February 23rd, 2007

Shadowmancer

The Doppelganger

Horror Fiction

The Doppelganger

The older gentleman walked alone through the elegant hotel, with its red velvet brocade-laden walls and thick plush carpeting, a strange haunting voice resounding from time to time in his head, the name of his grandson, seemingly echoing from out of darkened corners. He is drawn to a certain room, impelled by some force, pulled like a magnet down the shadowy halls until reaching one at the very end of the corridor. Normally, the doors are all locked from the inside, but this room was opened, door ajar, seemingly beckoning him inside its darkened fetters.

Walking slowly inside, a television flickers mutely with some kiddie-cartoon, further crossing the room by an ornate mirror, the seeming ghostly reflection of his grandson looking back at him, a wisp of the eye, more prominent than in the hallways, arms outstretched, the saddest look on his little face. The man crumbles in crippling grief to his knees, sobbing in disbelief.

"Why? Why did it have to be him? Why couldn't it be me instead? He was so young - I knew him for only a short time..."

He died in this very room, suddenly - an aneurysm completely unexpected. He was a strange child, always seemingly depressed, though overall with a sweet, polite disposition - quite rare nowadays. Blue blood, which probably contributed to his condition, some odd inbred illness. If money is the root of all evil, there certainly is a price to pay that money cannot purchase.

He thinks to himself, "I've got to leave this place!" lest he be consumed with the depression and take a knife to himself, which was actually his original idea, but is now determined to preserve his memory and show the world what a precious child he really was. To exist as a living memorial to any who would wish to know of this unexpected tragedy.

"Treasure them while they are here, for no-one knows what tomorrow brings."

Out of the room for one last time, looking back to mark it with a photographic memory - the pain which took place here forever making an impression within the very walls. Now it seems suffocating.

A sense of freedom and relief overtakes the gentleman as he walks ponderously down the long hallways again, and all seems to resume a sense of normalcy, until nearing another mirror in the grand hall.

"What was that? Is there something in there?" It looked like someone was peering at him through the glass, as if from the other side with a cold blue light behind the form of a figure. He remains transfixed, drawing closer with each cautious step.

"This is ridiculous. I must be losing my mind..." he conjectures in exasperation, and just before he turns away from the mirror, the face of his grandson appears therein where his face should be. Tears well up in his eyes.

Just as suddenly as the image of the boy appears as his own reflection, he notices the figure is now standing BEHIND HIM. In a moment mixed with joy and fear, he turns, and sees him in the flesh before him; then all fear is lost with the smile as a glorious miraculous reunion. He asks no further questions and goes to hug the boy, feeling him tangible in his arms, the little frame embracing him back, when suddenly, he enters into a sleep-like state, as if being lulled gently into dormancy, and begins feeling a dull soreness upon his trapezius, not painful, but actually a rather oddly pleasant sensation.

Eyes heavy with this bizarre somnambulism, he drowsily peers at the mirror again, instantly horrified by the sight he now beholds. The child's face has gone gaunt with a bluish hue, darkened sockets, eyes whitened, thrust into the sockets, mouth firmly planted upon his neck-shoulder. Spinning around in horror, separating the little monster from him, and with black coloration around his mouth, utters in a growly-hiss, "Rankin-Bass! Rankin-Bass!" He throws the phantom from him, which dematerializes into the air.

"It was him! But it wasn't..." he chokes with confusion.

Looking back at the mirror, he views the form of his grandson touching the other side of the glass, as if to plead for a touch. Just as he reaches towards the pane, the form disappears into the darkness beyond the cold glass...

A week later to the day and time of the death of his grandson, he also succumbs to a bizarre malady, and in his own mind he views while he lay dying, his wife standing there awaiting his emergence, and by her side, his grandson in pristine form. With a smile, he exhales and all grows black…

© Copyright 2007 c.e. / XLII A.S. / ∞ by Draconis Blackthorne. All Rights Reserved.

[Inspired by a recent dream. Short story from an anthology I Am composing.]