Clone of Calamity
By J E F Rose
Clone of Calamity by J E F Rose
As a historian I often need the advice of scientists. Nowadays historians cannot relay exclusively
on dates and names. History demands more now: biology, the study of diseases, linguistics,
technology, geography, even physics. The latest hot topic in Our World history right now is
genetics in fact. So I was a familiar figure in the Science Departments of The Havens University
despite being an citizen of the rival Humanities Department.
Today I trotted down the familiar, harshly lit hallway of the Physics Wing, a rabbit warren of labs
and closets masquerading as professor offices to reach the 'Infestation', the new set of
cubbyholes populated by the genetics scientists to the loathing of the more pure blooded Physics
scientists. To be exact, I was visiting my old roommate Jeffers Riggins.
Jeffers inhabited a tiny hole of a lab/office filled with a mass of test tubes, exotic machines, and
exoteric contraptions like violet light scanners and centrifuges. The diverse widgets even
covered his tiny window with marvels of science beyond the understanding of merely mortal
historians like myself.
"Hello Jeffer! Wherever you are!" I shouted.
A head bobbed up from behind a bizarre machine and grinned. "Hello back you vile historian!"
We both grinned and Jeffers jumped up and poured out some industrially strong coffee from his
test tube improvised coffees mess and poured it into a chemical stained mug. I looked at it with
"Washed! Washed! Clean of genes of unknown things!"
"Washed with what?" I laughed but I drank the coffee anyway.
"Lousy humanist!" Jeffers growled mockingly. "What gets you away from your gigantic and
luxurious digs to visit a pauper like me!"
"My cubbyhole is scarcely two feet bigger Jeffers!"
"But you don't have to squeeze a lab into it!" In the academic world a foot makes a world of
difference. And my digs were in the old wings of the university which gave a patina of seedy
grander to the cubbyhole while Jeffers inhabited the newer (1950's ) buildings which were just
seedy without the patina of Fifth Age Grander. That counted too.
"So what do you want from a lousy humanist?" I laughed.
Jeffers put down his cracked mug of industrial solvent known as coffee and hauled me over to a
tiny plant lodged in his grimy window. He had even moved three machines and two cans of flameable
solvents over to make room for the biological runt. I stared the tiny curl of green and tried to
"Wonderful! I am so glad you have found your green thumb at last Jeffers!"
"No! No! This is a wonderful thing Jay!" Jeffers exclaimed dramatically. "This is -- sit down --
a clone of a graft of a seed of a --well - I won't confuse you will all the effort but this is -- a
living bud of the original stump of the giant wisteria that once grew about the famous Ancient
Age pavilion of Lady Wisteria Fujitsu!"
I tried to stare in awe. The tiny bud appeared to wave at me. The air blasts from the air
conditioning were blowing on it. "Well.... wonderful....but I don't...."
"Jay! I said..." Jeffers fumed.
"Yes! And I am awed that you even remember trying to read 'Wisteria at Twilight' by that
famous Ancient Age author, much less appreciate her enough to want to resurrect a sprig of her
famous wisteria. But I suppose there might be a market for a status product -- I can see it now---- the TV advertisement can start with a scene from a copyright expired movie of her novel
playing.... then a zoom to her famous wisteria brambles -- then the black and white can slowly
bleed into glorious color and the pitchman can ...."
"Oh shut up Jay! This is not some daffy money making grab like your sleazy semi-fictional
retelling of dusty old history of Gildagad! This is a triumph of modern science! A clone of ..."
"...a graft of a seed of a ...." I added.
"It is real!" Jeffers shouted. "Don't you get it?"
"No. I am sorry Jeffers. No."
Jeffers shoved my nose down next to the tiny bud. I stared cross-eyed. "The legend said that Lady
Wisteria Fujitsu's soul was grafted to that famous bramble of fragrant lavender splendor. A
separate soul. She was immoral as long as that mass of ancient biology lived. She died, so the
story tells it, when Prince Kitsune chopped down the ancient trunk at her request, when Horsham
of Arcadia was exiled as Nitthing and the civil war she long predicted did in fact commence in
"I am awed you remember a clone of a graft of a seed of history Jeffers!"
"So I can prove the legend true or false now! I have resurrected the ancient bloodline of that
fabled mass of wisteria! So if that ancient lady's soul was grafted into that plant then I can prove
I looked around and then whispered: "I don't see any First Age member of the Elite 100 of Old
Arcadia sitting on your dingy chair Jeffers."
