Read Part 1 here.
The boy stared down at me, my mirror double, and once again I wondered if this was all a dream. I imagined that if only I could keep calm, if I could give myself time to wake up, the strange apparition would evaporate. But that hideous alter ego of mine never wavered.
“Don’t scream,” he said, his mouth set in a wicked rictus. “If you try, you’ll be sorry.”
I struggled against the hand that covered my mouth, and it pressed down tighter. In that moment, I knew monsters were real after all.
I kicked and thrashed to the point of exhaustion, flexing each and every muscle in my body. I could feel myself losing, could feel the will to fight slipping away like a wet fish.
Waves of despair were rising above my head when the boy’s features suddenly softened. “Look, I’m not going to hurt you.”
The sudden change in his tone of voice caught me off guard. I stared up into my double’s eyes, dumbfounded, too stunned to scream for help had I been able.
The boy was silent for a while. Then the hand over my lips began to loosen, and a moment later it came away completely.
“Please, don’t tell anyone about me.”
I didn’t reply. I was too busy trying to hold the pieces of what had once been a rational world together, afraid that if I let my attention wander for even a moment it would unravel completely.
“Hey, I’m talking to you. Say something.”
“What—” I breathed, then stopped. A capsule of thought burrowed deep beneath the layers of my mind, probing for any scrap of common everyday experience that would help me to explain the unexplainable. “Who—” I cut off again. A pause. Then, “you’re me.”
My double’s eyes suddenly sparkled, glittering in the moonlight like stars. “Very good,” he said. “You’re quick.”
“But—” Another pause. “I’m me. You can’t be me too.”
And just like that, the rational world I had known for so long shattered. You could have told me you possessed a mountain in an eyedropper and I would have believed you.
“Yes,” said the boy. “And no. You’re you. But I’m you too. Or at least another you.”
I fumbled with the fingers of one hand, lifted them before my eyes, and in a sleepy stupor I began to repeatedly count off the number two. “How can both of us be me at the same time?”
The boy sat on the side of the bed. He shrugged his shoulders and only answered, “I don’t know. That’s just the way it is, I guess.”
Silence from my end.
My double kept shooting furtive glances in my direction, as if waiting for me to make a very obvious connection. FInally, he cleared his throat and said, “I ran away from home because I’m tired of my parents. I wanted to see what else was out there, wanted to meet others like me.”
“But,” I argued, the rusty unoiled gears inside my head grinding and squealing from too much work, “I didn’t run away from home. I’m in bed. And you’re me. So you should be in bed too.”
The boy let out an exasperated sigh. “You dodo! I’m not actually you. Or at least not the same you. Look, I’m sorry I scared you. I had to sneak out at night, because it’s the only time of day when my parents aren’t paying attention.”
“Why did you want to run away? Are your parents mean? My mom is nice. She tucks me in at night and sings me songs. Isn’t your mom nice too?”
The boys features became strained. “No, my mom isn’t nice. She locks me in my room as soon as I get home from school, and I’m not allowed out again until dinner. I only get to eat the leftovers, and when I’m done she sends me back to bed alone.”
“Why is she so mean?”
But the boy wouldn’t answer. Instead, he stared out the window, contemplating the darkness on the outside.
“Your mom doesn’t sound anything like mine. Does she look the same?”
“I dunno. Probably.”
I peered at him from where I lay, watched as he examined things that were very far away. Finally, I asked the most important question. “What do you want?”
He turned to me, and in the pale white light from outside he looked wicked and mischievous once more.
“Want to play?”
Continued next week…
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