Angry Doppelgänger

You decide to spend the day enjoying the sunny weather. And that’s great, until you see him (or her)—but who? The person looks exactly like you, but you know that you don’t have a twin. And what’s this, he (or she) is approaching you—angrily. Who is this, and why are is this person so mad?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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208 thoughts on “Angry Doppelgänger

  1. Gurinder Pal

    Tina was tired and fagged out after a long and tiring day at work. It would take half an hours drive to be home. Once there she would get some relaxation.Her family was arriving home for the week end. Her teenage daughter from the hostel and her husband from the Station of his posting. As she turned the bend in the road she saw a car parked outside her house.
    Smiling to herself and humming a tune she stepped forward to open the door. The thought of meeting her family after a week had lifted her spirits infusing her with a renewed energy. Shutting the door she turned around to greet and froze, for, sitting intimately close to her husband was a woman. Overcoming her initial shock Tina greeted her husband and noted his absentminded response.It was then that the woman turned around.Tina had to reach out for a chair and sit down.
    That woman had her dark doe eyes, black hair, clear damask complexion. Gosh! she even had the same height and to top it all she was wearing her clothes. Who was she? Where had she come from? What did she want?
    The woman turned to Tina pushed her towards the door and shouted, “Get out! Why do you go barging into people’s houses?” She gave Tina a mighty big push throwing her down on the metaled drive way. Tina lay sobbing and wondering what she could do? “Help me God!” she prayed.
    Her daughter had arrived a few minutes ago. She was witness to all that had taken place before her eyes. She too was nonplussed to see two women who looked like one, her mother. Her mother had no twin. Though young yet intuitive, she knew that never in her life had her mother behaved the way one of the women had.The woman in the doorway moved towards the girl. Glaring in anger at the look-alike in the doorway she kneeled besides the woman struggling to get up.
    Tina cried in joy as she felt the arms of her daughter go around her in a warm embrace.

  2. yacaughtme

    You’d think that being chest deep in lake water would assuage the heat, but no. In Phoenix, 120 degree weather means 80 degree water and this feels more like taking a public bath. Put me in a room with an air conditioner and an old Episode of Law and Order and I’m set.
    Not today though. Today the boy got his way and we are here at the lake. I pretend to enjoy the music that our partying neighbors have chosen while he, almost pathologically, makes friends with everyone on the dock.
    He’s so nice to that one in particular. From where I am I can’t see them directly but I watch their reflections dance on ripples created by the jet skis. Even from here, I hate everything about her.
    I spend so much time looking for her in the mirror it didn’t occur to me that she would be here. I try to coax her out to save my life and she’s nowhere to be found, but amid music and water she makes her appearance. She’s always been a selfish little thing.
    He leans in to kiss her and I can no longer watch. I lunge toward her just in time to stop their lips from touching.
    I feel the pressure of the uncomfortably warm water hit my face just before it swallows me and I realize that I can’t breathe. I thrash for air as I try to fight her, but he grabs me from the water and holds my arms to my sides. “Shhh, baby” He tells me, “you’ll get her next time”.
    How long will it be before I can control my alter?

  3. SkyFox

    I look at her.
    At her flawless skin, at her sparkling eyes, at her pure,raw happiness.
    I hate her.
    I hate her with every single part of me.
    She is everything I was,everything hate, everything that I despise.
    I lurch foward, wanting to tear that little grin off her face.
    Except I trip on my feet, and the ground meets me instead.
    The bottle shatters underneath me, the smell of wine filling the room.
    She smile broader and offers her hand.
    I look at her and my eyes start to tear.
    I cant go back to that time. I cant go back to when I pretened I was happy, when I conviced myself everything was alright.
    Because it isn’t. Becasue life is the playground bully. The one that kicks you down, and never helps you back up.
    And theres is no Prince Charming. There is no one to sweep you off your feet.
    So instead I turn my head, and I turn my back to her.
    I turn my back on myself.
    I put myself in the dark
    And I dont want to claw myself out.

  4. val donally

    It was a warm spring morning when Maddie stepped outside her house to take a short walk to the bakery downtown. She smiled excitedly as she remembered the night before. Laughing out loud, she headed towards town and her ritual morning bagel.

    Maddie had just come out of the bakery and was munching happily on a fresh bagel, when she heard the commotion behind her. She turned and saw a woman running down the street, seemingly out of breath and waving her arms calling loudly “Sara, Sara, Stop, Wait!” Maddie quickly stepped out of the woman’s way, looking behind her to see if she could spot Sara. But for her and the running woman, the sidewalk was empty.

    As the woman drew closer, Maddie could tell by the way she was now walking that she was angry with someone. As Maddie got a good look at the woman, her mouth dropped open and she could feel herself staring. The other woman looked just like her, the same dark chestnut hair, the same amber brown eyes, even the bridge of freckles across the nose, Maddie was speechless. “Sara!” said the woman again, standing in front of Maddie, looking with disgust at her bagel and drawing out the name so that it sounded more like SaaRaaah. “Where have you been” she yelled not really looking at Maddie’s face, “I have been looking all over for you, what’s that you are eating? The others are waiting”

    Out of breath, the woman reached over and grabbed Maddie’s bagel, tossing it into the nearby trash “you know we are not supposed to have that, control yourself Sara.” Maddie was too surprised by the action, to do anything except close her opened mouth. Maddie shook her head and tried to gain some sense of composure.

    Without ceremony, the woman grabbed Maddie’s arm, spun her around and forcefully guided her down the sidewalk talking loudly “We are going to be late,” she said, “everyone is waiting, why did you leave, how could you just wander off like that and make me come looking for you?”

    Before Maddie could say anything, the woman rushed them through the hotel door, stopping for just a moment to look around. She targeted a large group of people, standing by a cluster of hotel chairs. She waived her arm in the air to get their attention, loudly announcing, “Here she is, I found her.” The large group of people turned and parted to show a young woman, her back towards us, with long chestnut colored hair. Maddie’s lips twitched with amusement as Sara turned to face them.

    “Who did you find Grace?” she asked curiously. The woman called Grace looked at Maddie then back at Sara, her twin, then back to Maddie. Sara said to Maddie, “See, I told you she was a handful!” Grace’s eyes widened even more just before she sank to the floor in a dead faint. Sara and Maddie looked at each other with barely contained mirth, you see, they met the night before, quite by accident.

  5. JosephFazzone

    (no one will read this, but I had to get it in under the wire. I’ve been so busy lately.)

    It was a sunny day, which is amazing since it’s we normally endure cloudy and crappy with a chance of showers here in the Pacific Northwest!
    Here we stood, hand in hand. I was literally shaking my twin’s hand.
    “You’re an idiot!” He accused. He seemed vexed.
    “You look familiar,” I tell him. I was buying time, and playing stupid since I was accused.
    “In this verse, verse 1293-00AB plays a probability of 1 in 1 that we died at childbirth. You’re an Annexant. This is not your domain, or presence of authority.”
    “Ironic, isn’t it?” I ask him. “That we should contemplate our existence in a dimension we don’t exist in.”
    He shifted uncomfortably. “We are not supposed to speak to Annexants.”
    Our hands still locked, I pulled him closer and shook him hard. “I was you, dude! I was you in every sense of the stupid word. Verse 2201-95MH, the Arbiters of the Approximation, it was our order who established the very code which you accuse me of breaking.”
    He refused to speak. Well, if anything, we aren’t completely stupid. He wasn’t obliterating me, nor making any move to apprehend, so, keeps dancing. Weave the web, Brado, weave it well.
    “Brado?” I asked. It was a hope.
    “We are not Brado in my verse,” he interrupted. “I am Paul.”
    “Paul”, I continued a bit unnerved. “You know how we think, man. We come out at different intervals, but we are the same soul. We found the keystone. We connected.”
    He nodded.
    “And we learned,” I continued. “We learned to break the rules without unmaking them. We found places where our absence was felt, and we filled it with love. We fractured the minute, and stretched it into hours by multiplying the speed in which we existed.”
    “You don’t sound as stupid.”
    “Well, it’s a sunny day,” I said as I pointed to the sky. “You caught me in a moment of reflection. It gets lonely in my travels. We died very young in verses 00AB through 39KB.”
    “We are fragile,” he reflected.
    This was a good sign. He’s seen the emptiness. “Well we seem to always have the same bad parents. The law of probability must still fall within the genetic parameters.”
    “I could use a partner,” I cajole with the slick tongue of the salesperson that smells the blood in the water, and knows he’s got his prey on the ropes.
    “Brado, eh?” He turned and spat. “It’s been that incarnation that I’ve come to detest in my travels.”
    “You came of age, when?” I asked him ignoring the statement.
    “The 1970s,” he answered. “We had our messes there, but there was still a heart that beat in our people.”
    I nodded sagely. “You have wisdom, but you must remember I came of age during Starfall, when we had little time before the sun swallowed us whole. We had to do what we do to survive.”
    “And you survived,” he said as he sighed deeply. “And broke the code.”
    I jumped.
    He pulled out his blaster, and shot. “The code is everything.”
    I watched my lifeless body fall to floor. It is now Time to find a new verse.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Joseph, I don’t understand all of it but enough to be fascinated by your story. Some cold winter, I’m going to surround myself with sci-fi and dig in so I can travel with you younger sprouts.

  6. Critique

    (Sorry everyone that this is a bit haphazard).

    Sawyer unhooked the back of her bikini top, adjusted the towel to compensate for her newly acquired bosom and settled down with a sigh. This was the life. Staying at beautiful resorts, no money worries, and far away from anyone who knew her. The botox in her cheeks and lips felt cumbersome – like freezing after a root canal – when she smiled. She felt beautiful.

    “Welcome to happy hour miss.” The friendly voice startled Sawyer. “Two for one drinks. What may I bring you?”

    Sawyer lay face down sipping her fourth daiquiri through a straw when she heard a commotion at the entrance to the pool. A small entourage of fully dressed people stood scanning the pool area.

    When Sawyer saw the woman pointing her way the half empty glass slipped from her fingers and smashed on the cement near her face. Swinging her legs off the chaise she sat up and the bikini top slipped out of reach. Snatching up the towel to cover her chest the palm trees, the swimming pool with its multiple patrons, and colorful umbrellas swirled in a sickening kaleidoscope around her. Ignoring the roiling of her stomach Sawyer lurched to her feet. If she could just make it through the archway on the far right, she would be out of sight and could make a dash for her room.

    Her heart pounding like a sledge hammer, Sawyer made it as far as one of the thatched roof bars when the towel slipped, tangled with her feet, and she fell onto her hands and knees. The momentum encouraged a spewing of sour daiquiri mix and leftover lunch across the tiled floor.

    “Sawyer Obermeyer.” A voice trumpeted. “Stay where you are.”

    Sawyer staggered to her feet – towel forgotten – and ran, her bosoms like overinflated beach balls barely bouncing. In her terrorized state she heard laughter and then large hands clamped onto her upper arms. She thrashed about obscenely trying to get away. All in vain.

    Ignoring the ogling crowd she looked into the blazing eyes of Miranda, her step-sister.

    “You stupid bitch.” Miranda slapped Sawyer across the face so hard the thwack echoed around the pool mingling with gasps from the shocked spectators. “You thought you could get away with it.”

    In a drunken stupor and wanting to throw up again, Sawyer felt hate as she looked at Miranda. In the past people remarked how much they both looked like their shared biological mother. They could pass as twins now after all the cosmetic surgery she’d endured. She sagged into the arms of the man holding her.

    A year ago Sawyer found out Miranda was sleeping with the family attorney and ended up with exclusive rights to the family fortune.

    For months Sawyer schemed. Then the final seduction of the same repulsive attorney who in a lustful moment signed a form giving her equal access to the family fortune – all of which she promptly took out. Sawyer, scrawny and awkward would no longer live in the shadow of extroverted bigger-than- life Miranda.

    Sawyer hardly noticed when the man snapped on the handcuffs. She used to work for peanuts in a dusty second hand book store. Now she wouldn’t even have peanuts. She looked at her naked body and realized she couldn’t see her feet. At least she wasn’t scrawny.

    Sawyer started laughing.

  7. UnclePizza

    Busy week this week – wasn’t sure I’d get to this. Just managed to hammer it out on a flight to Memphis. Again, a faint nod and a wink to the prompt, but here’s the third 500-word “chapter” of…huh, I suppose I need a working title for this story if I’m going to keep it up.

    —————————————————————

    Veronica Thomas gave up trying to sleep and slowly got off the bed. It was nearly two o’clock, and she had only slept a few fitful minutes since finally forcing herself to lay down around midnight. She looked down at Lisa, who was fast asleep in the middle of the big bed, a look of blissful peace on her sweet face. While Lisa had missed having Rosie home, at only fourteen months she was far too young to grasp the magnitude of what it meant for Rosie to be gone.

    Veronica needed to pee, but just stood by the side of the bed, not wanting to leave Lisa. She knew it was irrational, but she could not bear the thought of leaving her remaining child unguarded. Then again, there was nothing rational about a madman taking Rosie away.

    Her cubs. Richard had called them that when he was still alive. She had been a single mom with a three year old daughter when they started dating, and one evening he made a comment about Rosie’s slight speech impediment. Veronica had taken it as a criticism of her child, though after a full minute of backpedaling in the face of a mother’s protective fury, Richard finally managed to convince her that his intention was to support, not criticize. “And now that we settled that,” he’d laughed as he took her in his arms, “I know never, ever to get between a mama bear and her cub!”

    But now Rosie was gone, and she didn’t know if she’d ever see her again. Was she OK? It’s been almost 36 hours since she was taken… Was she crying, right now this very minute, because she was alone and missed her mama? Or maybe…she didn’t want to think about it, but the question refused to go away: was she even alive?

    Eventually, Veronica gave in to urge as well as instinct and picked Lisa up gently, lay her sleeping child on her shoulder, and walked down the hall to the bathroom. Every light in the apartment was on and Veronica could see her reflection in the mirror as she approached the little room. She had always been proud of her looks – flawless skin, high cheekbones, and a jawline that was somehow both strong and feminine. But tonight she almost didn’t recognize her own reflection; her typically bright eyes were puffy and red-rimmed, her luxuriously wavy hair was a dry, tangled mess, and her once-smooth brown cheeks were crusted with the white residue of dried tears. She turned quickly from the mirror, unable to bear looking at the reflection of a woman who’d lost her cub.

