17 September, 2013

Gemini by Dan Purdue

Welcome to Part Two of my 12-part Zodiac Blog Series. On Tuesdays in autumn I'm posting a story or poem each written especially for this blog by a different author. Each piece of writing has taken one of the signs of the zodiac as its inspiration. For the full list of participants - from established authors to first-time writers - plus the posting schedule and links to previous stories and poems, please visit the Zodiac Blog Series Page.

This week we have a piece of flash fiction inspired by Gemini, written by Dan Purdue.

Dan lives and writes in Leamington Spa. His short fiction has been published in many places online and in print, including Writers’ Forum , MicroHorror.com, Defenestration, Every Day Fiction, The View From Here, and The Waterhouse Review. His stories have won prizes in the HE Bates Short Story Competition, the Chapter One International Short Story Competition, Flash500.com, and the Seán Ó Faoláin Prize. “Somewhere to Start From”, a collection featuring many of his published and prizewinning stories, is available in print and as an ebook from Amazon and Smashwords.
You can catch up with Dan on Facebook, Twitter, or his blog


Project Gemini

It had been an unremarkable day, right up to the point when Katja opened the front door to find her own face staring back at her from over her husband’s shoulder.

Later, while the woman unpacked her small wheeled suitcase, Robert and Katja sat at the kitchen table. ‘Our funding was cut,’ he explained. ‘The lab, the research, everything.’ His face flushed. ‘We were told to destroy her.’

Katja frowned. Robert had never fully explained what he did for a living. Something for the government, he’d said. Important work. When she pressed him for details he’d tell her she wouldn’t understand. But, stuck in the house all day, she’d quickly tired of British quiz shows and soap operas. It was amazing what you could discover on the internet. She’d read about genetics; she knew what was considered possible. What was legal and what wasn’t. ‘This woman,’ Katja said. ‘She’s me, yes?’

‘We called her Eve,’ Robert said. He evaded her questions about when and how the copy had been made, or how long she would stay. He said DNA could be found in anything, a few skin cells, a strand or two of hair. He told her she was being unreasonable. He promised it was only temporary; he’d find somewhere for her to go.

Katja glared at him. ‘This is why,’ she said. ‘For this… experiment. This is why you marry me.’

The look that flashed in Robert’s eyes confirmed everything. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ he snapped.

As the weeks passed, Katja realised Robert had no plans to find Eve a new home. She saw a tenderness she’d never experienced in the way he spoke and acted towards her. He clearly considered Eve superior to Katja, and made little if any attempt to disguise it. Their conversations ended abruptly when Katja entered the room, and their little glances and smiles soured every meal time.

It was hard not to be jealous. Eve had never known hunger or desperation. She’d always have the straighter teeth, the better skin, a posture that had never hunched against the biting cold of a Moscow winter. Flawless English flowed from her lips; she made no secret of how amusing she found Katja’s grammatical stumbles.

Everything changed the night Katja, lying awake, heard footsteps along the corridor, from the spare room to Robert’s bedroom.

The next night, she put an end to it. It was easier than she expected. The knife slipped in between two of his ribs. The shock kept him from crying out. He clutched at her, mouthing, ‘Why?’, but he already knew the answer.

The beauty of it was that Eve couldn’t admit who she really was. The same things that brought her into existence would determine her fate: a few skin cells, a couple of strands of hair. Katja thought there was a nice symmetry to that. She smiled as she headed towards Heathrow, wondering whether, with such a straightforward crime laid out in front of them, the police would ever notice the empty safe, or her missing passport.


  1. Oh, wonderful! Lovely unexpected ending; a great twins story. Thank you.

  2. Great story, a lovely twist on classic twins tales :)

  3. Great take on the prompt - and a nice ending. Particularly like the detail with the English grammar.

    1. There speaks a writer who is a)doing a lot of editing and b)living in the USA!

  4. Really enjoyed this, Dan, especially on the second read. Feels very filmic.

  5. Many thanks to everybody who's commented - I'm really pleased you enjoyed the story. Thanks also to Chloe for running this project. I'm looking forward to seeing what the other ten tales are like!

  6. A sharp story. I particularly liked the line: Katja thought there was a nice symmetry to that.

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