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Suspense Contemporary Fiction

“Lastly, Scarlett Bowen, Jack Cesto bequeathed ownership and sole proprietor of the social media platform, SelfiCesto under certain stipulations he has procured. You must relinquish your smartphone, laptop, tablet or anything that ultimately has a screen. You are to not post anything on social media whatsoever. You are to live in one of Mr. Cesto’s condos locked from the outside main entry door in Chicago, Illinois on Michigan Avenue. If you can abide by these stipulations for 30 days, SelfiCesto and it’s entire entity will be yours to do with it as you please. There are surveillance videos placed in every room in the condo you are to reside in that will be monitored 24/7. You will have access to a landline inside of the home of which the building’s operator will be able to bring you whatever food or toiletries you may need. All else has been provided for your stay. This is of course, if you choose to abide. If you agree to these terms, you must arrive within seven days to the penthouse leaving any cellular device or said items as listed earlier with the Manager upon arrival. Is that understood Ms. Bowen?”

-

The plane ride from San Francisco was especially long since I was charged with the prospect of what was in store for me. My mind was riddled with unanswered questions about a man I had not known was my mother’s brother. She had never once mentioned any siblings. To my knowledge she didn’t have any. I couldn’t very well ask her now since she had passed a few years ago. I just couldn’t understand why he would choose me of all people to inherit the most distinguished and well-known social media platform throughout the world. The thought of not having my phone for a month was troublesome I admit, but the price to pay for ownership of SelfiCesto would be minuscule in comparison. Being ‘locked’ away in a condo with all the basic necessities would be elementary at best. I just couldn’t wrap my brain why he wanted me to go through such odd measures in order to own the company. It all seemed terribly strange to me, but the chance to be one of the most rich and powerful women in the world would be effortless in theory. 


SelfiCesto would be the perfect way to become not only famous, but expand upon my one hundred thousand followers. While that number is seemingly high to newbies, it’s still not SpotLight Status. Not even close. This though, will change everything. I won’t have to post anymore ads or give a ‘shout out’ to upcoming influencers that sometimes even surpass my account. It makes me incredibly insecure and dismal when that happens. I have been all over California modeling for clothing lines, visiting resorts that pay me to stay there while I post pictures and update my ‘status’ every few hours and pose scantily clad in many others while supporting a random energy drink or vitamin for soft and silky hair; and so on.


30 days of inactivity on my account will surely hurt my StatusQuo reports, but hey, I’ll own the company. I will be the youngest most famous woman in the entire world. I would even be able to afford the best plastic surgeons available. Even though I get compliments from my followers everyday claiming I’m so beautiful with perfect skin, stunning long legs, sexy body, and even perfect silky hair; I just don’t see what they see. I want to look more like a filter instead of having to apply a filter. Other women get those procedures done on the regular now. It’s not as uncommon as you would think. Then, and only then, will I be perfect.   

 -

I arrived by taxi quarter to nine. The city was speckled ablaze with bright lights and restaurants that never closed, filled with people of all genders and races. It was nothing like San Francisco on the surface. It had a rudimentary aura to it compared to home, but I’d never been here before and was thrilled to visit the city after my 30 days were up. 


“Good evening Ms. Bowen.” A pear shaped balding man short in stature said as I entered the 57 storey high building. He stretched out his pudgy hand in gesture and I returned his firm handshake. “I’m Mr. Lexington, the manager of this fine building. Welcome.”


“Nice to meet you Mr. Lexington. This place is beautiful.” 

Beautiful isn’t the word I would use, but yes I suppose that’s one word for this magnificent piece of pristine and advanced architecture.” His nose scrunched as he said that. Just great, off to a good start. What a snob. “Anyway, let me see you to your new residence for the next 30 days. Remember, if you should need anything within reason, just dial 0 for the operator. Anything that we deliver to you will be placed inside the first set of doors and you are to stay inside of your condo until one of my associates tells you over the intercom you can retrieve it. Do I make myself clear?”


“Um, crystal. Why am I not allowed to leave the room Mr. Lexington? I mean, am I not supposed to interact with anyone even delivering my meals and whatnot? This is all so very confusing.” 


