Author’s Note: Hi! NOTE FOR ALL Y’ALL WHO GO ON LIKE SPREES: I personally think that likes are nice, but comments and critiques are much more helpful! I kind of hate it when people just go on random liking sprees. I’d appreciate it much more if you took the time to read and give feedback. Points are nice but at the end of the day, improvement is better :) OK, that’s that done. Happy Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year and Lent to those who celebrate! This is based off a dream my friend Sahana had. It’s weird. I really don’t know. It’s also pretty unrealistic, but it’s also based on a dream so. Why are we in Italy? How did I manage to make a Valentine’s Day prompt into a bloodbath? Why do I know so little on anti-matter, and why does Sahana know so much, she dreamt of it? And yes again, the photo isn't framed. I'm sorry. It was going to be for last week, so I changed it subtly to fit the prompt. I really don’t expect this to do well cause it is basically a novelty. Link to Sahana's profile: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/sahana-karthik/ Ok, hope you enjoy!
A Science Fiction Short Story by Ana Govindasamy
Trigger Warnings/Disclaimers: Death, Blood & Pandemic References & Radiation Sickness
“...then you’d divide 1134 by 2 and so X would be 567.” The blue ring around the initials “EW” bounces as she speaks up.
“Well done, Emerald. OK. I think we’ll stop there. If you got any further, I’ll put the mark scheme in the chat. Have a nice weekend!”
I scramble to unmute and say goodbye before the meeting ends, but I fail miserably. I opt to just shut the laptop anyways.
“Savitri! Have you finished school yet? You need to go deliver the neighbour’s groceries!” Mum’s voice is almost inaudible through the flight of stairs and my closed door.
“Coming!” I yell back.
I make my way down the stairs and mum thrusts two bags into my hands. I peek inside. Minced meat, spaghetti, candles...looks like someone’s having date night. As I try to not slip while carrying two giant bags of shopping on the icy road, my phone decides to start ringing. I drop the groceries to take the call.
“Hi...Divya, I’m in the middle of something. Can we call later?”
“Yeah, sure. I just wanted to ask you if you heard the news?”
“Oh. The winners of last week’s Inquisitivity competition was announced. Guess who just won herself her third Adulation in a term.”
“Oh my God, congratulations!”
“Yeah. Can you believe it?”
“Has this week’s been announced yet? I feel like I should enter.”
“I don’t know.”
“Doesn’t the teacher tell you early in the catch-up club?”
The terrifying sound of static filled my ears. She screams.
“Hello?” I ask.
“Divya, are you OK?”
She doesn’t reply, but a different, distinctly female voice does.
I stay silent. For all I know my, cousin had just been killed and I’m next.
“This is Lucia Mancini.” The woman on the other end says, in one of the thickest Italian accents I’ve heard.
Then the line goes dead. My phone buzzes again, and I have a text from Divya. Or Lucia, I should say.
8PM. Be ready.
I watch the minutes tick by in a paralysing fear. The only thing I would be doing now is calling Divya. But she was...well...I’m not sure what she is, but it can’t be good. But there’s limited foreseeable and plausible outcomes of tonight. I die. Or I get kidnapped. Or I’m an X-man. Or I’ve been accepted into Hogwarts. Or...yeah, I don’t want to think about any other outcomes. Those few seem like the best options.
I’m trying to take my mind of things. Start a new Duolingo course in Italian?
Sure, why not. I won’t learn anything of use, like how to bargain for my life, but I have time to kill. I guess it’s actually absorbing, because 13 minutes later, there's a knock on my window. My stomach drops.
Shakily, I get up and unlatch the window.
She nods and climbs inside my room.
“Lucia Mancini. Nice to meet you.” She extends her hand.
“Uh...Savitri Ashwin. But I’m assuming you already knew that.” I say, taking it.
“I did. Now, I’m assuming you have questions. So, fire away.” She laughs.
“OK. So. Firstly, who the hell are you? Secondly, where is Divya? Thirdly, why are you here?”
“All good questions. Firstly. I work for the Italian government and that’s all I can say. Secondly, she’s fine. Thirdly...well, you’ll have to come with me to find that out. We need to find a secure place first”
“I’m sorry. We’re leaving? I am not leaving with some random woman, who walked into my life three hours ago, who may or may not have killed my cousin, and now wants me to come with her.”
Lucia sighs. “Wanna see my ID? Or my mountain of paperwork? Or my certificates? Or my-“
“Yeah, OK. I get it now. Fine. I’ll come. But I’m taking my phone.”
“Good. You’ll need a bag. And ditch your phone.”
