The Doppelgänger: A Psychological Thriller

BOOK: The Doppelgänger: A Psychological Thriller
4.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





Copyright © 2016 by P. Wish.

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

For information contact :

[email protected]

Cover design by James of Humble Nations

Interior formatting by Elijah Toten of Totencreative

First Edition: March 2016


Fifteen years ago

His footsteps clicked on the dusty floor. The sounds grew louder. Darcy held onto her mother. Their tired, dusty bodies drew so close that their breaths mingled; she felt the hot puffs of air on her face. Their skins touched.

“If something happens to me-” her mother began in a whisper. Her eyes were vulnerable.

The shadow solidified into a human being, Dr. Cleo. His face was pale. His thin fingers held his lab coat pocket, curving around a hard object.

Darcy’s eyes were held captive in his blazing blue ones.

“Where is the evidence?” he asked.

“It’s somewhere you’ll never find,” her mother said.

“You can’t say I didn’t give you a chance.”

“Let them go. Why are you doing this?”

“Exposing this scandal will bring nothing but more trouble.”

“I’m not the only one who has stakes in this game.”

Cleo drew the revolver out of his pocket. It gleamed like a piece of silver jewelry. Darcy choked her screams. He had pointed it at her mother.

“I’m giving you another chance,” he said. “Hand the evidence over.”

“Let her go,” her mother bargained. She held tightly to Darcy. “She has nothing to do with this.”

“She knows too much,” Dr. Cleo said. “She’s useful for the experiments.”

Her mother’s grasp grew so tight that it was cutting through her skin. Darcy felt her mother’s pain vividly. It seeped into her skin.

“Don’t you dare!” Darcy’s mother screeched.

“It’s too late. There’s no point hanging on,” he said. “Hand the evidence over.”

“I will never-”

She didn’t finish the last words. He shot her. The bullet cut through the air. The sound was sudden like a bomb. It went into her mother’s heart. Blood poured over Darcy’s hands.

“Mom, mom!” Darcy was breathless. Her mother’s grip weakened. Her body collapsed to the floor. The blood poured out and stained the grey concrete floor.

“Mom!” Darcy shrieked. Darcy shook her body violently. There was no point. She was dead. She would never come back. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks. Her arms were covered in blood. Dr Cleo clicked his tongue. His lean form merged with the shadows and cries.

The patients in the rooms next to her screamed. The gunshot had created the chaos. The alarms began to ring. A tall, broad-shouldered man walked to the room. He opened the door. Darcy would’ve run, but her legs were paralyzed. All she saw was her mother, lying dead on the floor. Her arms were covered in blood.

A tall, broad shouldered man walked toward the room. He opened the door and walked in. He approached the fifteen-year-old Darcy. She moved away. He caught her. She tried to break free of his arms, but they were strong. He picked her up as if she were a mouse and carried her out of the room. The horror was sealed behind the closed doors forever.

Alarms pierced the air. A short, dark figure emerged from the King’s Park Asylum. She was running. Running for her life.

Her breathless silhouette shortened as it approached a wide area of swampy land. The slippery sludge threatened to expose her. Darcy pushed and dragged her feet across the damp soil that extended out and around her like molten slime. Her blue jeans had turned a dirty brown. She heard pursuing footsteps in the distance. The sludge made a bubbling sound. Darcy didn’t turn back. They were behind her.

The light of the full moon illuminated the path ahead. The sludge tripped her. She fell. Her legs were paralyzed with fear. Her arms felt like they were made of iron, weighing down her tired body. The trees rustled in the violent wind. Her trackers’ pounding footsteps came closer. It ignited a fight and flight response in her. She picked herself up, her breathless lungs thudding against the wall of her ribs. The night has just begun.

Darcy dragged her heavy legs toward the concrete road. There were no cars on the road; she knew why. She couldn’t scream. She couldn’t call. They would find her. She observed the dark forest across the road. For tall shadows emerged behind her. She ran into the forest. They followed her.

She ran past the low shrubs and tall trees. The branches brushed against her skin, tearing her jeans. The fresh wounds exposed her skin. The swamp smell soil mingled with sweat. Her legs trembled, ready to collapse. She wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. But, she couldn’t; they would find her. They would catch her and take her back to the asylum.

Sharp screams rang in her ears; footsteps were behind her. The sounds mixed into a toxic cocktail of near-death messages. Then, in the middle of it all, she heard a gunshot. It pierced through the cacophony. Her heart ceased beating.

Her fingers traced the curve of her arm. A slimy substance wet her fingers. She looked at it and saw that poured from it. She wrapped her right palm over her left arm and limped deeper into the woods. The trail of twigs and leaves winded into oblivion. The image grew hazier. The trees stood like ladders to heaven.

