© 2010. J. Chad Barrett, Sr. All Rights Reserved.
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“What?” John’s heart almost stopped. He recalled his voicemail to Katherine just days earlier. “Katherine?” Could she be setting him up—just to get rid of him? No. No way.
John stood up and leaned forward to look closely at the monitor. Then something caught his attention. Finally, his unknown enemy had made a mistake. He was, apparently, adjusting the camera, and when it had turned away from Katherine John saw something familiar. The unknown enemy accidentally exposed his left hand. John saw a small tattoo—a star on the hand of his unknown enemy.
John started walking in circles, and then pacing back and forth. “Where? Where have I seen that before?” Suddenly, flashbacks began to enter his mind, one by one.
The cell phone store.
The coffee shop.
The grocery store.
One by one, he remembered seeing this tattoo at all these places. The flashbacks began to flood his mind, sending him into near meltdown.
He fell to his knees and buried his head in his hands. His head ached with pain. Then he jumped up and looked at the monitor again.
“Who are you? Please tell me!”
Just then, John noticed something strange on the screen. A slight blip. He leaned in closer and waited about two minutes. There it was again—another blip. Soon he figured out a pattern. A blip every two minutes. Then the camera turned away, and he saw the same version of the exposed left hand with the tattoo of a star. Then it hit him—this was no live feed. This was recorded!
John ran out of the closet and out of the bedroom. He nearly stumbled as he made his way to the apartment’s front door. He jerked it open and almost plowed into three large men. Each one wore a black jacket and white pants. Behind them stood four police officers with their weapons drawn.
“Who are you? What’s going on?” John demanded.
“Mr. Stanton, we need you to come with us. Everything will be alright. I promise. Just drop the gun and come with us,” said one of the large men.
“Stanton? I’m sorry, you have the wrong guy.”
“Mr. Stanton, please—”
“I am John—John Whitley! My name is John Whitley!”
As John was yelling his name, the large men grabbed him by the arms, knocking the gun out of his hand, and drug him to their van. He noticed a logo on the side of the van. It was familiar, but he couldn’t place it. He yelled and fought them all the way to the van, and the police cuffed him before putting him inside.
Then one of the large men inserted a needle into his right arm. “I’m sorry, Mr. Stanton. This is for your own safety,” he said. John’s eyes fluttered. He tried to shake his head, but it became very heavy. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he passed out.
“Mike? Mike Stanton? Wake up, Mike. You’re home now.”
His eyes slowly opened. “Where am I?”
The doctor sat down in his chair across from his desk. “It’s good to have you back, Mike.”
John looked around the office. “Doc? What happened? What’s going on?”
“Mike, you’ve been away for a while. We’ve been looking for you, and we are so glad you are home,” said the doctor.
He took a deep breath and said, “I’m so glad I’m home, too. Wow! The dream I just had! Oh, my head—you got any Tylenol?”
Just then, two men walked into the office. They introduced themselves as detectives, and then they sat down on each side of John.
“Doc? What’s going on?” said John squirming in his chair.
“These men are here to ask you one question, Mike. Just one question. Now, I want you to relax. Take a deep breath and relax.”
John breathed in deeply and tried his best to relax. He was a bit confused. Then one of the detectives turned to him and showed him a picture of a beautiful young lady.
“Her name is Katherine Cheaney. Does she look familiar?” asked the detective.
John stared at the picture for a few seconds before replying, “No, but she’s hot.” He smiled at the detective.
“I’m glad you think so,” replied the detective sarcastically. Then he looked at the doctor and nodded.
“Mike, I want you to listen very carefully,” said the doctor. “You are in a mental hospital. You are very sick, and there is no cure for your disease.”
“What? No cure?” John sat forward in his chair. His heart rate escalated quickly.
“That’s right, Mike. No cure. I am so very sorry,” said the doctor.
John began to stutter his speech. He was becoming very anxious. His eyes began to flutter, and he began shaking his head. Then he stopped. The detectives looked at the doctor. They were quite nervous about what has happening.
“It’s OK,” said the doctor. “He’s switching.”
“Who are you?” asked John. “Where am I? Where’s Katherine?” He was shouting violently.
The detectives had to restrain him.
“John! John! Calm down. Everything’s gonna be okay!” said the doctor.
John sat down and tried to be calm. His breathing was heavy.
“John, Katherine is missing, but you can help us find her,” said the doctor.
John’s breathing calmed, and he stared at the doctor as if he wanted to kill him.
“John, look at your left hand.”
He did, and he saw a tattoo. A star. John jerked his view up to the doctor in astonishment.
