Double The Money

by Comateta M. Clifton © 2001

Anya always preferred the lab dark as a stormy, starless night sky save for the yellow bulbs that hung low, above the tables. A few strands of hair fell loose from behind her ear, into her line of vision, and she mumbled an oath. She continued her delicate work, holding up an end of the paper with tweezers while gliding the scalpel against the soggy paper, squinting to see past the magnified view of her red hairs. She dared not pause to sweep the strands from in front of the magnifying monocle. The process required full, continual attention. No distractions. Not even when they existed. If she stopped now, then all would be lost. A loss she could afford, but the waste would be a sin.

She forced herself to concentrate. But nearly ruined the process as her dyed-red hair blended with the predominately green background in the monocle's view. Her shoulders lifted with the corners of her mouth in a lighthearted laugh. The mix of colors conjured thoughts of that time of the year when buying power outweighed all other aspects of the season. Now, she and so many others like her possessed that power. A hundred times over. "Get a grip," she whispered, her Kenyan accent echoing in her ears.

She returned her attention to the task at hand, continuing to extract the cells. The technique crashed into discovery only a month ago, but this was already at least her one-hundredth session. She made a mental note to check the books later for an accurate count.

Each session rekindled the marvel she'd felt the first time. The wonder of how simple the process turned out to be. The amazement at how she and all the other beneficiaries have been able to keep it cloaked in secrecy--particularly from the World Government. Anya released the tweezers, hurrying to transfer the green and white cells to the Petri dish. She removed the monocle, and then examined the dish beneath the lens of her microscope, peering for and finding viable cells.

Just as she'd done the morning she discovered the cells replicating onto an edge of her newspaper.

She stood for hours in her bathrobe and pajamas, barefoot upon the cold floor, watching, but not trusting her own eyes or the anxious, giddy flip flop of her heart as the money print conquered the newsprint. Later that afternoon, the take-over was complete. Anya rushed uptown to the local university, pretending to be a student in need of directions to the Sciences Building. Classes had nearly ended for the day, leaving the classrooms and labs virtually abandoned. She gained easy access to needed equipment-microscopes, dishes, lamps, scalpels, analytical hardware and software programs. Her diligent study paid off in two days. By then, she knew all the answers, including chemical makeup and the equipment needed to clinically replicate the procedure.

Soon, a network of one grew to a network of fifty by discreet word of mouth. And it was sure to continue growing. As long as there were people across the globe living as she once did. Poor. Underprivileged. Affording few, if any, of the necessities of life, or to travel the roads that led to new and wonderful experiences. But now, she was changing the world's faces of wealth.

Yet, Anya knew as she transferred the cells onto the blank, chlorine washed, soggy paper that it would all come to an end someday, either by her hand or the government's. Still, chill bumps of excitement crept along her skin this night like all the other nights.

She loosened the valve of the oxygen tank, eliciting a gentle swoosh from the contraption, making sure that the papers were aligned properly, the edges overlapping, to receive the full effect of the gas and to allow smooth, flawless replication--down to the most minute security feature embedded in the original bills to complicate counterfeiting.

She tucked the hairs back behind her ear, and then went about sterilizing the tweezers, scalpel, and dish.

By morning, the cloned money would be ready for drying. And donating.

x x x

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