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The Clone

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The Clone

By Deb G and Gayle

© 1988

The Clone

A Story by Deb G & Gayle . Teleplay by Gayle

Everyone always talks about how special the father-son relationship is in STARMAN. Well, I think the Fox-Wylie relationship is pretty special, too. -- Michael Cavanaugh, San Diego, Nov. 21, 1987

 

"Wylie, you idiot!" George Fox exploded. "Forget about rescuing those damn tabloids! This is an earthquake. We have to get out of here!"

"But, Mr. Fox," Wylie protested, "those are last week's papers. They're not on the stands anymore. If I don't save them, I may never find out what happened with the woman who gave birth to the alien dog who speaks six languages. Isn't that important, Mr. Fox? You always said I should keep an eye open for clues to—"

"Wylie, get out here! If you get squashed, I'll be stuck with a mile and a half of paperwork!" Fox said between gasps as he half-dragged the larger man away from the rickety, ageing two-flat that had been converted to use as an FSA safehouse, and onto the street.

"Mr. Fox, what about the guards, Mr. Parker and Mr. Lyman? I didn't see them get out. Oh! Maybe they got out the back door. But what about the alien, Mr. Fox? What if he gets squashed? He's handcuffed to the table leg, he can't get out."

"The alien!" Fox gasped. "It's still inside!" He rushed back to the front door of the building and attempted to push it open. It wouldn't budge. "Help me, Wylie. We've gotta get back in there, fast."

Wylie rammed his body against the door as though he were making a football tackle. He hit the door with his body a second time, and kept pushing. With a strained sound from both Wylie and the wooden door, the door moved inward about two and a half inches.

Fox dashed across the narrow street and wrenched a length of wooden railing from the collapsed porch of another apartment building. He wedged the railing into the narrow opening that Wylie had made between the door and the frame. As Fox grunted in his attempts to force the door open, Wylie said, "You know what, Mr. Fox, would you believe that just a few months ago, a world-famous psychic predicted that there was going to be an earthquake in California sometime. And you can see she was right! I have to admit, I got kind of nervous when I read that, because we are always going to California to search for the alien. But I didn't tell you about it, Mr. Fox, and do you know why?"

"Because you didn't want me to get scared too."

"Well, that too, but mainly because so many times when I have important things to tell you, you seem too busy to listen," Wylie said with a faint tone of reproach.

"Well, Wylie," Fox said between grunts, as the railing began to make faint cracking noises, "sometimes... we just... have different ideas about what is important."

"Well, I just remembered something else that could be important, Mr. Fox," said Wylie, with a hint of triumph that one of his tabloid informants had been proven right. "I was reading in that paper in there that this scientist, in Reno, he has evidence that aliens are behind all these earthquakes. At least, the ones in California. This is California we're in, right?" Fox oofed, and Wylie took that to mean yes. "Well, you know how there's this big ocean by California? The Pacific? Well, this scientist says that these aliens have an underwater base in the Pacific, and every time one of their ships takes off, it causes a tremor." Fox nearly lost his balance as his makeshift wooden crowbar splintered in two. "I remember, he said their base was near San Francisco Bay. Mr. Fox! Isn't this near San Francisco Bay, where we are right now?"

Fox drew back from the door, panting and rubbing his shoulder. "I don't think this door will open. The whole framework is bent out of shape. We'll have to break it down."

"Aren't we near San Francisco Bay, Mr. Fox?"

"Yes, Wylie, we are. Now, help me kick this door down. Hurry, come on!"

"Yeah, I remember, San Francisco airport was where we changed planes, and it was a very short flight to here. They never even turned off the seat-belt sign. So, what do you think, Mr. Fox, could those aliens have been taking off?"

"Aliens? What aliens?" Fox looked up sharply.

"You know, this was a lot more than just a tremor. Maybe a really big ship was taking off! Maybe they're coming to rescue Forrester! Maybe they're on their way right now!"

An electric shock seemed to run through Fox at the mention of "a really big ship." "No, Wylie, no. We took its silver ball away. It couldn't contact others of its kind without that. I'm sure of it." But, almost involuntarily, Fox started casting fearful glances toward the skies.

"Well," said Wylie, "if that scientist is right, that would explain why the alien and his offspring are seen in California so much. They probably have to check in at headquarters."

