THE RESURRECTION OF ABIGAIL

This is Canadian lawyer David L. Hebert’s second published story, and we’re pleased to be the ones to present it to you, as we did with his initial effort. Clearly he’s honed his art by spinning fantasies to Canadian judges.

***

The last thing Abigail Florence Wright could remember was dying.

Dying had carried with it an indescribable feeling of peace and relaxation. Once the cancer had become more aggressive, the chemo couldn’t keep up. Death was to be a welcome respite after eighty-six years of slogging through words to build stories and novels to pay her bills. Those last few months really wore her down. When death finally came it was a beautiful, reassuring silence.

But that was then, and this was now.

A man stared down at her. He had dark hair and appeared to be in his mid-forties. “Hello, Abi.”

“Only my friends call me Abi,” she croaked. She tried to sit up, but restraints held her snugly in place.

The man gingerly pressed his hand on her shoulder, encouraging her to lie back flat on the bed. “You can’t get up yet. There are more tests and more scans to complete.”

Abigail stopped struggling, cleared her throat, and asked, “Can you tell me where I am, and what I’m doing here?”

The man smiled. “You’ve been revived. Your body has been genetically replaced.”

Abigail almost started to object and insist that she had never asked to be revived, but she noticed that the man was turning a knob on one of the many tubes that seemed to be connected to her. Within seconds she was asleep.

***

There were no restraints on her when she awoke. She felt rested. She could feel silk against her skin and warmth from the covers of the bed. She was alone in the room.

Revived, he had said. How? And better still, why? She wasn’t wealthy. There was no way her estate could afford this. True, she’d won several awards as a mildly-renowned science-fiction writer, but accolades didn’t necessarily translate into money. She’d had a couple of category bestsellers, and the sales of her other books had been respectable, but nothing to cause George R. R. Martin or Stephen King to lose any sleep over. She had never been wealthy.

She was surprised to find that she could sit up easily on the edge of the bed. She gingerly placed her feet on the floor, standing with ease, perfectly upright, which she hadn’t been able to do in years. She took a tentative step, then another. The bed was at the center of a large room. The tubes and wires were gone, as was the equipment that had surrounded her. There was a door, but there was no handle. The only other decoration in the room was a mirror. She walked over and looked into it.

The octogenarian with the sagging skin and the myriad wrinkles was nowhere in evidence. Her body felt different, and it looked different. She had grown accustomed to the combined effects of gravity and aging, but from the image before her, she appeared to be in her late twenties or early thirties. Instead of her hard-fought reality, her reflection was an idealized image, and more like a teenage fantasy than any realistic expectation of what a real woman actually looked like. She noticed something hanging on a hook on the wall beside the curtain. It was a white dress. She slipped it on over her naked form. It hugged her curves and was cut too low and too short for her taste, but it was all there was to wear.

She went back to the bed and sat. After a few moments, the door slid open and the man stepped into the room.

“Abi! You have awakened!”

Abigail smiled back at him. “Please call me Abigail. And I’m glad you’re back. Now you can tell me what all this is about.”

“You are my favorite author,” he said, smiling. He moved to the edge of the bed and sat.

She’d heard that one before, ages ago, usually from guys who were hoping to talk or flatter her into bed. He explained that he was a scientist, and he had combined his life’s work with his fascination with her work. He told her about his experiments and his scientific achievements, his history as a geneticist and neurobiologist, and his attempts to reconstruct her, using her DNA.

“And I was successful!” he concluded. “I was actually able to reconstruct your neurology from a series of scans of your remains.”

“My remains?”

“I had them exhumed. I am not without resources.” There was that damned smile again. “The dry heat of the Arizona mausoleum preserved the brain tissue well enough that the scans allowed me to reproduce your consciousness, with most of your memories intact.”

“Why would you want to do that?” she asked him.

Something in his eyes changed. There was an almost wistful look to them. “There’s never been another writer like you! I want to see you create still more masterpieces!”

