This week's challenge from Flash Fiction Friday was to write about a Doppelganger.
We all like to think we are unique, but how many times has someone said to you “You remind me of…” or “You look just like…”? With more and more humans on the planet, it does become increasingly probable that out there is someone who is nothing short of your exact duplicate (even if you aren’t an identical twin). In fiction and folklore, this notion takes on many forms, such as stories of mistaken identity, evil twins, clones, body doubles, shapeshifting aliens or demons, surgically altered spies, and paranormal doppelgangers.
Prompt: Write a story in which your protagonist encounters some sort of double or doppelganger.
Word limit: 1,200 words
Deadline: Wednesday, March 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET
I did another Portal
story, just to play with this concept more. It went over the limit, at 1340 words, but I
was having too much fun.
Mary grabbed her jacket and crawled through the doggie door. Little Danny had crawled though it only a minute ago but was somehow not on the other side, not waiting for her in their fenced in and very bare back yard. He'd vanished.
She crawled into the dim light of a forest- leaves crunching under her, wind rustling through the trees, and the sound of a horse retreating into the distance. She looked behind her, at the faint outline of a door in a big boulder. She pushed it open a bit and could see her kitchen floor on the other side. This is crazy, she thought, as she stood and brushed off her hands, She couldn't explain what was happening here. She'd been a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy as a teenager, and it seemed now like she was actually in one of those stories. It seemed crazy, but wherever or whenever this was, all she knew was that her one year old had crawled into here and disappeared.
She called out, "Danny!"
She turned. A man was staring at her, a tall, rugged, good looking man, with long hair and a beard, wearing rough homespun looking pants, an over tunic and leather boots, with a small bow slung over his shoulder. He looked slightly confused - understandably she supposed, as she in turn was dressed in faded jeans, a wool jacket, sneakers and a t-shirt she and Danny had finger painted on.
"Have you seen a baby?" she said.
"Yes, I did, Milady " he said. "Just a few minutes ago. Cute little thing- I sent him back to your manor house with Ulric. I wanted to keep him with me, but Ulrich said, no Brom, you can't just wander back with him, we need to get him to somewhere safe and find out who he is. They should be there by now- would you like me to take you back?"
For some reason this Brom had her confused with someone else, but if it got her back to Danny, she'd go along with pretty well anything. After all, she'd already accepted a huge forest in her back yard. She figured she must be a person of some importance, judging by Brom's deference and his reluctance to comment on her unusual costume.
"Certainly Brom, lead on," she said.
On the walk back she encouraged Brom to start talking about local affairs, and kept her own responses to nods and brief words of encouragement. From his description, and the forest they walked through, this seemed like a version of Sherwood Forest, some sort of pre-industrial era. She was thinking maybe she was just back in the past, before her small town had sprung up, yet all this milady talk was out of place for North America. Then when Brom started talking about problems with magic spells and that year's harvest, she decided not to jump to any conclusions. What seemed clear was that she was a local noblewoman, running a small but prosperous holding, well-liked, single and childless.
She'd find out more in a few minutes, as it was becoming clear to her that she would soon be meeting herself.
Brom brought her right to the manor house door, where she was greeted by a very confused maid-servant.
"But milady, I though you were upstairs? And these clothes ..."
"Thea, don't bother milady," said Brom.
"Thank you Thea," Mary said. "It's alright, I'll just go on up."
She headed up the main staircase, picked the largest set of doors, and knocked. She could hear the sound of a baby crying - her baby.
She pushed the door open, and confronted herself, dressed in a long gown, with hair done up in an intricate bun, sitting with Danny on her lap.
"Danny!" Mary said.
Her son looked at her, then the woman holding him, then started crying and struggling to get away.
The woman stared at her. "You're me," she said. She looked down at the struggling baby. "Is this, is he yours?"
"Yes, he is," said Mary as she rushed over. When she picked Danny up, he immediately stopped crying. She pointed to her t-shirt. "These are even his hand prints."
The woman's face fell, and she started to cry.
"Oh no," said Mary. She bent down, still holding Danny, and gave the woman hug. "What's the matter?"
"I always wanted a son," said the woman. "We tried, for two years, but both were stillborn. Then last year my husband disappeared. When Ulric arrived with what seemed an abandoned baby I dared to think ..."
"I'm so sorry," said Mary. "Here, hold Danny while you answer some questions. Such as where this is, and why you look exactly like me - don't you find that strange?"
"It's not that unusual," said the woman. "Sorry, I'm forgetting my manners. I'm Malkyn. And you are?"
"Would you like me to ring for some tea?" said Malkyn.
"Thank you," said Mary. "Not just yet, until we figure out what is happening. Thea seemed quite confused about there being two of us."
"It's not unheard of in my land," said Malkyn, "that people meet their twin here, or elsewhere."
She looked at Mary thoughtfully. "Do you remember passing through some sort of portal?"
"Yes, through a doggie door actually," said Mary. "You have these?"
"Our dogs don't have their own doors," said Maykyn, "You do come from a strange land. Tell me more."
They tried to explain their own worlds to each other, with some confusion and a lot of laughter. In spite of the differences between the two, they were soon relaxing together like old friends.
"But what of this doorway," said Mary. "You say know about them? There are others?”"
"There have been a few of them over the years," said Markyn, "Only some people are able to pass back through them, and meet their twin. There is some disagreement as to whether the twins cause the portals or vice versa, but at any rate once we sense one forming we try to get to it in time to close it up.”
“Well, this one seems different,” said Mary. “I think the previous house owners lost a baby through it. Plus Danny, my dog, and I can all get through this one.”
“Oh dear,” said Markyn. “I'll have to report this one right away.”
"Not until we get back," said Mary.
"Ah yes, the two of you," said Malkyn. "As Lady of the Manor, my word is law here, but I won't hold you. I couldn't separate a mother from her child." She looked down at the baby, now asleep in her arms. "I will miss him though. And you, my friend Mary."
Mary looked at her thoughtfully, and contemplated her life back home. She would be cleaning, cooking, having tea with the ladies, listening to their gossiping as they complained about what to them were huge events, but what Mary called 'First World problems'.
"What if we came to visit you?" she said. "Just for a few hours at a time. Is there some way your wizard can leave this portal thing open for just me and Danny? That is if you want us here."
"Of course," said Markyn. "I'd love to have you visit. If you told me when, I could even have someone meet you at the gate. I'll have to check with Merlin, but I'm sure she can set up the portal for that."
"She? Merlin?" said Mary.
"Yes, our magician. They are always called that, why?"
"Nothing," said Mary. She looked at her watch. "Drat, I have to run, I need to get dinner ready for my husband."
"You have no servants?" asked Markyn. "Would you like me to send Thea back with you?"
"No, I'm fine," said Mary. "I have those machines I mentioned to help me, and I only cook for the three of us. Thea does seem nice, but I don't think she'd be able to handle my world."
"You're right," said Markyn. "Did you see the poor thing's face when she brought the tea in?"
They agreed Mary would return in a few days, then, after tearful hugs, Markyn sent her and Danny off behind Ulrich on his horse.
Soon Mary and her son were crawling back in through the doggie door, to the sound of the oven timer going off. Mary barely had time to change Danny's diaper and set the table before her husband came in the front door.
"Hey, it's me," he said. "Supper ready?"
"Just serving it now,” she said.
He gave her a quick hug then sat down. “How was your day? Did you manage to get out for a walk?"
"Yes we did," she said. "We even made some new friends."