“All will be made clear once you read Mr. Cesto’s letter. Come now, we must be going. I would like to make it home sometime tonight.” Wow, he’s clearly got a huge stick lodged up his… “Julio! Come quick, grab Ms. Bowen’s suitcase’s.” 


One of the bellhops rushed towards us and grabbed my things. Mr. Lexington was already on his way to the elevator leaving us behind. I gave Julio a shrug and tried to convey a look that said I’m sorry. He only looked away and stayed a few feet behind me as I headed towards the elevator. I was beginning to wonder what I was getting myself into. Was ownership of SelfiCesto worth all of this? Don’t be stupid, of course it is. Only a small price to pay dealing with some weird stipulations and a pudgy jerk.


Once we made it to the penthouse on the 57th floor, Mr. Lexington reached out his hand palm up and finally spoke to me. “Ms. Bowen, I need your phone now and any other devices you may have. Might I remind you that you will be under constant surveillance your entire stay and if you are seen with any such thing, you will immediately be escorted off the property.”


I fished out my phone reluctantly and looked at it one last time before turning it off and handing it to the jerk. First thing I’m doing is finding a way to fire him after all this is over. He then unlocked the first set of ominous looking mahogany double doors. I followed him into the expansive vestibule already feeling homesick. He pointed to another set of identical doors and waited until I had my hand on one of the doorknobs when he said, “Good night Ms. Bowen, and good luck.”


I was beginning to feel nauseous as I entered my new temporary home. There was a small lamp to my left dimly lit as I entered. I turned around and Julio then handed me my luggage with his head faced downward. I thanked him with a nod all while Mr. Lexington was tapping his foot impatiently. “Thanks.” I replied lamely.

It was immediately after I shut the door when I heard the sound of the deadbolt click followed by another click and jiggle of the handle. I immediately grabbed at it and tried to open it. I shook the handle ferociously and cried out to Mr. Lexington, “Why is this door locked? What’s going on? Open this right now!” I thought being locked in here was just a joke, a sick joke!


All he could say was, “Read the letter, it will answer all of your questions.” I heard a giggle escape from him and then silence.


Panic had set in and I was frantically pounding on the doors yelling while tears began to stream down my face. Let me out! I don’t want to do this anymore! But Mr. Lexington didn’t come back for me. I saw an old rotary dial telephone by the lamp, so I picked up the receiver and pressed the number zero. Nothing, just a dial tone. Why wouldn’t it work? I then remembered some of the early 90’s movies had these phones and they had to hold down the circular button thingy and turn it clockwise. 


My hands were now shaking as I tried to work the dial. After several attempts, I finally was connected to someone.  


“Hello, Ms. Bowen. What may I assist you with this evening?” the voice asked smoothly through the receiver.


“Get me out of here! Unlock my door, please! I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to stay.” I was desperate. 


“I’m sorry Ms. Bowen, but I can’t do that. I can, however, get you something to eat if you like?”


“Eat? Eat? No, I don’t want to eat! I want to get the hell out of here! GET ME OUT NOW!” 


“I am sorry, but I can’t do that either. My instructions were to get you only necessities for the duration of your stay.”


“You’re sorry? Don’t be sorry, GET ME OUT,” I screamed into the phone. 


Click. The bastard hung up on me! I slammed the receiver down and picked it up immediately. Frantically fumbling with the dials I finally dialed 911. 


“Hello again, Ms. Bowen. You aren’t trying to call the cops are you?” he was chiding me and I hated him for it. “Until you can behave, your phone privileges have been cut off until six in the morning. Good night.” Click. I tried the phone not believing what I just heard and there wasn’t even a dial tone. It was dead.

-

After racing through the penthouse looking high and low for anything I could get my hands on to try and break the door down with no avail. And after going out on the balcony screaming at the top of my lungs for someone to help me, with nothing but the wind as a response, I finally decided to read the letter that was lying on the kitchen table.


My Dearest Scarlett,

You’ve made it to my humble abode in which I treasure; excuse me, treasured. LOL! That’s what most of you kids are texting mindlessly in response to nearly everything anyway, right? No, not you though. You are different. I know this because I’ve watched you grow into the fine young woman my sister has dutifully raised. Too bad your father liked money more than having to raise you. I made sure he would be comfortable, he wouldn’t have raised you well like your mother did. Any man who takes money over raising his own child wasn’t going to be a good role-model anyway. You’re welcome.