“John, you have a disease. It’s called DID. Dissociative Identity Disorder. Some call it Multiple Personality Disorder. Your other personality is named Mike Stanton. Mike is a kidnapper and a killer. Mike kidnapped Katherine Cheaney—your ex-wife. She divorced you over three years ago. We don’t know where she is, John, but Mike does, and you have to help us find her. Will you help us?”
“I’m him? I am the unknown enemy?”
“Yes, John. You’ve been texting yourself this whole time. You escaped our hospital two months ago, pretended to have a job, stole money from anywhere you could get it, stole a car … and the whole time you thought you were still married to Katherine.”
John’s heart began to pound the inside of his chest as the doctor continued.
“You used to be a computer programmer, so somehow you got your hands on quite a bit of computer equipment and a bunch of other high-tech stuff.”
He couldn’t take it anymore. John’s nerves were shot, and his eyes fluttered and his head began to shake.
“Where is she, Mike?” demanded the doctor with a sudden change in demeanor. “Where is Katherine? You can’t hide anymore!”
Mike turned to his left and right, eyeing the detectives on either side. Then he looked at the doctor with fierceness in his eyes. “Fine. I’ll give her to you,” he said. “But you have to make John hand over my daughter.”
The two detectives and the doctor sat in the conference room discussing the case of the kidnapped wife and daughter of the same man.
“So, apparently, what we have figured out is that Mike Stanton kidnapped John Whitley’s wife, and John kidnapped Mike’s daughter,” the doctor explained slowly. “And Mike and John are the same man.”
“Okay. So Mike’s daughter—is Katherine Cheaney’s daughter?” asked one of the detectives with his head tilted in confusion.
“No. She’s not,” answered the doctor.
“I don’t understand—in fact, I’m really lost here.”
The doctor filled him in with his hypothesis. “You do realize that Mike and John are the same man, right?”
“Yes, I got that part.”
“Alright, they must have been living two separate lives. Mike must have fathered a child while, at the same time, he was married to Katherine, as John,” said the doctor with a tad of sarcasm.
“But that brings up a question: Why are Mike and John against each other? Why would they want to kidnap one another’s loved ones?” asked the other detective. The men looked at each other—no answers. “We need to get into John’s—or Mike’s—room. Look around and see if there are any clues that would help us answer this question. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find something this man left behind that sheds some light on this strange situation.”
The first detective chimed in, “And we need to put out an Amber Alert on the little girl. What do we know about her?”
“I’ll have my staff continue to question Mike and John to see if we can get any more information out of them. I fear for these two girls,” said the doctor.
The two detectives were in John’s room browsing around, looking for anything that would lead to answers, when a patient walked in.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hello there,” said one of the detectives.
“My name is Bill. I live here. I’ve lived here for 22 years.” Bill said in a monotone voice. He was a short, thin man with messy hair and an unkept beard, and he wore house slippers and a thick, white robe.
“Wow, that’s a long time.” The detective stared at Bill as he said that, but he was really talking to his partner.
“Good to meet you, Bill,” said the partner.
As the detectives started looking around more, Bill added, “I heard you found John Whitley.”
The detectives perked up. Perhaps Bill could be of some assistance to their investigation.
“Yes, we did. Do you know John well?”
Bill thought for a few seconds before he answered. “No one knows him well. Only his roommate, I guess.”
“Bill has a roommate? Who?” asked the detective. “I thought he was too dangerous and had to live in solitude.”
“Well, he always talked about his roommate. A man named Mike. But no one has ever met him,” Bill said.
The doctor walked in at the end of the conversation. “I should’ve told you. Mike is only manifested when John becomes greatly anxious or angry. Here at the hospital, he stays quite calm. Well, usually.”
The detective’s cell phone rang, and the others watched as he listened. After a minute of minimal conversation he hung up, turned to his partner, and said, “That’s interesting. Before three years ago, Katherine Cheaney never existed.”
“That’s crazy,” said the doctor. “I’ve seen her myself.”
“Have you really?” asked the detective. “In person? Have you actually met her?”
The doctor sighed and, with disappointment and shame on his face, he pushed up his eye glasses on his nose and answered, “No. Just pictures and a couple of videos, I’m afraid.”
“I need to see our video again,” the detective said to his partner. He pulled it out of his bag, opened it up, and brought up the video of Katherine tied up.
They watched several minutes of it. Suddenly, the detective yelled, “Stop! Stop it right there!” He pointed to something they had overlooked. “See if you can blow that up a bit.”
His partner expanded the section of the frame in question, and the doctor removed his eye glasses and leaned in closely to view it better.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” yelled the doctor. “I can’t believe this!” He couldn’t remove his eyes from the small tattoo of a star on Katherine’s left hand. The detective pulled out his cell phone and called his office. “It’s official. Mike Stanton, John Whitley, and Katherine Cheaney are all the same person.”