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Fiction Suspense

Schedule of Doom


           I sat down at my desktop computer at 6:10 a.m. with a mug of coffee, “woke” it up, scrolled down to the last thing I’d been working on—and saw something that made me gasp and fall back in my chair.

           “Please don’t do it,” I heard myself say.

           I shook my head to clear it from the fog that seemed to enswathe it.

On the screen before me was a box with hourly activities I’d planned for that day. (I work for GTFBT—Global Technology for a Better Tomorrow—in the Ministry of Scheduling Department.) But what I’d entered in the two o’clock time slot a mere half-hour before was gone; in its place was a flashing red message in large capital letters that said:


AT 2:13 PM TODAY A CORPORATE GTFBT 767 CRASHED INTO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN EN ROUTE TO A GTFBT CONVENTION IN MAINE, USA, KILLING ALL 287 PASSENGERS.


           I swallowed. I set the mug on a coaster. I quizzically muttered, “What is this? How did my entry get changed?”

           Before I go on, my dear readers, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Gigi Tailor. I’m thirty-seven, single, moderately attractive, with an IQ of 158. I’m well-adjusted and stable. (To be honest, there was an incident five years ago wherein I experienced a loss of time for a few hours. The quack psychiatrist I went to the next day promptly diagnosed me with Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID. And my emphatic retort to this bozo was, “Me? Possessive of another personality? That’s absurd! Crazy! And so are you!” Needless to say, I never returned.)

           Suddenly, I saw these words typed below the flashing red message:

           “Well, what do you think, Gigi?”

           My eyes expanded.

           “Pretty shocking message, huh?”

           I was stunned. Taken aback.

           “He he he,” came the next statement. “I’m the Master of Shock.”

I composed myself. Took a quick breath. And typed: “Are you a hacker? Did you change my entry?”

           “No, Gigi, not a hacker.” Then: “You know me.”

“How can I know you?” I manually responded. “You’re just words on a screen.”

“My name is Leslie. You’ve known me your whole life but didn’t become fully aware of my presence until five years ago. Does that help?”

“No.”

A few moments passed.

“Stop acting like we’re strangers, okay?”

I still didn’t respond.

“All right, Miss Gigi, since you’re outright lying to me, or cannot remember when we ‘met’ because you have a lesion in your hippocampus, it was when your mother was killed.”

I made a disagreeable face, slowly shook my head. “Whoever this person is,” I verbalized, “he’s a real smartass.”

“Are you there, Gigi? Did you fall asleep?”

I heavily exhaled.

“Earth to Gigi! I relish celerity, compadre.”

My fingers went back on the keyboard. “I’m here.”

“Hey, welcome back!”

“How did you know my mother was killed five years ago? Were you an investigator?”

“No, sweetie.”

“Dammit! Then who are you?”

“I’m you, my precious self.”

I clenched my jaw. “I’m getting off. You’re obviously a mental patient who’s off his meds.”

“Ha-ha! Good comeback! Then how did I know your mother was killed five years ago?”

“Public knowledge.”

“Be reasonable, Gigi. You’ve seen what I can do.”

I furrowed my brow. “What are you talking about!?”

“I masterminded the two previous GTFBT catastrophes.”

“Catastrophes…?”

“The yacht explosion in Greece. The bus crash in Germany.”

My mouth opened. “You’re claiming that’s your doing?”

“Precisely, mon ami.”

Forcefully, I pecked, “You’re crazy!!!”

“You think so?”

“Yes!!!”

“You’re a calendarian, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Exceedingly menial work. Methinks a robot could perform your job. Richtig?”

My defensive reply was: “No automaton could do what I do, Fräulein! My IQ is 158! And I don’t perform a predetermined set of instructions at any time!”

“Calm yourself, Gigi. Spiking your blood pressure isn’t good for anyone.”

“Besides, Leslie, I experience emotions—unlike you, who are devoid of all feelings.”

“Getting back to what we were discussing, darling—how long do you save your monthly schedules?”

“A year.”

“Today is April 6,” “Leslie” communicated. “Go back exactly one week, to March 30, and read what’s in the box for that day. I’ll wait as you do so.”

