"Yeah, I guess." She glanced away, and she looked off to the back wall. I got off my stool and picked up the book of folklore, taking it back out, and setting it on the shelf.
I saw the time as I came back, and sat down again. "Hey, Heather. This place is dead, and we're gone in a half hour anyways. Wanna knock off early, and get that coffee?"
"Ooooh, sweet nectar. Yeah, I could really use the pick me up now." She actually smiled. There was some hope yet, I guess.
"Besides, since I can see my doppleganger, then I can at least warn you when she's coming. It'll help keep you safe if we stick together, right?"
Nodding, the young girl got off her chair, and grabbed her coat. "Oh, definitely. You can warn me before the untouchable ghost creature thing kills me and everyone stands their ineffectually. But at least it won't be a surprise." She grinned. Just like Jay, she had a similar dark sense of humour to mine. Even in the face of possible death, we mocked it. "Let's blow this joint. I need to do some serious unwinding with a bit of caffeine."
We locked the front doors, and checked the windows, turned off all the lights, and ducked out the back door. Just in case someone was watching us as we left, or if anyone tried to come in to find a book while we were trying to leave before the place should be closed.
Sneaking out and locking up the library wasn't really the best idea, and certainly dangerous if we got caught, but these days, the risk was really minimal. The patrons was truly few and far between, and it was only a half hour before we were supposed to close down anyways. Odds are, no one would notice anyways. And the library had always kept weird hours, so a half hour here and there went almost completely unnoticed. Our boss had told us it was ok, but not to make a habit out of it, because any complaints would have to be dealt with, unless there was a good reason. Blowing off work for coffee didn't exactly qualify, and she probably wouldn't see it that way. Why couldn't my doppleganger try and take out the annoying people in my life, like my boss?
We made good our escape, with nary a single eye catching us, and we didn't see anyone looking longingly at the front door of the library wanting in as we both got in my car and drove off to the coffee shop. At least this time, no visions of my new friend popped up along the way. A bit of a breather between those was welcome, especially after my leap of stupidity.
Driving along the road, the sun was starting to come down right in my field of vision, and even though it was a short ride, I couldn't see anything, which is always dangerous around here. Heck, being fully sighted on the streets of Boston wasn't much better. I quickly dug out my sunglasses and instantly upped my coolness factor.
We managed to actually hit the Dunkin' Donuts at a quiet time, and the only people there were on the way out as we drove in. Jay was still there, and he saw us come in, and waved with the rag he was using to wipe down the purplish counter.
"This is my lucky day. Two cute girls coming in to visit little old me!"
I rolled my eyes, and Heather let out a snort. "Don't flatter yourself," I said. "We're here for the coffee. You just happen to be a means to an end, server boy. Now fetch!"
He gave a salute, and turned on a heel, his sneakers squeaking on the tiled floor before he tromped off in a very poor imitation of a military march back behind the coffee machines.
"Although, it is very nice to have a man who follows orders for a change," grinned Heather. "Those are far to rare these days."
"I heard that! I'm only following orders because there will be monetary compensation, you know!"
I leaned over the counter, resting against my elbows, and Heather hopped up next to me, having a seat, waiting for our coffees.
Jay returned with two steaming cups, sans lids and handed them over. The steamed flowed upwards around the whipped cream, as Jason had decided to make us some mocha lattes.
"Oooh," I cooed as I saw the whipped cream, with chocolate syrup lightly sprinkled upon the top of it, flowing down in tiny rivers of darkness. "There may yet be a use for you in our regime yet, good sir. Pay the man, Blondie."
"Nuh uh, you didn't bring me any this morning." She crossed her arms defiantly, and stuck her tongue out. "And besides, it was your creepy ghost twin that tried to kill me earlier, you need to make amends."
One of Jay's eyebrows shot up in a look of curiosity straight out of Star Trek. Heather's eyes widened and she smacked her forehead, echoing Homer Simpson's annoyed grunt. My face fell into my hands and sighed. No quirky pop culture reference this time around.
Without removing my face from my hands, and fighting back a whimper, I managed to ask, "There's not any chance that you could pretend that you didn't hear what was just said, is there?"
"Well," he paused. "I could, but I'm terribly intrigued now, you see. And I'm a bad person to get curious."
"Mmm. Yes, I've noticed that in the past. What about for a really big tip?"
"No. Well... No. Unless it was really big, and I don't think you have that much disposable income."
So, another person was let in on my secret. It wouldn't surprise me if he was on Dopple's hit list, really. It wouldn't surprise me if she wanted to off every person I'd ever spoken to, just to make me suffer.