"Well! It is still a bud!" He fussed with the tiny plant indignantly. "Give Science time!"
"Well why do you want to prove or disprove a legend?"
"I am not a total ignoramus you know Jay!" Jeffers exclaimed indignantly. "Unlike you. I do
remember some of that stuff I had to read in General Ed Classes. Literature. For your
information I had an adolescent crush on old Lady Wisteria Fujitsu you know!"
"I am amazed!"
"And I read all of 'Wisteria at Twilight' you know! Did you?"
"Well....." I hedged. "It is one of those books you read some of, see a lot of movies based on it,
and mine for historical nuggets rather than .....well.....read."
"See! See! I read it!" Jeffers strutted about his tiny lab in pride. He had nailed me. I bowed
before his superior perseverance. Today reading 'Wisteria by Twilight' is hard because the
language had ebbed into a backwater of antiqued nuance beyond the common vernacular. Most
people of Our World were totally familiar with her famous creation ---- but only through movies
and television serials which were still best sellers -- which her multi-volume book was not. It
was always in print and required for university reading but that did not mean people actually read
it. As an historian I mined the five volume long creation for history. Teen aged female students
read it for it's dashing and virile hero (reputedly based on a combination of Prince Adulterine Grafton
and Horsham of Arcadia). Male students rarely read it but when they did, they read it
for illusive lady of wisteria who lurked in the twilight shadows like a spider weaving a diamond
dew web to ensnare the heart. I always found that odd for legend said she lost her heart when she
embedded her soul in the wisteria to live forever only to discover that it was not perhaps a good
idea to live forever and have to watch everyone you love grow old and die around you. Father
god created Time, Change, and Death for a reason as she sadly discovered when she found
herself outside the loop of Time, Change, and Death, trapped in the amber of her wisteria and her
"Well, it is just an legend.... but I for one would not want to meet that intimidating lady."
Jeffers was shocked. "Why?"
"Well....she was both famous and infamous in a way... courtiers were known to run away from
her and Ben the Beorach once defended his trying to burn down her pavilion by calling her his
most dangerous adversary. Someone who could even enthrall Horsham of Arcadia and threaten
Ben the Beorach is someone I might find rather too dangerous to know....."
"She was the single most famous beauty of the age! And she created practically the whole of
First Age Arts! Her brushmanship.... is intoxicating! And if Ben the Beorach was almost scared
of her then she had to be one hell of a woman!"
"Well.... this is all academic Jeffers. You might be able to resurrect a presumed dead piece of
ancient biology through your science but you will not be able to resurrect Lady Wisteria
Except of course Jeffers Riggins did......
I came back after a nearly disastrous foray on Old Terra Nova to find an escalating reel of
messages on my answering machine from Jeffers.It was late but I dumped my backpack and
trotted across the magnificent plaza of The Havens University to the modern buildings of the
Sciences and from there trotted to the rabbit warren of harshly lit hallways to Jeffer's tiny
laboratory. I knocked and receiving no response, raddled the door. It was locked. I knelt down
and peeped through the keyhole. The key was still in the lock. So I raddled again, knocking
loudly, announcing my name. Then a soft voice whispered "Enter". The key dropped. I did.....
Inside I found the laboratory of cutting edge science overgrown literally -- with wisteria. The
stuff was everywhere. The branches of horny wisteria entangled the widgets, cracking fragile
centrifuges and crushing frail test tubes. The branches had even shattered the window glass and
yanked the window frame and buckled some of the newly exposed steel girders of the wall.
Blossoms of wisteria dripped everywhere, the air suffocating with the heavy scent. But the beauty
had gone beyond wishful to oppressive, beyond twilight into dangerous. A ceiling fluorescent
fixture hissed and spitted sparks as it flickered on and off, the tendrils of plants in the process of
yanking it out by it's electric roots. I gasped and then looked around for the supposed owner of
this lab: Jeffers Riggins. Instead I found a video tape machine beeping, the picture blurry, the
tape on it's last legs. I went over and rewound the tape and hit 'play'. Jeffers's face, grainy,
appeared. The date on the bottom of the video screen announced five days ago.
