The Other Woman. Short Story.

My weekend was pretty boring, I’m almost done with all my assignments, have a few things to submit today and then I am done for christmas! It’s kinda weird thinking about it!

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The Other Woman.

He looked at her as she got ready. It wasn’t unusual, she knew how much he enjoyed it. She wasn’t doing anything special, she was just going about her normal routine. He watched as she emerged from the bathroom and dried herself with a towel, watched as she got dressed, then watched as she applied her make up, there wasn’t much, there never was. As she was leaving she leaned over and kissed him, then left the room. He heard her downstairs in the kitchen, then a short while later, the sound of the front door closing. He didn’t have anywhere to be today, he set his own working hours. He lay in bed, thinking. He replayed the morning again, looking for anything wrong, anything strange, but there was nothing. Everything was normal. But it wasn’t. It couldn’t be. His wife wasn’t his wife. He didn’t know when the switch occurred or even how it could be possible, but it was. She was no longer the same woman. One day it was Janet, the next, it was someone else, someone that looked like Janet but wasn’t her. Not-Janet had all the mannerisms of Janet, they talked the same way, the looked identical, but it wasn’t her. He didn’t know how he knew, no one else seemed to notice, but there was something off, something he couldn’t pinpoint. He got out of bed then went to her side of the room, he rummaged through her drawers, going through all of them, but there was nothing. There had been nothing the day before as well, but he wanted to be sure. Some kind of communicator, something that would indicate what had happened to Janet, or something that would explain just exactly what the Not-Janet was. He didn’t think she was a robot, after all she was warm and if she was there would have been some subtle malfunction. Mechanics always had problems. He hadn’t seen her bleed or anything, which tended to suggest that maybe she couldn’t, but Janet had never been accident prone. What ever the Not-Janet was, it was alive. He was sure of it.

He went downstairs to the kitchen, where the remains of her breakfast sat on the table, she hadn’t put her plates in the dishwasher, Not-Janet ate, he had seen her do it, he had made food for her. He was tempted to put something she was allergic to in the food, maybe peanuts, but what if Not-Janet was allergic too? What if Not-Janet died before he found out where Janet really was? He had to be careful, who ever was holding Janet might kill her the moment they realised he knew. He started to make breakfast for himself. It wouldn’t do if Not-Janet noticed anything was wrong with him , he didn’t want to eat, he wasn’t hungry, but she had asked if he had lost weight recently. He had, he wasn’t eating. How could he? God only knew what was happening to Janet. He tried following Not-Janet, but she just did everything Janet did, going to her job, interacting with her friends. Not once did she do anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes she would pause while talking, her head tilting slightly, but that was the only change. He wondered if maybe she was getting some orders through an earpiece or something. It would make sense. She would always kinda jump, like she was caught doing something wrong. He had a boiled egg and toast, choking it down. When he was finished he sat for a moment, waiting for the nausea to pass. Once it had, he stood, then went to the internet, trying to find anyone going through the same thing. There were a few reports, but most were unsubstantiated and looked like they were made by crazy people, he wasn’t crazy. The websites all had conspiracy theories about assassinations and chemicals in water. It was all so insane. After reading them for a while he wondered if maybe someone edited the pages, made them that way so the people would look insane. It wouldn’t be that surprising, after all who ever was doing it had the technology to replace an entire person. Most of the web pages hadn’t been updates recently either, what if the creators had been caught? He had to do something and it needed to be soon, otherwise something might happen to Janet. He had to get information out of Not-Janet. It was his only choice at this point.

He had worked carefully all day, he decided upon a plan, it would be easy. He had some sleeping pills left over from a prescription. He ground them up into a fine powder, he wasn’t sure how much to give her, but he settled on three tablets, the recommended dose was two, but he wanted to be sure, what if Not-Janet had a high metabolism or something that would prevent it working easily? After he ground it up, he spent some time thinking of how he could slip them to her, he had tasted a little bit, just a tiny amount on the tip of his finger, it was harsh, bitter, it would flavour what ever it was in. After a little while he had an idea, coffee. She didn’t drink it that often and usually loaded with sugar and milk. She wouldn’t notice the difference. He would have to be careful though, if she realised what was happening everything could be over.

When Not-Janet came home she was cold, almost shivering, it had been a cold day out, perfect. After greeting her and listening to her complain about the cold, he smiled, “Go change into pyjamas, I’ll start the fire and make you hot chocolate.” “That’d be great, thanks.” She kissed him and started climbing the stairs. He went into the kitchen, working quickly, he set the kettle to boil, then filled a cup with coffee grounds. He wondered if the caffeine would affect the sleeping pills. Oh well, too late now. He poured the white powder into the cup and stirred it into the grounds a bit, when the kettle boiled he quickly filled the cup with water and started stirring, adding milk and cream, hoping that it would cool enough so the potency of the tablets wouldn’t be affects. As he added sugar he berated himself for not grinding up four pills. He added a good amount of sugar, then tasted it, only a tiny amount. It was a little sweeter than she would normally like it, but she’d drink it anyway. At least if she didn’t want her act to fall apart. Janet would drink it out of politeness, she had done if before when he made her tea. They had been going out for four months before she broke down and told him she couldn’t stand the stuff. Apparently she didn’t want to be rude the first time and then it became too awkward to bring up.

Not-Janet came into the kitchen, dressed in Janet’s pyjamas and bathrobe, “We’re out of hot chocolate babe, I made you coffee instead, just the way you like it.” She took the offered mug and wrapped her hands around it. Then she took a sip. He held his breath, she smiled, “Thanks.” It didn’t take her long to finish it. He steered her into the living room and sat her on the couch, with the premise of watching some TV. She complained of being a little tired, but didn’t seem to be too concerned. It wasn’t long before she passed out. Perfect. He brought a chair in from the kitchen and dragged her into it, she was heavier than he expected. Maybe she was a robot after all. He wrapped duct tape around her ankles and arms, securing her to the chair. Then he went back into the kitchen and grabbed a knife, carefully he pricked her finger and watched as bright red blood welled up from the cut. Ok, maybe she wasn’t a robot. Of course if she was, what ever fluid helped her run and cool down her systems would no doubt be red.

She woke up slowly, she looked groggy. He nicked her hand again, he eyes opened, she looked around. “What’s going on? What happened?” “You can drop the act. I know it isn’t you.” “What are you talking about? Why am I tied up?” “You’re going to tell me what I want to know. Or else.” “What? Stop this, it isn’t funny.” “It isn’t supposed to be funny. I know you’ve done something with Janet.” “I am Janet, honey, it’s me, please, don’t do this.” he sighed. He was going to have to do this the hard way. He raised the knife and walked closer, as he started cutting, she started to scream.

He sat on the couch, his hands bloody. There was blood everywhere, his clothes, his face, the floor. He looked at the body of Not-Janet. He couldn’t get her to break. She didn’t reveal anything, played dumb until the end. The knife slipped from his fingers and clattered on the floor, he rested his head in his hands. He had done what was necessary. He was proud of himself. He had only thrown up twice. He couldn’t stand it, how much like Janet she looked. But he had to get Janet back. He needed to save her. He had met Janet’s friend Stacy the other day. She had seemed off too. Maybe it wasn’t Stacy, maybe it was Not-Stacy. He stood, he would need to shower. He couldn’t go into the streets like this. He needed to get to Not-Stacy. He needed to ask her a few questions about what they had done with Janet.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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