A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 10

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You can read part 9 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

I rushed headfirst into the closet. It wasn’t until I brushed past hanging coats and pants and nearly bumped my head against the wall that I realized the doorway to the other world had already closed.

I felt as if all the wind had been knocked out of me. I slumped against the wall, closed my eyes and covered my face with my hands.

I’d been so close.

Tears squeezed out of my eyes unbidden, and I was overcome with despair. I would never get home now, I thought. I was stuck in a hateful world with a hateful mom and a hateful brother. I would never see my real mom again, and my double would continue to enjoy the life he’d stolen from me justice-free.

“Mom.”

I stopped crying. I looked up and cocked my head so I could hear better.

“Mom.”

I heard it again. I knew that voice. It was quiet and filled with pain. Tom.

Despair vanished, replaced with the raw instinct to survive. I scrambled off the floor and ran from the closet. I paused in the doorway, looked for signs that Tom had seen me, then jogged silently toward the stairs.

I heard him call again for his mom. Each time his voice grew softer, farther. I moved down the steps as fast as I could manage without making sound.

I halted when I reached the bottom. Once again, like the first day I’d come to this place, vertigo and a sense of otherworldliness swept over me as I took in the living room before me, all at once familiar and strange.

Then Tom called again from upstairs, and the spell was broken. I dashed for the front door. I panicked when at first it didn’t open, and it took me a moment before I realized I had to undo the lock. I ran outside, sailed across the concrete path and darted off along the sidewalk, into the moonlit night.

I ran. I ran some more. I didn’t stop. I looked around at the houses in my neighborhood. Mirror-Eugene’s neighborhood. The houses were similar but different. The street was more rundown than my own, as if it had suffered years of neglect. It reminded me of some of the more destitute communities in my own world, which I sometimes saw pictures of on TV.

I ran until brief pinpricks in my right side blossomed into sharp stabbing pains. I slowed, and only when I stopped did I realize my breathing had grown ragged and that I could barely stand. Adrenaline had abandoned me, leaving me weak and disoriented.

I gazed about, lost. At some point I’d wandered away from the area I recognized, even more dilapidated than where I’d started. Large concrete structures loomed overhead, stained and chipped with age. Many were surrounded by chain link fences, some of which were topped with barbed wire. Plumes of smoke rose into the air, illuminated by the moon and artificial lighting so that they seemed like spirits rising into heaven.

I would have been scared had I not been so exhausted. I leaned against a decrepit wall and closed my eyes.

I thought I’d only take a minute to rest and catch my breath.  But when I opened my eyes again, the sun was up, I was on the ground and I wasn’t alone.

Continued next week…

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A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 9

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You can read part 8 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

I stepped out into the hallway, quivering with adrenaline in the aftermath of revenge. Each of my senses had stretched as far as they would go, so that I was no longer certain if the creaks and thumps I heard were real or if they were a product of my frenzied imagination. I stopped, paused to make certain the footsteps I heard were my own, then crept along the hallway like a spider, keeping as much to the feeble shadows as possible.

Soiled ivory-colored objects lined the walls at intervals, strung together so they resembled primitive necklaces. Some were long, others were short. Some were connected by balls and joints, others hung by only the string that bound them. I peered more closely, and almost gave myself away with a cry when I realized they were bones.

I moved faster.

I was halfway to the stairs when I heard a sound, a faint clicking noise, followed by what I was sure were feet padding across the carpet. It came from the open doorway of a room very close to where I stood. My head swiveled first to the room to see if I’d been spotted, then around again in search of cover.

I spied a bookcase filled with dusty weathered volumes beside me. It wasn’t much, but it was all I could find, and I dove for the shadow it provided.

I froze. Waited. Listened. When I was certain it was safe, I crept closer to survey the threat and to figure out when it would be best to continue my trek down the stairs.

The light inside was dim, and I had to strain my eyes to see. When I caught sight of my double’s mom, I nearly recoiled again. But her eyes were closed, and she was sitting Indian-style on the floor in front of her closet. She obviously hadn’t seen me. Around her neck hung a necklace like the ones I’d seen on the hallway walls. I stared at her, trying to discern what she was doing.

Suddenly her eyes popped open. I ducked behind the door frame, and I waited for ages before I dared peek again. When I did, I found her staring ahead at her closet. I relaxed.

She got up, and as if in a trance, she began to move toward the door. She reached for the knob and opened it. I gasped.

