Alfred got home and found that the lock on his door had changed. He blinked and frowned at it. What was this? Why the hell was his door not opening for him? He tried different keys, thinking that perhaps in his anger, frustration and weariness that he had somehow picked a different, key, but, no, he still couldn't open his door. He grunted and then pulled out a screwdriver from his jacket and dealt with it that way. He grinned when it opened and walked in without much more effort.
Inside the house, everything was relatively the same. It really just seemed someone had switched the lock on the front door quickly before going out rather than someone taking the entire house over. That was a good side. Still, Alfred had to get a new lock in place before the clone came to lay claim to Alfred's belongings. Alfred's prized collection of Star Wars figures, his Star Trek tribble that cooed when you petted it, his entire Indiana Jones collection and hat and even worse than that, his address books. He pulled up his other phone from its hiding place and checked it to see that everything on it was all right before stuffing it into his jacket and putting the broken one in its place. He got out all his money that he kept hiding away that wasn't in the bank and picked out his credit cards to keep on him. The last thing he needed was the clone to spend all his money on stuff.
Liberal America? The whole thing was ridiculous. There was only America, not one America and then another America. And, if anything, Alfred was the only America. The other one just showed up from no where and started spouting out utter lies. His State Girls took care of the various personalities and traits of the rest of the country! Speaking of his State Girls, he needed to get a hold of them and start the call tree going as quickly as possible. He ran all the way to the hardware store and got a new lock with key and ran back to the house. If Alfred figured it out well enough, the other Alfred would still be in the White House continuously playing "yes man" to whatever the president said regardless of what was right or wrong. Alfred set to work on the door, quickly installing the new lock and tried the key. Perfect! Now all Alfred had to do was make sure that he couldn't get the lock out to replace it. He thought about cementing it in place, but that would take too much time and he was impatient as it was to start the State Girls Call Tree.
He locked the door and put things in front of it and the back door so as to deter the clone before he went up to his bedroom and locked that door as well. He pulled out his phone, finally, and sat down on his bed. The first one he called was Hannah Cook, Texas, whom he knew for a fact would get the ball rolling. The second he would call was Mia Brown, California, who he favored over them all. "Hey, Hannah," he said into the phone.
"Alfred? What the fuck do you want now," snapped the Texan. Alfred had a very bad feeling that the bastard had gone about calling the girls already. How long had that clone been up and about?
"Listen, Hannah," he said, "Calm down." She started cursing at him in quick Spanish that made him pull the phone away from his ear. "Hannah, you know I can't understand you when you trip into Spanish. Come on. Please talk English to me, okay?"
"You just called up to tell me that I was acting like a spoiled brat who needed a good spanking for reminding the president that I've got the right to secede from the union and go back to being a fucking republic, you cock sucking whore," snapped Hannah. "I've got every right in the world to remind the president and congress that! Every right! And you know what? So does Rosa and Clara and—"
"Hannah! Cool it!" Hannah shut up quickly and he could hear her breathe out slowly. No doubt, he could see her lightly tanned cheeks red with anger, as red as her bright red, curly hair. If she were there in person, Alfred would likely have been punched in the face again and she would have to replace his glasses again. "Something really funky has happened, Hannah," said Alfred, "I'm not sure what's going on. You've got to call the other girls and tell them to start calling out, too."
"Okay? What's going on, Alfred," asked Hannah, her tone more curious than angry.
"I don't… know," said Alfred slowly, "I went to the White House for the usual meeting with the president after I had lunch and went to the Smithsonian for a little stroll around the flight exhibits and there was another me in my seat. Only, it wasn't really me, but some weird clone of me saying that I had chained him up in the basement for years and took over his life. Then, he started talking about how the president was awesome and how right he was and junk. It was surreal!"
"Jesus Christ Almighty," mumbled Hannah. "Are you sure? I mean, you haven't totally cracked on everyone and developed some sort of split personality, right?"
"Not at all! The president could see him and talk to him and everything. I thought I'd cracked too, but then I realized that the president just looked more and more amused by it all. It's like he had a hand in it or something," said Alfred, pacing back and forth in front of his bed. He looked out the window to see if the clone was coming near.
"No doubt he did, the cocksucker," muttered Hannah.
"What do you mean?"
