Alice pushed her mother around the park. It was a cold and blustery morning, a miserable day. A fine, dirty rain drenched them both. At one time, her mother would have called it ‘mucky weather’. They came to the park every morning, come rain or shine. Alice needed to get out of the house.
Alice pushed the wheelchair into the Memorial Garden, where thieves had stripped the Memorial and sold the names of the war-dead for the price of scrap metal.
Alice saw the fisherman, dressed in scales that caught the light even in the feeble November sun, a man-shape with the face of an ocean beast. He stood immobile in his impenetrable armour, an unseen force-field which repelled all earthly weapons.
Alice stared at him, transfixed, as he turned his head, so slowly, as if moving through water. He returned her gaze with white-filmed, unblinking eyes.
Alice was caught. She was drowning in the star seascape of his old-eyed imagination. She washed clean in the unconceivable sights of his understandings.
The fisherman broke the connection. He walked past Alice and out of the gate.
Alice stood gasping in the Memorial Garden. She looked around. She was alone. Alice had heard stories of groups of concerned citizens who were prepared to take action, the vigilantes prepared to root out any alien taint.
“Alice,” asked the thin voice of her mother. “Who was that? Was it the devil?” Mother was confused, sometimes.
“No, Mum. Remember, I told you about the fishermen. They live here now. We can’t get rid of them.”
Alice crouched down to face her trembling mother. “Did he look at you, Mum? Did he do anything strange to you?”
“I don’t know what you mean, Alice.”
Alice pushed her mother home. Pretend that everything is normal, pretend that you’re still normal and everything will be fine.
Alice sat in the living room, thinking about everything she had heard about the fisherman. Fishermen copy your mind and upload your emotions. Alice shivered. She had felt the touch of his strange mind. Then they sell you. There’s a thriving market for mind clones in the universe, apparently. Her life, her mind, which seemed so ordinary to Alice, would be considered an exotic, marketable commodity. Alice imagined herself copied into the body of some robot, insect, wave form, another species of life relishing her mind. There might be thousands of her mind clones, already.
The fisherman will copy and corrupt you. Her clone mind would be compelled to do new things. Who knows what strange desires might arise when merged in a new body?
What should she do? Should she join one of the self-help groups? Should she turn herself over to the government to assist their research? Alice shuddered.
No. Her first instinct was correct. She would carry on with her normal life, and wait. She wondered if anyone else felt like her.
“Alice,” the familiar sound of her mother echoed through the house.
Alice walked to her mother’s bedroom, “Mum, are you alright? You don’t feel strange do you?”
“Is that devil coming again? He wants to steal your soul, Alice.”
Alice thought how strange it was to imagine herself elsewhere, spinning through the universe in other bodies. She would sense a small part of her mind clones. They would send her psychic postcards though the immeasurable distances of space.
Everyone said it was a terrible thing to be copied and spun into a different body. It was the ultimate theft. The government was frantic. They could not rid the Earth of the fisherman.
We will become less than human.
“Don’t worry mum,” said Alice. She felt a twinge, and an image of an endless dark nebulae entered her mind.
A fisherman had copied Alice’s soul.
And she liked it.
After a twenty year period of procrastination Deborah Walker has started to write short stories, poetry and tweets. She lives in London with her partner Chris and her two lovely, yet distracting young children. Find her horror stories in Bards and Sages, Champagne Shivers, Innsmouth Free Press, Tweet the Meat, and the following anthologies: Creature Feature, Zombonauts, Scroll of Anubis, Zombology VI: Flash Fiction, Horror Through the Ages, Alienology, Night of the Giving Dead, The Morons’ Guide to the Inevitable Zombocalypse, and Through the Eyes of the Undead.