When One is Found Guilty

M. Stanley Bubien

The bailiff stated, "All rise," as the jurors entered.

I stood beside the attorney and my brother. It reminded me of childhood---as things often did---when we played Simon Says, commands blurted, us following together in harmony---it was almost the same. Almost. Afterward, my brother had chosen a separate life, leaving me alone.

Today, though, we were together---proof to the litany of my loneliness, "The only way."

The guilty verdict was read. I slumped forward, but my brother cried, "No! I'm innocent."

"Stop this," the judge yelled, "or I will find you in contempt."

"But it's not fair!" my brother replied, "I didn't kill anyone."

I wished I could explain, but that would keep us apart. I mumbled, "The only way."

The judge pulled his glasses from his face. "By law---"

"The law is unjust," my brother said.

The judge wiped his eyes, and, to my surprise, addressed my brother evenly. "Yes," he nodded and set his glasses aside. "I agree with you there. Legislation is meant to protect the innocent. And you certainly seem innocent."

My heart leapt into my mouth. He couldn't ruin everything now!

"But how can I tell? You are clones. Your faces, your fingerprints, even your DNA match exactly. That's why when one is found guilty, all others..."

The judge sighed, replaced his glasses, and banged the gavel. "I sentence you both to twenty years."

Together, the bailiff led us away. My brother's head bowed in defeat, but I walked upright, for I would no longer be alone.

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact the editor for free text versions of this very short story formatted for e-mail, usenet news, or ftp.

Story Bytes


April, 1997
Issue #12