Part 1 was posted on February 15, a couple of entries down from here. Fifteen year-old Nancy Bellarmine has been told that she has the same DNA as a woman who died years ago.
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A week of searching has turned up one picture of Kathryn Abrams. It’s one of those photos the police use when they want the public to come forward with tips about someone. Kathryn Abrams had a fake driver’s license on her when she died in 1999.
The thing is aside from the overdone updo and the California tan she looks like a twenty-year old me. I still have no idea who she was or why she had my DNA. When I asked my friend Skye about it she came up with the same list I had: time travel, clone, other-dimension me, or alien imposter. All impossible. But she asked her friend Washington, a guy with some incredible search-fu, to look into it.
Mom suggested we visit New Orleans on her vacation. I said sure and she started planning. I still want to get to California, but her deflection the first time told me that wasn’t going to happen.
This is soo frustrating!
“So I heard from Washington.”
We’re halfway across the mall parking lot with nobody around, so I stop and take Skye’s hand. “And?”
“He found something, but he won’t tell me what it is. He wants to meet us at the Bowel Movement.”
Which gives us zero time for shopping. We turn around and head out to the free-standing restaurant at the far edge of the parking lot. The sign says BurgerMeister, but nobody calls it that.
Washington is easy to spot; he’s at one of the outside tables with his laptop out. With his black jeans, black tee, and near-black skin he looks like a shadow with eyes or something out of a scary movie.
He pulls it closed as we jog up.
“Hey Skye.” He looks me up and down, which makes me feel a little bit weird. “You must be Nancy. You look just like your picture.”
“So what did you find?”
“Payment first, Skye.”
Payment? She didn’t say anything to me about payment. Washington hands me his phone with the camera app open.
“Okay, but on the cheek.”
“On the lips, girl. Considering what I got it’s worth it.”
“It had better be.”
The two of them lip-lock and I dutifully take a couple of pictures. After half a minute or so Skye starts thumping his chest.
“Washington! That was a hell of a lot more than I promised!”
“When you see it you’ll know it was worth it; I am the master, after all.”
After pocketing his phone he opens the ‘top. A few clicks later the screen fills with a picture of me. A naked picture of me.
It’s one of those clinical pictures of people like you’d use to make a CGI model; front, back, both sides, close-up of the face. It’s not porno but I push the lid shut anyway. That’s way too bizarre.
“Where did you get this?”
“You have it taken, girl? We could probably get some better– oww!“
I stop driving my thumb into his shoulder joint.
“Where did you get this picture?”
“Chill, Nancy! It’s not you, she just kinda looks like you. I really doubt you looked like this twenty years ago.”
“Twenty years ago?”
“Yeah. The file’s date-stamped 1996. All of them are.”
“All of them?”
“Yeah, there’s a whole folder, plus a couple of doc files that talk about medical stuff. Somebody was seriously studying this girl.”
“What do you want for a copy?”
“You really look like that?”
“Close enough to creep me out.”
“Then it’s free. I’m just not deleting my backup.”
I seriously consider beating his head in with his own laptop.
“What would it take for you to delete it?”
“Too late girl. The genie’s already out of the bottle,” He gives me a quick look up and down. “And I can never un-see it, not that I want to.”
I fight down the urge to throttle him and gouge his eyes out. He’s right; if he can find it once, he can find it again. I just want to get this over with.
“Don’t share it or post it anywhere, okay. That would be awful!”
“You have my word as a gentleman.” He closes the picture and then hands me a USB stick. “It’s all yours, Nancy. Pleasure doing business with you.”
Skye returns to my original question.
“Where did you get this, Washington?”
“Deep web. You know, the places where little kiddies and their search engines don’t go.”
“Then how did you find it?”
“I told you, I'm the master. But if you really want to know where I found it, it’s going to cost a lot more than a kiss.”
“In your dreams, boy.”
I take Skye’s hand. “Come on, let’s go.”
“It’s okay, Nan, you go. Washington and I have some things to talk about. You probably want to look at that stuff anyway.”
“Okay, bye.” She’s right; all I want to do is go home and read this. As I leave she’s sitting down next to him. A lot closer than I would. I try not to think about it as I start for the bus stop.