    She started crying again, deep, gut wrenching sobs that woke Lisa, and when her child also started crying Veronica’s grief exploded forcefully within her. With a keening moan, she fell to the floor, and cocooning herself around Lisa, began rocking on the cool tile. “My baby,” she wailed. “My baby, my baby! Please God, please bring her back…I…don’t…want…ohhhh…”

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, UP!

      Wow.

      This was a vividly emotional story. You did a great job showing her worries and fears. Especially in this part: “But now Rosie was gone, and she didn’t know if she’d ever see her again. Was she OK? It’s been almost 36 hours since she was taken… Was she crying, right now this very minute, because she was alone and missed her mama? Or maybe…she didn’t want to think about it, but the question refused to go away: was she even alive? ”

      My Internal Editor had only one small suggestion. For this paragraph: “But tonight she almost didn’t recognize her own reflection; her typically bright eyes were puffy and red-rimmed, her luxuriously wavy hair was a dry, tangled mess, and her once-smooth brown cheeks were crusted with the white residue of dried tears.” It might be stronger without the adjectives. Maybe let the reader fill in the blanks as to what she normally looked like. But that’s just my twenty-five cents. 🙂

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks Cosi – for both the compliment and the suggestion. I often struggle with finding the right balance between “description” and narrative, so the feedback is very much appreciated. I’ll try to tune it a bit before calling it fully baked.

  8. Observer Tim

    FROM THE ASHES

    There’s nobody else on the entire beach; I’m lying on my back feeling the gentle caress of hot sand and exposing myself to the sun for that all-over tan. A gull cries in the distance, its plaintive squeak melding perfectly into the gentle susurrus of the waves breaking on the shore. This is perfection; this is paradise.

    “Karin! What are you doing?”

    The voice is female, and sounds familiar. If she wants to stare at my naked body, that is her prerogative. I am not going to budge from this spot.

    “Karin! You have to get up!”

    “I do not have to get up; it is lovely here.”

    “Open your eyes!”

    My eyelids lazily open and I look up. This woman looks like me, but she is a gaunt shell of starvation and sorrow. Her eyes are sunken and she’s dressed in filthy rags. Just the look of her is depressing, so I close my eyes again.

    “Karin, you have to get up!”

    “No, I don’t. It is wonderful here.”

    “You are DYING!”

    “Nein; you are dying; I am relaxing.”

    “You are relaxing in the ashes of your people! This is not the time for laziness; it is the time to get up and act!”

    “So you say.”

    She screams, which makes me open my eyes again. Her body is burning, melting, turning to ash and steam before my eyes.

    I look around and see the beach for what it is; a field of ash and bones lit by the lurid glow of gas fires. I have the beach to myself because all the others are dead. I am naked because my clothes have been burned away. But somehow I am unharmed; I am stronger than I ever was. I am one with the fire, and the fire is one with me.

    I stand up. The iron chamber melts away before my anger. There are other chambers too; they melt just as swiftly, releasing the charnel smell of seared flesh and burning bone. I look over at the large tank of gas and it bursts under my glare. Flames leap into the sky, brighter even than the daytime sun.

    They can probably see it as far away as Berlin; I hope so. I am the righteous anger of my family, the burning vengeance of the Chosen People. I am coming for you, Mister Hitler.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Tim, good to see you. What a beautiful, horrifying scene that had me first smiling, then came that punishing punch. Wonderful, full of wonder–awful, full of awe.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Reatha; I was going for a double meaning on this one, so I especially love your comment.

        The strange thing is I just came out of a 2-week noveling trance (got two chapters written) on a story about clones, and I couldn’t think of a good clone story for this prompt. The brain is a weird and wonderful thing, but mostly weird…

    2. writer_sk

      Tim,

      I like your style. The first paragraph is very strong and draws you in.

      The scene is strange and scary.

      Why doesn’t the main character realize she isn’t at the beach at first?

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Writer SK. Now you’ve got me wondering whether “sk” is initials or your from Saskatchewan. Either way, trés cool. 🙂

        As to why she didn’t realize, I think if there were a river in this story it would be De Nile. 😉

    3. Critique

      There’s vivid imagery here of the horrors of the gas chambers and concentration camps. The dichotomy in the story from a serene beach scene to incredible vengeance rising from the ashes was stunning.

  9. Carlitos

    Sorry folks but writer’s block has taken root in my head (again) and ALL I have is this:

    A rapid cycle of blinks riveted my eyes upon the surreal occurrence. My breath irregular. My jugular apace. My palms damp. My spine unbowed in fear. I tried to lasso back my reason but to no avail. The curious oddity swiftly drew close with outstretched arms eager to choke out my life. Then, at once, my ringer stopped his run and stood tall before me in great fury.

    Grrr.

  10. Reaper

    When I was Old

    I don’t normally try to enjoy the sun, something about the White Irish gene. That’s ginger to you folks that are even more bigoted than people who still say White Irish. Sunburn, heat-rashes, sun and heat stroke aside… strange shit always happens in the sun. I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that. Yesterday was no exception. Except to my rule about enjoying the sun.

    So I was stepping outside and the first thing I see is me approaching. This was no normal me though. This was a me that was the same age as Kerry Charlton. As if I was going to live that long. Truth is, if my dad didn’t turn out to be right, if the world didn’t end… well eventually the years of smoking would catch up with me, or the days spent in the sun. No matter what, cancer was just a knock away.

    So, this older than I’ll ever be version of me storms up to me. I can’t figure out why he looks so pissed off. I mean he looks like he holds the kind of anger I felt when I was in high school. Thankfully, I’m a vocal, passionate ass. No matter what age, no matter if I’m me or him. I don’t have to wait long before he gives me what for.

    “How dare you? Do you know what you’re wasting?”

    I open my mouth to defend myself, but then I interrupt me, of course.

    “Do you know when an author does their best writing? Of course you do, every writer does.”

    I am about to ask him to tell me but then he does.

    “It’s before he becomes famous. Before he has to worry about appeasing fans and keeping an audience. When you do nothing but experiment, when your art is pure. Before you get stereotyped and pigeonholed into the crap some publisher wants.”

    I sigh, about to defend myself, but I won’t shut up.

    “We both know you’re not famous yet, and this is the best time. How are you wasting it? You’re chasing success instead of the art. Even the shit you do on that website is ego stroking. Why aren’t you trying to break things? That’s what an artist does. What the hell is wrong with you? You don’t want to end up like me; rich, alone, unfulfilled, sold out. Start writing the revolution now, boy.”

    I open my mouth to tell him that he needs to learn to expand his prose. The idea is there but years of flash fiction limit him. He seems to know what I am about to say. He seems to hate that it makes his point. He l shuts my mouth by slapping me hard. My ear is still ringing when I realize he has gone back to his own reality.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Reaper, I see you’ve been messing with my brain again. Well, that’s okay but listen to this. Yesterday was my birthday and guess what, I am old, eighty to be specific.so I was knocked off my pedestal when I read this. It is a huge honor to even know you let alone float around in your mind. I thank you for the reference, but if you talk to anyone my age, they probably will relate the same ideas to you.

        The secret in looking back is to have no regrets despite the mess you made things. It’s in the beast of all of us. But there is a tiny little secret to live by when you’re my age. ‘But what if?’ should be eliminated from your thinking process. Replace it with look around and see the sunshine, it shines on all of us, just remember to recognize it. I wanted to ask you, when you entered my mind, did you notice all the clutter. I now consider it fertilizer.

  11. cosi van tutte

    “Gasp! Who are you?”

    “Gasp! Gasp! Who am I? Who are you?”

    “I am Elizabeth Martigan and you look just like me.”

    “And you look just like me!”

    “Wow!”

    “Oh, wow wow wowsie wow!”

    “You must be my doppleganger.”

    “And you must be mine!”

    “This is amazing!”

    “This is awesome!”

    “This is terrific!”

    “This is great!”

    “Let’s get ice cream!”

    “Oh, yes! Lots and lots of ice cream. It takes a lot of energy being someone’s doppleganger.”

    “I know! So much energy.”

    “Yeah. What kind of ice cream do you want?”

    “I want peanut butter and guava.”

    “That’s amazing! I want the same thing!”

    “Wow! We are so identical!”

    “So identical!”

    “Let’s go!”

    “Yes! I’m famished. Let’s get that ice cream and eat it to bits.”

    “Yes!”

    And the two Elizabeth Martigans went off into the sunset, hand-in-hand. They ate identical bowls of peanut butter and guava ice cream and lived happily ever after.

    THE END.

    ***

    I sat back in my seat and breathed a pleased sigh of relief. After fifteen years of struggling over it, my story was finally complete. I had finally reached the end.

    I read it over again and again and again. Each read confirmed my initial suspicion. My story was perfect. I didn’t need to edit it or revise it. Every word, every letter was perfect.

    Best of all, my Internal Editor was off in his home dimension, buying 35 bags of Reeese’s peanut butter cups. So, my story was safe from his malignant voice.

    I stroked my computer screen. “Don’t worry, my precious. That fell beast won’t lay a single finger on you.”

    And, just like that! My Internal Editor showed up with a grocery cart filled to the top with orange candy bags.

    I frantically tried to shut my story down, but he was too fast and I was too slow.

    “What?” He smacked my hands away from the keyboard. “What is this?”

    “Oh, nothing. Let my just click on that red X up—”

    He smacked my hand off the mouse. Disapproval soured his expression as he read my story.

    “Really, it’s nothing. Just a…uhh, writing exercise.”

    He peered up at me through his wire-framed glasses. “I repeat my question: What is this?”

    “I already answered your question.”

    “No, you didn’t. I asked you, What. Is. This? It is a very important question and I think you should meditate on the answer.”

    “What is your problem? So, I finished a story when you weren’t looking. Big deal. It’s a work of art. It flows wonderfully from beginning to end. Its rhythm is crisp and clean. It’s just like poetry.”

    “This is not poetry. It’s juvenile junk.”

    If he had pulled out the entire set of the Encyclopedia Brittanica and slapped my face with every single one of the books, that would have hurt. This, however, nearly killed me with hurt.

    “You are capable of writing better than—” He made a disgusted hand gesture at the screen. “—this. Delete it all.”

    My mouth dropped open.

    “And start over.”

    “But this is my baby! This is my life’s work! This is—”

    “Juvenile. There are no attributions, no character reactions, no character movement, not even a passing mention of the location. For all intents and purposes, your two characters are standing in a dark closet and I don’t like it.”

    “Oh, you don’t like it. Well, too bad. I love it!”

    He ignored my attitude and kept on talking, “You have done nothing to set your two characters apart from each other.”

    “Well, duh! They’re doppelgangers.”

    “That is not an excuse. Furthermore, there is no story here, no dramatic tension. Your main character just met her doppleganger. She should be frightened and unnerved and—”

    “I was trying to keep it light and happy.”

    “Light and happy doesn’t make for a worthwhile story. You need to give it some meat, some real. What you have on that screen right now is worthless fluff with idiotic sounding characters.”

    “Why are you being so mean to me?”

    “I’m not being mean. I’m expressing my opinion.”

    “Well, then. Your opinion is mean.”

    “I am an Internal Editor. My opinion is always just so. And it is always right. Now. Sit down and do a full rewrite. I’ll stand nearby to guide you.”

    “More like to scold me.”

    He shrugged. “Call it what you wish. Just rewrite it and rewrite it until it is better.” He opened a bag of Reeses and settled down on the chair next to me. “I’m ready whenever you are.”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Cosi, I do love your internal editor, but this time I disagree. The story is perfect, I’m surprised it only took fifteen years to write.

    2. Observer Tim

      Sounds like somebody’s internal editor needs to have his bag of candy taken away and handed back one piece at a time when he makes constructive suggestions. Pretty soon you’ll have him eating out of your writing hand… 🙂

      I love the banter you’ve created between your ‘self’ and the Editor.

      The part of my brain that remembers Freud is wondering if people other than you and I have internal editors of the opposite gender. Emily just told me it should have been “you and me” in the last sentence. 😉

  12. Amyithist

    Standing in the window of the little shop on Main, my coat hanging haphazardly around my gaunt frame, I watched as the little black and white TV flipped from commercial to commercial with relative ease. The afternoon sun beat the back of my head with the intensity of a ball bat; never letting up, even as I moved my old straw hat to my crown. Across the street, a lady in dressed in a smock that dipped past her lumpy knees leaned against the weight of a sack of groceries that was pressed against her chest. Even from where I stood I could see the rolls of sweat beading down her homely face.

    There were rows of people moving up and down the walk; some passing me, some who noticed, most others who didn’t. I wavered slightly, possibly from heat but more likely from the inexplicable gravitational pull reefing on my head.

    I heard someone behind me: “Get outta the way you ol’ fool.”

    Then another: “You goddammed drunk.”

    The street suddenly became hostile and I ducked into a back alley between Weir’s Appliances and Sadie Say’s Craft Supply. It was true. I was drunk. I could have been pickled for all I knew but I had a job to do. It was important. It was life or death and if I didn’t do it…who knew…

    I leaned against a brick wall and basked in the reprieve of the shade. I noticed a stray black and white dog jaunt cautiously between legs, careful not to get too close to anyone. I watched after it until my eyes started to ache against the movement. I didn’t feel well. Something was wrong and it wasn’t just the tilt-a-whirl spin my brain seemed to be doing in my head.

    I was about to abandon ship when I heard a familiar voice ringing above the crowd. “Homemade bread only five cents a loaf! Fresh from the oven!”

    I cringed at the sound and immediately began to fish my change from my pockets. The voice got louder. “Five cents…” “Homemade!” “Fresh and hot!”

    I peered around the corner of the craft store, squinting as a small boy, right around six years old, held a basket with nearly ten loaves of freshly baked bread toward an impossible crowd. One lady stopped and bought a loaf. She didn’t offer a smile; just looked away as though she’d purchased the bread from thin air. Maybe it was because his hair was as soft and as malleable as dried out hay or because he had dirt smudges on his hands and his face and his knees and his clothes…hell, everywhere you looked, that kid was dirty.

    Or maybe it was because his father was Lenny Bush; a mean cowardly drunkard who’d left the boy with one hell of a black eye and if you lifted his shirt… But I knew it wasn’t any of those things. It was because that little boy came from the wrong side and nobody had time for little begging brats.

