Category Archives: Stories

Chapter 7: Secrets

Category : Stories

If you haven’t read Chapter 6, you can by clicking here.

“So, I was thinking,” Georgia began awkwardly as they walked towards the carpark after another training session. “Maybe we could meet one time when we’re not kicking the crap out of each other, like in the pub or something?”

“Whatever for?” Helen laughed as she took her car keys from the pocket of her gym bag and moved towards her car.

“Never mind,” Georgia crinkled her brow; she wasn’t usually this bad at reading the signs. “Just to be social, but I guess spies don’t do social.”

“Wouldn’t be very covert, would it?” Helen laughed.

Georgia shrugged and turned away. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Don’t you want a lift?” 

“No, I’ll take the air.”

“Alright.” 

***

She stood watching Georgia walk away, wondering if she would turn back, but she didn’t. She sighed.

When Georgia was out of sight, Helen turned back towards her car to be met with a knife in her face.

“Gimme the keys,” the rather scruffy man with sallow jowls, bloodshot eyes and the twitch of someone going through withdrawal trembled slightly as he pointed the blade.

“Really?” Helen raised a curious eyebrow. “You chose this carpark to try this in? How did you even find it?”

The man edged closer still pointing the trembling knife in her face. A smile twitched at the corners of Helen’s mouth as she made a cursory review of his presence, estimating his threat level to be very low.

“Stop!” A cry caused both her and her assailant to glance around. Two young women, dressed as though they were heading out for the evening were standing on the other side of the carpark. They both had their phones out and were pointing them at the man. “We’re filming you, it’s going live on social media so there’s no point trying to get our phones, leave her alone!”

Helen rolled her eyes as the man faltered. Now he was trying to decide whether to attack the women or Helen.

“For god’s sake,” Helen tossed her car keys at him, they landed on the floor on the side away from the women. “It’s only a bloody machine, just take it.”

His decision made for him, he scrambled to get the keys from the floor and unlocked the car. Helen moved calmly towards the two women. 

“Thank you, that was very brave,” she said as she tried to usher them out of the carpark. 

“We need to call the police!” One of them said. “All the evidence is posted. We’ll get your car back!” 

“Thank you,” Helen smiled charmingly. “I will. Give me your numbers and I’ll be in touch.”

Just then an explosion sent them flying through the air. Helen rolled upon hitting the concrete, as she had been trained to do, but the impact, combined with the ringing in her ears disoriented her. What was going on? What just happened?

Looking across she saw one of the women she had just been talking to leaning against a car.  She was at least unconscious, as she wasn’t moving. Helen tried to shake herself out of it and find the other woman, but something was stopping her from moving. What was it? She was trapped under something. Something heavy. It looked like, concrete, or some sort of building material. She reached out to touch it, hard, like concrete. It was crushing her legs. First she tried to pull them free, but this didn’t work. Then she tried pushing at the object, but she was at the wrong angle to get any real power behind it.  Then someone was lifting it off. Helen squinted against the flames which were behind the silhouette. It heaved at the object, then when it was lifted enough for Helen to free herself it dropped it unceremoniously away from her.

“Are you alright?” It was Georgia. Helen nodded. “Can you stand?” She was barely audible against the ringing in Helen’s ears but the gesture was clear, she held out her hand. 

Helen allowed herself to be pulled to her feet just as ambulances and fire engines descended on the carpark. The power of social media, Helen thought.

“Can you walk?” Georgia was asking.

“Yes,” Helen examined herself. She was cut and bleeding, but she couldn’t feel anything. Must be the adrenaline. “We should get inside.”
“And find out who put a bomb in your car,” Georgia agreed as she helped her back towards the building.

If you would like to support me whilst I write this story, you can by buying me a coffee!

The Duplicate Affair

Written by C H Clepitt

Copyright Claire Evans 2019. 

This is a work of fiction. All persons, places and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to persons, living or deceased, places of business or residence or actual events is purely coincidental.


Chapter 6: Training

Category : Stories

If you haven’t read Chapter 5, you can by clicking here.

“I thought you were going to be gone a couple of months?” Georgia asked as she returned with two cups of water, offering one to Helen.

“Job was quicker than we thought,” Helen took the cup and took a swig. “Raj has stayed behind to tidy things up, but it didn’t need two of us.”

“So, you thought you’d come to my rescue again!” Georgia laughed, took off her glasses and began to clean them.

“I was in the neighbourhood,” Helen winked. “Really, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to squash Martin. Sadistic little prick. You do need to be able to defend yourself, though,” she stood up and offered Georgia her hand. “It’s important, even if you are only in the office.”