"It couldn't escape," Fox said through clenched teeth. He kicked at the door with all his strength. The door made a faint splintering sound. "We have it in custody. It can't escape. It's securely handcuffed... come on, Wylie!" The tension in Fox's voice rose. "We have to break this door! Help me kick it down!"

Wylie obligingly positioned his foot next to Fox's on the door. "I sure hope the alien doesn't get out the back door," Wylie offered.

"The BACK door!" Fox shrieked, and, still shrieking, disappeared around the building.

o o O o o

"Fox," said General Wade sternly, "you do know we are going to have to have an investigation into the death of the civilian who was in your custody."

Fox appeared to be in a trance. "I can't believe it, I just can't believe it," he was mumbling. "We had it, we finally had it..."

"I've finished filling out all the forty-nine-dash-eight-point-one forms," said Wylie proudly, "in triplicate. That's for Death or Injury to a Civilian in Custody."

"General," Fox said earnestly, "I regret the civilian's death as much as anyone. More than anyone. I cannot tell you, sir, how much we wanted to keep it alive. I wanted to keep it alive. Keeping it alive was vital to all our security." Fox's voice choked. "I simply cannot tell you, sir, the pain and frustration I feel. I don't understand how you could possibly think that the al—the civilian died due to action or negligence on our part," he said, with a sidewise glance at the miniature tape recorder that was serving as a stenographer.

"Fox! The body was found crushed by fallen beams. There's little doubt as to the direct cause of his death. The City is planning to fine the FSA for building code violations."

"Sir, you may think we were negligent as far as the condition of the building is concerned, but Congress has cut our budget to the bone, you know that. That place was a dump when we got it, but it was all the Agency could afford."

"The plumbing downstairs was stopped up," said Wylie. "We always had to go all the way upstairs."

"If only Congress understood the need for security, we'd surely get the budget we need. If only they understood the magnitude of the threat facing us. I tell you, General, it is really a mistake to keep the threat a secret. That's why they keep cutting our budget! Because they don't know! Both you and my own superiors keep telling me to keep my mouth shut, but, one of these days, General, I'm going to tell Congress and the whole world! Wake them all up!"

"You do that, Fox, and your whole agency is sunk. And I'll be canned for working with such a lunatic. Just get those thoughts out of your mind. Get back to what we were talking about. I'm not concerned about the building code violations. There are other unanswered questions."

"Like what, General?"

"Well, Fox, for starters, you could explain to us why the civilian's body was naked when we found it."

"Naked???" gasped Fox and Wylie in unison.

"A lot of things just don't add up here, Fox. You claim that you and your assistant both left the premises as soon as the earthquake started, and that you left by the front door. Yet the guards, Parker and Lyman, both testify that they saw your assistant leave the building ten minutes after the quake was over—by the back door, the same way they had left. That was a few minutes before you ran up to them screaming... Hmmm, Fox, I don't know if you need to be reminded of what you have been taught about the proper conduct and demeanour of security agents?"

"No, sir, I don't need to be reminded. I've been reminded."

"Well, Fox, you know that questions have been raised about your stability, by people in your own agency, and reports like this do not help matters. However, back to the guards' statements. They both commented on your assistant's uncustomary apparel."

"My what? I don't wear uncustomary apparel, do I, Mr. Fox?" Wylie said defensively.

"I have a direct quote from Parker right here. He says... ah... here it is, `that Wylie moron has always worn the same suit every time I've seen him, and I'm sure if he'd been wearing something different when he and Fox brought the civilian in, I would have noticed it. But when he came outside after the quake, he was wearing a leather jacket and jeans.'"

"That couldn't have been me," Wylie said. "I don't even own clothes like that. But, if it wasn't me, who could it have been?" Turning toward Fox, Wylie suddenly noticed that his boss was gasping for breath. "Mr. Fox!" Wylie cried, alarmed. "Are you all right?"

"Wylie..." Fox managed to croak.

"Do you want water, Mr. Fox?"

"No, damn it, I don't want any water!... Wylie... you didn't... lose anything in the room where the alien was, did you?"

"Well... I got my papers back okay, so I don't think... oh wait. I was combing my hair when the earthquake hit, and I think I dropped my comb."

