Fugue, p.1
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       Fugue, p.1
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           Chris Slusser
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  by Chris Slusser

  Copyright 2008 by Chris Slusser

  All rights reserved.


  Chapter 1

  A headache the size of a canyon was pounding through her head. She was lost in a fog. Everything was humid and thick. No light. She struggled to move, and barely managed to. A small moan escaped her lips.

  Muffled voices traveled to her from outside her fog.

  "Who is that?" a man's voice asked. "Is that the host personality? I thought she was eradicated?"

  "Don't worry about it," another man's voice said. "Either way her memory has been wiped clean. Give her some more Thanidol. We have a lot of work to do..."

  Then before she had time to ponder these words, everything was gone again. The headache, the voices, the fog. There was nothing. She had lost consciousness.

  * * *

  She was running at night. She came to this realization suddenly. She could hear her own hard breathing as she ran, felt her heart pounding in her chest. She was wearing shoes it was easy to run in. The woman running ahead of her was not. She wore low heels, pumps. She was chasing this other woman, apparently.

  The woman in front of her kept looking back in fear. She was Indian, had her long black hair up in a neat bun. She wore a dark suit with a skirt. It also looked hard to run in. They ran along a residential sidewalk, with a row of bushes to the left and a quiet street to the right. They ran under a streetlight, then back into semi-darkness. She could hear other feet running too, ahead of the woman. It was a man with dark hair in a suit. Both of the people she chased carried briefcases.

  She wasn't in control of her own body as she chased these people. She was just aware of herself doing it.

  The Indian woman, losing ground, screamed with a mortal fear to the man in front of her, "Charles!" Almost a screech.

  Charles slowed slightly and grabbed the woman's hand and tried to pull her along faster.

  But just then she felt her own arm rise and saw a gun in it. Silver, with a silver tube attached to the end of it. A silencer. With sickening quickness the gun was fired by her own hand and the bullet hit the woman in the back. The suited woman immediately tripped and fell and lay still, a pool of blood starting to form around her on the sidewalk. The assassin had stopped running. So had the man. He turned to gasp and stare in horror down at the fallen woman. His eyes were full of fear as he looked back up into the assassin's eyes.

  She raised her gun again as they stood there. He didn't dare run. He put his hands up, perhaps hoping that by cooperating he would avoid his friend's fate.

  She felt her hand point the gun at the man's chest, felt it start to pull the trigger. But anger welled up in her chest. Inside her head she screamed, ‘No!’ Her finger froze on the trigger. But some other force inside her struggled for control and wrestled the power away from her and managed to pull the trigger anyway. But in a sloppy way. The hand struggling with itself caused the gun to shift and the man was shot in the shoulder, perhaps only grazed.

  "Ohh!" he yelled, and took off again, running. The assassin tried to run after him, but she stopped her own feet from running, and fell forward onto the ground, next to the woman. The woman's eyes were open, but there was no life in them. The assassin had the woman's blood on her hands as she rose. The force seemed to be gone and she was totally in control of her body now. She shook with fear and horror at the sight of the woman she had killed. The woman's briefcase had popped open as she fell and papers were scattered around them, shifting now and then in a light breeze. It was dead silent on the street. She started to walk quickly. She didn't know where. Just away from the body, away from the man too.

  She crossed the street. She put the gun away. There was some kind of holster under the short black jacket she was wearing. She was dressed all in black. She found a gas station a block or two over, one with bathrooms you could get to from the outside, in back. She tried the door. It was unlocked. She went inside, desperate to wash the blood off her hands. Desperate to stop and think.

  She washed her hands. More thoroughly than they needed. She stared at herself in the mirror, and for the first time realized she didn't recognize herself. Average weight, average height, long brown hair in a tight ponytail at the nape of her neck. She had green or hazel eyes, a pretty face, small lips with a bow shape, big eyes, small rounded nose, sort of a roundish face. None of this looked familiar to her.

