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The doppleganger laughed loudly. A sharp, barking laugh that I was all too familiar with, but hearing the laugh from this side of it, made it seem altogether alien, and not without a hint of malice behind it.
"You appreciate your life? You're one of the worst, Siobhan. You are hopelessly locked in a routine. I wouldn't need to be able to read your mind to know where you would be during this past day. You wake up. You go to work. Coffee here, coffee there. Then back home to watch tv and sleep. Never changing, never growing. I've had this day's events planned out for some time now, awaiting my chance to pass through the gateways into your world, and with only a few minor exceptions," and she gestured towards James, and I could feel him take another step back behind me. "Aside from an ever-present x-factor, everything has gone completely as planned. If a bit quicker than I would have liked."
The creature advanced upon me, pulling of its sunglasses, and revealing those empty pits that showed the depths of darkness and emptiness within this thing.
"Your life is wasted. You barely have any friends. If not for chance, I would not have been able to even attempt the crossover into the true Earth, and the spells necessary to become you completely. Without the necessary sacrifices, one of us can not become one of you."
Sacrifices; it meant Jay and Heather and everyone in this room with it right now. It wasn't just about tormenting me, making me suffers, making me flail around as my life crumbled. This thing did have a plan.
It smiled at me, seeing the dawning realization on my face, or reading it in my thoughts. Possibly both. "Yes, you see now. Blood waters the path from our world into yours. This is why stories of us are so rare. Only those of us with the will to go forth, and pour forth that blood will be able to become true. Most of us are content to remain shadows, voices in the minds of their prime selves. And even then, we need enough lives to empower us, and for the rituals of crossing. Many people who have wasted their lives simply don't have the blood near enough to them that it will matter."
It looked around the room, what should have been eyes falling upon each and every person in there with it. "The journey here takes time, and when I began my trek across the paths of darkening light, there was enough blood in your life to have let me through into your life. By the time I fell forth from the gate, however, I found that you had severed ties with the fifth, and my plans were in danger."
The creature's words were lost on me at first. I knew what it meant. I'd never had many friends, choosing to keep people at arms length, and not trusting many to begin with, but what could have gone wrong that would have stopped this things plans?
And then it hit me. "A month ago, I broke up with someone, and he was no longer endeared enough to me to suit your purposes."
My mother, scared out of her mind, but still a mother, spoke up when she heard this. "You broke up with Scott? I was wondering what happened to him. Why didn't you say anything, dear? You know you can..."
I shot a look past the doppleganger and at my mother. "Mum, now is really not the time, ok? Creature in your living room wanting to kill us all? Maybe once this is over with, I'll fill you in?"
The creature chuckled. "Oh, you'll never have that chance, I guarantee, Siobhan. But shutting up the sacrifices is a good thing. I'm not done yet. You wanted to know everything, and why I can't just take you and leave them be."
I barely heard my dad muttering something behind all this, and could hear him commenting on how he never really liked that guy anyways. Not that anyone could ever be good enough for me in his eyes.
"Yeah, you like hearing yourself talk, don't you? I've noticed you have a flair for the dramatic. A little theatrical, aren't you? Can the exposition, and let's just get this over with." The sooner this was over, the better. Whether for good or ill, I just wanted an end to this.
"You want an end? Oh, there will be such an end. But first, yes. Your ex-boyfriend was lost to me once I fell through into the true Earth. But then I saw this one."
Again, the doppleganger gestured towards James, and even moved closer to him, walking past me at that, and circling around behing him. It placed its hands on his shoulders, and as I turned, keeping my eyes on the shade, I could see the colour drain from James' face, his skin going an ashen white at this thing he feared, and which he knew exactly what it wanted to do with him, no laying hands on him.
"I'd watched you for a few weeks, and saw this one flirting with you, and knew if I timed things just right, he would be drawn into your circle of friends eventually, becoming the final piece I would need to complete the rituals. I knew eventually he'd come close enough to be of use, but I decided to start early, so he would be drawn in as your friends fell about you, being pulled closer to you as you sought aid, and a friend, thereby dooming him by needing him. I knew you would go to someone, and he was the nearest person. His unexpected appearance in your apartment tonight sealed his fate. I knew it the second he came through that door. Once he had seen me, once he could not escape, and you brought him into your confidence, it was all over for him.
James' eyes darted back and forth, trying to see the thing behind him, too afraid to move his head even an inch to try and get a glimpse of this thing.
"The rituals require the sacrifice of five close to the original, before the life of that one can be taken. You are familiar with the pentacle, a powerful symbol within magical societies, both good and what many call evil. The five-pointed star dates back as a mystical talisman to even before the world was split in twain. And the five still hold power in many things both of our kinds do, including this most important ritual.
"But here, here I have my fifth." The creature grabbed James shoulders with more force, and I could hear a squeak escape his lips, totally paralyzed by fear, and the chilling touch seeping through his skin. "Drawn in unexpectedly, but completely according to plan. Aren't you sorry that you showed interest in such a pretty young woman, now? You have things to pay for, with the ways you've treated women of the past, so in a way, this is a little revenge for them. Not that you've done anything truly horrible, but the girls you've thrown away once you become bored with them...well, I couldn't have that happen to my twin. Or myself. But I'm sure it would have been a fun few weeks."
He squirmed a little, the paralyzing fear transitioning to the need to just get away, his fight or flight response finally kicking in and trying to get him moving from the proximity of the creature holding him steady.
James lunged forward, actually breaking free from the doppleganger's frozen grasp for the briefest of moments before it clamped a lone hand on a shoulder, holding him steady once again, with half the limbs it had used before, and still kept him in place quite capably.
"Ah ah, no running. Where would you go? This house is sealed with some magics I'd stored up while waiting for you. You were right you know, in your theories. I do require time to recharge the mystical, as you could say, batteries. But when I kill someone, some of that released power goes towards creating the spells that will let me take over Siobhan's life, but also recharges me considerably. I was conserving power while I could when you burst in, although I didn't need to. I'm back at my top form now, although we are on a delicate time schedule, with the spells holding us all here slowly nibbling away at my reserves."
Letting out a whimper, James continued to squirm, but it was even more ineffectual than when he was held by two hands.
"So," I tried, using anything I could to stall for time. Maybe if we could drain this creature enough, there just might be a chance of living tonight, or even outright stopping it here and now. "If your reserves are draining, all we have to do is keep you busy, and use up that power quickly."
The creature grinned at me. A grin I was all too familiar with by now, and one I didn't like seeing right now. "While that may be a nice little plan you have there, Siobhan, there are a few flaws right out of the gate. You missed the part about killing replenishing my power, as well as bringing your demise ever closer. All I have to do is..."
Its words hung in the air, as I heard an awful crunching noise, as well as what I could only describe as someone tearing through the innards of a pumpkin, a strange, wet squelching noise that made me think briefly of my wet trenchcoat, but so much worse.
I could tell the noise was coming from the direction of the doppleganger and James, but didn't know what was happening, until James let out a loud scream, the pain breaking through his fear, as a dark red spot began forming on the front of his shirt, staining through it, and even darkening his jean jacket, blood trickling down the front, like paint dripping down a wall.
James' movements stopped as his life ended, and his shirt bulged out, the creature's seemingly free hand having dug its way through his back and out the other side. It held James up in the air, impaled on the doppleganger's arm, before with little more than a shrug, it shook him off and his lifeless body landed with a loud crash on the floor, clumping in a pile of limbs scattering every which way, no impulses driving where they went.