“What about Colin?” Georgia asked as she put her cup down on the edge of the ring and allowed herself to be led to some mats.

“What about him?”

“He can’t really defend himself. Not in the traditional way.”

“All the more reason to get you trained, then.” 

She straightened the mat with her foot and clicked her neck.

“I don’t want to focus on what you can’t do. I want to focus on what you can,” Helen said confidently. “I would never have known you couldn’t see if you hadn’t said, you cover that extremely well.”

“It’s a defense,” Georgia said. “People can’t see you as vulnerable. But it does limit me. More so because I don’t *look* disabled. People don’t think I need help, so they don’t offer, or they don’t believe me when I try to explain. Getting places to socialise is really hard, especially when it’s somewhere new. I don’t really get invited anymore.” She smiled awkwardly. “I mean it doesn’t matter. I hate people anyway!” She grinned.

“Me too,” Helen bounced on her toes as though preparing to pounce, then stopped. “Do you have a white stick?”

“Yes, but I don’t use it,” Georgia admitted. “When I do people look at me like ‘what do you need a stick for’ or sometimes they deliberately get in my way to prove I’m not blind.”

“You should walk straight into them,” Helen said firmly. “Those people don’t deserve manners. Get your stick, I’ll teach you to fight with it.

***

“No one said you should train her,” Raj said as he refilled Helen’s glass.

“They said I should protect her,” Helen responded without hesitation. “There’s no better way to do that than to teach her to defend herself.”

“As long as that’s all it is,” Raj observed as he studied her.

“What else would it be?”

“You can’t get attached to them, you know.”

“Oh please, how long have I been doing this?” Helen rolled her eyes.

“This is different and you know it.”

“At least I’ll always have you to tell me if my judgement’s been compromised.”

“Yes, you will. There’s the target.” 

The conversation was over, he was out of the car and moving on the tall smartly dressed man as he made his way into the garage.

Helen sighed, pulled a handgun from the glove compartment, checked the clip and followed him.

If you would like to support me whilst I write this story, you can by buying me a coffee!

The Duplicate Affair

Written by C H Clepitt

Copyright Claire Evans 2019. 

This is a work of fiction. All persons, places and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to persons, living or deceased, places of business or residence or actual events is purely coincidental.


July

Category : Stories

Chapter 5: Learning the Ropes

If you haven’t read Chapter 4 you can here.

“I’ll show you the office first,” Martin said brusquely as he led Georgia down the corridor.  She had completed her initial training, and induction, and it was officially her first day on the job. 

She still had a slight limp from the injury to her ankle. “Then you can settle in,” his tone implied he resented the time he was having to spend talking to her, but she managed a cheerful smile.

“Thanks, I’m excited to get stuck in.”

“That’s nice,” he rolled his eyes and barged through into an office, not holding the door for her. As she caught it to stop it hitting her face she dropped her bag, which was not properly zipped, scattering sanitary products and pens all about the corridor.  Georgia hurried to sweep them back into her bag and join him.

“This is Collin,” he indicated a man sitting at one of the desks. Upon hearing his name the man reversed his electric wheelchair and pulled a semi-circle so he was facing her. He had a smartphone on his lap and started laboriously tapping it with his finger.

“Hi,” Georgia was flushed, her mouth was dry and she was not at all enjoying Martin.

“Hello,” a mechanical voice came out of the smartphone.

“Oh, that’s clever!” Georgia smiled.

“Yes, very interesting,” Martin said dismissively. “That’s your desk. Get unpacked and then go and get changed and meet me in the gym, I want to analyse your training. It might be my last day in this department but I don’t want who ever’s taking over to think I left it sub-par.”

“Um, where’s the gym?” Georgia asked awkwardly.

“Ground floor. Take the lift, turn left and it’s at the bottom of the corridor, you can’t miss it.” And with that, he walked out.

Georgia felt pretty sure she could miss it, but decided it was best not to ask any more questions. Martin didn’t seem the type to respond well to “I’m visually impaired”.

As the door shut behind him Collin’s phone spoke again. “Martin’s an arse hole. Don’t worry, he’ll be gone tomorrow.”

Georgia laughed as she dropped her bag on her chair and began to unpack her things.

“What’s this gym thing about?” she asked without looking up. “Some sort of hazing.”

“He just needs to show he’s more powerful than you. It boosts his ego. I think he has a tiny penis,” the voice entoned.

Georgia laughed again. “Well, I’m blind so he stands no chance in that department!” She grinned. “Right, better get the humiliation over with!”

