The Perfect Small Town


“K2TV Reporter Chris Topling reporting live from Cheyenne, Wyoming where 26-year-old Janelle Davis was found in her home after ten months of the disappearance of her and her husband John Davis. Davis returned home in the family car but only recalls leaving by herself. Davis shows no signs of physical harm or malnourishment. Strangely, Davis has no recollection of the last ten months or of her missing husband. The last thing she remembers is heading for Yellowstone National Park to spend a week on vacation. The state troopers and local authorities are looking for evidence as to what happened to the Davis family, but so far nothing has been recovered, nor is there any information on the whereabouts of Mr. Davis. Back to the station.”

10 Months Ago

            Janelle and John Davis were preparing to leave for their vacation at Yellowstone National Park. They planned to camp at the park so they could hike, relax and enjoy nature with ease. The two were packing their car with hiking gear, camping gear, plenty of food and their luggage.

The couple left their home in Cheyenne at 6 am hoping to reach the campgrounds at about 1:30 pm, giving them plenty of time to set up their campsite before sundown. John got behind the wheel with Janelle providing navigation from the passenger seat.

The couple drove, sharing polite conversation, while listening to music on the radio. They stopped for gas two hours into the seven-and-a-half-hour drive. The couple refilled their coffee, used the restroom and continued on their way.

Another two hours in the car go by until a clicking noise is heard, “click, click, click.” John recognizes the sound as an engine problem and pulls over. John and Janelle get out of the car.

“What are we going to do? You don’t know anything about fixing cars!” Janelle worried.

“Don’t worry, this is what mechanics do. Calm down, and look at that sign, Lander is in three miles. We can search if there is a mechanic in tow n.” John pulls his phone out and searches for the desired information. “Look at the wonders of Google, there is a mechanic shop in town.” He shows Janelle the mechanic’s information before dialing the number. He engages in a very simple conversation with the mechanic, explaining the situation. “More great news, the mechanic has a tow truck and will pick us and the car up.”

“How long will it be?”

“About fifteen minutes.”

The couple waits for the mechanic by discussing the things they want to do when they get to Yellowstone. The fifteen minutes passes quickly, as the pair sees the tow truck approaching them. On the side the truck says, “Lander Auto Repairs.” The truck parks in front of the car and the driver gets out. The driver is a young man, appearing to be about 20 years old.

“How are you folks doing?” This confused the couple as the man appeared younger than them but spoke like a sixty-year-old.

“We are fine, just anxious to be on our way.” Janelle responded for the both of them. “What about you?”

“Good, just working. Speaking of, let’s get you folks to town to see what’s going on.” The man hooks their car up to the truck without another word to either of them. Once the car is secure the, the man beckons the couple to get into the truck. As soon as everyone is buckled, the man heads toward the town.

About five minutes later, the truck approaches a dainty town. No trash, no homeless people, no dirty walls, no smog in sight. Everything here seemed perfect, like a display in a shop window. As the truck drove through the town, there were very few people walking around. Those who were walking were all in similar outfits but looked nice enough. All the people seemed to wear blue jeans and white t-shirts. Even the driver was wearing dark blue jeans and a white V-neck t-shirt.

Another two minutes go by before the truck pulls into the lot of the auto-repair shop and everyone gets out of the car. The Davises stand to the side as the mechanic releases the car from the truck.

“From what you described over the phone; it sounds like a blown engine. It’ll take at least an hour to fix. If I were you, I would go over to the diner and grab some breakfast.”

“Thanks for the suggestion.” John says. He takes Janelle’s hand and they walk over and enter the diner. There are only four tables occupied. One with a middle-aged couple, one seating a woman, the third with a dad and two kids and the other with a group of teens.

All the diners turned and stared at the Davises with wonder. A waitress comes out to deliver food to the table with the dad and kids. She then takes note of the strangers near the entrance.

“Seat yourselves, I’ll be over in a minute.” The waitress calls over to the couple. They follow her directions and decide to sit near the woman dining alone. Each of them sat on one side of the table.

Janelle took notice of the décor, it was not very elaborate, checkered floors, red walls, black chairs and booths and white tables, very boring for a restaurant.

She also took note of the woman who was sitting alone. The woman was staring intently at Janelle. John began speaking to Janelle and her eyes promptly focused on her husband. The two spoke for only a few moments before the waitress appeared to take their drink orders.

“We didn’t get menus. We aren’t sure about what you have.” John explained.

