Fortune

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers
What is really going on here?

Submitted: July 15, 2016

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Submitted: July 15, 2016

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Fortune

Paul had worked in construction for as long as he could remember. For years he had always been known as the “fix it guy.” When he was younger his neighbor's would give him a few bucks for fixing little things around the house like sinks, toilets and cars but he’d also paint houses and build things like furniture, sheds and bird baths. It took him a while to realize he actually enjoyed building things and finishing projects for people and that’s when he sort of made a profession out of it.

After deciding to move back to his hometown, Paul began working at Joe's Garage. It was an old run down place with concrete flooring and things thrown about around the place. Paul didn’t mind it and he enjoyed being able to work with the same guys he grew up with. Every once in awhile a new guy would come and join the crew and the boys would give them a hard time at first but eventually they’d accept them as family.

One day Paul met a newcomer he'd never forget.

It was an average October afternoon that day as Paul went downstairs to the ‘junk room’ as they would call it, to find a few tools. It was dark down there and it seemed no one had been down there in months. Paul struggled to find the light string so he left the door open so the light from upstairs would shine through. Paul was a bit startled to see, partially behind some boxes, a man standing near the back of the room.

Paul proceeded cautiously: “H-hello? Are you alright?”

The man's back was facing Paul and it didn't seem like he was moving at all but when the man heard Paul speak he turned around and though it was hard to see, Paul could tell his face was dirty and seemed to have a permanent melancholy expression.

Paul finally gripped the light string and hurriedly switched it on. Suddenly the dim light revealed the man's face. It wasn't just any face. Somehow, it looked eerily similar to his own.

“Who are you?” Paul quickly asked, taken aback.Then Paul heard Joe's voice calling from upstairs: “Paul, we got a lady up here… needs some help. Paul?”

Paul stared at this mysterious man for a moment then called up to Joe that he'd be right there. He ran upstairs, forgetting to close the door.

As Paul helped the lady carry in some boxes, he asked Joe if anyone new had arrived recently.

“Not that I know of, why?”

“I saw a man downstairs; I figured he was new here because he was holding some tools. He was just standing there and he wouldn't talk. ”

“That's weird. Maybe he was trying to steal something.”

Paul felt dumb, “Oh. I didn't think of that,” he paused awkwardly as Joe continued what he was doing then continued, “but Joe, that's not all...this guy- he looked just like me; exactly like me except his face was dirty and he looked insane.”

Joe actually laughed a little, “Are you sure you weren't staring into a mirror? Might have just been your reflection.”

Paul smirked but only for a second.

He checked the room after he was done with the boxes. Oddly enough, there actually was an antique mirror down there he hadn't noticed before and the man was nowhere in sight. The only evidence anything had occurred was two muddy footprints where the man was once standing.

******************************************************************************

It was Sunday. Sundays were date night. Diane, Paul's fiancée, had made it a priority to always go out on Sundays whether it be a movie or just catching a bite to eat.

Since it happened to be their anniversary, Paul took Diane to her favorite Chinese Restaurant. The place had been around for years but was still well kept. Usually, there was usually hardly anyone there- especially in the family table area and it was fun to pretty much have the whole place to yourself.

That night was the same as always.

“Pick a seat, any seat.” Paul gestured at the vacant tables.

Diane smiled and picked a seat close to the window: “This was the first place we sat together.”

“Really?” Paul asked pretending not to remember.

They talked until their food arrived.

Diane always preferred to eat her fortune cookie before the meal.

“Let's open them together,” she suggested.

“Alright, but I’m not reading you mine because then it won't come true.” Paul lamely joked.

Diane cleared her throat and scanned her fortune with her eyes and slightly gasped and then said with a silently sarcastic tone, “I got a neat one. Guess what mine says? An event in your life…” Paul zoned out and didn’t catch it. Diane glanced at him looking for a reaction and then went on, “what kind of fortune is that?”

Paul smirked nervously and slowly opened his and mumbled as he read it out loud. He made it up on the spot because he knew she’d get mad if he read what it actually said (sometimes she took the things way to serious), “uh…let the river flow into the sea… some things are just meant to be,” and then he quickly shoved it into his pocket.

Oblivious, Diane grinned affectionately and replied, “That’s true.”

In reality his fortune read: “You are hiding a great secret. Tell the one you love before it’s too late.”

After finishing dinner, Diane went to the restroom as Paul paid for the meal. The excitable cashier slowly counted back the change. Paul anxiously glanced out the window and saw a man standing near his car. It was the same man he had seen in the junk room. This time the man was smiling…a very wicked smile. Paul felt he couldn't breathe; the man had a knife in his hand and pointed at the cashier and suggested he would slice his throat.

“Excuse me sir!” called out the annoyed cashier with a heavy accent. He tapped Paul on the shoulder after he wouldn't respond. Paul finally turned to look at him. The cashier sighed as he held out the change, “Your money, sir!”