  She started to panic. This is a dream, this must be a dream, she thought. She tried to remember her own name, but she had no idea. She was shocked by the murder and hadn't thought she was the kind of person who would do that, but maybe she was. Why could she not remember anything that had happened before the murder? Besides waking up briefly to the male voices, she could remember nothing.

  Was she awake? She felt awake. Everything was so vivid and real. The peeling light green paint in the bathroom, the flickering buzzing fluorescent bulb that didn't light the place very well anyway. And the one dingy toilet in the corner of the room. A dripping old fashioned faucet in front of her, with two knobs, one for cold, one for hot. And the mirror. A little spotty, a little yellow. The floor had dingy scraped up black and white tiles like a checkerboard.

  The air smelled like bleach and something else. An undefinable bathroom smell, like old water. The air was muggy and warm. Summer air. It had been a hot day, she could tell, and now the heat was old, mildly muted by the night. The faucet dripped, a car passed outside. In the distance a car horn honked.

  It felt like reality. It seemed like reality. But it couldn't be. She could not imagine living life as an assassin. Was that why she couldn't remember her life? Or even her own name? No, this couldn't be. ‘This is a nightmare,’ she thought to herself. It was a nightmare and soon she would wake up. It was a lucid dream, that was all. She would fade back into unconsciousness and force herself to wake up. It was the only explanation that made any sense.

  She looked in the mirror again at the unfamiliar face. She leaned down slightly and gripped the sides of the porcelain sink. She closed her eyes and tried to force herself back into dreamland so she could wake up.

  "This is just a nightmare," she whispered aloud. "This is just a nightmare..." She felt herself begin to fade back, back into the blackness of before, became less aware of her body and the noises around her. Almost safe again, almost...

  Suddenly the force from within her took over again and tried to shove her forward, back into consciousness. A woman's voice inside her head shouted, ‘This is not a nightmare!’ She was pushed forward into consciousness with such a force that she opened her eyes to see herself being literally shoved into the mirror. No other person in the mirror behind her, only her. The force was so strong her head hit the mirror and broke it. She felt a stinging tear on her forehead, blood dripped down her nose and temple. She was wide awake again now and slipped down to the floor in shock. Why was this happening to her? She put her hand to her head and pulled it away to look at the blood.

  Suddenly the low firm woman's voice in her head said, ‘Kayla...’ Then she was allowed to slip into unconsciousness once again. Quickly and painlessly, and again there was nothing...

  Chapter 2

  She woke up shocked by a blast of cold air on her face. A window was open, scenery was passing by very quickly outside. A rocky mountain lit by moonlight. She was startled to see she was driving. But she wasn't in control of her hands on the steering wheel, or her feet on the pedals.

  A car's tires squealed and screeched in front of her. She realized she was chasing someone, and her car was better than their car. They were swerving at this high speed, out of control. It was a narrow road, a sheer drop on the right, with a rickety old railing the only barrier protecting them from it. It was an isola
ted road, no other cars on it.

  She could feel the power and precision of her own car as she felt herself gaining on the fleeing car. Her bumper touched their bumper. They skidded more out of control. A sharp left curve was coming up in the road. Suddenly her foot slammed down on the gas and shot the car forward to the fleeing car's left, and swiftly edged it off the road as it curved.

  The fleeing car smashed with almost no sound through the old railing and disappeared swiftly over the edge. She slowed quickly to a stop and drove backwards, back to the spot, and got out. The car had rolled loudly and crashed at the bottom of the steep mountainside.

  She stood on the edge, still not in control of her body. She couldn't stop herself from looking down at the smashed car lying still at the bottom of the mountain, far away. She had caused this. On purpose. She tried to control her body, to run, to even look away, but she couldn't. She started to hyperventilate as she stood there. Taking in the cold night air too quickly. She felt it chill her lungs and burn too. Her hands became tingly, she got very dizzy. Things swam out of focus around her. She saw everything fade to black as she felt her body collapse in a heap on the asphalt. She faded into welcomed oblivion.