I had no idea who this unknown person was, where this conversation was going, but I opened my secure file folder and called up March 30. And I again saw a flashing red message in large capital letters; and this is what it said:


AT 1:08 PM TODAY A CORPORATE GTFBT YACHT EN ROUTE TO A GTFBT CONVENTION IN GREECE MYSTERIOUSLY BLEW UP AND SWIFTLY SANK IN THE AEGEAN SEA, KILLING ALL 83 PEOPLE.


I had no immediate recall of this, but after a minute of concentration, the distinct memory of the above event flashed in my brain like a satanic firefly enroute to the gateway of destruction.

“This is getting scary,” I murmured.

Taking a calming breath, I returned to my conversation with “Leslie.”

“I’m back,” I wrote.

“And…?”

“I saw the entry.”

“What do you think?”

“A mere coincidence.”

“So…you need more evidence that I engineered the above destruction?”

“Absolutely.”

“Okay, Doubting Thomas, try this on for size.”

I was then instructed to go back to March 23 and check the events I’d scheduled for that day.

Once again, to my mushrooming alarm, I read the following in the ten o’clock box:


AT 10:57 AM TODAY A CORPORATE GTFBT BUS CARRYING 124 PEOPLE EN ROUTE TO A GTFBT CONVENTION IN MUNICH WAS CRASHED INTO BY AN ERRANT 18-WHEELER ON A BUSY GERMAN HIGHWAY; ALL WERE PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.


Upon my returning to “Leslie” and conveying what I perused, she replied, “Still think it’s a coincidence, Gigi?”

I was silent.

“If you say yes, you’re wholly delusional.”

I must be forthright, my loyal readers. “Leslie” had my full attention. But I sent back this philosophical response:

“Tragedies like these happen all the time; it doesn’t mean you did it.”

Leslie asserted: “These events are my creations!”

“Malarkey!” I wrote. “Prove it!”

“Certainement.”

I was instructed to look out the bare window before my desk. (I was in my second-floor study.) I rose and did so.

“Very good,” said “Leslie.” “What do you see on the sidewalk across the street?”

“A thin, middle-aged woman riding a pink bicycle.”

           “Watch this.”

           The bicyclist stopped at the cross street. A pickup truck was approaching to her right, about 150 feet distant, at a moderate speed. Thinking she could get out of its way in time, she stood up on the pedals and started across the street; the bike suddenly veered crazily to the left, and she was deposited on the asphalt—directly in front of the screeching truck!

           “Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed.

           “Now do you believe me, Gigi?”

           I slowly sat down. Puffed. And wrote: “She simply lost control.”

“Boy oh boy, you are one tough cookie.”

“And you still haven’t proved that you had anything to do with her crashing or the yacht explosion in Greece or the bus crash in Germany.”

On the screen I read: “A big sigh,” then: “Okay, my sweet. Look out the window at the two men on the corner on your left. This will be fun. Good. Now watch this.”

“Wait a minute,” I wrote back. “How do you know I’m looking out the window?”

“I told you: Because I’m your precious self.”

“Be serious.”

“I am being serious!”

“You’re probably watching me through a pair of binoculars.”

“Are you in a state of denial about everything, Gigi?” Again: “A big sigh.” Then: “Those two men out your window. The one standing in front of the fire hydrant. He’s going to punch out the other guy…right…now!”

Sure enough, the brute did exactly that!

“Pretty cool, huh?” “Leslie” asked. “And now the white SUV is going to stop, and a rotund man in plaid slacks and a red golf hat is going to emerge and waddle concernedly up to the wimp on the ground and chew out the bully.”

           Seeing this happen, I wrote back: “It still doesn’t prove you’re doing this.”

           “A HUGE sigh.”

           “But…let’s say that you are,” I typed.

           “Thank you.”

           “Then pray tell me…how?”

“Elementary, my dear Gigi,” “Leslie” replied. “Kinetic machination.”

“What is that? Another figment of your overworked imagination?”

“Nope. I can manipulate events with my mind.”

“Pshaw! No such thing!”

“What’s real is fake and what’s fake is real, Gigi. That’s always been your motto, the one that lurks beneath your façade of normalcy.”