She headed to her locker, which was in the locker room, only getting lost twice along the way. She changed quickly into her sports gear and caught up with two other women who were leaving the locker room at the same time.

“Are you heading to the gym?”

“Yes.”

“Can I tag along? I have a hazing to get to!”

“Martin?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Prick broke my finger on my first day. Told me I had to be prepared for anything. Still doesn’t bend properly,” one of the women showed her finger.

“He’s compensating for something,” her companion said. “My advice is to lose quickly, then he’ll lose interest and move on. Couple of bruises.”

“Thanks,” Georgia swallowed hard. “I’m only admin.”

“No such thing here, we all need to be field ready, s’how he gets away with it. Come on, may as well get it over with.”

The gym was vast, and the smell of gym mats and sweat hung in the air. Martin was in a boxing ring wearing those sort of satin style highly flammable joggers that were popular in the late nineties, and a grey sports vest. He was springing about on his toes, sparring with the air and making a great show of it.

Georgia had only received basic self defense training, and knew this would be a whitewash, but she rolled her eyes and wandered over to the edge of the ring.

“Ah, there you are. Good.” Martin smiled and offered her a hand up. “Don’t worry, it’s not a proper fight, I just want to see what training you’ve come in with, then I’ll know what we need to work on.”

“Alright,” Georgia shrugged. “How do you want to…” but she was cut off by the palm of his hand striking her chest, hard. She coughed and staggered backwards against the ropes. She was winded and disoriented. 

Martin seemed to be saying something. “Rule number one, always be prepared…” he had her wrist and suddenly she was in the air and striking the mat hard. Her ears were ringing and she scrambled to get back to her feet, but a foot to her stomach sent her sprawling against the corner pole. “Come on, I know they trained you better than that!” he snapped. “You haven’t struck a blow yet!”

“I’m blind, you prick!” Georgia managed though she felt like she had no air in her lungs. “Put on a fucking blindfold, see how you stand up then.”

“Do you think the enemy will take excuses?” Martin snapped. “But that shouldn’t hold you back. To prove it, I’ll take your challenge! Does anyone have a scarf?”  A scarf forcibly struck him in the face from one of the other gym users. “Thank you.” He blind folded himself whilst Georgia struggled back to her feet. 

She had a point to prove now. She felt shaky and weak but she was not going to let this sadistic bastard win. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder. Glancing in its direction she saw Helen, who winked, raised one finger to her lips and silently slipped into the ring under the ropes.

“Right,” Martin turned. He was posturing for the crowd, springing on his toes again. “I’ll prove to you that not being able to see is no impediment to winning a fight.

“What if you’re fighting someone who is much better trained and prepared than you?” Georgia asked.

“No such thing,” Martin said confidently, moving towards the sound of her voice.

As he went to punch her, Helen caught his wrist and twisted it. It made a cracking sound, but she continued to twist until Martin was on his knees. The noise he made was akin to a cow’s moo, as he expressed his pain and ripped off his blindfold. 

“I think we’ve just disproved your point,” Helen smiled charmingly at him as she released his wrist. “Would you like to get up and have a fair fight, or has the demonstration ended?”

“I… um… I…” he staggared to his feet.

“I thought so, better put some ice on that.”

He nodded, clutching his wrist.

“Oh, and Martin? These hazings stop now. If I hear of one happening again, it’ll be the last thing you do,” she continued to smile charmingly as he scurried from the gym.

“Right,” Helen turned to Georgia. “So, combat 101, play to your strengths. Grab a drink and come straight back, we’ll do some training.”

If you would like to support me whilst I write this story, you can by buying me a coffee!

The Duplicate Affair

Written by C H Clepitt

Copyright Claire Evans 2019. 

This is a work of fiction. All persons, places and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to persons, living or deceased, places of business or residence or actual events is purely coincidental.


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Category : Stories

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The Duplicate Affair – Chapter 4

Category : Stories

If you haven’t read Chapter 3, you can by clicking here.

Chapter 4: Consequences

“What did you do?” Leonard’s voice was at fever pitch as Helen and Raj wandered into the office.

“Cleaned up after your f*** up,” Helen said without looking at him. She made a beeline for Georgia, who was clutching a brandy and sitting with her ankle elevated and iced.

“My….” Leonard began, but Helen ignored him.

“How’s the ankle,” she asked in her brisk tone that flustered Georgia.

“Don’t, mate,” Raj patted Leonard on the shoulder in what appeared to be a show of support, but was probably an act of peacekeeping.

“It… I… “ Georgia began.

