said, “I don’t want to be anywhere around you, much less be romantic with you.”
“I don’t understand,” she said, near tears for what seemed like the hundredth time since then. “I thought that we were happy.” She was in her room. Every day after school, she’d go there and only come out to get something to eat.
I knocked on the door. “Bea,” I called, “It’s me, Cheryl.”
“The door’s unlocked,” was the tear filled reply. I walked in, to find the room in shambles.
“Bea,” I said, “Are you all right?”
“No,” she said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be all right. I just still can’t believe that Lucas said what he did.”
“For what it’s worth, neither can I,” I said, “He had no right talking to you like he did. I think something’s wrong, that the hours he spent captured by Gigatron has made him unstable.”
“Or maybe its not really me.” Bea’s eyes widened as Servo appeared on her computer screen.
“Get out of here,” I said, “Haven’t you already caused her enough heartbreak?”
“That isn’t really me out there,” Servo said, “It’s hard to explain. Can you drop the shield program, so that I can come into the room?”
At Bea’s insistent gaze, I reluctantly did so. Lucas was in the room a few minutes later. “Hurt her again,” I whispered warningly to him, “And you won’t have to worry about Gigatron.”
“Bea, I can explain,” he said, “Can I talk to you alone?” They both looked at me expectantly.
“All right, I’ll go downstairs,” I said, albeit reluctantly. “Just watch what you say, Lucas.”
“I will,” he said. I left the room. “Bea, I...” Before another word left his mouth, Bea slapped him hard.
“That’s for all of the heartbreak,” she said. She looked into his eyes and a moment later, she was kissing him. “It’s really you,” she said when they came up for air. “The passion is in your kissing again.”
“The other ‘me’ is an impostor,” Lucas said, “He was sent here to try to break the group up, make us mad at each other. I’ve been held by Gigatron ever since I was first captured.”
“You’ve been held by him for a month?” Bea asked incredulously. She had no problem in being convinced that the other ‘Lucas’ wasn’t really the boy she had fallen in love with.
“Yeah,” Lucas said, “Somehow, they’ve been feeding me, though. I guess they just didn’t want me to die, for some reason.”
“To keep you as a viable hostage, I’d say,” Bea said, “I knew that there was something wrong in the way that other one kissed me.” She ran her thumb over his lips. “No copy could imitate the passion you put in your kisses.”
There came a knock at the door. “Can I come in?” It was T.J.
“Sure, T.J.,” Bea said, “Come on in.” He did, with me right behind.
“Cheryl was telling me that you were here, Lucas,” T.J. said, “What do you have to say for yourself after the month of hell you’ve put us through, especially Bea?”
“It wasn’t really him,” Bea said, “I knew that there was something... weird about the way that fake kissed me. When I kissed Lucas a few minutes ago, I could tell the difference. This is the real Lucas, and not the one that hurt me one week ago.”
“The wrist computer,” I said suddenly, “He didn’t have one. Since we assumed that we would always have them, we never noticed that he didn’t. That just hit me. He entered cyberspace manually from S-1.” Someone else knocked on the door.
“That must be my special guest,” Bea said, “Come on in, Will.”
Will came in. “Hi gang,” he said. When he caught sight of Lucas, he scowled at him. “What are you doing here?” Lucas was wide mouthed and speechless over Will being right in front of him.
“Easy Will,” Bea said, “That other ‘Lucas’ isn’t real. This is the real deal. This is the great guy who made your team.”
“I’m sorry,” Will said.
“I-It’s all right,” Lucas said, “Natural reaction after what my clone apparently put you all through. You’re Will Cranston, the Blue Nightflood Ranger?"
“Yep,” Will said, “Thanks to you, I gather. I’ve been reading your stories. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not,” Lucas said, “Have your adventures been following along with my stories?”
“Except for End of an Era, yeah,” Will said. He sighed.
“Do you miss Feril?”
“Yeah,” he said, “We got split up on the last world we were all on. Actually, we got split up when we were coming here. I bet the others would love to meet you.”
“They’ll get their chance,” I said, “They’ll come to get you sometime.”
“Thanks Cheryl,” Will said, “But enough about my problems. What do we do about that fake?”
“I say we take it to cyberspace then kill it,” T.J. said.
“No,” I said, “That would be murder. After all, it is human, just like us.”
“We should talk to it,” Lucas said, “In cyberspace. See if it’ll just leave and go on to live somewhere else.”
