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Fiction Suspense

           “Come in! Come in!” the middle-aged man called out as the young family entered the doors of “Miraculous Inception,” a company that offers miracles to those who qualify.

           Hans Gruber, the salesman, asked them to have a seat upon a comfortable navy-colored sofa, while he took a seat in a matching chair opposite the family.

           “What miracles can we perform for you today?” Hans asked with a smile that filled most of his face. “We, at Miraculous Inception are here to give you a new beginning.”

           The man of the group, Fred, spoke up and told Hans that their daughter, Isabel, was extremely ill and the doctors said there was nothing they could do for her. With their best-case scenario, they estimated three to four months left to live.

           Isabel was a frail, two-year-old child with a pallor complexion. Her body appeared to be covered in lesions, and she was sweating profusely. The doctors had diagnosed her with having “CANDLE Syndrome” which stood for chronic atypical neutrophilic dermatosis with lipodystrophy and elevated temperature.

           Fred told Hans that they hoped to give Isabel a chance to live a normal life free from this horrible condition. His wife, Janet, held Isabel upon her lap. Despite the sad story they had just told him, Hans continued to smile almost annoyingly at the family.

           “Fear not, my friends,” Hans began to say. “We can make Isabel’s disease disappear, just as you wish. You will just need to fill out this contract and sign it at the bottom before we can begin.”

           Fred and Janet read over the document carefully, and when they came to one clause, they questioned Hans about it.

           “It says here that once the agreement between all parties involved has reached its fruition, that in accordance with Appendix ‘A,’ paragraph four, a secondary party will ensue the responsibility of the first party. What does that mean, exactly?”

           Hans continued to smile as he tried to answer Fred’s question. “That is just a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbos that you don’t need to be concerned with. Our lawyers just told us that it needed to be in there to cover our backs in case our customers were not completely satisfied with the results of their miracles. Of course, all our miracles have gone exactly as the customers have asked, so there is nothing to worry about.”

           Fred and Janet read the rest of the contract before signing the line at the bottom. It was going to cost them over $30,000 for the miracle, which was going to clean out their savings, but it would be worth every penny to save their daughter.

           Once Fred signed the contract, they were led back to a large room near the rear of the building. There were no lights on except for a single spotlight which shone upon an operating table in the middle of the room. Janet was asked to place Isabel on her back upon the table, then back away. Isabel began to fuss as her mother backed away into the darkness, but Janet kept ensuring her daughter that everything was going to be okay.

           A person dressed in a red surgical gown resembling a Hazmat suit, entered the spotlight. His head was hooded, and his face covered with a face shield. Janet grabbed onto her husband’s hand at the sight of him. She began to wonder if they had made the right decision.

           The man in red lowered a device from above the table, which he placed over Isabel’s head. She began to whimper but was too weak to cry out loudly. Pointing into the darkness beyond the spot where Fred and Janet stood, the man in red had indicated for someone to start up the device their daughter now wore. A low hum filled the room as the device lit up, filling the room with an ominous blue glow.

           They watched as their daughter’s eyes rolled back in their sockets. Janet began to run for Isabel, but Fred stopped her once he saw that Isabel’s eyes returned to normal. The procedure lasted approximately three minutes and did not seem to cause any discomfort to Isabel.

           Once the humming stopped and the blue glow disappeared, the man in red removed the device from Isabel’s head and helped her sit up. He then waved Fred and Janet over, then disappeared into the darkness.

           As they arrived at the table, the lights in the room began to slowly brighten. Janet and Fred both embraced Isabel and asked her how she felt. Fred noticed almost immediately that Isabel’s lesions had faded, and she had a little more color in her cheeks. Isabel indicated that she felt good, but she was very hungry. This was a great sign, because since she was first diagnosed, her appetite had decreased substantially.

           Hans led the happy family back to the reception area where Isabel was offered a fresh-baked muffin and a glass of apple juice. She gladly accepted and swallowed it all down within a few minutes. They thanked Hans and informed him that they would spread the good word about Miraculous Inception to all their friends. As they walked toward the car, Fred looked back to see Hans still standing in the doorway with a big smile on his face. This time, instead of being creeped out by his face full of teeth, Fred smiled back and waved goodbye.

           They weren’t home for more than a few hours when they started noticing extreme changes in Isabel’s condition. She looked like a healthy, young girl that was vibrant and full of life. All the color was now back in her skin, and the lesions had completely disappeared. Janet felt Isabel’s head, and her fever had subsided as well. It seemed like the miracle worked. They had their baby girl back.

           Over the following week, Fred and Janet spread the news about their daughter’s miraculous recovery thanks to Miraculous Inception. Everyone was overjoyed to hear the news except for a woman that worked with Janet, named Christine.

           “Janet,” Christine began to say. “Do you remember last year when that crazed lunatic drove his car through the crowded farmer’s market in the mall parking lot?”

           “Yes, I remember,” Janet replied.

           “Trevor, my husband, was there with his mother. Trevor was able to leap out of the car’s path in time, but his mother was struck. Several of her bones were broken, and she suffered a punctured lung. The doctors said that because of her age and low immune system, her likelihood of survival was very slim. With Trevor being as close to her as he was, I agreed that we would help her find a solution. That was when a friend directed us to Miraculous Inception.”

           Fred and Janet smiled at each other thinking that someone else they knew had been saved by this amazing company. Christine continued with her story.

