False Starts

Posted: January 25, 2011 in sci fi
Tags: , ,

>Sometimes, I get an idea stuck in my head. This idea will be worked over, written out, deleted, re-written, hacked into tiny pieces and recombined into some new Frankenstein-type horror, printed out, crumbled into a ball, and finally, re-deleted. This is one of those things. It is supposed to detail the effects of a virus that causes premonitions in the afflicted, and I think what I am trying to get at here is the paranoia that lurks under the surface of society, the jealousy that rips communities apart, blah blah blah. Obviously, it’s unfinished. If you have any suggestions for it, please leave them in the comments section. Thanks and good luck with that.

“God Bless You, Mistress Antoinette”

There was no doubt in my mind. She had the virus. I could see her through my two way mirror, trying to act nonchalant, yet every now and again she would sneak a look at me. Right at me. Wherever I moved to in my office, she could find me. If that ain’t textbook, I don’t know what is.

Not that you needed a textbook. People were so ready these days to turn on somebody. It was damn silly. I grew up in the days when snitches got stitches, but that didn’t apply to the virus. Win the lotto? Yeah, I suppose someone’s got to, sometime. But win it twice? We get a call. Always know when it’s gonna rain? Telling friends and family not to go someplace at a specific time? Hell, we’ve even gotten a call once from a teacher who said one of his students was too smart. Anything that seems a little suspicious will have our phones ringing. Most of the time, of course, they don’t pan out. A lot of dead ends, a lot of pissed off former lovers and ex roommates, or people that want to get back at that cranky old biddy from up the street. But twenty-four year old Lisa Schumacher, from 914 ½ MLK Drive, was the real deal.

Lisa had been hard to catch. When the virus first made its appearance, we could spot the infected right away. An unbroken string of good luck will stick out like a sore thumb. Nowadays, the infected tend to be a lot cagier. (This really should be another symptom, if you ask me.) Lisa was a gambler, though it looked like she wasn’t a very good one. She’d lose a couple grand at the dog track, or drop a bundle on jai-alai. On purpose, of course. Where Lisa was making her real money was overseas. Offshore Internet casinos, forex websites, that kind of thing. I’d found evidence tying her to three different Swiss bank accounts. All of them with at least five figure balances. Wanna know who narc’ed? Girl at the parimutuel window. Said she’d never seen somebody look so calm losing so much on what should have been a sure thing. Almost like she knew the dog was gonna lose.

My partner Dale lumbered in, can of soda in hand as always. He gestured at the two-way mirror. “Kinda cute, huh?” he shrugged.
“Meh. Weaves don’t really do it for me, I guess.”
“When they bring her in?”
“This morning,” I answered. “Put up a fight at first. When they threatened to hog-tie her, she settled the hell right down.”
“So, is she…” Dale began.
“Yep. She was looking right where you were gonna come in just before you showed up.” I walked up to the glass. She looked at me through it for a moment, then looked back at the door to my office. She mouthed something. Dale scoffed. “That don’t prove-“
“Sh! Wait for it,” I whispered. Right on cue, Director Ganz came into the office, exactly where Lisa had been staring.
“Huh,” Dale agreed. “She’s got it pretty bad. Think we’re gonna have to ship her off to the farm?”
“Shaddup,” Ganz replied. “We’re still dealing strictly with circumstantial evidence here.” Ganz folded her arms across her chest, stared pensively at the glass. “I’m sure you know you’re being watched,” she mumbled. “Why would you act like this, if you know what we might have to do to you-”

Lisa produced a piece of paper and calmly slapped it on the glass. It was neatly typed, even though it looked as though it was old and had been folded up in her pocket for a long time. The paper read “Let’s talk, Doctor Williams.”

Ganz cocked her eyebrow at me. “Well, doc, looks like your patient wants to talk. You’re up,” she said.

In my head, the part of Director Ganz is played by Regina King, Doctor Williams is Samuel Jackson, Lisa is Gina from “Martin” and Dale is Jim Belushi. Yay not having really kept up with movie stars since the late 90s!

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

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