This short story was written for a Short Story Competition. It's goals were: 1200 words, with the prompt 'new me'.
I wake up, feeling a terrible headache. A blinding brightness enters my eyes as I open them. My eyes seem to have trouble adjusting to their environment. Everything seems vague. Still, it’s clearly not home - wait, where am I? I try to think, but my memory is foggy. All I remember is the word danger, followed by bright yellow light. In an attempt to try to lift the haze, I try to remember, well, anything. My name; Maria. Ok, that’s at least something. Sirname, Williams. Maria Williams. The mist slowly lifts as I remember my parents, my birthday, my dog, my brother.
I hear a scratching noise, which seems to be a very loud door. I see two figures standing next to my bed. One of them is wearing white clothes. The other is wearing more colourful clothes, and feels less distant.
The person in white clothes starts to speak : “You’re awake. How do you feel?”.
After thinking about it for a moment, I answer. “Weak. Where am I?”.
The other person, in a friendly and familiar voice: You’re in the hospital. Don’t you remember what happened?
“Everything is vague, I don’t remember.”. Gradually, my vision returns. I recognise my mother, and a doctor.
The doctor glances at a machine that stands next to me. He then replies: “That’s to be expected. I would like to ask a few questions to test your memory. Do you remember your name?”
I nod, and reply: “Maria Williams, 20 years old.”.
He nods, and says: “Do you remember where you live?”.
I answer: “In Islington, with my parents, and dog.”. Then I remember: “Wait, no, the dog moved out when my sister moved out.”.
The questions continue for a while. Gradually, the haze in my mind lifts. However, I still cannot not remember what happened. I therefore ask “What happened”. Without waiting for an answer, I immediately ask a second question : “Is it bad?”.
I hear the doctor answer, in a kind voice: “You were in a car crash. However, the ambulance was there quickly, and you will make a full recovery. You were lucky. “. I feel a strange sense of him not fully speaking the truth.
I look at my body, as though trying to see what’s wrong with it. I can’t see anything wrong with it, but most of my body is hidden under a blanket. I get the urge to try to wiggle my toes, but they seem reluctant to listen to my request. The doctor seems to notice me trying to move my toes.
“Don’t worry if they aren’t moving much, it’s just the anesthesia. It helps your body recover more quickly.”, he says. “You should rest, you’ll recover sooner that way”.
I fall asleep, and wake up a few hours later. I look down at my body again, and get a strange sensation again. It feels wrong, as though it doesn’t fully belong to me. Before I can worry more, my sister enters the room. She stares at me, as though she had seen a ghost.
I ask her : “What is it?”
She looks at me, seemingly lost for words. Then, slowly, she answers: “It’s just strange, seeing you like this.”. She sighs, “It will just take getting used to, I guess.”
I ask her what she means by that, since it does not really seem to make sense.
She looks as though she was struck by lightning, and then looks at the door, seemingly hoping someone would enter. “They haven’t told you yet?”.
“Told me what?”, I ask.
She looks away again, and stays silent for a while. Then, softly: “I’m .. not supposed to tell you”.
After a silence that could have taken seconds, or hours, my mother came in. I look at her, and ask: “What haven’t you told me yet?”.
My mother and sister look at eachother, and say nothing. My sister then says: “I didn’t know you didn’t tell her yet. Shouldn’t she know?”.
My mother sighs, and answers, “Yes, and she will, at some point. The doctor said it would be best to wait with it.”.
I wait for them to finish talking, and ask: “Well, what haven’t you told me?”
I could see that my mom was unsure what to say. “The accident.. “, she stutters, “Your body.. You would never walk again.”. I can almost hear her think about her next thing to say. “We love you so much”
I answer: “What did you do?”. I tried to scream, but my body didn’t let me.
I heard my mother answer: “Your body wasn’t healing after the crash. You lost your left leg, and your right leg was not doing much better. You were going to live the rest of your life in a wheelchair. We couldn’t let this happen. Your dad and I then heard of a procedure. It fixes everything.”
I look her in the eyes, and say: “What procedure?”.
