It seemed, at first, like the perfect crime.
The state had recently passed a personhood amendment granting single, fertilized eggs the same legal standing, rights and protection as fully-grown human beings.
Meaning that, due to this amendment, life would for all legal intents and purposes begin with that single cell and, whatever might happen to it from that moment on, it would be the same life it was at the moment of conception.
The legal ramifications were, indeed are, obvious.
Identical twins begin as a single cell, which then divides in two, both parts growing into what, previous to the passage of “Personhood”, was considered a separate individual human being. However, due to the deliberately indistinct wording of the amendment, from a legal perspective the single cell is now a complete legal entity in and of itself, and this doesn’t cease to be the case simply because that one entity happens to inhabit two physically distinct bodies.
So, when Michael contracted me to murder his twin, I knew there’d be no consequences to the crime. Murdering a twin, after all, was no longer murder. It was at best assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and unless Michael pressed charges (unlikely as a paper-trail existed connecting him to the act) there was no way that case would stand up in court. I’d be brought in, he’d testify on my behalf that I’d done him no lasting harm, and that would be the end of it.
Like I said, the perfect crime. He’d have done it himself if he hadn’t been so squeamish. Understandably so, whatever the legality the act killing a twin does still feel sort of like murder.
Still, that’s where men like me come in handy. I don’t get squeamish easily. So on the appointed day I walked into the office Michael’s “brother” worked in, went to his desk and put four bullets into his chest. I dropped the pistol, came out with my hands up, turned myself in and prepared myself for three or four days navigating the criminal justice system before my inevitable release and subsequent payday.
The best laid plans…
What I didn’t know was that Michael was hit by a bus on the morning I’d been scheduled to kill his twin, and as such by the time I shot him he was the only surviving brother. So here I sit in my little cell, awaiting arraignment on murder charges with a mountain of evidence piled up against me.
My lawyer thinks he can talk it down to criminal negligence, as my only real crime was failing to do my due diligence that morning, and I hope he’s right, but I have to admit, the chances don’t seem good.
The state also has the death penalty, and they’ve proven time and again how much they love to use it.
They’re very serious, in that regard, when it comes to protecting the sanctity of life…