"Where are you Jay! Damn it! Well I will record my achievement for posterity and you will miss
all the excitement to your eternal regret!" Jeffers then stood back from the video camera and with
a melodramatic flourish produced a repotted and flourishing plant of green graced with a single
blossom of wisteria. "A wisteria plant does not normally produced blossoms until biologically
mature! But my plant has! And note please the abnormal maturation of leaves! The massive
growth of mature and horny brambles! The bursting vigor of roots! This is a virile plant! Every
test and scan indicates it is abnormal! Absolutely abnormal in it's biology! All my machines are
recording off their scanners! The results are unbelievable! More to come!" the voice announced
The video clinked blank for a moment and then a later recording clipped in. The date announced
four days ago. Again Jeffers stood with a proud flourish, gesturing at a massive plastic bucket
filled with overflowing greenery that now filled his window. He had moved all his machines to
accommodate the swelling creation. "Note the profusion of wisteria blossoms!" the newly green
thumb scientist exclaimed proudly. "The air is intoxicating! The readings are off the meter! Even
my ultraviolet is off the meter! I am recording everything most carefully but I fear my rival
scientists will doubt my readings for they are so amazing!
And Jay! Jay! I can feel her! I swear I can feel her! Like someone just hovering out of view that
you can just catch out of the side of one eye.....or just catch for a fleeting moment in a mirror! I
swear I can almost catch her! Lady Wisteria Fujitsu! She is coming alive! Alive! And her
perfume is intoxicating! If I can resurrect her then imagine Jay! Imagine! History come back
alive! You could come and talk to her! Ask her anything! The discoveries we will make! And the
If we could duplicate her ability to graft a soul into a controllable biological substitute then
imagine the implications for curing the aging process! Someday Mankind could be immortal!
Immortal! And I will be the single most famous scientist in history! I, Jeffers Riggins, will cure
the Curse of Father god of Fire! I will create the antidote to Time and Change and Death! Not
even the Sidh gods in all their Celestial Wars could do it but I will! I will! Me! Jeffers Riggins"
The video cut off for five seconds and then another picture appeared. The auto date was three
days ago. The wisteria now covered most of the office. Jeffers had run out of places to move the
fragile machines to accommodate the massive of blooms and blossoms. Like a man engulfed by
jungle, Jeffers now stood surrounded by greenery uncontainable by physical restraint. But now
Jeffer's face was sweaty and pale. "Jay! Jay! Where are you! I need you! Now! You have to come
now! I need you! She won't show herself! She refuses to reveal herself to me!
She is defying me! On purpose! I know she is here! I know it! I can feel her touching me when
my back is turned. I can see her fleeting in and out of view in my lab mirror! I can smell her
intoxicating perfume and just see out of the corner of one eye the flash of her silver blond hair!
But she won't show herself! She refuses to show herself or speak to me! Why? Why?
I have brought her back to life? Why isn't she grateful? She owes me! She owes me! You have to
come and tell her to come out and talk to me! Acknowledge me! I resurrected her! She owes
me!" Jeffers' face sweated profusely, his voice edged with fierce emotion the bland scientist had
never before displayed.
Then the video went black for a few seconds of black until another picture appeared. The auto
date was now two days ago. Now Jeffers appeared haggard and frantic, dark circles around his
eyes, his hair a tangle, his tee shirt sweaty. "Jay! Jay! You have to come! Now! Now! She is so
cruel! Cruel! She has no heart! She has to know I am madly in love with her! Intoxicated by her!
But she refuses to have anything to do with me! I can't eat or sleep! All my machines are
smashed by her coils of steel-like brambles! She is crushing everything and she is crushing me!
Look! Look! Everything is smashed! Smashed! All my records! My devices! No one will believe
me now if I cannot produce the scientific data to back up my claims! And she has smashed
everything! Everything! Look! Look! You have to come Jay! You have to come and beg her to
stop abusing me! She is abusing me! Abusing me! I love her and she is destroying me!" The
picture went blank.
Then another picture appeared. The autodate was yesterday. The laboratory was now a
suffocating mass of wisteria. The fluorescent light was hissing and flickering. An emaciated
Jeffers barely held himself up before the video camera. He looked like death. "She won't let me
out! I can't get out! Yet she refuses to appear before the video camera. I have seen her at last! At
last! She is beautiful! Everything ever said about pure blood Elves is true! True!
