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Doppelgänger

By Ryan McNamee All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Horror

Doppelgänger

They say my family is cursed. That the children of house Amseli are fated to die young. A curse put on us because of a vile ancestor who was said to study alchemy or made a deal with Satan. My grandfather was said to have moved us to New England to escape our fate. I never truly believed such things. Coincidence becomes curses to the superstitious, after all my own father died when he was sixty-six years old. While not olden, he was no young man either. What was undisputed however was that there is very little left of my clan. A mix of deaths and a lack of children meant that there was few who could carry on the name. I did my part by marrying young and having a child ten springs past, young Walter. He was the pride of my life and his mother Olivia my joy, but a number of events recently have made me reconsider my stance on curses.

Britain and it’s war against Napoleon have spilled over to New England. American Sailors have begun to be imprisoned as they crossed the Atlantic. The situation meant I had little time to spend at home with my family. While traveling to trade meetings and seeing to the concerns of ship captains my mind longed to see my wife and son. That is why when I first saw the visage of my son that I blamed it on my own longing. While speaking to a captain at some shabby looking docks I saw the boy, chasing away birds without a care in the world. The young lad turned and looked me in the eyes. He more than just resembled my son, but looked exactly like him. I inadvertently called out his name but instead of responding, he turned and ran into a crowd of sailors. I gathered my senses, knowing that I was many miles from home and that could not have been my son. Longing for home even more I hurried my work along.

I returned home to find my son already wasting away with consumption. His death was slow, I put all I owned on his recovery. Doctor’s saw him weekly and nurses changed his bloody rags daily. His once lively room filled with toys and clean sheets had become dark filled with a terrible smell. Family and friends prayed daily for the boy but it was to no avail. I could no longer recognize my own son when he passed away his body barely skin and bone. We gave the boy a quick Christan burial for fear of further spread of the disease. My life soon turned into one of despair. I was filled with immeasurable grief. I understood many children die of disease, that many lower class family had many children in hopes a few may live to adulthood. But Walter was my child, my heir. Olivia was stronger than I. She grieved, yet managed to wake and do the daily work the household needed. I stopped working entirely, I could no longer bring myself to leave the home. Locking myself away for long hours in the study.

I remembered the little boy I saw not long before my son’s death. The uncanny resemblance. I know the folklore of the doppelgänger. An ill omen of death or tragedy. I could not help but wonder if my sighting of the creature truly an omen. “Was it a messenger of ill tidings or a cause?” Such thoughts filled my mind. I slowly began to withdraw further and further from the outside world. At first outsiders left me alone, giving me space to grieve. Soon however they left me alone for I was an eccentric. I cared not however, I did not care if what remained of my family name became mud. I spent a year studying the unknown. Gathering books of folklore, alchemy, and other knowledge deemed unchristian. I barely spoke to Olivia over the course of the year. Her housework grows as we had to let servants go. I could feel her growing resentment of me but I refused to change course.

As the anniversary of my son’s death neared I found something. A ritual to see my son again. It was part of a darkened unnamed tome sent to me by a cousin. She believed the tome had been apart of the family long since we moved to this country. I waited till the witching hour on the night of the anniversary of my son’s death. Walking out of sight of my home and neighbors, I spilled the blood of a cat that hunted mice around the home and called upon forces that should not be named. I felt my heart race as fires burned and I spoke words I barely know the meaning of. Then the world seemed silent as I finished. Before me stood a little boy sharing the image of my Walter when he was last healthy. I cried tears of joy and shame. I know that this was not my little boy, only his image, yet seeing it made me feel happy. I had summoned my son’s doppelgänger for the hope of seeing him once more.

The doppelgänger did not acknowledge me at first. It made no effort to speak. As I stood crying for what seemed like ages it finally turned to me in with my son’s face. It frowned at me before its shape started to change. Starting with it’s eyes it soon took the shape of my Olivia. It started to cry as it walked off into the wilderness. I stood motionless as it walked off. I found myself unable to chase after it as realization hit me. Olivia would soon die as well. I quickly ran home but as I approached I saw a glow in sky. My home was burning. Firegangs had already started to arrive to put out the flame but argued over which gang would put it out, only the winner would receive payment. My neighbors had to hold me back from rushing into the flame myself. It was some time before the flame had finally stopped that they found what remained of my wife. The fire had started in my study where I left a candle lit and quickly spread with the aid of dusty old books. My wife was trapped in the bedroom before the smoke suffocated her. In every sense I had caused her death.

The brick home managed to stay standing. Perpetual insurance spared me some cost but the damage was great. I now stay at a nearby Inn seemingly unsure what to do with myself. However I need not fear for my future. One night I saw myself having a drink at a lonely corner of the inn. I fear I have not long left to live myself. I have written a Will, I will leave what is left of Insurance money to the medical schools looking to cure consumption. The land will be divided up to what little remains of my family name with a warning. I feared that my family is indeed cursed, and I acting just like some long ancestor that started the curse had only renewed it. I can only wish any related by this cursed blood or married into it, better luck then I.

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