Author: Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Abby woke with a start, a conversation with someone vaguely familiar against a kaleidoscope oceanview suddenly vanishing, dulcet tones replaced with a hockey organ ringtone her ex had programmed that couldn’t seem to be exorcised from her phone.

“Good morning, you’ll want to get a robe on, our package is about to arrive.”

The voice was familiar, but she wasn’t expecting anything, was she?

She jammed her feet into raccoon slippers, pulled on an Osaka Spa terry robe she’d liberated years ago, and shuffled towards the front door, startling as the buzzer sounded.

“Sign here,” the brown uniform all business, presenting a tablet and a pen, then, formalities behind them, wheeled a Pelican case taller than her into the front hall before turning and leaving without another word.

There was a label stuck to the front of the case above a hand-shaped impression. “Push Here” was scribbled on the label in a typeface a little too uniform to be hand drawn. She placed her hand flat on the depression and withdrew it quickly, a needle prick in her palm slowly oozing blood.

“Motherfucker,” she spoke out loud to the empty hall, and sucked the blood from her palm, staring suspiciously at the towering plastic case.

The hockey organ ringtone again.

“Sorry about that,” the familiar voice again answered, “we should get started.”

Abby needed coffee, and abandoned the monolith, turning towards the kitchen, taking the phone and the familiar voice with her.

“Who are you, and what is this thing? I didn’t order this, it’s blocking my hallway, and the lock stabbed me.” She fitted a pod into the coffee machine, positioned a mostly clean mug under the spout, and waited.

“You completed three telephone surveys over the last six months, and based on your feedback, employment, relationship status, and your browsing habits, we’ve determined you to be an ideal candidate.”

“Candidate for what? You’re supposed to ask permission before you send appliances to someone, what have you volunteered me for exactly?”

“You’ll want to get the door again.”

Abby had just retrieved the mug of coffee when the front door buzzed a second time. Frustrated, she shuffled down the hall, squeezed past the towering obstacle, and opened the door.

Another driver handed her a much smaller box, which she also signed for.

Back inside she opened the new package to find a very large, thick-plastic bag with a zipper running from one end to the other.

Puzzled, she squeezed through the gap and headed back towards the kitchen, pausing as the capsule hissed open behind her.

“What the actual fuck…”

She stopped mid-sentence. Inside the case stood the spitting image of her, moisture glistening on her bare skin, hair slicked back, but definitely, unmistakably her.

“The bag arrived a little early, I suppose it will save a little cleanup.” Mirror Abby stepped clear of the capsule and into the hall, leaning her head all the way left then right, the cracking of the neck joint echoing in the small space. “Please put the coffee on the counter, I’m going to want that when I’m finished.”

“We just needed your DNA to calibrate the appliance, sorry about the prick.”

Mirror Abby spoke in the voice she realized was familiar because it was hers, just spoken at her, not by her.

“Not the worst thing that’s going to happen today, I’m afraid.”