A Knife In the Dark – 5

“Forensic Homesteading”

My wake-up call was a thunderclap.

I had fallen asleep last night on a tattered couch depicting wilderness scenes of game animals… the same couch I assumed Mr. ********* was discovered unconscious upon before transport to the hospital. Being daytime, the path taken by the medics from the front door to the couch was revealed, with furniture and such moved to permit a gurney across the room.

The sound of rain pouring off the roof like a waterfall was viewable out the windows. Daylight revealed the disarray of the combined dining, kitchen, and living areas, all in desperate need of housekeeping. There was a hallway into additional rooms which thankfully included a bathroom.

It would do for a start, and I had much to learn.

Getting around was going to take time. The longer I wasn’t using my legs, the more numb they felt, so I needed to find excuses to move… which meant using the walker. After managing to pick up everything that looked like rubbish into a waste can, I used the cocktail table for organizing my medications and routine, all documented upon a handy legal pad. Using a slender translucent ink pen with no obvious means (or need, apparently) to refill it was nothing less than a marvel.

Not that the story need be long, but suffice it to say I understood my predicament. Convincing the hospital staff I wasn’t enduring a crisis of identity was simple enough, but Mr. ********* must have had a profession, some responsibilities, or at the very least a source of income. This house, by my estimate, was too much for one individual, and a casual look through a hallway and shelves of photo frames suggested my predecessor had inherited a family home and certainly lived alone.

I had no desire to know him, but I might have to convince others that I am him… at least for the moment.

To that end, there was a need to inventory the home: every shelf, every box, and every corner. All of it would be sorted into what to keep, what was to go, and anything questionable in between that may require more specific attention.

It was going to take some time, I had no idea how much time I had, and my new world was brimming with fresh distractions.

For example: my mobile telephone — which resembled a plain cigarette case but housed a miniaturized Babbage Engine capable of miraculous things — mostly worked by touching words or symbols appearing upon the glass surface. My predecessor’s fingerprint could also act to verify and initiate capabilities, but so far I had enjoyed accepting incoming calls and using the speaker option to converse as though in the same room.

A minor observation: touching things that interested me on the telephone delivered additional content, yet the television in the home did not. It seemed inefficient unless one considers the effort of going to the screen to do so. Advertisements often mention convenience, but I fear they are mistranslating idleness. Then again, perhaps the television I’d inherited might not be the newest model including such features.

In any event, the primary function of the modern telephone appeared to be finding buyers and pitching sales. So far I had been offered vehicle warranties, the ability to pay off my tax debts, requests to support local politicians and who I should cast a ballot for, and I had won all manner of things as long as I provided financial information beforehand. It was odd hearing the varying inflections of the English language spoken by operators from around the world — I would often ask where someone was calling from — and this device didn’t even need a wire. Something else I learned quickly is these individuals don’t enjoy questions or engaging in conversation deviating from their intent, and it was immensely satisfying whenever my caller touched their red “end call” symbol before I did.

Maybe it was meant to all be a game, so of course I started keeping score… and I won quite often.

One of the back rooms was an unkempt office, full of useful papers and other accounts. In addition, I discovered what I later learned was a laptop computer, with a larger picture frame than my telephone but with a mechanical typewriter as a means to enter information. For things that I couldn’t remember ever having encountered prior, it wasn’t lost upon me they were too easily figured out. I intuitively understood the layout of the keys but could recall no training or practice in typing — or being a secretary — so something of my former self carried forward in my mind. It was the only explanation for how fast I was learning to navigate the world and this life.

Did that indicate my memories of being someone else could return… and the me I knew be forgotten?

Continue Reading In Chapter 6

Or start from the Beginning

. . .

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