The Doorbell Rings

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
The doorbell rings. No one. The doorbell rings. No one. The doorbell rings. No one. The doorbell rings. "Who are you?"

Submitted: August 02, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 02, 2017

A A A

A A A


 

My eyes begin to feel heavy and finally they shut. The voices and sounds that emit from my television act as a sort of soundtrack to the hypnagogic hallucinations that dance around in front of the dark backdrop of my eyelids.

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve slept; since I’ve truly slept. In the last week, my record time has been exactly one hour and seventeen minutes.

“What’s keeping you up?” you probably didn’t ask.

The doorbell.

The doorbell, every day for the past week, has woken me up. But every time I go to answer the door, no one is there. This happens every hour and every night. And whoever is doing it seems to know exactly when I fall asleep, because within sixty minutes, I’m awake again, opening the door, and finding nothing but the darkness and emptiness of the night.

 

At some point, I fall asleep.

 

At some point, the doorbell rings.

 

My eyes spring open like a triggered mousetrap. They feel dry and my eyelids heavy. Both sides of my head are pounding. I wait. I wait for whoever it is that is at the door to leave me be. To let me sleep. I know they won’t. My waiting is futile and the next resonating, piercing ring is inevitable.

 

And then it comes.

 

I manage, somehow, to drag my body from my living room couch to the front door where I, slowly yet habitually, unlock it and pull it open. I expect to see no one but the darkness of the night, as per usual. But this time is different: I see someone.

I see someone, and they look just like me. He’s smiling this happy, innocent smile.

 

“Who are you?” I ask the smiling man standing at my door. I think for a second I could be dreaming. It was as if I was staring into a mirror, aside from the different clothes; I was standing in a tank top and boxers. He was, well, clothed.

“Dylan.” the man says in a way that suggests I should know who he is.

“Dylan who?”

“Dylan: Your Twin Brother, Dylan.” Again, he says this in a way that makes me feel like I’m crazy for not anticipating what he telling me.

I stare at him for some time. I pinch my wrist.

“You’re not dreaming, buddy.” he says. “This is real.”

I know for a fact that I don’t have a brother, never mind a twin brother. My mind tries to rationalize the situation but, God, does it fail miserably.

“I don’t have a brother, Dylan.” I say, a little nervous. I don’t know why I’m nervous exactly, but I don’t think the feeling is that much of an overreaction to being woken up in the middle of the night by a man that looks just like you, who then claims to be your long-lost twin brother.

“You do, buddy.” he says, still smiling. “And it’s me.” This is the second time he calls me buddy rather than my actual name, so I ask the question:

“If you’re my brother,” I say, “what’s my name?”

I ask this with a very condescending, “I got you there” tone  but he replies not only with my name, but the name of my father, my mother, my sister, my birthday, and my dead dog.

“Jesus Christ.” is the only thing that comes out of my mouth. Dylan looks at me and lets out a little chuckle.

“I know, buddy, it’s crazy isn’t it? Long-lost twins, finally reunited!” he says.

I don’t know what to think. I genuinely don’t. Maybe if I had been better rested and not sleep deprived for a week, I would’ve known what to do or say. But I didn’t. Because of that fucking doorbell.

 

The doorbell…

 

“Have you been the one ringing my doorbell every night for the past week?” I ask angrily. I know it was him, I just need him to confess so I can feel a little more justified in punching his nose into his head. "It was you, wasn't it?"

He loses his smile.

“Yes, buddy, but I can explain!” he says, quickly, genuinely scared.

“You better have a really good explanation, ‘buddy’, because I haven’t slept in so fucking long I swear I’m losing my mind. You have ten seconds before I punch you in the fucking nose, so you better start thinking of some good excuses.”

Yes, I really said all of that. Yes, the weak, office-drone, white boy that has never been in a fight in his entire life threatened to punch his own brother in the face. That’s what you call a toxic mixture of sleep deprivation and pure, unadulterated rage.

“I was scared, buddy, okay?” Dylan answers. “I was scared.”

“Of what?” I ask. Not a good  enough answer, asshole. My hand is beginning to clench into a fist (or as much of a fist a man running on no sleep, shitty coffee, and energy drinks could make).

