Merope, Maybe

 

This story takes place in Melanie Brown's Switcher Universe.

When the Switcher appeared, it took some time for each country's government
to react and to mobilize their resources. Politicians and police agencies
had a hard time understanding the enormity of the threat.

After all, the Switcher was only one man.

Soon, each country, each national police agency, mobilized on their own, for their own sake.
Next, once they came to understand that this threat was impossible to contain, they initiated
an unprecedented degree of cooperation and coordination between Interpol, Europol,
the German BND, the FBI, the French National Police, MI5, the Russian FSB,
and many other agencies.

The best minds were brought into play. No expense was spared.
Entire categories of personnel were hired and activated.

After years with no result whatsoever, the agencies began to tire. They cut budgets,
reassigned resources, reduced staff, and focused on other, more practical, more immediate,
more tractable problems.

At the same time, the general public became aware of the Switcher,
and this became a problem in itself. The reduced, already-overworked staff
had to cope not only with the legitimate chaos created by the Switcher,
but also with a flood of fake victims, fraudsters, and pranksters.

The Switcher, untouched and unaffected, continued to cut a swath
of confusion, mayhem, and crime across the entire planet.

In our story, the Switcher has come to a small New England town
to carry out a lucrative bit of industrial espionage.

His getaway is complicated by a pot-bellied retiree who quite literally bowls him over.

Anson, the retiree in question, now finds his life fractured, like Humpty Dumpty,
with no hope of putting things back the way they were.

He is no longer the man he knew all his life: now he finds himself
in the body of a stranger, a woman -- whose name may or may not be
Merope Goddard.

Ever the good citizen, he (now she) reports to the Regional Processing Center,
clutching her bag of mysteries, and finds a government agency
with little inclination to help her in any way.