"You dropped your comb." Fox's tone was flat. "And it had hair in it, of course."

"Sir, it wasn't my intention to be messy. But I couldn't help it - the earthquake took me by surprise, you know."

"I thought you knew about it beforehand from reading about that psychic," Fox said sarcastically.

"Well, she didn't say exactly when the quake would come, Mr. Fox, so, you know, I wasn't expecting it just at that moment." Wylie looked at his boss with concern. "Mr. Fox, it wasn't an expensive comb or anything like that. I have other combs just like it."

o o o O o o o

When the earthquake struck, Scott had run out of the shower and into the living room in panic, his hair still covered with lather. When he was sure the shaking had stopped, he had returned cautiously to the shower to rinse off his hair, but then he had discovered that now no water was available from shower, sink, or any other plumbing fixture. The naked boy (who was unaware that, at that very moment, the body of the man he had known as his father was in the same state, only dead) was unsuccessfully attempting to rinse off the top of his head in the toilet tank when he heard an urgent knocking at the door.

He reached quickly for an old, ratty bathrobe, threw it around himself, and crept silently to the door. "Who is it?" he asked in the deepest, gruffest voice he could manage.

"Ummm... Scott, this is your dad."

"Dad! You escaped!" Scott cried out with relief. Then he hesitated, his hand suspended a few inches from the door's triple locks. "You..."

"I have something to explain to you, Scott..."

"You don't sound like my dad. I mean, I think you have the wrong apartment, sir. No one by the name of Scott lives here."

"Scott, let me explain something." The locks clicked softly, one after another, as though yielding to a gentle suggestion rather than surrendering to the intrusion of a key. Scott stepped back, partly in hope and partly in fear. But the door opened just a crack, and stopped. "Scott, I have to explain something first..."

Too late. Scott had taken a quick peek inside the crack, and in an adrenaline-fuelled leap was instantly across the room, perched on the back of a threadbare overstuffed armchair, trying desperately to open the window onto the fire escape. As the tall intruder approached him, Scott seized a handful of lather from his hair. "Don't come any closer, mister," he warned.

"Scott, just listen to me for a moment..."

Scott fired his handful of lather at the tall man's face, but the man moved his head just in time, and the suds made a wet plop against the wall.

"For heaven's sake, Scott," the Wyliesque creature said, "don't go outside looking like that. Go get dressed, first."

Scott had given up on the window. "This window must be painted shut or something. Isn't that against fire code? Why aren't you out there chasing real criminals like the slumlords who run apartment buildings with no fire exits and no water, instead of innocent kids like me?"

"Scott, that thing is a disgrace, don't go outside in it. At least put on the new purple bathrobe I got you."

Scott took a few steps backward toward the corner, and hugged his bathrobe around himself more tightly.

"Scott, I'm not asking you to throw it away. We've already had that discussion, and, okay, I know that `Blanky' was the last gift the Lockharts gave you, but please, just don't go wearing it outside, okay?"

Scott retreated further into the corner. "How'd you know the Lockharts gave me this bathrobe?"

"Scott, we had quite a little discussion about it when I went to buy you that new purple bathrobe, which wasn't cheap on our budget."

"Oh, yeah? Well, where'd you get the idea I named it `Blanky'?"

"Ummm... Scott..." The tall man held his hands against the sides of his head. "Scott... you have to realise... I am operating with Wyliean brain cells, here. You can't expect me to get everything right." The boy stared at him with the wordless, helpless suspicion of a cornered animal. "Scott," the tall man reached out his hand, "please, Scott—just touch me."

Slowly, silently, with a hint of fear, the teenager reached out his own wet hand. "Dad!" he gasped at the instant of contact. "It IS you!" He hugged his father, almost sobbing with relief, burying his face against the familiar leather jacket as though to keep the emotion of the moment unspoiled by a glimpse of the uncustomary face. "Oh, Dad," Scott choked, "what have they done to you? That Fox is a fiend. Oh, poor Dad."

"It was that earthquake, Scott. Paul Forrester is a casualty."

"And Wylie, too?"