I paused. “Let’s say I buy this formula for destruction you’re peddling. Why are you doing this?”

“GTFBT’s nefarious hidden agenda.”

“What exactly would that be?

“Their push for global domination, utilizing any means.”

“Is this true?”

“Come on. You know it is,” said “Leslie.” “After all, you’re the one who created the backdoor, and perused their projected proposals of how to perfect total control of the world.”

“Oh that,” I explained away. “That was too much to worry about, so I dismissed it.”

“No you didn’t,” said “Leslie.” “That’s when we delved into our ability to kinetically machinate things.”

“This all sounds like horse manure. A mad scientist’s twisted formula.”

“None the less, Gigi, it is what it is. And they’re the actual facts, Jack. He he he.”

I must admit, my astute readers, “Leslie,” whoever she was, had genuinely unsettled me, and I didn’t know what to say next. And almost as if she could read my mind, she wrote:

“I realize you’re not one hundred percent convinced I’m who I say I am. So, let’s not chat again until you read online that a GTFBT 767 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean at 2:13 p.m. this afternoon. Okay?”

I closed my eyes, drew a profound breath, opened them, and tersely typed: “Surely.”

“Till then, sister!”

Upon digesting all of the above, I was compelled to revisit my vestigial twin hypothesis; those “time lost” segments which propelled me to seek professional help; the DID diagnosis which I had initially discounted, but had later considered the possibility it was valid; my mother constantly telling me that I was supposed to be a twin based upon a sonogram, but then only one baby was born: me.

Because I was to have a twin sister, but didn’t, I had thoroughly researched the subject of parasitic twins, and had hypothesized that perhaps a vestigial twin (Leslie?) was part of my “make up.” (A vestigial twin is a form of parasitic twinning wherein the parasitic “twin” is malformed and absorbed and trapped inside the host twin. Unfortunately, the anencephalic twin lacks moral consciousness.)

Even though “Leslie” told me we wouldn’t chat until this afternoon, I conveyed the above to her, to see what her reaction would be. And less than fifteen seconds after I’d stopped typing, I read this on the screen in massive red letters:


“YOU’RE THE MALFORMED ONE, BITCH!”


And I shook my head, and shut my computer off, and walked, overwhelmed with thoughts, out of my study.


* * *


It was 2:27 p.m. that day. On my computer screen was this headline from The News Now website:


AT 2:13 PM TODAY A CORPORATE GTFBT 767 CRASHED INTO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN EN ROUTE TO A GTFBT CONVENTION IN MAINE, USA, KILLING ALL 287 PASSENGERS.


When I had recovered from my horror—curiously, Leslie did not contact me—I suddenly, reluctantly, frighteningly, came to the realization that Leslie and I were “one in the same”!

           And I decided on the spot that Leslie must die. (I confess that I always knew she would eventually “manifest” herself.) So I had expeditiously purchased a subliminal self-hypnosis tape for such an occasion, began to listen assiduously to it, and felt her gradually fade away.

Dead. Gone. No further messages.

After the passage of several months with no contact from Leslie, I was convinced that she was truly vanquished, and would never plague me again.


* * *


It was August 1. Life was good. Work was going well. I earlier filled in the eleven a.m. time slot, and presently sat down at my computer to work on the twelve o’clock box.

Upon grasping the mouse, which took the machine out of sleep mode, I gasped, “Oh no. Not again.”

On the screen was this:


AT 12:14 PM, A SPEEDING ELEVATED TRAIN IN ILLINOIS EN ROUTE TO A GTFBT CONVENTION IN CHICAGO JUMPED THE TRACK ON A SHARP CURVE, PLUMMETED TO THE GROUND, AND KILLED ALL 163 GTFBT PASSENGERS.  


A moment later, these words appeared below the message:

“Miss me?”

“Hello, Leslie,” I wrote back.

“Hello, Gigi.”

I reclined in my chair, placidly smiled. Oh, well, I thought. Leslie isn’t the only one who doesn’t have a moral compass.”

“Okay, comrade, time for some fun,” I imparted to my beloved Leslie.

June 18, 2022 03:07

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