Doppelgänger

Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 33

Photo by Joe Ciciarelli on Unsplash

The driver behind me tries to make it seem they aren’t following me, but they fail in achieving that goal.

For an instant, I had thought to turn left. I was in the turn lane, but then I remembered the veterinarian’s office would already be closed for the day. So, and since there was only one car behind me, I waited in the left turn lane and went straight. The driver behind me realized there was no further point in trying to pretend and openly followed me from the left turn lane as I continued along my way home.

I would describe my senses as heightened, alert, but not afraid.

When I pull into my parking spot outside my apartment, I look around for the black car. I don’t see it, nor do I remember at what point I lost him. I shrug it off, lock my car, climb the stairs.

Tires screech. The car has returned. It pulled in and parked in my neighbor’s spot.

I want to say these words, but he’s already out of his car. He wears a hat, so I can’t get a good glimpse at his face. He looks familiar, but I don’t know his name.

I pause, my key in the lock; I look over just in time to see his car shimmer. It vibrates, first slowly, then gradually increasing in speed and amplitude. Then it pops out of existence. I saw a fold in space open, swallow the car, then close again.

Okay, I should really get inside now, I think. If this stranger has a magic car that slides sideways out of existence, is my single lock going to do much to stop him? I doubt the answer is anything other than a laughable no.

I was so absorbed in watching the car vanish; I didn’t even notice him climbing the stairs. I jerk a bit when I register him standing there before me, his head downcast. The broad-brimmed hat covers his face.

Is he waiting to be invited into my apartment?

The man removes his hat; I freeze in terror. The man is my identical twin.

Am I losing my mind? Possibly. That or this man is my doppelganger.

I feel a familiar pain in my chest; on the left, angina.

Of all the times for an attack of this, this is the worst.

He grins at me with a look that is not without compassion and cruelty

Finally, he speaks.

“You always thought it would be your brain, Alzheimer’s, or a stroke, but you were mistaken. It was always going to be your heart.”

How does he know that? Mom slowly slipped away with dementia, as did her mother. I think her brother and father both went to soft-pedaled ‘CVA.’ Cardiovascular accident sounds so much gentler, almost apologetic, than ‘stroke.’

I try to speak, but I’m starting to think this is more than angina; I realize that this is it.

“Don’t speak. You will only make it worse,” my double suggests.

Suddenly he’s my brother. Stepping forward, he slides an arm under mine, and he helps me into my home.

He helps me to my bed, and I am happy to lie down.

I don’t know how I know, but he is me. They will never find my body. He will pick up where I left off. He will live my life. I hope he does a better job at it than I.

“Exercise,” I say to him.

I want to say more, but then I’m already leaving. In the end, it doesn’t hurt like I thought it would.

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