Crime Flash Fiction: I Didn’t See My Doppelganger By Neil Clark
Neil Clark writes micro and flash fiction from his tiny flat in Edinburgh. His work has appeared in Cheap Pop, Okay Donkey, The Molotov Cocktail and other places. Find him on Twitter @NeilRClark.
Not when my pupils screamed, “Look! It’s you!” and pointed over my shoulder.
I turned around. Saw nobody. Only ‘MEAT’ scrawled on the whiteboard in my handwriting, the ink swirling, dark and green, putrid and damp.
Not when my feet got tethered to the floorboards as if the classroom had an all-consuming undercurrent, and the pupils barked in muddled harmony, “You’re walking out the room. Look!”
I was too shaken to drive home. On the bus, the driver said he could’ve sworn I just got on at the last stop. But I scoured deep into the gloopy valves of the guts of the vehicle. Found nothing. Nothing but an elderly couple, a group of construction workers, a bunch of empty seats, a dislodged bone, a maggot, the stench of rotten egg.
That night, I made love to my wife for the first time in months. Afterwards, she said, “Twice in one day…” and I lay shivering, sinking into the seeping springs of the squelchy mattress, hoping to wake up and for the day to have been a dream.
was too shaken to drive home. On the bus, the driver said he could’ve sworn I just got on at the last stop.
I did not sleep. Maybe I did. Either way, there were people melting away to red while I stood frozen, my legs thawing but not thawing fast enough.
Morning came. The local newspaper arrived. The font used on the front page was Dirt Scraped from Under the Grim Reaper’s Fingernails Sans. The headline read – ‘MAN MISSING AFTER GOING ON BRUTAL KILLING SPREE’.
From the foreground of the picture underneath, my doppelganger shrieked at me. Yet, no matter how much I stared at it, I saw nothing. Nothing but the sense of knowing you’ve done something but have no recollection of doing it. It wasn’t you. It wasn’t really you.
I didn’t see my doppelganger when the story went global. The news showed old home videos of the man at large. Happy scenes, family by his side, smiling on fishing trips. I did not sense a person in those videos. I saw no eyes, no face, no human form. Only a numb hollow hologram of a past life, before worms started slithering up ear cavities and eating brains and shitting out skull-splitting demands to do despicable things.
Then the news broke: they’d found parts of a raft near a lake and it might lead investigators to the man. My wife, sat next to me, said, “I hope they find him. He did such a very bad thing.”
When I turned to look her in the eye and say, “He’s sitting over there,” there was only the whiff of a wisp of sour green gas and the scent of her perfume.
I didn’t see my wife.
I didn’t see my doppelganger.
Then the news broke: they’d found parts of a raft near a lake and it might lead investigators to the man.
Not when his muddy, blistered hand hooked me by the navel. Delved inside me and finger-crawled up to my chest. Dragged me by my cold heart out of the house, past the flowers laid across the front of the town hall holding the candlelit vigil for my wife. Past the driver, the construction workers, the couple, the others.
Not as the scenery changed – from sun setting over a suburban town in mourning, to moonlit woodland, to a pitch black riverbank where the reeds cackled in the bitter darkness.
I didn’t see my doppelganger. Not when the two of us clung to the vessel of floating logs as it deteriorated in the harshness of the rapids. Not when I felt his nose on mine. Not as his purple lips caressed my maggot-bitten eyelids. Not as he sucked all the bad I’d ever seen out of my retinas.
As the freezing riverbed flooded my lungs. As the worm-shit screams dulled. As my barren heart crumpled, and the echoes of the voices in my skull dissolved into water and sky and stars, I didn’t see my doppelganger.
Until, at last – at very very last – we made eye contact.