I met the other me today.
Don't trust what you see in a reflection.
Shaking my head did little to relieve the grogginess I felt. A bad combination of late night, poor diet, and other destructive decisions led to an even worse morning. Even so, I still had to force myself awake, using the annoyance of my blaring morning reminder that I would likely be late to work.
I smashed my finger onto my phone screen in a hasty attempt to turn off the siren that attacked my ears, only to miss several times before finally allowing my head to embrace my quiet room once more. A groan escaped my lips as I rolled over, trying not to put too much pressure on my stomach as I managed to climb to a wavering standing position.
Before I could walk toward the bathroom, I noticed something strange. My front door key was on the floor. Even at my worst coming home, I always seemed to remember to hang it up and lock the door. I crouched down and grabbed at the lanyard attached to the solitary piece of metal, lifting it into the air as I walked toward my living room.
My first thought was I had forgotten to lock the front door as well, and I felt unease rumble through my stomach as I wondered if I would be greeted by anyone when I exited. But, even as my hand hesitated on the doorknob, I knew I was acting silly. The area was safe enough. I opened the door and entered my living room but paused as I stared at the front door.
I couldn't tell if it was unlocked, and not because I couldn't see it well enough. What stopped me was the door was backward, handle on the opposite side, keyhole facing me. What the hell? Was this someone's idea of a prank? I raced toward the door and jiggled the handle, finding it locked. A moment later, the key I had been holding was already inside, twisting and unlocking the door with a quiet click.
An icy feeling raced through my veins, freezing me in place and stopping me from twisting the doorknob. I shook my head and forced my hand to turn, opening the door outward to reveal what should have been the hallway. Instead, I was staring at the inside of my apartment once more. My head darted back and forth between the strange mirrored room, a replica of the apartment I was standing in already, and behind me. Inside the replica the door to my bedroom was open, the bed still a mess inside.
I slowly stepped forward into the second apartment, placing my key inside my shorts pocket as I did. As I cleared the doorway, the front door slammed shut behind me. The sudden sound caused me to jump, and I fell into the middle of the living room, staring back at the door. I quickly got back up to my feet and felt the same chill deepening in my spine as I stared at the corner.
In front of me was a man, wearing the same clothes as me, facing into the corner. His back was heaving as he gasped, but he made no move to turn around. I started to back away slowly, quietly keeping my distance from the strange figure. Before I got too far, he turned around, head tilting back and forth onto each shoulder as if trying to relieve a kink. As he turned to face me, I saw that the apartment was not the only thing that mirrored.
The strange figure looked exactly like me, save for a large smile spread wide across his face. He started to walk toward me, limbs strangely moving as I saw that he had a knife in his hands. I wasn't sure how he could walk as his knees and elbows almost seemed to bend backward, threatening to break as his body creaked and groaned. I said nothing as I stared at his twisted face, and whispers began to fill the quiet room.
"Uoy htiw secalp hctiws to teg I yllanif. Rehtorb teem ot teg ewyllanif.”
I tried to back away and find some way to escape, but I knew my apartment too well. There was nowhere to go. The grin on the other me's face kept spreading wider as he raised the knife above his head and continued to stumble strangely toward me with his crooked body. My hand felt around wildly, trying to find something, anything I could use to protect myself. Yet, I couldn't help but stay focused on his face, watching his contorted features stare back at me.
That was when I felt my corner lamp's cold, smooth shape. I didn't hesitate. I grabbed the lamp and swung it toward the other me as hard as possible, striking him in the chest. There was an audible gasp as I saw his chest sink in slightly, and I dropped the lamp on his body as it collapsed. He slashed at the air as I ran by, catching me in the ankle. I winced and kept running, ignoring the pain, ignoring his strange winded words, as I focused on escaping.
“Esimorp ruoy ekorb uoy. Desimorp uoy rehtorb nrut ym s`ti. Ereh kcab teg.”
I ignored the fact that the door was now facing the opposite direction again, and I could see that the keyhole was again in its correct position. I slammed the key inside and twisted it hard, breaking it off in the keyhole in my haste. I nearly screamed when I realized that the handle would still turn, and I entered my apartment, slamming the front door behind me. I locked the handle, threw the deadbolt across, and ran into the living room. I could already hear banging and screaming on the door as it bowed inward, flexing as the other me tried to break in.
I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife so that I could defend myself, and paused as I went back into the living room. The door was silent. I pulled out my phone and turned on selfie mode, placing it around the corner and staring at the door. Without a sound, I could see the lock on the doorknob twist open and slowly begin to turn, opening the door inward as it was just barely stopped by the deadbolt chain.
I could see his arm reach up toward the chain and claw at it, trying to loosen it so he could get inside. I dropped my phone and turned the corner, rushing to the front door and preparing to stab his arm when I froze. The door was locked tightly shut, with no sign that anyone had tried to enter just moments earlier. I went over and slowly opened the door, knife held close by, and peeked around the edge. It was the hallway to my apartment complex.
I glanced down and saw the key to my front door lying on the ground, two broken halves stuck together with some glue. I picked up the key, placed it into my pocket, and went back into my apartment. My mind was racing as I tried to understand what had happened. What was going to happen next.
I picked up my phone, glanced at the screen, and froze as I felt all the air escape my lungs. I had forgotten that my phone was still in selfie mode, and I was greeted with my face staring back at me.
Except it wasn't quite right. A wide grin spread across my cheeks, almost twisted up painfully as I seemed to whisper into the screen, but no sound could be heard. I dropped my phone and kicked it to the side. It was the other me, waiting...watching...laughing. I threw the door open to my apartment and left, locking it behind me as I did. I needed to get as far away from this place as possible.
As far away from me as possible.
About the author
Thomas Grey is an Albuquerque-based writer that grew up consuming horror novels from classic to obscure. He focuses on horror but wants to make your skin crawl more than anything. Visit r/readThomasGrey or his Vocal page for more.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters