Doppelganger

The woman who sits across from me is not my wife. She looks like my wife, she smells like my wife, her voice sounds just like my wife’s, she eats her breakfast just like my wife, and she feels just like my wife.

But I know she isn’t my wife.

There’s something in the eyes, something in the way they shoot around the room, avoiding me. It’s something in the way she speaks, how her tone flattens at the end of each sentence. There’s something not quite right in how she saunters across the floor, swinging her hips a little too wide; lifting her feet a little too far. I don’t know what that thing across the table is, but it’s not my wife.
And I’ve become increasingly convinced that it means to kill me…

The changes appeared over a year ago.

We had happily gone off camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The days were spent hiking forest paths, and at night we kept each other warm. Then one fateful afternoon we were separated in a pouring thunderstorm. I lost the path and started running through the trees, searching for my wife in the flashes of light and streaks of darkness. For hours I stumbled through the wilderness, hopelessly calling for her, refusing to admit that I was lost myself.

Suddenly, I burst through the undergrowth into a grove of tall oaks. The clouds broke and the moon spilled into the open copse, bathing it in silver light. My tired legs collapsed under me and I fell to my knees, whispering her name under my breath, “Sophie, Sophie where are you?”…

Suddenly a voice cut through the cold night air. “Danny, is that you?” She stood behind me, covered in the silver light looking like a marble statue. I rose to my feet to embrace her. We spent the night huddled together under the towering trees. The next morning, as we picked our way back to the trail, was the first time I noticed something wrong. She was leading the way, but she kept glancing over her shoulder at me, as if trying to judge my expression. She told me that she was worried about losing me again. At the time, that was enough of an excuse to set my mind at ease.

We managed to find the trail and return to our camp. The rest of the trip crept by as I felt an increasing sense of unease. Each time I looked at her, something new seemed a little off. The way she kept glancing back unnerved me until I insisted that I hike in front; but that was no better as I could feel her eyes boring into the back of my skull. I didn’t like how she inched slowly away from me as we sat around the campfire…

The situation only worsened when we returned home. The familiar setting served to exacerbate the subtle inconsistencies between the person in my house and the woman I married. Whenever I was with her she became quite and withdrawn, her once joyous smile was reduced to the mere facsimile of a wax model. I could feel her shiver when I drew close, and her skin tensed when I touched her. Worst of all, she never stopped staring. Whenever we were together and I was looking away she would cast a suspicious eye on me. Sometimes, I would catch her reflection and wheel around; she would glance away and avoid eye contact. With subtle questioning I tried to bring up these strange new habits of hers, but she always slipped away from an answer.

As the weeks passed, I felt more disconnected from Sophie than I ever had before. She had begun to avoid me, always ducking out of a room as soon as I entered it. The tension in the house was palpable. In the back of my head, I knew something was terribly wrong, but I couldn’t quite identify what it was. Then one evening, when she was out of town, I ran across a pile of photo albums. As I flipped through them a realization struck me. The more I stared at those old pictures of the Sophie I once knew, the more I grew convinced; the woman who had stumbled across me in the moonlit grove was not my wife…

She returned, and as she opened the door, I sat gazing at her. It didn’t make any sense, but the truth was obvious. Some dark magic that night had replaced my Sophie with a mysterious doppelganger, whose ultimate intentions I could not guess. The copy, the fake, threw another plastic smile at me then disappeared up the stairs. Her ceaseless gaze grew a hundred times more unbearable as I imagined what evil intentions lurked behind those hazel eyes. I doubled my covert observation of the thing, always keeping it in the corner of my vision, never letting it stay behind me. This is the hell I returned to everyday. And at night, I had to lie next to its curled form, not daring to sleep lest it strangle me in the darkness…

Thirteen months and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had begun to drink, which only served to intensify the creature’s odd behavior. The form of Sophie had taken to pacing the halls, moving from room to room in some enigmatic ritual. I was absolutely convinced that the thing meant to kill me. What else could that strange gaze mean as it peered around corners and through open doorways at my exposed back? I would turn and I would hear feet patter down the hall and a door slam; it was watching me - always watching me.

