Blake Tilsdale is a con-artist and a thief. He steals peoples identities and wears them as his own, stealing lives to make him a little money.
However, after a near fatal accident, Blake is left with a curious condition. He can literally become anyone he touches, destroying himself and taking over their body and mind, whilst retaining their memories.
This is a story of a criminal turned super-hero and how his power slowly drives him insane.
"What the hell? Why didn't you tell me he'd kept in contact, we're his family god damn it, we should have known, we should have been told! You had no right!"
The lawyer swallowed slowly and responded. "I understand your frustration Justin, but your father left very specific instructions. No one was to know of his communications until he stopped sending the letters for over a month."
"We thought he was dead! After he went missing, mother drove herself nearly crazy trying to find him. It's been years, James, years! He's been declared legally dead! You should have told us!"
"I'm very sorry Justin. If it means anything to you, I thought what your father was doing was wrong. You should have known, but I was bound by law to follow his instructions."
Justin just shook his head, his eyes red with tears and anger. James gave him a moment to compose himself, then continued.
"The reason I brought you here and told you all this is part of your father's request. The letters, he wanted you to have them. He has also left you a substantial sum of money in an anonymous, numbered offshore account. He also wishes me to convey his sincere apologies for having left you and your mother without a word."
"Apologies? Screw his damn apologies he left mother and I to rot! And for what? It all happened out of the blue, there weren't any signs. Mother blamed herself, I blamed myself. We didn't know how to cope. He can take his money and his apologies and shove them up his ass!"
James adjusted his tie awkwardly and stood up. "Look Justin, I've been a friend of your family for a long time-"
"-AND I understand you're upset, but please, think about it before you make any decisions, when you have a clear head. I have the letters with me now and if you want to sign for them, I can release them to you. You're father said they would explain everything. I know it's only a small consolation for what he's done, but perhaps they can go some way towards giving you and your mother some peace."
Justin just gave him a dead, bitter look as James handed him a stack of envelopes, unopened, and bound together with a red rubber band.
"Just sign here, please."
Justin scribbled his name on the form. Justin Walker hereby acknowledges the receipt of letters held for Michael Walker, to be handed over to Justin Walker in the events outlined in the above agreement and codified on pages 3, 4 and 19. He got up, the bundle of envelopes under his arm.
"I am very sorry Justin, I-" James began to say, but he was cut off by the door slamming shut.
* * * * *
As Justin left the offices of Horsham, Wrigley and Finn, he felt lost. He was so angry, not only at James for lying to him, but at his father. He should have stayed dead. After all these years he'd managed to put the memory of his father behind him, accept that he was yet another in a long line of missing persons that were likely to never be found, that had died alone and unnoticed. He'd mourned for him, for his loneliness and now he learnt that his father had never been dead in the first place, that all this time he'd been writing letters to the family lawyer. That he'd walked out and never had the balls to tell them why, had let them think he'd been murdered somewhere and dumped where he would never be found.
At the first trash can he thrust the letters into the opening but paused, holding them inside before he let them fall. Was this what he wanted? He was angry, yes, and nothing his father could have said could make him forgive him. Maybe though, he could get closure. Maybe at least he could understand why.
He pulled back the envelopes and put them into a coat pocket, ignoring the odd looks from passers by. It was a cold November morning, the first time he'd been back to the city since his father had left. They'd moved afterwards, without him they could no longer afford the rent of their modest centrally located apartment. He lived in a neighbouring town now, small, but comfortable, his mother in a local retirement home. Winters back home seemed harder, more invasive while the city here seemed unaffected, the daily grind not slowing or stopping for something as mundane as the weather. Puffing white breaths he walked the short journey to the train station and caught the train back home. He didn't even think about the money.
It was the slow train, so it would take a good half hour to reach his stop and as he sat there in silence, pondering his thoughts, he found himself drawn to the letters. He hadn't known what he was going to do with them when he got home. Whether he would tell his mother and open all those old wounds again like James had for him. Perhaps, maybe he should read one now. It would pass the time and more importantly, help him make a decision.
He pulled round the rubber band, giving him room to slide out the top envelope. It was dated, as was the one below in neat handwriting just alongside the stamp. The stamps came from many different places, the envelopes of all different shapes and colours, some carrying unidentifiable stains, others pristine and professional. The top one he now held in his hands was a clean one, white and untarnished except for a kiss on the back, sealing it with pale pink lipstick but smudged, as if someone had tried to remove it as an afterthought. Justin felt anger boiling in him. What was this? Some kind of sick way of telling him his father had run off with another woman?
Instead of tearing it up like his anger wanted him to, he tore it open along the edge and slid out a bundle of paper, 6 sheets of A4 written upon in the same elegant and meticulous handwriting his father was known for.
He began to read.
Justin, I am not your father. My name is Blake Tilsdale, but it is also Michael Walker as is it Sandra Glover and countless others. I'm not your father, not now, but I was and in a way I still am. I just wanted to stay I'm sorry for what I've done, your father, I, we... we didn't deserve what was done to him. Sorry, this probably isn't what you expected, I'm no good at this kind of thing. You're probably going to think I'm insane and maybe I am, but I'm going to tell you the truth about what happened and why I - we - left. If thinking I'm crazy helps you through this, then I can call this a success I suppose, if not, well, I guess sorry doesn't cut it does it?