"Until I went and shut off the cameras. I had to get back there quickly, shut them down, grab the tape, and call the cops. And they're gonna be here soon. Now go, I'll be by your place when this clears up a little here, and I can get out. I'm just as curious as you are to find out who is on that tape."
Holding the tape to my chest, I nodded, still dumbfounded at what happened, still in shock. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, and my breathing pushing my chest up and down under the tape. Getting out of there seemed like a good idea.
I glanced again at the restroom door, seeing exactly what was on the other side, burned into my memory as if a flash had gone off and etched it into my retinas. I was sure I'd see that in my sleep for a long time to come.
Tearing my eyes away from the door, I made my way to leave, but as I turned, seeing that it was edging towards darkness outside, there between me and the wall, standing in my path in between the tables in this small seating area, was my doppleganger. The black misty blob, a roadblock in my path.
"I told you," was all it said in that raspy voice, which I now recognized clearly as my own voice, sounding just like it did when I tried to speak after seeing the body of Heather, laying there in the restroom.
My heart had been pounding, but then it skipped a beat. I could hear the malice in its voice, which wasn't entirely unfamiliar to me, but it was even harsher now, and mixed with glee. Pride, over what it had done. At least it wasn't smiling amidst those shadows any more.
"She was first. There will be more. And then, at the end, it shall be you." A grin may not have been visible, but I could hear the smile in its voice. I could almost taste it in the back of my throat. It had taken its first tentative step towards causing me pain, more than just the torture of playing hide and seek with me on the drive to work.
I couldn't hold it back any more. I could feel the burning in my eyes, and the wet feeling of tears streaking down my cheeks, again causing me to think again of Heather, and the tears of blood from her empty sockets that cried out her last breath.
"Damn you," I muttered, clenching my eyes closed, and only taking myself back into the restroom in my head. I opened them again, and it was still there, a hole of darkness amidst the flourescent lighting of the shop.
Jay obviously didn't see it, this thing only appearing to who it wanted, when it wanted. It had probably not left my side at all, all day long, except to take a bathroom break for a little bit of murder.
He looked around the room, nervously glancing from the wall to the windows, looking right past, and right through where the doppleganger stood. "What?" he asked. He kept looking. I don't think he was trying to find it. There was an unfamiliar look to his glancing around, and I think I saw fear. He thought he was about to have his life ended by an unseen assailant, and I couldn't say that I blamed him.
The doppleganger tilted its head, looking at Jay quizzically, then turned its head back towards me, and stepped closer. Well, stepped wasn't the best word for it. It slid across the floor, gliding over the tiles, as if it floated just the barest hint above the floor. The tendrils flicked as they always did, as if it was the room moving, not the doppleganger.
Regardless, it had moved about a step closer to me, and looked back at Jay, who continued to glance around. He had stopped moving his head, looking wildly, but his eyes flicked over everything, hoping, praying for just a hint, the barest glimmer of whatever had invaded his place of work.
"Shall he be next? Would you like him to be next?" Oh yeah, the thing was enjoying this. "You know, I could take him from you right now, and neither you nor he could do a single thing about it. Yes, that sounds like fun, doesn't it? Tearing his eyes out while you watch? That's all you can do now. Watch. And wait. No one can touch me yet, so enjoy the show.
"Is that clear enough for you?"
The form dissipated into the air again, smoke filling the room, at least that's what I saw. The strands floated through the air, some floating by my head like a smoldering cigarette infesting the air with its foulness. I found this rather more offensive, if lacking in any sort of smell.
I backed away from the smoke as best I could, swatting away at it, like anyone trying to avoid smoke from a cigarette might.
It was bad enough being in the same room with that thing, but I didn't want those pieces of that creature getting into my lungs, even though I could have it there now, and not even know it. I somehow doubted this smokey haze had any real connection with my doppleganger, outside of an illusory trick to intimidate people. For the most part, I suspected that was all the thing was at that point, just illusions and tricks, and occasional eye-gouging. This phantasm seemed to enjoy theatrics and attention, doing unnecessary things to draw your eyes to it, and make it think it could do more than it actually was.
