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Science Fiction Funny Mystery

I

A blast of light swished through towns and villages, turning out electrical devices and making pedestrians' hair stand on end. Babushka Glafira in a small city Aprelovka, Kirov oblast, who just made herself comfortable to watch the 6 am program thought that it was the 1st April joke from her spoilt grandson. But Glafira was a loving grandmother: she decided to wait till 8 am.

The grandson's phone was put on mute. A long-desired day-off after a week of pressure and deadlines lay before him. The old experimental device had to be taken apart and removed while the new one, with an updated version, had to be installed and checked. An executive director especially liked the 1st of April, so he left an old apparatus to play a good joke on his employees.

It was later determined that an industrial building that gave shelter to a big prosperous company 'Jump Production Ltd.' (trampolines, swings, and other outdoor equipment for children) was an epicenter of an explosion. An inconspicuous grey colored walls, concrete yard with identical black SUVs, and a sign 'Do not enter without permission'; everything showed that the company was nothing more than an average enterprise.

On the 31st of March, the company hired a new laboratory assistant.


II

On the 4th of April, Bill Crossway quietly cleared his throat before going live.

A news ticker started to run in the lower third of the screen: 'Who is Ilona Marchenko?'

'We are back in the studio with an update on the most mysterious story of our time. We still know nothing about Ilona Marchenko, a woman whose sudden appearances have caused trouble worldwide. Protests spread from country to country while the governments blame each other for espionage and the use of alien technologies. Russia still denies any ties with Ilona Marchenko and does not comment on the massive blackout in Kirov oblast on the 1st of April. However, an American spy satellite that accidently flew by captured a wave of light of unknown origin that may have been the cause of the blackout.'

An image of a woman in a white suit emerged on the screen near Bill's head. Her shoulders were shaking, and she was covering her face with her hands.

The sound was first muffled to let Bill talk. When he stopped, the video filled the screen. Everybody could hear a woman's choppy voice saying something in Russian, repeating the same words again and again.

Translation on the video read: 'My name is Ilona Marchenko. Please help me, for God's sake!'

Bill's confident voice guided the viewers into the four tumultuous days on Earth.

The 1st of April, 6 am Moscow time was the starting point of all events. Bad quality footage of a security camera on one of Moscow's underground stations showed a woman, appearing from thin air in the middle of the crowd. Unfortunately, the camera couldn't convey the unpleasant swoosh that accompanied the woman's forthcoming and indifference on the faces of passersby. It was the only time when the woman produced something else besides her name. According to the witnesses, she articulated: 'Where am I?' and, amazed, looked around. One teenager who was texting his girlfriend at the moment bumped into the woman; she was visible and touchable, like any other human being.

(The boy became a tv show star on the 3rd of April. Afterward, he would make a fortune selling his book 'I Touched Ilona Marchenko' and fall victim to fame.)

According to some witnesses, she was a young, beautiful woman, not more than twenty-five; according to other witnesses, she was a sloppy woman in her forties, with first winkles and a grimace of disgust. Some remarked that she wore a doctor's suit; others testified that she looked like a janitor. One man managed to notice a yellow cloth in her hand; another saw a blood test tube.

After a minute, the woman disappeared without a sound. 

She materialized in a mosque in Tehran the same evening. Exactly one minute, hundreds of men's eyes watched in awe how the woman was crying, covering her face with her hands, saying something in the unknown language. She vanished silently, except for the last sob, not knowing what thunder she caused.

A woman in a mosque raised questions about women's rights in religious ceremonies. Thousands of men, women, children, and occasional stray dogs marched for and against the women's rights, with the poor quality portraits of Ilona Marchenko, severely watching from above at the masses.

The following days brought new questions and no answers.

Here was the shortlist of countries where the mysterious, and even mystical, woman had appeared:

Tokyo, Japan. She took a ride without a ticket in an overcrowded underground train, and in one minute thirty-four mobile phones had been making high-quality videos of her.

Palermo, Italy. The crying hungry woman visited a local pizzeria, and the owner instantly became rich.

Barcelona, Spain. She cried at the beach, and on the next day, Barcelona got a new name. It became The City of the Woman in White.

New York, America. She showed up at the church at a wedding ceremony, right between a marrying couple. Afterward, the bride slapped the groom and told him that she always knew he was a cheater.

Sydney, Australia. Her sorrow was not audible among vivid colors and jumps of a dance troupe in Sydney Opera House.  

New Delhi, India. A man claimed that within a minute when the lady was in his house they got married and she gave birth to their children, aged one to six.

The Vatican City. The half-dressed Pope gave his blessings to Ilona when she turned up in his bedroom.

III

Bill Crossway was fired because of an affair with his boss's wife.

Ilona Marchenko's crying figure was last seen on the North Pole. Conspiracy theorists suggested that she found a way to Earth's interior shells.


IV

'Something happened with a TV. It just went blank. I talked with our neighbor Alyona, you know, the one who likes you, and she said that there was no electricity in the whole town. She called Elektromaster, an electrical company, and they said that they didn't know when they would fix the problem. Luckily, I have a lot of candles.'

With these words, Glafira was waking up her grandson, an executive director of 'Jump Production Ltd.' on the 1st of April. He couldn't have been a real power in the company, though, for he was only thirty, but, as his grandmother thought, he had always been a smart boy. Science had been his main interest since school, and, besides, he knew the way to talk to people; two qualities that had built up his career.

The grandson looked at Glafira through half-closed eyes, still disoriented after sleep.

'It's already 8 am,' said the old lady cheerfully, like 8 am was the happiest time of the day.

The grandson looked at his phone with thirty-four missed calls and thirty-three messages. He opened the first message.

It read: 'A new laboratory assistant told us that you had ordered her to clean all the mess inside an old teleport machine. The machine is working!' 















March 28, 2021 18:59

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6 comments

Lemon Lime
18:16 Apr 02, 2021

This is great, nice setting and characters. The writing style is also very smooth. Thanks for commenting on my story, although I don't think it should have won :)

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Chris Wagner
19:26 Apr 11, 2021

Although this isn't quite on the topic of the prompt about pranks, it's definitely interesting. I liked the concepts, the crowd and their interpretation of the teleporter, the mention of hollow earth. It's readable, didn't have problems with the english. Honestly, I can't say too much bad about it except slightly off topic. I'd like to see an expanded version where people make a huge deal of random things the janitor says

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Darya Silman
18:52 Apr 14, 2021

Sorry for replying so late, I somehow managed to miss out your comment. Actually, it wasn't a janitor but a new laboratory assistant. The joke was to make her clean in an old teleport machine, knowing full well that it wasn't working. Oops, it started to work after all :) Expanded version would ruin beauty of the text. I like short stories where every word matters, no 'water' to fill up the space, and where readers are left wondering and wanting more. If you look into my other stories, they contain incomplete completeness as well

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Chris Wagner
20:10 Apr 15, 2021

Hmm okay

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Zickey Marya
04:41 Mar 29, 2021

Damn that was a good one! Every thing was well laid out and explained, and still the interest was at its peak when I was reading this. Awesome work, Geo the writer!

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Darya Silman
05:32 Mar 29, 2021

Thank you, Z. I am glad to see you here ;)

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