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General

“So, tell me the whole story.”

“Once upon a time, I was walking out of Walmart, when two burly men in gray suits came up to me. “Come with us,” said one, grabbing my arm. The other handcuffed me. I yelped in surprise. “You know what you did.” But I didn’t. I absolutely have no idea. I’m at the mercy of my idiot lawyer. The end.”

My idiot lawyer looked up at me from over his half moon glasses. “That was quite the descriptive dialogue, Michael. You should be an author, not a…” he checked his clipboard over his glasses, “Sales representative. Isn’t that exactly the job that all the characters in The Office have to show how incredibly boring it is?” He laughed. “Is that even your real job or did you make it up? What exactly is that like?”

I glared at him. “Just do your job, why don’t you? Find out what I’m even being charged with and get me out of here!”

“Now Michael, calm down,” said my lawyer, adjusting his glasses, as if he ever actually looked through them. “This kind of behavior is exactly what the cameraman is looking for from a suspect in custody who’s having a conversation with his lawyer.”

I glanced up at the security camera in the corner of the little dark gray room. “He’s not called a cameraman,” I said.

“Oh really? And how do you know that?” my lawyer asked suspiciously

“Geez, what’s wrong with you?” I snapped. “Do you actually think I did it or something?”

“Did what?” he asked shrewdly.

“That’s what you’re supposed to find out!” I exploded. “Why was I arrested? I asked to see a lawyer to be protected from stuff like this! I have rights, you know!”

“Rights you forfeited when you began working against this country,” said a low voice from the dark corner. I jumped. “Who are you? I asked to talk to my lawyer alone.”

“I don’t mind,” preened the idiot lawyer.

I twisted in my seat as far as I could with my hands cuffed to the table. A tall, muscular man in a black suit was leaning against the wall. “I have never worked against this country,” I said, “You’ve got the wrong guy.”

The man in the suit sighed. “It’ll go easier for you, Michael, if you admit to your crimes right now.”

“I haven’t done anything wrong!”

“I wasn’t finished. If you maintain this lie, when we find the proof we need – and we will; we already have enough to convict you – it could mean the chair. Confess now and you might get leniency. You gain nothing by lying.”

My blood went cold. “I swear, I didn’t do anything.”

He came around the table, shooing the lawyer off the seat. “Look at this.” He leaned over the table and showed me a mobile phone playing a video. Security footage. A blurry, hooded figure passed the counter in a drugstore. The man in the suit stopped it and rewound. The clerk passing something to the figure.

Black suit zoomed in and pointed at it. “What does that look like to you?”

“Um…” I gulped. “A…a computer chip?”

“And who is that?” He pointed at the hooded figure.

He was the same height and build as me. To anyone who didn’t know me well, he could almost be me.

I looked up at black suit helplessly. “It’s not me. I’ve never been there.”

“We don’t only have pictures, Michael.” He sat down in front of me and slapped a file down on the table. “Fingerprints.”

I sorted through the papers, mind bewildered. I began slowly shaking my head.

“I…I was never at any of these places.”

“But your fingerprints were.”

“So I’m being set up!” I gestured helplessly. “I don’t even know what these are!”

“Some agencies will mindwipe, torture, or even kill their agencies to stop them from spilling secrets!” he yelled suddenly. “They are murderers and traitors to the country! Why would you lie for these people?”

“I’m not lying!” I shouted. “I have never been there! I’m being set up! That guy just looks like me!”

He grunted and straightened up, sighing. “Really, Michael? Even now?”

I struggled frantically in my chair. “You have to believe me!”

He started for the door. “Lie detector!” I cried. “Do you have a lie detector? Try me! I promise you’ve got the wrong guy!”

Black suit stopped and glanced questioningly at my lawyer, who nodded. What was that about?

“You’ve had a lie detector on this whole time, Michael.” He strode back over to me. “On your wrists,” he tapped the handcuffs, “your chair, the table, even the floor is measuring your answers to each and every question you’ve been asked. And now,” he leaned down to my face, “I’m about to go check the results.”

“Oh.” I slumped back, relieved.

My lawyer slid back into the seat across from me. I waited for the lie detector results with trepidation. I knew I was telling the truth, but…maybe they would just ignore that. Maybe our government was okay with killing one innocent man just to be sure.

I felt like Emmett in The Lego Movie. I looked at my lawyer. “I really do think I’m being set up. I know it sounds crazy, but I think the real criminal looked like me, and put all that evidence there to cover his tracks.”

“Right…” said my lawyer. “This is just pathetic.”

I stared at him, baffled. “You’re my lawyer! Aren’t you supposed to be on my side??”

The door opened and black suit poked his head in.

“He’s…he’s clean, sir,” he said in a confused voice. My lawyer looked up sharply

“See? I’m clean!” I said triumphantly. Wait. Why am I justifying myself to my lawyer? I looked at black suit by the door. Why was he reporting to my lawyer? Did I even have a lawyer? Were they just playing bad cop, annoying cop with me?

My lawyer placed his hands on the table in decidedly creepy way. “My turn.”

My dread and stress rose again. “Are you even a lawyer?”

He ignored me. “Do you have any siblings or relatives?”

I shook my head. “No. No. I grew up in a foster home!”

“You were never in the army?”

“No! I’ve never even left the country! I was never in the military.”

“Oh yes? What’s this?”

He handed me a piece of paper. An army file with a picture of a young man, almost a teenager, who looked a little like me. He had the same hair and facial expression.

“That’s…that’s not me,” I said. “They keep telling me I know why I’m here, but I really have no idea.”

I mean…he did look like me. And my social worker would never tell me if I had any siblings or not. I would hate to find out that I did have a sibling and he was a criminal, but could it be…?

“No one knows you, Michael. You don’t have any connections. You don’t have any family.”

What?

My lawyer’s voice was intensifying. Not growing louder. Just more forceful. “I told you to tell me the whole story but you only told me one scene. You walked into Walmart with a package.”

No…I didn’t…did I?

“You walked out with nothing! Was it a drop point?”

“No!”

He slammed his hands on the table. “Why were you walking out of Walmart, Michael? Why were you even there? Why had you bought nothing?”

Why had I bought nothing?

He narrowed his eyes. “What happened while you were in Walmart? Are you refusing to tell me?”

No.

I don’t remember.

I don’t remember anything.

July 29, 2020 22:08

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5 comments

Leya Newi
17:37 Jul 31, 2020

I can totally sympathize with Michael, not that I’ve ever been accused of working against the country but I felt like they, Michael, and I were missing something. The ending caught me off guard, and I kept scrolling down, hoping to see more... And then the story ended. I literally groaned out loud. I want to see more from you, Magnet! Keep writing!!

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22:16 Jul 31, 2020

Haha, thank you so much! Oh. I'm sorry. But I guess that's a good thing, to make people groan because the story's over, not because it's terrible? ;) So yeah, improvements! I hope the ending was clear enough. Sometimes I can't resist being overly mysterious.... ;)

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Leya Newi
00:08 Aug 01, 2020

No, no! The ending was perfect, other than, you know, the fact it ended. :) I loved this so much!

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Deborah Angevin
11:23 Jul 31, 2020

I'm getting a movie-like scenery as I tried to picture the story... well-written one, Magnet! Would you mind checking my recent story out, "A Very, Very Dark Green"? Thank you!

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13:13 Jul 31, 2020

Wow, thank you so much! And yes, I will!

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