Around me the haunting sounds of the night enclosed the small home that me and my family lived in. My brothers and sisters safely tucked away in their beds as the night howled outside amidst the snowy tears that fell. Ignorant to the secrets this night would forever hold, secrets I'd hide forever. Blankets of snow gently decorated the ivy that wrapped around our home, my bare feet numb in the ice below. Footsteps carved into the snow, soon fading as more blankets piled on top.
Sighing my breath a milky mist billowed and tangled in short wavy white hair, as my cerulean dress flowed in the warm wind, the cold snow biting at my ankles. Contradictory this weather was. Warm and cold, evil yet kind, this is what our world was made up of, a balance of bad and good, dark and light, right and wrong. I shuddered as a fire began to heat my lower back where no fabric lay to protect it. The dress I wore had long sleeves, no back and a white band that wrapped and tied gently around my neck. The hem decorated with little pearly stars that glistened in the moonlight as I danced away from the heat. In turn pulling away from the woman as well. Was this another dream? I continued to stare at her as she danced in circles around the figure who closely followed her with his blue eyes.
Her thoughts even the cold from the snow and the heat from the figures closeness seemed to be redirected towards me. Maybe I was feeling everything she felt, but I couldn't be sure. I must be dreaming. There wasn't another explanation. I'd had many of these dreams, where I'd felt so connected to someone, almost like I was standing in their shoes. Looking back at the winter blanketed house, I realised that this was an entirely new landscape from my other dreams, this one was the woman's home. A place where her siblings slept peacefully while my look alike would soon transform, change and become a monster that'd try to kill me. It always happened, this was just another play a bunch of creatures acted out for me. The dreams began four years ago and in a few days I'd turn 16.
Dread filled my stomach. Was something happening here that I should know about? Would something happen tomorrow? That I didn't know... but the woman, my doppelganger knew what that man was, she knew everything but would't give too much away in the plays she performed. Four years ago I began to visit my doppelganger in my sleep. She'd take on many roles always in a dreamlike landscape, retelling stories I just didn't understand. When the play ended she would always try to kill me. After reading about doppelganger's at school one day I realised why this person always chased me at the end but I still didn't know why she'd create such weird dreams for me to see... There had to be some reason behind it.
A doppelganger was a creature, more like a demon that took on a persons name and appearance, if one saw their own doppelganger they would soon die. They were harbingers of death. Lucky me, I'd somehow evaded and escaped from death many times. All of which my double had a part to play in whether the experience was in dreamland or in my waking hours. Even if I knew it was only a dream I didn't want to rule out the possibility that I'd really die even in a dream if that creature got too close. How would I wake up this time? Taking small steps away from the ghostly scene in front of me I backed into a small brick wall, the snow shifting and falling to the floor.
"Echo." My name a caress on ghostly lips. The figure moved closer to her, his silhouette imprinted in the snow. "Luca, that was your name...wasn't it?" My clone spoke to the shadow behind her. Cold shivers wrapped my body in a blizzard until his warm touch chased the chills away. His hands running up and down icy thin arms. Shaking I realised that again they weren't my arms but her's that he heated.
A faint feeling of loneliness cradled me for a moment. Wait... why would I feel lonely? "That would be one of my many names, the name you've chosen." He answered in a velvet voice. "You should be inside, tucked in where no harm will befall you my little flower." A smile lightened his tone, though worry still edged his words. Why would he worry for me? for her? What was this about? Why was she out in the snow? The scene around me began to crumble, the snow beneath my feet shifting and then melting. "It's nearly time..." My look alike jeered.
"Keep away from me!" Blind panic sent me running, my cold feet slapping against the drenched marble floor. no...no...no! She was trying to kill me...again!
"Why do you run my flower?" That man's velvet voice sang, stopping me dead in my tracks. Was he really here?
"Master." A fear tinged voice echoed from behind me. His presence darkingthe air. From her reaction he was an unexpected guest. So did that mean the other imagein the snow was just a reflection, an image from a fairytale?Slowly glancing around, my doppelganger backed away her head bowed down in respect and fear of that voice. What was his name...Luca. Why was she afraid of him? Why did she call him master?
