Tag Archives: Finish that thought

Conspiracy Theory

“I didn’t know who she was, but she was definitely not my wife.”

“I can see why you might think about a shrink,” Will said, face carefully blank.

“Look, I wasn’t serious, okay?” Doug said. “I’m not crazy. I’ve been double-checking my sanity for weeks now, ‘Is this illusion, fantasy, psychosis, are you mental?’ The more I study her, the more firmly convinced I become. Something in her nature has fundamentally changed. I’m just not entirely sure what, or how, or why.”

“Well, that’s a good starting point.” Will set two glasses on the bar and poured scotch. “What did you notice first?”

“When you’re married as long as we’ve been, you get a feel. Cecily started listening to different music, more Angry Femme and less Country.”

“That’s hardly compelling evidence, Doug.”

Doug rolled his eyes. “Just wait. She’s wearing different clothes, like a different fashion sense entirely. She started wearing make-up. She’s essentially never done that. Humming, she hasn’t ever walked around humming. She’s got manicured nails—Cecily always said nails were bad for typing.”

“Her eyes are the same ‘bullshit brown’, her hair is the same dishwater blonde, she’s got the same smokin’ little body she’s always had. Nothing at all has changed, except these personality quirks. And they’re small changes that only someone living with her could detect, really.” Doug said.

Will considered Cecily through the picture window, gardening in the back yard. She was still the same as last week, far as he could tell. She always did have a great ass.

“You’re running out of options, Doug. This is a delusion, or Cecily’s having an affair. Mid-life crisis, do women get those?”

Doug scowled. “I’d considered that. But I believe it’s more sinister.”

“Sinister? Should I look up the number for that shrink?” Will laughed. “Conspiracy theories?”

“Laugh it up, fuzzball—evidence.” Doug brandished a business card.

Will turned the card over between his fingers and examined it. “Dwayne Orjado. Senior Service Rep. What the hell is Detroit Robotics?”

“They’ve got a web site.”

The website exuded fancy web technology, too. Splash pages featuring “Custom Domestic Robotics,” and sales-brochure marketing. Enough detail and images to sell that “scam” was unlikely.

“Certainly looks slick,” Will said. “I’ve never heard of these guys, have you? Wouldn’t there be publicity in technology news? The Wall Street Journal?”

Outside, two black vans squealed to a stop and men in dark suits poured out. They grabbed a screaming Cecily and hustled her through the front door and up the stairs. Will and Doug froze before the monitor as an army of corporate security waved stun guns at them.

“I am Dwayne Orjado, with Detroit Robotics. We’ll have to confiscate our faulty domestic robot for repairs,” said the army’s leader.

“What? You can’t have my wife!” Doug exclaimed.

“There’s some mistake. We’re not here for your wife, sir. We’re here for you.”

The maintenance boss fired a taser-like pistol that struck Doug high on the chest, and his systems crashed.

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499 words, Special Challenge Accepted. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought prompt (2-44).

Calico

I could see her hiding behind the desk. Or maybe she was just crouched down at the moment I walked in, I wasn’t entirely certain.

She froze as I flipped on the overhead light. In the harsh wash of fluorescent tubes, I could make out that she was young. Possibly even under twenty, her face surrounded with ringlets of tight auburn curls. But her clothes looked old and patched, featuring a disheveled long coat that was not quite a trench coat and not quite a rain coat, made of a dark and oily-looking cloth. It was torn in several places, particularly down the right arm.

And her hand was slowly dripping blood onto my office’s wooden floor.

“Are you all right? Do you need a doctor?”

She rubbed her nose with the coat sleeve, leaving a tiny blood smear across her dirty cheek, as her eyes looked me up and down. “No, I’m fine. Just a scratch. Could I clean up a bit, do you have a restroom I could use?”

Perplexed and intrigued, I silently pointed toward the connecting bath.

I am not a dime-store novel private detective or a medical doctor. Injured young ladies do not routinely arrive in my office without appointment. My business is mostly filing tax returns.

She stepped out of the bathroom some time later, looking much better. Mud and blood gone from her cheeks, hands washed and bandaged. She smiled at me, “You can see me. This is a rare thing.”

I just blinked. “You do look more collected. How did you get in here?”

“Thank you, I am Katherine. Kat. Pleased to meet you…?” Extending her hand, complete with bandage.

It took and shook it, very carefully. “Linus Debere, sorry. This is my tax office.”

“Debere. Sei esti Romani?”

“What?”

She just shook her head. “Sorry, English then. It’s a nice office, Linus. Sorry about the floor, I’ll clean that up.”

“Already done. But why were you bleeding on it in the first place?”

“We don’t have much time, Linus. A couple of really nasty guys are chasing me. Does this place have a back door?”

That’s one annoying habit, I thought, answering questions with questions. But now she was beginning to look panicky, so I nodded. “Follow me,” I said, and lead the way out to the back hallway.

She leaned against the back door, while I dug out the key for the alarm breaker bar lock.

“Linus. I’m sorry I got you involved in this, but the two men who are after me—I can only describe them, one is a Bloodhound, tall and thin, with skin that doesn’t seem to fit just right. And the other is a Wolf. You don’t want to mess with him, ever.”

I nodded. “I’ll keep the door locked.”

“That won’t be enough. It didn’t keep me out, did it? They’ll be here soon, and they’ll know I’ve been here. You can come with me, or you can find a big crowd of people and lose yourself in it. You might even get away.”

I finally fiddled the stupid lock open, and the door swung onto the dark alley.

“Doors are not your friends. Neither are buildings. Get outside and disappear, it’s our only chance.” I could tell, she was about to bolt.

So I reached out to take her shoulder and stop her. I was left holding the oil-skin overcoat, empty.

And down the alley, I saw a calico cat turn. Her eyes caught the light from the open door, and she vanished behind the dumpster.

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Inspired by Finish That Thought #2-32. Discovered the site & finished the tale after the deadline, and so not entered.

This could be expanded, open-ended hook. There’s definitely more to the tale, but pushing 600 words. Future, maybe.