I told Anne that she should abort you. That ‘father’ of yours was of a bad sort. Who knows what kind of life you would have led. Anne didn’t know I paid him off, just so you know. I am certain that is why you’ve never known me to be your loving Uncle. Anne didn’t realize I had been keeping tabs on you all of your life. She dismissed every call, letter and check I ever sent her until she took a job offer in San Francisco in hopes to escape me. Little did she know, I was the one who made her the job offer and since I was a silent partner, well I’m sure you understand. I acted as if I had finally given up all contact. It was for the best. It allowed me more freedom to watch even closer I do admit.


I have never questioned any of my actions until recently. Terminal cancer will do that to a person, no matter who they are. My only regret is telling Anne 23 years ago to terminate you. That’s why I chose you, Scarlett. I chose you to potentially own the best part of me. Retribution in a manner of speaking. 


I am sure you have many more questions at this point. If you can last 30 days in this particular home of mine, you will not only get the inheritance of a lifetime; you will receive all of my knowledge. The only way to leave this place will be through a cellular device hidden in plain site. Remember though, if you turn it on at any point, my team of faithful staff will be notified not only from the surveillance videos, but from the wonderful little GPS signal that will be activated. 


Most Sincerely,

Jack Cesto




December 15, 2020 15:27

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28 comments

Sapphire ~♚❄
16:31 Dec 17, 2020

AAAAAH CLIFFHANGER!!!!!!!!!! This was a humorous story that was very enjoyable to read! Your characters are perfect and the storyline is capturing! I was hooked till the end! I can't wait for more! Keep writing!

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D. Kase
16:41 Dec 17, 2020

Thank you SO much for reading and commenting on this piece! I'm working on the rest currently. I'm glad you enjoyed it!!! ❤😊

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Sapphire ~♚❄
16:55 Dec 17, 2020

No problem!

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I. F.
02:49 Dec 16, 2020

No!!! It's a cliffhanger... 'First thing I’m doing is finding a way to fire him after all this is over.' That line made me laugh 😂 I really liked your main character, she was well-balanced in terms of positive and negative traits. She's vain and insecure, but at the same time, she seems confident and ambitious, which made her feel real and allowed me to root for her. I like when side characters (especially ones that make a very limited appearance) are a bit eccentric, and 'pear-shaped man' was certainly that 😂 I'll definitely remem...

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D. Kase
11:26 Dec 16, 2020

Thank you SO MUCH for reading this! I'm glad you enjoyed it 😏😊 I loved writing this piece! I have way too much to tell for the 3000 words to be capped like that. I'm most definitely going to make a novella out of this or something of the sort!!!!

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D. Kase
16:57 Dec 16, 2020

I'm glad you noticed the creeping sensation of claustrophobia I had. I had such fun with this. Sorry, was half asleep when I saw your comment early this morning. My favorite author is Stephen King, so I really wish to write more like him. So... Killer Klowns from Outer Space... is the rotten tomatoes thing good or bad? 🤣

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I. F.
05:07 Dec 20, 2020

Ohhh, you really should continue this story if you can! A novella sounds like a great idea. Yes the feelings of claustrophobia, paranoia, and hopelessness in the story were awesome, they made my day 😂 King's books are what got me into reading! Honestly, that might be why I tend to write darker stuff... I'm actually reading The Dead Zone right now! And his book 'On Writing' was the best book on writing I've ever read, it was the only, but still... The rotten tomatoes thing is good, like surprisingly good...it's a really high score 😂 Also...

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D. Kase
11:28 Dec 20, 2020

I figured that's what was up! How do you think you did on your exams!?!? Oh snap! That's awesome on the score of rotten tomatoes lolzzz. I'm reading 'IT' right now. My favorite book EVER is 'The Shining ' it's beyond creepy! Oh and its NOTHING like the movie... way better too of course. I havent read 'the Dead Zone' any good? And I'm working on that story still! I'm going to finish that, I swear it!

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I. F.
03:53 Dec 21, 2020

At this point I'm just so glad they're over 😂 Pretty sure it was good though. Right, people must've loved those clowns. I've been meaning to read 'IT' for such a long time now, it's just so damn long... The Shining too! I've actually seen the shining movie but haven't read the book (shame on me, I know). The 'Dead Zone' is great, the main protagonist only actually learns about the existence of the main antagonist on page 300 of the 400-page book, but it's never boring, and when they do cross paths things get intense. I'm pretty sure there...