But she is deadly! She has no heart! No heart! Even now! See! See!" A demented Jeffers pointed
off camera and screamed. "There she is! See! See! She won't appear before the camera! There
she is! Over there! See! See! Siting over there! Smiling her damned smile! Refusing to reveal
herself for posterity! Refusing my begging and pleading! Making me make phone calls I don't
want to make! But refusing to be recorded! And she is holding me hostage! Hostage! She locks
the door! She keeps the key! She won't let me out! Why? Why is she doing this?
I just want to show the world how beautiful she is! She is everything legend and myth has ever
said about her! She is intoxicating! Her voice is like music. Her eyes like wisteria at twilight. Her
skin is like alabaster. She is just this side of perfection! Perfection! But she won't show herself to
anyone! And she won't let me go! I wanted to go and fetch someone, anyone to prove my claims
now that she has smashed all my machines but she won't let me go! I can't even get out of the
window to shout for help! The coils of wisteria are like steel! See! See! They have smashed one
wall and yanked out the window frame and even now are buckling a steel girder! The coils are
wrapped around my feet! I can't move!
I don't know why she is behaving like this! Why? Why? I have resurrected her! I love her! I
would do anything for her! Anything! Except the one thing she keeps asking.... I can't do it! I
can't! She made me make three phone calls but at the last moment I hung up. I refused! And she
can't or won't get on the phone herself to consummate the order. And I won't give her my credit
card number! So she yanked out the phone line! And it was the same with the internet. She
yanked out the computer line when I refused to read off my credit card numbers and click
'complete order'. So she destroyed my computer. It is a stalemate! Why is she acting like this?
Why? Why?" Tears poured down Jeffer's face. The screen went black.
The video picture flickered but then came back to wavering life. The date was now this morning.
Jeffer's face was sickly as death. Coils of wisteria were wrapped around his neck. His whole
body was entangled with wisteria like chains of steel. He could barely hold his face before the
camera. Tears poured down his ashen face. He panted and gasped. "Please! Please! I can't! I
can't! Not now. The only way is if you let me go. You destroyed all outside contact! Unless you
let me go I can't....I......"
"To escape and bring back more people like you?" a soft voice whispered off camera.
"No. No. Jay isn't a scientist but a historian. It is not the same thing....."
Off screen a soft voice whispered something I could barely hear. "Just do it. Just do it."
"I can't! I can't!" Jeffers whimpered. "I love you. Why are you murdering me? Have you no
heart? Can't you understand love? I love you? Why are you acting like this? Where is the art?
The music? The dance? Everything you are famous for? Where is your heart?" Jeffers cringed as
coils of wisteria tightened around his neck. Off screen a soft, elusive voice whispered "I have
misplaced.....love....." The video screen went black.
I hit the play button to no avail. The video screeched and then the video tape snapped and spat
out of the machine in a broken tangle.
"Just do it. Just do it" a soft voice whispered behind me. "Just do it."
I cringed. "I am a historian so I understand. Absolutely. I will do as you wish. But I will need to
get some kerosene. That is the fastest and surest way to do it. But you have to let me out to fetch
the kerosene. There is no other way. You have to let me go. I am a historian so you can trust me
to do it because I know history -- your history-- I know who and what you are. I will do it but
you must let me go in order to do it."
"Let it be so" the soft elusive voice whispered like audible twilight. I ran out of the laboratory.
I bought a can of kerosene and came back at three o'clock in the morning and opened the door
and hastily splashed the colorless liquid all over the mass of quivering wisteria. Then I stood
back and put my hand in my pocket, fussed, and then pulled out a lighter. I did not smoke but a
lighter can come in handy. I held the tiny plastic arsonist delight up in my hand. Then I flicked
the small wheel with my thumb. A tiny flame danced.
A woman sat quietly on the dingy chair, her layers of silk immaculate, her long kilt elegantly
draped around slim hips, her bare feet dainty and tiny, her silver blond hair so long it coiled about
the floor around her. Lady Wisteria Fujitsu smiled her smooth, elegant, ghostly smile.
"Greeting my dear Jay. I believe it is Jay?" She purred, her voice surprisingly low, her accent
oddly antiquated. Her pale grey eyes were large, the grey of an obscure, intangible quality as to
appear almost violet in some shades of light. Her lips were red. Her presence was intoxicating as
perfume and as hypnotic as a drug. She sat back in the chair and it creaked, her elegant arms
draped over the arms of the chair.
"Greetings Lady Wisteria Fujitsu. I believe it is Lady Wisteria Fujitsu?" I replied, shivering.
"Yes" she purred, stroking a fragile over-tunic of sheer silk.