“Well, basically, your mind is put in a new body”, she says. “Therefore, you are healed. You will need to relearn how to control it, but the Doctor says that that will take just a few weeks. After that, you can do everything again.”.
“Where did you get this body?”; I feel my heartbeat increasing as I say this. “Please tell me nobody got hurt for me. Oh my god, what did you do?”
“According to the doctor, this body was grown without a mind. It was made so someone could at some point live in it. We picked it for you, because it looked a bit like you. According to the doctor, it never happens that someone figures out they are in the wrong body.”, my mother says.
I open my mouth to answer, but can’t find anything to say. I just feel.. wrong. Finally, I am able to decide what to say: “So, you planned to just keep this a secret from me?”
“Of course not. We would have told you, eventually.”, she answered. I don’t feel like answering anymore.
There’s an electric silence in the room, that only gets released as my dad enters the room. He says hi, and apologises for not coming sooner. “As you know, I was in France for work, and this was the earliest I could come. How are you?”.
I smile and say: “I know, its
OK..”. It seems as though my dad now feels the electricity in the room as well, since he starts to look at my mom, seemingly questioning her.
After giving it some more thought, I decide there is no point in discussing it further. Instead, I ask them : “By the way, do you know when my brother will come to visit?”.
My mom looks strangely surprised: “Your brother?”. She stares at me as though what I said makes no sense.
“Yes, Vincent”, I reply. She stays silent.
Then, she answers: “You don’t have a brother.”. I close my eyes, trying to think. I remember his face, his voice, his quirky laugh, and much more about him. Yet, somehow, I know that the memory isn’t my own. I stay silent for a while.
Finally, I whisper: “Whose body is this?”.
This short story was written for a Short Story Competition. It's goals were: 1500 words, with the prompt 'no one can know'.
The butler did it. As he opened the door to let us enter, I already knew. I could hear him say: “I murdered Victor DuPont”. The only problem is: he didn’t actually say it.
This morning, it was different. At nine, when I entered the police station, I was greeted by panicking colleagues. The first detective, Boris Walters, sprinted towards me, nearly tripping over a pile of boxes of paperwork that was standing there. He started rambling.
“Have you heard? Victor DuPont was… He was … murdered.”.
I looked at him in disbelief. “Murdered?”, I asked, “Are you sure? Nobody gets murdered here. Also, Victor Dupont, the Victor Dupont? The famous ..”. I stopped talking.
He stared at me, and said: “We have to find the murderer.”. He continued staring at me, and continued: “We should visit the crime scene.”. He nodded, and followed me outside.
We drove to Victor’s house. Well, it was more like a mansion. As we were driving on the driveway, we saw a man leaving the house, waiting for us in front of the door.
He started talking. “My name is David.”, he said. “I am, no, was the butler of Mister DuPont”. He was shaking a little as he said this.
After an awkward silence -I expected my colleague to introduce us- I introduced us as the local detectives. I said: “we are going to do all that is in our power to find out who did this.”.
He nodded. “I suppose you want to see him now?”.
This time my colleague answered: “Yes. First, we’ll want to ask a few questions though, before we enter. The fewer traces there are in the house, the better.”.
“Ask anything you want”, the butler replied.
After a few questions, we figured out there were no signs of forced entry into the building. We also found out that the Butler had found his master this morning, when he tried waking him up. His master hadn’t replied when he had called for breakfast, so he had knocked on his door to wake him. Since Victor was always up early, he didn’t trust the situation. So, after knocking one more time, he entered the door. There he had found his master, still laying in bed. The detectives had interrupted him there, saying that there was no need for him to recall those precise details.
We told the butler that the building was a crime scene, so that it would be closed off during the investigation.
The butler nodded, and said: “I think I’ve told you all I know, but if you have any questions for me, feel free to ask them. I’ll be staying in the small house over there.”. He pointed at a tiny house, about a hundred meters away from them.
We entered the house, closing off the entrance door with police tape after we had entered. Although the house was a maze, we decided not to bother the Butler by having him show us the crime scene. My colleague got out his little notebook, and started writing down every detail he found to be off about the place. He seemed to be going at it very thoroughly. After about ten minutes, I told him that the fact that the encyclopedia was out of order might not be relevant for the investigation. He nodded. We decided to prioritize certain rooms first. Our first priority was to find the victim, and investigate the conditions around him. After a few minutes of walking through the house, we found the bedroom. After we entered, we stared for a moment. This was the first dead person we had to investigate. Our training may have prepared us for it, but years of working in this town did everything possible to unprepare us.