She had no idea how to respond to that.

“Your stories are magical,” he enthused, “and contain insight that still rings true today, nearly twenty years after your passing. The world has been deprived of your exquisite voice for far too long. You will be able to sing again!”

Isn’t he poetic? she thought dryly. “What makes you think I want to continue writing?” Obviously this guy hadn’t lived through it, spending hours on the phone per month with customer service reps from the utilities, trying to stall for weeks while waiting for publishers’ increasingly late checks to arrive.

“Your words make the world a better place.” He seemed so very passionate about this, though he was clearly a crackpot, scientific achievements be damned.

“So you are suggesting that I write?” she asked carefully.

He nodded enthusiastically. “The scans I’ve done of your reconstructed neuro-cortex show complete congruity. I was working from twenty-year-old desiccated tissue, so there’s bound to be some slight memory issues with regards to specific incidents, but I believe that they’ll all come back with use. Your creativity should be a part of that, combined with your extensive knowledge and talent.”

Suddenly he stood up. “Come with me,” he said, moving to the doorway. He waved his finger over a small metal plate near the jamb, and the door slid open. She followed him out into the hall. They walked a few steps to another doorway, he waved his finger again, and that door also slid open.

The room was huge, but it felt almost cramped by the aisles of shelving filled with neatly-organized boxes. A large table near the entrance was strewn with papers. Abigail glanced at it. She didn’t have to look too closely to recognize her unique scrawl.

Plot notes. Character descriptions. Snippets of dialogue. Handwritten stream-of-consciousness conversations with herself about how situations would develop. Collectively, it was the behind-the-scenes work of everything she’d ever written.

She gave him a sideways glance. “I donated these to the University of Florida in 2012.”

He flashed that knowing grin again. “They had digitized the whole collection by 2022. After that, the papers themselves were just taking up space. They agreed to let me have them for the cost of removing them.” He looked almost smug as he picked up a box stuffed with used envelopes from a shelf. “I also managed to collect a number of your letters to publishers and fans. In fact, they helped me to reconstruct your genetic profile using the DNA I obtained from them.” He returned the box to the shelf. “Come now, and I’ll show you where you will write.”

He led her out the door and down the hall to another room. Inside were four desks. On one sat an IBM Selectric typewriter, on another a generic PC, on the third a futuristic contraption that Abigail didn’t recognize, and the surface of the fourth desk was clear, save for some pens in a holder and a stack of blank paper. There was a chair at each desk. Nothing adorned the walls.

“I read in one of your interviews that you prefer your writing quarters to be rather bland.”

He explained that she had admitted to having preferences, over time, for various machines on which to write—hence the Selectric and the computer, which was loaded with various versions of different software programs she had preferred over the decades. “You can use whichever you happen to prefer.” He took her to the third desk. The futuristic-to-her machine was simply a computer with a holographic display. He turned it on, and the screen floated into view. Using gestures and voice commands, he explained, she could have access to the Omninet to research whatever she chose.

“The Omninet?”

“The Omninet is a subscription past all paywalls. You can research anything, including medical journals and newspaper archives, without a password.” He gave her a brief introduction to its use as they sat together at the terminal. She picked up the basic commands quickly.

“I have an additional room to show you,” he said, standing and walking toward the hallway. Directly across from the writing room was another door, which he activated. “This,” he said as the door slid open, “is the library.”

The library was larger than the writing room, and each wall was lined with shelves that were crammed with books. A mixture of hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and normal paperbacks covered all the available shelf space. There was a set of couches in the center of the room with tables between them. Abigail stepped closer to a shelf to examine the titles. She was only mildly surprised to find the nearest set of shelves covered with her own books, all of which looked to be in excellent shape. On the lower shelves sat collections of magazines and anthologies that contained stories she had written. Looking at her collected writings all together like this, Abigail concluded that there was no wonder it had felt like a hell of a lot of work.