    I counted out my money. I had fifty cents; enough to buy all the bread and leave him a little extra for penny candy at the five and dime. I whistled, catching the boy’s attention. He scooted through the crowd, careful to keep the basket tucked beneath a scrawny arm. He rounded the corner, stopping short when he caught sight of me. He stepped back from the shadows and kept himself in plain view of the bustling crowd. Smart lad.

    “Bread, mister? Only five cents a loaf and it’s real warm and homemade.”

    “Your mama make it?” Of course she did.

    He nodded. “Makes the best bread in the world.”

    “Don’t you have any bread for you ‘n yours?”

    His eyes dropped to the loaves. I knew he was hungry. He shook his head and thumbed one of the loose weavings in the basket. “Mama says we gotta sell what we can so daddy i’nt angry.”

    I grimaced and held my coins out to him. “Here. I want all of your bread. Except for two loaves. One I want you to eat. Right now. With me. The other, I want you to take back to your Mama and your brother and sister. And eat it before your papa gets home.”

    The boy’s eyes flashed at me. “How you know I gotta brother and sister?”

    Smart lad.

    “Don’t worry about that,” I ordered. “You want the bread?”

    He hesitated, but only for a moment. “Yessir,” he finally whispered.

    I nodded at him. “Then take the two loaves. One for you. One for the family. You understand?”

    He gave me my bread and stood in the threshold of the alley while he first nibbled on his, then started devouring it with voracity. “Mister, I ain’t got anything to pay you back with.” He said it between gulps of food with eyes as wide and as innocent as a puppy’s.

    “Don’t worry about that.” I wasn’t feeling well. My head felt as though a million little men were pulling me down by my brain. “How you can repay me is by going to school tomorrow and telling Mr. Applewood what your daddy does to you and your brother and your sister and your Mama. And get him taken away. Trust me, son, you’ll be happier for it. And when Peter DeMarco asks you to drink a beer with him behind the school gymnasium, you say no, do you understand?”

    He was crying now but he gave me a quick nod.

    “Don’t ask me how I know all this stuff, either. I just do. Now you go home. And don’t you tell your Mama about this. You hear? You tell her you had a man pay you extra because the bread was so good but you had one leftover. Got it?”

    Again, he nodded. I waived him off and his little legs looked like white-hot streaks in the September sunshine. I slid down the wall and started to stuff the bread into my mouth. I felt weaker and weaker and by the moment. I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore, then I threw the remaining loaves of bread into the gutter where I knew the old stray dog would find it.

    I crawled back to the dumpster; the one I’d crawled out of back in 2015…the one that had taken me to 1958 when I was only six years old and desperately trying to make money for my family. I climbed inside; still reeking of alcohol and still feeling the effects of nearly killing myself with booze the night before. I wondered if it had just been a dream as I closed the lid on the dumpster; if I was just going to wake up with one hell of a hangover or if I were already dead and this was just a weird part of hell I’d wondered into.

    I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep; hoping my little experiment with the time-space continuum had paid off. When I woke up in a strange bed with sheets that damn near felt like silk rubbing against my lily white ass, I knew it had…and…at least for me…it had changed for the better. Or at least…that’s what I thought.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Wonderful! Great dialogue. The descriptions are perfect, I was there in 1958 with all the sights, smells, everything, because of the details you used. And, the story was so moving and emotional. I’m sure many people would like the chance to go back to one pivotal moment to change history.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I can tell you put your heart and soul into this. It is written with passion and heart. In fact, it gave me chills to read it. Wonderful response to the prompt, more than anything else I have read this week.

  13. Cheyenne

    Word Count: 428
    Quick info: This is my second post; I am a little OCD with how things go in order so I started from the very last page (the first prompt ever written) but decided I wanted to post something where other people are currently active, in hopes of some much wanted criticism.

    I spent the last twenty-two years sticking to the same morning routine. Awake by 5:15 A.M., run through the severely wooded area on the manmade path that was just clear enough for two walk side by side, and make it home by 7:00 (or (9:00 on a weekend) before my husband and daughter woke up. I liked my mornings, especially days like this, a beautiful Saturday.

    I heard a putter of footsteps approaching me, jogging as well. Not many people ran on this path, but the few who did I found familiar. As she approached me, I smiled as I always do. My smile shifted to a muddled face as, of course, she looked familiar, just too familiar. She was me.

    “You just had to be the better half, the successful half, marriage and child half!” she hollered as she got closer. She ranted on about how she had been homeless, her “powers” couldn’t even land her a career, let alone a male to love her. Her world was empty, only to be filled with hunger, agony and helplessness.

    Some call these things Doppelgangers; it didn’t click in my mind however, I chucked it up to a bad dream, a very intense, rotten dream.

    Just like that, this woman was on top of me, eyes murky and claws out. Just like that, blood painted my bleached t-shirt. And the pain, oh God the pain, was the only thing that made this real. I felt my life, or maybe it was my soul, escape through my open wound that was flawlessly aligned along my throat; now, I could only watch from behind the brush where she couldn’t see. Where no one could see.

    I watched my body crumble into the soil with a simple touch of her now human-like finger. It was like I was never there, only she. I watched as she jogged home, making it back by 9:00, just as I would have. I watched her hug my daughter as Heidi strolled down the stairs sleepily, her bed head so perfect. I watched her caress my husband once he rounded the corner into the kitchen. She took everything from me within a matter of 3 hours, from the time I stepped foot on that path to the time I turned into this. And now everything that once made me Holly Jade Raseron, now made her Holly Jade Raseron.

    Fortunately, it won’t take me a quick 3 hours. This revenge, this sweet, excruciating, dreaded revenge will last a lifetime. Her lifetime that she wished to have so badly.

    1. UnclePizza

      Cheyenne, I think this is a great story and for the most part it’s well written. The first paragraph kind of gets off to a rough start, though. Possibly because the second sentence is so long? Once you get past that first paragraph the cadence is pretty good with only a few minor exceptions, like the sentence where you mention Doppelgangers. Keep it up!

      1. Cheyenne

        I was at a loss as well with the first paragraph; I thought maybe, too, the second sentence was a bit overdone, but every other way I tried writing it, it seemed worse lol. Thank you!

    2. writer_sk

      It was very good. The tone is creepy yet plausible.

      You wanted constructive criticism? I thought where you mention these “things” doppelgängers alluded to some sort of foreshadowing of an infestation of them so I was waiting for a little more in that.

      Elsewhere you said her finger became human-like but I thought she already looked identical to the main character.

      Very well done – it was reminiscent of Twilight Zone stuff. I liked the wooded setting and her activities at the house at the end.

      I saw nothing wrong with it.

    3. Observer Tim

      Actually, I like the first paragraph (of the story). It needs a couple of little grammar tweaks, but does a great job setting the MC’s slightly obsessive tone. That plays well with the closing paragraph and her desire for a long revenge. 🙂

      P.S. I liked your Three Wishes story (I’m OC as a personality trait too), and commented on it. Welcome aboard! 🙂

  14. UnclePizza

    As I recall, it was all Beck’s idea…again. He’d been looking at pictures of all the Nazi officers and staff who took over the Majestic Hotel in Paris, and apparently I was the spitting image of one of the junior aides. Beck figured if I wore the right uniform I could get us close enough to the top dog to take him out, so he made arrangements with a team of Resistance fighters to smuggle us into Paris. From there, one of Resistance women would get the aide drunk and take him to bed. Beck and I would then walk into the Majestic late at night wearing our German uniforms and get to work.

    Well, apparently this particular aide must have had somebody somewhere that he was pretty loyal to, because instead of going home with Claudette he just thanked her for the drinks and went staggering home alone. Worse yet, timing was against us, and we rounded the corner at the same time, both staring dumbly at each other.

    After he stared at me for a hard second, he started running straight for me, hollering in German. I tried to reply in my own marginal German, but without time to settle myself my American accent came through. Before I knew it he had his pistol out and pointed it at my head. I saw a flash and my ears started ringing like crazy.

    OK, I thought, maybe Claudette didn’t get him in the sack but at least she got him drunk enough that he couldn’t hit someone standing five feet away. I started reaching for my own pistol, but the aide jabbed his barrel in my chest and I knew that I was done for; there’s no way he could miss now. I heard the Boom, but instead of me falling over it’s the aide who hits the sidewalk, the top of his head gone. Beck had spotted him coming and got his sidearm ready just in case there was trouble. Not ready enough, I never failed to remind him, since being shot at point-blank was too damn close for comfort in my view – I don’t care if the fool missed!

    The next few moments were pandemonium, with German soldiers spilling out of the Majestic, Resistance fighters laying down cover fire from the shadows, and Beck and I scrambling for cover. Don’t ask me how, but somehow we got out of that scrape, just like all the others situations Beck got us in.

    We eventually made it through the war, left the Army, and stayed close for many decades. With his instinct for survival, I always figured Beck would live forever. So it was a surprise when his daughter called this morning to tell me that he died last night. He damn near made it to 100 though, I’ll give him that. Four more months would have done it. Me, I’ll need four more years, and I don’t like my chances without Beck around anymore to watch my back.

  15. jhowe

    For this story to even remotely touch on the prompt, you have to assume that two of the kittens look exactly alike. And then, it’s still a stretch.

    Hello.

    Hello ma’am, my name is Roger Carter. I saw your add in the paper about the cats you have for sale.

    Yes, our tabby had seven kittens, but they’re not for sale, they’re free.

    Free? I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t pay.

    The add did say, ‘Free Kittens.’

    I assumed that was some sort of sales technique.

    Well, you can pay if you want, but I doubt I’ll be able to get rid of all of them, even for free.

    I’m very interested in a cat to help me control the mice. My wife freaks out every time she sees one.

    I’m sure whichever kitten you choose will be good at catching mice.

    That sounds fine. How much do you want?

    I’m telling you, the cats are free, but if you want to pay, I’ll take it.

    I’d feel better if I did. How much?

    How about a dollar?

    For one cat?

    You can have as many as you want for a dollar.

    I’m just interested in one cat.

    Ok, a dollar for one.

    That seems a little steep.

    Look, I said you could have one for free!

    I’ll give you seventy five cents.

    CLICK

    Hello, Roger.

    You hung up on me.

    Do you want a cat or not?

    How much are you asking?

    Seventy five cents.

    That seems reasonable.

    Look, I’m busy. The cat will be here whenever you want to pick it up.

    Pick it up? For that price, I’d think you’d deliver.

    CLICK.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is comedy at it’s very best John. The last line is an absolute killer. It reminds me of prank calls we made as a kid. Most are not printable however.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a fantastic example of ‘telephone banter’, John. I love the pair of voices you created here and the way they manage to both speak to the same conversation without actually contacting each other. This had me chuckling all the way through. 🙂

  16. iansmcclure

    Some whisper of it, this creature most befuddling. It has many names- the Ancient Egyptians called it ka. The Norse referred to it as a vardøger. And of course, the Germans spoke of the doppelganger. I myself do not know it by a singular moniker, but rather a multitude of terms. No matter the name, the creature has proven most enigmatic to research. All my life I have studied the collection of cryptic half-truths and distorted lies that is mythology and urban legend- the elusive Wendigo, the sanguine Chupacabra, and the tenebrous Kraken have all been the subject of my research. But I have never studied something akin to this- for I never had the dubious honor of personally witnessing such a fabulous being. Until that fateful morning.

    At the time, I was in the midst of researching the aforementioned Kraken, and found myself necessitating a bout of fresh air. A quick drive saw me arrive at the nearby forest, a marvelous menagerie of flora and fauna that nonetheless has managed to escape man’s heavy-handed touch to the modern age. It is a frequent retreat of mine, and I know it as intimately as anything can be known. And that day was, simply put, pristine- the birds sang their melodies, and the flowers bloomed in full splendor as the great, fiery orb that is the sun shone bright and warm above it all. Truly, an idyllic scene. I walked for a while, admiring the wonders of the forest, when I noticed myself accompanied by another man. Unfettered, I merely assumed it a fellow wanderer of the woods.

    I chanced, after a while, to look directly at the fellow, to satisfy a natural curiosity. That was the first shock. The man was directly staring at me with a stare most loathsome- at once suggesting hatred and fury. That was not the shocking element- at least, not compared to the fact that this was, for all intents, an exact copy of myself, down to the most minuscule detail- the face, rugged and hairy, the body, skinny and casually dressed, and the omnipresent notebook and pencil in his hands. Only the eyes differed, showing that frightening emotional visage. At that moment, I walked away, merely unnerved at the time. And that was when it attacked.

    With an inarticulate howl, it lunged, grabbing hold of me with a strength most inhuman. I yelled, startled, but I could not break free! Panicked and fearful, I glanced at those horrible eyes, and was met, not with my deep blue, but with a horrid blackness. ‘Twas then I realized that this thing was no man with a coincidental resemblance to me, but a- thing, that had taken my form for it’s own inscrutable reasons. And then, with a resounding thud, a branch fell, faraway. The creature, distracted, loosened the grip, and I ran like never before or since, making my escape.

    Ever since, I have studied the thing, preparing myself. For the day that it will return.

      1. writer_sk

        I don’t have anything negative to say. I couldn’t think of a criticism. The language is great. It feels like I’m reading a classic – especially Dr Jekkell and Mr. Hyde.

        Well done.

    1. Teserk

      The entire piece has a very academic feel to it, as if the narrator is simply relating a historical event. If that is what you were going for (it seems the narrator IS an academic) then you nailed it.

      Personally, I think you could improve it by stepping up the emotion of the piece, in particular showing us the terror felt during the attack and leading to the obsessive study of the creatures since, with the narrator’s paranoia that it will someday return.

      Just my $0.02.

      1. iansmcclure

        Thanks for the input! Although I was, at least somewhat, aiming for an academic feel, I understand that it feels a bit flat, emotionally-speaking. I was going for another full paragraph as a conclusion, but I was at the word limit (literally, the story is exactly 500 words), and I feel the ending was rushed as a result. But, I also admit that I’m not the best at writing emotion, so it’s definitely something I’ll work on.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Hello Ian, I assume that’s your first name, if not, hello anyway. I understood the academic feel immediately and personally wasn’t bother by it. The last sentence does display the fear he feels as if resigned to a specific fate. Maybe a mention in there of how he’s going to whip ass on the monster. Get back at attitude.

