You can read part 7 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.
I hid behind the door, wearing the darkness of the night like a cloak. I waited, eager for freedom, eager for revenge. I would no longer be my new big brother’s punching bag. The prey had become the predator.
I chose the night, not only because the dark gave me an advantage, but because that was when my brother usually came to see me. He liked to torture me before bed. Today, the tables would be turned.
I crouched, face hidden in shadow, and I brooded. How could my double have done this to me? He’d pretended to be my friend. We’d told each other stories. We’d shared in each other’s secrets. And then he’d betrayed me. I’d been so naive, so quick to trust. I would never make that mistake again.
I heard footsteps, muffled at first, like the sound of a distant drum. Soon the sound grew louder, until it had approached the other side of the door.
“Hey, dumbshit. I’m coming in to say goodnight.”
Tom. He laughed, a malevolent chuckle that caused the surface of my body to break out in goosebumps.
I stood there, silent, taut and alert.
A set of keys rattled. There was a clunk, a sound like a zipper as the key fed into the lock, then a click. A pinprick of time stretched, pregnant with possibilities. Then the door creaked slowly open. Light poured into the room.
“Hey Dumbshit, where are you?” Tom looked around, unable to see me from the doorway.
I’d performed a dozen thought-experiments, had trained myself with countless mental simulations. But this was not a thought experiment. This was real life, and real life was good at throwing wrenches in even the most well laid of plans. I had to tread carefully.
“Lost your voice, Dumbshit?” My new brother crept forward, eyes focused ahead as he scanned first the bed, then the space by the closet. “Get out here. Now.”
I grabbed the edge of the door to steady myself, sweat popping out of my forehead. I inched closer, one tiny step after another. I had to be careful, had to time this just right. If Tom moved at the wrong moment, if he turned his head before I was ready—
Tom’s eyes flicked in my direction. I rushed him.
That was all he managed to say before my foot thrust upward, making contact with the tender spot between his legs. Tom grabbed himself, eyes bulging with pain and surprise. He sucked in a lungful of air, hoarded it like a spoiled child before letting it out in a long and shuddering gasp. He sank to his knees, looked up and opened his mouth again.
“Mom!” he rasped. “Euge—”
I kicked him again. Again. And again.
Each blow produced a soft thud, a sound entirely at odds with the force of my blows. I delighted in his suffering, reveled in it. Where was that evil grin now?
“How does it feel?” I asked, planting another one squarely in the groin. “Does it feel good?” Thud. “Tell me, Tom.” Thud. “Does it feel good?”
He writhed on the floor like an injured snake, clutching at his man parts. I could hear him trying to speak, and I kicked him again.
I didn’t want to pull away. I wanted to hurt him some more, wanted to pay him back for all he’d done with interest. But I had to get out of there before my new mom wandered by and discovered what I’d done to the light of her life.
Tom curled into a ball like a rolley-polley. I left him there, confident that he wouldn’t be a problem for a while. I headed for the door.
I squinted up at the flood of light from outside my room, momentarily disoriented. I clutched the threshold with trepidation, not quite believing that I could walk away so easily. I couldn’t screw this up now, not when I was so close. I hesitated, glanced over my shoulder at the closet where my double had imprisoned me only three weeks ago. Once I left this room, that door was lost to me forever.
Actually, it was already lost the moment I’d attacked mirror-Tom. But once I left that place, I would have to admit to myself that there would be no rescue, that nobody would come bursting through the door in the nick of time as had happened so often on TV. I would have to wander through the desert of a foreign world in search of a way back home, understanding that I may never get there, that mirror-Eugene might forever enjoy what he had so callously stolen from me. The thought filled my gut with bile, but there was nothing to be done about it now.
When my eyes adjusted to the light, I spared a final look at Tom. He was no longer moving. Had he lost consciousness? I looked out the window, glimpsed the stars, spattering the sky like glitter, and thought of my double, a nine-year-old Judas Iscariot. I promised that I would come for him, that I wouldn’t let him get away with what he’d done.
Then I stepped across the threshold and said a silent prayer for deliverance. I still had to make it downstairs and out the front door.
Read part 9 here.
If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.