I’d seen this once before, when my double had opened my closet door and shown me another world. I was certain I’d discovered a passage home. I would follow her through the door, and then I would find mirror-Eugene and make him pay for what he’d done.

I rushed into the room. Fear evaporated, reduced only to raw instinct and determination. The door closed behind my double’s mom just as I reached the knob. I grasped it. Twisted. Pulled.

The door opened.

Read part 10 here.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 8

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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.

“Eug

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.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 7

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You can read part 6 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

For three days, I thought about how I would get away. My double had used magic to pass from his world into mine. Unfortunately, I would have to find another way.

The window would have been a fantastic choice, had it not been for the fact that it was on the second floor and that there was nothing for me to grab a hold of on the way down. Once, in a mad desire for instant freedom, I considered jumping. But after a careful survey of the ground below, the need for self-preservation overcame the impulse. Survival was paramount. In such a world as this, I would have to look out for myself.

Querying years of accumulated knowledge from TV, I thought in a fit of desperation that perhaps I could tie mirror-Eugene’s clothes and bed sheets together, forming a makeshift rope that I could climb down to freedom. But an hour spent trying to create secure knots in thick swaths of fabric proved futile, and I learned that perhaps TV didn’t possess all the answers after all.

The only way out, I concluded, was through the door. I would have snuck out a long time ago had it not been for the fact that my new mom always kept it locked, and that she only ever opened it to give me food or to let my brother in when he wanted to see me.

For three days, I wracked my brain, and for three days, I came up short. Despair was slowly turning sour, like milk left out in the sun. I began to brood. Hatred toward my double for trapping me in this God-forsaken place transformed into hatred toward new mom and brother, not just for what they had done to me, but for the fact that they looked so much like the ones I had left behind. Their very existence was a mockery, a cruel sadistic torture.

I began to entertain dark thoughts, much like those mirror-Eugene had told me about in the few weeks he’d visited me in my own room. I wanted to hurt them, to make them pay for how they’d treated me.

It was on the third day, during one of my many fantasies, that an idea struck like a bolt of lightening. My lips curled into a slow creeping smile as I lay there in the dark. I could kill two birds with one stone, I realized. I could hurt my new brother, and I could use his pain as an opportunity to escape.

I spent the rest of the night planning, resolved that this would be the last night I’d ever spend in that house.

Read part 8 here.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity: Revised Part 6

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As I mentioned in my last post, I was going back through previously written installments to fix inconsistencies and to improve the story. I’ve finished editing part 6, concluding this round of revision. Starting next week, I’ll continue the series with new material. Thank you very much for your patience, and I hope you’ve enjoyed A Case of Mistaken Identity so far!

Please note that this installment was significantly altered. You can read the revised part 6 here.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 6

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You can read part 5 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

Needless to say, my experience in that house was wretched.

My true mother never did come to rescue me. Neither did mirror-Eugene return to tell me it had all been a cruel joke. I held onto this foolish hope for three or four days, staying up late into the night, staring at the inside of my new closet with the door wide open, waiting for the door on the other side to reappear.

A week later, I’d resigned myself to my fate, realizing that I would never see my home again.

I wondered what my double was up to. Was he happy with his new mom? Mom. My mom. I missed her so much my chest ached. I can’t begin to describe the despair and the torment I experienced when I realized she was lost to me forever.

My new mom was just as bad as mirror-Eugene had described and worse. Every morning, I donned torn and weathered hand-me-down clothes; whiled away the hours in my room alone, laying on my bed, staring up at the ceiling; ate a bare-bones breakfast and didn’t dine again until dinner. My two meals per day consisted of meager helpings of burnt toast or leftover stew that did little to nourish my listless body, and each day I would feel the painful teeth of hunger chomp down inside my stomach.

I wasn’t allowed to see other parts of the house, and only ever caught glimpses when someone came by to feed me or when my new brother came to see me. Each time, I regretted it. It was just enough like my own house that I ended up homesick, and just different enough that I would be left feeling dizzy and disoriented.

My new brother was a demon loosed from Hell. He would find me in my room each night before I went to bed, the corners of his wicked grin catching broken shards of moonlight from the window in the dark. He would squeeze my neck in his arms like a vice until I became light headed, or hit various parts of my body until I bruised like an overripe banana.

I would cry out to my new mom in desperation, and each time, she would come to my room in a huff. She would behold her eldest, who beamed up at her, face adorned in an immaculate smile, then turn to me, dripping venom, demand that I keep my goddamn mouth shut and slam the door. I don’t know if she knew what my brother was up to. I didn’t think she would care if she did.

