Science Fiction Thriller

  I awoke another day in the Mens’ Shelter. They had moved all the lockers to the middle of the room and I hated that. It was so much easier to steal when they had had them against the walls between the beds.

   I forced my self to the communal toilets. I showered and found some fresh donated clothing to change into on the shelves. I discarded my old clothing into a donation box where they would get washed and to start a new life on someone else’s sorry arse. I forwent shaving as the long haired, long bearded, scruffy look was my first line of defense on these streets.

   Outside of the Open Mission Park I had only gotten two blocks in search of someone to beg, or pickpocket, breakfast from when I hear a familiar female voice. “Charlie Lamb!”

   It was Officer Bravo in her cruiser. I held my hands in front, open palm, to show I was not armed and I was willing and waiting to be handcuffed to be taken away.

   “Get in. You’re not under arrest, it’s for questioning. You want to help us, don’t you Charlie?” The Officer said. I went along before she pushed the point. As agreeable as I was being, she still made me sit in the back.

   At the station she left me to wait on a bench with other kept waiting persons. Almost an hour went by before she got her act together and came back and took me for fingerprinting. I placed my fingers on the scanner. She had me sit for a head photo.

   “Did you get I.D., Charlie?”

   “No, not yet.”

   “Charlie, why did you take the forms from me if you weren’t going to fill them out? You’d get a lot more services and free handouts if you carried I.D.”

   I put on my best shy and embarrassed smile and hoped she would leave it alone. She took me to an interview room after getting some plastic envelope from a cabinet. She had no respect for my time and the things I might want to do with my day.

   “Okay, Charlie, we have something we need to clear up. It’s a confusion. Now, don’t get upset, because we’re going to sort it out and fix everything. So, don’t worry about it.”

   I nodded with an understanding I did not feel for a moment.

   “You’ve been declared deceased. We’re going to fix it, don’t worry. Southside reported a body in the river three days ago and now they have reported it as you.” Officer Bravo tore open the plastic envelope. “I’ve got to get blood or salvia from you so we can clear this up. We’ll do salvia, okay?”

   I opened my mouth and she swabbed. Afterwards she shook my hand and held the door for me to leave.

   On the street I was again less than two blocks away when there was a familiar scraping sound to my right. Down an alley between the Queen’s Coffee House and a movie house the air irised and another version of Me stepped through. He seemed taller than me, clean shaven, and wore dress pants and a black sweater. A real upscale casual creep.

   I turned away before Me got out of the alley. What was his problem? Why couldn’t Me leave me alone?

   “You’re in danger.” Me warned me. I didn’t turn to look at him twice. To meet his eyes. It can be hard case to look at your own face looking back at you. It’s not like a mirror. You look in a mirror and your face is already going dumb because you’re looking at it. But when you meet yourself, you can’t get a read on the other you. It doesn’t fit with all the other faces you’ve ever looked at it. It’s like meeting a guy you don’t really trust. It’s not difficult to look at someone else who is naked. It’s really hard to see yourself that way. I wanted Me to go away.

   “Charlie Lamb Seven was murdered.” Me began in a low voice. “Charlie Lamb Nine, Twenty, and Thirty-One are reported missing.” All the male agents were Charlie Lamb. Centre Office decided long ago we were the most suited to policing unauthorized dimension crossers.

   “I know. I chased the suspect here.” I said.

   The answer stunned Me so much he actually looked my way. “Why didn't you report it?”

   “My portal stone is damaged.” I opened my shirt a little to show a three-inch burnt circle below my left collar bone.  

   “Have you made contact with Charlie Lamb Fourteen?” Me asked.

   “I’m sorry, you are?” I interrupted, kicking myself for not having claimed that I was Charlie Lamb Fourteen.

   “Twelve. You are?”

   “Seventeen.” I snapped, a bit too aggressively. At least, that was true.

   “I should update the Centre.”

   “Um.” I interjected, to catch Me before he tapped his portal stone. “I have to show you something, first. It’s on the Southside. The river. You’ll want to see it for your update.”

   We started walking together. I even smiled at Me while I looked for a rock in accordance with Walter Turmball’s take on diplomacy. I was sure Me must have been able to see through me, except for possibility that there was always this tension in dealing with another version of yourself. Maybe that would cloud Me’s judgment long enough to get him to the river.

   I was under the high bridge by the water. Though it was mid day now, I didn’t think anyone would see us from above. I pushed Me’s weighted body into the water and watched it sink. I started putting on Me’s clothes and was gratified to find I.D. and currency for this world in the pockets. I was plotting where I would get a shave and a haircut when the coast guard arrived.

   On the boat were two men in wetsuits, two suited detectives, and Officer Bravo. When she stepped down, I held my hands up, open palm, to show I was not armed and I was willing and waiting to be handcuffed to be taken away.

   The men in wetsuits were already pulling Me’s body back from the river.

   Officer Bravo adjusted the handcuffs. “How many of you are there?”

   I didn’t answer. Centre Office would clean up, and cover up, all of this. Their punishment for most things was taking away your portal stone, and I had already burned mine away to avoid them finding me.

   I was convicted of murdering two men, both listed as John Doe, and left alone by Centre Office for life imprisonment on this world.

Many years have gone by since then. They’ll be no parole for me. It’s funny when I think back on all those other Charlie Lamb’s I met. All those others. They didn’t seem like me at all.

April 30, 2023 21:47

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Kira Carver
07:04 May 06, 2023

I'd be interested to know why Charlie Lamb Seventeen was killing the others. I wanna know what kind of menace this man is lol.


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Marty B
04:45 May 06, 2023

The beginning scene was great, I got lost in the middle though. A few less Charlie Lambs maybe? I liked the line- " It can be hard case to look at your own face looking back at you." Reminds me of a damn zoom call!


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