“Sorry about that, small town, everyone’s familiar with the menu, not many visitors. We have milk, orange juice, apple juice, water and coffee.”

“We will take two waters.” Janelle decided, ignoring the waitress’ explanation. John nodded in agreement. The waitress smiled and walked away. They had to wait for her to come back with their drinks before they could decide on what they wanted to order. Janelle glanced behind John to see the woman still staring at her. “Honey, I’m going to the bathroom, I’ll be right back.”

Janelle sped past the woman towards the bathroom. Immediately she locked herself in a stall to do some breathing exercises to calm down. She thought she was being paranoid about the woman staring at her. Then bathroom door opened.

Janelle did not want to leave the stall, but she worried that John would think something happened if she was gone too long. Reluctantly Janelle left the stall. Standing in front of the door was the woman who was staring at her.

“Leave.” The woman said bluntly.

“If you moved out of the way I could go back to my husband.”

“Not the bathroom, this town. Get out of here before it’s too late.”

“You make it seem like this is a horror movie, the only strange thing here is you. Now if you will excuse me.” Janelle motioned for the woman to step aside. The woman simply sighed and moved out of the way, shaking her head. Janelle ignored the woman and walked back to the table, but John was not there. The woman exited the bathroom. Janelle promptly turned to her.

“What have you done to my husband?”

“I didn’t do anything. He was sitting there when I left to the bathroom. Check the men’s bathroom before assuming the worst.” Janelle sped to the men’s bathroom.

“Johnnn!” She waited a minute before worrying. She repeated the sequence but nothing. She rushed back out to the table. The woman was enjoying her breakfast as a frantic Janelle approached.

“He’s not in there?” Janelle shook her head no. “Then it’s too late. Go to your car and drive.”

“The car is in the shop, that’s why we’re here! Plus, John has the keys. What is going on here?”

“Come with me.” The woman leaves the diner without any hesitation or leaving any cash. The two women run three blocks, into a building. The woman locks and bolts the door.

“Are we safe? Can you explain what’s going on? Do you know where my husband is?” Janelle asks frantically.

“Lander is a new and small town, but it has a dark history. This all started when geneticists figured out cloning. When the ethical debates about human cloning were rising, a group of scientists fled California and wound up here. They started doing tests on their family members until they made it perfect. All they need is a non-clone to carry the clone.”

“Are you saying that there are cloning experiments going on in this town?”

“Not experiments, the elites in town get clones, they get embryo cells and insert the DNA and then freeze them to keep them preserved until ready to implant. To not arise suspicion, each person only gets two be cloned twice. The poor people in town get to stay in their homes and alive if at least one child is able to carry the clones.”

“If they don’t have any daughters, only sons?”

“If the mother is past her prime age to have children, then the family is annihilated.”

“They just kill people?”

“No. People get a choice. They can either wipe all memory of this place and people can start over elsewhere or yes, they can choose death.”

“What are you, a clone or a carrier?”

“I am a carrier, I have carried one clone, it was almost two years ago. I am set to carry another in a few months, after that it is time for my annihilation. If I were part of a clone family, I would just choose to not be cloned, only one has chosen not to be cloned.”

“What does any of this have to do with me? Or my husband?”

“There are not very many women available to have clones right now. There are some who are pregnant with first-borns and others who are unavailable through contract.”

“There is a contract?”

“Yes, as crazy as it seems. To ensure the health of the carriers they are only allowed to be pregnant, naturally or with a clone, every two years. When they are almost out of carriers, they trap women passing through the town.”

“So, what did they do with John? What if I choose to just wipe my memory?”

“John is probably in a holding cell. The choice is only for the families who have no available carriers. You are an available carrier so you will either carry a clone, then get your memory erased or they will torture you and or John until you carry a clone anyway.”

“What will they do with John while I am pregnant?”

“John would be allowed to be stay with you. You will probably be given a place to stay until you give birth. John will most likely have to work around the town, like the rest of the people who are related to a carrier or are currently inactive carriers.”

“Where can I find the people, who would have my husband?”

“Probably at City Hall, it’s a front for the geneticists’ lab. The holding cells are also there. Before you go there, stop by the mechanics, ask about the car and then your husband. You don’t want to alert the city officials.”

“One last question, how do they erase your memory of this place only?”

“that’s a question for the scientists themselves. They must target a specific area of the brain. It may be similar to the way they transfer the memories of the clones.”

“They do what?!”