Just a little more. She needed to walk a little more. Her feet carried her in a direction different from the men. She felt oxygen evaporate from her brain. Her belly growled for attention. Sweat ran down her dirty face. Just a little more. She needed to walk just a little more.

The sounds of bats and wolves grew distant. The asylum was distant. The dampness condensed into a chill. Darcy stood at the main road. She took a step to run. A car sped toward her. The lights got brighter.

At its brightest point, the lights began to fade, then turned into eternal darkness.

Chapter 1

It was that dream again. Darcy opened her eyes. She saw the grey ceiling, staring down at her. A hazy image of her mother’s face floated in her mind. She blinked. It was gone.

She pushed the duvet away. Beads of sweat formed on her neck and spine. She sat up, oblivious to the sound of the alarm clock. Jagged breaths ricocheted against her damp skin.

She silenced the alarm clock and got out of the bed.

Within an hour, she stood at the platform, waiting for the next train. She sighed. The platform was crowded. Her body pricked with consciousness. Everybody was looking at her. Their eyes pretended to look away, but they were thinking of her. They knew. They knew who she was. The buzzing of the crowd intensified her heartbeat. She struggled to breathe. They were everywhere. They were all looking at her. Each one of them.

A  train emerged. The crowd began to move. Monday morning rush hour was on. Darcy hurried into the crowded coach. A river of people followed. She held the plastic rod for support and stood near the door. It closed. The train moved.

She got off at Belmont and heaved a sigh of relief. People gushed out like water out of the train. Darcy’s small feet clicked on the floor as he walked out of the station. She inhaled the oxygen, letting the tension dissolve and waited for the Red Line.

Darcy got off at Chicago. By the time she was out of the L station, the crowd dissipated into the wide roads. There was more space. She inhaled the air as she made her way down the pavement to the Lewis Library.

The open sky arched over her head. It was another grey day- so typical of Chicago. The September chill made its way through her woolen scarf. She shivered for a moment before turning her gaze to the small boutiques and shops which lined the boulevard. Inside one of them, she caught a momentary glance of a mother scolding her daughter. Her eyes turned misty for a second. Fifteen years had passed since her mother’s death. Tears stung her eyes lined with mascara. She paced down the concrete street and brushed them away. She needed to forget. She had to forget. But, she couldn’t. The venom was part of her bloodstream. It was a part of her. The Darcy, the woman who lived now, was an empty shell. An empty shell filled with memories of fifteen years ago.

Her eyes turned to the muted television screen that played inside the shop window.  Bile rose in her throat. His repulsive face flashed on the television screen. His lips curved into a crooked smile. Her jaw muscles tightened. Her fists clenched into a ball. She wanted to smash the TV. The sharp sound of one of the construction workers shouting distracted her.  Darcy turned to the television screen embedded on the wall. The news played in all its glory. 

“Ambrosia invents wonder drug.” The slogan flashed across the TV screen.

Then, they showed his disgusting face. Crow’s feet lined his eyes. His pale skin was thin as paper. His small, marble blue eyes were more penetrating, sunk deeper into his head. He smiled, unconsciously flashing his uneven, yellow teeth.

In the last fifteen years, Ambrosia had become a pharmaceutical giant, unlike any other. It was one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. His ugly dream had come true. 

Darcy spat on the street. A passer-by glared at her. Her hands slid over her chest, trying to pacify her violent heart. Veins pounded on the side of her forehead. She clenched her fists and reminded herself that she was in public. Her eyes moved to the time displaying on her phone.

9:00 AM. Damn! She was running late.

She rushed past the shop and crossed the street. 

The beige building restored her sense of balance. She examined the front of the multi-storied building that stood on Pearson Street. The name of the library was embossed on top of the entrance in black letters. Two plants in square, beige stone pots framed the entrance. Ten years ago, she was a stranger in the city. Those days were long gone. Now, Chicago was her home. 

She climbed the flight of white marble stairs to reach the library. At 9:15 on Monday morning, the library was quiet. Most students were too hung over to pay a visit to the library. She smiled. Rows of books sat in grey shelves. She made her way to the Susan, the library director’s room. 

“Morning,” she said, bursting into the room. Susan’s room was more of a shared room. Her actual room was on the second floor. This one was a common room attached to a kitchenette. Susan and Jillian turned around. 

“Morning Darcy,” Susan replied in a sullen tone. “The weather’s depressing as usual.” 

“She’s feeling blue,” Jillian said with a bright smile. “How was your weekend?” 

“It was all right,” Darcy said, hanging her coat on the stand. She took off her scarf and looked at Jillian. The other woman’s bright green eyes shone with excitement. She was an intern. That was why she was so excited. In ten years, she’d be like the rest of them. Bored. 

