Science Fiction Suspense Thriller

Autumn sings along in her head to the music playing in her earphones. Her feet are moving automatically to the pizza shop down the street. She keeps her steps slow, drawing out her brief break for lunch. She stops at a crosswalk, massaging her neck, twisting it from side to side, sore from bending over her textbooks for hours. Just one last test, Autumn reminds herself. 

The walk sign lights up, along with a beeping sound. Autumn strolls behind a group of women her age, talking and laughing loudly. They turn right; the noise disappears with them, while Autumn continues forward. She side-steps a mother trying to grab her son, who runs towards a candy store with a stuffed dinosaur.

The volume of the music lowers for a second before her phone beeps. She pulls her phone out of her back pocket. She doesn’t reply though, staring back up when she catches someone in front of her.

A girl stands towards the end of a crosswalk, searching around. Her face slightly turned to the left, covered by huge sunglasses and wearing a black cap, yet Autumn has a sense she knows her.

Her brown hair is in a low ponytail, wearing blue jeans, and Autumn realizes the exact red shirt she has hanging in her closet with the same blue shoes Autumn has on now. The girl turns her back to Autumn, scanning in front of her. A young couple goes around, their stride unchanged, not noticing her.

Autumn decides she probably has seen the girl around at college and they just share the same sense of fashion. But, the girl turns around, as if she felt Autumn getting closer. She pulls her sunglasses off, staring straight into Autumn’s eyes.

Autumn stops abruptly, her eyes roving around the girl’s face. The girl with the same face as Autumn staring back at her. The same brown chocolate eyes, same light brown hair, same straight nose, same height and build and even the same shoes. They could be identical twin sisters if Autumn had a twin sister. The girl steps towards Autumn, who takes a step back.

The other Autumn raises her hands, a show of peace. “I’m you, but from an alternate reality, and we need to talk.”

A teen boy runs by the two Autumns, meeting his friends at the ice cream shop around the corner. The other scans their surroundings, putting the glasses back on while Autumn stands frozen to the spot, gripping her phone, the text still unanswered.

The other steps again to Autumn, “We can’t be standing around. We need to go somewhere safe,” she says, grabbing Autumn’s arm.

Autumn snaps out of her shock, pulling her arm free. She yanks out her earphones, unplugging them, shoving the phone and earphones into her pockets. “Who are you? What’s going on?”

“I’ll explain everything to you while we keep moving. He’s probably close by,” the other says, grabbing Autumn again. “Give me your phone.”

Autumn thinks she’s kidding, but the other holds out her hand. Autumn doesn’t have time to check the unanswered text, before the other grabs it out of her hands. The other throws it in the nearest trash can, telling Autumn the phone is trackable when she protests.

They take a left, walking around people strolling by the stores and restaurants. The other steers them to a boutique store, ignoring Autumn’s questions about what’s happening. She grabs a plaid button shirt, sunglasses, and a stray sun hat. Autumn stands next to her, confused, while she quietly pays them. She shoves them into Autumn and tells her to put them on.

“What’s happening? Who’s close by?”

The other still ignores Autumn, searching around them. They go straight for a block, then take a right, and Autumn notices they’re heading for the park.

“Can you just please tell me what’s going on? And why’d you…,” Autumn trails off, waving her hand in front of the other.

“You know about alternate realities? Parallel universes? Well, they’re real and I’m another you from a different universe.”

“They’re not real. They’re only theories, they haven’t actually been proven yet. More science fiction.”

“Theories in this reality, but real in mine.” They stop at a crosswalk and the other pushes the walk button furiously. “Very real in mine, that I work for an agency that monitors all the realities.”

Autumn struggles to keep up with the other racing down the street and absorb what she just told her. How could this be possible? She eyes the back of her other self. They look identical, except Autumn’s hair is in a bob with bangs. And the other has a nose piercing and several piercings along her right ear. She has to be real, cause Autumn remembers her grip when she grabbed her.

The other doesn’t slow down when they reach the park. Going towards the lake in the park, getting as far away from people as she could get on a Saturday. Marching for one of the remaining trees with no people under them, she motions for Autumn to stand with her back to the tree. She stands in front of Autumn, her arms cross, keeping watch.

“You still haven’t said why you’re here. Why’d you come to me?”

“Someone is trying to kill you,” the other says bluntly. “He’s an assassin.”

“What?” Autumn looks around her.

“Not just you, us, all the other you in the universes.” Autumn opens her mouth, though the other cuts her off. “If we have to split up, we’ll meet up at the burger place on Juniper street.”

“What do you mean someone is trying to kill me, us?”

“The restaurant on Juniper street, you got it?”

“Yes, just tell me what the hell is going on!”

“In the future, you’ll save the life of a man. There are people who are trying to kill him by killing you. The problem is they don’t know which you saved his life.”