“I don’t know.” he says. Great answer. “I didn’t know what I was going to say to you when I saw you. It’s a big deal, you know? Meeting your twin brother for the first time in, well, literally forever. I’d ring the doorbell, overthink things, and then run away.”

“And you did this every night, knowing that, most likely, I was trying to sleep?”

“I’m sorry, buddy.” he says sincerely. “But now that I’m here, hopefully I can stay the night with you? And you can finally get some sleep. And then in the morning we’ll catch up on, well, our entire lives?”

He laughs to lighten the mood. I laugh for a different reason. I laugh because he thinks for a second that I’m going to let him into my house for no other reason than that we share the same blood.

“C’mon, buddy.” Dylan says. “I’m your brother. Your twin brother!”

He emphasizes the word ‘twin’ as if it would make me give any more of a shit. This asshole has kept me up for the past week and has almost made me lose my job (and my mind) and now I’m supposed to let him stay the night?

“I’ll rent you a hotel room.” I say. I’ll be damned if I let this prick into my house. I don’t care that he’s my brother. Oops, sorry, twin brother (because that matters why?).

“Listen, buddy, I really didn’t want to do this.” Dylan says.

You know how some people think faster than they speak and some speak faster than they think? I thought of the words, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ before they actually exited my mouth. I wasn’t able to say them because, within seconds, my innocent, smiling, twin brother had produced a pistol from his waistband and pointed it between my eyes.

I laugh a little inside, thinking that, if he shoots me, it would sort of be like committing suicide. I wonder if that has ever happened; a twin killing their twin. Must feel weird. I don’t know why I thought about this. I’m just going to blame sleep deprivation for everything that happens in this story. That will make everything easier to understand.

“Let me into the house, buddy.” he says, smiling. His smile is different than before. His smile is no longer innocent and happy, but eerie and murderous. I obey. I obey just as anyone would do with a gun pointed between their eyes and even the smallest will to live.

 

Dylan leads me into the living room and sits me down on the couch where I decided, about an hour ago, to make yet another futile attempt at falling asleep.

“What do you want from me?” I ask.

“I want to talk.” Dylan says. He stuffs the pistol back into his waistband and sits down next to me and turns to me and smiles as if nothing had happened; as if he hadn’t just been aiming a fun-sized war machine at the middle of his brother’s face.

“So, buddy,” Dylan says. “What are we going to talk about?”

What I really want to talk about is, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ but, considering what he has available to him within arm’s reach, I don’t ask.

“Nothing?” he says. I shrug, trying my best to not come off as scared shitless. Nervous is fine, at the most. You can’t blame me for that?

“You don’t have to be scared of me.” Dylan says. “I’m your brother, for Christ’s sake!”

...Who just had a fucking gun shoved down my throat. Again, this is just something I think but don’t have the balls to say.

“Do you like your job, buddy?” he asks me out of nowhere.

Easy answer.

“No.” I say. “No, I don’t like my job.”

“Why not?” he asks.

Again, easy answer.

“It’s menial. I sit in a cubicle all day, wishing to be dead. Or at least for my boss to be dead. That’d be good enough.”

I laugh, even though nothing that I had said was really funny. Sad and fucked up, at the least.

Dylan laughs with me. Then he speaks.

“Do you know where he lives? Your boss?”

Oh, God no. I know what you’re thinking, you sick fuck. If you’re willing to kill your own brother, you’re willing to kill your brother’s boss.

“No.” I say. I’m lying.

I’m lying and he knows it.

Dylan stands up from the couch and presses the cold metal of the pistol against my forehead. He cocks the gun. He speaks.

“Take me to him, buddy.” he says, smiling a smile that is no longer happy and innocent but, once again, eerie and murderous. “Or I’ll paint the couch with your brains.”

 

I don’t know how I did it, but I did. I managed, at almost two in the morning, to operate my car without passing out at the wheel or nose-diving the car off of a bridge (or both, considering how the two usually go hand in hand). I’m proud of myself, to be honest, because not only am I tired (that’s not a strong enough word to describe how I feel. Dead. Dead is better. I feel dead.) but the entire drive to Mr. Palahniuk’s house, I have the barrel of a cold, silver pistol pressed against my temple.