  * * *

  Her head hurt. Her mouth felt like cotton. There was a heavy weight on her limbs, or maybe she was tied down. She struggled to open her eyes, but couldn't. She moaned and tried to speak, but only got out, "Haa..."

  The male voices were there, beyond the blackness.

  "There she is again. The one. The brain waves are different."

  Another man said, "The usual protocol isn't working on her."

  They hesitated, then the second voice said, "Give her a higher dose."

  She felt something flood over her like a comfortable blanket, on the inside. The voices and everything else became muffled. And then she faded into nothingness.

  * * *

  She was having a dream. An erotic dream. There was a rise and fall and bodies writhing, pleasure building to a crescendo and then... a sharp piercing flood of ecstasy as she threw her head back.

  She opened her eyes. She saw a beautiful intricately engraved wooden ceiling, dark wood. She heard her own heavy breathing and now she realized she heard the heavy breathing of a man as well. Became aware that he was still inside her, that they were damp with sweat, that she was sitting on top of him straddling his body.

  Oh, God, it was happening again.

  She looked down from the ceiling and saw an old man lying on the bed underneath her. He looked about 70. He was in good shape. His hair was silver. His eyes were closed as he smiled and lay back on the pillow catching his breath. His hands were tied with black silk ropes to the thick wooden bed posts at the head of the bed.

  "You are a miracle worker..." he whispered at her as he smiled and opened his eyes.

  She chuckled. Some force that was not her had chuckled, through her body. She felt her hands reaching behind her on the bed, grasping another silk rope. The man had closed his eyes again. She felt her hands gently wrap the red silk around his neck a few times. She wasn't in control of her actions. The man allowed her to do this, as if he trusted her. But she could feel her own body tense up and her heart start to pound as she feared she knew what was coming.

  Then just as she’d feared, she felt her hands grip the rope tightly and pull to each side with all her might. The rope tightened around the man's throat and his eyes flew open. He tried to speak, but had no breath. He rasped out in a quiet whisper, "No, no ,no..." His face grew red and convulsed, and his eyes blanked out. His breathing was stopped. He was dead.

  She was horrified by what she'd done. Tears started to roll down her face as she watched her hands tie the murderous scarf into a neat little bow at the front of the man's throat, so fucking callous. She was then given control over her body.

  She started to sob uncontrollably. Why does this keep happening? She quickly scrambled off the man, his dead organ slipping out of her as she did. A bathroom door stood ajar to the left of the bed. She quickly ran into it and threw up in the toilet.

  She washed her hands and splashed her face with water. She had been wearing heavy make-up, and tear streaks mixed with mascara ran down her face. She grabbed a tissue and cleaned her face off. There she was again in the mirror, the same face she hadn't recognized before. Her hair had been curled and pinned up in a cutesy way with little barrettes. She wore a lace black bra and nothing else.

  She suddenly worried about fingerprints and DNA and things that could lead to her being arrested. Then she realized that would actually be a relief. Then these real life nightmares could stop. Still, she should leave. She felt a strong urge to leave.

  She went out to the bedroom again and tried to avoid looking at the dead man. She found what must be her clothing scattered on the floor. Black underwear, and a skimpy red and gold dress. She put it on and felt just as naked as before. She found her coat lying on the ground too, a leopard print thing that hung lower than the dress, but not by much. She buttoned its two big buttons and felt a little less naked. Apparently she'd worn black stiletto heeled shoes. She slipped them on and was suddenly three or four inches taller. She hoped she could walk in these. She didn't know a damn thing about herself.

  All dressed, she quickly went to the door to leave. It led to another room with couches, then an outer door. A hotel door she realized. Before she could open it, something inside her forced her to stop. She looked to her right. A sparkly gold little purse lay on a black table. Her hand reached out and grabbed it of its own accord. Or the force within her. Then she was allowed to leave.