The thing and I stalked around the house in an absurd dance of scrutiny and evasion. The few times we were in the same room together became sessions of awkward silences and paranoid glares. By now, I was sure the creature knew I suspected it. I had to get rid of it or I would go mad.

If it didn’t kill me first…

My chance came from the creature itself. It had come down the stairs one night and talked through my wife’s lips of how it wanted to plant a row of trees in the backyard. I gazed into the copy of my wife’s eyes as it asked me to dig a trench to put the saplings in. With a struggled smile, I nodded and told her I would start right away. The horrible thing leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. I had to restrain myself from snapping its neck right there.

I spent the next several days digging the hole. It needed to be long and wide. And deep.

At night I locked myself in the study and planned. I prepared an alibi, I rehearsed my next steps. The plot was to lure the creature out to the pit, kill it, and bury the body. The next day I would file a missing persons report. When the cops came I would tell them that I had returned home to find Sophie missing. A few weeks later they would knock on the door and tell me, regretfully, that the search had been called off. I would cry and bawl and hold a memorial service for my wife. Then I would sell the house and move on with my life…

The trench was finished. My plan was ready. I slipped a knife into my pocket and walked inside. “Sophie! I finished digging; can you come down and tell me if the pit’s big enough?”

The thing appeared at the door and walked up to the pit. “Yeah, that looks like it’ll fit all the trees. Actually, you dug it a little deeper than I needed. Thanks, hon.”

“No problem” I replied, as I crept up behind her, reaching for the dagger in my coat. Suddenly, she swung around and hugged me.

“Thanks sweetie,” she beamed at me, “now then, would you like the honor of putting in the first tree?”

I turned to pick up one of the saplings, my hand creeping back towards my pocket, steeling myself for the task that lay ahead.

Then something heavy hit the back of my head. Stars exploded before my eyes as I fell down and down into a black nothingness…

I woke up. I was lying at the bottom of the pit. I tried to stand and realized I was bound head to foot in ropes. The thing crouched at the edge of the pit, a bloody shovel in her hand.

She glared down at me, “Good, you’re awake. Now, who or what the hell are you?”

“W-What? Honey, what’s going on? Why am I tied up?”

“Don’t call me honey. I don’t know what you are, but you’re not my husband. Last chance, ‘Daniel’, what the fuck are you?”

“Wha-? I’m Daniel McCormick; I’ve been married to Sophie McCormick for two years!”

“No. I was married to Daniel McCormick for one year. Then he and I went on a hike and got separated. He disappeared, and I stumbled across you, sobbing in the forest.”

“Oh my god, I swear it’s me! I thought that you wer-“

“No more bullshit. You think I haven’t noticed you staring at me this whole time? You think I didn’t notice all the weird shit you were doing? Every time I looked at you, I saw something wrong; you didn’t move right, you didn’t speak right. I saw the anger in your eyes. I tried telling myself it was all my imagination, but I realized something; you aren’t my husband, you’re just some horrible duplicate. I had to live with you for over a year! I had to fucking sleep next to you! It took me a long time to guess your intentions, but when I finally figured out that you were planning to kill me I had you dig this grave.”

“G-Grave?”

“Grave. I won’t ask again ‘Danny’; what the fuck are you and where’s my husband?”

“I am your husband, you bitch!”

“Fine.” She began to shovel the dirt back into the hole.

“Sophie! No! I-I’m your husband, you have to believe me! Let me out, this isn’t funny! Sophie, I’m Daniel McCormick!”

I tried to scream as the mud filled my mouth…

Sophie McCormick filled in most of the hole, then carefully planted the trees and laid sod across the bare earth. She went inside and washed the dirt off her hands. Then, she called the police and filed a missing persons report. When the cops came she told them that she had come home to find her husband missing. A few weeks later the cops knocked on the door, telling her that, regretfully, the search had been called off. She cried and bawled and held a memorial service for her husband. Then she sold the house and moved on with her life.

The saplings grew into tall and thick trees.


Author Information: Black Fedora
Story Title or Titles: Doppelganger
Original Source: Unknown. Added to SCP-Wiki by Kain Pathos Crow
Date: 23 Aug 2008
Link: http://www.scp-wiki.net/doppleganger

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