“Sounds good to me,” Bea said, “You know, for a while there, Jackie was looking better than the dark you.”
“I would have understood if you had found someone else,” Lucas said, “Especially after the way you said that fake treated you.”
“I was too heartbroken to find someone else,” Bea said, “He had hurt me, real badly. But now that the real you is back...” She couldn’t find a way to end that sentence.
“You don’t love me anymore,” Lucas finished for her
“I don’t know,” Bea said, “I’m just not sure. My heart is still on the mend after what that fake did. Can we back off for a little while, so that I can make sense of my feelings?”
“Sure enough beautiful, er Bea” Lucas said.
“Let’s go,” T.J. said. They all hit their main keys. “Uplink: ‘Smith.”
Bea turned to Will. “We’ll be back as soon as we can,” she said, “Uplink: Spryte.”
They digitized and went into cyberspace. “Let’s go to VR,” Spryte said, “That way, he can’t use his powers, though we won’t be able to either.”
“I’ll go there now,” Servo said, “You guys contact S-1. He should be there.”
“All right,” Spryte said. Servo flew off through a tube that he and Spryte were very familiar with.
“S-1, is Lucas in his room?” Spryte asked.
“Yes,” Samurai-1 replied.
“Good,” Tinkerer said, “Call him to cyberspace, would you?”
“Sure thing,” Samurai-1 said. ‘Servo’ appeared a few minutes later.
“What’s up, guys?” he asked. He was obviously scowling at Spryte, who was glaring back underneath her mask.
“We need you to come to VR for a little while,” ‘Smith said.
“Sure thing,” ‘Servo’ said. They all flew through the tube. Lucas barely had enough time to find a good hiding spot before they showed up.
“Now,” ‘Lucas’ said, “What was it you wanted to talk to me about?”
“This,” Bea said. She reared back and leveled ‘Lucas’ with a punch. ‘Lucas’ was knocked off of his feet. “Now.” Lucas jumped out and helped T.J. restrain the impostor.
“Uh oh,” it said, spotting Lucas. It flung them off. “The gig’s up. I’m not going back Gigatron. I don’t want to be destroyed. I’m sorry I said what I did, Bea. That was before I could break free of Gigatron’s control. He made me say what I did.” He was about to fly off, when Lucas put an arm on his shoulder.
“Wait,” he said, “We’re not sending you back. I just want my life back. We just want you to leave and never come back, to cyberspace at least. Try making a life elsewhere.”
“You’re not sending me back?” We all shook our heads. “If those are the terms, then I guess I’ll go by them. I’ll leave, make a new life somewhere else, and never darken cyberspace again. I could only access it through Samurai-1 anyway. Friends?” He extended his hand towards Lucas.
Lucas looked around at the others, who all nodded, and shook his duplicates hand. “Friends,” he said, “Come back any time. Just do me a favor and change the way you look. It would look strange with you running around here, looking like me.”
“Right,” ‘Lucas’ said, “From now on, I’ll be called... Brandon Poole. There’s not too many people that know our middle name.”
“We’ll go back to my house,” Lucas said, “You guys go on home. Brandon and I will get this all straightened out.”
“Right. Download.” T.J., Bea, and I spiraled down different tubes to our houses.
“Download,” Lucas said. He and Brandon spiraled out and winded up at their house.
“You can get some of my clothes,” Lucas said, “To help you start. I’m afraid that I don’t have much money.”
“I do,” Brandon said, “And I’ve got some of my own clothes. I bought them, so that, if you return, we don’t have a dispute over who gets what clothes. Hey, what about you and Bea?”
“She’s asked if we could back off for a little while,” Lucas said, “While she figures out her feelings. You hurt her pretty bad, man. Not that I blame you, if what you told us was true.”
“I know I did,” Brandon said, “Tell her I’m sorry, and that I think the two of you are an awesome couple. Don’t lose her like I did. And take good care of her.”
“I will,” Lucas said, “You take good care of yourself.”
“I will,” Brandon said, giving him an awkward hug. “Later, dude.”
“Wait a minute,” Lucas said, “Where are you going to go?”
“I don’t know,” Brandon said, “I’ll just go traveling for a while. I’ll probably get put in an orphanage eventually. I hope to get adopted by a good family.”
“I wish you the best of luck,” Lucas said, extending his hand.
“Thanks,” Brandon said, shaking the outstretched hand. “I wish you, and your friends, especially Bea, the best of luck.” With that, Brandon walked out of the house and out of our lives.