The necessity of conviction by Brian Yao

Bram Peters stepped off the stage to a smattering of applause. The meeting was drawing to a close, and while it had been quite productive, there was always more work to be done. Bram was head of the clones’ rights movement, in his city at least. It was a small group. Not many people wanted to free the clones. Not when they were such convenient servants that didn’t break down or need repairs. Not when they’re grown and trained to seem so different from the humans that they were based on. But membership was growing. Tonight’s attendance was a record high. If it kept up, they would soon have enough people to pressure the municipal government into enacting changes to the way clones are treated. And from there, they could expand to the rest of the world. But it was getting late. He didn’t profit from his organization. Tomorrow morning, he wanted to get up bright and early to go to work.
Bram usually hated his job. There were perks, like being able to choose his own schedule for when to work, within reason. But he first became a web journalist to help people stay informed about major events in the world around them. He had soon discovered that his ideas about journalism were about a century out of date. Entertainment was the way of the future. Whatever strategy got the most click, his company would adopt. At first, Bram wrote informative articles anyways. After his articles were discovered to have consistently low view counts, he had an unpleasant meeting with his boss ending with a warning of being fired if he didn’t improve. He agreed to conform to the company standards. After all, the quality of the news would be the same either way, and he had to admit that it was better for him personally to have a job than not even if he hated it.
But tomorrow, he was looking forward to going to work. The meeting was a success, but it wasn’t enough. Tomorrow, he would capitalize on it further by writing an article about it. The clones’ rights movement needed the publicity. The more people aware of it, the more potential members they had. If he could get the public invested in the cause, it would become much easier to enact the necessary policy changes to free clones. With that thought in his head, he got in his car and began on his drive home.
Groggily, Bram opened his eyes to an unexpectedly bright room. He must have overslept and was now late for work! No, that wasn’t right. This didn’t look like his room at all. He tried to recall what had happened last night. He had received a text from Sarah, his partner in organizing the clones’ rights movement. When he looked up, there was a clone on the road. He remembered swerving to avoid it; he must have crashed into something.
“Ah, you’re awake,” said a man in a white coat as he walked into the room. “I’m Dr. Iverson, I’ve been taking care of you since you were dropped off here.” Bram tried to sit up, then fell back on his bed as pain rushed through his chest. “You’re scheduled for a heart transplant in three days,” the doctor continued. “It’s an experimental procedure, so I’ll need your consent for this. I’ll give you more information tomorrow. I suggest you rest as much as you can.”
“What happened to me?” Bram croaked out.
Dr. Iverson lowered his eyebrows. “Your rib broke and almost pierced your heart. Even though you didn’t die, the damage was quite significant. I estimate you would have around half a week to live if you don’t get the transplant. You shouldn’t worry about it though. Go to sleep.” Needing no further incentive, Bram collapsed in his pillow.
He was unable to sleep that night. The clones’ right movement needed him. He couldn’t stand by and watch his hard work collapse because he was unable to do his part. Gingerly, Bram lifted himself out of bed. He discovered that it didn’t hurt as much as long as he didn’t bend over. He paced around the room, trying to tire himself out so he could sleep. He noticed that Dr. Iverson had left some documents on the far table. Curious, he flipped through them. A paper titled “Cloning request” caught his attention.
Cloning request
Target: Bram Peters
Reason: Heart transplant
Notes: Extra growth hormone, need the heart in 3 days.
Authorized by: Dr. Jacob Iverson, September 23, 2104
Distraught, Bram sunk back into his bed.
The next day, he woke up to Dr. Iverson checking his vital signs. “Good morning,” the doctor said. “Now that you’re awake, I’ll get you the paperwork for the procedure. It’s an experimental technique, so it may be covered by the news. Theoretically, you have a very good chance of recovering if—”
“No,” Bram cut him off.
“I’m sorry?” replied Iverson, rather taken aback.
“I saw your documents,” accused Bram. “Clones are people too. They don’t deserve to be treated like this.”
“If you don’t take the transplant, you will die. We’ve already started growing the clone anyway. It’s not going anywhere.”
“Set it free. I would rather die than participate in murder.”
Dr. Iverson left the room in frustration, and Bram went back to sleep satisfied. How would it look if he, a clones’ rights activists, benefited personally from the abuse of a clone? He would willingly give up his life if it helped advance the cause. In a few decades, he would become a martyr. The founder of the clones’ rights movement, and the first person to die for it. He was quite content with that idea.
Bram woke up early the next morning. In a few days, he would be dead. It was a shame he couldn’t say goodbye to his family; they were across the world in Europe. Having just immigrated recently, he had no friends in the United States either. Perhaps some members of the clones’ rights movement would attend his funeral. Would they be able to continue the movement in his absence? He hoped so.
Dr. Iverson came in again. “Will you sign the form for your family?” he asked. “I’m sure they’ll want to see you again.”
Bram didn’t reply.
“You’re still a young man, you could accomplish so much if you lived longer. Please consider it. I will not have a patient die under my care.”
On the third day, Bram did nothing. A nurse wheeled him to another room. He offered no resistance. When Dr. Iverson handed him the form, he signed it. Only one clone would die for his surgery, and it would have been killed anyways if he had refused the heart transplant. Besides, he could do a lot more good for the world alive than dead. What was one clone, when he could help liberate millions in the future?
The operation was a success. Bram walked out of the hospital two days later, as healthy as if he had never been in the accident at all. He bought a bus ticket for the trip home. When he arrived, there was an email waiting for him on his computer. It was a joint email from the clones’ rights movement. “Traitor,” read the subject line. He skimmed over the email. For knowingly partaking in the mistreatment of a clone, he was no longer welcome at their meetings. He stood there for a minute, then two. Finally, he closed his computer and left for work.