Doppelgänger

Katy has always lived in York. She knows it's busy streets like the back of her hand. So when strange events begin to unfold, and the very streets she knows as home begin to turn against her, she begins to realise that no matter how familiar a place is, it will always hide secrets... and some of those secrets are staring you right in the eye.

(For the City of Bones competition)

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3. Mirror Image

Slowly, Katy’s eyelids fluttered open. The cut on her head throbbed painfully, and it took a moment to realise where she was: her own room. Thank God. It must have just been a dream. But her relief was short lived- if it was just a dream, why the hell was her head bleeding?

      Panic rekindled, she flew down the stairs, and found her father at the kitchen table. His nails were bloody, he had a black eye, but other than confused, he seemed fine.

      “Dad! Are you okay?”

      “Yes, yes, I’m fine. I just… I just had the strangest dream last night… I saw, I saw myself, staring at me. Then this black fog came and dragged me away. Next thing I know, I’m waking up in bed. But look.” He displayed his ragged nails.

      “I know dad. But you’ve got to believe me. It wasn’t a dream. It happened to me too. Look, I’ve got to go. I’ll be back, I swear.” Then she darted out of the house without another word.

      She knew something was wrong, but nothing could have prepared her for the shock that awaited her outside. The familiar streets of York were littered with bodies. Dead bodies. Above her, the sky was blood red, and the windows of every house she saw were firmly boarded up. On closer inspection of one particularly mangled body, she saw what looked suspiciously like bite marks in the flesh, as though something had been eating the poor person. Overcome by nausea, Katy turned away. This place, it looked like York, her home, but she knew, from some deep-buried gut instinct, that it wasn’t. And she needed answers. It soon became apparent where she needed to go, so trying her best not to look at the bodies, or the small dark shapes that crept among them, she ran as fast as she could to the alleyway where she had been taken.

      Thankfully, she found it quickly, and fear lacing every inch of her body, she stepped gingerly inside. There he was- the homeless man! She took a step towards him, then jumped.

      “Who’s there?! C’mon, let me see you!”

      “Erm, I’m here.”

      Then man peered suspiciously at Katy through narrowed eyes. “Aha! A girl! Do I know you?”

      “Well, I think you saw me last night… Here in this alley.”

      “Nope, that’s impossible, I was down the pub last night, hiding from them. What do you want girl? I ‘aven’t got no money!”

      “But sir, I was here last night, and so were you! I was dragged away by this, this thing! Like black smoke, but it was alive!”

      “Oh.” Sighed the man. “Oh.” He shook his head, then chuckled a little sadly. “You were swapped.”

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