Thriller Science Fiction Fiction

31 JUN 1987

13th Precinct, New York, NY

Testimony of John Romero

Case No. 54892133

Det. Gorshin: The recording has started, John. Anything you say after this point will be entered into the record and will be used as evidence. Do you understand?

John: Yeah, sure. I understand. Where do you want me to start?

Det. Gorshin: Just start on the afternoon of the 20th. What did you see?

John: Yeah, okay. Well, I was just takin' the trash out. Like I do every day.

Det. Gorshin: The trash bin is where?

John: In the alley between [redacted] and [redacted] on [redacted].

Det. Gorshin: Keep going.

John: Right. Well, it wasn't long after I lifted the huge plastic lid and tossed the bag in that I heard the... commotion, I guess is the word. You know, people fighting.

Det. Gorshin: Can you be more specific? Did they sound male? Female? Adult?

John: Definitely, adult males. They came around the corner and I stepped behind the bin so they wouldn't notice me.

Det. Gorshin: Why did you do this?

John: You know how it is in this town. You can get killed for listening into the wrong fight. Anyway when they came around the corner, right away I recognize Bernie from the laundromat on 5th. He was the one getting his [expletive] kicked and a gun shoved in his face.

Det. Gorshin: Can you describe the victim?

John: Ah... Heavy set, middle aged and bald. White guy. Sounds like a Bond villain but you'll never meet a nicer guy.

Det. Gorshin: Let the record show that the witness is indicating Borzilov “Bernie” Meredith as the victim. Please continue.

John: Well, the next part happened pretty quick, ya know. The guy with the gun said something like, “You need to set an example.” then he shot him. The gun went off, Bernie went down and the guy ran away. Like I said, I knew Bernie so I ran to chase that [expletive] But I came around the corner and he was gone. Just vanished. I only lost sight of him for maybe a couple seconds.

Det. Gorshin: Can you describe the alleged perpetrator?

John: There ain't nothin' alleged about it! I watched the [expletive] put a hole in Bernie!

Det. Gorshin: Sir, can you describe them for the record?

John: Yeah, ah... Another white guy. Tall. Short beard. Wearing a pea coat and one of those newsie caps.

Det. Gorshin: A pea coat in June?

John: Man, that's what I saw. Don't ask me why. So anyway, once I lost him, I went back to Bernie and called 911. It's what you're supposed to do, right? But when I gut there, he was gone. Just gone. No blood stain. Nothin'. Just gone. Like God decided that was no place for him to die and just picked him up and moved him somewhere else. I still reported it, though.

Det. Gorshin: But when we checked on Mr. Meredith, he was alive and well in his home. He spoke with 2 uniformed officers.

John: Yeah, but it wasn't him.

Det. Gorshin: Can you be more specific?

John: Than what? It. Wasn't. Him. I saw what claimed to be Bernie the next time I did laundry. He was angry, snippy and a general [expletive] Get his fingerprints or his DNA or whatever you people do. It wasn't him.

Det. Gorshin: Do you have any proof?

John: What?

Det. Gorshin: We can't just impede on someone's civil liberties without a warrant and that requires proof.

John: How am I supposed to prove that? If you knew him, you could tell. Trust me.

Det. Gorshin: So you didn't ask him any questions that only he would know?

John: But, I don't know him that well.

Det. Gorshin: You don't have to. You could've asked him about your last conversation. Did you do that?

John: Well, no. I...

Det. Gorshin: Or what about his clothes? Did you notice of he dressed any different?

John: Not really. I...

Det. Gorshin: The way he parted his hair, his accent, the way he walked, the way he carried himself?

John: Not really...

Det. Gorshin: So it was just his attitude that was the giveaway, then?

John: Yeah. You just had to know Bernie.

Det. Gorshin: That's good. That's very good.

John: How is that good? A man is dead! What's going on, here?

Det. Gorshin: Right. Well, I guess you would be confused.

John: You guess? What's going on? I am reporting a murder, right? That's why I came here. The day after I called 911, Officer Kitt asked me to come down here to talk about it. Where is she?

Det. Gorshin: Relax, Mr. Romero.

John: Don't tell me to relax! Tell me what's goin' on!

Det. Gorshin: Wait here, Mr. Romero. [Opens the door to the interview room and leaves]

John: Tell me to wait here. He's not the boss of me. I'm gonna speak to his boss. You can't treat people like this. I'm not under arrest. I got rights. I'm not even a suspect. They need to get off their butts and find out what happened to Bernie. Some guy is out there wearing a winter coat in June, shooting people and this guy tells me to calm down. I'll calm him down. I wonder if this thing is still recording. I hope it is. Maybe his boss will see what a [expletive] job he's doing. I'll give him 5 minutes. If he's not back here in 5 minutes, I'm just going to leave. I'm not under arrest. I can do what I...

[The door opens and Det. Gorshin walks back into the room, as well as Unnamed]

Det. Gorshin: [Sits back down at the table opposite John with Unnamed] I hoped this would make things a little more clear to you, John. You see, we came to this planet looking for a new place to live. We could see markers of all the resources that it has, even from space. But, we didn't know how polluted and over populated it was until we got here. We heard your radio signals. We knew you were here. But wow! You people are ridicules. But there's still plenty of resources left, even after what you people have done to it. So we just changed our plan. Are you following me?

John: [Stares at Unnamed]

Det. Gorshin: Right. You're wondering about him. See John, there's just too many of you for us to be able to cohabit on the same planet. In some areas, you should really be ashamed of yourselves. I'm sure you know the ones I mean. So our plan now is to replace you. There is a process that we use that will alter our bodies to look like anything we want. It has its limits, so of course we wanted to test it, before replacing the important people. Government officials, law makers. You get the idea. Your friend Bernie was the first attempt. We needed an example that it could work. So we thought we'd try it in a city where there were so many people, you could only pay so much attention to the people around you. The man in the pea coat was, of course, one of ours. It is rather chilly at the latitude. Are you following me?

John: [Stares at Unnamed]

Det. Gorshin: Thank you for being as truthful as you were. You weren't supposed to see what happened with Mr. Meredith, obviously. We'll know to be more careful, the next time. We removed the body and replaced him with one of ours, before you could come back. His replacement is a bit of a jerk. I'll let someone know. Thank you for telling us.

John: So I'm next. That's why this... thing looks just like me. That it?

Det. Gorshin: That's right. Isn't the resemblance amazing? I'm astonished every time I see someone after the process has been completed. Look, he even has that mole over your left eyebrow. You wouldn't be able to pronounce his real name. So, until a subject replaces their target, we just refer to them as “Unnamed” to prevent confusion. But don't worry. In a few minutes, his name will be John.

John: Why doesn't it talk?

Det. Gorshin: He's been listening to your language and voice patterns. He has to get them right. Can you read this for me? [Slides paper to John]

John: [Slides paper back to Det. Gorshin]

New John: That's okay. I have everything I need. We can dispose of him, now.

November 13, 2020 07:00

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