Doppelganger

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This is my effort for this week’s Writers Digest prompt.

The jaunty angle of the ‘out of order’ elevator sign mocked my aching head and feet. Sales week is always a nightmare. All I wanted was to grab ice cream and collapse in front of mind-numbing TV. Opening the door to my apartment, I could hear canned laughter. I must have left the tv on. I kicked off my shoes and headed for the lounge.

What followed is one of those moments you only read about. I froze, time flowing in slow motion, as the person seated on my sofa, cradling my pot of ice cream, turned to smile at me.
“Hi, Jane.”
My grocery bag slipped through lifeless fingers, but the crunch when it hit the floor brought everything back into focus and I stammered out my name.
“Jane?”

This person could not be me, and yet, as she rose, setting the ice cream on a side table, she was my twin. She smiled, broader now, and there was something malicious in those flashing teeth and drawn tight lips. Some primal sense finally kicked in and I tensed.
“It’s taken ten years to find you.”
“Who are you?”
I managed the words, but my mind was on her hand,buried in the pocket of her slacks. To me it looked balled, wrapped around something. My mind was racing, trying to decide what to do next; run or fight?
“I’m you, Jane… at least, I will be, soon.”

She was advancing now, her hand snapping clear of her pocket and brandishing an evil-looking flick knife. I put my hands up, foolishly, attempting to ward her off, and she slashed quickly. I snatched my hands back, felt blood trickle slowly from my palm.
“What do you want?”
I was reversing slowly up the hall, but she seemed confident of her position, her control of the situation, unconcerned that I might bolt for the door.
“You, Jane. That should be obvious.”

I jinked left, into the kitchen, aiming for the knife block. She paused in the doorway, idly tossing the knife up and down.
“Ever heard of a doppelganger, Jane?”
I shook my head, finally getting a grip on a meat cleaver.
“I’m you, you see, and that causes a bit of a problem. We can’t both exist. When a doppelganger appears, someone has to die. We’re bad luck, you see.”
She laughed and lunged.

At that moment, Tuffet, my cat woke from her preferred spot on top of the kitchen door, and flung herself onto the doppelganger’s shoulders, her customary greeting when she wanted food. The imposter staggered, toppled and fell onto me. Horrified, I watched her fall onto the cleaver I held before me for protection.

As fast as it had happened, it was over. She simply faded into nothing, a soft shimmer in the air and then gone, leaving me curled against the wall, clutching a useless weapon and praying there was only one doppelganger per lifetime.

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