"I don't know, Scott. I didn't see any other bodies. I didn't want to clone Forrester's body again because the guards would have recognised it, and wouldn't have let me leave. So, since no one was looking anyway, I tried for another body. I must admit, I got something of a shock when I looked in the mirror. But it worked. The guards thought I was Wylie, and they just waved me through. So here I am."

"But, Dad..." Scott's brow furrowed. "Didn't you once say that you couldn't get the energy together to clone a new body so quickly?"

"Shhh!" his father said with a twinkle in his eye. "Fox doesn't know that."

Scott looked puzzled at this cryptic remark, and his father began to wipe up the soapy puddles Scott had left on the floor and wall.

o o o O o o o

"Wylie," Fox said tensely, "Wylie, there has to be a way we can take advantage of this situation. Wylie, the thing has your brain cells! It'll be thinking like you! Wylie, where would someone who thinks like you go?"

"Huh?"

"Wylie, you idiot! Think! Think! Think! No, don't think. Just let that brain of yours do whatever it is that it does. Wylie, where does your brain tell you to go right now?"

"Um... to the zoo?"

"The zoo?! Wylie, you idiot. What do you want to go to the zoo for? To visit your relatives?"

"Well, I don't know if I have relatives there, Mr. Fox," said Wylie, "but I have seen foxes there."

"No, Wylie, you're right. You're brilliant. The zoo. Of course. It's got a kid, right? And where do kids like to go but the zoo? And it probably thinks the zoo is the last place we'd ever look. It probably thinks we're checking highways, airports, things like that. It doesn't realise we have a secret weapon here, the Wylie brain. We know how its mind works now. It'll never escape us. Wylie, you're a genius! The zoo! What would I do without you?"

o o o O o o o

"Dad—are you sure it was a good idea to pawn your camera?" Scott asked as he and his father, the latter wearing a new three-piece suit, walked down the city street. "Even if you forgot how it works, couldn't you just read the manual again?"

"Scott, even if I remembered how it worked, I think I lost all my photographic talent when I lost Forrester's genes. And not only his talent, but his reputation, his career. So, even if I did still have the camera and the talent, it would be very hard to get assignments. Besides, we needed the money."

"Needed the money? To get a suit? Dad, why did you have to get that?"

"It's hard to explain, Scott."

"But the one you picked, Dad! It looks exactly like the one Wylie was wearing when he was guarding me at Lindero Hospital! It gives me the creeps! Even your hair, Dad! You've started combing it like his! It's— well, Dad, this is really quite a test of my ability to adapt to new situations."

Scott turned his head as he spoke and suddenly realised that his father was no longer at his side. Scott looked around in panic, and then saw that his father was staring intently into the window of a convenience store they had just passed.

"Dad! What are you doing?"

"Scott!" his father cried. "You won't believe this!"

Scott was at his father's side in a flash. "What? What?" he asked anxiously, uncertain whether to be excited or frightened.

"Scott, look!"

Scott looked into the store window. Racks of potato chips, a soda pop dispenser, a guy approaching the counter with a six-pack in each hand— Scott could see nothing unusual.

"What is it, Dad?"

"Look, Scott! That newspaper headline by the counter! Look at that! `Airliner That Disappeared After Take-Off in 1930 Lands at O'Hare.' Look at what it says underneath. `Passengers show no sign of ageing.' Scott, do you realise what happened? Somehow, accidentally, they made use of a time-warp!"

"Uh, no, Dad, see, this is what's called a tabloid paper..." But his father had vanished into the store.

"Too bad I'm not Paul Forrester anymore," his father was musing as Scott came up. "Forrester could have asked for an assignment to cover this historic event."

"Yeah, Dad, and, you know, there's something we haven't even talked about yet..."

"It's amazing, Scott. Read this. The craft had fuel to spare. The people thought they had just taken off from Minneapolis a few hours before. The food was still fresh! And this was just an ordinary airplane! It must have somehow flown into a natural dimension-warp. This could represent the beginning of interdimensional travel for humans. Soon they'll be able to take short-cuts to stars that are hundreds, thousands of light-years away! I'll bet that right now physicists from all over the world are on their way to Chicago."

"If anyone hears you talking, we'll have psychiatrists from all over the world on their way here," muttered Scott. "Dad—don't tell me you are buying those papers? What's with you? We've passed by tabloid stands a million times, and you never paid them any attention."