"Where is Jeffers Riggins?"
"There." the living ghost languidly pointed at a shadow under the oppressive boughs of massive
wisteria. I looked down. His body had been dead for nearly a day, since before I landed at the
Havens Airport. It was black -- the perfume of decay covered up by the perfume of wisteria.
"Why did you kill him?"
The living wraith shrugged her elegant shoulders. "I ignored him and he would not do it. So I
asked him and he would not do it. So I commanded him and still he would not do it. Don't make
me to the same to you Jay. I am not a malevolent creature by inclination but I expect to be obeyed
when I give an explicit command. I am after all a member of the Elite 100 and the Elder of the
Elder of the Elves of Arcadia. I do not wave it about but I am a person of implied authority and
power in Court. I expect to be obeyed when I evoke my authority. I don't do it often but when I
do, I expect to be obeyed....." The living resurrection of a long ago creature of magic and power
smiled her smooth smile of quiet dominion. There was a reason why courtiers ran away from
Lady Wisteria Fujitsu and Ben the Beorach considered her a fearsome foe. Her breathtaking
beauty was a mere container for a soul and brain that was unbreakable and and fearsome.
The tiny flame flickered in my hand. "You chose to commit suicide and such a decision, not
taken lightly the first time, did not incur regret on your part then My Lady? The decision still
stands then? Suicide. Death. I am the Future? Are you not even curious how it all turned out?"
"No. I am not even curious. When I embraced my death, I embraced it wholeheartedly. I did not
ask to be resurrected. I did not ask to come back in any capacity whatsoever. When I choose to
embrace Time and Death I did, expecting my decision to be understood and accepted
accordingly. I consider this man's behavior to be rude and unseemly and worse -- bad taste."
The soft voice had a steely edge like the sound of a sword as it comes out of it's scabbard.
"Well", I said holding up the flickering lighter, "bad taste is unforgivable. I am an historian but I
am first and foremost a man who wants to survive. If Jeffers Riggins is dead, and he is clearly
dead, then who am I to delay your exit from life my lady and Jeffer's murderer?"
Her musical voice laughed softly. "Let it be so". I tossed the lighter into the kerosene and then
ran like hell as the door closed by itself and locked behind me to contain the flames on their
intended target. As Lady Wisteria Fujitsu said, she was not by nature a malevolent creature.
For a week I lived in terror in my cubbyhole of an office waiting for an officer, any officer, any
sheriff or ranger or investigator to follow some invisible CSI trail to my door. But none did to my
amazement. Jeffers Riggins had gone missing a week before I even returned from Old Terra
Nova so I was not on any list of suspects and he died before I even landed at the airport. His
behavior had been erratic and bizarre too, like a man going insane. Everyone noted that for the
rangers. And he had made three phone calls to stores selling flammable liquids and two internet
orders for herbicides and poisons to be delivered to the lab, only to fall to complete the
transaction. And the lab was filled by too many machines, jerry rigged to too few outlets. And
there were cans of too much undefinable cans of liquids and solvents and powers and stuffs for
any man to consider safe.
And of course the rangers could and did note that the charred door was found closed and locked
from the inside. And for some reason the security cameras in the Sciences Building had just gone
dead just before the fire started.
It was later discovered that some sort of infestation had yanked out all the electric wiring in half
the building and clogged and sniffed out much of the air conditioning and ventilation system. In
the end the University had to tent the whole building and fumigate to exterminate everything
within those hallowed halls of research into the unknown before rebuilding much of the fiber of
the building. But the inhabitants actually cheered. The belated upgrade of the 1950's fiber
brought the building up to millennium standards. The Physics bunch blamed the 'Infestation' ie
the Genetics bunch but the final result was a state of the arts Sciences Wing so it was a win- win
situation even if the building had to be shared by two rival camps of scientists.
When I was sure I was safe, I took a tiny tape recorder out of a box and put it in my CD player. I
switched on the 'play' button. Just before I pulled out that lighter, I had reached deeper inside
my pocket and switched on the 'record' button. Now I played my interview with Lady Wisteria
Fujitsu. It was lucky for me the security cameras went dead that night. All I heard on that
recording was my human voice and the odd soft whisperings like wisteria blowing gently in the
breeze of twilight. I burned the tape. I am an historian by trade but first and foremost I am a man
bent on survival and my nearly disastrous foray on Old Terra Nova had already taught me that
some things should never be dug up.