Nuclear II


This is not any better than the first installment, but I need to post. And then, you know, do homework and presentations and stuff.

Dr. Carver had just managed to drill past Dr. Perkins’s cranium when she heard the door behind her creak open.

“Ha! You walked right into my trap!”

She turned around. Dr. Perkins was standing in the doorway.

She looked down. Yes, they were both Dr. Perkins, she’d know that pair of glasses and spiky hair anywhere.

She looked up. Well, the guy in the doorway was wearing a set of black robes outside his white lab coat, but other than that, they really looked completely identical.


The Dr. Perkins in the doorway laughed. “Unbeknownst to you and your puny little zombie brain, I have a secret life as a nuclear ninja! I used my secret nuclear ninjutsu to clone myself and lure you into my trap! Muahahahaha!”

“That— that… doesn’t make any sense!”

“Not any more sense than your nuclear zombie theory!” Doorway Perkins took off his glasses, thrust one hand downwards, then jabbed his other hand towards Carver and yelled, “Checkmate, atheists!”

Carver met him with a blank stare. Doorway Perkins sighed. “Fine, expository break. It’s like nuclear fission. That’s one atom splitting into two, this is one person splitting into two. A nuclear fission event takes something like 10−8 to 10−7 seconds while nuclear clones last something like 103 to 104 seconds. And when atoms split in nuclear fission, the number of nucleons generally stays the same and the difference in potential energy is released so as to maintain conservation of mass-energy, whereas the body-splitting ninjutsu just kind of skips around all that physical law crap.”

He tapped one hand on an imaginary sheet of paper held in the other. “And us ninjas have an alliterative group name. But other than that, they’re exactly the same!”

Doorway Perkins posed one final time with his hands on his hips and met Dr. Carver’s calculating gaze. Still nibbling on the dead Perkins’s head, she said, reverting to her zombie sneer, “Well, good luck regardless. It must be really tough navigating around in those black robes of yours. Come on, that’s the worst ninja costume I’ve ever seen. They didn’t actually go around in dark clothing, you know; it would be too conspicuous. And if you two are really clones, you should be evenly matched, so I’m guessing your plan is going south real soon, because zombie Perkins should be reanimating with a newfound hunger for human flesh right… about… now!”

There was a gurgling sound and zombie Perkins stood up, groaning and looking at his human counterpart. Carver smiled crookedly.

The two Perkinses’ eyes met, and then they said in unison, the one in the doorway triumphantly, the one in Dr. Carver’s hands dispassionately: “Sorry, we rehearsed this; human Perkins does have something zombie Perkins doesn’t…”

Human Perkins snaked one hand behind himself and pulled out his secret secret weapon, flipping it gracefully through the air and catching it while calling out its name: “… an AK-47!”

Carver cursed. Perkins leveled the AK-47 in his hands and aimed. “So. Any last words?”

She bit her lip, chewed on the result, and said, “Okay, fine, one last question. Please indulge my deathbed curiosity. I don’t get it: when you clone yourself, how much stuff actually gets cloned? How does it know, like —” she waved her hands around zombie Perkins’s waist and coat “— where to stop?”

“Oh. That question. I get it a lot. There are too many details to explain here, but the spell has some rough heuristics for deciding what counts as clothing and what doesn’t. It has to do with the surface area of contact, fluid dynamics of the air around you, and physical extrapolations of the probability that your stuff stays on you if you get yanked through four-dimensional space. Stuff like that. Hardly simple or elegant, I know, especially compared to the rest of the typical ninja repertoire, but having that sort of concern addressed was kind of a prerequisite for this spell to ever become practical, so whichever ninja ancestor developed it was very eager to work out a good algorithm right away. You wouldn’t want to see me naked in a battle scene, do you?”

Beat. Carver looked away. Perkins — both of them — narrowed their eyes.


Human Perkins dropped his gun from his hands; zombie Perkins dropped his menace from his gaze. He locked eyes with Carver; they exchanged a few quizzical looks before both nodding. Then zombie Perkins turned back and, in a relaxed zombie drawl, told his human clone, “Sorry, partner. I’m playing my part.” He leaned over to embrace Carver, and they began biting chunks of flesh off each other’s cheeks.

As he watched the scene play out, Human Perkins’s shoulders sagged. Suddenly he heard somebody fiercely panting behind him. It was their superintendent, a frumpy old guy dressed in a suit and tie and drenched in sweat. “Sorry… so… late… had… traffic… issues…” he gasped. “Is… everything… under… contr—” He looked up at the unconvincingly dressed ninja with an AK-47 at his feet pointed at a pair of intricately entangled zombies and nearly choked.

“This… this calls for… some major… explanations, young man!” he blustered, trying to express his anger but unable to overcome the rasping protestations of his larynx.

Beside him, Perkins just sighed again. “Major in nuclear engineering, minor in theater arts. It’s a magical combination, I tell you.”

Excluding the Internet meme, there are three (attempted) allusions here. My familiarity with the source material is directly proportional to their obscurity, though. If you can correctly name all three within a reasonable number of guesses, I will personally buy you a drink.

Also, I shouldn’t have tried to clone a character whose name ends in the letter S. Oops.

(note: the commenting setup here is experimental and I may not check my comments often; if you want to tell me something instead of the world, email me!)