My true older brother and I had always gotten along fairly well. There’d always been the occasional fight, but there’d never been any true malice, not like that between my new older brother and I. The first few nights I protested and demanded to know what I’d ever done to him. For all I knew, mirror-Eugene had brought it on himself. But Tom would only stare at me in silence, a knowing twinkle in his eye, then continue with his gruesome work.

The weight on my soul’s shoulders was too much for me to bear. It crushed me on the inside, so that I could hardly speak, eat, or sleep. My new mother never asked if I was all right. If anything, she seemed relieved when I’d at last discovered the virtue of silence.

I put up with this for three weeks.

It wasn’t until a particularly brutal fraternal beating that left blood spurting from my nose and my right eye swollen shut that my will to survive at last overtook the shock that had come over me since crossing over into mirror-Eugene’s world. I lay on my back that night and made my decision.

I was going to escape.

Read part 7 here.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 5

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You can read part 4 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

Panic seized my chest, and I grew short of breath. I clawed and scratched and pounded at the wall that had only recently been a door, begging mirror-Eugene to let me back through to the other side.

I don’t know how long I’d been banging and shouting, but at some point I heard the door to the room burst open. I turned just in time to watch the knob smash into the wall.

“Eugene! What’s gotten into you? Stop that banging now.”

Mom!

Mom had come to rescue me. Somehow, she’d learned about my twin (or perhaps she’d known all along, a superpower that all mothers seem to have in common.)

“Mom!” I cried, basking in the familiar shape of her face. I ran to her, ready to grab hold of her and to never let go again.

“Eugene,” she snapped. She stared down at me as I attached myself to her leg. “Get off. Eugene, what kind of game are you playing? This isn’t funny.”

The frosty contemptuous tone in her voice stopped me short. I pulled away and examined her face more closely. Suddenly, I felt hopelessly and desperately disoriented. It was like gazing at my mom through a fun house mirror. Some of the features were the same, but there were extreme differences. Whereas the mom I remembered had long brown hair that ran down the sides of her face in curls, this one had short bright red hair that stuck up in uneven bunches. Whereas the mom I remembered possessed flawless alabaster skin, this one had skin that reminded me of the surface of the moon, full of pocks, divots and craters.

She was an aberration, a twisted half-truth that wrenched my stomach and made me feel like throwing up.

“Mom?” Once again, my chest tightened and it was difficult to breathe. “Take me home. Please.”

She glared at me, drilled into my skull with her eyes. I beheld nothing but malice in her features, and something inside me withered, a part of my soul that’s remained lifeless ever since.

Her face flushed, and before I knew what was happening, her right hand flashed before me and I was knocked backward through the air. I peeled myself off the floor a moment later, head swimming, and looked up dazedly to find her standing before me.

Horrified, I reached up to feel the cheek she’d struck. It burned.

I remembered what mirror-Eugene had told me about his own mom, how she locked him in his room every day and wouldn’t let him out except to eat. But I couldn’t believe this was that woman. Despite the differences, she still looked so much like my own mom that I refused to believe she could be anyone else.

God, I want to go home.

Would I ever find my way back home again? With a ferocity I couldn’t possibly articulate, I wanted my mom to reach out to me, to tell me that she loved me, that she would rescue me from this terrible place and take me home. I wanted her to tell me that everything would be okay. More than anything, I just wanted her to tell me everything would be okay.

I cried.

“Oh, stop it with the waterworks, Eugene. It won’t work. Not any more.”

“Mom?” called a sleepy voice from the doorway. It seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place it. “What’s going on?”

I watched through blurred vision as a shape emerged behind her.

“It’s your brother,” she spat. “He’s acting up again.”

The shape behind her moved closer, and as it came into focus my breath caught inside my throat. He looked older, and his voice was deeper, but I recognized my deceased brother despite the difference in years.

“Tom,” I whispered, half in awe, half in disbelief. “But, you’re dead. How did you –” I stopped. Vertigo engulfed me, and it was all I could do just to stand.

He looked down at me, seemingly impassive, but there was a sparkle in his eyes that sent a chill down my spine. “What are you talking about?”

“It’s another one of his games,” she said, pointing to me as if I were a venomous snake.

“Are you playing games?” asked my brother, stepping up to my hands, which were spread out on the floor. He pressed down on them with his left shoe until I cried out in surprise.

“Careful,” he warned, smiling. “Play too many games and someone might get hurt.”

He gazed down at me a moment longer, as if he might have more to say, then suddenly wheeled around and headed back the way he’d come.