“What? Why? Also, my parents. And teachers. and- “
“Leave your phone.”
“And you can leave a note for you parents.”
“You expect them to believe the real story?”
“Yes, I do. I can get some agents to keep an eye on them if you really want.”
“Oh yeah, because that sounds like a great idea!” I say sarcastically.
“Yeah. We can get that arranged.”
“No, I- you know what, never mind, it might be for the best.”
“Good. You’ll need clothes for about…a week give or take. Pyjamas. Any weird toiletries you teenagers use,” She says. I mean, she can’t be older than 25, so I’m not too sure what she means by “teenagers”. “Do you get air sick?” she continues.
“I- No, I don’t. But we’re...flying? In a pandemic?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Look. If you want to know where your cousin is, you’re going to come with me.”
“Yeah, you’re not helping the whole ‘I feel like I’m being kidnapped’ situation.”
I’ve given up arguing at this point. If I am being kidnapped, I can run. Adrenaline is my friend. I mean it kicks in if I see a spot of dirt that just so happens to look like a spider, so it’ll have no problem with getting me away from a killer.
“You ready?” Lucia asks
“Alright. Let’s go.” She says, opening the door.
I do a double take
“Wait. You’re left-handed?”
“And your surname means left-handed.”
“So, you mean to say that left-handedness has run in your family for so long?”
“No. I mean to tell you that this isn't my real name and I have no creativity...speaking of, you’re going to need this.” Lucia says tossing me a passport.
“But my passport is-” Then I open it. “Radha Ravichandran. That’s my name now?”
“Yup. Now let’s go.”
“And you really expect me to leave my life behind, adopt a new name and follow some random woman who literally climbed through my window at 8PM?”
“We just went over this, no?”
“No, we went over why I should trust you. Now we’re going over how you expect me to leave my life so easily.”
“We really don’t have time for this. If you need confirmation, then wait til’ we get there.”
“See, that still means I have to come with you and literally travel into a different country on a two-and-a-half-hour plane ride.”
“Radha...” She lifts a hand to her temple.
As jarred as I am to hear my new name, I also can’t tell if I’m messing with her or actually serious. But I guess it doesn’t matter, because next thing I know, I somehow got through border control on a real/fake/issued-by-the-Italian-government-despite-being- British-but-somehow-still-legal-passport.
While we’re on the plane, Lucia somehow finds it appropriate to start telling me about everything.
“So... I’m assuming you want answers.”
“Well. I should tell you why you and Divya are here. Oh, and just so you know, she’s got a fake name too. Aditi Madhavan. Well. Alright. So, as a keen science student, you must know what anti-matter is.”
“Wait. You have anti-matter? Like...actual anti-matter?”
“I knew you’d be excited. Yes. We have. And... well, you know Chernan High. It’s-”
“One of, if not the best secondary school in Europe?”
“Yeah. And both you and Aditi have academic scholarships with the school. So We’ve had our eye on you.”
“I’m going to pretend that wasn’t possibly the creepiest thing anyone’s ever said to me and act flattered.”
Lucia laughs. “Yeah, that didn’t come out the way I wanted.”
“But about the anti-matter. Or is that it? Because to be honest, my success can mostly be credited to Divya. Oh- I mean Aditi. She literally gave me power tutoring 24/7.”
“No. You’re more talented than you know.”
“Wow, way to sound original and not at all like a cheap, classroom poster. But thanks. Also, this all sounds awfully classified to be talking about in a commercial flight.”
“Perhaps. But we’re on business class in a global pandemic. So, I think we’re fine.”
“You really can’t choose whether to be professional or not, can you?”
It’s the moment. I’m standing outside a room that contains literal anti-matter. But everyone’s speaking fluent Italian and I have no idea what’s happening. I tap Lucia’s shoulder.
She says something in Italian before realising she’s talking to me.
“Sorry. So, this is it. After I show you inside, you can meet up with Aditi and get to know the place and we’ll tell you everything.”
She places her chin on the bottom of the retinal scanner and the door whirrs open. What we see inside makes me scream. A body lies in the corner. A single piece of paper lies next to it with the words I’m Sorry or whatever the Italian equivalent is. Lucia’s head whips round. That’s when we both see it. The vessel containing the anti-matter was split. I don’t connect the dots quick enough, but when the ground swings from beneath my feet and an overwhelming sense of nausea creeps up my being, I do understand one thing. This is the opposite of good. This is bad. Very, very bad. Lucia hits the deck, slicing her arm on the way down. Some small fragment of paper falls from her pocket on the way down.
And I watch as blood blooms upon her bridal dress and degrades it to the same shade as her red-rose-bouquet.