After we regained our posture, we set off to work. Cause of death and murder weapon seemed quite straightforward: Victor was covered in blood, and had a number of stabwounds. There was no sign of a fight; it seemed as though he was killed in his sleep. No note was left behind. We found no more traces. The murder weapon wasn’t in the room.
The butler did it, I thought. But, how do I prove it? There’s nothing really here.
I suggested searching through the rest of the house. “Maybe we should split up? That way we can cover more ground. It will take forever to search this house, saving half of the time would be quite something.”.
My colleague replied: “Half of an infinity is still infinity. Didn’t you pay attention in school?”. I sighed. “Let’s just get to work.”. He nodded, and suggested I would do the ground floor, while he did the first floor. I agreed.
I went down the main staircase. Although it looked beyond what could reasonably be expected of a house, it didn’t have anything useful for me.
The next room I found was the kitchen. I looked for obviously missing items, especially knives. The kitchen seemed well-kept. However, one of the knives was missing from the main knife block. From the size of the slot, it must have been a large knife.I noted it down, and continued looking.
I found a small room. It had a nice armchair, and a coffee table. On the coffee table, today’s paper was laying. It seemed as though the butler made everything ready for the next morning. Obviously a fake trail. I decided to take my chance, and removed the newspaper. Evidence against the truth is not useful as evidence.
The other rooms on the ground floor weren’t of any particular interest, so I went up, planning to see my colleague. However, the staircase went up another floor, so I decided to look at that area first instead. It turned out this area had a study area. Littered with documents was an old desk. I quickly glanced over it, not expecting much of a bunch of old documents. My attention was quickly grabbed however, by Victor Dupont’s testament. Although it had coffee stains over it, it looked legitimate. The letter that was laying next to it said that the Butler was due to own everything, instead of his family. There were no signs of it having been written under stress, but still, it was very strange that there were coffee stains all over the thing.
I discussed my findings with my colleague. Although he had catalogued every little detail, he had found nothing of particular interest to the case. We decided therefore that it was best to talk to the butler again, because he was the most interesting character. He opened the door when we knocked, and I asked if we could come in. He seemed nervous, almost as though he was onto me. I asked him if he minded that we looked around.
He shrugged, and said: “Of course not. What are you planning to find though?”. My suspicions were instantly confirmed; it was almost too easy to read him. So, I walked around, in the end putting the testament on his desk. When I walked through the kitchen, I found a knife that was suspiciously similar to the ones in the knife block. Except, this was one of the size that was missing there. It seemed clean, but he might have cleaned it since.
I took the knife, and showed it to him. “It looks suspiciously like the type of knife that Victor was stabbed with.”, I said.
His eyes showed panic, “What are you saying? I’m not a murderer!”.
I replied: “Then explain the document that is laying on top of your desk.
My colleague interrupted me, saying: “This is enough, we should have a proper team in here. I don’t think we can handle this on our own.”. We left the building, calling the office to get a team on the case.
The forensic experts found three sets of fingerprints on the testament: they found the Victors, David’s, but also mine. They found my ** fingerprints. Immediately I was asked in for questioning.
I said: “I may have accidentally touched it.”.
They said: “Your fingerprints are all over the document. We also looked around in the house, and found a newspaper in the trash, touched by you. When we asked the butler, he said he had put it on the table. Our conclusion is that you have been tampering with evidence.”. I said: “It’s obvious, the butler did it.”.
There was a small laugh on his face. “So, that’s your excuse, really? The butler did it?”. I stayed silent, all too aware of the situation I was in. I said that I wanted a lawyer.
I was fired from my job; the evidence was seen as overwhelming enough not to need to wait for what a judge would say. Besides, no judge would be likely to act in favour of the potential murderer of Victor Dupont. The Butler, by the way, had left the country by this point, not waiting for what the process might bring.