  Instinctively she ran toward a back staircase. She ran down it, she passed no one. She exited the hotel at the back, into a lonely parking lot. She wove through the cars and started hurrying down the street, not even knowing where she was going. She was walking past a beautiful city park when she suddenly stopped and the force took over her hands and reached into the purse. They brought out a mini computer disk in a case. A plastic bag with a zipper was brought out as well, and the disk was zipped into it, then unceremoniously dumped into a certain garbage can. Not the one she had stopped next to, but one further into the park, 20 feet away.

  Then she was allowed to hurry away again, down the street. She wondered where she should go. She suddenly realized she should turn herself in, go to the police, stop the madness. She needed a phone, she needed an address, she needed to tell—'clink'—her awareness of reality ended so abruptly she didn't even see it coming. Blackness and oblivion took her over.

  Chapter 3

  It was happening again. As her eyes started to focus she saw her hands pointing a gun in front of her, toward the ground, a little smoke curling off the gun. And beyond the gun a man lying dead in a pool of his own blood on a clean bright lemon yellow kitchen floor.

  The room was brightly lit, the house was silent. There was no furniture in the room, or in the dining room it opened into. No curtains on the window, black night outside. She became aware of the ragged sound of her own breathing. She was hyperventilating again. She dropped the gun on the floor. She looked at the man lying there. White, balding with brown hair, 40-something.

  Suddenly the force took over her whole body and she wasn’t hyperventilating anymore. It forced her to be calm. Then spoke to her using her own voice.

  "Sorry I had to wake you up this way," it said, picking the gun up calmly. "But I wanted you to see the truth of things first."

  The force gave the body back to her then.

  She started to hyperventilate and panic again, "Who are you?" she asked the other. Her voice was not as low and firm as the force's. It took over her body to speak again.

  "I'm Zane," it said. "Here, I'll show you." It walked her to a decorative mirror set in tile on one wall. She looked at herself and was shocked to find her reflection looked different than before. Now she saw a woman with sleek black hair, going back into a tight ponytail at the nape of her neck. Her eyes were blue, not green. She was very p
ale. She was dressed all in black. She looked amused in a wry sarcastic way. Then the force gave the body back to her and her reflection changed. Back to the familiar one. Brown hair, less sleek, pulled into a ponytail, and green eyes. Her skin was less pale. Her facial features were even different.

  "How did you do that?" she asked Zane.

  Zane appeared in the mirror again as she took over, "Never mind that now," she said. She walked back over to the man, and the other began to panic on the inside, trapped. "You know who this was?" Zane asked, feeling the man's neck for a pulse. There was none.

  "No," the host said, regaining control of the body and breathing too fast again. She backed away now, dropping the gun again. "Why are you doing these things?" She asked this in a small voice, as if afraid the answer would be violent.

  Zane took over again, "This is the kind of thing we have to do now to survive. I wanted to show you that... You haven't been reacting to it very well." She calmly picked the gun up again, and this time put it in its holster under her arm, so the host couldn't drop it again.

  The host was allowed the body once more. "Haven't been reacting well?! Does anyone react well to murder? What did this man even do? And the others?" She was backing up into the wall, wondering if it was even possible to escape.

  "He was a witness in a federal trial," Zane said coldly. "Someone wanted him eliminated."

  "Oh, God," the host said, "You kill good people?"

  "I kill whoever they order me to kill," Zane answered calmly. "I don't know why this upsets you so."

  The host took over once again and slid down the wall to a crouch as tears spilled out of her eyes. "I don't know what I did to deserve this," she said to herself as if she could hide anything from Zane.

  "Who are 'they'?" she finally asked Zane.

  Zane stood the body back up and unceremoniously wiped the tears off her face, almost disgusted by them, so messy. "They," she said, "are the ones I hate almost as much as you're going to."

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