“What are you doing today?” Darcy asked. 

“Jillian’s sorting books, I’m working on the new collection on Chinese music, and you’re helping the students at the reception today. Jean wasn’t feeling well so we don’t have anybody at the reception.” Susan said.

“That’s all right. I don’t mind.” Darcy asked.

“Did you hear back from Acquisitions about the new book Dr. Simpson recommended?” Susan asked.

“Not yet,” Darcy said. “That book is difficult to find.”

“I’m sure they’ll find it. They always do.” Susan said.

She walked to do the door, patting Darcy’s shoulder on the way out. Darcy sighed as Jillian followed Susan out of the room, letting the door shut behind them. Darcy took a moment to organize her bag before heading out of the room.

Darcy walked to the washroom first. She looked at herself in the mirror and moaned. She had gained a few pounds over the weekend. A pint size tub of Ben & Jerry’s hadn’t done wonders for her waistline. She mentally made a note to watch her diet.

The reminder was washed away by her next thought. Her hair looked fine. She touched up some powder and re-applied her lipstick. She looked better now. Color had returned to her blanched face. Her pale lips were a bright pink. She continued to study her reflection in the mirror.

A sharp sound startled her. Darcy’s face crumbled as the mirror cracked. Piece by piece, the fragments of her broken face fell into the sink. Darcy’s eyes met the shards that collected in the sink. They were sharp and dangerous. A stream of running water poured over them. She summoned a heavy breath.

She looked into the sink. The golden box of compact powder in her hands slipped between her fingers and fell. It broke open. Shards of broken glass buried it. A brick of beige powder broke and dissolved with the running water. The stream of water carried it down the drain.

Her hands shook. Darcy breathed jaggedly. She left the box of powder in the sink and ran out. Her footsteps stomped on the hard floor. The noise exacerbated her panic. Ignoring the distant sound of water, Darcy took large strides toward Susan’s office. Her hands clutched the railing for support. A soft noise broke. Darcy turned.

She saw a human figure in the distance. The figure grew closer. Darcy’s heartbeat hastened. The cleaning lady inched closer. Darcy backed off. Her legs thundered down the flight of stairs as fast as they could.

She descended the stairs. Her heels clicked on the slippery marble stairs. She tripped. Her body landed on the floor. The edge of the staircase scratched her hand. She heard the lady’s footsteps. They grew louder. Darcy picked herself up quickly. She needed to cover her exposed face.

“Are you all right?” the lady asked. Her voice was soft. Darcy turned around jerkily.

“Uh…yeah…I’m fine…” Darcy said in a broken voice. “I’ll leave.”

She stood up. She strutted away quickly. The cleaner’s questioning gaze made her back heat with embarrassment. She went in through the door.

Darcy took a moment to calm herself. She breathed heavily. She filled the cup with some water and gulped it down. Her heartbeat eased. Someone knocked the door, and the door opened.

“You aren’t at the main desk?” Susan asked. Mild annoyance colored her voice.

“I came to get some water,” Darcy said. “I’m going.”

She walked out of the room, avoiding Susan’s gaze.

The main desk was the noisiest part of the library. The quiet surroundings made her drowsy. She placed herself on the support desk and turned on the computer. Eight more hours to go. Her eyes remained fixed on the needles of the clock that refused to budge. She yawned.

“Excuse me,” a soft voice said. 

“Yes? How may I help you?” She turned to look at the questioner.

“I don’t know what my library PIN is,” a young girl said. The five-feet tall young girl looked barely old enough to be in middle school, let alone a university student. She wore a mini skirt with a pair of woolen leggings and a grey cardigan. She flashed her student ID card at Darcy. 

“Thank you,” Darcy said, receiving it from her. She typed in her student ID. Darcy noticed that more students appeared.

“Did you check out that blog?”

Darcy looked up. Two girls were walking past the support desk. Darcy kept her eyes on the computer screen, but she surreptitiously eavesdropped.

“Which one?”

“The My Diary thing,” the first girl said. 

“Yeah,” the other replied. “It’s strange.”

“I can’t wait for her next post. I like the tone of the blog.”

“I wonder who the writer is.”

“She’s disturbed,” the other one chimed. “She hates red.”

Darcy’s ears stood up. She scribbled the words ‘My Diary’ on a post-it note. She copied the PIN on another and tore it off.

The girls walked away. Darcy looked up. The petite girl looked at her.

“Here’s your PIN,” she said, handing her a piece of paper. The student thanked her and walked away. Her eyes turned to the computer screen. The students’ conversation replayed in her mind.

Darcy searched for the blog online. She found it and clicked on it. A black page came up on the screen. White words ran across the page like grains of sugar. Darcy read the first post. 