When we pull up to the little suburban house, Dylan opens the glove compartment and removes a pistol and places it in my hand. I don’t know how it got there, officer, I swear.

“Get out of the car.” Dylan says. I obey.

With Dylan’s pistol now sinking into the back of my head and no longer the temple, I’m forced to walk to my boss’ front door and ring it as many times as I have to until it’s opened.

“Dylan, please.” I say. “Let’s just go home.”

The pistol is pressed in harder.

“Do it.” he says.

I obey.

After seventeen consecutive rings, it’s opened.

“What the fuck are you thinking!” Mr. Palahniuk yells, his wife standing close behind. His yell fills my nose with the smell of alcohol and my face with saliva.

“Give his bald head a nice red crown.” Dylan says from behind me.

I look at Mr. Palahniuk with sincere regret. My heart is in my stomach. I feel lightheaded and, for the first time this week, it’s not only from not sleeping, but from being forced to kill in order to live.

 

My eyes are closed when I pull the trigger. It happens so fast. The sound of the gunshot acts as a sort of soundtrack to the hypnagogic hallucinations that dance around in front of the dark backdrop of my eyelids.  When I open my eyes, Mr. Palahniuk is sprawled across the floor, his shaven legs lying across the threshold of the front door. Blood jets from his forehead like a bent hose.

“Good.” says Dylan. “Now we can go home.”

My boss’s wife is knelt on the ground next to him, her arms cradling his leaking head.

“I’m so sorry.” I say to the woman. I think I’m crying. “I didn’t want to do it.”

She looks up at me and into my eyes.

“Than why did you!” she screams. “WHY DID YOU KILL HIM!

“Don’t you fucking dare turn me in, buddy.” Dylan says from behind me, and, for the first and last time, I disobey.

“He made me.” I say to the woman.

“What?” she says through tears.

I turn around to Dylan. Pure anger encapsulates my face. I turn back to the poor, old woman.

“This man made me kill your husband, ma’am. I’m so sorry. He put a gun to my head and made me do it.”

The woman slowly and shakily stands up and backs away from Dylan and I, looking at me as if I was insane.

“Who the hell are you talking about?” she asks me.

Now I’m the one looking at her as if she’s insane.

“The man standing behind me, ma’am. The man with a gun pressed to the back of my head as we speak. He made me do it. I promise you. I promise you.”

“There’s no one behind you.” the woman says, shivering in fear.

Was she blind? I felt the gun pressed to the back of my head. I heard Dylan whispering threats. I turned around after she spoke those five words and, with my own two eyes, I saw my sick doppelganger. I wasn’t insane.

“Ma’am,” I say. “Please tell me you see him too.” I say.

She backs away.

“You’re insane!” she screams before running off to who-knows-where.

I turn to Dylan.

“Who are you?” I ask him.

He laughs but does not answer.

I need answers.

I take out my phone and call my dad. He answers. The man hasn’t slept since I bought him a laptop pre-installed with Minesweeper.

“Are you okay, bud? What’s the matter?” he says to me.

“Dad.” I say. “Do I have a twin brother?” I say. “And is his name Dylan?”

There’s a long pause. I hear the clicking of a computer mouse.

“Dad!” I yell.

“Sorry, what’s the matter?” he says.

“Do I, or do I not, have a twin brother? And is his name Dylan?”

Another pause. Seconds feel like hours when a gun’s pressed to the back of your head and a man is lying dead in front of you with his brain leaking out of his ears.

“Is this a serious question or some prank you’re trying to pull on me? If it’s a prank, I’m not in the mood. Your mother’s pissed at me again for no reason.”

“Dad, just answer the fucking question!” I scream into the phone.

“I don’t know what drugs you’re on,” he says, “but no. No, you do not have a twin brother. Nor do you have a brother. You have Amelia, your sister. Who, by the way, is visiting your mother and I tomorrow for dinner. You want to join? Lorraine is going to be cooki-”

I hang up.

Dylan laughs behind me as the sound of sirens fill the cold, night air.

I’m laughing, too.


© Copyright 2017 mckinley mansfield. All rights reserved.

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