“I’ve read a great many of the books in this library. This collection contains most of the important science fiction works of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. And, naturally, your section is complete.”

He led her to a couch, and they sat.

“I hope you will find the library satisfactory. You mentioned in one of your interviews that you love to read old classics from the field.”

Jesus Christ. What hadn’t she said in these interviews? “Yes, it’s a source of inspiration for me, at times.”

“Well, you’ll find the complete works of C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, and Robert Heinlein, including the pseudonyms they also published under, to name but a tiny handful. And in the balance of the books here, you’ll find quite a few of your own contemporaries, and most of the greatest works in the field up until the time of your death in 2015.”

“So you expect me to write and find inspiration from re-reading books I’ve read before. What else is there to this life you’ve built for me?”

“All in good time,” he said. “Your physiology, neurology, and biology all appear to be working harmoniously, but we need to keep monitoring you to make sure that remains the case. As I gain more confidence in your physical abilities, we will establish a routine that suits you.” He stood and held out a hand to her. “We will be more comfortable in the lounge. Come.” He helped her to her feet and led her to the door.

He led her down the hallway to another nondescript door, which he opened by waving his hand over the panel mounted beside it. They then entered a small lounge with comfortable upholstered chairs placed around an expensive wooden table. He beckoned her to sit and, after she was seated, took the chair beside her.

“I am a neurobiologist by training,” he began. “My parents were both scientists. I am an only child, and my parents were opposed to the mindless entertainment of television and movies. They encouraged me to embrace reading as a hobby, and filled the house with books. My father was a science fiction fanatic.”

He was lost in his memories as he recounted his story. “My mother was also a voracious reader, although her tastes were more devoted to titles from the nonfiction field, and so I was surrounded by an incredible selection of both science fiction and educational books about science and technology. I must have been eleven or twelve when I stumbled across one of your books, and, frankly, I was hooked. I worked my way through the titles of yours that we had in the family library, and when I exhausted those, I begged my father for more. He was happy to encourage my reading habit, and he ordered the books I requested. By the time I was sixteen I had read all of your works. I had also read the works of many other authors of the various periods over the years that marked the rising popularity of the genre, but none contained the unique qualities that yours possessed.”

Abigail supposed that she should take his interest as a compliment, but she sensed some inconsistencies in his thinking. “What are these unique qualities you’ve mentioned?”

She was trying to be cordial to stay on his good side, but she was genuinely curious. Had he seen something the rest of the world hadn’t? Any success Abigail had created was generated by hard work, but it seemed that he was placing some form of reverence in the words of the stories themselves. For Abigail, the hard work had been cranking out the words, one by one, that would ultimately tell the story. The story, not the turn of phrase, was what paid the bills, and each month there would be more bills to pay, so new words went into new stories, and the process continued. But the words were just the necessary first step.

“I don’t know that I can explain it any better than I already have,” he said. “Your words speak truth, and life, and vitality. All of your characters, even the ill-intentioned ones, have an inner decency that runs through everything you write. Your characters always do the right thing.”

“I would tend to agree,” she said in measured tones, “that my characters do what’s right at the first available opportunity.”

He continued. “Your novels truly spoke to me during my formative years. I honestly believe your books helped define my sense of self, my morality, and my role as a human being. I am the person I am because of you.”

“But you already have shelves of my books. Why is it so important to you that I continue to write?”

He became animated and expressive. “I want to read more of your work! I created the resurrected you! Who knows what your work will inspire me to do next? You can devote all your time now to writing,” he concluded, placing his hand on her knee and gripping it with a firmness that sent a shiver of alarm through her body.

She gently removed it. “All in due time,” she said. After a brief pause, she turned to face him. “If you expect me to spend my time writing, I’m going to need my uniform.”

He looked at her quizzically. “Uniform?”