Autumn shakes her head, opening and closing her mouth, not knowing where to start. Time travel is also possible? Whose life did she save? Who would want him dead so badly that they’ll kill her to do it? Autumn opens her mouth for the tenth time, but the other curses and steps closer to Autumn.

“He found us. We have to get out of here.”

The other grabs Autumn again, speeding to the bathrooms, entering the last stall. “Okay, you stay here while I lead him away. Meet me at the burger place in two hours.” The other doesn’t wait for Autumn’s reply, running out.

Autumn locks the door behind her, pressing her back against the door. She strains her ears for gunshots, shouting, or anything besides the dogs barking, birds chirping, people talking, and kids laughing. When nothing happens, Autumn starts counting in her head, tapping her fingers against her right thigh.

Waiting in the bathroom for twenty minutes, she waits an extra fifteen more before she leaves and starts making her way to the restaurant. She exits the bathrooms, pulling the sun hat down, and manages to saunter out of the park, down the street, and board the bus.

Autumn stays on until it goes back to the station and gets on another one. She has nowhere to go. She can’t go to one of her friends or back to her apartment. So, she rides the local buses around the city, watching the time go by from the screen inside. After the fifth bus ride, she got off to take more cash out at an ATM, and then got back on again.

Thirty minutes until the meetup, Autumn stride down the street to the restaurant, pulling her hat down for the hundredth time, looking around her. She sprinted the last steps, tugging the door open, rushing inside. It was past lunch, but there were still a bunch of people inside. Autumn went towards the table in the back corner. She sat, waiting and hoping her other self escaped, and finally calm enough to absorb the boulder size information that was thrown at her today.

It is possible she is the one. Autumn plans to be a doctor like her father. She also, for a time, considered being a cop. Is she a cop in other realities? Is that also how she could save his life? What other choices did she make that led to saving someone?

Ten minutes past the meetup, the other came through the door. She saw Autumn at the table, a drink in front of her, and went over.

The tension in Autumn’s shoulder ease as the other took the seat across from her. She sits up straighter, questions she wants answers to, swirling in her head.

“I was worried you got hurt or something.”

“I’m fine. I lost him an hour ago at the West Village Mall, which I didn’t know they built here.” The other surveys the restaurant, then checks the time on her watch. “Let’s eat here and leave for the mall.”

An hour later, Autumn pokes her fry into the ketchup. “Why don’t they know? Which one of me saves his life?” Autumn asked, her eyes on her fry.

The other stares out the window. “He was taken from his universe to fight in the war for another, and they destroyed the information for his protection, but now no one knows a thing.”

“You said in the future. Does that mean you’re not only from a different universe, but also from the future?”

“Yes.” The other gets up, carrying the tray. “Let’s go.”

Autumn hurries after her, throwing the trash on their way out, more questions on her mind. “Doesn’t he know where he came from?”

The other turns left down the street, monitoring their surroundings. “No. That universe kidnaps people and wipes their minds afterwards. Idiots and arrogant, everyone there. The damn messes the agency has to clean up after them,” the other said, shaking her head in disgust.

“Where are we going?”

“We’ll take a bus to the mall. And hide there until the device is charge fully.”

Autumn closes her eyes for a while. Every time she tries to get an answer, more questions pop up. It’s like her other self is purposely being confusing. They get to the end of the crosswalk as the signal to stop blinking on.

“What device? Why does it need to charge fully?” Autumn asks wearily, pushing the button to cross.

The other bolts forward the moment the walk signal flashes. “It’s used to teleport to multiple universes. We’re going to my univer–”

The other gets cut off as a gray SUV rams straight for them. Autumn gets pushed out of the way by the other, landing on her side. The car missed them by inches. The other springs up, grabbing Autumn and running down the street.

The car turns sharply around, driving onto the sidewalk. People scream out of the way. A crowd gathers away from the danger, watching and videotaping, while a few people call the cops. 

Both Autumns run around a corner, bumping into people. The assassin’s a block behind them, speeding through traffic, trying to catch them. The other pulls Autumn down an alleyway, coming out on the other side, running across the road. Heading for another alleyway, while they could hear faint sirens in the distance.

The car turns left, at the moment both Autumns running down the street. The sirens grow louder, cop cars start circling the area. He’s force to let both Autumns escape. He accelerates the car, driving straight through a red light, maneuvering around cars.

The other sees a bus coming across the street and pulls Autumn to the bus stop, pulling out money. They get on, going to the back of the bus. The other watches behind the window.

Autumn turns to the other. “We almost got run over! He could have killed us!” Autumn whispers, catching a cop car driving past them out the window.

“It’s fine. We’re fine. Three more hours until we get to safety.”

“Fine!” Autumn snaps. “Nothing is fine. We can’t wait for three hours.”

“Calm down. It’s not the first time someone tried to kill me. I survived before and I’ll survive again.”

