TW: Contains some bad language and physical violence/gore.
I’m going to kill them. We’ve all thought it, don’t bother lying. The difference between us is you’d never do it. You tell yourself it’s because killing is wrong. You’re not a murderer. It just isn’t in your nature. But that’s not true. The truth is, you’re afraid. You don’t think you can pull it off. You think you’ll get caught. And you’re right, you would. You’re not me.
Yesterday, some jerk bumped into me in the street and spilt his scolding hot coffee all over me. You know the type, nice suit, too-perfect teeth, bad attitude. And you know what? He didn’t even apologise. Far from it, he actually blamed me and told me to “Get out of the damn way.”
For most of you, this is when you mumble “Jackass” under your breath and let it go. If you’re feeling really bold, you might even yell “Jackass” at him and see how he reacts. Maybe you get into a fight and land a couple of good hits. Not me. I wanted more. I decided then and there that this was my next target.
I had to act fast. I needed to find out who this jerk was and where he lived. Whipping out my phone, I snapped a few pictures. They weren’t perfect, but they’d do. I rushed home to my desk and switched on my state-of-the-art PC. A super powerful processor combined with a multi-monitor set-up let me quickly run those photos through every database I could hack into, which is pretty much every database in existence. Within minutes, I had a name. Mike Jenkins. A few more minutes, and I knew everything about him I could ever want to.
He lived in Infinity Heights, one of those big new builds in Hudson Yards. A nice place, real high-tech. Every apartment came equipped with comprehensive CCTV coverage and an ‘unhackable’ electronic lock. For most would-be trespassers, that made it a no-go zone. For me, it was paradise.
The passcode was easy to crack. See, by this point, I knew everything about Mike Jenkins. His habits, his likes, his dislikes. I knew he took a five-minute cab drive to work each day to avoid a short walk. He spent around 35% of his average working day on social media rather than actually working. He bought takeout food an average of 6.4 nights a week. In short, Jenkins was a lazy SOB.
A guy like that wouldn’t take the time to personalise his passcode. He’d still be using the factory default. That made him vulnerable. It took me less than ten minutes to find the precise serial number of Jenkins’ lock and, with it, the passcode. Just like that, I had my entrance.
Now all I needed was a scapegoat. A quick skim through Jenkins’ messaging history and I had the perfect guy.
Benny Ross. Jenkins had an affair with his wife, and Ross threatened to kill him. It was there in black and white. Even better, he was a sad sack who spent his evenings sitting on his couch watching Friends re-runs. He had a motive, and he wouldn’t have an alibi. He was the perfect schmuck.
First things first, I got his fingerprints from a police database and used my custom-built bioprinter to make my own pair of ‘Benny Ross’ gloves. As far as anything I touched in Jenkins’ apartment was concerned, I was Ross.
Of course, that still left the cameras, not to mention Jenkins himself. Sure I could wear a ski mask and trust that the prints would do their job. But I don’t take risks. No, I needed more. I needed to become Ross.
Thanks to the wonders of social media, I found hundreds of photos of my schmuck and shovelled them all into a special AI program of mine. Once the program finished its work an hour later, I had a fully synthesised, 100% accurate 3-D model of Ross. What good does that do me in the real world, you ask? Hah. You clearly don’t know how good I am.
I’m the inventor and sole user of a little thing I like to call the Proteus Shroud. A new, groundbreaking computer program that hacks any camera within range and alters the wearer’s appearance. The fact that I can do that should make it no surprise that with a few hundred hours of stolen phone recordings and video footage, I did a damn good job of synthesising Ross’s voice too.
With the prints to make forensics think I was Ross, the Shroud to make the cameras think I was Ross, and the voice to make Jenkins think I was Ross, I was ready.
Throwing on a ski mask, I swiped a hammer from a construction yard near Ross’s apartment, then made my way to Infinity Heights. I got in easy. All my gadgets worked a charm. Within minutes, I stood over Jenkins’ bed. I smiled.
A quick thrust to the gut with my hammer, and he jolted awake. “What the hell?”
“Mike Jenkins. I told you you’d pay,” I said.
He frowned. “Ross? What the hell do you think you’re…”
I didn’t let him finish. He’d identified me. That was all I needed. I unleashed my rage and went to town. Even Jenkins’ mother wouldn’t have recognised him once I’d finished.
“Bon voyage, Mike Jenkins,” I said. “That’ll teach you for messing with another man’s wife.” Ross had taken French classes in college, you see, and had a habit of sprinkling the few phrases he could remember into every conversation. His friends knew it, I knew it, and any halfway competent detective would pretty soon find it out. Yeah, I’m that thorough.
With my work done, I fled the scene, tossed the hammer into a garbage can, and went to bed.
Now, you’re probably waiting for the big twist. For me to admit that somehow, despite my genius, the cops caught me. That I’m telling you all this from the dubious comfort of an interrogation room. If so, you haven’t been paying attention. I’m not speaking to you from a dank old police station. I’m talking from the comfort of my desk, watching as the cops take Benny Ross away. The only problem I have is the big decision of who to go after next. I’m spoilt for choice. It really could be anyone.
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Haha brilliant. I liked the cold hard logic of the narrators voice which made it all more disturbing. Oh, and non-twist twist. That was fun.
Thank you! I really enjoyed working on this character's voice, so I'm so glad that you liked it.
Fantastic story. Very well written, and the flow are pace are excellent. Bravo! Superb writing!
Thank you very much! I'm glad that you liked it!
I think you might have a future Netflix tv series here?! Very smooth writing, and I like how you go all the way with exploring the concept. The MC setting up Ross, an innocent man, adds a deeper more complex uneasiness to it. Quick paced and to the point, another impactful short story you've written.
Thank you! Yes, I may well use this character in future work. I think he has a lot more to give.
I was intrigued from the beginning, Daniel. There is definitely something ominous and interesting about someone who can speak so openly and placidly about horrific crimes like murder. It's a little unnerving to think that we might not be far off from these kinds of technological advancements that could make framing someone for murder an impenetrable case. The pacing was nice and to-the-point. A quick read, but an enjoyable one!
Thank you! The idea that this sort of thing could very soon become reality was at the forefront of my mind as I wrote this, so I'm really glad that you picked up on that.
I was waiting for something else, like Zelda said. This is excellent.
Heh, it reminded me a bit of Dexter, except instead of following "the code" this guy's following "the grudge". That's quite an investment in tech he's made, and he seems cunning enough to cover all the angles. Naturally we wonder if he'll ever get caught, but he's ahead of us on that point too, with the ending. It does open the door for some lovely, horrible future scenarios too, where this tech becomes widespread. Maybe eventually we'd mitigate it, but until then there'd probably be a torrent of doppelganger murders.