As I related my story to Jay, Heather decided to excuse herself from the proceedings, and I can't say as I blamed her. I didn't really want to hear all this insanity again, but there I was, telling it. That was arguably worse. Telling this story again and again, and watching people whom had been such close friends or aquaintances slowly turning against me. Their eyes turning from a look of interest and curiosity, to fear and uncertainty. That look in their eyes that conveys every possibly way of asking a person if they've gone around the bend.
All of that flashed through Jay's eyes as I spoke, and it wasn't any easier this time than it had been with Heather. And it hurt. To watch a friend turn against you like that, from your own words. And I'd done it twice in one day, in a matter of hours even.
I wish Heather had been there for support, instead of in the bathroom washing up, or whatever she was doing, even if I doubted that support would be there. As much as we were joking amongst each other again, so soon after my little tale, I could still see that look in her eyes while we drove over here,a nd it only intensified when Jay wanted to hear my tale of dark visitors in the night, and really couldn't blame her, but her presence would've been greatly appreciated at the moment, even if it would have just been more accusatory glances.
As I finished my story, telling him all of it, even the dopey leap over the counter at the library, I stopped and waited. Jay said nothing for a long while, but he was looking to be more in thought, than outright staring at me like a madwoman. He rubbed idly at his chin. He was thinking I was nuts, but he was also deeply considering my words, mulling it over and not entirely judging just yet.
"So, at what point exactly did you lose your mind?" He grinned wide, his teeth sparkling in the artificial lighting.
"Your levity is appreciated, but annoying.
"At about 4 in the morning," I muttered.
He nodded, and kept his eyes on me, watching me warily for any sign, almost expecting this to be some sort of elaborate prank. I bet he was waiting for Heather to sneak up behind him and grab him suddenly, or scream, trying to give him a big scare as the Halloween season was settling in.
"And do you realize how crazy this sounds?"
I rolled my eyes. This was why I didn't want to go over this story again. The same questions I'd already been asked, and even ones I'd asked myself almost every minute of this entire day since waking up.
"That question is already getting old, and yes I know how crazy this sounds. It sounds absolutely fucking nuts, yes. But there's too much stuff matching up with that folklore, and the people avoiding it. I've got to hold out hope that I'm not crazy, because it's very hard to not curl up into a ball right now, Jay."
I sighed and took a long, deep gulp of very hot coffee and squeaked as I set the cup back down on the counter, feeling the coffee nearly burn it's way down my throat.
"Siobhan, I've gotta say, I believe you." Bonus. He believes me, and he got my name right.
It still surprised me though, to actually hear support, even moreso than what Heather had given me, although that was still nice to hear from her, too.
"Ok, that was unexpected. What, praytell, has gotten you to believe my little tale of killer shadows?" I was definitley curious how that happened.
He grinned, and took my coffee from me, having a sip of his own, to my very shocked look as he did so. He set it down and pushed it back towards me with a finger as he answered me. "Because I know you. You're not one given to hyperbole. Even when highly caffeinated. Or lowly caffeinated, which would be a more special case for you, and not your norm. And I've been around for awhile, and I've seen some very weird things in my life. I don't want to come off as sounding like some UFO conspiracy nutjob, but the world is a strange place, stranger than most folks know. And myths and legends, like your doppleganger? They have basis in fact, somewhere, lost to history. That's a lot of fact floating around in this particular instance, but it happens.
"So yeah, I believe you."
I breathed a huge sigh of relief. He still had that look of distrust, and that was understandable, but he was more than willing to roll with this. Which was good, since I really didn't want to have to find some new place to get coffee, this one was far too convenient.
Reaching out, I grabbed Jay's hands and squeezed them, trying not to cry at hearing those words. I had an image to uphold, after all. I did remove my sunglasses though, and set them down on the counter before I took Jay's hands and smiled. "Thank you. Good gods above and below, thank you."
My hands were shaking, and I was smiling, and I somehow knew everything would be ok, at least in that moment. Someone believed me, and there was hope that I wasn't completely crazy.
If it wouldn't have been completely awkward, and if Jay wouldn't have enjoyed it far too much, I could have kissed the guy right then and there.
"You've just made today's insanity just a little bit bearable. I owe you big, and I'll do my best to make sure you don't end up on the receiving end of any incoming threats from this thing. I want you to get as far away from here, and Heather too. You two need to get away, if this thing is real, you're both in danger. Thank you so much."
My relief was cut short however, and everything stopped being ok in blink of an eye, as a loud scream broke the joyous moment, coming from the bathroom.