She nodded. “Wasn’t it in the interviews you read? Did none of them ever ask what I wore when I wrote? I need flannel nightgowns. Roomy ones. And silk or satin robes to wear over them. And I’ll need comfy underwear, and a couple of bras.”

She watched his expression begin to blanch as she stated her litany of demands. “That, of course,” she continued, “is for when I’m writing. But I’ll also need some casual clothes to wear during downtime and for supper. And perhaps clothes for any other functions that I’m not aware of as yet.” She tugged at the snug skimpy white dress that hugged her figure. “This is definitely not going to cut it.”

He was quiet for a moment, then assured her that her needs would be met. Suddenly he stood up. “I almost forgot! I’ll be right back!” He rushed out the door, returning in a few moments with a crystal vase filled with a dozen fresh-cut white roses. He’d obviously stumbled upon some interview where she admitted to admiring them.

She stood and thanked him, taking them from him and placing them on the table. “They’re absolutely beautiful!” They were, but she still felt the chill from earlier. She spent a moment fussing over them, moving a few around in the arrangement, and then turned to thank him again. He excused himself, and told her to get ready for supper.

***

He led her into the dining room. Their place settings were at alternate ends of a long table. It was only after she was seated that she noticed that her silverware included no knife. The haute cuisine was served by robots; if there was any live staff in the kitchen, they were ghostly silent.

“Do you realize,” she began, and paused to take a sip of her wine, “that you haven’t even told me your name?”

“I am Dr. Josef Frankl—but I would appreciate it if you would call me Joe, Abi.”

“I would appreciate it if you called me Abigail.”

He set down his glass and arched an eyebrow. “It was my understanding from the writings about you that you preferred to be called Abi.”

Abigail shook her head. “Do you believe everything you read?”

“By you? Yes.”

“People called me that. I may not have corrected them, but I never said I preferred it, Joe.” She smiled wryly as she stretched out his name.

“So be it, Abigail.” His broad smile looked almost lewd.

She could feel the skin crawling on the back of her neck. She was not enjoying this charade of flirting with him, but it was necessary. While she was secretly harboring fantasies of stabbing him in the eye with a fork, such an action would not get her out of this place. Her objective was to escape, not kill him and be trapped down here. What she needed was a plan—but while she’d be polite and pleasant, she wouldn’t fawn over him. She had never been a fawner, and she wasn’t about to start now.

“When can I leave this wing?” she asked.

“It is best,” he answered, “to keep your existence under wraps for the time being. You are one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the century. Perhaps the biggest.”

“So why keep me a secret?”

“The world is not ready to know you yet.”

She shot him a glance that told him to cut the bullshit.

“You successfully recreated me twenty years after my death. Nothing you have said gives me any indication that you were involved in the creation of the technology. So why is it such a secret?”

“Oh, I have every intention of unveiling you to the public, Abigail,” he said reassuringly. “As I’ve told you, we still have testing to complete before I can be certain that we won’t face any medical complications. As of this moment, I’d say you are perfect, but I want to satisfy myself beyond doubt. It would be imprudent to announce your presence before I have reached that level of certainty. Until then, you will remain here in the citadel.”

Citadel. Interesting name for it, she thought. “I have one more question, Joe.”

He smiled at her. “And that is?”

“What you did—resurrecting me. Is it legal?”

He did not answer.

***

When Abigail awoke the next morning, a white chest of drawers and a white wardrobe had been moved into the room. Inside was an assortment of the types of clothes she’d requested the day before. She was mildly impressed that he had acquiesced to her demands so quickly, and she was relieved that she was going to have something comfortable to wear while she figured out how to get out of this place.

The interior doors now opened for her as she approached. She wandered from her sleeping chambers out into the hall.

She turned left and began walking down a corridor she hadn’t yet explored. A small alcove held a single painting on its wall. It caught her attention, but only because she didn’t recognize it at first. Then recognition came flooding back: It was the cover art for what was quite possibly the worst book she had ever written. Oh, hell, who was she kidding? It may well have been the worst book anybody had ever written. The only reason it sold the few copies it had was because her name was on the cover.