Dear diary,

Today I want to write about sticky toffee pudding. I know it’s not the most exciting thing to write, about but I love it. It may sound strange but Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food is the bait that has gotten me through the boring week. 

If you don’t already know, it’s my favorite dessert. In fact, it’s my favorite dish. Period. I’ve been craving it all winter. I meant to go on a diet this week, but it is not happening. With all that sticky toffee pudding lying in my fridge, there’s no way I’m eating carrot sticks and humus. 

Darcy looked at the sticky toffee pudding that was in her stomach and smiled to herself. A photo of the sticky toffee pudding came up on the screen. So the writer bought the M&S one. Darcy had eaten the same one over the weekend. She scrolled through the page. 

The author of the blog was a relatable thirty-something who lived in a big city. She bookmarked the page, forgetting that she was in the university library. 

“You’re chirpy today,” Jillian remarked, creeping up from behind her. 

“I discovered this new blog…” Darcy said. “It’s kinda funny.”

“I’m sure it is since you forgot about lunch.” she said.

“What time is it?” Darcy asked, checking her phone.



“Already? Is that you?” Bella chided. “Usually, you’re the one to complain about how slow the clock hands move.”

“When you do this job for eight years, you’ll understand,” Darcy said. She stood up.

Jillian looked at a group of students standing at the entrance. Her eyes were bright with nostalgia.

“I was a college student ages ago,” Darcy said looking at the batch of fresh faces who can come to tour the library.

“Come on, thirty isn’t that old,” Jillian said.

“I like your optimism.”

The day ended, and Darcy made her way home. The platform flooded with people. It was rush hour. She almost dozed off at the station. The humdrum of daily life sang a lullaby.

She walked out of Damen. She breathed with relief as the people disappeared. The cold enveloped her. In the distance, she heard train types sharply hit against the track. They brought memories of the morning. She turned away.

The streets were dark. It wasn’t just the cold that made the hair on her body stand up. Though Lincoln Square was one of the safer areas in Chicago, she could never be too sure. She pressed her fingers over her bag, feeling the edges of her pepper spray. With her hands on the bag, she walked through the boulevard, counting the number of German shops for the Nth time. Merz Apothecary was the first she crossed. One minute later, she had lost count of the shops.

As she walked further, the residential part of the neighborhood emerged. The dim street light cast its glow on her. She looked up. The light grew brighter.

Darcy turned away from the light and continued to walk. She walked past long, bustling road to her small apartment. Her feet traced the flight of stairs that led to the main door. She turned the key. The door clicked open.

She stepped into her apartment and turned on the lights. A messy two-bedroom apartment came into view. Papers lay strewn on the couch. She hadn’t vacuumed the carpet in over two weeks. Dusty curtains covered the window. She threw her bag on the floor and left her shoes at the door.

She walked to the kitchen and pulled out a box of tandoori chicken from the refrigerator. It was her weekend experiment. She chugged it into the microwave.

Darcy undressed, peeling away the layers of clothing. As they fell to the floor, her flushed skin came into view. Her fingers ran through the back of her arms and traced the curve of her spine. At her back, she felt something protrude. She examined herself in the mirror. A long scar was painted on her back.

Her soft fingertips traced the six-inch line. It was deep brown now. She remembered it had been a bright red when she got it. As she remembered the color, an arrow of pain shot through her. Her spine straightened. Her honey-colored eyes closed abruptly. Her hands wrapped around her brunette hair, pulling it into her chest. 

She could hear them scream. The sounds were vivid in her memory fifteen years later. Her ears filled with ringing sounds of people writhing in pain. She saw the dark corridors of the asylum. She walked through it. Her footsteps echoed. She heard them knock at the large wooden door. They had come to get her. She heard her mother shriek. She cried tirelessly. She banged the doors and screamed like a banshee. A rapier of red cut across the scene. Her eyes opened abruptly.

The microwave alarm rang. The light went off. Beads of cold sweat lined her forehead. A drop traced its way down her spine, tickling her back. She looked at the heater. It had been turned off. She took a moment to breathe. The grounding aroma of Indian spices diffused into the room. She breathed the earthy scent. It brought her back to life. 

Darcy lay beside the television, turning up the volume. Her mind lost itself in images of her past. His face flashed again and again. He was real. She heard him breathe. She heard his raspy voice. His clear blue eyes narrowed in on her. Only her.

Her neighbor banged against her wall, signaling her to turn down the volume. His cat mewed loudly to add fuel to his demand. Darcy turned it down. The flurry of images passed her by. She didn’t like to watch TV. She bought one to keep her distracted. She needed to stop thinking about him.

BOOK: The Doppelgänger: A Psychological Thriller
4.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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