A POV story.
“Good afternoon. We’re ready to proceed with the agreement. Please wait a moment for your next instructions.”
You have just woken up and are confused by the automated voice speaking to you.
“Please wait a moment for your next instructions.”
You look around and realize that you are in a private train room. You can’t seem to recall how you got there; and it isn’t like anything you’ve seen before. You stare at the futuristic gadgets and knobs in front of you in wonder. The chrome makes everything clinical looking. As you sit up straighter, you notice the air conditioning vents above you adjusting, following your movement. The window shade is down and you can’t see outside. Panic begins to set in as you realize that you don’t know where you are. You feel around for a way to open it.
“Would you like the window open?”
The window covering retracts itself. It reveals desert as far as the eye can see. The train seems to be moving awfully fast.
“Why am I here?”
“Please be patient.”
You are almost insulted by the command. You don’t have to listen to some computer. You get up and take a few steps over to the door of your room. A beam of light shoots down from the ceiling and startles you. A holographic menu appears. You are almost afraid to touch it because the red colour reminds you of lasers. You swipe your hand quickly through it, almost as if to test that it’s safe. You push the Unlock and Open commands.
The door slides open.
There are several people in the narrow hallway of the sleeper car. A woman you don’t recognize squeezes past you. “Excusez-moi, Mademoiselle Burton”.
Was she talking to…you?
“Is it lunch already?” A passenger taps the device on her wrist and a holographic display of the time appears. You realize that you are wearing an identical, smart watch type of gadget. You tap it, and the same happens.
You pick a direction and begin walking.
“Miss Burton, the dining car is the other way” says a man’s voice. He gives you a friendly grin as he steps around you and is on his way.
You begin walking towards the dining car.
You realize there must have been a mistake - because your name is Beth - not Miss Burton.
You hear swift movement coming from behind you. You glance over your shoulder and see another man, tall with a sturdy build, wearing a business suit and stern expression. He’s catching up to you and you feel the urge to run.
You feel your steps pick up speed. You glance behind you again - and this time he looks annoyed. You bolt. Luckily nobody is in front of you.
He runs after you.
“STOP!” He shouts.
You pound on a room door. Nobody is answering. You spot a button and push it. A virtual hand print appears on the door. You place your hand over it.
“No match. Try again.” an automated voice says.
You can feel your pulse in your throat.
He’s about ten feet away. Rather than keep running, you look down at your wrist at the only object in your possession. You know it won’t be much help, but you rip it off anyway and chuck it in his direction. It lands at his feet.
EEERP! EEERP! EEERP!
An ear-piercing alarm sounds.
“Passenger identifier compromised.”
You can see the dining car door, not far away, closing. The alert repeats.
EEERP! EEERP! EEERP!
“Passenger identifier compromised”.
He picks up the device. You’re about to make a run for it again, but he quickly runs past you and blocks your way. You raise your fist.
“You’re okay. Just stay calm.”
He taps the wrist gadget several times, as if he’s entering in some code, and the alert stops sounding from the train speakers.
“You just put everything on lockdown for a moment there. Can’t be doing that. Come with me. Things will make sense in a few minutes.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Martin.”
He leads you back to your room. A virtual handprint, similar to the other one, presents itself. You place your hand over it.
Once inside, you both sit down at the tiny, two-seater table.
“Okay Beth, here’s the deal. I know you don’t remember why you’re here. So let me tell you. I’d say ‘refresh your memory’ but anything related to the agreement, prior to now, was wiped.”
He takes an object from his jacket pocket that resembles a pen type of tool.
“Most people think these are only in movies, because that’s the only place they’ve seen them. This here is the real deal.”
You just want to know what the Hell is going on.
He pulls a photo out of his other pocket.
It’s of you.
No wait…you never side part your hair…
“This is Abigail Burton.”
You’re horrified and fascinated at the same time. You have a doppelgänger!
“Who is she?”
“Well, I’ll just get to the point. She’s the woman we’ll be framing for robbery today - and you have the starring role”.
Your guts feel knotted, your chest gets tight, and your eyes widen.
“Robbing what exactly?”
“Beth, let me start by sharing some very interesting information with you. Did you know that the human memory capacity is limitless? Our memories begin as far back as infancy. Over time, we lose our ability to unlock them.”
You actually did know this - but never thought about it much.
“Yes, I guess that’s kind of cool.”
“I have a team of investors and inventors. We want to give people the ability to retrieve any moment of their lives. It would be revolutionary….and incredibly profitable. The thing is - there’s only one lab that has started the foundations of this, and we need to know where that is. See, we believe that our partnership would be a great asset to them. By that I mean - we can do it better. There’s a passenger on board with a chip. This chip contains the classified location of the lab.”
Your head is beginning to feel like a barrel of bees.
“Let me get this straight: you want me to pretend to be some other woman, who for whatever reason you want to frame for stealing this chip - which is gonna tell you where this secret lab is - so you can go offer them pennies for their work and become rich by restoring people’s locked away memories?”
“You put it quite bluntly, but yes.”
“How did you even find me? Identical strangers are rare.”
“You ask too many questions.”
“You’re asking me to become a thief, so yes, there’s a few things I’m curious about. Why do you want people to think Abigail is the culprit? Why not make this a stealth mission and take the chip quietly?”
“Abigail was once a friend and business partner. Her disloyalty and deceit caused a great deal of harm to my team and I. We were working on a patent that she ultimately stole, leaving us with nothing. We can’t forgive that.”
“So this is revenge?”
“Call it what you will.”
“Why does every passenger wear those things? Also, where are we?”
“Just outside Tucson. I keep a profile of all passengers on board for security reasons.”
“Oh…you’re the conductor? Did you also program my room to tell me not to leave?”
“Yes and yes.”
“I have one last question: what’s in it for me?”
“If you successfully get the chip…fifty thousand dollars, but there’s stipulations. The guy who has it…we of course want him alive. He will run to the police with your - well - Abigail’s description. So if things get rough, don’t take matters into your own hands. I’ll be listening close by.”
You accept. The whole situation, while creepy, is probably the most eventful thing you’ve experienced.
He gives you the room number that the chip is in, and a master key card to get in. You are hoping that things don’t get messy, or Martin will have to step in, and that will ruin everything. As you both stand up to leave your room, you notice that he has fogotten the memory erasure tool on the table. You stuff it in your bra while he’s not looking.
When you arrive at the target’s room, you take a deep breath, scan the key card, and open the door.
To your shock - it’s empty. Where’s the guy who’s supposed to be in here?
You spot his briefcase in the corner. Lo and behold, it contains the chip. Your heart races with excitement.
A plan starts to formulate in your head. A head you never knew was so fierce.
You knock over the lamp and a chair, then proceed to open the large window.
He hears the ruckus and barges in.
“Come look! He escaped!”
He rushes over.
Martin hits the ground after a firm shove from you sends him out of the window.
“Bye Martin, this is my train now.”
About the author
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab