Mirror Image

Run, he told himself. Run as fast as you can, and don’t look back.

It was a cold night, and his skin prickled beneath the protection of his dark blue hooded jacket. Dry leaves crunched under the soles of his Vans, and he could see his breath steaming from his nostrils and mouth.

Where was she?

He fretted, chewing on his bottom lip with worry. The right side was bruised and already starting to sting.

Had he finally succeeded in losing her?

It’s too early for relief, he cautioned himself. Yet as he surveyed the still, twilit woods, it did seem likely that she had given up pursuit.

“Daniel….”

His heartbeat picked up its place and he backed into a tree, looking around frantically for the source of the voice. It didn’t seem to come from any particular direction.

Daniel began to hyperventilate. His heart was drumming so hard that he thought he was going to pass out. He imagined small, white hands closing around his throat, choking him…

“There you are.” A girl popped out from behind him with a mischievous smile. “I thought you’d left me behind!” She reached out and gripped his slack hands with her tiny, cold ones while peering up at him.

“What’s wrong?” She finally asked, looking concerned. For a few seconds, Daniel was mesmerized, staring at the girl who was a smaller yet almost exact replica of himself. If only not for her longer hair and more elfin features, she would have been his mirror image.

“Nothing,” he mumbled. “We’d better get going. It’ll be really dark in a few minutes.”

And we don’t want that…

“Mmkay,” she answered, looking slightly confused. “Are you really all right?”

“Yeah. Don’t be silly, why wouldn’t I be?” He drew her close and ruffled her dark hair, then discreetly wiped the blood spatters at the back of her neck with his palm. He put his hands in his pockets. “Let’s go.”

They trudged home, silent and contemplative.

Damn, thought Daniel. It’s impossible to kill her.

✝✝✝

“Danieeeeeeel,” her voice started as a soft whine and rose to a wailing shriek. “It hurts! Stop it, please! It really hurts!”

Scared that someone might hear, he dove on top of her and slammed his hand over her mouth to muffle her cries. “Shut up, Cassie!” he hissed. “It’ll feel better in a minute, I promise!”

She shook her head violently, frightened tears streaming in hot rivulets down her cheeks. A pool of red had started to form at her stomach, darkening and staining the pale skin. The blood spread out in a crimson bloom, pooling on her sharply jutting hipbones and spilling over to the sheets.

“Don’t cry, sweetheart,” he whispered, loosening his grip on her and kissing her damp forehead. “Don’t be scared. I’m here. I’ll always be here. It’s going to be over in a few minutes anyway.”

“Why are you doing this?” she sobbed.She looked so beautiful and innocent, not like the monster she really was. It angered Daniel to see this…this abomination take over the body of his beloved twin sister and use it to wreak havoc.

“Because you’re not Cassie, you demon,” he said through gritted teeth. “Cassie is dead.”

“It’s me!” she cried. “Please stop it, Daniel. Don’t you love me?”

“I loved my twin,” he answered. “Not you.”

Sensing she was weakened sufficiently, he got up slowly and reached for the bottle of dead man’s blood on the nightstand. He dipped his index finger into the dark liquid and began to draw the ancient sigils on Cassie’s bare flesh.

Every time the blood made contact with the girl, her skin sizzled. Her restrained body reared in pain, and she screamed so loudly that the window panes splintered.

“You’re insane!” Cassie yelled at him. “Look at what you’re doing to me!”

Undeterred, Daniel snatched a leather-bound book from under the bed and flipped the onionskin pages until he found the particular spell he was looking for. When he found it, he stood over his twin, who was chained to the bed and was lashing out at him, trying to free herself.
He began to recite the Latin spell.

Cassie didn’t drop dead.

“I told you! I’m Cassie!” Her voice broke. “Please believe me, Daniel. Your spell would have worked if I were…if I were something else, right?”

Daniel backed away, a trickle of sweat sliding down from his forehead. His eyes were wide with fear and his uncertainty was palpable.

“I don’t know,” he whispered. “I don’t know!”

He really didn’t.

✝✝✝

Daniel tossed and turned in bed. He couldn’t believe how badly he’d messed up earlier. A quick glance at the clock told him that it was almost three in the morning.

It was an unusually bright night. The sky was lit up with millions of pinpricks of light, and the bloated moon sat, immobile, to the west. The wooded area around the house was illuminated and the bare trees cast inky shadows on the leaf-strewn ground.

He threw the blanket off his legs and kicked it to a corner.

“I fucked up really, really badly today,” he murmured to himself, putting an arm over his eyes.

The patter of light footsteps outside his door made him sit up in bed. His hands slid under the pillow, automatically feeling for the knife hidden beneath.

“Danny? It’s me,” Cassie’s small voice pierced his train of thought. “Can I sleep here? I’m scared.”

The door opened with a creak, and his twin sister stepped into a swath of pale moonlight. Her bare toes curled and uncurled in apprehension. She bit her lip. “Please, Danny?”

Daniel exhaled in annoyance. “Fine, but try not to squirm too much, okay?”

“Okay,” she answered meekly.

Cassie climbed into bed with him and fluffed up the pillows before lying down. They were both silent for a few minutes. After the awkwardness had passed, Daniel cleared his throat and looked away shamefacedly.
“Look, I’m sorry for what happened today,” he said in a hoarse voice. “It’s just that I saw you kill that man, and I thought…I thought something had taken over you.”

Cassie said nothing, but she turned to him and wrapped her slender arms around his waist, burying her face in her twin brother’s shoulder. “It’s okay,” she answered in a muffled voice.

He hugged her back and patter her on the head. “I promise I’ll believe you next time.”

He felt her lips stretch in a smile. She giggled.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” said Cassie. Her arms tightened their grip on him, and he could not twist them off no matter how much he tried.

“Cassie! Oh, fuck.”

His twin sister raised her head and smiled at him. Her eyes were black as pitch and in her mouth were rows and rows of razor teeth.

“Oh, hello, Daniel. I didn’t notice you were here.” She placed a palm on his stomach, and felt a jolt of white-hot pain spread through his body. Cassie tossed his limp body back on the pillows unceremoniously. She tilted his head sideways, exposing his neck, which was throbbing with pulse.

“You know what? I’m going to have so much fun killing you,” she whispered, before sinking her teeth into his throat.

 

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