Publish Novellas 22 May 2022
EPISODE 3 – Deja Vu
A perfect match reveals a dangerous motive that requires special intervention.
The woman with the 100 percent match is not within the DoppelMatch database. She was picked up on city surveillance cameras in England. A deeper data dive reveals her to be a former American citizen. The algorithm then returned all social media images for Kathlyn Abernathy. Either this is a glitch or Kathlyn is still alive and well.
Matthew has investigators track her down to provide contact information. She is living under the name Sylvia Rollins. When Matthew phones her and identifies himself, she hangs up. He dials again and she does not answer.
So that she does not get away, Matthew dispatches his private investigators pick her up—with force if necessary—for questioning. As they approach her, a chase ensues. She leaps over a balcony, landing in bushes below.
Scratched and limping, she runs down a deserted alley with no way out. When her pursuers catch up to her, she begins to let out a scream. They cover her nose and mouth with a handkerchief, causing her to lose consciousness.
The next day she finds herself sitting on a red chair within a windowless undisclosed location. A voice from a speakerphone begins talking to her.
“Ms. Rollins, I apologize for the extraordinary measures and assure you of peaceful intent. You did not respond to my earlier phone calls. If you care for anything to drink, the men there can provide it.”
“This is kidnapping. I demand that you let me go immediately.”
“We will drop you off wherever you like after you answer a few questions. How does that sound?”
“What do you want?” she replies impatiently.
“Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Are you familiar with Kathlyn Abernathy?” After a long pause, Matthew continues, “Ms Rollins, do you need me to repeat the question?”
“Are you working for Franklin?”
“Are you Kathlyn?”
“Are you going to kill me?”
“I count five questions in sequence without answers. Can we please catch up before addressing yours?”
“The fact that you are asking suggests you already know I’m Kathlyn. I faked my death and changed my identity. But I always feared he would find me.”
“Who would find you?”
“My husband, Franklin.”
“Your reply catches me off guard. I work for a couples match service that allows clients to specify a preference for a specific appearance. We have a request to locate someone with your likeness.”
“That request must be from Franklin. He is a powerful and wealthy man.”
“I have no intention of putting you in any harm. I cannot confirm or deny the name of our client. But the information I have is that he was in a loving relationship that ended tragically. He simply wants to find someone similar to continue his bliss.”
“Did his wife die in a car that went over a cliff with a body that was never found?”
“Perhaps…. Let’s stop the charade. If we have been unwittingly hired to find you in order for him to inflict some harm, I will not comply.”
“He is a dangerous man involved in organized crime. I tried to love him but I could not ignore the horrible things he does for money. I had to get away.”
“What can I do to protect you?”
“That’s an unexpected question. At the very least, open the door and kick me to the curb. It will only be a matter of time before he finds me through some other means. But if you really want to help me, find a cosmetic surgeon who can change my appearance.”
“I need to regroup and consult with my supervisor, if you’ll trust me. My men there will give you a burner phone. I’m the only person who has the number. Please answer when I call. Also keep your head covered and wear sunglasses in public. My men will now drop you off wherever you like.”
“Okay, thank you. I trust you more now than when I was abducted. But I’ll answer your phone call to prevent you from employing extraordinary measures in the future.”
“Thank you. Please give me at least a few days to sort this out and get back to you. Goodbye Sylvia.”
Matthew’s head is spinning. Without approval, he has access to as much as 20 percent of the client deposit. He is considering the diversion of some plastic surgery funds to Sylvia. Before doing so he loops in his boss, Arnold Fischer.
“Arnold, we have a situation on the Abernathy case.”
“What kind of situation?” his boss asks.
“We may need to extricate ourselves.”
“That is not an option. Are you not able to find a match?”
“I have a close match. But it has also come to my attention that the client may be involved in illegal activities.”
“Are you suddenly the moral compass for our clients? Deliver the closest match without judgement. The client is paying the bills.”
“Understood.” Matthew senses that his boss is siding with Mr. Abernathy. So he does not disclose the bombshell, fearing that his budget may be cut.
He decides to show Candidates E and F to compare with the best option from the first round. Matthew phones Mr. Abernathy to schedule a meeting for the presentation. “Hello, this is Matthew from DoppelMatch. I have made some great progress. When can you come in…? Tomorrow at 10 AM is fine. See you then.”
The next morning Mr. Abernathy arrives to say, “Thanks for calling. Let me see what you have, this time.”
“For comparison, this is Candidate D from our last viewing. Now, look at Candidates E and F.”
“Interesting. You are getting closer. Tell me more about Candidate F.”
“She lives in the United States. You are viewing her with no cosmetic procedures and she has an 80 percent facial match.”
“This might be her,” says Mr. Abernathy.
“Currently, her skills and interests do not align, but with time, we can bring those correlations up.”
Mr. Abernathy slips out the words, “So it’s not her?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I mean, could she have Kathlyn’s skills but you just don’t know yet?”
“It’s possible. We have yet to make contact with her.”
“Can you bring her in? I want to talk to her.”
“In due time, sir. Since she is not a voluntary member of our database, we need to acclimate her into the program so she will accept the terms of the agreement.”
“Forget about that. Just give me her contact information. I’ll orientate her myself.”
“This is irregular.” Sliding a paper across the table, Matthew continues, “You’ll need to sign a waver that absolves us of responsibility.”
“Fine, as long as this entire transaction remains confidential.”
“You can count on our discretion. We deal with only the most powerful and influential clientele who require it.”
Scribbling a signature, Mr. Abernathy acknowledges, “It looks like you made a cool million for less than two weeks of work.”
“Here are her phone numbers, social media accounts, and her home address. It has been a pleasure serving your needs. May you have a long and happy future together.”
Matthew feels he has helped two people. It seems like everyone is a winner. But assumptions can lead to disappointments in this business, as Matthew will soon discover.