Yeah, I had survived, but it was a hollow victory.
I sat alone, unmoving in amongst the massacre at my parents' cabin in the woods for over an hour, watching my doppleganger, and making sure it didn't even twitch. This thing was going to stay dead, and I was going to be absolutely sure it did. Unlike most horror movies I'd ever seen, the evil monster actually decided to stay down once it was beaten.
Everyone around me was dead and gone. Everyone left that I knew had gone their seperate ways long ago, leaving only the closest to me to be slaughtered for my life.
But there I sat, watching over the monster that had tried to take it from me, and had only succeeded in taking everything else from me that mattered. In a way, it had taken my life. I had nothing left, now.
With everyone around me a bloody corpse, or a twisted wreck of a body, I had nothing to go back to, either. All these deaths, all the people closest to me gone, and with me the only survivor. There was only one place for the suspicion to fall; squarely on my shoulders.
Fortunately, I still saw a way out of this maze I had been trapped in, a way to have some semblence of normality. The doppleganger had talked about sacrifices, and many had already been made in its work. I would have several more to make before this night was through, but of a different nature.
Eventually, once I was certain that the creature was indeed dead and gone, no longer a threat to anyone, I rose unsteadily to my feet, and looked around at all the bodies littering the room. Almost every happy memory I had of this place were almost all washed away in a sea of red, but some remained, and would always remain with me, unable to be tainted by this horrible night.
I stepped over James' body as I made my way for the door. I took the knob in my hand, wondering if the spells the doppleganger had laid around this place still remained, and how long they would linger past its demise if they did.
I needn't have worried, as the doorknob turned easily, and the door swung freely open into the small hallway. The cool morning air wafted in through the open entry, briefly removing the scent of blood and decay from my senses, and I stepped past the threshold and into the dim morning light just cresting the trees. My day had started watching the sun brighten and bathe away the darkness amongst the forest of the city, and here I was, only 24 hours later, and watching it do the same over a true forest, a rare, last bastion of nature in this industrialized world.
A new day was dawning, and as the warmth of the sun touched my face, I saw the bright orange hue mixing through the leaves, and the light clouds overhead, leftovers of last night's storm breaking up and drifting away. The sky looked like it was on fire, and all I could think of was the phoenix of legend, and the day being reborn anew, with new chances, and new opportunities.
Fire was appropriate to have on my mind, considering what I had planned. I moved around the cabin, towards the small wooden shed where my dad kept the tools, and lawn mower, and anything else he didn't want in the house. In a dark, dank corner, I found what I was looking for, a large can of gasoline.
I picked it up and carted it back with me to the house, the weight in my hands echoing the weight in my heart and mind for what I had to do. It was tough, but I forced myself to step back into the cabin, and into the living room, and gave the place one last look around for anything I may want to keep with me. The only thing I took was a piece of my favourite mug, a large piece from the side that had remained mostly intact, and I tucked it into my coat pocket. Most everything else of mine had long been removed from here when I moved out on my own.
With that small task done, my grim souvineer of my victory safely put away, I removed the cap off the end of the long yellow nozzle sticking out of the bright red gas can, and again the smell of death was taken away as my nostrils filled with the harsh stench of the flammable liquid inside.
I circled the room, and marked the edges with the gasoline, even going over the scattered pile of books, and some of the small tables my mother had along the walls near the windows. I also tossed it liberally over the twin recliners, and some more in the center of the room, and then made a trail leading down the hallway, even pouring some over all the bodies along the way, only taking the slightest hint of glee over one of them.
Once I was back outside, I capped off the gascan, now nearly empty. I was thankful dad had always kept the cans filled to the brim. I looked from the open doorway and back to my car. Moving towards my vehicle, I opened the passenger side door and dug through the glove compartment, eventually finding the lighter I kept for emergency purposes. I didn't smoke, but you never knew when you would need a bit of fire.
Like now, for instance. How could one predict a spot of arson to burn your childhood home down, with your parents' bodies inside? Not me, certainly.
I grabbed some of the spare paper I had shoved in there, or maybe it was more important, I wasn't really sure. I just grabbed a handful of stuff I knew would burn very well. Rolling it up in my hands as I returned to the front door, I lit it with the lighter like a small torch, and held it down towards the small trail of gasoline I had left.
I had experience with fire, but I'd never lit a trail of gasoline before, and it wasn't like the movies. The small flame of my makeshift torch burst into a larger burst of flame before it even came very close to the gas, igniting the fumes first, which them spread down the hallway. The sudden burst caused me to yelp, the first sound I had even made since I had stopped my doppleganger.
The trail didn't spread down the hallway as expected, although there was some spreading of the flames as more of the fumes caught, still not quite fully disipated into the air. If not for the carpet, I doubt the fire would have even sufficiently started.
I had barely managed to hold onto my torch of rolled up papers when the first puff of flame burst up, and I hurled it into the house as best I couled, which wasn't very far with my sore shoulder. It landed just short of my parents, and caught more of the carpet on fire, which slowly spread to them.
I turned as the wood consutrction of the home finally caught, and the flames began to burn in earnest, first blocking the doorway, and then spreading further down the hall. The gasoline wouldn't help much start the fire, but once it caught, it would help with the burning. I didn't need a large fire, just something that would burn the bodies enough to look like the cause of death. It may end up looking like arson, but they wouldn't be looking for me. Not with my friend laying in there to take my place.
It would be awhile before anyone came up this way to stop the fire, but I still didn't wish to tarry anymore than I needed to, so quickly grabbed the gas can, no longer willing or able to watch my family burning through the lapping flames, an almost reverse of the tendrils of the doppleganger's cloak of shadows.
With the can stored back in the shed, I made my way down the driveway, taking one last look at my car as I passed it. From there, I would have to travel on foot. Everything of mine would have to be left behind. As of that moment, Siobhan Miller was dead.
It was a long trip, but I made my way across the states. It's pretty easy for a pretty young woman to get picked up when she's hitchhiking, even if there was a certain deadness growing in her eyes. I eventually ended up in Chicago, where I made a new life for myself, under the name Brigid O'Leary, forging new papers for myself, and even getting a job at a library in the city.
With the internet, I kept up on news back home, and watched the fallout from that one day's events that destroyed my life: Jay had been blamed for Heather's murder, since he was the only witness, and only the one tape had been stolen, something only employees or close aquaintances would know. His sudden disappearance that night didn't help any, and his alibi was very weak. The fire at my parents' cabin was indeed labelled arson, and they were able to identify the bodies inside thanks to dental records. James Morgenstern, and the three members of the Miller family. They had no leads as to whom may have done it, and no witnesses had come forward about anyone they had seen fleeing the scene, outside of some who said they saw me walking the road that morning, but that was obviously impossible.
So, I had moved on, there were no criminal charges pending for my arrest, since I was dead, and the other murders were blamed on someone else entirely, in fact there was one murder they didn't even know about. My life was over, all wrapped up in a neat little bow with no real loose ends, and nothing to hold me back there, leaving me free to live my new life as Brigid.
Yeah, I had survived. I'd defeated the doppleganger, and kept my life, but I lost as well. My life there was over, even to the point that I was dead. But I had a new outlook on life, I appreciated it more, now that everything had been taken from me. I had learned a morbid lesson in the harshest way from my tormentor. It had shown me how I had been living my life, sedentary and boring, just moving along from one event to the next. Alive, but not really living. Now, I was alive, given a second chance, and that was enough. I wasn't going to waste this new life.
Right after this cup of coffee.
November 1st, 2005 - November 29th, 2005