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The Power of TWO: A Short Story

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Muammar al-Gaddafi: Libya


Author's Note

At the end I have provided an explanation of how I came to write this story. I couldn't put the explanation before the story because it would give too much away. I hope you enjoy it.

The Old 2LVIS

2120 Common Era

The people at the government facility called me TWO. It was the closest thing I had to a real name. My memories only went back about three or four years. I knew the people around me, but I couldn’t remember any family or my childhood. I lived in a small apartment with a fenced in back yard. The fence also had a top which really made it a cage. Every window and door was reinforced to keep me from escaping.

I supposed that I was close to thirty years old. Who was I before? I must have had family. Where were they?

These people did things to me. I had cloaking capabilities, meaning I could become invisible and untrackable. Antigravity technology gave me the ability to fly. I had other enhancements to my vision, hearing, smell, and strength.

I learned that I had been augmented by and for the government of the United States. Power had slowly been consolidated into the office of the President, and the current occupant was a strongman well on his way to being listed along with Mugabe, Chairman Mao, and Hussein.

The Madman of the Potomac, as the Resistance referred to him, had a secret weapon. It wasn’t a bomb or cyber weapons. It was me, the Second Generation, Low Vulnerability, Insert System, or 2LVIS. Even that got amended to 2Elvis and finally just TWO. The earlier version, 1LVIS, was still out there doing the bidding of the federal government. But he was inferior in many ways to my design. The main differences between him and me were that 1LVIS never questioned authority and didn’t consider the moral implications of his missions.

The purpose of the LVIS program was for the agents to infiltrate top secret installations around the world, collect information, and, if necessary, destroy the facilities. The President added another element to that list. LVIS agents would also assassinate key foreign military and political personnel.

In the beginning, I was just what the government wanted. Mission after mission were successful. Then I began to have questions about the morality of some of my actions, and I felt guilty after killing someone. I mentioned these things to Dr. Garland Maddoc, the man in charge of my development. I was immediately incarcerated and have not been free since. That was six months ago.


Today I escaped. It was really very easy. I could have done it at any time. A man came to my apartment at noon to deliver my groceries. When he opened the door, I used my cloaking ability and simply walked out. Once again, I was on a mission, but this time, it was mine, not the President’s.

I couldn’t imagine the government without a new version of LVIS to replace me, so I visited their laboratory, cloaked of course, and found Dr. Maddoc in a conference room with the program’s committee. He was wrapping up a presentation and nodded to a guard who opened a door at the end of the room. A man walked in who was identical in appearance to me.

“This, my friends and colleagues, is the new version of 2LVIS, and he is pure android,” said Dr. Maddoc.

“Why not call him 3LVIS?” said a member of the committee.

“That would indicate the existence of a previous 2LVIS. Someone might start asking questions, and we won’t have anything to show them because tomorrow, TWO will be terminated. This android will not only succeed TWO, it will replace him.”

I suppose I should have been shocked or afraid, but what did I expect? I knew about too many bad things that had been done, and I had a conscience. That was a bad combination in this business.

At that point in the meeting, someone entered the conference room and delivered a piece of paper to Dr. Maddoc.

The doctor placed the paper on the polished oak table. “TWO has escaped.”

I was on the run. I had no problem finding places to sleep and food to eat. Cloaking technology was handy in such situations. What I lacked was direction. What would I do with my freedom? Where would I go? I had no family that I could remember. I had no friends. Soon I discovered jobs on fishing boats on the Maryland coast. Sure, I could go on indefinitely stealing food and slipping into empty hotel rooms to sleep. But I wanted a real life.

I found a job as a deckhand on the Angler Dangler. The boat’s name was a bit much, but I was desperate for a job. I was determined to make a life for myself.


The New 2Elvis

Back in Washington, the new 2LVIS, aka 2Elvis, had received his first mission orders. He was to go to Moscow, secretly sit in on meetings about Russia’s expansion plans into Eastern Europe, and assassinate the new First Deputy Foreign Minister, Pavel Kuznetsov whose goal was to see all of Europe fall under the control of Moscow.

The new 2Elvis flew on the North Atlantic Current toward Russia and his destination, Moscow. He did not mull over his mission plan. He knew it letter for letter. He neither relished nor despised the task of murdering Foreign Minister Kuznetsov. It was simply one of the action points of the mission.

The android cloaked as he entered Russian air space to avoid detection by radar. He stopped above Moscow. As he descended, the Kremlin came into view. Tomorrow, if he was successful, Red Square would become a murder scene.

2Elvis had access to practically any weapon he wanted. Some would leave barely a hint of their use. Others would leave hardly a trace of the victim. His assassination method of choice was to approach the intended victim from behind, cloaked of course, thrust a long, thin blade through the intercostal space just below the second rib and slice through the aorta on top of the heart. The injury was so severe and the blood loss so extreme and immediate, there was no hope for survival.

On the day of the ceremony, 2Elvis followed the new foreign minister up a stairway to a private room at the rear of the platform from which he would deliver his speech. The man would die in front of the crowd as he opened his mouth to speak the first word. This was 2Elvis’s plan.

But the foreign minister walked to the podium, spread his notes out and delivered the entire speech without incident.


Dr. Maddoc and the Committee

Back in Washington, 2Elvis walked into Dr. Maddoc’s office without knocking. “Call a meeting of the entire committee immediately.”

“You are already in deep trouble 2Elvis. Don’t make it worse by trying to order me around.” The doctor grabbed his suit coat. “Actually, the committee is meeting right now. Won’t you join us?

When everyone was settled, the meeting began. Dr. Maddoc wasted no time getting down to business. He directed his words to 2Elvis.

“You failed to carry out the most important part of your mission.” Dr. Maddoc pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. “Explain to this committee why you did not assassinate the foreign minister.”

“Dr. Maddoc, A body was found in the private room of the foreign minister on the platform where he delivered his speech. The Russians have performed an autopsy and have determined the cause of death to be a fried chipset, possibly due to a shock from a juiced up taser.” 2Elvis stopped and smiled. “The victim was an android...your android. You see, Doctor, you have been duped by the lesser of 2Elvis.” TWO immediately activated his cloaking capabilities and left the room.

How I Came to Write This Story

A few weeks ago I posted an essay declaring that my muse must have fallen to the coronavirus because she hadn't been around for so long. I asked people to give me story ideas and I would write a story based on their suggestions. John Hansen, aka Jodah, had been toying with the topic, "The Lesser of two Elvis"...Yes, I said Elvis. He passed the topic on to me to write a story. For a while I was stumped, but I finally produced this story.

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