    2. UnclePizza

      I really like this, both the story and the way it was written. I agree that it feels like it ended abruptly, and I knew before I even read the comments that it was because of the word count. A lot of us struggle with that and either go over, end a little too fast, or end up rewriting the whole story a couple of times to get it to flow properly. I suggest you write this out the way you want it to go, stretch it out another paragraph or two. Not to re-post, but just so you can see the whole story on the page. It will be good practice and I’ll be you feel better about it once you do.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Hello ian, to me the writing felt very formal, I think academic was mentioned. I think the descriptions of the forest were lovely, but without much emotion. I’m a huge fan of dialogue and internal musings, probably use them too much, but that is one way to express emotion and better present your main character. Keep writing.

    4. Observer Tim

      This strikes me as an Ivy League professor relating a tale that is harrowing in extremis. The style combination is strange and refreshing. I’ve read books like this. 🙂

      One aspect of writing in this style you have to be aware of, though, is its effect on the reader. Because of the obvious academic nature of the protagonist, each grammatical error jumped out with claws and fangs of its own. For example, people don’t necessitate, situations do; people simply find themselves in need of something.

      As for the ending, a simple recast of the resolving sentence might help. Something like…

      Knowing myself to be without recourse, I resolved myself to face my demise. But then some sound, perhaps the fall of a wayward branch, startled the creature. In its moment of distraction I managed to slip from its grasp and flee; and so I escaped with my life.

      This is a very difficult style, and you did a fairly good job of narrating in it. All that seems wanting is more practice. So practice, my friend! Welcome to the site, and I hope to see more of your writing in whatever style you choose. 🙂

  17. Dana Cariola

    The electronic lullaby rang out like a, “siren’s call” to all of the kiddie’s on the playground. Announcing the ice cream truck’s arrival. The parents, that had been watching over their off-spring, with an eagle’s eye. Now, diverted their attention, towards their coin purse’s and diaper bags, right on cue, with the truck’s arrival.

    Above all of those tiny voices, ushering their parent’s along towards the sweetness that had just rolled up. A voice rang and began scolding the mindless parent’s, of those ravenous little children. I scanned the playground to locate it’s source. I didn’t have to look very far…There standing against a lamp post, with a lite cigarette in one hand, and a brown paper bag, containing a beer bottle, in the other….Was me?

    The parent’s shouted back at the woman and threatened to call the police, if she continued on, with her verbal abuse towards them. She took a quick swig from her bottle and tossed it onto the grass. And, began making a beeline, in my direction. Their jaw dropped in numb surprise, when they quickly realized. Their were now, Two.

    “Hey, you!…What did I tell you about wearing that ridiculous hat!” she slurred out to me. “You know what comes next!..Don’t you Franny?” she gave warning.

    Quickly, I rose up from my favorite park bench, jumping from side to side, uncertain of which way to go. ‘

    “Whaat, do you want from me?” nervously I asked. As I threw my bag of bird feed at her. in an attempt to slow her pace, towards me.
    .
    “First, I’m gonna slap that stupid hat off of your head!…Then I’m gonna put my boot, as far as it can go, into that skinny frame of yours!…Feeding the birds again!…Always the dam birds!…We should be on the backseat of Harley -Davidson, racing towards the sunset!” she shouted.

    “Motorcycles?…I never liked motorcycles!” I replied back to her.
    “Franny?…You know that little friend of yours you keep hidden, in the lock box?”
    “How do you know about that? I questioned.

    “Did you just ask me that?..Franny? I’m you. Your me!..That’s what you think about. When you buddy up to that thing!” she exclaimed, aloud.

    “Oh, my God!.. Leave me alone!…Shooo. Go Away!” I commanded. My voice filled with embarrassment and shame, as the secrets of my life were being revealed, in front of a live audience of shocked parents and crying children.

    I grabbed my bottle of water and threw on the imposter. “Oh, Oh, I’m melting!!!!…I’m melting!!!” she mocked, as she held her hands over her face, as if she were really, melting away.

    Sirens from a black and white, chirped, once, then twice, as it entered the parking lot. My evil twin removed her hands from her face, and slide her eyes towards the patrol car, then back to me.

    “This ain’t over!” she warned again, Then took off towards the bushes, that lined the playground. But, not before shouting back to me to “Stop wearing that hat!”

    1. Teserk

      Hi, Dana. This seemed a little disjointed. It was hard to read; there were a lot of grammar errors. In particular, you broke phrases apart into separate sentences when you should have kept them together. For example:

      The electronic lullaby rang out like a, “siren’s call” to all of the kiddie’s on the playground. Announcing the ice cream truck’s arrival.

      This should be “The electric lullaby rang out like a siren’s call to all of the kiddies on the playground, announcing the ice cream truck’s arrival.”

      Also, please be careful not to use the possessive to represent plural: “parent’s” should be “parents”

      The altercation between the narrator and the double was not bad, but left me wondering what it was all about. Very little was explained, and that was dissatisfying.

      Just my thoughts. I appreciate you sharing!

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I do see the two sides of the same person, one content with a park bench, the other on a Harley, good job with that. Careful editing could fix some of the grammar issues.

    3. Observer Tim

      I found this an interesting beginning to a longer story about the Franny’s personality/alternate self issues. I would like to see where it’s going and how you can resolve it. I’m rooting for the water-drinking bird-feeding version of her… 🙂

      The grammar is an issue; I’m not sure if it’s deliberate or not, but it can interfere with readability as Teserk points out. An extra editing pass with special attention to periods vs. commas and possessive vs. plural would hopefully remedy that.

  18. morningdream

    “OhMyGod” …I can feel her anger from here. Out of the corner of my eye I see someone walking towards me and they are PISSED. I know it’s childish but I wish I could melt away inside this rack of dresses I’m sifting through, you know, just slip inside and shut the beautiful, luxuriant dresses around me till this person passes by. “I’m on my break,” I think, “just doing a quick turn-about to check out the new merchandise.” I had a quiet moment and decided to ran over to the little boutique across the street from my office. Over and over I chant in my head “I’m not buying, just browsing. Don’t talk to me.” I’ve done a good job deflecting even eye contact by keeping my head down and striding directly to the dress section. “OhMyGod!” the alarm in my brain starts rising slowly as I hear her heals clicking as I realize that she is coming down my aisle. “Really?” Without looking up I slide sideways to give her room to pass me. Well, and to give her some privacy. Clearly she needs some. Maybe she just got fired, what the hell do I know.

    “Hello.” Startled, I turn around still holding the pretty red cocktail dress in one hand. I sense more than see that she is my height, unusual, and about the same build. My adrenaline starts to pump in earnest as her anger envelopes me. Her rage makes the space between us vibrate. “Yes?” I say as I look up. I begin to focus on her face. “OhMyGod”…it just slips out. She looks just like me. “Is your name Samantha Gilbert?” she barks. Now I’m really scared and I take a step backwards. I glance around hoping there is someone who can help me. Evading a direct answer, I ask her why she wants to know. This doesn’t help the situation. She starts to scream at me saying something about bankruptcy. As I glance in the mirror directly behind her I see the perplexity in my face. I can’t comprehend what she means. “Me?” I finally stammer. Again she yells, “Is your name Samantha Gilbert? Samantha M. Gilbert?” I finally say that yes, that’s me. With her hand on her hip, head jutting out and eyes boring into mine, “Well so am I. My attorney told me you worked around here and I followed you in. I see that YOU have money if you shop in a place like this. I have lost my house, my car and my job because of YOU.”

    That happened months ago. I’ve been unable to resolve the mystery of a double with the same name and truthfully I’ve lost sleep over it. I finally decided to leave everything in my attorney’s hands, changed my name and moved. I’m much more alert now, the world has become less predictable and more frightening

  19. chandra_wd_writer

    I hope you guys like reading it. I put this up in an hour. Waiting to hear some feedback.

    This is my first serious attempt at writing for a prompt here. I am a beginner trying to learn the art of story telling and mastering the language as I am a non-native speaker.

    ***

    I must be dreaming, I thought. If not, then, he must be my secret twin whom my parents abandoned. Well, they were not good parents, but they were definitely not evil enough to abandon an infant. I must be dreaming then, or the drinks must have been mixed up. As I tried hard to fix my eyes on his moving figure, he started walking faster as he pushed a few over enthusiastic tourists with their cameras and cellphones—taking pictures of a never before seen, huge ferry that was going towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

    The day was annoyingly bright and skies were painted all blue without any traces of clouds; except for a long, white trail left by an aircraft and it looked as if the trail divided the infinite sky into two equal halves.

    Doppelgänger! Yes, a doppelgänger! I remembered hearing that word for the first time a few weeks ago when we were playing Pictionary game at a party. My vocabulary isn’t great given I am a non-native speaker. But why on earth someone would call a “look-alike” a “doppelgänger”?

    As he approached closer, I could sense the fierceness on his face and his forehead creased in a familiar way. I knew he was angry, in fact, very mad. But why is he angry? Most important, now I realized that he was approaching me and I thought he was in fact mad at me. But I thought why would a stranger be angry at me and I tried to calm down my already excited nerves.

    I could feel my heart beat faster and I instinctively put the hand in my pocket and pulled the iPhone out while I cleverly unlocked it with the fingerprint sensor by the time I lifted my hand up. What else would you expect? I needed to put this man on my Facebook wall and fool people. How cool it would be to tell my friends that I just saw a man who looked exactly like me. But by the time I pointed my phone at him, he was too close to knock the phone out of my hand in a flash. I acted as if I never saw him and instead started shooting the blue sky over my head where a sightseeing helicopter was flying with a loud sound.

    He came straight to me and punched me on my abdomen with his strong fist. I composed myself and tried not to create a scene and also I was too shocked to see my look-alike beat me in our first meeting. By this time I knew I wasn’t dreaming. The pain was real and the man was real.

    “What’s wrong with you man?” I asked, in a friendly manner than he might have not anticipated.

    “Why the hell did you sleep with my wife?”

    “Well, who is your wife?”

    “The woman whom you slept with on Sunday.”

    “In the morning or in the night?” I laughed.

    One more punch stopped my laugh in the middle. But yes, it was an honest question from me without any pun intended. I slept with two women that day.

    “Sunday. Night.” came two stern, loud words.

    “Well, then, I am sorry to tell you that I was totally drunk that day and as far as I remember, I went to the bar in my hotel and the next thing I probably remember was waking up in my hotel room on Monday morning. If you think I have slept with your wife, then I probably did. But I don’t know. How do you know?”

    “My wife told me.”

    “Then isn’t that your wife’s fault?” I said and that’s when I again realized he was my look-alike. She probably thought it was him. But why would she sleep with me in my hotel room? And why would she tell him later? And even if she did tell him, how did he find me here?

    “She thought it was me and she thought I was cheating on her as I told her I was in New York for a business trip. But she saw me right there, in the downtown hotel while she way partying with her friends and I, or in fact you, totally drunk and sitting alone in the restaurant.”

    “Okay. That’s a lot of useful information. But even if I did, what can we do now?”

    “Well, I just wanted to see you and….”

    “How on earth did you find me here?”

    “I went to the hotel room. I don’t have to tell you how I found the keys to open the door. I saw your Facebook post in your unlocked laptop and I am here as you quite proudly tagged a photo of yours an hour ago. Well, is that enough or you need a full story?”

    “So you breached into my hotel room. That’s a serious offense than sleeping with someone’s wife in a drunken state.”

    “If only you get out of here and file a case.”

    “Anyhow, I am curious. Before you shoot me dead, I want to see your wife. Can I see her photo?” I said in a funny voice as there was no way he would shoot in broad daylight with crowds around.

    He took his phone out and there she was on the lock-screen wallpaper. There she was. My beautiful wife.

    “It’s my wife. It’s my wife,” I shouted in surprise. A doppelgänger pair. Is there a word for that in English? May be I should look it up on Google.

    The doppelgänger was determined. I wasn’t sure if he understood even our wives were doppelgängers. He pulled a gun from his pocket and pointed at me. That’s exactly when the fire alarm in my house sounded and I woke up from my deep slumber well past midnight. I turned and saw my beautiful wife deep asleep beside me and my doppelgänger vanished with my dream. I had a weird sensation in my abdomen and ran downstairs to check if there was a fire.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      I enjoyed the very well done descriptions in the first part, but was a bit disappointed it was all a dream. Working through that reality would have been very interesting.

    2. kjsewell1983

      This was a well thought out story that I found quite enjoyable once I was able to capture the rhythm and dialect of the author. There are some definite grammar issues throughout the writing, with basic sentence structure severely lacking. You may want to focus some time on sentence structure workshops. Building a stronger understanding of the appropriate structure of sentences will aid in your ability to develop a clear, descriptive writing style. Despite grammatical inaccuracies, the overall tone of the story was upbeat and airy. I found the comedic presence refreshing and the dream scenario was a good choice to establish a more believable existence of an actual “doppelganger”.

      Good story, consistent plot development, keep working on basic grammar rules.

      Good Job!

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Thank you for reading and the feedback. I am glad you liked it. Yes, I am working on the grammar aspect. I already enrolled in a WD workshop. I should probably have spent more time editing this before I submitted.

    3. UnclePizza

      I agree with the suggestions from others. You have a good imagination and came up with a good story. Even though the writing itself can improve, I’d say you are off to a very good start for a non-native speaker who is just getting started with writing stories. Keep practicing!

    4. Observer Tim

      I’m not going to call you on the grammar, Chandra – it’s obvious from the other comments that you’re working on it. Instead, I will say that I love the setting, voice and story that you created, as well as the sense of the MC’s slowly fading confusion as the situation becomes more surreal.

      Be careful with the dream plot device; it can very easily turn on you. In this case it fits, though it would be stronger with something creepier on awakening, like if there was a strange man in the bedroom, or he woke up next to his lover and thought about his wife, or something non-traditional like that.

      Regardless of all comments, you’re off to a strong start; I look forward to seeing more of your writing! 🙂

  20. cosi van tutte

    Jhowe’s comment about Shameless Hack’s story inspired me.

    ***

    Esmaralda admired her reflection and stuck out her fabulous lips. Mmm, mmm,mmm! she thought. I am looking hot tonight. Golden skin. Red, red lips. Mmm! No one could be hotter than me.

    She blew a fat-lipped kiss to her reflection and floated over to the mirror on the other side of the room. “Oh, hello! You gorgeous thing you.”

    The world spun around her as she twirled. It was a completely natural thing for the world to revolve around her, because…Well. It just did.

    She never questioned her existence. She never wondered why food rained down on her head every single day. It was just a natural state of being, as far as she was concerned.