"Scott, I would think that you would recognise the significance of events like this," his father said as he paid for the papers. "This could change the whole future of the planet!" He kept reading to himself, muttering as the pair walked out of the store. "`UFO Kidnaps Entire Bigfoot Family.' Now, who would do a thing like that? Nobody from my neighbourhood!... `Six-year-old boy gives birth to twins.' Hmmm, I guess our scientists don't know everything about the human reproductive process... `Elvis Spotted On UFO Crew'... Scott?"

"Yeah, Dad?"

"What is... an Elvis?"

"Oh, Dad," Scott released a great breath, "you sound like you. I was beginning to feel like... oh, never mind."

"`One-day-old Baby Chick Cheeps All of John Lennon's Songs'... Hmmm, I guess not all of this news is very important."

"How many world-changing events do you want in one day?" Scott laughed, and his father laughed with him. Then Scott became serious. "You know, Dad, speaking of Paul Forrester, we haven't even discussed what we are going to do about getting a name and a new identity for you. If the real Wylie is still alive, it would be pretty hard for you to use his identity."

"Yes, you are right. Oh! I forgot. I was going to ask that store clerk which bus goes to the zoo."

"To the zoo?" Scott said in astonishment. "Why on Earth would you want to go to the zoo at a time like this?"

"Don't you like the zoo?"

"Well, sure, but...I'm a little old for the zoo."

"I'm not."

Scott looked at his father for a moment, and then burst out laughing.

"Well, of course not, Dad, you're only a day old! In that body, of course." Suddenly remembering a joke he had heard at some school or another, Scott added, "Why do you want to go to the zoo? To visit your relatives?"

His father paused, and smiled a Starman smile. "Why, Scott—what a beautiful way to put it."

"Wylie!" Fox hissed in an undertone. "You're supposed to be looking at the crowd! You're supposed to be watching for it! Not gawking at the animals!"

"I'm sorry, sir. I was just—thinking."

"Thinking? Good, Wylie, good. We'll find out more and more about how its mind works. Okay, tell me, Wylie, what were you thinking?"

"Well... about the animals."

"The animals? What is there to think about animals?"

"I don't know ... For some reason, whenever I go to the zoo, I start thinking about animals."

"Hmmm, okay, probably it will be thinking about animals if it's here at the zoo. So, what about animals?"

Wylie looked at his boss, a little unbelieving that the impatient Fox should suddenly be so intently interested in Wylie's musings. "Well, these bears here..." Wylie ventured.

"Bears. Yes. What about the bears?"

"Well, they are living their whole life in a cage. They even have a baby, and they have to raise their baby behind bars. I wonder what that feels like."

"Wylie, they're not human, for God's sake," Fox said tensely.

"Yes, sir." Wylie was silent. Then he added, "They're kind of like aliens, aren't they, sir? Bears, zebras, wolves... they're kind of like aliens in our world.—Except, of course, they didn't invade us on purpose like... you know."

Fox was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as Wylie spoke. "Wylie," he interrupted sharply. "I need coffee. Now. Go get me some. Coffee, Wylie. Black."

"Yes, Mr. Fox." Wylie moved to go. Then he stopped, and turned back to face his boss with a puzzled look. "Mr. Fox...?"

"Yes, Wylie?"

"The part I'm not sure I understand is... Why are humans so special, that we're the only ones with the right to walk around free?"

o o o O o o o

Scott and his father were in the monkey house, watching a gorilla named Soochek beat his chest and roar.

"I'm getting hungry, Scott. They were selling peanuts and popcorn and potato chips over where we saw the big cats. Would you like me to get you anything?"

"I'm just thirsty, Dad. Could you get me a root beer with lots of ice?"

"Scott, I'm a little worried about you. You seem different since I came back yesterday."

"I seem different??"

"You don't eat anything. Teenaged boys are supposed to always be hungry. That was one of the first things I learned about teenaged boys. Eddie told me, and you've shown me he was right. But now you act different."

"I guess I haven't had much of an appetite... recently."

"Well, I hope you feel better soon, Scott," his father said. "I'll be back with your root beer in a few minutes."