"Aride you can't kill her! She is too young, not yet of age. How many times do I have to tell you!" His voice soaked in power shook the marble hallway I'd now found myself in.
"Echo flower... Don't be scared sweet." The fearful tone no longer in his voice when he spoke to me. Wait was he speaking to me or... my doppelganger? Why... who... what?! I was on the edge of hysteria, my hands rattling, my heart pounding...
"Wake up." Aride, my doppelganger spat through clenched teeth, her face contorted in anger. "Or I'll kill you before your time."
"Aride!" The powerful voice boomed again shaking everything. Aride shrieked in pain, her hands ceasing the blue dress tightly. Three more voices entered the room, chanting in an inaudible smudge of words. Searching for the new threat, pale faced women, their hair alive with rioting serpents, black winged and crimson teared faces they advanced on the doppelganger. Circling her. Trapping her. What were they? What's happening? They all lifted their hands high above their heads.
Closing my eyes and pinching my arm hoping to wake myself up something slammed into me, sending me flying into the wall. Winded and breathing deeply Aride had slammed into me, ready to kill. The three women again circled her, this time they chanted in unison. "You may not kill her YET."
What was going on? Why did everything want to kill me?
Tears stung my eyes as warm hands gently wrapped around me. "Shhh." One of the serpent haired women hissed into my ear.
With my heart in my throat I gasped and then screamed a terrible scream wrenching my arms free and running away from the scene behind me. I blinked and blinked red spots from my vision. Rubbing my eyes as I ran. Sealing my eyes shut as I catapulted myself through a window, the glass shattering, my arm protectively shrouding my face I hit the ground below, and hit it hard. My lungs spitting out what little air I'd collected before my jump. Now that breath was cast out, dancing in a milky mist above me. If I turned my head to the side I could see it...
Opening my eyes, slowly lifting my lids thin sheets of light blanketed the walls, then as everything began to clear I found my own ceiling staring back at me. I was home again. Swallowing back a bloody taste I pushed the sheets off of me. My body beaded with sweat. Breathe... I told myself. Breathe...
An ancient voice drifted down from the hills, a very old song danced in the soft spring air. Every year I'd hear this song, unknown singer, unknown lyricist I didn't know why this song was played out for only my ears. Sighing again, I waited for the foggy traces of my breath only realising that no milky mist would cloud. Last nights dream felt so surreal, it was a winter landscape, a small home with grey smoke howling through the chimney. In real life, today of all days it was warm the total opposite of winter. Spring had slowly crept out from the ground pushing the flowering buds towards the sky, and again my birthday came running along, chasing my most hated season. It's not that I hated the warm weather, that's not why I disliked spring so much. No it was much more than that.
Every year that went by, every birthday I celebrated I got older and it seemed I came that much more closer to death. Listening to the song again, it reminded me of my haunted dreams and the doppelganger that would soon give chase to my waking hours. Remember how I said that every year brought me closer to death and that I'd almost died several times now. Well in my sleep my pale haired doppelganger would be the conductor and play out a scene where she'd always be the main character. After that she'd try to kill me, but then with the slightest hint of pain I'd wake. The last dream I'd had she'd managed to slash my face which instantly threw me out of my dreaming. If you thought I was safe when I was awake then you're very naive. She chased me to school on several occasions, sometimes stalked me through shopping centres and even glared at me through the window while I sat in class.
Once a car had rocketed through the school windows and into the classroom, many students and even the teacher had been injured by the debris another had died from being hit, her rib cage shattering. That day I remembered switching seats with her to move away from the window. If I hadn't moved then I really would've died. Was that my worst death experience? No... but somehow I always managed to evade or survive what ever unfortunate little accidents my double schemed. Why everything wanted me dead I didn't know, but the fact that doppelganger's were harbingers of death and bad luck... well... there wasn't much else on them, not even their Achilles heel was mentioned and so here I am stuck in a field staring at my look alike unarmed and totally unprepared for what evil scheme she'd strung together this time. Would it be another almost murder or another freak accident where a wild beast tries to rip me apart? What ran through her head, I obviously didn't know and somehow I'd started to miss the little connection we'd shared in my sleep. Remember how I'd watched, heard and felt everything she said, thought and felt?
