"Yes, he is quite dead, trust me." It had looked back up, watching me. "I am quite effecient in my work."
Mercifully, if you could call it that, at least this time there was no blood. Just a broken rag-doll of a body littering my living room. Another toy tossed away by this malevolent child. There wasn't anything to clean up. Just Jay, to try and find a way to dispose of.
I stood up, getting back up on unsteady feet. This was killing me by inches. Taking my friends from me, slowly nibbling away at my life. So far, I had managed to not show much emotion, or at least keep myself calm, but I could feel even that starting to erode away, bit by bit. I didn't have the slightest idea then how much more of this I could take, let alone how much more I would have to go through before this was all done.
"Why?" I'd asked it before, and I would ask it again.
The creature tilted its head to the side, looking as if it was studying the ceiling, looking for the answer imprinted somewhere in the stucco coating around my lights.
"No, not yet. Maybe never. You don't get to ask that question yet. At least, not ask and get any answers to it. There is more suffering to leave at your feet, in shattered bodies and bloody friends."
The malevolence was back in its voice, the threatening tone. This thing loved playing with emotions, and the time for it to be polite was done. It wanted to have more fun with me.
"I will tell you this much. Why? Because it's fun. Watching you squirm. Watching you flail endlessly from one encounter to the next. You project confidence, but I know you, Siobhan. You're scared. Your mind is racing. You are wondering what to do next. Where will you go next, and which dead body will you leave behind that time? You're lost, you don't know what to do, and that is what you hate the most. You have no plan."
Deep down, I knew what it was saying was true. All my life, I'd been sure of myself. I knw what to do. When there was a problem, I conquered it. I always had a plan. But now, I was just what it said. Lost. I was flailing from one moment to the next, going wherever things took me.
I couldn't have that. I hated that feeling of helplessness more than anything. I'd never been helpless before, or not in a long time, anyways. I fought against helplessness, and faced every obstacle in my path, but this creature was insurmountable.
"Fine then," I said. I stood tall, and squared my shoulders, holding my hands at my side and balled into fists, focusing through them, to give me something to concentrate on, and calm myself. "No more flailing from here to there. You want me? Come and get me. Let's end this. Right here, right now."
The doppleganger had been moving forward, slowly, and almost imperceptable to the eyes. It stopped cold at that. Its eyes widened, familiar arching eyebrows shooting upwards and creasing its forehead with deep lines. The darkness around the false orbs inside its skull widened as well, and threatened to fall out, I thought. If it had been any other circumstance, and not this creature, and not my friend's eyes, it would have almost been comical.
This thing was surprised. I'd surprised it. In turn, that surprised me. It had found me so predictable, that it couldn't conceive me standing my ground. It was a spur of the moment decision, surely, but not out of character. I'd faced every threat that came my way, until this one. That was what wasn't me, the running. The doppleganger thought it had shaken me so much, that I was the typical girl in a horror movie, running from the big bad monster. I remained true to myself in that moment, and stared into its false eyes, not giving an inch.
My stomach was wrapping itself into knots of fear and revulsion. The former from staring the monster down, and what it might do when the shock wore off; the latter from the dead friend laying at my feet, and what this thing might do to me, the object of its twisted quest.
I could feel a quivering growing in my hands, and a stinging as my long nails dug into my palms. I stopped and released the grip I had taken with them, and stretched my fingers out, relaxing my hands, and in my mind it almost felt like I was suddenly at the OK Corral, and I was ready to go for my guns at the high noon shootout.
"Well now," the thing finally spoke, the look on its face returning to a semblence of normalacy, or what passed for normal for that thing. "That was unexpected. No begging? No running? Just end it, end you here and now?"
I nodded, staring it down with the best John Wayne look in my eyes.
"No. As tempting as it is, an end to these festivities is not quite here yet. I'm enjoying this, Siobhan. I knew your strentgh would lead me on a merry chase, and be full of amusement, but this is nothing like what I expected. It would be a shame to have an end of things now, just as I'm learning so much about you, and being so entertained."
The thing moved forward again, and I remained my stance, standing my ground and watching as it drew closer. I briefly flicked my eyes to the floor, and saw that the thing wasn't walking, but gliding across the floor. It no longer needed the illusion of human movement, so had turned back towards it's special effects theatrics.
When my gaze returned to the face of myself floating ahead of me, it had dropped the vision of the stolen eyes in its head. I sharply enhaled a gust of breath through my pursed lips as I looked back into those empty pits, surprised by the sight, but in a strange way, used to it by now. As much as one can get used to that image.