“Need to get you in a position to defend yourself, really,” Helen spoke thoughtfully to no one in particular as she poured herself a brandy. “Of course, we were too late to get the damn phone,” she continued to Leonard now. “So, what’s your wonderful plan to fix that?”

“We’d already remote wiped it,” he gritted his teeth as he spoke to her. “All your little escapade did was draw unnecessary attention to our presence here.”

“My god! If I didn’t genuinely believe the only reason you got your bloody job was your tiny shrivelled white penis I’d question the existence of your thinking organ at all, Leonard!” Helen exploded. “They know you’re here, you stupid bastard! Why else would they steal her f***ing phone? Christ!” 

“I… um… How dare you speak to me like that!” Leonard stuttered.

“Enough, Leonard!” A tall, well dressed woman walked into the room. “I was dubious about your ‘recruitment app’ before it was compromised. Now I need you to shut it down immediately. Please go and make sure it happens. Hand off all your other projects to 3 for distribution. The next time I want to see you will be because you’ve made it so this shit never happened, and I hope that’s soon. Clear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Leonard murmured and walked out. 

“Don’t think you’re off the hook, Helen,” the woman continued. “You can’t keep going off half cocked all the time!”

“That’s half a cock more than Leonard’s using…” Helen responded without missing a beat.

The woman rolled her eyes. “Well, he’s off project management now, and I’ll be looking into retirement for him. But in the meantime, I’m going to need you and Raj to clean this up properly, I’m afraid. Pack a bag, wheels up in thirty minutes.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Helen moved towards the door, but paused at Georgia. “Chin up, it’s a rough first day, but the pay and benefits are excellent, and you won’t have to see me for at least a couple of months, what’s not to like?” She winked and moved on. 

Georgia found herself blushing.

“Watch it,” Raj grinned as he followed. “She’ll break your heart soon as look at ya.”

“Well,” the tall woman seated herself next to Georgia. “That was rather trial by fire, I’m afraid. Leonard was piloting a new recruitment scheme. It wasn’t designed to put potential applicants in danger, that was an unfortunate side effect, but it does mean you know a lot more than you should, which means if you didn’t want the job…”

“I want the job!” Georgia cut her off.

“Oh, good. May I ask why?”

“I was attacked. I want to know why, and I want to stop the people who attacked me from hurting anyone else.” She said firmly. She did not add that she wanted to see Helen again.

“Excellent. We’ll get you some training, self defence, role play, general stuff, but you’ll be entirely office based. I’ll have Margo start the paperwork. You’ll be better staying here tonight whilst we get you relocated. I already have people at your flat.”

She smiled and walked out. Georgia swallowed hard. What was she getting herself into?

If you would like to support me whilst I write this story, you can by buying me a coffee!

The Duplicate Affair

Written by C H Clepitt

Copyright Claire Evans 2019. 

This is a work of fiction. All persons, places and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to persons, living or deceased, places of business or residence or actual events is purely coincidental.


The Duplicate Affair: Chapter 3

Category : Stories

Chapter 3: Retrieval

If you haven’t read Chapter 2, you can by clicking here.

Helen parked slightly up the road from the entrance to the bar and walked confidently in. There was no evidence of the violent scene Georgia had described. It was probably designed to frighten her and get her to leave her phone. She didn’t know what was going on, but she knew that if these people wanted Georgia’s phone, they mustn’t have it.
“What’ll it be, love?” the barman asked pleasantly as he leaned on the bar and studied her.
“Oh, hello, yes. My friend was in here earlier and she thinks she left her phone behind. I said I’d drive past on my way back from work and check. Have you seen it?”
“Your friend, you say?”
“Yes, about so high, average build. She had on a nice suit, with pockets. I always notice a pocket, they’re so important.”
“Sorry, love, haven’t seen her.”
“Are you really going to make me ask again?”
“I’m not gunna make you do anything,” he pulled out a baseball bat from under the bar and tapped it on the palm of his hand.
“Oh, I’m very afraid you are.” Helen carefully removed her suit jacket and placed it purposefully over the back of a chair. She reached behind her head, tying her hair back into a ponytail and turned back to the barman, who had come out from behind the bar. “Couldn’t you just give me the phone back?” She asked.
He swung the bat. She ducked and punched him directly in the groin. He dropped the bat in an instant, his eyes tearing up. “Amateurs,” Helen observed as she ducked a chair being swung at her and replied with a kidney punch. “Lots of you, though…”
As a third man swung a punch she neatly dodged, grabbing his wrist and twisting into him, taking full advantage of the fact that he was now off balance to fling him over her head and into the barman, who seemed to be on the verge of regaining some composure, before being struck with a human missile. 
She dived under a table, avoiding another attacker, and grabbed the baseball bat, taking out two pairs of knees before springing back to her feet and twirling the bat. An unexpected blow to the side of the head sent her staggering sideways, but before she could regain her composure her assailant was knocked unconscious – crumpling to his knees to reveal a tall, handsome man in suit trousers and a shirt undone at the neck. His sleeves were rolled up to the elbow, and his oiled hair was slightly out of place where he had been exerting himself.
“Took your sweet time,” Helen said without missing a beat.

