DOPPELGANGER.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
When one sees his own double (doppelganger), it is an omen of his own death...

Submitted: September 22, 2010

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Submitted: September 22, 2010

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It was half past midnight when I heard the news that my dear, great friend Edgewood Baines was losing his life. Such a young man, and so hale when we were closer companions, it was a surprise to know that soon he would pass on. The imminent fate was cast as inevitability by doctors, and word was carried to me by car, by none other than Edgewood’s distant cousin and sometime rival Perris Gray. The message had to be delivered to me in person, as two days before, a vicious storm debilitated my home from access to telephone lines, and it would be another couple of days before the phone company would arrive to make the necessary repairs to restore my service. The fierce knocking on my front door roused me from my sleep. I grumpily arose, and with eyes barely opened, secured the sash around my waist to keep my night robe closed, making my way to the noisy front door. The vision of Perris standing there was a surprise to me.
“Edgewood is on the way out,” he said to me. “He wishes to see you once before he goes.”
“Then let me dress and I shall take my own transportation.”
“Don’t you wish to come with me?”
“I know the way.” I walked out to the porch and watched Perris return to his automobile.
“Please hurry! No need to see me out! Drake, time is of the essence!” He started the car and drove off; I watched him go over the swamped bridge that leads out to the main road, displacing murky, dank waters into concentric rings emanating throughout the swampy creek that ran through my property.
Eyes struggling to break open from a few hours of sleep, I managed to dress and even find my wallet and keys. The summer night was oppressively balmy, and as I started my car, I was not surprised to see that the temperature was a stifling 84 degrees Fahrenheit. I quickly rolled down my window so at least some circulation could be attained in the thick night air. I drove slowly down my driveway, down the hill, into the valley where the gloomy creek washed through the property. While the car was in the water, I inched through it, making sure no random, floating logs would impinge upon my route.  My slow-turning tires made a little ripple through the flooded bridge; as a result of the overwrought storm from days before, the conduit was no longer exposed to dry air.  Looking out, I saw the gray, vaporous steam rising from the miry creek, and I heard the cacophonous nature’s symphony of bullfrogs, crickets, and sparrows. I brought my vehicle to a stop to listen to the strange sawing, squawking, and squeaking outside. The tall trees were threatening giants, shadowy and dark, holding fauna unforeseen within, to include rabbit, raccoon, and deer, but also beaver, snake, and possibly even bear. But as treacherous as these beasts may be, the one creature that gave me the sheerest fright, the most hair-raising reaction, was the vision, in the foggy woods beyond the swampy creek on my property, of my friend Edgewood Baines, who was lying on death’s door an hour’s drive away. The ethereal, flimsy figure glowed pale blue, like the color of a pure flame. It sat in the water, legs crossed, then got up and walked toward me in my car, splashing noisily the filthy water beneath its feet. Clearly this was a Doppelganger, and the closer it came to me, the more the blue haze faded away and the picture-perfect image of my friend Edgewood appeared before me. The mute creature looked at me for a moment, while I could do nothing but sit in the running car, paralyzed with fear, until it broke the silence and said to me: “How long do you mean to be content?” From the shocking speech uttered by this double, I was shaken awake, and I regained the ability to drive my automobile, pressing down as hard as I could on the accelerator, shaggy shrubs and overgrown trees be damned, so long as the fearsome specter remained in my rearview mirror, preferably in a position that I not be able to see him again. At last I made it to the end of my driveway, a half-mile from my house, to the main road.
It was not long after I turned my vehicle onto the street that I realized it was vacant save for me. There were no headlights coming at me from the opposite direction, and none in any of my mirrors. I pressed on at a speed far above the posted 55 miles per hour; it was only when I realized I had attained 80 that I willed myself to slow down, but the urgency of my travel drove my foot down upon the accelerator. Buzzing past me on the side of the road were the ancient farm buildings, old homes, vestiges of the past century. The buildings sat darkly, without a hint of stirring within. I longed to be back in my own bed with my house absent any stirring as well. I expected to see Perris Gray, the deliverer of the unfortunate news, but I could not find him or any other vehicle traveling that road. I assumed that Perris also hasted in his conduction and made it back to Edgewood’s manse as quickly as he could.