The Goddess of Tartarus. Who the hell had she been trying to kid?

She had churned that one out in the middle of her divorce, when she was more often drunk than not, and the book was filled with inconsistencies and contradictions and what might have even been entire passages lifted word-for-word from her prior works, as various bloggers had suggested. She’d have made out better writing a cookbook—but then maybe the market wasn’t quite ready for a cookbook where every recipe called for three fingers of scotch per serving.

There was some bitter irony that one of the central issues of the divorce revolved around her name and her ex-husband’s persistent attempt to make her give it up. It was marital property, he said. She should have to pay him half of all future earnings, including anything she subsequently wrote, since it was his name to begin with. She’d lose ninety percent of her following if she had to switch names mid-course. It would be like starting her career over, and she wanted to avoid that at all costs.

The worst part was that it looked like the court was going to agree, and maybe Goddess was actually a subconscious attempt to trash any value the name had left in it. Maybe it was even the reason he asked for a temporary injunction to keep her from using the name until the case was decided, or unless she agreed to his exorbitant settlement proposal. Maybe it was just the booze. No wonder she didn’t recognize the cover at first—she had only ever let herself look at it once, and in the haze, her memory of it had been successfully repressed.

At some point in the middle of those dark days she found the spark of inspiration to move past the alcohol, but more importantly, she moved past the self-pity that was making her turn to the booze in the first place. She signed off on her ex-husband’s settlement proposal, abandoning most of her fortune but hanging onto her rights. With those rights, foreign and reprint sales could hold her creditors at bay long enough for her to start writing saleable books again.

So she started once more, living in a basement apartment and subsisting on noodles and eggs. She paid her dues all over again, and within a few years she had regained her former prominence.

She studied the painting. It was actually a gorgeous piece of cover art, she decided. Her shame arose from the contents, not from the painting. After all, she decided, you can’t judge a cover by its book.

The dress that she had found hanging on the hook in the bedroom was the same as the dress worn by the woman on the cover. The cover’s white hallways of the glistening palace were reminiscent of the long white corridors she had wandered down to get here. For the first time in years she wished she could remember that damned book.

The complete collection of her works was just down the hall in the library. The novel had been written over a half a century ago, and she had very little memory of what had gone into the damned thing in the first place.

Well, she was about to find out. She made her way to the library and found the paperback copy, which was its only form of release. She sat down on one of the couches, put her feet up on the table, and began to read.

She had often said that she could write a novel in her sleep, and here was proof that she had pretty much done just that. None of it seemed familiar. There was a citadel of some sort where Abigail had placed her heroine, trapped, unable to escape from the clutches of her tormentor. The evil and grotesque figure was obviously her ex-husband, and she herself was the virtuous and troubled heroine. It was a sad novel, dystopian in tone, and different from the titles she had been previously known for.

Yet somehow she had pulled this one off. The book had enough of the elements to satisfy, and something quirky in the telling had resonated with enough readers that the book became its own petite classic in her collection. The story elements were all there. The things that would draw the reader in, those little hidden unanswered questions that unfold as the story progresses, the little pieces that come alive in the imagination. Yes, the novel was minimally passable, and in more than a couple of places she actually found herself feeling mildly impressed. In retrospect, if this book hadn’t had so much negative attachment to it, she might have revisited it and turned it into something worthwhile.

And Frankl was one of the ones who had become a devotee. Abigail suddenly understood. She had written the script, and he planned to produce it. But not for film or television – no, he was producing a real-life performance for an audience of one. Himself.

Suddenly Abigail rushed to the writing room.

***

The computer ran smoothly enough, and she was simply typing up the story that had come to her. She proofread it once and made some minor corrections, but she was satisfied with the overall structure of the short piece.

