Authors: Jonathan Sturak
Tags: #Mystery, #Suspense, #Thriller
A picture of Trevor Malloy embracing his
family sat next to a picture of Brian Boise on the beach with his family. A man
with brown-framed glasses and a trimmed beard, which had grayed out after his
second doctorate, sat behind a desk. Laura and Anne Marie occupied two identical
chairs across from him. Both women looked alike; they had the same hair pulled
back, the same blood-shot eyes, the same failing frown.
“Misses Boise. Is this your husband in both
of these pictures?” the psychologist asked.
She nodded, her mind dead to the world,
a world that had turned upside down less than 24 hours ago.
Anne Marie looked at the photographs
again. The man on the beach was the man she remembered, but the other man
looked like his evil twin. He had the exact same chiseled jaw and the same thick
eyes. The only difference between both men was the direction of the parts in
The psychologist turned to Laura.
“Misses Malloy. Is this your husband?”
She glanced at both pictures.
“He’s not my husband anymore.”
The psychologist took off his glasses
and sat back.
“Please remove those pictures,” Anne
“I’m sorry,” the psychologist said as he
hid them in his desk drawer. “I know that both of you probably have a million
“You don’t know how I’m feeling,” Laura
“I understand,” he responded.
never understand what it’s like to share a home, to share a bed, to share a
family with a monster.” She started to cry.
Anne Marie put her hand on Laura’s
shoulder, but she flicked her off.
“I don’t need your sympathy, Anne Marie.
What do you want? Do you want us to be best friends, to move in together and
cook together every night? You
“Misses Malloy,” the psychologist said
as Laura stood up and crossed her arms in the corner.
Then there was silence. Anne Marie
listened to the clock ticking. It was like a heartbeat—constant, rhythmic. She
liked the sound, wished she could hear it when she lay in her bed. After
exactly ten seconds, Anne Marie looked into the eyes of the man across from
“I never knew he was sick. He worked a
lot, was hardly home, but I didn’t know he had a double life for ten years. No
one knew that.”
“This is an
dissociative identity disorder. It basically means that this man displayed
multiple identities known as alter egos or alters, with each having his unique
way of interacting with the environment. In this case, his subconscious made
him both Trevor Malloy
“But how did he have two jobs, have two
families? How did I not know for ten years?” Anne Marie questioned.
“I know it sounds impossible, but just
think about it for a moment. You said that he was hardly home. Correct?”
Anne Marie nodded.
“Well, those times that he was not with
you, he was Trevor Malloy.”
“My mind hurts when I think about it. It
just all sounds crazy. How could he be like that?” Anne Marie said.
“His mind had two perfect personalities.
His subconscious protected him and switched between these two personalities at
will. In my thirty years of practice, I’ve never seen a case like this.”
“Why did he want to get caught?” Anne
“It’s like a game. Both personalities liked
to push the limit, to go deeper and deeper until it was too late. It sounds
like his father had suffered from this and after witnessing his father’s death,
Brian the detective and Trevor the businessman were born. The tenth anniversary
was a point where his subconscious imploded.”
“Who was he before? Brian? Trevor? What was
his real name?” Anne Marie asked.
“What about my kids?” Laura said after
listening for too long.
“They will need counseling, but most
importantly, they will need love. Don’t hide this from them. Let them know
their father was ill and that he was suffering from dissociative identity
disorder. Don’t hide anything from them. They’ve had this hidden from them all
Outside the room, Anne Marie’s sister,
Helen, sat with Jonathan on her right side and Kevin and Katie on her left.
They sat in the waiting room in silence.
Shadows shifted. It was Anne Marie and
Laura. Anne Marie kneeled and hugged Jonathan. Kevin and Katie fell into their
mother’s open arms.
“Kids, it’s all going to be okay,” Laura
said, looking at the three nine-year-olds. She approached Anne Marie and hugged
her. The kids all formed a circle around their mothers.
“What about Dad?” Jonathan asked.
“Your dad is…gone,” Laura said.
Anne Marie looked at all three kids.
“While your father is no longer on Earth, you all just gained a new brother or
An hour later, the patio door to the
Malloys’ backyard opened. Katie and Kevin walked out. Jonathan joined them. The
three kids were frozen, the toys teasing them. The sound of a grass cutter
buzzed in the distance. A bird landed on a lawn chair. A balmy breeze visited.
