Body Snatcher. Short Story.

“How many times have you died now?”
“I’m not sure, it’s hard to keep track.”
“How do you lose track?”
“It all blurs into one after a while. I kept a log book for a while, it’s around here somewhere if you want to dig it out, but really I don’t see why that’s important.”
“It’s important because it has to be having some effect on you, if not physically then mentally, the human brain isn’t supposed to experience death over and over again, eventually something is going to give.”
“I’m not the only one doing this you know, and they all seem fine.”
“Seem being the word there. What do you know about any of them? Nothing but a fake name and a bunch of words on a screen. For all you know they could be batshit crazy.”
“Trust me, they’re telling the truth. I’ve met a few of them, not them physically obviously, but I would have spotted something wrong.”
“You’re being way too relaxed about this, it’s dangerous, how many times have you almost died?”
“Uh, six, maybe seven? Not that many in the grand scheme of things, I think that’s a pretty low rate really.”
“Low rate? Anything is too high. What happens if you can’t fix it? What happens if your body dies while you’re not in it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Exactly and that’s the problem, no one does. Everything will keep being fine until it isn’t, one day this is going to catch up with you. How many people do you know that have just disappeared? No one ever heard from them again?”
Jessica shrugged, “A couple.”
“And how long until it happens to you?”
“That’s the thing though, it won’t happen to me. I’m good at what I do, I’m better than them at the very least.”
“Oh, so that’s supposed to be reassuring is it? Your judgement that everything is fine? Would you trust an addict telling you they have their drug use under control? No. No you wouldn’t. This is the exact same, how long has it been since you’ve taken a break? No, you don’t need to answer, I already know, it’s been three years. You haven’t gone a single day without using it in three goddamned years. And what am I supposed to do? Just sit around waiting, scared out of my mind that you won’t come back, that your heart will stop beating, that any number of people will finally track you down. I can’t do it anymore. I won’t. I’m not going to do that to myself.”
“Wait, you can’t leave, I need your help with this stuff, it’s safer with two people.”
Jack laughed, “you don’t even care that I’m going do you? You just want someone here to watch over you. That’s all I am to you isn’t it? Just a glorified babysitter. I’m done. You’re on your own.”
He picked up a small bag, “Wait, you can’t go yet, what about the rest of your stuff?”
He shook his head sadly, “I’ve been moving my stuff out for the last week. I though maybe it would help snap you out of it. Did you even notice that the fucking couch was gone?”
“I’m doing an important job, these people need me. I have to do it.”
“There’s always going to be a reason to keep going, you’ll always find a way to justify it. Well I can’t justify it anymore.”
Jack turned and left, “You can’t do this, I need your help! I need you.”
the door closed with a gentle click that seemed to fill the entire room. Jessica stayed sitting, she was too exhausted to stand, not that she would chase after him even if she could. He was just being dramatic, that was all. He’d be back sooner or later. He had always come back before. Besides, he was wrong, she could stop if she wanted to, but she was doing important work. She couldn’t just bail and leave everyone else hanging, as it was their numbers were too low already.

Jessica sat back, then paused, did she really want to do this without a spotter? It was important work, but doing it alone could be dangerous, what if something happened? Maybe he was right, was she addicted to it some how? She couldn’t lie to herself, there was a definite rush, both in going and coming back, and it was certainly exciting, more exciting than her real life could ever be. No, she wasn’t doing this for herself, she was doing it for others, to help people. She closed her eyes and pressed the button. A sudden spike of pain ripped through her head, then it was gone, replaced with euphoria. She opened her eyes and looked around the strange room, sunlight was pouring in from a nearby window, the air smelled of roses and lilac, everything seemed a bit brighter here, better. She could still feel the waves of euphoria washing over her, not as strong as before but they wouldn’t stop until she went back. She moved closer to the window and peered at her reflection in the glass, she was a man this time, about mid-thirties, he wore a suit and had short black hair. She didn’t recognise him, mentally she cursed at herself, she hadn’t done her work beforehand, she had been too upset about Jack, she hadn’t read up on the guy. Well, it wasn’t the first time she had to figure out stuff on the fly. She turned and scanned the room, it looked like a hotel room, and it seemed as though she was alone, “Hello?” Her voice was deeper than she expected, she took a slow breath, the voice sounded normal to her, but it still might sound off to others. She wanted to search through the room, see if she could find anything, but it could be bugged. She went to the wardrobe and pulled out his suitcase, she rifled through it quickly, pretending to be looking for something. There was nothing strange or unusual in the suitcase.

Jessica left the room, in the end it didn’t really matter who this guy was, she would figure out what was going on, she was here for a reason, and she always figured it out in the end. She could feel the thought bouncing around in her head, he had a meeting soon. Smiling slightly she made her way down the hall and got into the elevator, as it went down she closed her eyes and allowed the waves of euphoria to wash over her, already she could feel herself letting go of her worry and anger over Jack. It didn’t matter, he didn’t matter. All that mattered what this.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 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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