In the first-person story, she cast herself as the heroine, captive in the dreaded prison on Silonurus III. She wrote in a romantic interest, a genius geneticist who worked for the prison but whose loyalties lay with her. She didn’t escape, but with the help of the geneticist her life became tolerable. But the key to the story was that the protagonist’s romantic interest was richly and continuously rewarded when he gave in to her various demands. Abi hoped it would be enough to set her plan in motion.

Just before she sent it to the printer, she changed the title to all caps as the finishing touch: YOU MAY CALL ME ABI.

***

That evening, at supper, she made small talk. After dessert, she reached into the pocket of her pantsuit and pulled out the few pages she had printed and folded in half. She smoothed them out on the table.

“I’ve written a new story,” she told Frankl. “I’d like your opinion.”

The expression on his face was unlike anything she had seen before—a little bit shocked, a tad stunned, and accompanied by a touch of awe. She carried it over to him. “Maybe you can read it tonight before bed, or in the morning after you wake up.”

She wanted to encourage him to read it immediately, but it was very important that she did not come across as eager. She hadn’t written the romantic interest as anyone in particular. In fact, she’d left out as much detail as possible about the character. With Frankl’s apparent penchant for projecting his own wants and desires onto a situation, she hoped that he’d identify with the male character simply because that character appeared to be on the receiving end of what Abigail suspected Frankl truly wanted. With luck, he would embrace the written word in the same way he had with Tartarus, and Abigail could use it to escape from this prison that he had built around her.

He gathered up the pages. “I will go and read it now.”

She finished her wine and set down the glass. “I’ll be in the library.”

***

As the door slid open, the mix of emotions on Frankl’s face was hard for Abigail to read. He stepped slowly and quietly into the library.

“I have read your story,” he said slowly, as he came to a stop in the center of the room. He smiled broadly and met her gaze directly. “It is quite possibly the best story you have ever written.” He became more animated as he spoke. “The character development is incredible! The slight tension giving way to the growing love between the two characters in the face of punishment for their illicit affair, and the risks they take to share that love—it’s such a beautiful story!”

“I am so glad you enjoyed it. It was fun to write.” She smiled at him. “As you see, I borrowed your occupation.”

“I noticed.”

“I’m a few years out of date as far as current events go, and I have no idea what kind of jobs people have nowadays, or even what they wear. I needed something, so I used it. I hope you don’t mind,” she said apologetically. She had to play this coyly; she hoped that she was convincing.

“How could I mind? It’s a fabulous story!” he exclaimed, and the excitement in his voice seemed genuine. Abigail was relieved. It wasn’t even a story at all. It was just a couple of scenes stuck together with a lot of dialogue about forbidden love and undying loyalty. But she had hoped that it would resonate with him and his fantasies, and it looked like she’d hit the mark.

Now it was time for the next phase of her plan.

***

“Have you been working on new stories?” asked Frankl as he stepped into the library the next day.

She looked up from her seat on the couch. “I’ve tried,” she said, feigning weariness. “The ideas haven’t been coming very easily. Every time I think I’ve got one, it fizzles. There’s nothing that holds my attention. If I’m going to be able to write, I need to get out into the world and experience it again. I need to see some shows, go to the theater, and the opera, and the ballet. It’s getting out there and living that gives a writer the ability to construct scenes and build characters. You can’t create in a vacuum—and this place is a creative vacuum.”

“What do you need to do?”

“Isn’t there an opera we can go to? A ballet? Some live theater—Shakespeare, Albee, even Neil Simon? Anything that shows real human beings doing something creative.” She smiled at him. “Don’t you think it would be a wonderful evening—going out on the town to enjoy some high arts, and especially to engage in the art of people-watching, to see what they’re wearing, what they’re saying, how they’re reacting, wondering what kind of lives they live?”

He stared at her rather blankly.