“Oops. Yeah, the clones don’t start over. At puberty they implant a chip that connects to the hippocampus, so the brain stores former memories as though this body has made all of them.”

“Oh my.” After getting directions to City Hall, Janelle leaves the woman’s home with a smile plastered on her face as though she just made a friend instead of learning the hidden darkness of this perfect little town. She walked back to thee mechanic’s shop to check on the car like the woman said. The mechanic was wiping of the car then his forehead as she approached.

“How’s the car doing?”

“Fine ma’am. All set”

“Great, as soon as I find John, we can pay you and be on our way. Have you seen him?”

“No, I would check City Hall, a couple of locals may have picked him up for a tour. They probably wanted to introduce him to the mayor. We don’t get a lot of new people around here.”

“I bet. Thanks, I’ll be back with John as soon as possible. Then we’ll pay and be out of your hair.” Janelle smiled at the young man and began walking toward City Hall. It only takes about ten minutes to walk there.

She enters the building. Unlike the diner, the inside of City Hall is just as pristine as the outside. Pinstriped wallpaper, chandeliers and modern furniture decorates the lobby. Janelle walks up to the receptionist who has been looking at her since she walked in.

“Hi, I was wondering if you had seen a new man walking around anywhere? He’s my husband and our car, which was at the shop, is ready.”

“Yes, he’s in the mayor’s office. It is the last door on your right.” The receptionist smiled at Janelle, whose stomach twisted in repulsion.

“Thank you, have a nice day.” Janelle all but ran towards the end of the hallway. She knocked on the last door on the right.

“Come in.”

“Janelle!” John exclaimed, happy to see his wife.

“John! Let’s go. The car is ready, and it is almost noon. We still have another three and a half hours to drive.”

“Nonsense, it is still early, sit and chat with us Mrs. Davis.”

“As much as we would love that, we really must be going.”

“Ah yes, I suppose that camping trip won’t take itself.” Said the mayor as he stood up and walked closer to Janelle. “Then again, you won’t be taking it either.” Before she could run or protest, he injected her with a liquid. Immediately she became dizzy and drowsy. Slowly Janelle began to black out. John stared in shock.

“You said she wouldn’t get hurt!”

“She was trying to escape!” The mayor said angrily. “I may look like I’m 18, but I am mentally 85; I know when someone is acting.”

“Still, I could have convinced her.”

“It is handled, just accept it. Pick her up and follow me.” John picked up his wife. He followed the mayor down the corridor and then down a flight of stairs to a laboratory. The mayor motioned to the chair in the middle of the lab. John laid Janelle there, he strapped her into the chair. The mayor guided John out of the room so the geneticists can begin the procedure.

Janelle woke up what seemed like minutes after she passed out. She felt fine, aside from a slight groggy feeling from just waking up. She was alone in this strange lab setting. She realized she could not raise her arms. She began to panic.

“John! John!” She screamed, hoping that her husband could hear and save her. John busted into the room. Worry all over his face. “Oh, my goodness, John, thank goodness nothing happened to you. Help me, we have to go.”

“We can’t go. I’m sorry honey. You are a carrier.”

“You knew!!!” Janelle screams in John’s face with a fury she never knew she had.

“I permitted this. We can be cloned later in life, if you carry this clone.”

“Why would I want a clone? This isn’t natural. We are not meant to live longer than one lifetime. It’s why we vow until death do us part.”

“So, are you going to try to terminate this baby?”

“I would never, but I will be leaving here as soon as I give birth. Whatever it takes.”

“So be it.” John looks defeated. His shoulders slouch and he bows his head while walking out the door.

“John? I don’t think you are meant for me if you thought I would do this to live longer. You clearly don’t know me as well as I thought you did.” John looks ready to collapse as he sees the look of hate and disgust in his wife’s eyes. As a tear falls, he walks out the room and never looks back.

In the next ten months, Janelle lives with the woman, Ginger. The two women became close as Ginger guided Janelle through her pregnancy. They began to act like sisters who have known each other forever.

Janelle confided in Ginger as she no longer had John. John had become an elite in society. Janelle only knew what spread as town news. He remarried some local elite woman and they are living happily.

Once Janelle went into labor, her countdown for returning home began. They would wait until she was fully healed to send her home. Janelle and Ginger prepared for their goodbye as Janelle wished she did not have to forget Ginger. A month after the birth Janelle was driving towards Cheyenne Wyoming with no idea as to where she was leaving or how much time had passed.