"No need for illusions any more, not when it's just us girls, right?" It flashed its toothy grin at me, as it floated closer, within arms' reach. Closer still. I could feel it breathing on me, a cold, icy wind wheezing out of its mouth, past those shark teeth.
"This must make it easier to hate me, to fear me. Seeing my true self." It's nose was almost brushing up against mine, and the chilling breath against my flesh.
It backed off a little, smiling. Not the wide, tooth-filled grin, but a simple, almost pleasant smile, and one I was quite familiar with myself, having seen it in the mirror, when I've gotten my hair just right, or found the best outfit to set off my eyes. A look of being very pleased with myself.
"I'm done here for tonight. I've done more than I intended to do, even." The doppleganger looked down at Jay's body, then back to me. It was disconcerting, to say the least, to see something with no eyes looking around, and obviously seeing what they were looking at.
"However, I shall do you a favour." It was my turn to be surprised, and I arched a lone eyebrow in response. And it smiled at that. "This body, your friend, is a problem for you. A problem with questions attached to it that will simply cause further problems. I do not wish to have such things plaguing you. Your problems will be my problems soon enough."
Another grin. Was it doing this, whatever it planned to do, for me, or for itself? It moved towards the body, and waved its hand sharply at me, gesturing me to move away, and I did, almost jumping. I jumped as much to avoid being touched by this thing, as to get out of its way, and let it do what it had planned.
The clothes it was wearing, my clothes, those bloodstained, twisted versions of my own wardrobe, faded away, darkening into a thick black, and flowing into the cloak of shadows it had worn every other time it had appeared to me, as I had come to think of it. It flowed out across the floor, a twisted gown of darkness, and tendrils lapping at the fibers of the carpet beneath it.
The creature stood still, and that shadowy cloak grew, spreading across my floor, like an ethereal eclipse darkening the landscape. It looked like an odd twisting between a mourning dress, and a wedding gown, as that shadow deepened and grew into a morbid train of darkness across my floor.
I jumped back as the shadows came near my feet, lapping at them like the incoming tide starting to wash over my toes. I didn't want that thing grabbing me, or coming anywhere near me, flowing over me. I sensed it would be soon enough that such things would happen, if I couldn't get out of this, but for now, I'd be avoiding things.
The cloak wasn't just spreading out across my floor, blotting out the dark red of my carpet laying across the living room. It was starting to cover up Jay's body, flowing over him as well, creeping up and over, darkening his form to nothingness.
I reached out, yelling at the creature, "Hey!" I tried to grab its shoulder, instinctively trying to grab it and pull it away from my friend. Whatever this thing had planned, it was not anything that I wanted it to do.
As I should have expected, my hand passed through the shadowy shoulder of the doppleganger, and that now-familiar cold snapped through my fingers, and up my arm, almost chilling me all the way to the elbow.
I pulled my hand back quickly the moment I felt that cold, and clutched my wrist, holding my arm against my chest, shooting a hurt glance towards the creature. By this time, the shadows had wrapped around Jay's prone form entirely, like some ethereal, flowing body bag that was constantly in movement, undulating endlessly over his body.
"What is started, can not be stopped once this process begins." It spoke matter of factly, as if speaking of the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. "I am taking your problem away, and leaving you free to live your life, for as long as I let you. You wanted a way to be rid of your friend, and I have provided it for you."
It actually thought it was doing me a favour, taking my friend from me. Not only that, but taking him from me for a second time, taking him from everyone, and he would likely never be seen again.
As I watched, the shadows covering Jay began to move and flow even more, almost pulsing around his body. Where the shadows were poked out by his body, his twisted limbs, and fingers, I noticed that it had wrapped around each limb, each digit, wrapping him tightly in shadow, as if it was his own form, just painted black.
The fingers on his hands started first, merging together into lone stumps at the ends of his arms, which followed suit. They flattened out as they lay against his chest, at first merging into one thing, looking like a twisted X raised against his chest, and started to even merge with that, starting at the ends of his hands, and fading away into the black form. His legs had merged into one, leaving his body as one long tube, quickly smoothing out and shrinking, furhter and further until he was nothing more than a lump, a ball underneath the shadowy cloak that had devoured him, dissolved him away.
The ball continued to shrink, like a melting snowball, and soon that too was gone, leaving only the flat, aside from the tendrils, flowing over the bare carpet.