           “It took about three weeks for Trevor’s mother to be fully healed, and she claimed to feel better than she ever had, so we couldn’t be happier. One week following his mother’s full recovery, Trevor began to feel ill. At first, we thought it was a virus he picked up somewhere, so we thought nothing of it, but then he collapsed suddenly one night and was near death. The doctor at the hospital said that there was nothing they could do, so I took him back to Miraculous Inception to see if they could help. That was when I found out the truth.”

           The smiles on the faces of Janet and Fred turned sombre as they listened to Christine’s story.

           “We met with Hans in reception, and he informed me that they could not save Trevor. When I asked why, he said it was part of the contract that Trevor signed. He said something about Appendix ‘A,’ paragraph four. He claimed that Trevor agreed to take the place of his mother when he signed the contract.”

           Fred looked at Janet realizing he had signed the contract for Isabel as well, but he thought that it was just a coincidence that Trevor died. Since he wasn’t showing any signs of sickness, he was not overly concerned.

           As if on cue, as Fred stood up to leave, he felt light-headed and lost his balance, falling to the floor. Janet rushed to his side as she heard Christine state, “It’s begun.”

           Janet helped Trevor to his feet then out to the car. He was in no condition to drive, so she took the keys and drove him to the hospital. By the time they had arrived, Fred was running a high fever and felt weakened. Each step felt like agony, so Janet wheeled him into the Emergency Department in a wheelchair.

           While waiting for the test results, Fred’s conditioned worsened, and they both knew that he did not have much longer to live. Janet called her sister who was babysitting Isabel and told her what was going on. She said that she may not be home until late and asked if she could continue to watch Isabel for them. By the time she got off the phone, the doctor had arrived with the results.

           He said that he couldn’t explain it, but Fred’s organs looked like ones that had been slowly shutting down from Cancer for years, but after looking at Fred’s medical records, he saw there was no history of Cancer or any other disease for that matter. Before that day, Fred was in top physical condition.

           Janet knew that there was only one option, so she thanked the doctor and left the hospital, despite the doctor’s insistent protests. They drove ten minutes to the outskirts of town and entered Miraculous Inception.

           When Hans refused to help, they insisted on speaking with someone higher up that could make decisions. A few minutes later, a tall, intimidating gentleman approached the lobby. He introduced himself as Dr. Victor Franks, CEO of the company. Hans handed Dr. Franks the contract and they all had a seat.

           “It clearly states in your contract that in order to perform the miracle for your daughter, Isabel, the person signing the contract would provide themselves up as a substitute after the miracle had been completed,” Dr. Franks stated abruptly. “Since you signed the contract, you must fulfill your part of the agreement. It is cause and effect, I’m afraid. This is the reaction from the action which you agreed upon.”

           “Could I see that contract for a moment?” Janet asked. Dr. Franks handed it over and she skipped to the last page. “Aha!” Janet yelled out, pleased with her find.

           “Why do you seem so elated, my dear?” Dr. Franks asked.

           “It seems to me that we have a legal clause of our own that you have overlooked,” Janet replied. Fred and the other two men looked at her with confused looks. Janet continued.

           “If you look at the signature, it reads, Fred Harbinger, correct?” Hans and Dr. Franks agreed. Janet asked Fred for his wallet from which she pulled out a copy of his birth certificate. She held the birth certificate in front of Dr. Franks and asked, “Can you please read me the name on this birth certificate?”

           “Howard Harbinger,” Dr. Franks said.

           “That is correct, Howard Harbinger, which means that when he signed your contract, it was not signed with his legal name, and therefore, your contract clause is null and void,” Janet exclaimed as she returned the wallet to her husband.

           Dr. Franks sat silently for what seemed an eternity before agreeing with the technicality. The contract was no longer binding, and Fred was no longer obligated to give his life. Dr. Franks assured them both that Fred would begin to feel better soon.

           It took a couple of days, but Fred’s health had returned to normal, and he was finally able to enjoy all the family adventures that they never dreamed were possible.

           As they watched the news a month later, a story came on about the Miraculous Inception clinic. It was proven that they were part of a Nationwide religious cult that worshipped the devil. They were using the power of the occult to willingly provide souls to their master. The entire organization was taken down in a single well-organized raid across the country, and everyone was arrested and thrown in prison for their parts in the scheme.

June 25, 2022 17:47

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6 comments

01:25 Jul 05, 2022

Fun story, Greg! Hans Gruber, as many know, is the name of the bad guy from Die Hard — it was immediately distracting for me to read that name. I would change it… even if it was meant to be funny, it makes us think of a different story. Also, all the dialogue was italicized. When I see that as a reader, I imagine the character hissing or shrieking. Consider writing your dialogue without italics unless you mean for them to be aggressive. There are so many great aspects of this story… please keep developing them. I like it!

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Greg Gillis
03:16 Jul 06, 2022

Thank you for the suggestions. Unfortunately, it is too late for me to edit the text on here, but I will certainly consider changing my original draft.

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Carolyn Brown
17:29 Jul 04, 2022

Well spotted, Janet! A modern twist on the "deal with the devil" theme that never grows old. I appreciated the use of a legal technicality taking on the power of the occult. A little fix. "...Janet kept ensuring her daughter that everything was going to be okay". Ensured should be assured? I enjoyed the read.

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Greg Gillis
23:04 Jul 04, 2022

Thank you. I missed that in editing. I will make the change.

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Elliot G
17:49 Jul 02, 2022

Very interesting story, Greg! I’m glad it had a happy ending:)

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Greg Gillis
19:40 Jul 03, 2022

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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