From the exit of the monkey house, Scott watched his father walk off, the only figure in the crowd dressed in a three-piece suit. "Oh, Dad, Dad," Scott sighed. "Why did it have to be that body?" He retreated back into the monkey house.

His father was strolling back from the peanut stand when Fox accosted him.

"Wylie!" Fox bellowed. "I sent you for coffee. What do you have there? Pizza? Soda pop? Go get my coffee, Wylie. Now! Black! Not from there— from there! The coffee take-out is over there! Can't you see it? I thought you said you come to the zoo all the time!"

"Not this zoo," the other managed to say. "We live in Washington, D.C., don't you remember?"

"Go!"

The tall man shuffled off into the crowd. Fox suddenly realised he should have told his assistant to get him an aspirin, too. Maybe the gift shop would have aspirin. Fox wearily made his way toward the gift shop.

As Fox entered the gift shop, Scott emerged from the monkey house. He scanned the crowd for his father, and spotted a tall, familiar figure wandering about with a cup of steaming coffee in one hand, and cotton candy in the other, scanning the crowd himself. "He must not even remember that he left me in the monkey house," sighed Scott. "And he didn't even remember my root beer. Oh, Dad, Dad—I should never have left you alone to try to navigate with those Wyliean brain cells."

"Dad!" Scott shouted, waving.

The tall man didn't even turn around. He just kept taking bites from his cotton candy and scanning the crowd.

"Dad!" Scott panted, catching up to him. "What took you so long? Where's my root beer? Never mind, forget it. Let's just see the new kiwi bird exhibit and then go."

The tall man looked blank for a moment, and then those slow-motion brain cells seemed to kick into gear.

"Ah... No, Scott... Let's just wait here a minute... There's someone here who... who I want you to meet."

"Who, Dad? What are you talking about?"

"Just follow me... son."

Suddenly, Fox's voice rang out from behind them. "Wylie! There they are!

Both of them! Go get 'em, quick!"

"Run, Dad, run!" Scott yelled, taking off into the crowd. The tall man with the cotton candy ran right behind him. But when he caught up with Scott, he grabbed the boy's collar and seized his arm. At the instant of contact, Scott knew the truth.

Fox ran up to them—with another Wylie trailing behind. Scott's eyes met those of the second Wylie; then, as Fox reached them, Scott twisted around and threw his arms around the man who was holding him, crying out, "Dad!! What do we do now, Dad?"

In a single, highly trained martial-arts move, Fox had knocked Scott to the asphalt and had the tall man handcuffed to himself. Scott tried to scramble to his feet, and with lightning reflexes Fox tripped the tall man so that he fell on top of Scott, pinning him to the ground. However, since he was handcuffed to the man he had pulled down, Fox fell on top of him. Scott was pinned beneath them both. Fox held down his prisoners triumphantly.

"Ow!" came a voice from beneath him. "You spilled coffee all over me!"

"Now I've got you, Forrester!"

"I'm not Forrester!"

"Well, whatever you call yourself now—I've got you at last!"

The second Wylie stood over them, sharing Fox's triumph. "Mr. Fox! You got them! Both of them!"

"Help me secure the boy, Wylie!"

"But I'm Wylie, Mr. Fox!" came a muffled wail beneath him.

"It's no use, Dad!" came Scott's, voice, even more muffled. "He knows you're the alien!"

"I am not! I found the boy for you, Mr. Fox! I was bringing him to you!"

Fox looked at the profiled face of the Wylie beneath him, then looked at the Wylie standing over him, and then back again at the handcuffed Wylie beneath him. They looked the same, and even their clothes were identical... except that there were coffee stains on the clothing of the man beneath him. A horrible realisation dawned upon Fox.

"I sent you to get me coffee, didn't I, Wylie?"

"I did get your coffee, sir! But now it's spilled! It's not my fault it got spilled! You knocked me down, sir!"

"Well, we've got the boy, at least," Fox said, keeping his eyes fastened warily on the Wylie standing above them. He struggled to get off the Wylie beneath him and onto his feet, but since the prone figure to which he was handcuffed was so much taller than he, he was unsuccessful.

The man beneath him began to struggle to get his own footing. "No, no, Wylie, don't you get up. Keep the boy down until we have a better way to secure him."

"I'll secure the boy for you, sir," said the tall Wylie looming above the prone trio.