"Think about it, Alfred," said Hannah, "We've had a bunch of socialist radicals trying to convince everyone else that Marx was right in one way or another since the turn of the 20th century, but most especially since the 1960s with the hippie movement and such. Those hippies have no gotten into places of power. They're taking control."
"So… what? This is some weird metaphor for the total take over of the country?" asked Alfred.
"I have no idea, honestly, I'm just taking a guess. I know we're the people, but to have a totally separate entity show up to personify some minority? I would think Germany would've had that problem and Russia would've had that problem, too. Hell, even Cuba would have that problem," said Hannah. "Look, hon, I'll spread the word. You call up Mia, okay? I doubt he'll be different to her, but you never know."
"Yeah," Alfred said softly, "I plan on it. Talk to you later." Then, he hung up and speed dialed Mia's number. When he heard her pick up, he breathed a sigh of relief. Everything in him relaxed at the sound of her voice and he smiled.
"Hi, Mia," he said, his voice gentle, loving. "How are you?"
"The Earthquake in Mexicali caused me, Nevada and Arizona some problems. I'm worried about Diego, though. I know he's probably still recovering from that," said Mia. She was always one to care about everyone's welfare, even if they had wronged her before like Diego, Mexico, had. "Did you just try to call me before?" Alfred's blood froze upon the last statement and he had to force himself to breathe to keep from passing out. "Alfred?" She started sounding worried and he really didn't like making her worried.
"No, I didn't," he said quickly, "Mia, listen, there's something really bizarre going on. There's another me running around, only it's not me, but a different me altogether that keeps agreeing with the president in everything. It's bizarre."
"But, he is the president, isn't he?" asked Mia. "Oh, Alfred, you make me worry so much. Are you sure you're okay? Maybe you need another vacation. We can go to Huntington Beach if you want, or Disneyland."
"I'd love that, Mia, really, but this is more pressing. I don't want the other me trying to convince you he's me," said Alfred quickly, checking the window again, "So, I need something that only you and I know that he can't possibly know. Not if he's just cropped up like he has."
"But, Alfred, if he's you, then wouldn't he already know anything you do?" asked Mia.
Alfred ruffled his hair and grimaced. "I know, but I don't think he does. He just makes up stuff."
"I think I've got an idea," said Alfred, sitting down on the bed again. "The dogtags. He didn't have my glasses, so I don't think he's got my dogtags either. That could change pretty quickly here, so I'm going to write something on the back of my dogtags and I want you to write something else. Make sure it's something permanent. Write down…the date of when I gave you your name. And I'll write down the date we first made love."
He could feel Mia blushing through the phone and smiled at that. "All right," she said softly, "Do be careful, okay, Alfred? I love you."
"I love you, too, Mia," said Alfred, grinning broadly. "Who's your hero?"
"You are, of course!" Mia then started giggling. He could imagine her pretty smile and it made his heart that much warmer. He chuckled with her as he lay back on the bed. When she hung up he lay there on the bed and closed his eyes, smiling to himself. At that moment he wanted to hold Mia close more than anything, to feel her warm body against his, to smell her pretty blonde hair and her golden skin, kiss those soft lips; she was the perfect getaway from the stress of Washington, D.C. life.
However, that all flew out the window when he heard whistling outside the window. He pulled up his dogtags from underneath his shirt and pulled up a second pair. He took a sharpie and wrote down the date he and Mia first made love, back after he came back from the Great War and recovered from the Spanish Flu, and then wrote down a different date on the second pair. He put the second pair elsewhere around the house where it would look like he hid it away from the clone and then went about getting his ammunition and his gun and put those in his jacket.
The other him tried the lock on the front door and then stopped whistling. "HEY! OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR! YOU TRAITOR! YOU ROTTEN ASS! OPEN THE DOOR! THIS ISN'T FAIR! OPEN THE DOOR!"
Sat back and drank a coke slowly as he eyed the door. On the one hand he could open the door and let the prick in with a loaded gun to the guy's face or he could leave him out there and then the guy could end up calling the president into it and the president would force Alfred out of his own home to make way for the "new, improved" Alfred. Alfred liked neither option. He kept his gun for emergencies or when he was in combat, not for shooting annoying people in the face. "I'm calling Barry!" cried the clone from outside.
