An Excerpt from The Tomorrow Paradox (Book Two in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):
The architecture of the Simulacrum Institute could not have been more different from that of the Mortimer Enterprises building. The corporate offices of the Mortimer’s family business were housed in a thoroughly modern edifice built of steel, plate glass, and solar panels, with interior lighting partially derived from natural light, and oxygen from internal vegetation. In contrast, the Simulacrum Institute’s structure had been built in the previous century, of brick and concrete, with little regard for aesthetics or design. It had been a disused asylum when the institute purchased it in 2040 and while significant funds had been spent on renovation, little had been devoted to modernization.
The walls were painted a drab gray, Brandy noticed. There was no artwork or music. She was used to buildings with paintings on their walls, or statues in their lobbies, and music piped through the air. There was none of that to be found in the Simulacrum Institute. This was not a place to exult in life, but merely to exist. For its residents, this was a way station between nonexistence and the cessation of existence.
“If you’ll sign here, Matron, we’ll be on our way.” The policewoman handed her electronic tablet to a heavyset, middle-aged woman, who signed on the screen and returned it. She rejoined the other officers who had escorted Brandy inside the institute and they passed through the cast iron gates leading to the outside world.
“Wait,” Brandy called out. “You can’t leave me here.”
Matron chuckled. “Welcome back, Gemma. You’ve been a naughty clone. If it were up to me, you’d be spending the rest of the week receiving electroshock treatments, but fortunately for you, you’re one of our most valuable inmates. Your original’s family pays a hefty premium for your upkeep, with the provision that you remain unharmed and unmarred. A pity. A proper caning on your backside would rein in any rebellious tendencies, but a lashing would leave noticeable red welts, so I’ll have to find other methods to punish you.”
“My name’s not Gemma. I’m—”
“My word, you’ve become even more rebellious in the brief time you’ve been gone. Now you want to reject your clone name and choose your own! But I have an adequate punishment in mind. I know how much you enjoy spending hours on end on the neural net. I’ve arranged for a constant flow of ambient noise to be broadcast into your room. You’ll find the sound will make it impossible for you to concentrate sufficiently to access the neural net. Perhaps you can use the solitude to reflect on your inappropriate behavior, Gemma.”
Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!