“Oh, I’m sorry, darling,” the man responded as he ducked a punch and reacted with an elbow to the face of his assailant. “I just dropped everything to respond to your cryptic message. Least you could have done is wait for me before you started! But you never were very good at that!”
“If I waited for you I’d never get off the blocks!” Helen responded drily as she leapt from a table top, driving a punch downwards into a man’s jaw.
“I knew it was too much to hope that you just wanted a shag,” the man laughed lightly as he drew a gun from the back of his trousers and shot his opponent point blank in the skull as they ran in to meet the barrel.
“Eh, the evening’s young,” Helen quipped as between them they shot their now disabled attackers. “See how long this takes.”
“Righto,” the man said cheerily, placing his gun on the bar and pulling the barman to his feet. “So,” he said calmly as he sat him on a barstool and brushed him down. “I bet you wish you’d been more polite to my friend now, don’t you?”
The man nodded weakly.
“Well, it’s not too late to make amends,” he smiled. “Just give her the phone.”
“I can’t…” he snivelled. “It’s been collected.”
“Collected by whom?” the man pushed his hair out of his face as he spoke.
“I can’t! They’ll kill me!”
“What do you think we’ll do?” Helen demanded. “Was this all a bit subtle for you? I mean, honestly! Where’s the f***ing phone?”
“I don’t know!” The man wailed. “We’re just the meet. I mean, it’s need to know, innit?”
“Oh for God’s sake!” Helen shot him and looked around. “Now what.”
“Well, bloody hell, Helen!” her companion surveyed the room. “What a f***ing mess. I don’t know how we’ll explain this to HQ.”
“Especially without the damn phone,” Helen agreed.
“Shall I call it in?”
“Better had. Drink?” 
“Please.”
“Whiskey?”
“Thanks.”

If you would like to support me whilst I write this story, you can by buying me a coffee!

The Duplicate Affair

Written by C H Clepitt

Copyright Claire Evans 2019. 

This is a work of fiction. All persons, places and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to persons, living or deceased, places of business or residence or actual events is purely coincidental.


The Duplicate Affair: Chapter 2

Category : Stories

If you haven’t read Chapter 1, you can by clicking here.

Chapter 2: Decisions

Georgia didn’t go home. She was rather concerned that this company, whatever it was had been able to find all of her details, and contact her from an app she had installed on her phone. She sat in a bar in the centre of town, staring at the screen. A notification from the app popped up.

BEAT YOUR HIGH SCORE! PLAY NOW! It said.

She swiped it away. Should she disable it? Uninstall it? Was it too late now? Was the damage already done? What if she already knew too much now? What would happen if she didn’t go back tomorrow? Would her phone explode and kill her? Don’t be silly. That wouldn’t happen, would it? Would it?

“You alright, love?” A man had joined her and she hadn’t noticed.

“What? Um… yes. Thank you.”

“In your own little world there, you was.”

“Yes, I was thinking.”

“Well, s’long as you’re alright,” he smiled pleasantly and stood up to leave, but the barman put his hand on his wrist.

“Without the lady’s handbag, if you don’t mind, mate?”

“Dunno what yer on about,” he returned.

“I didn’t have a handbag,” Georgia added. She never carried one. It’s what pockets were for.

The barman stabbed the man in the hand with something sharp, and he yelped and crumpled to the floor. 

“What?” Georgia staggered backwards, and looked around. No one had even noticed what had just happened. They were all going about their business. 

“Leave your phone, love,” the barman said. “And you can go.” 

Georgia nodded, and continued to back away. Then she turned and bolted out of the bar and ran down the street, back in the direction she had come. She didn’t want to go home. What if they were waiting for her? She needed to go to the last place they would think to look for her? But where would that be? Her adrenaline had spiked too high to notice how breathless she was, and that she was running in blind panic back towards the office where she had had her interview.

“Woah, there!” Helen caught her as they nearly crashed. “Oh… it’s you. Do you often jog in a business suit?”

“Stay away!” Georgia shrieked, shoving her, hard and trying to run again.

“What’s happened?” Helen asked, matching her pace easily and not needing to catch her breath when she spoke.

