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Chapter Six - Endings and Beginnings
I couldn't say this turn of event surprised me.
After all, the shadow with my face had told me it would go after my friends and family. I had been so concerned with protecting my friends, and basically running from one spot to the next, that I hadn't even given any thought to warning my own family, or even checking in on them.
And now here it was, my lack of decision making coming back to bite me squarely on the nose.
My friend was wearing her sunglasses at the moment, probably not wanting to risk the wrong coloured eyes with those who brought me into this world. I was honestly creeped out at the thing having the same jacket as myself. It had been a very last minute, random decision, and yet here it was, ahead of us, with the exact same wardrobe. Despite knowing this thing could get into my head, it was still disconcerting to see it keep up so well with everything.
Both of my parents looked between myself and my twin, a twin they had not brought into this world, one they had not raised. The sister I never knew I had, and never wanted either.
They were surprised, yet oddly calm over the sight. They couldn't quite comprehend what they were seeing, how their daughter could be in two places at once, yet something in their eyes seemed to recognize what was going on there. Maybe not all the details in all its intricacies, even I had yet to learn all of those, but there was an inkling buried behind their gaze.
With James behind me, and the doppleganger ahead, and then my parents in their chairs just between, and to the sides of her and I, it was like some weird arrow of people pointing at the back wall of the living room had formed, shooting in from the front door.
We all stood - or sat, as the case was with my parents - like that for awhile in silence, after my twin had greeted James and I. I didn't know what that thing had planned, but I had some idea of where things could be going here.
"I thought you said you were done for the night," I asked angrilly, my fists clenched and held up, as I stood there in a mock version of a boxer's stance. It was more reflexive, knowing a fight was coming and slipping into a comfortable position, for all the good it would do me here.
The doppleganger crossed its arms behind her back, walking closer to my father, and smiling down at him, then moving across to my mum where she sat, as it gave me a simple answer. "I lied. What can I say? Hello? I'm evil."
Ok, I had to admit it had me there.
"Again, I didn't plan on this, so it wasn't exactly a lie, you see. I would have left you pleasantly alone for days, wondering when next I would strike, which of your friends would die next." The creature paused, and shot a smile past me, and waved. "Hi James! Hope you don't have any plans. I know you've been dying to get to know me! Now's your chance. At least, the dying part."
From behind me, I heard footsteps receeding back towards the front door, then a loud slam as James backed right into the door as he tried to make an escape. Oh, if only Jay had been there. He would have foolishly tried to attack the ephemeral spirit, but at least he wouldn't have tried to save his own ass. Although in fariness, trying to get the hell out of here was a good plan.
Sadly, it looked like those cards were off the table for the time being. The phantasm heard the noise, and shot a look at James, from whom her attention had drifted back towards my parents. It held up one hand, and extended a lone finger, moving it back and forth as she shook her head, admonishing James like a child. "Now now, James. There will be none of that, now. Nobody is leaving this party until the night is over with, and that only happens once you are all dead, and Siobhan's life is mine.
"Nobody gets out alive."
I couldn't take it anymore, and cried out, "Enough! I have had enough of this! You refused before, but you are absolutely not taking any more people from my life. Not here, not now, not ever! If you want this to be over with, and you seem intent on ending this tonight, then here I am, come and get me, and let's have an end to this!"
The thing just grinned at me, and took a step closer. I held my hands up defensively, bringing them over my face as the doppleganger advanced. I shifted my gaze a little, lowering my forehead and looking ahead with my brow as a sight line of the thing. As I made my futile attempts to look tough, and protect myself, the image of the cowardly lion flashed through the back of my mind, but I pushed it away.
"I told you before, the time for that has not yet come. Your death will simply have to wait." I never understood why things always had to smile at me when they were going to kill me. Was it some sort of unwritten rule? "You see, Siobhan, there actually are rules to all of this.
"First off, while everyone has a reflection in my world, and things go roughly the same there as they do here, this is the true world, not the mere shadow. In the shadows, we have no free will, we have no choice. Where you go, we go. We do what you do. We are little more than what our name implies, shadows. But we retain some freedom of movement. In the darkness, while you're asleep, we can act, we can do as we will, within reason. We cannot do things that would violate the activities of this world. However, even then, we can still manage to affect events here. Mysterious deaths, are usually accidents in my plane of existence, reflecting our world for a change.
"But not every reflection fights against their prime form here, like I am with you. No, that is a rare thing indeed. Only under special circumstances. All of us are reflections of you here. Some small part of you that we come from. There is a particular darkness within you, and that lead to me. Some people are quite good, and their dopplegangers are far more benevolent. They only whisper in their originators' ears. Offering advice. Some call it a conscience, but what it truly is, is that small part of you, that true spirit in our world, communicating with you here, guiding you for good or ill."
We all listened, enraptured by all this. I remained cautious, staying in my stance, and keeping my eyes on the doppleganger. James watched with a mixture of horror and fear, staying behind me, using me as a sheild. My parents looked at the twin of their baby girl with confusion, and a dawning understanding. We weren't any slouches in the paranormal department, but never expected anything beyond weirdly coincidental visions to appear in our living room, just in time for the late news. The specifics still eluded them, but they knew enough, that this thing was there to hurt their daughter, and possibly even themselves, and that it was outside of the normal realm of experience.
"For every benevolent shadow, however, there is something like me. Something that seeks more from just reliving your life alongside you, an eternal viewer. We wish to take the ride to Hollywood, and become stars of our own, not just watch the drama unfold from our couches. Those of us who wish to have a true life of our own, here in the true world, there are ways to come here, to breach the gateways that were created so long ago.
"There used to be just the one world, this world. The true Earth. But some event, lost in the ages of both of our histories, long past even myth and legend, so far lost in time that no one knows what truly happened anymore, there was an event. A rending of the worlds. Something that shifted a dark mirror of this world just out of phase with the world you know, something that created my world, forever seperate from its home, but forever linked as well. The ways here are well charted, and in some ways, this world is as much ours as yours. If not for the event, we would be here with you, as true parts of you, and not just fragments yearning to be real."
The doppleganger was pacing around in zig zagging lines and widening circles in the living room, looking at each of us in our turn as it told its tale. Even just telling a story, it didn't let the theatrics slip. Did this come from me as well? Did it pick these skills up from my time acting in college? How much of this was my own downfall for the life I lived?
"Once we have crossed over into your world, we remain shadows. We can speak to those who we come from, in their dreams at first. We must appear, and we must speak our intentions to our progenitors. It is tradition, and it is right. They must be given the chance to put their affairs in order. But it has been some time since anyone in your world has heeded the warnings, and quietly gone their way off this mortal coil, so those who actually desire their life can live on.
"Often, those who take their progenitor's life have justified it just that way. These people here waste their lives. Moving from one meaningless place to another, day after day. While we are relegated to suffer through every moment of it. We make something of your lives when we take them, for we find your lives to be precious, and appreciate them more than you ever did."
"I appreciate my life," I broke up the creature's story, even if it was the same voice doing the job. "I love my life, and I live it to its fullest. I have friends, family, I do things. You have no right, not even a weak justification to fall back on."