She shook her head sadly. “You still don’t quite get it. This is how a writer creates. Ideas don’t just pop into her head with no input from the outside world. Asimov never met a robot, and Clarke never met an alien. Story ideas come from clashes of observed real events colliding with ideas of ‘What if this happened to cause it?’ or ‘What if that happens as a result?’ This writer’s block I’m experiencing is because I’ve got no outside stimulation to trigger the creative reaction.”

He acquiesced. “If you think it will help alleviate the writer’s block, I’m happy to do it. And nobody knows who you are. We should be able to attend in near anonymity.” He brushed a lock of hair from her forehead to the side, tucking it behind her ear. “Aside from whatever attention your beauty may bring.”

She forced a big smile. “I’ll need a dress.”

***

Abigail was taken aback with the beauty of the Opera House’s lobby. The gilt decorations and the lush red draperies created a truly elegant atmosphere, blending with the walls and their coverings of red and gold textured wallpaper. They were early enough that there were not yet a great many people.

She truly felt stunning in the dress Frankl had chosen. It was sleek and black with a rolled collar that showed off her figure but left more to the imagination than his typical selection might have. She was relieved to have most of her skin covered for once.

She glanced around the room at the exit signs, noting their locations. One was close to the front entrance, beside the coat check area and the door to the manager’s office. The others were next to stairwells on the sides of the lobby. She looked at the gold-and-red walls beside the exits, straining to see details but having a difficult time. Finally, gazing in the direction of wall by the manager’s office, she could see what she had been striving to see. She turned back to Frankl.

“Let’s stay in the lobby for as long as we can,” she said. “I haven’t been in a crowd for so long, I forget what it feels like. Five minutes before show time should give us plenty of time to get to our seats.”

Frankl was looking around the room. “Have you found anything interesting to watch?”

She smiled at him. “You never know what’s going to interest you. An idea can be sparked by anything. An earring, perhaps. Or the decorative handle on a cane. Or a drunk uttering unpopular truths. There’s no telling what might spark that creative imagination. You just have to be ready when it finally happens.” She took his hand and pulled. “Come. Let’s circle the room.”

They made their way around the large lobby, casually observing the people around them. Abigail took note of their mode of dress, their accessories, and the styles of their hair, but also their countenances, and the worries and emotions that showed through. She was actively masking her own, but she was taking total stock of those around her.

“Now why don’t you grab us some drinks before show time?”

“Gin and tonic,” he said knowingly.

“I knew that had to have been in an interview somewhere,” she said dryly as he ambled off toward the bar. She waited a moment, and as he settled in line she moved toward the wall beside the manager’s office. She looked around the now-crowded lobby as Frankl slowly made his way up to the bar. He was third in line when she reached up and pulled the fire alarm.

***

Abigail had arrived at the restaurant for a late dinner with her recently-acquired attorney. She shook hands with him as she sat down next to him.

“Frankl is still in custody,” the attorney told her. “He’s been denied bail. If he pleads not guilty, you may have to testify.”

“Better than introducing me as an exhibit. Have they pressed charges?”

The attorney shrugged. “Cloning is still highly illegal, but I’m not certain they’ve settled upon a charge. Would you like me to check?”

Abigail shook her head. “Don’t bother. Any luck on the stuff I hired you for?”

He nodded. “I’ve done the research. This is unprecedented, but the rights to your prior works should be yours.”

“It’s that simple?”

He nodded an affirmative. “We have the DNA results to prove who you are.”

“And the memoirs? Have you heard anything yet?” she asked.

“I was waiting to surprise you. The auction for your memoirs was held this afternoon. The successful publisher has pledged a half-million-dollar advance.”

She smiled and held up her champagne glass. “Thank you, Mr. D’Amico.”

He clinked glasses with her. “Please call me Matt, Ms. Wright.”

She took a sip in celebration. “Please call me Abi.”

Copyright © 2018 by David L. Hebert