“Leave me…” Georgia panicked, tripped on a paving stone, her ankle turned and she felt a wrench and a shooting pain. She squealed and clasped her ankle, clinging to it and panting. She couldn’t stand. Was this it?

“Relax,” Helen crouched calmly next to her. “Look at me. We’re going to focus on your breathing for a minute. Just look at me and breath. In. Out. That’s it. Breathe. Now, let me see your ankle. Just let go of it a minute. That’s right, I’m just going to feel it, see if there are any breaks.”

Georgia sighed and gave in, releasing the throbbing area and watching Helen as she examined it.

“I don’t think it’s broken,” Helen concluded. “You’ve probably done the ligaments, and that’s worse in someways. We’ll get you home, get it elevated and put some ice on it. Come on,” she helped her up. “Rest on me, my car’s not far, I’ll drop you home. Where do you live?”

“Don’t you know?”

“Ha! Why would I know?”

“The app…”

“What app?”

Helen gazed at her. “Tell me what happened,” she said finally.

“I was in a bar…” Georgia began. “This man was nice to me… but the barman stabbed him, and told me to leave my phone… and I’m sure it had something to do with the interview, and I don’t know where’s safe now!”

“I’m sure it did, too.” Helen agreed. “But not for the reasons you think. I’m going to get you back into the office, they’ll take care of you, then I’m going to get your phone. Tell me what the bar was called, please.”

You can read Chapter 3 here.

If you would like to support me whilst I write this story, you can by buying me a coffee!

The Duplicate Affair

Written by C H Clepitt

Copyright Claire Evans 2019. 

This is a work of fiction. All persons, places and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to persons, living or deceased, places of business or residence or actual events is purely coincidental.


The Duplicate Affair: Chapter One – New Beginnings

Category : Stories

Georgia examined her cuticles critically. There was a loose bit of skin at the top of her index finger. She knew that if she tried to pull it off she would end up bleeding all over her interview suit and possibly her interviewer when they went to shake her hand, but it just looked so… messy.  She contemplated chewing it off. A shadow falling over her interrupted her ruminations.

“You alright, there?” A woman’s voice made her look up. She was slim and athletic, wearing a business suit and a curious, slightly amused expression.

“Um, yes, thank you…” Georgia managed, though her mouth was incredibly dry. Interviews made her nervous.

“What time did they tell you to be here?” the woman asked. There was an abruptness to her tone that was off putting.

“Ten…” Georgia managed.

The woman turned and looked at the clock on the wall along the whitewashed corridor. It was ten twenty-five. “It’s a power game.” She pulled a packet of gum out of her pocket and offered it. “Chew, you’ll sound less nervous. Don’t show weakness, it’s what they want. Do you know why you’re here?”

“Admin,” Georgia took a square of gum and began to chew. She felt calmer as her mouth became more lubricated. She smiled. This did help. “I had a letter saying they’d found my C.V. online and wanted to interview me. It seemed odd, I hadn’t updated my C.V. on any job sites since graduation, but I searched, and I mean, it seems legit here…” she suddenly felt awkward. It was a proper building. She’d been met by a receptionist and shown to this seat in this corridor. This odd, abrupt woman clearly worked here. That was a stupid thing to say.

“What do you do at the moment?” the woman asked. She clearly didn’t think there was anything odd in what Georgia had just said.

“I’ve just been made redundant, actually,” Georgia admitted. “I was doing admin and social media management for a charity, but you know austerity, it hits the charities first…”

“How long after did you get the letter?” 

“Within a week, actually,” Georgia admitted. These questions were making her incredibly suspicious. What the hell was this company, anyway. The website had said “Solutions based management” – she’d assumed content management, but now… “I’d wanted to take some time out, maybe just rest, but I thought it was best not to turn down…” she trailed off.

“Pay’s good, isn’t it?” The woman observed.

“Helen,” a short rotund man appeared from one of the doors along the corridor. The shirt of his business suit gaped at the gut, and the strain on the buttons every time he breathed was obvious. Georgia was glad she was wearing her glasses, or else a button leaping for freedom might have taken her eye out.

“Leonard,” the woman acknowledged equally curtly.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

“Not at present. I’m waiting for Kris to come back to me on the eccles cake thing.”

“That was a hint.”

“I know, I chose to ignore it.”

“Right you are. Um…” he held out a sweaty hand to Georgina. “Leonard Porter, sorry to keep you waiting.”

“He’s not,” Helen smiled.

“That’s alright,” Georgia fought against the smirk that was trying to appear on her face as she took his clammy hand. “I’m Georgia, thank you for seeing me.”