Katie broke free from the stillness and picked up a basketball. She passed it
“Cool ball,” Jonathan said.
“My dad got it for me,” Kevin replied,
passing it to Jonathan.
He realized he had the same one. “So did
mine,” Jonathan said.
“Do you wanna bounce?” Katie asked.
Katie ran through the warm afternoon sun
toward their trampoline, her brother on her trail. Laura stepped onto the patio
and watched her two kids. Anne Marie and Helen followed. They all watched Katie
and Kevin roll onto the trampoline. The two kids started to bounce, their
Jonathan watched with envious eyes,
craving to join his new siblings.
“Go ahead,” Laura said, grinning.
Jonathan glanced up at his mom, who
nodded. The youngest Boise gave Laura the ball and hustled through the yard,
letting the sun warm his soul. Kevin extended his hand and helped Jonathan onto
the trampoline. Katie held onto Jonathan as both bounced together, first at
three feet, then four, and then five. Jonathan laughed as Kevin joined them.
Helen, Anne Marie, and Laura grinned as
they watched their three children flying as one, but then Laura’s face turned
“There’s just one thing that still
doesn’t add up,” she said.
“What’s that?” Anne Marie asked.
“Where’s the body?”
The kids soared in the air toward the
cloudless blue sky, smiling, giggling, without a care in the world.
A heart beat exactly sixty times in
a minute. It was rhythmic and could have been mistaken for the ticks of a
clock. The leads of a telemetry monitor were attached to the heart that had
been through the darkest parts of hell, and then dragged through the dirt and
mud on its way to a building protected by a hundred guards, barbed wire, and surveillance
triggered by heat sensors. The heart was inside of the chest of a
unlike any other that walked the Earth. It was a creature with two
names, two families, two lives.
The hair on the being’s head was
completely shaved off, a three inch wound sutured shut by a dozen staples. He
wore a sterile white gown, which covered his deloused skin. The room hid him
away from everyone—his past lives, his past colleagues, his past families. A federal
agency that trumped even the city’s police department had brought him into this
secret facility. He was inside a womb, being reborn into a new world as a new
man, his brain worth its weight in gold.
The man’s mind was off in a distant world.
He was lost on a planet made of a barren desert. And although his heart beat
exactly sixty seconds on the planet Earth inside that room, the man was alive
and walking on this desert planet, walking without thought, without consciousness,
without an identity. But as the man continued on his journey, the ring of a
phone clutched him and pulled him back to the planet in the Milky Way. The
sound was deep, raw, intense as it bounced off the stark white walls and penetrated
the body of the being inside the sterilized bed. As the sound hurled him back
into that room, he opened his eyes.
The man looked around. He had fragments
of memories surging inside his brain, memories of a businessman named Trevor
and a detective named Brian. As the man’s pupils dilated, he saw the device
that had brought him back from that lonely planet—the phone on the bedside
stand. The man motivated his muscles as he felt the twinge of the IV lines in
his veins. He reached for the phone, its receiver cold as ice. As he lifted it,
the ringing stopped.
The man put the phone on his ear as the
cold surrounded him. And then a voice darker, colder than anything living
flowed into the man’s ear.
“Darkness does not end with night.”
The man hesitated. “Who is this?”
“You didn’t finish our last contract.
The woman named April still walks. I entrusted you with this task.”
“I don’t know who you are.”
“You know who I am. You know exactly who
The voice surged the man’s brain,
incited neurons to fire at will. The man remembered everything from his split personalities,
everything about the jobs, the lives, the families he had concealed over the
past ten years. And the voice made him remember beyond those ten years, beyond
that pressure point.
“Trevor…Brian…you know who this is.”
A tear formed in the man’s eye, a tear
thickened with remorse. The man in the bed looked at the color white on the
ceiling. “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.”
About the author:
grew up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He is a Penn State University
graduate and holds degrees in Computer Science and Film. He currently lives in
Las Vegas where he uses the energy of the city to craft stories about life and
the human condition.
The Place Called Home
, Sturak’s essay about Eastern
European heritage in Northeast Pennsylvania, was featured on
associate literary agent Sarah LaPolla’s pop culture blog at
. His debut thriller novel
was published in December 2009 and has over 100,000 downloads on
the Amazon Kindle. Sturak keeps updated information on his website at