"You!! I know who you are!!! Or, I should say, what you are!!!"

"Yes, sir. Well, Mr. Fox, since you've captured both the alien and his offspring, shall I send a telegram, sir?"

"Wylie, you idiot! I mean, I haven't captured you, I've captured Wylie, and it's all your fault for cloning him!"

"I'm sorry, sir. I'll try to do better next time," said the standing Wylie.

"Mr. Fox," came the voice of the Wylie below, "if you take the handcuffs off me, I can secure the boy with them."

"Oh, no, I'm not! I'm not letting you loose! I'm not falling for a trick like that!"

"That's right," said the Wylie above to the Wylie below. "Mr. Fox is way too smart to fall for a trick like that."

"I am not! I mean—I know you're the alien, mister!" Fox raged at the Wylie above him. "Just wait until I get these cuffs off! You won't get away this time!"

"Don't forget to give the cuffs to me, when you get them off," said the Wylie below, "so I can use them to secure the boy."

"Wylie, did you forget your own handcuffs again? Or did you lose them in the earthquake along with your comb?"

"Don't you remember, sir, you took my handcuffs, to secure the alien back in the safehouse. And now my handcuffs are part of the evidence they're holding for the investigation of the civilian's death. Don't you remember, I had to get you to sign that form twenty-six-slash-one-A, so I could get a new pair requisitioned to me? Shouldn't take more than twelve or fifteen months, you said."

Fox stared at the handcuffed Wylie for a wordless moment. "It's gotta be you," he muttered at last. "Couldn't be anyone else—anything else. It's just gotta be you."

By this time, a crowd was gathering. Evidently, some people were finding this little group more entertaining than the penguins and kangaroos.

A security guard stepped assertively out of the crowd. "All right, what's going on here?" he demanded.

"These crazy guys knocked me down," oofed Scott, with what little breath he could manage under the combined weight of Wylie and Fox.

"And then he handcuffed me," added the Wylie on top of Scott, "but that's all right, he's my boss, and he's looking for the key right now."

"All right, get up, all three of you," ordered the security guard.

"Mister, I'm a federal agent, and this boy is wanted in a federal matter," Fox said. "He is a fugitive, and so is his father."

"A fed-linked perp," added the handcuffed Wylie on top of Scott.

"We would appreciate—your government would appreciate your assistance and co-operation in the apprehension of these fugitives," Fox concluded.

"I wish General Wade could have heard the way you said that," said the handcuffed Wylie admiringly. "It's exactly the way they teach us in training."

"What did they do?" asked the security guard.

"They didn't do anything," said the standing Wylie. "They're just aliens, is all. The kind from another planet."

"All three of them?" asked the guard sarcastically. "Looks like we've captured the whole invasion force and saved the Earth once again."

"I'm not an alien! Just those two!" shouted Fox, attempting to point with his handcuffed hand first to Scott and then to the Wylie standing above him.

"Ow, Mr. Fox, you're hurting my shoulder."

"Here, I'll show you my badge. I'm an agent with the FSA. That's the Federal Security Agency, for your information, mister! Wylie, for God's sake, let me move my hand. Get up a little so I can reach my inside pocket.

Don't let the boy get away, now. My badge is in here, if I can reach it—"

"Ow, Mr. Fox, you're hurting my shoulder!"

"Well, I can't find my badge in this pocket... Maybe it's in this other pocket..."

"Maybe you dropped it in the earthquake, sir," the handcuffed Wylie suggested helpfully. "I have my badge right here. You can borrow it."

"Just show the guard your badge, Wylie." Fox wondered why he hadn't thought of this before—the impersonator wouldn't have an FSA badge.

"This badge says `Official Monkey House Patrol,'" said the guard sternly.

"Oh, that's the one I bought in the gift shop, when I was looking for the cotton candy stand. Here, let me find the other one—"

But at that moment, as the handcuffed pair searched for badges, Scott managed to wriggle out from under them, and in an instant he and the other Wylie had vanished into the crowd.

"They're getting away! Stop them!" Fox yelled, but the crowd just stood and stared at him like a herd of impassive llamas. "Mister," he raged at the security guard, "this is all your fault, and I'm holding you responsible!"