“This way, please,” he indicated that she should walk in front of him through the open doorway of the room he’d come from.

“Don’t let them intimidate you,” Helen called after her. “If he didn’t want you, you wouldn’t be here.”

Leonard was visibly flustered when he shut the door to the interview room. Actually, it looked more like an interrogation room, a single, metal table in the middle, one chair on the side, and one at either end. There was a woman in her late fifties standing in the corner of the room. She had on an ill fitting suit and black horn rimmed glasses that made her look like a suspicious librarian. Georgia half expected to be shushed.

“Please, have a seat,” Leonard indicated the table and chairs.

Georgia chose the chair on the end. This seemed to pass the first test and Leonard and the woman nodded approvingly to one another before taking their respective seats.

“So, you know we’re interested in you,” he said, resting his podgy hands on the tabletop. “We wouldn’t have asked you here if we weren’t, so we’re going to tell you a little bit about what we do, then let you ask some questions, sound alright?”

Georgia nodded.

“So, as you probably know, we find out of the box solutions to problems. Our main contracts are government, but we do have freelance contracts too. Don’t worry, we’re very careful to ensure the two don’t overlap.” He laughed uncertainly. “The main reason we want you is analysis,” he continued. “You wouldn’t be in the field, you’d be analysing data and reporting to Moira,” he indicated the woman.

“But, I work with social media management,” Georgia began awkwardly. She didn’t even know if she wanted the job, or exactly what the job was…

“But you play FUXXLE.” Moira spoke for the first time. 

“Yes…” Georgia blinked.

“We developed that app to help us search out potential candidates. Your problem solving abilities are off the charts. You almost cleared it. Our top people can’t even do that.”

“You developed…”

“Well, I can see this is all a bit much for you,” Leonard said cheerily. “Let’s call it a day on this one. Go home, have a think, and if you want to know more, come back here at 10am tomorrow, we’ll talk some more.” He held out his hand for her to shake.

“Um, OK?” Georgia shook his hand weakly.

“Thanks for coming in.”

“No problem…”

Moira shook her hand too. “I’ll show you to the front door.”
“Thanks.”

You can find Chapter 2 by clicking here.

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The Duplicate Affair

Written by C H Clepitt

Copyright Claire Evans 2019. 

This is a work of fiction. All persons, places and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to persons, living or deceased, places of business or residence or actual events is purely coincidental.


The Door

Category : Flash Friday , Stories

I am thrilled to announce I am working with the super talented poet and voice artist Jacqueline Belle on some audio projects. This is a part of my ongoing plan to make all of my writing fully accessible. I am delighted that she has recorded this piece of flash fiction for me, and hope you enjoy listening, or reading.

 

I’d been working at the lab ten months when the incident occurred.  Every day I’d walked down the long white corridor, ignoring the turn off to the restricted area.  I didn’t have permission to be in the restricted area. I was a lab tech. Occasionally I’d glanced down, and seen the huge industrial steel door, with a handle that looked like the wheel of a ship, so big I always imagined it would take about four people to open it, but I never went down the corridor, never peered through the thick glass window.  It was restricted. Above my paygrade.

“Morning, Lucy,” I smiled as she walked passed me and turned down the corridor.  She was the scientist in charge of this special project. She always insisted I call her Lucy.  All the other coats insisted on formality. They were mostly dicks though, and Lucy was really nice.

“Morning Mike,” she smiled at me. “How’s the weather?” She always asked me how the weather was, I don’t think she left the lab.

“Bit drizzly today,” I informed her. “Nice weather for ducks.”

She laughed a genuine laugh.  “I’m gunna be stuck in the lab most of the day, wanna have takeout with me at lunchtime?”

“Sure, I’ll order it in.  What do you fancy?” I smiled at her. Ten months I’d been there, and not really gotten to know anyone.

“Surprise me,” she smiled. “See you later.”

I watched her walk down the corridor, swipe a key card, tap in a code, press her hand against the panel before turning the big wheel.  Security sure is tight down there, I thought as I plunged my hands into my pockets and began to whistle, heading to my area.

By midday I decided I had had quite enough of cleaning jars, so I brought up the takeout app on my phone.  I decided to go for pizza. Who doesn’t like pizza? Cheese and tomato, sure winner.

“What are you doing here, this area’s restricted?” A tall man in a black suit and dark glasses blocked my way down the corridor like a giant, living cliche.

“I’m having lunch with Doctor Winters,” I said.  “Could you tell her I’ll meet her on the steps outside.  Tell her it’s brightened up.”