Autumn ignores her, staring out the window to her left. They stay on until the bus goes back to the station, getting on the one that takes them to the mall. They spend the rest of their time there, walking into shops, not really looking at anything. Neither of them are talking.

Autumn runs her fingers along a sweater while the other keeps watch. “Why do they want him dead so badly?”

“There’s a war happening. He’s leading the fight against the rebels. The war is close to being over, except the rebels are stubborn and stupid.”

Autumn nods at this. The other tells Autumn they’ll head back to the park now. Out of the mall, Autumn stares up at the night sky. This morning she was in her apartment studying for her last test. It feels like a lifetime ago to her.

The other yells at her to hurry up. They get to the park with no sight of the assassin. Which Autumn thinks is weird. The other told her the assassin wasn’t stupid enough to get caught by the police.

Autumn wraps her arms around herself, the cool night air biting her. She kept the button shirt and glasses, leaving the hat on the bus.

The park is quieter, except for the few remaining teens finally heading home or to a friend’s house, the late night dog walkers, and crickets chirping. The other leads them to the tree they were standing under earlier.

Autumn watches as the other pulls a thin blue oval device out of her pocket. She swipes her thumb across it. Three small dots appear, blinking, then the words, fully charged, flash across.

Autumn reads the screen, glancing around them. “It’s charged. So we could go now?”

“Yeah. But, don’t you think it’s weird how easily you believed me or stayed calm during all of this?”

Autumn turns her head, staring into her own eyes. “What are you talking about?”

“Someone is trying to kill you and not one time you freak out. Why is that?” The other tilts her head, staring straight at Autumn.

“What? Of course I’m scared. I almost got run over today.”

“Are you?”

Autumn takes a step back, her head aching, her vision blurry, a sense of uneasy building.

“Think Autumn. You know the answer.”

“You said you’re from an alternate reality. Someone is trying to kill me,” Autumn said, looking around her. 

“That’s not true, and you know it. Think!”

Autumn faces her. Her other self. She stares at her other self; her face is void of any expression, her voice dull. Autumn blinks, light-headed, and grabs the tree for support.

“Say it Autumn.”

Autumn shakes her head. “I don’t know what you want. Just take us out of her before we die!”

“You have to say it.” The other steps closer to Autumn. “Wake up!”

Autumn gasps, her face pale, digging her nails into the tree. “I’m in a simulation.”

“Yes, Autumn. And you need to wake up,” the other says. She grabs Autumn’s shoulder, her nails digging into Autumn. “Wake up,” she yells.


“Well? What do you think?”

James and Ben stand in the parking lot of the club where the cab dropped them. James watches for his friend’s reaction.

Ben grins widely. “It sounds amazing! What happens next?”

James releases a sigh of relief. “I’m kind of stuck at that point. I don’t know what happens after she wakes up from the simulation?”

Ben claps James on the back. “You’ll figure it out. And I mean, it sounds great already. But, James?”


Ben stares at him, his grin wiped off. “You need to wake up.”

“Haha, very funny,” James says, rolling his eyes.

“I’m serious. You need to wake up.”

James frowns, then punches Ben in the arm.

“Hey, that hurts,” Ben says, rubbing his arm.

“Stop messing around.”

Ben grins again. “I mean what I said about it, though. Now.” He claps his hands, smiling mischievously, “let’s grab a drink and have some fun after finishing our papers.”

James laughs and follows Ben to the club. They stay till past two in the morning, both drunk by the time they call a cab.

James exits the club, stumbling his way to the parking lot while Ben’s still inside, using the bathroom. He rubs his hands from the cold, pulling out his phone, checking how long the cab will be. 

“Excuse me.”

James turns around, looking up. He drops his phone and steps back. He stares at his own eyes. At his own self.

“I’m you, but from an alternate reality, and we need to talk.”

May 05, 2023 17:48

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Kira Carver
21:35 May 10, 2023

Hello, critique-partner! First - I have to applaud your sense of setting. You never forget to ground the reader in the surroundings. I love the little moments you take to remind us of passersby and atmosphere, like the teen going to the ice cream shop or crickets chirping the park. Setting is definitely your strong suit. I also love the ending. A perfect loop, a creative way to give closure to a story that at first glance is too bombastic for three thousand words. The only thing I'll say you could change is digging into your character'...


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Mike Rush
18:58 May 09, 2023

Ellzabeth, Oh. My. Gosh. Fantastic! Bravo! Primo! So well done. So well done. Your story ended up on the 40 foot screen in my mind. When Autumn and the other began their escape, the music came on. Pulsating, driving. This must have been a thrill to write. And thanks for the word "saunter." Been awhile since I've read that. First, I love the plot. Well thought out. I especially appreciated when Autumn began trying to figure out how this might all work out. She could end up a doctor or a cop. She could actually save someone. Since thi...


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