The Duplicates

DUPLICATE COVER SWIRL 7-6-16 copy

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Doc gets a call from his former shrink telling him she has just killed her husband. After arriving on the scene, End of Days religious prophecies start appearing as images in the night sky. As the world begins to lose its collective mind, realer-than-real Duplicates get added to the mix, and the global threat soon reaches a tipping point. Doc is forced to embark on a bizarre and deadly mission to take the images and Duplicates down before the voice in his head does the same to him.

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Chapter 1

Day 1 – Washington, D.C.

Eve had well-entrenched plans to kill her husband.

Just not tonight in this condition.

Killing the philandering son of a bitch was one thing. The way she saw it, she’d be doing the planet a favor. But offing the bastard while soaked in a Shiraz-fueled haze that possessed the power to eliminate recall might make it impossible for her to savor the memory as the years passed.

And that would be tragic.

Eve laughed and chugged the last of her wine. Yes, temporary memory loss, not the death of her lame-ass excuse for a husband, would have been the real tragedy.

Their plan was perfect. And something they’d spent a lot of time putting together. The plan, if executed per the script, would set her free without ever having to worry about anyone connecting the dots and hunting her down.

Eve smiled.

She loved the plan. It was something, like her loathsome husband, she couldn’t wait to execute.

She opened another bottle of the Penfolds Bin 95; one of Jeremy’s prize possessions. She poured and took a sip. Even without time to aerate, it was delicious. She had to admit that the man knew his wine. Next to himself, wine was Jeremy’s favorite topic of conversation. Despite his passionate devotion to himself and other women, he always made time for wine.

But never for her.

She lit a candle, turned off the lights, and focused on her breathing; short, shallow bursts as it always did when she was about to start a new adventure. But the new chapter in her life unfolding had done more than alter her breathing. She leaned back and felt the heat in her thighs.
She remembered the last time they’d been together; making love, making plans. Plans for a future filled with luxury and fueled by passion. As ordered, she had meticulously showered and groomed while listening to his other instructions.

Don’t leave any clues. Just get in your car and drive. Pay cash for anything you buy along the way. Call me from the road, and I’ll make sure there’s a plane waiting. Leave the car in my garage.

He’d been demanding and in complete control. His eyes blazed whenever he was delivering commands. And it always made her tremble. Eve had closed her eyes, forced to wait as she stood before him naked. Then she’d felt his hands turn her. Quivering from his touch, she’d bent at the waist and sighed, again, forced to wait.

Repeating that sigh, Eve released the memory and sipped her wine.

She glanced at her watch. She should have been on the road hours ago and would need to sober up soon if she was going to make the drive. Opening the first bottle of wine had put her way behind schedule. And she knew he would make her pay for it. She considered some of the possible punishments he might inflict, then smiled and took another sip.

The lights had appeared before she heard the car. She waited for the sound of the garage door opening. But the headlights vanished, and the engine fell silent. Eve stumbled to the picture window, then peered through the curtains. Through the darkness, softened by a full moon, she saw Jeremy in the driver seat of his new Lexus convertible.

When she’d confronted him about the extravagance, he’d turned mean. Screaming at her, telling her to mind her own business, and making the point over and over about how much he deserved the car given how hard he worked. As if her fifty-hour workweek wasn’t comparable, or even worth mentioning. Then he’d stormed off, belittling her as he went. Shouting if she behaved, maybe he’d let her drive it once in a while.

In the passenger seat was a woman with long dark hair. Eve squinted through the curtains, but that was all she could decipher through the darkness. Not that either the woman’s identity or appearance mattered. She was just one more in the long line of playthings he would use, then discard.

One more notch on his bedpost.

One more cut into Eve’s heart.

Eve stepped back from the window and drained her glass.

What now? Stay and wait for the inevitable battle to play out? Maybe slip out the back door to avoid a confrontation? Stay hidden and let them get naked before grabbing Jeremy’s car keys and driving off in his beloved Lexus?

Eve giggled at that option.

Obviously, Jeremy’s plan was to bring the woman inside – into her house – for a night of fun and games, screwing their way through every room. The bastard probably had plans for the whole weekend. She poured more wine as she considered all their amorous possibilities. The thought of them in the kitchen searching for passion on cold granite made her laugh. And wince.

Have fun, kids. Been there, done that.

The notion they’d be sipping champagne soaking in the Jacuzzi barely fazed her. It was a bacteria factory she hadn’t been in for years. She did have to acknowledge the thought of them lounging in her bed pissed her off. But it was the possibility of them getting naked on her new VIG leather sofa that made her blood boil.

Eve again peered through the curtains. Now the son of a bitch was laughing, waving his arms the way he always did when talking about himself. The woman removed her blouse. Eve watched her wriggle, struggling to remove whatever she was wearing below the waist. Jeremy moved his seat back, and the woman slid over and climbed on top. She buried her head against Jeremy’s shoulder, and her long hair caught the moonlight as it cascaded over his face.

Eve watched the Lexus gently rock in the driveway. Despite her fury and intense hatred for the man she had once committed her life, Eve felt tears streaming down her cheek. She wiped them away with the back of her hand and drained her wine. Eve threw the glass at the fireplace, grabbed the wine bottle, and headed out the front door.

The lawn felt soft and moist against her bare feet as she staggered towards the car. The couple, already consumed by mutual lust, was oblivious to her presence. Eve stopped at the edge of the driveway. Her stomach turned as she listened to her husband’s tired patter.

“Where have you been all my life?… You’re amazing. And so beautiful. If you keep this up, I’ll never be able to walk again.”

“No, you won’t,” Eve said, reaching for the door handle. “You got that right.”

Jeremy stopped thrusting and glanced left when he heard the car door open.

“Eve? What are you – you’re supposed to be away for the weekend.”

“Surprise!”

Jeremy tried to extricate himself, but the woman, undeterred by the interruption, remained fastened around his waist. He shoved her hard, and she landed face down in the passenger seat.

Eve glanced down at Jeremy’s moonlit lap, saw his level of excitement, and felt another surge of rage. She raised the wine bottle in her right hand. Jeremy looked up and caught a glimpse of the label.

“Hey, is that one of my Bin 95’s?”

Those were the last words Jeremy ever spoke.

Eve launched herself forward and landed the perfect shot. Jeremy’s head opened and blood and wine blended, then collected in a pool on the driver’s seat. Eve watched the life drain from his face. He blinked, tried to speak, then his head fell back and rested against the seat.

Eve had been wrong.

Over time, it was possible she wouldn’t remember how unseasonably warm the night air was. The specific date and time might fade. Perhaps the moonlit image of them conjoined in the confined space of the front seat might pale.

But she would never lose the memory of the sound produced when bottle hammered bone. Nor would she forget the sight of her wine-stained, lame ass excuse for a husband bleeding out on the white leather seat of his Lexus.

Eve staggered back and stared at her dead husband. She glanced at the wine bottle, noticed some hadn’t spilled and took a long swig. Eve turned her attention to the woman still sprawled on the front seat.

“You,” Eve said. “Show yourself.”

The woman slowly worked her way upright in the passenger seat. She pulled her hair back and looked at Eve.

Stunned, Eve dropped the wine bottle. It shattered on the driveway.

“Oh, my god,” Eve said. “What the… who are you?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

Eve stood trembling next to the Lexus. The only thing obvious was that she was staring back at herself.