Chapter Two - Research and Revelations
The rest of my day was relatively uneventful. I arrived to work only about twenty minutes late, and as I expected, the place was completely empty, except for my friend behind the counter.
Heather was reading a book, as was usual for anyone working here, and her long blonde hair hing down, almost touching the book. She didn't even look up as the large oaken door slammed behind me, echoing through the rounded marble foyer. My boots clunked solidly across the floor, until they reached a small rug that had been laid down to protect the floor, and muffle just those sorts of noises.
"You're late, Red." She reached for a glass of orange juice, and took a sip from a straw, and flipped the page, never moving her head.
"And you're not supposed to be drinking in the library. That's a horrible example to set for our customers, Blondie."
With a snort, Heather finally looked up, and pushed her round, wire-frame glasses back up her nose. She was about the same age as me, just a few years out of college, and dressed in a red blouse. "Customers? What customers? Dust bunnies do not count as patrons, Red. As soon as someone comes in who actually wishes to peruse a book, rather than read all about it online, I shall dilligently hide it behind the counter, like so!"
Using a practiced flourish much like a magician doing a card trick, she quickly and effortlessly shifted the glass out of view, and behind the counter, where I knew were a few shelves, mostly with pencils, paper, some cards, and other supplies. We still used what these days would be considered old-fashioned methods, even still using the old rubber stamps for return dates.
"That's astounding," I called out, in mock amazement. "Oh, if only I could master such devilish powers, I would be unstoppable."
Heather's eyes rolled, and she smirked. "Your sarcasm is noted, and ignored, Red." She looked back down at her book, and flipped another page. "So, what brings you in late, yet again? If things were any busier, I wouldn't be able to handle the crowd without you."
I removed my jacket and dropped it on the counter next to her, and jabbed the top of her head, causing the young woman to let out a squeak of surprise. "Your sarcasm is noted, and ignored. The road consutrction caught me by surprise this morning, so it held me up longer than usual."
"And yet," she said. "You found time to stop for coffee. And not bring me any."
"By that time, I was already running late, so figured I'd stop and grab me another hit of caffeine. Just having a bland morning, needed the fix."
"And yet again, you didn't bring me any!"
I scoffed with mock indignation, and pointed out, "But you have sweet, delicious orange juice!"
Heather's head jerked up from the book and glances around madly. "Where? Where is there this orange juice? I see not any orange juice! Do you see any of this purported beverage? If you do not see it, then surely it must not exist! Where's my coffee, bitch??"
The top of my coffee cup easily popped off and landed on the blue counter, spinning to a halt. Taking a big gulp, I savoured it and gasped in pleasure at the sweet, hot taste of it. "Aaaah! Such good coffee. Such a shame you don't have any of your own. After work, I told Jay I might stop by for another hit, you wanna join?"
She pouted, and folded her arms on the counter, sinking down and resting her chin on them, sulking. "Fine. But what am I going to do in the meantime?"
Rolling my eyes, I set down my mug, then yanked it back away as Heather reached for it with a slow, creeping hand, before walking around to the side door that led back to behind the counter, and the stacks we didn't let the patrons touch.
Almost setting the cup down again, before catching that look of wanting in my coworker's eyes, I reached under the counter, and grabbed her glass of OJ and set it on the counter.
"Voila. Magically appearing orange juice. Enjoy. Bitch."
Her lips remained in a pout, staring at the half-full glass, and straw settling down from its movement. "But it's not caffeinated. It's just...orange. Not pretty, thick, and dark like coffee."
"There, there." I gave her a pat on the shoulder, and sat on the stool behind her, waiting for anyone to come in. "The good news is, you'll probably live longer, with less caffeine."
Letting out a very fake sounding sob, she buried her head in her arms. "But life isn't worth living without caffeine!"
The day went by like that for several hours. A handful of people came in, checked out the daily papers, mostly. I recognized several regulars sitting down at the large, long wooden tables we had placed in the halls, relaxing and reading. A few books got checked out, and a few more were returned.
Around noon, Heather took off for lunch, and I decided to hold the fort, since I came in late. Not that there was any big deal there, since not a single person came in.
I started to think about my morning's troubles, and went poking through the stacks. If anyone came in, I'd hear those large oak doors slam shut. No one ever made sure they closed quietly, not that that was even possible. Even if someone tried, it still made enough noise, and a gust of wind always shot through the opening, carrying the noises of the city up the cement stairs and through the foyer, and I would know someone had come in.
Something about the occurances had been ringing bells ever since I had found some time to think about it somewhere in the vicinity of rationality. Of course, evil twins were pretty common in folklore. Almost every culture I'd done some reading on, which admittedly wasn't many, but not a small amount either, had some sort of tale about evil twins. Something about an evil version of one's self was very intriguing to early peoples.
As I flipped through the books, finding more and more examples, still nothing quite felt right. My quest was cut short by some kids coming in to do some research, but once they were gone, I got back to it, and eventually found something that definitely rang a bell, in a book of German folklore.
In the book, I found some mentions of what the Germans referred to as dopplegangers. I'd heard the term before, but never really given it much thought, or even knew where it come from. Besides being another word for look a like, I never knew the details.
Doppleganger is a German word translating to "double walker", and was exactly what I was looking for. A twin of a person, and said that every person had one out there. Some were good, and some were bad. They were bent on taking over the original's life, for whatever reason. The good ones were content to try and help their twins, but these dark mirrors, the bad twins, the malicious ones were much more interested in having a life of their own, destroying the original, and taking over their life.
The dopplegangers are unable to cast shadows, or reflections, and had some sort of physical difference, or change in mannerism, that would give them away. Since my doppleganger had yet to take on much of a physical form, besides one that I could see, that wasn't much help to me. At least my friends would know something had gone horribly wrong if I failed.
The greatest power a doppleganger has over its twin, is knowledge. They've theoretically - well, as theoretically as you can get with folklore, although I was starting to think there was more to these in the realm of theory, than the realm of myth - been with the originals their entire life, and know everything they know. Mine definitely seemed to know how I thought, so it was either that, or telepathic.
Being forged from the original's very own will and soul, they were strong, and nearly unstoppable once they had put their mind to something. They would appear first and announce their intentions to the original, and I could definitely confirm that it was doing that.
They would appear usually during a new moon, when the original would cast no shadow, just like the doppleganger, and where it was usually confined. People rarely knew that when they looked at their shadow, they were looking at their doppleganger, if the myths were to be believed.
I set the book down on one of the tables with a thud that lightly echoed through the library, and startled one of the people who had sat down to read the paper. I quietly apologized, and went back into the work area, and dug under the counter for a calendar.
Skimming over the page for October, I found yesterday's date, and indeed, it was the night of the full moon.
So, it appeared I had a doppleganger. Hopefully, the book would tell me how to stop them, before anything happened to me or my friends.
I was staring at the calendar, and I could feel my heart rate had quickened, and my mind was racing, trying to come to terms with what was happening. This was absurd!
A loud bang caused me to jump with a yelp, and heard Heather's voice. "Heya, Red! Sorry to startle you. You must've been intently reading that there calendar!"
I looked up from the counter, to see Heather walk in our of the darkened foyer, and she glanced over to the man reading his paper and waved, nodding an apology. He just shook his paper and huffed in annoyance at being disturbed.
Behind Heather, out of the shadows, no more like the shadows themselves continued to move, bubbling forward, just behind her, and a humanoid, cloaked figure of shadow stood behind her, following her closely, but was watching me.
I stared at the figure, still amazed that no one else was seeing these things that I was. I could feel it looking at me, and a toothy grin broke through the shadows on it's face, like an evil Cheshire cat.