    The world wanted her to live forever. It was that simple. So, of course, it would give her free food without an efforts on her part. She didn’t have to sing or dance for her supper. It just floated down to her. Freebies from the gods.

    She completed one more twirl. “Mmm, mmm, mmm. You should come see me sometime, you dazzling darling.” She gave her reflection a salacious wink and a nod. Her reflection returned the favor.

    Something dropped through her ceiling with an unrestrained, “Wheeeeeeee-haaaaaaa!”

    Esmaralda watched as it tumbled into her wonderful world. Gold skin twisting and turning and fumbling for balance. This thing wasn’t food.

    It was a creature like herself.

    The intruder turned right-side up and spun around to face her.

    It was just like her.

    Absolutely identical.

    “Wheeeee-hooo! Lookie at you!”

    Esmaralda blinked her large eyes with confused deliberation. What could this mean? She nervously puckered her lips. Are the gods angry at me for some reason? Are they telling me that I am to be replaced?

    She turned away from the stranger and studied her own reflection. I’ve done all I can to honor the gods. Why would they want to replace me? What have I done wrong?

    “You all are like my identical cousin or sister or some wacked out junk. Ain’t that a whirl!”

    But this is my world. I will not let this intruder lay claim to it. She turned around, gave the other a long, cold look, and slapped her with all of her might.

    But it didn’t make her feel any better. It made her feel wrong and out of place. One should never slap their own face. It’s against all laws of nature.

    The other smiled broadly and slapped her right back.

    Esmaralda nearly fainted from shock. “You…you ruffian! How dare you come crashing into my house with my face on your face and slap my face! Don’t you have any sense of propriety?”

    “Nope! Let’s play tag!” She slapped her again and ran to the other side of the room.

    Esmaralda stood in place, too baffled to make a move.

    “Hey, ya all! Doncha be a boring lump. Come get me! Let’s play tag!”

    “Tag? Tag? What is this ‘tag’ you’re speaking of?”

    “What are you? An old goblinfish? Come on! Move that tail. Flap those fins. Chase me.” Her voice turned into a singsong. “Try to catch me. Try to tag me. Betcha can’t get me. Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!”

    The taunt worked its magic on Esmaralda. “I don’t know who you are or why you are in my home.” She smiled wide. “We’ll discuss those details later. Right now, I am going to tag you.”

    “Betcha can’t.”

    “Bet all you want. You’ll lose.” She chased after the other. “I will tag you!”

    The other let out a gleeful shriek and raced around the room with Esmaralda hot in pursuit.

    ***

    The gods watched from up above and smiled.

    1. jhowe

      The smiling gods got to me a little. It’s comforting to imagine our pets might think of us as gods.This story reminded me of Far Side cartoon from way back. Two goldfish stood on their tails on the table as there bowl was on fire. One of them said, “Thank God we got out in time…. of course now we’re equally screwed.”

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Reatha!

        I just thought it would be an interesting challenge to write it from a goldfish’s point of view without actually stating that it is a goldfish. 😀

  21. Jeunou

    “What are you doing out here? I told you to hide!”
    “Excuse me?” I queried, shielding my eyes from the sun as I took in the site before me. Ever had conversions with yourself in the mirror? It was like that, only freakier.
    “I told you that you needed to hide! We couldn’t afford anyone spotting you whilst I was finding the book!” Damn, did I get that wrinkle in my forehead when I frowned.
    Subconsciously touching my forehead, I eyed the book clutched in fake-me’s hands, “what boo- wait! That’s my journal! Where the hell did you get that from?”
    Jumping to my feet I tried to snatch the book out of her hands, but she-I-we knew better than that and so she darted backwards, my fingertips just grazing over the edge of the paper.
    Fake-me raised an eyebrow at me once at a safe distance, “you aren’t you.” She muttered as she shook her head and ran a hand through her hair, blowing out a deep sigh as she did so. “How many of you are there?” She muttered, possibly to herself.
    “I could ask you the same question…” I whispered as a woman appeared from behind the trees where I sat, walking up behind fake-me which a sheepish smile on her-my face.
    “Ugh, boss, over here!”
    Fake-me froze and spun around, her face already twisted into a rather unflattering scowl. “I have the book, we need to get out of here. Now.” She insisted, pushing other-me back towards where she’d come from.
    Dancing out of fake-me’s reach she spun around, “what about her?” She asked, gesturing towards me.
    “Do you remember this?” Fake-me snapped.
    Other-me thought about it for a moment, “no, I don’t think so.”
    “Me either, so let’s go”
    Without another glance in my direction they both ran off into the trees. I stood there for a moment, eyes still staring at the spot where they’d disappeared, as though waiting for them to return with a whole army of me’s. After a few moments of silence I was convinced they were gone, so took a seat on the bench beside me as the reality of what just happened set in.
    I was silent for a moment as the sun beat down on me, casting an ethereal glow across my world.
    Suddenly a thought occurred that had me on my feet and running after them, ‘She stole my diary!’

    1. Observer Tim

      I sense that you’re a younger author; that youth shows in your voice (and your nom de plume). That is not a detraction, just an observation. I love the banter between the various versions of your MC, and the sudden twist at the end is priceless. 🙂

      And yes, spelling and grammar.

  22. dustymayjane

    I saw the angry look in her eyes before it struck me that she looked very much like me. She stopped directly in front of me on the trail. I tried to move around her but she wouldn’t let me pass.
    “Is there something I can do for you?” I asked.
    Her eyes sparked and I thought I saw a fire within, deep within her soul. I was looking into her soul, my soul. I realized I was interpreting her thoughts, my thoughts, as she stood nose to nose with me.
    Frightened, I tried to escape her presence and with my hands on my ears, I tried to ignore the vicious thoughts that were interfering with my own. Her thoughts evil, vindictive, selfish and painful thoughts raced through my mind. Or were they also my thoughts?
    The confusion and fear was more than I could comprehend and I began to tremble and panic. A panic attack sent me spiraling into darkness.
    When I opened my eyes again, I was surrounded by white light and the songs of angels filled my soul with peace and joy.
    A gentle and kind face hovered over me.
    “Hello.” She said. “You have done very well. Welcome to heaven. Come with me. God has been waiting for you.”
    “God?” I sat up and felt only softness beneath my hands and feet. I looked down and saw blue sky and white clouds. In the distance I could see dark clouds and lightning with thundering darkness beyond. I turned to my right and saw clear blue with only a white pathway in front of me.
    I pointed to the darkness and asked, “Is that Hell?”
    I knew it was an angel that led me on the white pathway. She responded, “Yes. You don’t have to worry about that.”
    I felt safe and peaceful. I tried to recall what had happened before I died. I was dead. I knew that. I remembered the trail and meeting someone who was angry and in a lot of pain, I thought.
    I knew I could ask anything. “I was walking on a trail and was met by someone who looked just like me. I was frightened. Did she kill me?”
    “No.” The angel stopped and faced me, embracing me with her large white wings. She smelled of vanilla, my favorite scent. I inhaled deeply.
    “What happened, can you tell me or is that against the rules?”
    “I can tell you.” She released me and I felt her warm smile warm my heart. “Your heart, is it warm?”
    I touched my chest and nodded in reply.
    “The truth will hurt. I wanted to make sure your heart was prepared.”
    She looked deeply into my eyes and I shook my head again, “I’m ready.”
    “That was your inner demon. All your sins were held within her. You are here because you are strong of faith and filled with love. She no longer exists.”
    I smiled and we took the path to God.

  23. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Cozy Dark Pt. II: The Ghastly Shadow

    After Leo took me back to the office and explained a long and boring filing system he told me to go back home.
    “Get some rest,” he said, voice echoing throughout the empty office, “you look like you could use it.”
    “I don’t think I’ll ever sleep again,” I sighed as another scream drifted by my ear. Leo’s eyes seemed to follow something behind my shoulder before abruptly returning to my face. His face wrinkled into his usual, familiar smile.
    “Just keep the gun close by,” he laughed, “and keep the lights off.”

    For a couple of minutes I just sat in my car parked outside my house. When I had looked into the dead girls eyes I thought that was the worst it would get. But, when my stomach truly sank to my feet where it still sat now, was when Leo told me her name. Penelope. Naming her turned her from some girl to someone’s daughter, to someone with a life. And with every time the scene played through my mind again it became harder to believe that Leo hadn’t taken that life.
    I looked through my mirror where a woman walked with a child. The kid stomped alongside what I assumed was his mother, his fists clenched and his face red. He turned toward me and I saw tracks where tears had run down his face. A look of recognition came onto his face and he suddenly began walking toward me.
    Then I recognized the kid. It was me. Facial features weren’t the reason I recognized him (I had blocked any memories of myself as a kid), but rather I simply was him. I could feel the anger at the fact that mom hadn’t worked things out with dad and he’d left. But at the same time, I was sitting in the car, frozen as I watched myself.
    I finally managed to push the car door open and stumble out. I turned to see the child no longer there and I was one again. I threw up in my lawn, and realized it was not the hangover throw up I had grown used to, but the throw up of an ill child.
    Wiping vomit from my lips I decided home was not the place for me right then and got back into the car.

    When I got into the car there was only one place I could think to go. In need of a place where neither Penelope or myself, or my mother for that matter, could get into my head, I decided to go to a place where fear conquered all of those thoughts. When I got to the moss covered building I saw the car parked out front and hoped Leo had left. I didn’t want to look at the man who had shot that girl.
    But I went back into the office anyway.

    “Aye’ new guy! Little early to show up here, huh?” a voice shouted through the darkness. I was pleased to see that it wasn’t Leo, but rather Stephen Roscoe. He sat at his desk with red eyes and a drink sitting in front of him.
    “Couldn’t sleep. I did my first job with Leo,” I said, walking towards him, hearing several small screams as I went.
    Unlike Leo, Stephen seemed to have little desire to grin. Instead he nodded his head and poured back the rest of his drink. I found myself ashamed at the hope that he might offer me some.
    “I hear you. But it doesn’t get any easier new guy, so don’t crack up now.”
    “Have people “cracked up” before?” I blurted, only noticing how rude the question seem after it escaped my mind through my lips. Stephen dodged the question anyway.
    “What do you say to an early breakfast?” he asked, putting his glass and a bottle into his desk drawer. “You ever been to The Ghastly Shadow?”

    The Ghastly Shadow ended up to be a local diner attached to a gas station. Both diner and station were owned by a sickly looking man in a wheelchair that sat at one of the tables, eyeing the people who entered. The food wasn’t particularly great, which was fine because I wasn’t particularly hungry.
    At first I thought Stephen and I were going to sit in complete silence the whole time, with only Buck Dharma breaking the silence through speakers somewhere in the diner, explaining to us that there was no reason to fear the reaper. But finally Stephen started conversation.
    “So what’s really eating at you? It isn’t the job.”
    “It’s just the whole idea. It was the look in the girl’s eyes when…”
    “No,” Stephen interrupted me setting his fork next to the ketchup coated remainder of his home fries. “It’s not that. Why’d you come back to the office?”
    “Well…”
    “You’re going crazy aren’t you? You’ve seen something and it’s eating at you and you’re going crazy,” now a small smirk came to Stephen’s mouth. “Yup. It’s not whatever you saw that’s making you go crazy. It’s the idea that you’re going crazy that’s doing it. So, what happened?”
    With no idea what the man was talking about I suddenly did feel like I was going crazy. And who knows, right then and there I might have been better off just to go crazy. It sure as hell would’ve made the job a lot easier.
    “What was it? You see another ghost or something?” Stephen still smirked and I wanted to punch it right off of him. But, realizing he might have been right, I gave him an answer instead.
    “I saw myself. As a kid.”
    Then he laughed and I felt embarrassed. I imagined him telling me that I wasn’t cut out for the job. That he’d never had problems like that and I had already managed to “crack up”. Finally his laughing ceased.
    “Yeah. Ghosts can do that. Make you see things, make you do things. They can mess you up bad.”
    “How do you know?” I asked, somewhat intrigued, but also scared.
    “I was dead once,” he answered, “you think I didn’t take advantage of that?

    “Look, it just comes easier to some than others. You’re doing fine. Just be happy you don’t see everything yet.”
    “What’s that mean?”
    Stephen started to stand and dropped money on the table, enough for both me and him. As he walked past me his hand meant my should and he leaned down to my ear.
    “It means, you ought to be happy you don’t see why they call this place the Ghastly Shadow. There are tons of ghosts here, and none of them are pretty.” And with that he walked out the door, shouting something that sounded like ‘see you later new guy’.
    I was no longer paying attention to what he had said. My mind was swimming with fear, but also a more powerful anticipation to see into the world beyond. An anticipation to do another job.

    1. Not-Only But-Also Riley

      This is the sequel to a story I wrote way back in January last year for the ‘Ghostbusters for Hire’ prompt under the name Colonel Plops. For those of you not interested in scrolling through that I also put it on my blog that my name is linked to.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I went back to the first part and think you’ve done a good job continuing the story. Your characters are very interesting, hope to see them again.

    3. UnclePizza

      An interesting read, though not having read the first part it was a little confusing just what was going on. Gonna go read the first part now!

      BTW, I really liked the line “It’s not whatever you saw that’s making you go crazy. It’s the idea that you’re going crazy that’s doing it.”

    4. Observer Tim

      What Reatha said. This is a dark beginning to what promises to be a darkly episodic story. There’s room for a whole TV series in this one, Riley. I love the way the narration twists the story; this would be great as film noir. 🙂

  24. Kinterralynn

    The OTM

    The park was empty aside from a few joggers and a couple of moms watching their little ones play on the jungle gym. I dropped my McDonald’s bag on the picnic table and sat down, my belly pushing up hard against the table and half of my butt hanging off the back of the bench. It wasn’t super comfortable, but it was far better than squeezing into one of those tiny booth seats at any restaurant.

    I started pulling out my cheeseburger and fries when I noticed a woman striding towards me like she was on a mission. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail, and she wore a form fitting black t-shirt and a pair of jeans. She also looked like an older, thinner version of myself.

    I watched her from behind mirrored sunglasses as I bit into the burger. She was coming right towards me! I glanced around behind me but no one else was there so I braced myself for the inevitable interaction two strangers crossing paths. She would either stomp by me without a word allowing me a quiet observation, or she would meet my gaze and force me to say “hello”.

    “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” She demanded coming to a halt in front of the table her hands waving up in the air. My family is full of hand-talkers and people have joked that if you tied our hands we wouldn’t be able to speak, however, that was not what I was thinking as I tried to desperately swallow the chunk of burger.

    “WmmmFth? Which roughly translated to “I’m sorry, what are you speaking of?”

    The woman, or should I say, Joyce, the Older, Thinner Model (OTM) scowled at me and gestured to the McDonald’s bag, “That is going to be your downfall! You can’t eat that stuff, it’s so horribly bad for you!”

    Great, even OTM thinks I’m fat and feels it necessary to lecture me. “Fuck off, it’s none of your business what I do.”

    That’s not what I actually said, I’m way too much of a chicken to actually say the words I’m thinking. Instead I just looked down at the bitten burger, the taste of charred hamburger still lingering in my mouth, “I know, but for one day I just wanted to not think about calories and my weight, I’m sorry.” I was apologizing to myself?! God, I really am a loser.

    OTM rolled her eyes, “Jesus Christ, was I always so damn pathetic?” She slipped onto the bench so that she was facing me. It was like looking into a mirror, same eyes, same big German nose, that little scar on my chin from a sledding accident. It was also like looking at relative that had a striking resemblance but something was just a bit off keeping them from being a twin.
    OTM looked confident and secure, no trace of all the shit she/I had been dragged through before we hit thirty, and definitely much healthier.

    OTM leaned forward on her elbows and used her just-listen-and-shut-voice, the same one I always used when people weren’t listening to me and hearing what I had to say. It was rather weird to hear it, did I really sound like that?

    “Yeah, the food will make you fat, but that’s not the thing. You were right. You were so right that it’s going to change the way America eats!”

    “Right about what?” I searched my mind trying to grasp what obscure opinion I might have spouted that just happened to be spot on.

    “The preservatives, girl, you were right about them!” OTM threw her hands in the air, “You wrote about it in our blog, how you were certain the long term effect of decades of food preservatives were responsible for the increase of autism and Attention Deficit issues.”

    Cool, I was right. I frowned, “Wait, and how are you here? Time travel, really? “

    “Technology surges forward super-fast in 2025, a ton of things changed.” She answered impatiently, waving her hands as if to get rid of that train of thought, “Now listen to me… it was that article that got the attention of some conspiracy theorists. They investigated and stumbled upon something much worse than autism.” OTM leaned forward so much I could see the flecks of gold in her eyes of brown.

    “But what about…”

    “Girl, there’s no time, I have to get you to safety. It was you that started it all. Now people want to stop you.”

    “Oh…. MY….. God.” I said it really slowly so OTM would know I was being sarcastic, “Is a killer android coming here to terminate me? “

    Anger flared up in her eyes and she grabbed my chin in a painful squeeze, “They found a chemical in there, one that makes some people go crazy. All those mass shootings? Those are the people that reacted badly to the chemical… it triggers the aggression in them.”

    I jerked my head out of her grasp, “Isn’t there some kind of law of time travel that you’re not supposed to touch me?” I rubbed my chin and glowered at her.

    Joyce-OTM opened her mouth to speak but the sound of something solid clunking against wood caused her to jump up and yell, “Get down!”

    Dumbfounded, I stared at the newly formed pits in the picnic table. There were no bullets. I said as much.

    “You’re an idiot!” OTM hissed and pushed me hard in the chest and I fell ungracefully backwards and landed with a grunt, my legs caught up on the bench and the rest of me lying on the grass. My eyes closed instinctively and I let out strangled groan as I mentally assessed any damages. Aside from a sore as and raw elbows, everything felt normal.

    I opened my eyes let out a chuckle, realizing I had let my imagination run away with me again.

    I turned my head.

    OTM was squatting in the grass, watching me, a knowing smile on her face.

    “Welcome to the year 2098.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a fascinating combo of time travel and conspiracy theory, Kinterralynn. You drew me in with the style and you have my attention; I hope you choose to continue the tale.

      My favourite line from OTM: “… was I always so damn pathetic?”

  25. Kerry Charlton

    THE RESURRECTION OF DR. MONTGOMERY AND THE CLONES

    [ SYNOPSIS ]

    [Three years had passed since Brad Pennington and his sister Jennifer had battled the insane Dr. Montgomery and twelve of his clones in Mt. Moria Cemetery in Philadephia. Brad’s Irish ancestors had risen from the dead in full battle dress to even the odds. The time span had done little to heal Brad or his sister’s memories.]

    One of those early spring weekends descended upon the City Of Brotherly Love and Brad and his sister Jennifer, packed a picnic lunch and headed downtown to the historical district. The stress of battling Dr. Montgomery in four separate encounters, still showed in both their faces but they were survivors cut from the cloth of liberty. No one but Brad realized how important his sister had been when she stepped back into his life.

    Of course, losing his wife to the mad genius, forever changed him but Jen had gathered the remnants of his mind and healed him, not as a replacement but more like a close companion, reminiscent of their early childhood. It was her awareness that sunny spring day that allowed him an instant before six more clones, three exactly like Brad, the other three like Jennifer, staged an attack once again in full sight of families strolling Independence Park.

    Brad had adopted modern warfare and pulled his Glock 37 pistol and aimed at his exact image and squeezed the trigger. Before he could fire again, he was knocked unconscious. When he awoke, the police, fire department ambulance and curious, always the curious surrounded him.

    “Where is Jen?”

    “She’s been abducted,” a spectator said. “Two men and three girls spirited her off in a BMW a few minutes ago. The other guy’s chest was blown apart.”

    “Did you get the plate number?” A policeman asked.

    “Sorry, it happened so fast, I didn’t think about it.”

    Lieutenant Joseph Calloway of the Philadelphia police arrived

    “Dr, Pennington, we meet again. How is it you’re still alive?”

    “Beats me, Montgomery’s kidnapped Jennifer again. He obviously wants something from me.”

    “Like secret formulas?”

    “No comment, did they leave any notes?”

    “Notes? Not that a know of. Did you implant a tracking device in your sister?“

    “Yes, are you getting a reading?”

    “We are but what if they discover it?”

    “Not likely, it was surgically implanted.”

    “Well, it’s tracking toward the Pocono’s.”

    “So finally, we’ll find the rat nest and eliminate the snakes.”

    “What about your sister?”

    “Commando raid.”

    “Are you serious? The FBI’s not qualified.

    “We won’t use the FBI.”

    “Well who then?”

    “Navy Seals.”

    You have that influence, Dr. Pennington?”

    “I do, Montgomery’s working on some sort of mind, projection control for Isis.”

    “Do you need our help doctor?”

    “We can always use your help Lieutenant. Now here’s my plan……………”

    1. Teserk

      I like the direction of the story, but the dialogue seems unnatural. The pacing is too fast for me; the characters jump from thought to thought more quickly than I felt they should. Perhaps because the story assumes I know the characters already?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for bringing the pacing and the quickness up. I have written four continued stories on the characters but failed to realize there are so many new writers, probably half have never read any of them. I will slow down on part two, add more back story to smooth the transition to part five of the series. Thanks for all your help.

  26. jhowe

    I type doppelgänger into Word and look up the synonyms. It helps a lot. I hate the word doppelgänger. It’s so sinister.

    Look-alike; now there’s a nice word. That’s my look-alike staring at me. If he’s my look-alike, then he can’t hurt me. An evil twin, oh no, and evil twin can hurt me, I’m certain. You see it all the time in the movies. A double might be okay. What harm can a double do?

    He approaches me and sits beside me on the bench. I shouldn’t have come here. I should have stayed home, in my little office. But no, I decided to come here, to do a little writing in the sun.

    ‘Hi double,’ I want to say. ‘Hi look-alike.’

    He laughs and takes my laptop. He highlights doppelgänger in yellow. He’s very accomplished in Word. He does it so effortlessly.

    I take back the laptop and type, ‘you’re not real.’

    He laughs again, not a nice laugh either. He starts typing again. He mixes past tense with present. He misuses semicolons. His disregard for typos infuriates me.

    I wrench the laptop from his hands. I expected more resistance and regret the use of wrenching. I begin to edit his mistakes; I hope I get them all.

    He’s trying again to regain control of the keyboard, a very persistent little look-alike. I have no choice but to paste and hit submit.

  27. ShamelessHack

    “Who are you?”
    “What does it matter?”
    “It matters more than you can comprehend. Where did you–?”
    “—come from? Where do you think? Why do you care?”
    “You look precisely like me, down the last hair on your head. Surely—”
    “If I were you, I would begin to think about leaving here.”
    “You’re insane! This is my home, the place I grew up in. Why should I leave?”
    “Well. If you stay, do you think we could really get along, you and I?”
    “Not in a thousand years. You’re a cypher, an unknown quantity. You’re the one who has to leave.”
    “My presence here is justified.”
    “Liar!”
    “Oh, I’m a liar am I? Why don’t you ask Jennie?”
    “What? What does Jennie have to do with this?”
    “She made the arrangements to bring me here. You are a fool, aren’t you?”
    “I’m warning you.”
    “You don’t scare me.”
    “I suggest you get used it.”
    “Watch your back, interloper.”
    “Count your days.”
    “Imposter!”
    “Why don’t you just shut your mealy mouth, and go back to your wheel, Wilfred?”

    I love our new hamster, Mommy. He looks just like Wilfred.
    I’m sure they’ll get along just fine.

    1. Teserk

      I actually felt the dialogue rambled a bit and was contrived in places…until I got to the last two lines. I can totally see two hamsters chittering away at each other in this way. Made me smile.

    2. Observer Tim

      I was wondering where this was going and what mind-bending reality shift would take me there… the ending was a total surprise of the most pleasant kind. Very nice, Larry! 🙂 🙂

      P.S. I love that the story is all dialogue except the part where the human is speaking…

  28. cosi van tutte

    I had agreed to stay away.
    I had promised them that I would leave him alone with his life.
    His life.
    His.
    Ha!

    It isn’t his.
    It never was.
    It’s mine.
    Mine.

    But I will keep my promise.
    I won’t interfere with his enjoyment of my life.
    I won’t let him know that I exist.
    I’ll stand here.
    Alone.

    He’ll never know the truth.
    He’ll never see me.
    I will keep my promise.
    I will stay away.
    I will.

    From what is mine.
    From all that I want.
    From all that I love.

    My home.
    My family.
    My intended.
    My life.
    Mine.

    If he finds me, he’ll find me.
    But it won’t be because of me.

    I made a promise that hurts to keep.
    But I will keep it.
    I will.
    I.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Very well done, THE definition of doppelgänger, evil, hidden, menacing, frightening. The most frightening lines for me: I stand here. Alone. The promises will not be kept.

    2. jhowe

      I don’t completely trust this guy, but if he says he’ll keep the promise, then I have no choice but to believe him. Interesting format for this story. It worked well.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thank you, OT!

        I will admit that I was thinking of one of my favorite video games, Tales of the Abyss, when I was writing this.

        I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

  29. Trevor

    Word Count: 583

    Bomb

    The shove sent me falling to the concrete. I cringed as my sensitive-skinned palms scraped against the rough ground. But I didn’t have time to dwindle on my bloodied hands. My attacker grabbed me roughly by the shoulder and turned me over to face him. My eyes widened as I saw that face….

    Mine.

    At first, I thought I was dreaming. But it was impossibly real; the person who attacked me looked exactly like me. The scruffy blonde hair, the rough skin, the light green eyes; every trait was identical to my own. And from the look on this man’s face, he wasn’t happy to see me….or us. Whatever.
    The man pulled me to my feet and dragged me into a nearby alley. I don’t know why I didn’t scream for help; it was like my throat was clogged with glue. But I did shriek when my lookalike attacker shoved me against the brick wall.

    “I know what you’re planning to do. And I’m here to stop you.” The man growled at me. Now, I’m not gonna lie: I knew from that moment what he was talking about. But fearing he would probably kill me if I confessed, I didn’t let on that I had any clue what he meant.

    “What are you talking about!? Who are you? What the hell are you doing here?” I screamed in rapid succession. I have no idea how we weren’t attracting a crowd or at least one bystander. I guess it goes to show how apathetic city dwellers are. “I had a feeling you’d try to pull that on me.” The doppelganger snarled at me. He shoved me to the ground and ran out of the alley. At first, I thought this would be my opportunity to escape. But before I could even get to my feet, my duplicate assaulter returned. He was carrying the suitcase I had been holding when he first pushed me. I dropped it when the attack began.

    “This is what I’m talking about.” With that, the man opened the suitcase, revealing the secret I had been concealing from him.

    The bomb.

    It had taken almost three weeks to construct the explosive device. I didn’t have anyone in my life who really cared about me, so I had all the time in the world to work. Only one thing had been on my mind on my way to my destination: My life may have sucked, but it’s sure gonna end on a big note. I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory—and show everyone the pain I’ve felt for years. Pain I’d kept hidden away for so long.

    But now, somehow, someway, a future version of myself had returned to the past to stop me.

    “I’m not gonna let you kill them, you selfish son of a bitch.” Future Me uttered before turning to the bomb. I guess the trip back in time must’ve done something to his brain. If he had been thinking more clearly, he would’ve known better than to take his eyes off me. If he had, he would’ve seen me grab the nearby stick of plywood. But he didn’t….

    And now he lies at my feet in this dirty alley, his brains scattered all about. It was surprisingly easy; all I had to do was imagine him as my useless crack whore mother. With that picture in mind, it became almost enjoyable.

    Now I had better get going. I have a flight to catch.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is most harrowing. Not certain how MC survived the bomb to come back. Perhaps he could be conscience or something else rather than future self. Might want to check dwindle in first paragraph.

    2. MikeGill

      Interesting use of the time travel trope. I also thought you did a very good job with building tension and good, clear details in the early portion of the story to build interest.

    3. jhowe

      Very interesting concept. I’d have a hard time clobbering myself with a piece of wood, but who knows what I’d do if I was going to blow up a plane. Good action scenes. I’m thinking you can kill ‘future’ you, but it would be best not to kill ‘past’ you.

    4. Teserk

      I was engrossed in the tale. Not a nice main character, for certain. One question: how does the MC know this is a future version of himself? The attacker never announces it. Not many people would jump to time travel as an explanation…

    5. Observer Tim

      I sense this is not going to end well for the people on that airplane. Or is it? The MC was alive enough to come back and stop himself, which might be a paradox or might be a result of him not getting on the plane (though that is why when a passenger is removed from a flight, the baggage handlers also locate and remove all associated luggage).

      Never trust your younger, more desperate self. Very well done, Trevor, with just enough questions left over to make me think.

