This story comes from (checking the prompt link twice) this Reddit r/writingprompts prompt and was posted there first.
Content warnings for surgery, bionic parts, and um, non-consensual body modifications?
Waking felt strange. There’d been times when Jo had woken up quickly, woken up scared, woken up slowly in a warm sunbeam, woken warm and comfortable – although the last had been rare, in the last few years.
There’d been times when Jo had woken without pain, although again, not in the last few years.
This time, Jo woke slowly, like coming out of a fog, without pain, with a little sunlight on her face, with the feeling of warmth all around her.
She struggled to find a memory. There had been – there’d been that car. She’d taken the job boosting cars for Kralleg. He paid good, he actually took no for an answer, and the job had made sense. She’d gotten away clean, she’d been fine, and then –
and then, she had no idea. There was a blank where there was supposed to be an and then. There was –
Something like fire?
She couldn’t bring herself to worry, which was strange enough. She couldn’t even bring herself to care enough to open her eyes, which, considering how soft the bed beneath her was, how comfortable she was and how warm, how much she didn’t remember what happened, she really ought to care.
She really ought to be getting out of here.
She forced herself to open one eye, found it was too bright and too much effort, and closed it again.
Sleep came over her like the sunlight and the blankets, and she couldn’t care enough to fight it.
It came again, wakefulness, and this time she remembered – she remembered waking up, at least. She remembered the feeling of lassitude, and noticed that she could bring herself to worry, just a bit, this time.
Something beeped near her. She considered the noise. Beeping.
Beeping didn’t come with jails, did it? She’d managed to avoid jail, before now.
“Suzanne? Suzanne, are you awake?”
Suzanne? Had she been pretending to be someone else? And if so, why Suzanne? She tried to stick to names she could remember.
Or was there someone else in the room? That would make more sense.
She waited to see if someone else answered. When nobody else did, she made an incoherent sort of sound, cautiously.
“Okay, don’t try to move too much yet, you’re hooked up to a lot of things. We can get rid of some of that soon, but I want to be sure you’re going to stay awake this time. Suzanne, my name is Verdana, and I’m your care nurse. You were in an accident, a very bad car crash, but Mr. Promintha, he has generously agreed to pay for the best care for you. The best care. We had to keep you in a coma for – for a while, because the accident did quite a bit of damage to your body-”
Damage? She grunted, or mumbled, or something. She could feel – something down her throat? Something in her arm, things stuck all over her. No wonder she hadn’t been able to care earlier. Damage? How were her hands? What about her eyes?
“-but we’ve pulled in some experimental procedures and some top-notch surgeons. We couldn’t find a next of kin or, really, anyone, but Mr. Promintha-”
Wait. That name.
He owned – if it was the Mr. Promintha – half of the city. Maybe two -thirds. He owned the biggest businesses. He owned some of the roads.
And he was a notorious drinker, drug-user, party boy, and general mischief maker. It had all been very lowkey, though, like, “Mr. Promintha seen at his new club, High Kites, with a beautiful woman. Mr. Promintha seen at competitor’s club, The DownLow, with a beautiful man.”
If he was paying for her care…
She grunted a question.
The nurse chose to misunderstand.
“-He’s acting as your power of attorney for the time being. Don’t worry, everything went perfectly smoothly. We only had a couple photos to go off of – you really do stay off the internet, good for you-”
Wait. It wasn’t like Jo carried ID on her. Not when she was doing things of questionable to straight out non-existent legality. Wait.
She grunted out an unclear Wait.
The nurse once again chose to misunderstand.
“-So we had some artists do the best they could in recreating what you looked like. But I believe, Suzanne, that you’re going to like what you see. And while we were working on you, we did correct some old surgeries. It looks like you had a pin put in your knee some time ago? You’ve got some brand new Promintha-Tech going on there now. Your knee will never bother you again – or that issue with your left middle finger. We had to repair or replace most of that hand anyway-”
This time, Jo made a pretty good job of making herself understood-
“It was really quite a bad accident. But no need to worry! You’re all healed up, and with Mr. Promintha’s donation to your care, you’ll be set for life. A home nurse for the next eight months, and because of the damage to your house… well, Mr. Promintha has set you up with a very nice townhouse as well, in his new complex.”
The house. Jo squeezed her eyes. The house. She’d gotten the car out of the driveway. Nobody was home. The house was dark. And –
And the crash.
She groaned softly.
The nurse understood that well enough.
“I’m going to get this and that off of you, and then we’re going to take the bandages off. I really do think you’ll be pleased, Suzanne.”
Suzanne. Jo finally understood.
The keys had been in the glovebox.
So had the wallet.
Jo was – Jo had been reconstructed – reconstructed by Promintha Tech! – to look like, to be Suzanne.
Whoever Suzanne was.
And she had a house. That was new.
And a home nurse. That was definitely new.
And a rich man who wanted to make sure she was happy.
That was beyond her wildest hopes.
A rich man who very well may have driven his car into her.
It was the only thing that made sense.
She let it rumble around in her mind as the nurse removed things and moved things and fussed things around her body.
It wasn’t a bad deal, all things considered. Assuming they’d done a decent job of reconstruction, so she had a face that looked, well, facelike, and if Mr. Promintha had been paying for it, they problem had, assuming they’d actually fixed her bum knee and her bad finger – assuming that everything was what she’d been told it was…
…her only question had to be what had happened to the real Suzanne?
That’s a very good question. Also this is a terrifying case of mistaken identity.
It is! Some of the other responses were a lot more vindictive and/or creepy. I decided someone might like being someone else.
this is an interesting set up. Very interesting
The Reddit challenges are often interesting because they’re more full, more complex, than is my normal preference. And I want to take a take nobody else has.
What evidence do we have that Suzanne ever existed before this?
That… That that is a very good question.
I favor Suzanne existing but she was somewhere else Up to No Good. Or had moved here after escaping an abusive relationship, and just left quickly upon learning that the ex was coming. That one is fun because we’d get to see Jo not take any shit from Suzanne’s ex.
Having done my substantive comment, more please!
*grins about the substantive comment comment* 😀 😀
The idea of her being on the run is great.
I’ve also thought of her being like someone’s cover id.
If “Suzanne” somehow set Jo up for this to cover her disappearance …
(Someone t-boning a car pulling out of driveway wouldn’t normally do a lot of damage to the *house* … I think? Even if the cars wound up on fire …)
I was thinking something like, Attacking Car goes into the backing car and keeps going, pushing both of them through the front window of the house. Very short driveway.
That’s terrifying, too. The porch is toast, and it looks like the car went into the front of the house proper, too, potentially damaging structural walls. How …?
I had a former co-worker have that happen to them, too.
I’m not sure how, but if you google it (don’t google “Car in front of house,” that doesn’t work, you have do to like “car THROUGH front of house”, oops) (also don’t google it, it ‘s horrifying), you see any number of ’em.
Presumably bad intersections?
Like there was this intersection by my church that was awful – I remember we were having a youth group event one evening when there was an accident. But it happened a lot. Main road was right-of-way, people just… Didn’t look. Little hill on the north side of the main road so you COULD miss someone.
It’s STILL not a 4-way stop but they’ve put up flashing yellow lights??
So someone going 65, 70, an intersection like that, plows through, if they’d done it JUST RIGHT at that intersection could’ve hit the house at the corner.