The monotonous road, with its country twists and turns, was wearisome to me. The hour-long voyage through the pitch-black night, without any other stimulation by the side of the road, was combined with my interrupted night of sleep to bring a heavy doze upon my eyes. I could not stifle more than one yawn. I seemed to shake off the overwhelming exhaustion in time to look up and see by the side of the road an identical figure in a pale blue flame. Although my dangerously high rate of speed may have occluded my vision, it appeared to be straightening itself up, then turning to see what vehicle passed it on the road. My eyes met with his for a split-second, and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest when I saw that it was the very same twin of my dear friend Edgewood. The shocking wonder of such an event was like a bolt of highly caffeinated coffee on my state of consciousness, alerting me by sending nervous pangs of adrenaline through my exhausted body.
At last, I arrived at my friend Edgewood’s home. I wondered what urgency made the dying man wish to see me. I assumed that the last dispute between us, where we both pined for the same girl and he became my rival, was the root of his message. Perris opened the front door for me, and I followed him into the drawing room. When I walked upon Edgewood’s room, the sight of him on his deathbed was almost too much for me to take. I had been used to seeing Edgewood as a young man, virile and lover of sport, robust in life, in women, and in drink. Here before me was an image of Edgewood in accelerated decay, withered, gray, wrinkled, helpless. His sagging eyes met mine, and he raised a bony, shriveled finger at me, gasping a word I could not understand at me, looking at me through pallid blue eyes under a heavy brow of imminent death. “Dear friend, I came as fast as I could,” I began. “I, too, wish to wipe the slate clean between us, that there be no more animosity. I see you as a dear friend and brother, and I wish you to enter the afterlife on proper footing.”
“What?” my decrepit friend gasped. “That is not the heart of the matter. Our dispute was shallow and we were wrong to push the issue like we did, whereas now I have no future. With respect to our bickering over a girl, all is forgiven, and I ask you to do the same.”
“Very well then,” I said, sitting beside old Edgewood, holding his feeble hand in mine. “Then what purpose was the message you wish to deliver me?”
“The night of the awful storm, a few nights ago, I was a young man, full of life and strength. I was a daring man, and in spite of the ragged winds and incessant pounding of rain that night, in spite of the deafening thunder and blinding lightning, I was foolish enough to defy nature and stroll upon the widow’s walk atop my home. The exposed cupola provided access to me to the mad energies raging outside that night. As I bore my defiance, gusts trying to topple me off my own house, rain soaking me to the bone, I felt exhilarated up there, as I always do whenever I tempt life. But I fear that I tempted life too far, as that night, amid the chaos of the tempest, distinctly walking in the exact opposite corner of the walkway upon my roof, was an eerie figure of blue, dressed as me, hair like mine, walk like mine. In an instant, the life in me drained, the heat that muscles generated had dissipated, and I felt frozen where I stood, unable to move. The apparition approached me, at last, and was mere inches from me. I could clearly see all of his features, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t look precisely like me. The creature spoke to me, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it said, just that it smiled, as if my life was completely in its hands, and at that, I got a hold of myself and made a mad dash down to the living area of my home. I soon fell ill, and made it to my bed.”
“Why that’s awful,” I said, unnerved by Edgewood’s tale.
“There’s more,” he said. “As I lay in my bed, sweating profusely, in an aching body that would not relent, twisting and turning under the covers, my eyes opened momentarily to see the repulsive phantasm again.  It roamed in my room, from one side to the next, in its cast of hazy blue, flickering like light dancing on water. It walked across the foot of my bed, looked upon its watch, then approached me. I was horrified to see that it was not even a mirror image of myself that I saw in the beast, but of you, dearest Drake!” I sat speechless. The hand that held the hand of dear Edgewood went numb. He had seen my Doppelganger. “Even my servant Fielding, you know the one, saw the thing, later on that night saying: ‘it was nice of Mr. Drake to come and visit you in your ailment.’ Drake, it was no figment of my imagination. This thing was real for you as it was for me, and you are next.” At the very moment, the newly olden Edgewood gave up the ghost.
Perris then approached me and put his hand upon my shoulder. I knew his cousin Edgewood better than him, but still thought highly of the man. “Come downstairs, I’ll fix you a drink,” he said quietly.
“Are your phones down too?” I asked Perris as he poured the brandy.