"Yeah, you just do that," shrugged the security guard. He chuckled as he ambled off.

Fox stood wearily, rubbing his wrist where the handcuffs had dug in during their struggles. The crowd was beginning to thin out. Fox laughed a little bit, sounding like a deflated basketball losing air. "It is a little funny, you know," he mused. "This whole thing reminds me of Shakespeare's `Twelfth Night,' and what a coincidence, guess what play I went to just two weeks ago?"

"Um—Fiddler on the Roof?"

Fox raised his handcuffed hand to Wylie's cheek. "Oh, Wylie. Wylie, Wylie, Wylie. It really is you, isn't it?"

"I believe so, sir."

"Well, Wylie, the alien can't escape us now. We have the secret weapon, the Wylie brain. We've proved that it works. We found him the very first day. He got away this time, but he won't get away next time. We'll prevent any more mix-ups like what happened today by giving you some sort of password. Then the thing can never impersonate you again. We've got him, for sure... By the way, Wylie, do you have the keys to these handcuffs?"

"Why, no, Mr. Fox. They're your handcuffs. You sure you can't find the key?"

"Would I be asking you if I could?"

"Maybe you dropped them in the earthquake, sir."

"Damn earthquakes. They cause so much trouble."

"I know what we can do, sir!"

"What?"

"We can use this!" Wylie pulled a silver sphere from his pocket.

"Wylie! Where did you get that?"

"I rescued it during the earthquake, sir."

"You did what? Wylie, that's classified evidence!"

"Well, it's pretty lucky I did, isn't it? You never know when you might lose a key or something!"

"Wylie..." Fox said, exasperated. "Wylie, you can't make it work. You have to be like IT to make it work."

"Don't talk, sir, let me concentrate."

Wylie screwed up his face with effort. A minute went by. Two minutes.

Four minutes.

"Wylie..."

"Don't talk, sir. Let me concentrate."

Wylie concentrated harder. He made a few magician's passes over the sphere.

"Wylie, give that thing to me. We'll go back to the office and get the spare key."

"The spare key is in Washington, D.C., sir. Now, don't talk, sir, please.

I'm almost getting it."

"Wylie..."

Fox's voice died as he thought he heard a faint humming sound... Was he imagining it? Then... a faint blue glow began to come from the sphere.

"WyIie!..." Fox could barely breathe the word.

"Don't talk, sir. I've almost gotten it." Then the handcuffs snapped off both their wrists and clattered to the ground.

Fox was speechless. He stared at the sphere. The glow grew brighter and brighter.

"Pretty good, isn't it?"

"Wylie..." Fox whispered.

But the face that looked back at him wasn't Wylie's. It had Wylie's features, all right... but there was a sort of glow to it—one that wasn't just a reflection from the sphere.

"It's... it's... it's you!"

The glowing face merely smiled at him...and raised one eyebrow.

Then Fox heard a humming sound above his head. It grew louder and louder. But Fox did not want to look up. He looked up anyway. A huge orange sphere was descending upon them. It looked like a gigantic horrible grinning jack-o-lantern. A bright beam of orange light shot down from the sphere. Both of them were bathed in a bright orange light.

"Oh, no..." Fox moaned. "No... no... no..."

o o o O o o o

"Mr. Fox! Mr. Fox! Wake up! The stewardess has brought us our Salisbury steaks! Mmmm, I love airline food, don't you?"

Fox opened his eyes. "Ohhh... Where am I?"

"In a plane, sir. In the air. Were you having a dream?"

"Ohhh..." Fox moaned. "A nightmare. What a nightmare. The worst nightmare I ever had. It started with an earthquake... we were in California, and there was an earthquake..."

"They have earthquakes in California, sir?" Wylie asked apprehensively.

Fox awkwardly twisted his seat-belted body to look straight into Wylie's face. "It is you, Wylie!" he choked. "Oh, Wylie, I'm so glad to see you, Wylie the one and only. Oh, Wylie, Wylie, Wylie..."

Wylie turned red as his boss suddenly hugged him and buried his face against Wylie's chest. "Mr. Fox, you're drooling gravy on my new tie!"

THE END

Dedicated (by Gayle) to the memory of Colin Higgins, author of "Harold and Maude".