The man looked confused, but turned and headed towards the room. Dick, I thought to myself, as I headed up the steps and out to the main entrance to wait for our pizza.

“I think I’m in trouble, Mike,” Lucy’s voice from behind me made me start.

“What?” I spun around.  She had a large bruise on her face and looked very shaken.  “What happened.”

“I knew it was coming,” she said quietly.  “The thing I’ve been working on, they want to move it to the next phase.  It’s not ready, but they… they don’t want me to work on the next project. I think that would have been it for me, if I hadn’t arranged to meet you for lunch.”

“We need to get you out, now then, Lucy,” I said determinedly. “Don’t go back in, it’s dangerous for you.”

“It’s not that easy, Mike,” she looked awkwardly at me. “Where would I go, they’re everywhere!”

“I know.” I said calmly.  I shouldn’t be revealing this.  I was going off mission. But Lucy had all the information in her mind.  I’d get her instead of the files, we could blow the place. “But we can protect you, trust me.”

“We?” She looked at me, a glimmer of hope in her eyes.

“I’m SECTOR, Lucy,” I smiled at her. I know I was taking a risk.  “Trust me, I’ll get you out.”

“My family?” She was looking around nervously.

“We’ll get them too.” I said.

“Are you serious?” Control’s voice came in over my cranial implant. “What are you doing Mike?  This is not the mission!”

“It’s the mission now,” I said firmly, turning away from Lucy slightly as I spoke. “Get her family, and send us an extraction unit, we’re leaving now.”

“BOSS isn’t gunna like this,” Control said awkwardly.

“BOSS can shove it,” I responded. “Ten months in this shit hole and I’ve got nothing.  Now I’ve got something.”

“Alright, give us 30 minutes,” I could almost hear Control role her eyes.

“Mike,” Lucy looked at me. “We need to get him out.”

“Who?”

“Project J5.  If we leave him in the room they’ll weaponise him.  He’s behind the door.”

“OK,” I took a deep breath. “Come on, let’s go…”

You can find more from Jacqueline Belle at the following:

@JBelle_poems

galecrew.com/jacquelinebelle

Or get in touch with jacquelinebellepoems@gmail.com


Friday Flash – Strange

Category : Flash Friday , Stories

This Friday’s flash prompt from Claire was to type “strange pictures” into Google, and pick one as inspiration for a flash.  What this showed me is that people find many different things strange, and strange for someone might be perfectly normal for someone else, so, here’s my #FridayFlash

Strange Pictures

It always struck me, how the portrait of my great grandmother, the one that hung in the smoking room was never particularly, pleasant.  I suppose that was why it was in the smoking room, rather than the great hall, with all the other portraits. That, and of course, Great Grandma Gretel was the shame of the family.  She had been on the marches, argued the part of the slaves, once she threw a stone at a policeman.  True story.  Our family didn’t protest.  We were in the fortunate position not to need to.  We were well off, well respected and had no need to rebel, or incite change.  Anyway, Great Grandma Ethel disappeared, shortly after the portrait was painted, leaving Great Grandpa Bill with two children, and I can only imagine greatly relieved not to have a rebel living under his roof any more.

I often retired to the smoking room, no-one really used it, and I enjoyed the quiet.  I would sit and study the painting, sometimes chat to Great Grandma Ethel about my day, the things that pleased or annoyed me, what I was looking forward to, or what I was dreading.  No matter where I would sit, it seemed to me that Ethel was looking at me, really paying attention to what I was saying.  It was on such a day that the fire broke out.  I first noticed the smoke coming under the door, and opened it to the flames.  I let out a cry of panic, and was unable to shut the door again against the heat and the flames.  I rushed to the window to try and leave that way, but it was rusted shut.  The old house had fallen into disrepair.  The smoke was burning my lungs, everything was getting darker, and then I remember no more.

I awoke to see firemen staring at me, as though I was on a platform, above them.  I think I blinked, but can’t be sure.  A voice from behind me said quietly,

“Do not move until they’ve gone.”

I remained still, lying out, looking at them.

“What a strange picture,” one of them was saying. “See the woman in the background, she is in very old fashioned clothing, but the one at the front, she’s modern. Very out of place.”

“The whole thing is out of place,” another said. “See the farmer in the backdrop? He’s older again, whoever painted it did not research their history.  Come on, there’s no-one here, let’s go.”

When they were gone I looked up to see Great Grandma Ethel smiling down at me.

“The world I lived in was not for me,” she said quietly. “So I came here, to join my grandfather on his farm. I’ve enjoyed our talks, I hope you will be happy here.”

I blinked. I felt I probably would.


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