Alfred gritted his teeth and put his coke down before he went to the door and pulled the stuff away from it and opened the door. He glared at the clone without restraint and then moved away from it to let him inside. "What's the big idea changing the locks on me, man? I mean, sure you don't like me now, but you will eventually. After all, this is my life you've been taking over and I'm just taking it back. Fair is fair."
Alfred ignored him and sat down to watch some T.V. to drown out the annoying clone and drink his coke. The clone was not to be deterred so readily, though. "You know, FOX isn't really news, right? And that coke? All that sugar will give you diabetes and heart disease. You need to cut that stuff out. Hell, I'll cut it out for you. I'll get rid of all the sugary stuff and greasy stuff you put into my kitchen and then I'll block FOX News."
"FOX is a news station whether you like it or not," said Alfred through his teeth.
The clone laughed. "No it isn't! It's just a bunch of right wing nut jobs spouting off utter bullshit to their zombie-like, redneck hick listeners who are too stupid to understand anything about real news. Turn on CNN or MSNBC. That is real news, man."
Alfred closed his eyes and fought the throbbing in his head. He needed to get the ass out of his home before he went completely postal. Alfred stood up from his chair and walked over to the clone without a second thought. "Either stop complaining or get out."
"Me complaining? Who's the one that complains all the time to the president like a bratty kid, huh? You throw tantrums all the time with your right wing rhetoric and I'm the one that takes it like a man," said the clone.
"Just—Shut up, damn it!" snapped Alfred.
"Oh, getting confrontational now? Telling me to shut up? That's always how you conservatives go, isn't it. If it doesn't agree with you, you just tell people to shut up. You never let anyone actually have their say," said the clone. "You know what? I'm kicking you out."
"What?" Alfred stopped and looked at the clone, dumbfounded. "Wait, what?"
"You heard me!" The clone grinned broadly at Alfred. "I'm—that's me—kicking you—that's you—out of my—that's me again—house."
Alfred glared at the clone. "This is my house, damn it. You can't kick me out."
"Oh, yes I can," said the clone, "After all, who's going to believe you? I'm the one that's been chained up in the basement for years and you're the one that's been taking over my life. Who's going to believe you? Those right wing nutjobs? Good luck with that!" Then, the clone laughed.
"I said get out!" snapped Alfred and he grabbed the clone by the nose and pulled him out forcibly and locked the door.
"LET GO OF ME! I HAVE MY RIGHTS! YOU'RE INFRINGING MY RIGHTS! OPPRESSOR!" shouted the clone as loudly as he could. It only served to further Alfred's already pounding head.
"Shut up!!" he snapped. Then, he pushed everything heavy into the door to keep it closed for a while. The clone kept shouting at the door and kicking it, but Alfred was beyond caring. He just went up to his room and gathered up his things. If the clone managed to get in, he was going to be ready to leave as fast as possible so that he could get to one of the other girls.
Arthur breathed out slowly and picked up his cellphone. He always got nervous whenever he was calling Aashiyana, not to mention whenever he saw her in person. Aashiyana Singh, India, was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was curved just right, she was graceful, she had beautifully tanned skin, beautiful black eyes with a thin ring of brilliant, unnaturally colored green around her pupils that was because of being a part of Britain for so long, she had long, beautiful black hair that she always kept in a braid, and she always dressed herself in things that just enhanced every charm she had. She was beautiful. Arthur felt that "beautiful" only scratched the surface of her, but it was enough to suffice an accurate description of her.
"Namaste, Arthur," said Aashiyana on the phone. For a moment Arthur couldn't really speak or even breathe. "Arthur?"
"S-sorry," mumbled Arthur. He collected himself and cleared his throat softly before he spoke again. "Aashiyana, how are you?"
"I am well," said Aashiyana. He could hear the smile in her voice. "Is there something you wanted to talk to me about or is this a personal call?"
"I… wanted to hear your voice," he said softly, closing his eyes as he leaned his head into the wall beside him.
"Arthur, you know you can come over any time to get away from home," Aashiyana said softly, gently, into Arthur's ear. In a way, he could imagine her lips near his ear, her breath fanning on his cheek and in his wild blonde hair.
"I know," he said and smiled faintly. It was good to hear her speak to him, but what relaxed him the most was being with her. Either way, he almost forgot what it was he meant to talk to her about while letting his heart calm in listening to her speak. He took a deep breath and sat up again against the wall where he was sitting. "Aashiyana, there is something I wanted to ask you about. You're older than most of us, outside of China and Turkey. Have you ever heard of a nation personification splitting up? Becoming two people?"
"Well, nations appear and disappear all the time, Arthur. That is just the way we are," she said, "However; I think you might need to elaborate on what you're talking about. I don't think I quite understand what it is you're asking me."
"Alfred's split," said Arthur.
"There are two of him. One very cheerful and bright, like how Alfred usually is, but more irritating in that 'I want to be like you in every way' aspect," said Arthur. "I got a call from him earlier telling me that he was finally going to be just like me and how I should be proud of him and how he wasn't going to be an ass to the rest of the world and shove his 'freedom loving' at everyone else and be just like the rest of the world."
"That—That really sounds strange," said Aashiyana. She could remember when Alfred first met her back during her time in England as the British Raj. Alfred had come over to visit Arthur for a while, bring some oranges from Florida, and be a general pest toward Arthur. It had been fun watching Arthur get annoyed with Alfred and Aashiyana knew Alfred did it to just be annoying, like a little brother to his elder normally would be. However, when everything was said and done and Aashiyana was in trouble, Alfred stepped in to help Arthur to convince the queen to send aid to India to help the mass starvation there. He had been there for days, weeks, helping Aashiyana keep food down while she bled for her people dying. He had played a Native American drum for her while she sang and danced for one of her many festivals underneath Arthur's fairy tree. He had kissed her warmly underneath that tree and treated her kindly. With all of that, he has remained and upheld every ounce of independence in him that he had. It was something that Aashiyana loved and longed for when she was under the rule of the crown and something she knew Arthur resented a great deal because he knew that she loved Alfred's freedom.
What Arthur described to her, however, was not quite the same Alfred as she knew him to be. What was described to her was more like a parasite, a leech, pretending to be Alfred and doing the exact opposite of what the American nation did. "What else did this other Alfred say?"
"Not to me, but Alfred called a few minutes later and started talking quickly and shouting various things to make it look like I was convinced that there have always been two Alfreds to begin with. From what I could tell, Alfred was hinting at the other saying that Alfred had chained him up in the basement for years and he was just coming out to reclaim his life from the Alfred we know," said Arthur. "This is mad."
"I agree, but we can't tell for certain what is going on and which Alfred is the real Alfred," said Aashiyana softly.
"You can't be serious," said Arthur, "The real Alfred was the one that called me after the… the clone did. The real Alfred is the one that hates being exactly like me and does whatever he can to protect and take care of people wherever he can even if he doesn't have the funds to do it. The real Alfred is the one that irritates the fuck out of me whenever he talks about how this nation should be free or that nation shouldn't be attacking another. The real Alfred is annoying, but by God he's Alfred."
Aashiyana smiled slowly on her end and closed her eyes. "It's good to hear you say those things, Arthur," she said softly, "And you are right, that is the real Alfred we all know and love." She frowned faintly and thought. "How could a nation as typically stable as America develop a second entity such as that when he hasn't developed another like it even during his Civil War and the revolution against you when there were much worse divides in the people?"
"That's what I can't get my mind to wrap around, Aashiyana," said Arthur quickly, "On the one hand Alfred's been having a serious divide in ideology in his people for a short while that's grown worse and worse over the past year. On the other, he's had worse divides in ideology in the past and those resulted in either victories or a very nasty scar across his stomach."
"Perhaps it is a great metaphor for something happening internally?" asked Aashiyana.
"Perhaps." Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose a moment and sighed. "I want to see you, Rani," he whispered softly into the phone. Rani was a term a Maharaja used to refer to his queen and it was something that Arthur had been using since India had become the British Raj and even after she broke away and became India all over again. He only ever used the term between the two of them, however, fearing that one of the other nations would hear him say it and make fun of him for it.
"I want to see you as well, Raja," said Aashiyana in Hindi. Arthur felt a shiver run up his spine at hearing her speak that way toward him.
"Come to America," said Arthur softly.
"Come to America. I'm going there to help Alfred," said Arthur and then spoke in Hindi to her, his tone full of longing, "I want to see you, my Rani."
Aashiyana smiled. "I will come, then, my Raja." Then, she hung up.