(1 of 1. Originally posted on November 11, 2022 for the prompt “Double Trouble.”)
Tony ducked his head and hurried toward the exit, pretending not to hear Tammy’s annoying whine behind him. Trying to offload more of her work on me. Or complain that I’m not doing everything she asked me to do last week, even though it’s not my job and I never agreed to it. I’d like to punch her nasty little face. She’s lucky I’m only ignoring her, instead.
He jogged across the parking lot and slipped into his blue Forrester, careful not to open the door too far. Not that he would feel bad about dinging Joe’s shiny red Camaro, but Joe always noticed who parked next to him, and would probably try to sue Tony for “hurting his baby.” He allowed himself a brief daydream involving Joe’s Camaro and a baseball bat as he peeled out of the parking lot. Not that he ever would do it. But it was a fun daydream.
By the time he got home his fingers ached from gripping the steering wheel. He went straight to the couch and sat in the dark for a few minutes, letting the tension drain out of his shoulders. Once he felt sufficiently relaxed, he flipped on some lights and grabbed cleaning supplies. He worked late into the evening polishing the antique mirror he’d picked up at an estate sale over the weekend. Somehow it felt less crazy to gripe at his reflection in the mirror than to just talk to himself while sitting on the couch. His head spun from the fumes by the end of it. The movements of his reflection felt delayed. Tony stepped out into the back yard to clear his brain before heading to bed.
The next morning, Tony didn’t see Joe’s red Camaro or Tammy’s beat-up Cadillac in the parking lot. For a few seconds he thought he might have a good day. But as soon as he opened the door, he heard Joe’s bullhorn voice. “…security cameras didn’t get a good look at his face. Just some crazy guy with a baseball bat. And they’re investigating me. That’s insane! I’d rather have my Cammy than any amount…”
Tony slipped in his earbuds and cranked his music up to drown out Joe’s voice. He wished for the millionth time that he’d never have to deal with people. They should let me work from home. I could order in everything I need. I wouldn’t mind never leaving my house.
“Hey Tony,” the receptionist said as Tony headed out at the end of the day. “You hear about Tammy? She got assaulted last night. Just outside her own home. Some psycho popped up out of nowhere and punched her in the face, then ran off.”
“Huh. Crazy world.” Tony lifted a hand in a half wave, not slowing down on his way out the door. Joe’s car and Tammy’s face, in one night? Maybe karma is real. Back home, he slumped on his couch and tried to be happy for this turn of events. But it bugged him.
Eventually he pushed himself to his feet and stood in front of his mirror. “Logically, I know I didn’t have anything to do with it. I’m totally innocent. But it is a weird coincidence, isn’t it?”
His reflection winked at him.
Tony stumbled back a step.
His reflection’s eyes flashed red.
His legs buckled from shock, dumping him on the floor in a heap.
His reflection stepped out of the mirror. It reached toward him…
Tony blacked out.
When he woke, everything looked fuzzy. The digital clock on the mantel read 80:8. He rubbed his eyes. Nothing changed. He turned around. A wall of blackness stood where the front half of his living room should have been. Solid black, save for one mirror-shaped opening through which he saw himself from behind, walking out the front door.
Tony sprinted after himself, but when he reached the opening it knocked him back, like running into an invisible steel wall. He could only stare in disbelief, fists pounding on air, as his double walked off into the night.