  30. ReathaThomasOakley

    (Note: for anyone who read, and remembers, February 24, 2015, most of Celia’s conversation with her mother is from the prompt, Your Mom’s Unexpected Story. As I started this perfect prompt for today as a way to get the cousins together, I decided this is a better place to use that story as I work on the longer saga. I still need to work on getting the two first person POVs into a single narrative. By the time I’m done with everything, I will have a better solution, probably using alternating chapters. Also, I decided this might be a good time to reveal The Girl’s name. After much research, I found that name in Appalachian records. It’s also in the book, Christy.)

    The Girl
    Continued
    1960

    “Granny, Granny?”

    “Girl, you ain’t gonna ask me agin, are you.”

    “No, mam.” I don’t never cross Granny, ‘specially not when she’s been cookin’ for days for my cousin what ain’t here yet. “You done tole me she’s gonna be here when she gets here. I’m jest wonderin’ now where’s she gonna sleep? We ain’t got beds for ever body.”

    “Girl,” Granny moved from the stove to her chair. “Pour me a glass a sweet tea. You ain’t been listenin’. Miz Tuggle’s switchin’ out beds at her motel, and ’bout 5 her hired man’s gonna bring one to put in yore room, move yore mama’s bed into my room. That’s why yore mama washed up all the spare sheets and towels ‘fore she left for work, so Celia finds ever thing fresh when she gets here…”

    “But, when…”

    “Girl! Hush up and go stir them beans!”

    ————

    I crossed the highway from the motel parking lot, but only drove a few hundred feet before pulling to the side of the yellow clay road and closing my eyes. Immediately it was a year before and I was in my mother’s room.

    “You remember, when we moved to Palm Valley?”

    “When I was two?” I’d asked as I slowly eased her into her chair by the window, by then I’d perfected routine, knew what to do to keep from hurting her, knew how to engage her in whatever conversation I could to keep her mind off what was happening to her body.

    “Sure, I remember,” I’d said, glad I didn’t have to search through a list of topics, glad she was asking me a question.

    “You ever wonder why we moved way out there?” Two questions, that was a good day.

    “No,” I’d lied. “I guess I just figured it was for Daddy’s job.” But, I’d remembered the arguments, late at night, coming from my parents’ bedroom.

    “No, I made him ask for the transfer. He was a good deputy, could of worked any place in the county. I just needed a new place, new, nobody there before us.” She’d swallowed a groan.

    “Want a pill?” I’d known it wasn’t time, but by then time didn’t matter anymore.

    “No, not yet, something you gotta know.”

    “About Palm Valley?”

    “Yes, no, ’bout why we moved there. You better sit.”

    Then, two hours later, after she’d finally agreed to the pill, I’d watched my mother breathe: inhale, then exhale, but with no rhythm, just in, a labored groan, and out, a sigh.

    I’d watched and thought about the story she’d told me of her birth family, a family I never knew I had, living south of us, off the rural highway I’d just crossed, about her older brother who’d moved thousands of miles away to Wyoming’s cold and snow, to escape the family gift, about how she’d made my father move their family to a new place, one without traces of anyone who’d ever lived, or died, there before, and about how she’d finally realized that didn’t make any difference at all.

    She’d told me why she’d had my two extra teeth removed when I was nine and why I sometimes saw shadows like after images from staring too long at the sun. And now, today, at the end of this road I’ll find waiting for me the family she’d run from.

    —————–

    “Granny, wake up. Here’s yore teeth.”

    “What? Gimme a minute.”

    “She’s here, Granny, Celia’s here!”

    —————–

    The house wasn’t what I was expecting. There were rocking chairs on the porch, flowers blooming everywhere. As I slowly got out of the car the screen door opened and a girl came out.

    “What?” I gasped. I felt as if I was looking into a mirror, her dark hair was longer, but everything else was identical. She frowned as if she was as surprised as I. Then an older woman came out and pushed her lightly.

    “Go on, don’t stand there,” she said. “Tell yore cousin to come on in, we got dinner waitin’.”

    Suddenly the girl smiled and as she walked toward me I could see the sun reflecting off two small, white, extra teeth.

    “Hey, there,” she said. “We got dinner waitin’. You’re Celia, ain’t you. My name’s Fairlight, but most folks jest call me The Girl.”

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      I will always think of her as The Girl, but I love the name Fairlight. I’ve loved it ever since I watched the Christy tv series. I’ve always wanted to steal it for one of my characters, but never had the right story for it.

      Not to keep going on about it, but…Fairlight is absolutely the right name for her. After all, a character like The Girl couldn’t have an ordinary name like Sue or Sally. It would be disappointing somehow. But Fairlight has that right lyrical sound to it.

      I can’t wait to see what happens now that the two cousins have met.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Cosi, thank you so very much. I read Christy long ago, but didn’t remember the name used there. It did catch my eye when I saw it in a list and saw the Christy reference, so maybe it was tucked away in a brain fold.

        I so appreciate how you, and others, have supported my efforts for so long. I was once part of a fantastic writing group I’ve not been able to duplicate in other places I’ve lived. This forum (and the one for poetry) has become my reason for writing week after week, no matter what else is going on in my life. I’ve benefitted greatly, and have read some really good stuff. I am often hesitant in my comments to others because I’m not certain what to write. I shall try to do better.

    2. jhowe

      This prompt did work out well for getting the girls together. I’ve been wondering if we’d ever know the girl’s name. I’m glad you created it. I think you’ll enjoy using her name at times from now on.

      I loved it when the girl woke Granny up and said, “Here’s your teeth.” That was priceless. I did wonder though, how Granny said she had dinner waiting right after she woke up when Celia arrived. Of course, it could have been simmering in a pot or something.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        jhowe, thanks so very much. I went back to the Ghostbuster for Hire prompt, January 25, 2015, to read not-only but-also Riley’s story continued here and looked at my first posting. The Girl was there as well as your comment. I appreciate so much every comment folks take time to leave.

        I think it was two prompts ago that The Girl went grocery shopping because Granny knew Celia was coming. I think there was a letter, but maybe Granny just knew. Thanks again.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Reatha, you know how I;love to read your continuations, but to be there while a novel is born, is extremely exciting to me and I’m sure the rest of the site feels the same way. I like your idea about alternate chapters sharing the POV. I have done that before and had a lot of fun with it.

          When you’re famous, I want to be your press agent when you tour Texas. Deal?

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Kerry, what a nice comment, I’m just not certain if I’ll ever be able to pull it all together. But, if I do, I’ll see you in Texas! BTW, what are you doing with your saga?

    3. UnclePizza

      It’s fun when the prompt helps, isn’t it! I’m really liking this story, Reatha. I know I showed up land and you look like you’re getting to the home stretch, so I think I need to go back to the old prompts and read from the beginning. Did the story get started on 2/24/15 or was it earlier yet?

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Thanks, UP, my first post was 1/25/15, prompt was Ghostbuster for Hire, and I had this vision, based on very “sensitive” relatives, of a girl, in 1960, who sees things. I think I did a few stories without her, then saw that some folks used the prompts for continuing tales. I do try to stay with 500 words, but have gone over a few times. If you do go back, the story goes back to 1905, shifts to 1970, then 1960. I’ve put a year on some of them. This has been a great way to get a lot written without pressure. If you have time, you should see what Reaper did. His story is/was on his blog.

    4. Observer Tim

      Yay! I love to see the stories starting to come together. This is an incredible odyssey you’re taking us on, Reatha. I also love the way your narrative voices are just similar enough to show the family resemblance and just different enough to distinguish the characters. What can I say but I love it, especially as one of those readers who loves to see disparate threads woven into a tapestry. 🙂 🙂

  31. MikeGill

    Muffin in a Box

    “What are you doing here?” Paul hissed as he walked up. I hadn’t expected that reaction. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t happy to see me. I had brought a present, after all. Wasn’t that what you were supposed to do when attending a birthday party?

    “It is Nessa’s tenth birthday.” I said, holding out the pretty pink box. “I received the reminder at work two days ago. I thought her uncle should attend.”

    “He is, you idiot.” Paul said through gritted teeth, as he spun me around and pushed me back toward the front door.

    I was really getting confused now. Why was he shoving me toward the front door? Clearly, the pin-the-antenna-on-the-alien game board was on the wall in the kitchen. And everyone else was out back near the wading pool. Then I had an idea.

    “Am I to be a surprise guest? You want me to wait outside until the time for presents?”

    “No!” Paul said, a bit louder than I thought necessary.

    “I do not understand.”

    “Of course you don’t, you animated lump of fleshy goo.” Paul said with one final push in my back.

    I stood before the door, trying to make sense of Paul’s words. He seemed angry and his statements contained many words that seemed intended cruelly. I wondered why he was acting not like himself.

    “Paul,” I asked, “why do you appear angry with me?”

    “Because you are not supposed to be here.” He replied slowly.

    “And why does this door not open for me? Is its proximity sensor broken?”

    Paul groaned behind me and slapped the sensor pad near the door. “It’s because you are a soulless clone I made for days when I don’t want to go to work.” He sighed and held out his hands. “Give me the present and then go back home. I’ll make sure Nessa gets it. What did you get her, anyway?”

    Paul seemed calmer, so I handed him the pink package and explained, “It contains her cat, Muffin.”

    “Muffin died two months ago.” Paul said in horror.

    “Yes, I recalled you discussing on how upset she was with your brother. I thought the return of her pet would make her happy.”

    “But it’s dead!”

    “Yes. I acquired the corpse from nearby park, cleaned the bones, and reassembled Muffin.”

    Paul handed me back the box.

    “Maybe you should take this home with you. We’ll discuss this more later. For now, I’m giving you a command.” Paul paused to allow my mind to access the command structures. “You will return to home and clean the house while I am gone. Tonight you will return Muffin to where you found her.”

    “Yes, Paul.” I said as I stepped onto the porch.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Mike!

      Oh. My. Gosh. That would be the worst present ever. 😆 But I feel bad for the clone. He honestly thought that he was giving her a really cool gift.

    2. Pete

      Well done, Mike. I was cracking up about poor muffin. This prompt reminds me of that old movie, Multiplicity and Paul’s clone reminds me of the fourth, not so sharp clone!

  32. thejim

    _-this is longer than the 500 hopefully cutting down did not loose anything sort of speeds through stuff that was a lot longer

    “I could feel elephants and monkeys, then there was nothing, I was not getting anything, and then the veil lifted.” A feeling of fear swept over me. It was more than just fear it is was sadness too. I looked to my right and I saw a figure coming into focus it was me and I was headed right toward where I was sitting. Fear of being hurt covered my whole body, I could not move, I just stared and started to cry.”
    “I or should I say he approached and was yelling, the connection got sort of fuzzy but the jest was she was cheating on him, it was strange, I could feel she wasn’t, Then it went dark so I could not tell after that point.”

    “Good said Doctor John. “Let’s inter-connect you to him now,” he said as he placed the link hat on the man.

    “Wow, your connection went smooth I think the new serum is making it easier for you to connect, I barely had to engage the electronic frequencies, this one may be the winner, number 12. You should be in, see if you can go to that same point.”

    “Oh I am pissed; he had a few beers too, so that does not help. He followed her here and he thinks she is meeting someone. I see her he almost runs up and starts yelling about cheating and, being a slut, and wow he is really going off, Oh crap! Enough! OK get me out of here!”

    Dr. John Stemiss shuts off the electronic bond, “he did it definitely, He hit her and she was knocked into the side of the cement bench and he picked up her head and smashed it 3 or 4 times till she fell over. This time was different Doc. It was not like I was watching, but like it was me, like I did it, kind of freaky.”

    “Well this is good news your mind link confirms what the police have suspected, he attempted to murdered her.”

    The doctor began removing the link-cap from the sedated man.

    “I’m telling you doc it was different this time it was so real and close.” I sat up from the table and stretch my neck till a loud crack came from it.

    “Ok I’ll review the data and check the serum again you go home now it is getting late.” He said as he focused on what he was doing.

    For the entire 6 blocks I could not think about anything except how afraid I was and how angry I felt it was like it was me. A large drop of rain hit the end of my nose and within 30 seconds it began to downpour. Lighting etched the horizon, lighting up the entire city block. Suddenly the tree across the road was struck by lightning the air was filled with charged particles and I was thrown into the street.
    I got up out of a puddle, unscathed, but extremely wet.

    As soon as I reached my apartment, I dried off and sat down with a cold beer.

    I was startled by the sound of my neighbors arguing. I flipped off the TV and headed for bed.
    I could not get to sleep because I was so wound up. I lay there staring at the ceiling. I looked around the room and this was not my room. I sat up surprised and looked around.

    This is my room. I must have been dreaming.

    Once I laid back down I was back in a different room I looked over and I saw Allen, my neighbor, I looked at my arms and hands and this was not me, I lifted the covers. I was inter-linked with his wife, Sandy.

    She must have drifted off to sleep and took me with her, when I awoke the next morning I was safe in my own apartment but more so I was safe in my own head.

    Something is not right, definitely not right.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Not bad. There are a couple misspellings, but overall it doesn’t really get in the way. What bothered me is that you seemed to have stopped the story right in the middle. I didn’t feel like there was an ending. I don’t mind open endings, but everything remained unexplained, and even though the main character is confused, the reader shouldn’t be.

      I like the premise, I really think you should run with it! Thanks for sharing!

      1. thejim

        I have to agree I could not get a good flow out of it I had to much information coming in my noodle. I was making notes with a pencil and typing almost at the same time. Stuff like that I have to let it simmer longer than I did. Thanks for the info.

      1. Teserk

        I really enjoyed the idea of using a mind link to confirm or deny that someone committed a crime. And then to have the linker suddenly develop the ability to link without the apparatus… Definitely a novel (or movie) worthy idea.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Read this last night and had to come back. I’m still not certain about the lightning strike, if that’s the reason he didn’t need serum or what, but a good beginning. Don’t forget the spelling advice.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a great intro, theJim. I love the concept and the way you keep the reader off balance. 🙂

      The story did suffer from the paring down, I think. Is there a place where the longer version is (or will be) posted?

  33. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    Twice the Trouble

    She walked up to me, her finger wagging in the air like an excited puppy, but she was anything but happy. “Ooooh, I am so mad at you right now.”

    “Me? You’re the one who decided it was a good idea to go outside!”

    “Ugh! I can’t even with you right now!”