"It's gone," I sighed. In part, relieved to have it gone, and in part exasperated to have it in my life at all.
The fear in Jay's eyes deepened. "It's here? It was here, I mean? Right here? Here here?"
I nodded. "Yeah, taunting me even more." His eyes had grown to the size of saucers. "It - it took responsibility for Heather's -" I had trouble saying it. The words were there, stuck in my throat, waiting to rise up, but they refused to budge.
"It took responsibility. And said there would be more. Looking at you like you were a piece of meat. I didn't see its face, but that was the sense I got. I could almost hear it smacking it's lips as it talked about tearing your eyes right out of their -"
Jay cried out, trying to drown out my words with gibberish from his own mouth, waving his hands in the air by his ears and shaking his head. He didn't want to hear that, and I certainly understood that. My tendency to ramble on wasn't always a good thing.
In fact, I don't think it ever did come in handy, but there were certainly times when it was worse to have it kick in, than others. Like now.
"Oh god oh god oh god. It was here? While I was watching?"
"Deep breaths, Jay."
"For what it's worth, I definitely believe you now, Shiv." Some things never change. "We were the only ones in here, and I didn't see anyone come in or leave. And I don't want to think that anything natural could ever just up and do that to Heather. Even if it's not something supernatural, then there is definitely something after you. That much I'm sure of."
He wrung his hands nervously, and I could see his chest rapidly rise and fall. The poor guy was on the verge of a panic attack.
"Jay, I gotta run, and probably should've been gone long ago, but you need to sit down, take some deep breaths, with your head beneath your legs, and calm down some before the police get here. Panic is good, but if you're passed out it won't do anyone any good.
His head bobbed dumbly, almost on automatic, and he stumbled for a chair nearby, and turned it around, so his legs would be in the main pathway between the tables, leading towards the back, rather than underneath the table.
"Yeah, ok. Go. We'll panic together later, ok? Sound good?" His voice was trembling. He had seemed so certain and calm earlier, so sure of purpose, but it was all crumbling pretty quickly around his ears as the reality set in. He was ready to jump into action at a moment's notice, but after what he'd seen, and he was processing it, all that went out the window. He was still good in a crunch, but the aftermath was going to be a killer.
Leaning over, I gave him a quick hug, and made a quick dash for the door. As I made my way out the door, I heard a loud crack, and was going to head back to check on Jay, but I could hear sirens in the distance, both police and ambulances. I did glance briefly over my shoulder as I made my way to the car, bootheels skritching across the pavement, and could see Jason holding his head.
I hated leaving him alone like this, even for a few minutes, after seeing what could happen to someone in just a few brief momeents on their own, after what happened to Heather.
Part of me tugged at my the back of my mind to stay, to not leave him alone, in case the doppleganger came back to finish the job, and leave more death in its wake. Maybe this time, it would leave some identifiable trace to lead the cops right to my door, if that was what it wanted. The not knowing was the worst of it all. It was killing for fun, but it was the fun afterwards, watching me squirm, that it was truly enjoying. It was sick and sadistic, and served only to drive me mad, in both senses of the word. I was sure of that much at least, but its ultimate goal remained a mystery to me. Well, besides wanting my life. Which wouldn't be that enjoyable with the bloody trail it was leaving.
I got my car out of there as quick as possible without making much noise, and I kept my lights off as I drove away in the opposite direction of the sirens, in case they came before I was out of sight, and caught a glimpse of me. Best to be completely invisible. A shadow myself.
As I turned a corner at the end of the street, I could see the flashing lights peeking out around the buildings at the opposite end of the street, winking in and out like red and blue eyes, rotating and bathing the buildings in colour.
I drove around the block and parked in a nearby lot, only staying for a few moments, and watched as best I could, looking around a building and catching only a few glimpses of Jason as he held his head and answered questions.
Not wanting to run the risk of being caught driving around in the area, I returned to my car, and headed back out onto the side streets from the way I had come into the parking lot, staying off the road the Dunkin' Doughnuts was on, in case they saw any cars and went to track them down. There were a few other cars I saw going down the road, but decided to play it safe and let them be questioned rather than me, if they were questioned at all.