Well if only I had that luxury now, then I'd be that much safer from the nail gun she held in her hands. We were almost identical, except her short white hair and gleaming white eyes, most of the time she'd share the same blue grey eyes as me, but in moments where she'd come to kill me her eyes would always roll back into her head. Creepy I know but what could I do about a stalking double that tried to kill me? Some crappy 16th birthday this turned out to be. A cool blast of wind threw my short brown hair into my face. Quickly pushing it back behind my ears and searching for my double the song began to chime much louder than normal. At first it was one old voice and then another and another, making three in total. To my left a mottled grey woman stumbled from behind a tree her head hung low, back arched.
Then to my right another woman this one with wiry copper hair in a pale snakeskin toga similar to the dress the other wore stepped in front of me. Hands crept up and around my neck, the third of the trio I presumed were from last nights dream. Staggering towards me the other two advanced on me this time, their hair, faces and bodies shifting from the little old ladies they once looked like. Now the two in front of me had black rotted wings, their eyes crying tears of blood, the first woman wore a hat of dead snakes like braids, the others hair alive with writhing serpents. The other one behind me I couldn't see, but knew better than to move an inch while she still held me by the neck I carefully watched as my doppelganger stepped into the little triangle the three demons had made.
"Megaera, Alecto, Tisiphone by your words it's said that I can hunt now that she's of age!" My double shrieked, her face twisting into an ugly mask. "She IS now of age. Leave. You no longer have business here. Begone Furies." She waved the gun at them, shooting the woman who held me by the throat, her grip loosened and then she slumped to the floor.
Twisting slightly to get a better look at her I found that she didn't look as old as the other two, this one didn't have live snakes in her hair instead she wore live snakes around her neck and wrists like jewelry. Twitching on the floor she slid upright and then stood again, this time her hands tightly squeezed my doubles arm, the nail gun falling to the floor as she fought with her. The other two looked at each other, more red tears falling from their eyes. The one that still fought with the doppelganger stretched her hand out, a snake like bracelet uncoiled and became a sort of whip which she lashed at the floor. Cutting grooves in the dirt.
"Echo where are you!" My mother called, her voice faint but growing nearer and louder as she shouted.
"Ehhht!" My mirror image shoved the smaller of the three away, a snake coiling back around the smaller snake woman's wrist with a hiss. "IT BIT ME!" She wailed. "I'll be back for YOU!" She sneered at me before turning on her heel and running away from my mothers hysterical voice.
"Echo! Where are you?" My mother was closer now, would she see the women?
"Echo." The three sang in unison, my mother voice suddenly further away. "Echo, child, we bestow one gift unto you. Be our eyes, be our ears, be our hands." The three chanted in a ghostlike whisper. The wind rushing in spirals around me my hair whipping against my face. The singing began again, their voices a cruel symphony.
"My love please don't ignore
These bells are sweetly chiming,
their accent from heavens high
Don't cry my weeping darling .
please don't forget
The blessings from down below
My sweet please watch your feet
in steps that we both know.
Please won't you dance?
in there's a terrible pain
My love I wish you everything
because we are the same .
I will not vanish.
I'll protect you everyday.
My sweet you're hiding something
in which your visions fray.
Oh how you toil
then evil am I too.
Arose of spoils that's planted and grown anew."
The old song echoed over the dandelion spotted field. Chills swept up my spine, my neck breaking out in cold sweat. That old song that I'd heard over the years only now I realised who was singing that song, a song where the words once blurred together in an unnatural chorus, and now hearing the lyrics so clearly, the surreal beauty behind it. But why? Why did they sing this song to me every year? Who were they?
"Echo!" My mothers voice screeched. "Echo." Her brown eyes staring at the three ghostly apparitions just before they faded into nothingness. My mother hurried to my side, her hands shaking. "Echo..." Her voice trailed off. Her eyes searching around her franticly. "A...are there any more of th...them."