3 comments

Science Fiction Suspense

THE MAN WHO LIVED TWICE


 I’ll be 84 next month. I look back and I feel I’ve wasted a life. Not one but two lives. My first life was not a complete waste though: I had added a few million dollars to my portfolio; real estate, stocks, and savings; product of my years as a real estate broker. Besides, I never got married. Before my 70th birthday, I was an avid reader; yet, I didn’t realise that I had a talent for writing until my 74th. After a few years of trial and error, of writing, rewriting and editing, I wrote a novel, two novelettes and a few short stories and sent them out to publishers without luck. Rejection letters every time. I attempted to write a few short plays (in college, my major was theatre arts). My last works are not bad at all. Reader friends are very congratulatory. I wrote a play after a Shakespeare work and a novel after Sophocles. 


I was an old man for society’s standards but took good care of myself: diet and exercise; yet, I was not a happy man. I dreamt of a time machine that could transport me back to my young years again where I could re-launch my writing career and, after a short span, become a famous author. Life is unfair. I was toning my muscles at he gym one day when I had a brain storm. I was watching a young man working out with weights. He was medium height and muscle bound. Black hair and very white skin. Nature had been fair to him: the image of Adonis of Greek fame. I followed him with my eyes. He must have thought I suffered from the Old and Gay syndrome.


I daydreamed a plan that I soon delegated to a back burner in my mind: What if I could transplant my brain into his body? I’d still be myself, my own conscience, but in a young vigorous body. So young, I could wait out the time to realise my dream of becoming a great author, be recognised as such, win prizes and accolades and enjoy the fame and world renown that famous writers enjoy. But, but… I had to commit murder and that stopped my delirium cold. 


My plan broke out of the realm of fiction when I heard the news that a successful brain transplant had been performed in Shanghai, China, by a neurosurgeon—a doctor Jim Pao. I gathered my travel items and took a flight to Shanghai. I interviewed the scientist responsible for the medical breakthrough, and his subject, a once old man who was now convalescing in a hospital. This one was very friendly, content like a kid with new shoes, and healthy, though still under observation a few months after surgery. 


I asked the doctor if he could do the same on me, that I had up to one million dollars to pay for his services. He refused revealing that the Chinese government had other projects in store for him, and that that was final. I said good bye to China resigning myself to my fate as an old man. I took the next flight back to the States.


When I arrived home, I was surprised by an email from Doctor Jim Pao. He stated that he had received authorisation to perform the surgery on me, that it was good PR for China, but that I needed to find a suitable donor who had recently died. I felt exhilarated and aloft but I promptly landed back on the ground. The idea was far-fetched. First, would the young man at the gym be compatible; and second, would he be agreeable to being murdered? And once I got the body, how to ship it to Shanghai? 


Back at the gym, I followed my subject around until I observed him blowing his nose in the bathroom and discarding the tissue. I picked up the tissue from the floor and had a DNA analysis performed in a private clinic. It was not cheap but I obtained the results: to my delight, surprise and shock, I and the man were compatible. Blood type, all markers agreed with mine. But now, the hard part: how to obtain his body quickly and without damaging it?


In the town of my birth, Tucson, Arizona I drove to skid row and observed a drug transaction. Clearly a plastic envelope was exchanged for a roll of bills in a dark alley. I approached the pusher and offered two hundred dollars for a reference to a hitman to take care of someone. He was reticent at first but then he said someone would contact me soon.


That evening I received a call from a certain Stiletto Jones. “You want me to take care of somebody?” he asked in a cavernous voice. I said yes, but It has to look like a heart attack; the body should be pristine as I needed it for medical research. It had to be delivered to a funeral home I had selected. “We won’t damage the body; will smother him slowly with a plastic bag. Doctors will think it’s a heart attack. I’ve done it before. But it’s going to cost you.” It was not cheap by all standards but I had invested already too much on my plan and… How can you put value on a human life? I met him at a convenient dark place and placed the money envelope in his hand. That was the only contact we had. I washed my hands with plenty of soap and splashed them with alcohol as soon as I got home. 


I got busy doing more research. First, I needed a death certificate and permission to ship the body out of the US. The funeral house I had found specialised in transferring bodies across the border. Next, to get the fake papers that I was transporting a Chinese national. Fate was friendly to me. The young man had no relatives but a distant sister who travelled back to her home town in Texas right after receiving an urn with the purported ashes from the cremation chamber (In case you want to try this yourself, I warn you that you must be ready to dish out a lot of dow). As to the body itself, they agreed to prepare all the paper work for shipment to China. It wasn’t cheap. I sold some of my assets to raise enough cash.


After a successful transplant back in the states I was arrested for murder. FBI agents told me they were observing Stiletto for some time. They were sorry they were late catching him before the murder. He sang like a canary on a stool to save his skin. He knew who I was. He had me followed after the money exchange in the dark alley. 


I was convicted and sentenced to life. On appeal, my sentence was reduced to 60 years without the possibility of parol. Prison time is a complete waste. Trying to survive multiple plots on my life concocted by my victim’s sister, I had no peace of mind for writing. Besides, no publisher was willing to handle the works of a convicted murderer. 


Today is my birthday; 84 again but no reason to celebrate. A decrepit, penniless old man who lived two lives and accomplished nothing. 




July 31, 2022 06:52

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

3 comments

John Jenkins
23:20 Aug 12, 2022

I got multiple novel and screenplay ideas just from reading your works. I wish I could "dish out a lot of DOW."

Reply

Show 0 replies
Joana Burrows
19:11 Aug 11, 2022

At first I sympathized with the narrator since it must be really terrible to reach an old age and realize you’ve not truly lived. Yet, once he decided to commit murder to live longer, I lost all sympathy! Haha I enjoyed the story, good job!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Beth Jackson
18:25 Aug 06, 2022

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, Manuel! ‘I look back and I feel I’ve wasted a life. Not one but two lives.’ This is such a good hook! Great tension and pacing through the story, I was thoroughly invested in the main character and desperate to know how it would play out. The ending was great - I didn’t see it coming at all, but it was satisfying. Great story, thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more of your work! :-)

Reply

Show 0 replies