Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Clay Tuesday: I Believe

The Case of the Doppelganger

Everyone at school knew that if you saw the glowing green-eyed doppelganger in the old mirror it meant you would die. The other self would crawl out of the mirror like in horror movies and eat your eyes, then toy with you, leaving you unsure of when or if it would finally kill you. This raced through Jack’s mind as he nervously ruffled his rust-colored hair and checked out his face in the mirror.

Maybe it was the idea of death that had drawn Jack to the old mirror hung and hidden in the woods behind the school, or maybe it was the constant dare from teammates that brought him there. Jack scanned his features in the mirror; square jaw, lean body, easy on the eyes. Basically a good looking guy who was a little bit of a prick but okay with it. What spirit wouldn’t want to take his shape, he thought.

Jack gazed at his hazel eyes in the mirror. There was no green-eyed doppelganger. Disappointed, he scoffed and shook his head at the thought of anyone believing the old tale. Of course nothing had happened. Green eyes would have clashed with his hair anyway, that’s what Jack’s gay older brother George had said once before their parents had kicked him out. At this thought Jack started grinding his teeth. He thought about how his parents so easily saw fit to discard their own son. He looked back up at the mirror. A blond-haired man was behind him.

“The hell?” Jack spun on his foot to face the man. “Who are you and why are you creeping on me?”

“Kristjan. Oh, don’t run- I’m going to need you to stay and help me for a second. I can’t do this on my own.” Kristjan’s words ran from his thin lips so effortlessly as he walked closer to Jack, passing him. Kristjan stopped in front of the mirror and gazed at it from a plethora of odd angles. His index finger gently grazed the dusty glance; he was entranced by something he saw in it.

Jack gave the back of Kristjan’s head the most confused look he could muster which involved, but was not limited to, furrowed brows, a slightly open mouth and a tilt of his head. The man was obviously messing with him. Or one of those crazies from the mental ward. “Yeah, tall gangly guy, not gonna happen. I’m just going to-”

“I’m not gangly, I’m lean. Just because I’m over six foot people assume I’m all skin and bone this and skin and bone that. I eat! I exercise! Genetics plays a huge part in this too, even though my aunt Cecilia on my mother’s side- not my father’s, she lives in Winnipeg and nobody talks to her- always told me to eat more and called me a scarecrow. But the point of the story is that I’m not gangly. And now I’ve lost my concentration.” Kristjan drew back his finger from the glass, grimacing at the dust on his finger. “Look in the mirror again, you… what’s your name?”


“Right. Look in the mirror, would you, Jack? You’ll understand the world differently once you do. It’s exciting. Kids your age love exciting.” Kristjan stepped away from the mirror so Jack could see what he came to see, and indeed he did see it. He brought his hazel speckled eyes up to meet his reflection’s in the mirror, but instead saw a vicious, vain, vile and unhealthy glooming green gaze coming from a face exactly like his own. Fight or flight kicked in, and his body, to protect itself, moved back and away from the reflection. The reflection matched his movement and went forward.

“Legends, folktales and myths like this are very often grounded in fact, not fiction. They, like you or me, are a type of reality that exists in this world either created alongside us, from us or by us spreading tales. Our repeating of a story gives it life.” To Jack, Kristjan’s monologue was surreal, a serenade accompanying a seemingly fictitious supernatural encounter. The doppelganger’s hand reached through the mirror, fingers slowly cringing and twitching like a man struck with palsy. Kristjan continued. “The thrill of wanting to encounter the supernatural vanishes once the meeting takes place, when the entity feeds on your fear. You look for a cheap scare and find something very real. Something just as alive as you.”

Jack’s gaze lingered in the green depths of his doppelganger’s eyes, freezing him in place. Piece by piece, little by little, the copy of Jack slinked forward out of the old mirror. Jack could feel the fingers emanating sharpness like a knife, coming closer to his enlarged pupils. He was grotesquely fascinated by the idea of a true urban legend, of meeting, most importantly-


The word sifted out of Jack’s parted lips and covered the area like thick smog.

“Death is an entryway to a new life, Jackson Douglas Rae.”

A white crow landed on the doppelganger’s out-stretched arm. With a haunting caw it flapped its wings causing the doppelganger to explode into a mass of feathers. Jack snapped back into his senses, sweat pouring down his frame. Kristjan shoved Jack to the side. “Move!” he shouted, the false Jack re-appearing and jabbing a fist where the real Jack was moments earlier. Dust and grass soared through air, and with a swift kick Kristjan forced the doppelganger backwards. The crow flapped furiously, turning the double back into feathers.

“Jack, come here!” Kristjan pulled Jack over into the edge of a magic circle. The fake Jack appeared once more, lunging forward with sharp fingers, fingers which stopped inches short of Jack’s face. The magic circle was glowing a furious yellow and preventing the fake to move at all. The doppelganger was trapped, and the white crow landed on Kristjan’s shoulder, sinking into the black fabric of his sweater and vanishing as mysteriously as it had appeared.

Jack was unsure of what to say, but that didn’t stop him from speaking. “That- What –Me- Who are you?”

“That’s not important. You were fantastic bait by the way,” Kristjan said cooly, bringing out a small notebook from his pocket. He started chanting in a language largely unknown to Jack- French- and little by little, as Kristjan read, pieces of the doppelganger shone brightly then cracked like glass. Pieces fell off and hit the ground, shattering and vanishing. When Kristjan finished and closed the notebook, the monster had ceased to exist.

“What the hell did you say to in French that you couldn’t say in English to kill it?” Jack said, breaking the silence left by the monster. Kristjan’s response was a smile. “Why couldn’t you just let it take your shape?”

“I read a passage from a grimoire.” Kristjan stuck his hands in his pockets and shrugged. Jack waited for more of an answer. “Oh, the French. English is a horrible language to do spells in, there’s borrowed words from other languages everywhere in it. French is purer, more concrete and precise.”

“Okay, still not sure what a grimoire is.” Jack stopped and realized something else important. “And how did you know my full name?”

“It’s a spell book. Different spell books for different occasions, different cultures dealt with these things differently. And I took your wallet while you weren’t looking and saw your license,” Kristjan tossed the increasingly confused Jack his wallet.

“Why didn’t it look like you?”

“Because I’m already a doppelganger of myself,” Kristjan began to walk off after his answer, despite protests from a very confused and unsatisfied Jack.

“That doesn’t make sense!” He shouted after Kristjan’s fading figure.

“It doesn’t make sense to me either. Go home and do your homework or something.”

“Just like that?” Frustrated, Jack tried chasing after Kristjan, who looked as though he were doing more fading away than walking.

“People experience the otherworldly every day. Accept it and move on.” Kristjan was gone before Jack could catch up. He took some deep breaths, trying to remember what Kristjan even looked like. Kristjan’s image hurriedly faded from Jack’s mind, no matter how hard he tried to conjure it up. Ultimately, he took the blond man’s advice. He accepted what had happened to him and more importantly to his brother, and moved on.

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