“No, I’ll have to call the authorities about poor Edge right away. You were his good friend, Drake. He knew he was dying, you know. He wanted you to have this.” Perris pulled out a beautiful tri-fold antique shaving glass. It was compact when folded, but when opened was long and one could clearly see all sides of one’s face. “It was his great-grandfather’s, my great-great uncle, I guess. It’s very valuable.”
“I appreciate it. It’s fantastic.”
“Use it in good health.”
“What do you make of all this talk about a Doppelganger, Perris?”
“It’s hard to say. He took ill, and soon after was ranting about it. I’m not sure if it didn’t have to do with his illness, to be honest.”
“But he said he was perfectly healthy before,” I countered.
“I personally don’t believe in it, if you ask me.”
“Perris, your dear cousin succumbed before I had a chance to say anything, and perhaps it was for the best, but as I drove out here, I saw two murky figures in blue, before I even heard the story from Edgewood’s lips.”
“Are you saying that you too saw the strange phantoms?” At that point, the thunder began to roll, and before long the rain pounded the windows as if it were capable of cutting glass.  “The old wives’ tale is that because you saw Edge’s double, it meant his end would be near. Perhaps your vision predicted Edgewood’s demise.” Soon after, the power went out. “Blast these old mansions,” Perris cursed. He lit his cigarette lighter and moved it under the bar. “Good thing there are these things here,” he said, emerging with a softly glowing candle. He brought it to the phone. “Of course, phone’s dead. I’m going to have to go to the police then and let them know about Edge.”
“Now? At this time of night, in this storm?” I protested.
“Better safe than sorry,” he said. “I don’t want to get in trouble with the police.” He grabbed his coat and put the lit candle on a table by the front door. I watched as he ran for his car under the torrential downpour.
The thought of being in the house of dead Edgewood alone was not distressing to me in the least, but my previous experience with his Doppelganger, and Edgewood’s own tale he recounted before his death, kept me on high alert, for what, I’m not sure. I certainly did not wish to stay in Edgewood’s bedroom, so I decided to pass the time in the library. I pulled out several interesting volumes and began to read by candlelight as I waited for Perris to return. I also took the opportunity to light several candelabras in the library, providing a great deal of illumination in lieu of the absent electricity. I sat upon the opulent sofa, reading the various texts, when the flicker of the flames drew away my attention. I looked up and to my horror once again, I sat face to face with myself. 
Because of its proximity, the ghost’s blue pallor was nearly extinguished, but its complexion was still ashen compared to mine. I steeled myself, knowing its ploys of torment included paralysis. I mustered enough courage to confront the figure. “Who are you?”
“I am you. I am your double,” it said to me. It cracked a sinister smile. “Who do you think I am?”
“Am I supposed to believe that my doom is sealed, now that I have seen you?”
“Believe what you will.”
“I believe you are NOT me. I certainly believe you are not my fate in some anthropomorphic form.”
The creature appeared angry at my insolence. “Your death is assured!” Then he chuckled and said “Now, your friend Perris’s is as well.” At once, the features on the thing’s face that made him look so much like me coagulated like pooling blood in the center of his face. It was enough for me to faint, were it not for the resolve I demanded of myself for the moment. Suddenly the random blotches of pigment re-formed to create the visage of Perris, and the creature smiled Perris’s smile at me and said “To your impudence.” The thing’s face re-contorted until it was a wretched, blank, featureless face, with plain dots for eyes, two small pinholes for a nose, and a slit for a mouth. The skin was pale, and the smile was bare. The unsettling site was perhaps even more unnerving than seeing one’s own countenance on another individual.
“So, it is true then that when I see my double, it means my death is imminent, is it?” The blank-featured figure merely smiled. “Then, what happens when the Doppelganger sees himself?” I quickly produced the shaving glass that dear Edgewood left me, opening the mirror for all three surfaces to appear. The empty ghost shrieked in horror at viewing his own image, lurching out of his seat. His eyes were transfixed upon the reflection, not being able to tear away. He gave a fiendish howl that echoed through the old Baines residence. As he lay on his side on the library floor, the blue patina grew over the specter in intensity, until it was a flash of blinding blue light. With the ever increasing intensity, the demon howled ever louder, until the blue flame consumed it, leaving nothing as a result.
My eyes were wide as ever for the rest of night, even though there was nothing but peace within the walls. The storm soon stopped, the power returned, and Perris also brought back police to process the scene of Edgewood’s death.
“So, any more Doppelgangers?” Perris asked me.
“Come on, Perris,” I said. “You know I was just seeing things.”


© Copyright 2019 Peter Amaral. All rights reserved.

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