Paul gulped and nervously replied, “Outside…T-t-there's a man with a knife and he was,”

“Speak up, sir!” The cashier interrupted.  

Paul huffed in frustration and spoke louder, “We need to call the cops!” Paul pointed to where his look alike was standing but when he looked there was no one there.

“I don't see no one sir. Please take money and have good day.”

Paul left the change and ran outside. He looked in the alleyway and all around the restaurant but the man was gone. Paul dashed back inside and when Diane heard the bell above the door ring, she screamed for Paul to come look. Paul ran to her screams; she was back behind the front desk kneeling down, staring at the cashier whose body was sprung out on the floor. He was dead.

“Did you see who did this! Where did they go?” Diane screeched.

“I-I saw a man with a knife outside and ran to go find him. He must have snuck back inside. I don't know-.” Paul answered frantically and Diane hardly listened because she was already on the phone calling the cops.

As they waited for the cops to arrive, Paul mentioned to Diane that he had seen the man before. In which she replied,

“What! Where?”

“At work on Monday, he was in the supply room.” He paused as he thought back to the moment, “He was just standing there in the dark, it was sorta like he just appeared when I opened the door.”

“Who is he?”

“I don't know and I’ve never seen him before today- at least I don’t think I have. He was just… there. Joe mentioned he might have been a thief or something.”

Diane said nothing and just stood there thinking deeply, lost in her thoughts.

“Diane it's so strange though, he looks just like- ”

Diane interrupted, “I don't understand why he would kill a random person. He must have known him somehow or wanted something from him.”

“Yeah,” Paul paused and went over to the desk, opening the register. It was empty.

Diane sighed.

******************************************************************************

When the police arrived they questioned both of them. Paul gave up all the information he could- he mentioned that he had seen this man before at work and about him appearing again with the knife but he left out the part about the man’s strange resemblance to himself. He just felt he couldn’t say.

On the ride home Paul briefly saw him again standing atop a sidewalk on an abandoned street but Diane didn’t appear to notice and he convinced himself he just imagined it.

He called Joe to try to talk to him about it but he didn’t understand.

The next few hours of the day and the rest of the night seemed to last forever. It was still the same day but to Paul it felt weeks had passed. It became hard to pretend it was just his imagination because he started to see the man frequently- outside his window and then standing at the edge of his bed…. peeking around corners.

This seemingly nonexistent figure was driving him crazy.

It was so intense that in the late hours of the night this… phantom man began to talk; he’d say horrible things like who he was going to kill next and how he’d get away with it because he looked just like Paul.

Paul would tell him to leave and he’d just smile wider. Paul tried to grab him but he would vanish. He tried to shut him up but he just kept whispering. It wouldn’t stop.

Paul was beginning to think this was all one big nightmare.

*****************************************************************************

Paul didn’t sleep at all that night. The next morning the cops showed up at his door and he felt relieved.

When he answered the door he said, “I need to talk to you. About yesterday- that man,” Paul stuttered not sure what to say. His eyes had bags under them from no sleep.

The police interrupted him, not seeming to care:  “You are under arrest for the murder of Jing Yang and Diane Miller.”

“What do you mean? Diane? Diane’s not dead.” Paul retorted.

The police repeated their accusation and recited his rights.

“I didn’t kill that guy! It wasn’t me! It was that…man…” Paul yelled and squirmed as they placed him in cuffs.

“Where’s Diane? What’s going on!”

They remained silent as they took him to the station.

Paul was later informed that a witness had come forward about the Chinese restaurant owner and the police later found the money hidden in Paul’s house. They also found his wife's body and his DNA to go along with a bunch of other undeniable evidence left around his property and inside his home.

How could they possibly believe it was a man who looked just like him. Not just a man but a ghost of some sorts, “No, no, no,” Paul pleaded, “You don’t understand! He did this on purpose. I was framed!’ Paul cried.

“That's what they all say, buddy.”

Paul was placed inside a holding cell feeling utterly hopeless. It was around midnight when Paul’s double appeared again. He was standing on the other side of the bars, face darkened amidst the shadows but eyes shining due to the yellow, dim light above. He merely stood and stared at Paul and smiled that wicked smile of his- the one that chilled him to the bone and took his breath away.  Paul stood there feeling completely alone and thought about calling out to the guard but knew it would be no use.

On Sunday the ghostly man took Paul's last breath. The double thirsted for another victim and left the same way he entered- a mirror of some sorts. In this case, it was broken glass from the cell next to his and the man that occupied it began to scream out in distress.

Meanwhile, the police found Paul dead, sitting in a chair with his eyes glazed over- staring straight ahead.

Sheriff Collins could have sworn he saw Paul's eyes move but then again, his mind was probably just been playing tricks on him.

 

 


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