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D. Kase
11:59 Dec 21, 2020

I dont miss those days of exams and all that. I bet you did great! The Shining isn't a long read and it's also an easy read. I liked Kings earlier days of writing the best (when he was on inebriated a lot) You can definitely tell a difference between his older work and new stuff. I'm going to buy The Exorcist and read that next. I've never read it, just the movie I've seen. I love exorcism stuff because it's like, was that person possessed?? Or was it a mental disorder? Hmmm.... I love being freaked out and scared by a book as opposed to a m...

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I. F.
05:08 Dec 20, 2020

Ohhh, you really should continue this story if you can! A novella sounds like a great idea. Yes the feelings of claustrophobia, paranoia, and hopelessness in the story were awesome, they made my day 😂 King's books are what got me into reading! Honestly, that might be why I tend to write darker stuff... I'm actually reading The Dead Zone right now! And his book 'On Writing' was the best book on writing I've ever read, it was the only, but still... The rotten tomatoes thing is good, like surprisingly good...it's a really high score 😂 Als...

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I. F.
05:07 Dec 20, 2020

Ohhh, you really should continue this story if you can! A novella sounds like a great idea. Yes the feelings of claustrophobia, paranoia, and hopelessness in the story were awesome, they made my day 😂 King's books are what got me into reading! Honestly, that might be why I tend to write darker stuff... I'm actually reading The Dead Zone right now! And his book 'On Writing' was the best book on writing I've ever read, it was the only, but still... The rotten tomatoes thing is good, like surprisingly good...it's a really high score 😂 Also...

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D. Kase
16:58 Dec 16, 2020

I'm glad you noticed the creeping sensation of claustrophobia I had. I had such fun with this. Sorry, was half asleep when I saw your comment early this morning. My favorite author is Stephen King, so I really wish to write more like him. So... Killer Klowns from Outer Space... is the rotten tomatoes thing good or bad? 🤣

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Deidra Lovegren
16:37 Dec 15, 2020

WHERE'S THE REST OF THIS -- I feel like I'm watching a very good Black Mirror episode. But I definitely wanted more. (This is a good thing ;) Clever take on the prompt. I loved the main character -- so feisty!!

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D. Kase
19:56 Dec 15, 2020

I wanted to write MORE!!!!! but, unfortunately I would have gone over the limit. Booooo. I have the rest in my brain... feet not. I'll get it out there when I can 😏 Thank you SO MUCH FOR READING IT!!!!!

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Deidra Lovegren
20:10 Dec 15, 2020

There's a lot going on here. Novella material.

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D. Kase
20:28 Dec 15, 2020

I meant *fear not* not feet not hahaha. I'm sure you understood lol. I was thinking of that actually, novella. I'll keep writing the story for sure.

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11:29 Dec 22, 2020

I didn't want your story to end! I want to know how the 30 days go and what she learns that will help her to run the social media company. I love the requirement to get away from all social media in order to get ready to be the head of a social media company. Keep up the good work!

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D. Kase
13:21 Dec 22, 2020

Thank you SO MUCH!!! I'm actually still working on this and turning it into a Novella! I just have to figure out publishing routes to go with and whatnot. Probably self-publish on Amazon?! This story is definitely not complete. This is one of my favorite pieces of work so far. I truly appreciate your comment and reading Magnificent Mile. 🥰

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Doug Goodrich
05:26 Dec 24, 2020

Interesting plot! I don't know if I was pulling for her but I know it's hard to get people connected in so few words. Thank you for a fun read.

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Nandan Prasad
08:47 Dec 21, 2020

Oh my God, I was zapped when it ended! It took a while for me to process it, and I feel like you can do a lot with this! As everyone before has written, the protagonist is likeable, and I think that's one of the most important parts. Extremely well-written, and keep writing!

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D. Kase
12:01 Dec 21, 2020

Thank you ever so much!!!! I'm working on finishing it right now actually! Novella. Thank you for reading my story! I truly appreciate you! 😊

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Nandan Prasad
04:09 Dec 22, 2020

Aw, no problem!

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