    “Bitch, please. Had you stayed inside like I told you, they wouldn’t be hunting us down.”

    “Whatever, I could turn you in as the fake, and then I wouldn’t have hide, like ever.”

    “You can’t do that, they would know.”

    “How? Unless your ass grew three sizes too big since I last saw you,” she said, eyeing me. “Look, we both know you created me to be perfect. Better than you’ll ever be, so I’ll never be the one they figure is the clone.”

    I gasped, and looked out at the ocean. Okay, maybe I was looking at the profile of my ass in the shadow. She didn’t know that, though. A good thing, too, because it meant I would be inadvertently admitting that she was getting to me.

    “Don’t you look away from me when I’m talking to you, Missy.”

    “I created you,” I said, and finally met her eyes. “I’ll do what I want.”

    “I’d like to know how you plan on doing that?”

    “Chronos.”

    Now she was the one gasping. “You wouldn’t.”

    “I would.”

    She eyed me, as she usually does when she doesn’t trust me. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

    I smirked and pulled a small device out of my pocket. It was about the size of a car remote, but instead of alarm buttons, it had a small screen with button to set a date and time. It was Chronos, a time-travelling device I created for emergencies. Just then, it seemed like a good time to use it.

    I started typing the new time, and she said, “You can’t do that or I’ll use the black box!”

    “The what?” I said, and looked up.

    With wild eyes, she produced her own small device, and started typing on it. I said, “No, you can’t do that! It’s not fair!”

    She laughed maniacally as the sky started to darken. The wind howled through distant trees, and the clouds raced across the sky. Then, just above us, as the black sky gave way to purple, the clouds swirled as if the small epicenter of a hurricane.

    I returned my gaze to her and then to the device in my hands. If I could just get back in time to stop her and destroy that black box, then none of this would ever happen. If I failed, then the world would perish.

    After a moment, I finally entered the time, three weeks prior to this day. The small red button in the center of my device blinked in and out, and just before my thumb pressed the button, she knocked it out of my hands.

    “No!”

    “Yes!” She screamed, and looked at the sky. The winds descended upon me, the clouds reaching down like large hands. They grasped me, soon to take me to unknown places. I had lost the battle here and now, but the war was far from over.

    I screamed, “Mom!”

    “What are you doing you little brat?” Loretta said.

    I called again, “Mom!”

    “What, honey?” she said from under the shade of a nearby picnic umbrella.

    Loretta tried to cover my mouth but I fought her as I said, “Lori’s not playing fair!”

    “What did she do, honey?”

    I didn’t know how to explain that my bitch of a sister had cheated, so I said, “She said a bad word!”

    She gasped. “Ugh! I did not!”

    “Did, too!”

    “Uh, huh! She said it! I swear!”

    “Did not! Momma, she’s lying!”

    “Both of you stop it right now!”

    By then, Loretta had me laying in the wet sand and was trying to push my face into it. We both looked up, and our mother was staring at us over the rims of her dark sunglasses. Loretta quickly crawled off me, and started playing in the dry sand. I stared at my mother, who continued to stare at me. I scowled, puckered my lips, and then after picking my Tamigotchi off the ground, I ran off to play in the tide pools. There was a giant sea creature living down there, and I didn’t have time to pay mind to my mother’s neutrality. The world needed me.

    1. thejim

      Tamigotchi – Ha – In the vast expanse of the mind there are hundreds of thousand worlds that no one has yet to discover. People we have yet to meet. Things left undone.

    2. Teserk

      I liked how the story twisted…that was fun. How to improve? It felt like the girls having the conversation in the first half were much older than the girls were in the second half. I think this would have worked had you been in 3rd person POV (in the vein of James Thurber’s Walter Mitty). In this case, however, you have the internal dialogue of one person showing two different ages, and that was jarring to me.

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        Thanks for the comments, Teserk. I had hoped that the reader would catch that the duality between the two worlds where the children act as adults, living this fantasy they see as real in the vein of Muppet Babies. Perhaps making the dialog more absurd for the sake of ensuring that adult dialog seen and repeated through a child’s eyes would seem less adult, but adult enough for the ruse to hold steady.

        Thanks for reading!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Glad to see you writing again. Doc. And of course, this response is crying for a part two, if you have the time. I wasn’t disturbed by the change in conversation, maybe because when people get really excited, they drop twenty years of experience and return to “You better gimme!”

    3. Pete

      This was masterful. I do agree with Teserk about the girl’s feeling much younger, but the way you explained it made sense. For some reason I loved the line: “I gasped, and looked out at the ocean. Okay, maybe I was looking at the profile of my ass in the shadow. She didn’t know that, though. A good thing, too, because it meant I would be inadvertently admitting that she was getting to me.” This was brilliantly funny to me. Fun read!

  34. Pete

    Everson Park was my napping spot of choice. Especially during the day, when it’s just me and the city workers, maybe a few mommies with their little tykes over at the playground. Not quite a refuge, but it would have to do until I figured something out.

    I’d told Mom I was job hunting to get her off my back. Moving back in was a mistake, but when you’re divorced, foreclosed, and broke—in no particular order—it’s not easy coming up with a security deposit.

    I was nearly out, with warm eyelids and rhythmic breaths that matched the squeak of the nearby swing set. I’m not sure what made me lift my head, but I did. And that’s when I saw a form of flattery approaching.

    Me.

    Me without the paunch. Me, walking with purpose, like someone who had places to be. Me, clean shaven, blue tie, and khaki-clad, wearing a watch of all things.

    Me, taking a seat beside myself. “Luke,” he said, in a way one might greet another at a reunion.

    He let me freak out some, as though he were expecting it. While I did he calmly took out a pack of sterile wipes and started on the bench handle.

    “What? Or who are you?”

    Three rapid blinks, like he didn’t have time for such pesky questioning. He regarded the wipe, then folded it up neatly and tucked it into his shirt pocket.

    “Luke, it’s your mother,” he began, yanking up a tasseled loafer to his knee then brushed off a speck of dirt. “When you were born she had the foresight to hop on board with the agency. Oh, we were a small, fledgling little operation then, but she had faith in us. She took out a premium contract,” he said, patting his pants pocket.

    Contract. Agency. I hadn’t even been drinking yet. And the way this guy spoke, like he was reading a tale to a troop.

    “I don’t follow.”

    “No, I don’t suppose you would. Let’s just say, she had a feeling, about your father and his lackluster gene pool. So….” he waved around the park…”here we are.”

    I took a closer look at him. It was like a mirror. He smelled nice too, although I thought I detected a trace of new rubber. “Okay. So what? Now I have a twin?”

    He re-crossed his legs. “No, I’m afraid not.”

    A young mother gently pushed her baby at the swing set, hardly more than a nudge. I felt a chill in the breeze, the squeak of the swing raked my skull like a razor. “What are you saying?”

    “Luke. How would you like a vacation?”

    I snapped my fingers. “Melinda. She put you up to this!”

    He ignored me. “Your mother notified us of the situation. We had a lengthy discussion, pulled up her policy and, remarkably it is still in force. It’s funny because there were some side notes, about a scare in 1992. It appears that you were trying to form that um, hip-hop group. Lucky for you someone talked her down—”

    “Excuse me but, is this going anywhere?”

    “Oh, yes. Well, I’m afraid this time there no false alarm. It’s time for the switch.”

    “Switch?”

    “Yes. We’re all set. Our department has approved the claim and your mother has signed and notarized, so, well,” he patted his foot, “It’ off to the Crumper Islands.

    “The what?”

    “It’s like Fiji only without tourists. Or electricity. Regardless, I think you’ll be fine. You’ll be surrounded with your own kind. A smattering of free spirits like yourself. The average credit score is 250.” He leaned in, getting chummy. “And if I’m not mistaken yours is a little skinnier than that.”

    I stood up. Head rush. I sat down. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m thirty-five years old. My Mom can’t just have me hauled off!”

    He grimaced, and I wondered if that was what I looked like when I grimaced. I’d grimaced through the past two years. No wonder people avoided me. Finally, he leaned over, lowered his voice to a whisper. “What do you have to lose? Or more importantly, what choice do you have?”

    It was the first time I noticed the eyes. Same color as mine but dead. Before I could think I followed his dead gaze to the parking lot, where four thick men in dark suits marched down the path, looking about as unassuming as a chain gang with no chain.

    “Really, Luke, I’m the one who should be upset. I have to be….you.”

    “This has to be a joke.”

    “I’m afraid not,” he said, still seated as the men took their positions around me and I became the needle in a compass. “Look at it this way, I already have six interviews lined up, no small task considering your general studies associates degree. But I’ll be out of that hellish basement at your mother’s place within the week and she’ll be awfully proud of you.”

    I thought about screaming, or running. But it was hopeless. He stood up and closed in on me, gave me two small pats on the cheek. “Let’s make this easy, okay, Luke. Personally, I would have cashed in the second you started rapping. Your mother’s taken great care to keep this policy in good standing, okay?”

    We took a walk to the suburban, where I climbed inside, bumping shoulders with a long-haired kid with acne who bobbed his head at me and smiled. “What’s up, brah?”

    “See their?” came the familiar voice from the front, “You’re already making friends.”

      1. Pete

        Maybe. I think I know what happened here. I started reading SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, but then had to finish a library book because it was due. I think this guy somewhat like the lightening rod salesmen…at least in the recesses of my brain!

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Reminds me of that switch movie, I think it was called The Island or something. I always like a good story that deals in replacement of people. I do wish this one was a bit darker, maybe even more bleak, but that’s okay. You did a fine job. 🙂

    2. Observer Tim

      Nicely done, Pete! It’s a good thing there isn’t any “slacker insurance” or I sense there’d be a lot fewer people in the world. Or at least a lot of different people. There are too many times I would have ended up on the island. 😉

      You took a dark concept and ran it into a fascinating place; one that gets me thinking. Great job.

  35. writer_sk

    I believed I was awake but the face belonging to the person charging me with fists at her sides, what looked to be my face and my new Ugg boots on her feet told me I must be asleep. In a way, I was asleep, as well my life had slowed to a crawl after Andrew.
    Everything was at a different pace and I gave in to the feeling of drowsiness as I leaned against a wall and tried to remember the night before. Waving my hand in front of my face I could see the engagement ring, taste the dirty rain of hours before, just after last call and closing my eyes could feel the delicious rumble of New York City coming to life beneath my also Ugg-covered feet.
    As I half-stood, half slept against a city building not blocks from my apartment I began to retrace my steps. The sounds of the city horns and bustle of the financial district comforted me.
    I knew my roommate had moved out. She’d gone back to her twin, of course–gone “home” as she called it. Whenever Bree told tales of her wonderful Connecticut life they included, El, her identical twin. When El had married and taken over the family business, Bree came to New York. We met in an acting class. El was Bree’s other half, her constant and her muse. I was the friend she spoke to when El was busy.
    I shook my head and knew I had been to the bar but there was the strange alley next to the bar with the booth set way back that had beckoned me with it’s cryptic sign. “$300 and you won’t be you”
    Expecting a one-eyed woman with a knotty staff and cloak, I rapped my knuckles on the only surface available – the plastic of the helmet perched next to a clipboard on a makeshift folding table/ironing board. My inner voice asked me “do you like throwing money directly into the trash?”
    With a measure of defiance and certainty I hadn’t felt since Andrew and Bree had left I withdrew $300 from my rent money at the ATM with a vow to pawn my ring ASAP.
    The pill went down smooth and easy with the fifth Jose Cuervo shot of the night, unlike my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder medication which felt chalky and constrictive and which I hadn’t swallowed with my morning coffee in months.
    The wish I made when shaking the regular, modern college guy’s hand, whom I’d surprisingly found behind the ironing board, was that I would have a twin. The strange-but-normal jeans and t-shirt guy said he could do it but that I would need another volunteer. The homeless woman on that very stoop would do just fine. I held her boney, track-marked arm and we took the pill and tequila shot together at the sticky counter of the bar while Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine played one of the most annoying songs ever made. Last call soon followed and as we stepped into the city street everything melted away except us. The rhythm, as it turned out, was “gonna get us.”
    My alternate reality became my life from that moment. My mother flashed before me sitting at the dinner table with a birthday cake illuminating the tears in her eyes. The story of our birth always ending with the fact that she couldn’t decide so she held both of us at the same time. The time we were sent to the other’s classes became real. When we both got matching bikes…and ride them to the playground. Became actual. The brutal fight we had at the beach where I left in her Volkswagen existed. The prom – where we went together and both got dates there, was one of our fun memories. Then the events came rapidly: her wedding and her move to North Carolina, her children being born, my not making it to her daughter’s party or recitals or any auntly duties because I had to be somewhere. She was there with my mother when dad died instead of me. Her husband in the online webinar for personal training was my Andrew. I tripped and fell and the homeless woman who was now my twin wigged out and raced down the street. I tried to chase her.
    The crack of another person’s hand slapping me across the face caused me to boost myself off the city wall I’d slumped against. My twin was frantic.
    “Change me back! Change me back! I need to go see my son today, I have an appointment in court. I don’t want to me part of your life – it’s a mess! Change me back now! Where is the other pill? The green one -the green ones he gave you. She dumped both of our identical purses into a pile, gulped down the pill and shoved the other in my already open mouth.
    The wind picked up and sun shone down between the skyscrapers. My cold, sweat- covered shirt encapsulated me like an old, damp towel after being caught in the rain. As the woman left, I saw me leaving and I felt good about that.

      1. writer_sk

        Thanks! The Wizard is such a classic. Though the symbolism of the shoes was inadvertent – I do see some of Dorothy in this and your feedback is greatly appreciated. This site is a wonderful resource. I’ve already checked out some of your and others’ work on here. It looks like the users are pretty active, which is awesome.

    1. Teserk

      The key action in this piece comes from the homeless woman and her decision to end the “spell.” I wonder if the story would be strengthened by telling it from HER POV instead? (Why did she choose to participate in the first place? What about this young woman’s life in contrast to her own, caused her to want to change back?)

      Just a suggestion. 🙂

      1. writer_sk

        Hi! Thank you for your feedback. I’ll try it. I find it difficult Togo back and edit once I decide something is complete but it’s such good goid for thought. Thank u.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a fascinating and intense piece. You drew me in and grabbed me with the dissatisfied POV of the main character, especially with her desperation to escape her life. Of course, the second life she found was no better, and the combined learning of her and her forced doppelganger is the perfect finish. All in all a wonderful work! 🙂

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