“Goodnight, Tom,” said the woman before me, looking back at him beatifically, as if he were the only thing right in her whole world. Then she turned back to me and her smile vanished. “As for you,” she said, following in her older son’s footsteps, “I don’t want to hear another peep. You hear me? Go to sleep. Now. Don’t make me come back here.” Then she too left the room, slamming the door behind her.

But I didn’t go to sleep, and I didn’t sleep again for a long time.

Read Part 6 here.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 4

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You can read part 3 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

I can show you how. My twin’s words reverberated inside my head.

He’d said he could show me another world. I wanted desperately to explore. I would often pretend that I was an astronaut or an adventurer. In the past, I’d had access to a host of secret worlds whose only keys lay within the confines of my imagination. Now, the adventure would be real.

“What do I have to do?” I asked, heart jackhammering inside my chest.

The jack-o-lantern smile that adorned his face should have been a red flag. But I was too eager, too excited, and that excitement made me stupid.

“Not much,” he assured me. “I’ll do all the work. Come on.” He walked to the other side of the room and gestured for me to follow.

We stopped in front of my closet.

“In there?” I asked, pointing at the door.

“Yes,” he said, back turned to me. He gazed up at it, focused and intent. “This is where I came from. The world here is still soft. It’s easier to bend.”

I stood dumbfounded as my twin looked at the door. I queried him a couple more times for additional information, but each time he held up his right hand to shush me and said, “Hold on. I’m trying to concentrate.”

I wondered what was happening, if he just needed time to think or if he was actually doing something I couldn’t see. A few weeks ago, I would have told you that magic outside the imagination was impossible. Now, it was as ordinary as breathing air.

After a while, his face slackened, and a few moments later he turned back to face me, weary but triumphant. “There, it’s done.”

“What’s done?”

“Open the door,” said mirror-Eugene, and his mouth spread into a smug smile. He seemed pleased with himself.

I sidled up to the door, examining it with a thoughtful eye. The last time I’d checked the closet, there’d been nothing there, just a bunch of clothes and old junk. And yet my twin had somehow passed through it from his own world into mine, and had continued to do so every night for the past few weeks.

My forehead throbbed with blood, and my hands broke out into a sweat. I reached for the knob. Turned it. Opened the door.

I gasped.

Beyond the variously colored t-shirts and jeans that hung from wire hooks was a much wider space, one that could not have possibly fit within the confines of a simple closet. The visage was incomplete, a kaleidoscope of broken shapes and textures only partially glimpsed behind the clothes, but it was enough for me to realize I was peering into another world. Mirror-Eugene’s world.

“Awesome,” I whispered.

“Go on.”

I took a moment to catch my breath before going forward. I glanced back. He urged me on. I took one hesitant step forward and turned again.

“Are you coming with me?”

“I have to stay here to keep it open.”

“Oh.” I was scared to go alone, but it wasn’t long before excitement overcame the cautious side of my nature. I brushed past shirts and pants, casting them aside like they were broad hanging leaves in a tropical jungle. A moment later, I passed through a second doorway and found myself in mirror-Eugene’s room.

Mostly, it was the same. But despite the dark I could see that there were differences. For one, the room was mostly empty, save for a tiny single bed propped up against the wall with nothing but a bare mattress and a flat pillow. There were no pictures on the walls. The floor was wood instead of carpet.

I heard my twin speak suddenly from beyond the closet. “Sorry.”

“What?” I turned around just in time to see the door on the other side swing shut.

“Eugene?” I called. I lunged for the closet, hoping to make it through before the door had closed completely, but by the time I got there there it had slammed and there was nothing left but a thick plaster wall.

“No,” I breathed. “Eugene! Come back!”

Nothing.

I banged and clawed at the wall, desperation driving me further down the road of hopeless futility.

An unexpected voice spoke up from somewhere else in the house. “What’s that racket?” It sounded like my mom.

A moment later, I heard footsteps.

Read Part 5 here.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 3

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You can read part 2 here. Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

For the next few weeks, my double visited me in my room at night. He was the identical twin brother I never had. We hung around in the dark until the small hours of the morning, talking about random things.

We often swapped stories of our families. I was fascinated to learn that he had an older brother. I too once had an older brother, three years my senior. Unfortunately, he’d died in a car crash along with my dad when I was five. I wondered if my brother had looked the same as his, if perhaps his own mirror double would have visited in the middle of the night like mine.

In so many ways we were the same. His name was also Eugene.  We laughed at the same jokes. We had similar personalities.

But the reflection was distorted, imperfect.

My otherworldly counterpart had a dark side. For example, during our geneological tales, I learned that whereas I loved my mom and trusted her completely, my twin loathed his own. He would dream up scenarios in which she burned to death in a fire or fell out of his family’s second story window. His eyes would burn with opalescent fire whenever he told such stories, and I would always be struck by the sudden urge to draw the duvet tighter around my shoulders.

But despite this disturbing trait, we became fast friends. He was the brother I’d always wanted, the brother I thought I’d lost all those years ago. I should have known better than to trust him.

“Why do you hate your mom so much?” I asked on the last night I would spend in my own bed.

Mirror-Eugene looked down, averting his eyes. I couldn’t tell if he was sad, angry or both. “Because my mom hates me. She locks me in my room and never lets me out, not even for dinner.”

“Why?” I asked, shocked.

But my twin wouldn’t answer. Instead, he turned to stare out the window, as if contemplating the darkness on the outside.

I decided to change the subject. “What’s it like, going from your world to mine. Is it hard?”

My twin’s head whipped back to me, eyes narrow. “No,” he said. “It’s easy. You just have to know what you’re doing. Why?”

“No reason. I just wish I could see your world.” I dreamed of a universe that was a warped reflection of my own. “That would be so cool.”

My double grew quiet and still. He looked around the room, as if unsure of something. (Later, I would think that maybe he’d been conflicted, that perhaps he’d felt a pang of guilt over what he’d been about to do.)

“You can,” he said finally, “If you want to.”

“Really?”

“Yes,” he whispered, grinning. “I can show you how.”

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A Case of Mistaken Identity, Part 2

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Reading for the first time? You can find part 1 here.

My mirror double stared down at me, and once again I wondered if this was all a dream. I thought that if only I kept calm, if I could give myself time to wake up, the strange apparition would disappear. But that alter ego of mine never wavered.

“Don’t scream.”

I gazed into his eyes, dumbfounded, too stunned to make a sound. All thoughts of monsters abandoned my head and I found myself grappling with an entirely different proposition. My twin. He had to be my twin. But I had none, at least not as far as I knew.

He looked down at me a moment longer, eyes searching, as if he were struggling to make a decision. Finally, he removed his hand from my mouth and said, “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.”

After that, he was silent. He regarded me with a curious expression, and took a seat next to me at the side of the bed.

“You can’t tell anyone about me. Promise you’ll keep me a secret.”

I didn’t reply.

Questions were buzzing around in my head like angry bees. Why didn’t my parents tell me I had a twin, and how could they have kept him a secret for so long? Had he been locked away in the basement, like those horror movies I sometimes watched on TV when my parents thought I was asleep? And if so, why had it taken him so long to find me?

Then a sinister thought wormed its way into my brain like a parasite. What if he was my evil twin? People had evil twins all the time on TV. I instinctively drew the covers tighter around my waist.

“Hey,” he said. “I’m talking to you.”

“What” I started. “Who”  A pause. Then, “Don’t hurt me.”

“Relax. I already said I wouldn’t.” He sighed. “I’m sorry if I scared you. I had to sneak away at night, because it’s the only time my mom isn’t paying attention.”

Hesitantly, I asked, “Are we twins?”

My double’s eyes sparkled, glittering in the moonlight like stars. “I guess so, yeah. In a way.”

“How come I didn’t know about you until today?”

He just shrugged.

“Where did you come from? The basement?”

“No,” said my twin, smirking. A moment later he laughed. “Definitely not the basement.”

“Then where?”

He smiled, then pointed at my closet. “There.”

“You live in my closet? How come I’ve never seen you before?”

“No,” said my twin, folding his arms. “I came through your closet. I live in another world.”

Another world. I thought again of TV. There were shows where scientists had discovered methods of visiting other realities very much like our own. “You mean like an alternate universe?”

He nodded his head, looking pleased with himself. “Yes. There are many other worlds,” he explained, extending his arms for emphasis. “Mostly they’re the same, but there are differences.”

Suddenly, my room, the house, the world, even the stars in the sky, paled when held up to the blinding light of a cosmos much richer than I could ever have imagined. Another world.

“But how? You’re just a kid like me.”

My twin rolled his eyes. “Magic. Duh.”

I stayed silent for a while, lost in a timeless moment of intense contemplation. Finally, I asked,”What do you want?”

He smiled, his face suddenly made sinister in the moonlight. “I want to play.”

Read Part 3 here.

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