Terror By Night...Or Aichear: Part Three
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“He went at me. Went for my throat with a long, well-sharpened axe." Aichear put a hand to his throat for emphasis. "I dodged, ducked, and found myself flat on my face when shoved from behind. Rolling over I beheld Breandan standing over me with a baton in hand, laughing while he slapped it against his palm.”
“I would never-” Breandan began, but Aichear held up his hand.
“Let me finish,” he said quietly.
His voice held enough power to stop a train. Damhán watched Aichear closely, trying to detect any sort of clue he was lying. This wasn’t scary like his story, in fact it was nothing like his story. Except, for some reason, when Aichear talked it sounded like it could really have happened. Had- was- could that be possible?
No way. Couldn’t be.
“Now I had Damhán and Breandan after me. Breandan had a murderous look in his eyes, he tried to bring the baton down on my head. I didn’t fear for my life, I knew better, but to have such anger amongst those I’d known their whole lives was flabbergasting. Damhán came from behind, Breandan in front. I jumped sideways and managed to land on someone else. Sitting up, I stared down at who I’d tackled. For a short, unbelievable second, my heart stopped. I thought for sure I was drugged, perhaps knocked out. I didn’t have a chance to react when I was thrown off the man. The next instant he had me pinned, I could not get out from underneath him. We locked gazes, stared at each other, tried to comprehend what we were seeing. It can’t be, I told myself. This- all of this- it’s a dream. It can’t be.
“He must have thought the same thing, for he slapped my face with undeniable force. ‘Why do you have my face!’ he demanded. ‘Surely, this is some prank conjured up by Damon.’”
“Your face?” Damhán repeated slowly. “Damon?”
Silence reigned for perhaps a minute. Aichear didn’t continue. He stared off at the wall, almost in a trance of his own. No one dared breathe a word. Well, no, they thought plenty of words but for some reason no one said anything. Damhán was beginning to feel a bit uneasy. He shifted his weight around, thinking of something to break the silence, and was about to speak when Aichear turned to face him.
“Damon,” he repeated. “It’s what resonated with me. I stared up at the man who held me down, the only man strong enough to keep me under his grasp. I knew without a shred of doubt I had no chance of escaping him- he was myself.”
“Yourself!” Bran exploded. “What on earth, Aichear.”
“Nothing on earth. A certain Star Trek episode came to mind during those precious few seconds. I realized I wasn’t on earth but rather another dimension. A dimension that parallels ours in its differences. An alternate dimension, or universe for the sake of saying AU, that’s similarities to ours are made up of stark contrasts.” Aichear sat on the edge of his chair, becoming more animated than Damhán had seen him in a long time. “A dimension where all of us, even Aileen, exist. In a second version.”
“Second players,” Ciarán grunted.
“Pardon?” Bran glanced at Ciarán.
“Second players. 2ps. Alternate characters,” Ciarán muttered. “Disputed as the “evil” sides of people. What characters would be if they were bad.”
“Precisely.” Aichear nodded. “I found myself under the weight of myself. I was looking face-to-face in a mirror, a mirror where I didn’t like what I saw. I gazed right back, but what should have been me held a different cadence in his eyes. A look even now I have trouble describing. Delight. Excitement. Curiosity. Mischievous. Extroverted.”
Did Aichear shudder at that last word? This was getting dumb. Damhán crossed his arms. “Wow. So scary, Aichear. So basically a nice version of you.”
“If you can call delight in murder, excitement at the prospect of blood spilt, curiosity as to how to do it, mischievously pondering the most painful way and extroverted in the sense he- or myself- could not stop talking as my “nice version”, than I hesitate to think what you’d consider positive traits to be.” Aichear took in a deep breath. “And he didn’t wear glasses. He wore… contacts.”
“Oh gosh Aichear is that the best you can do?” Bran groaned.
“Let me finish!” Aichear thundered.
Everyone quieted down after that.
Aichear waited until he was sure no one else would interrupt before he continued. “The rest of you had gathered, or at least, your alternates had. Aileen wore all black and kept shouting for blood to be poured out. Bran was anything but smart, rather stupid to be honest. Breandan a maniac, joining Aileen in the chant for death. Damhán sulked in the sidelines, watching with a murderous look but remaining quiet. Only Ciarán seemed to be hesitant to have me put to death in front of them, he objected and said he thought that wouldn’t be very kind.”
Now that was a scary thought. Ciarán, nice? Aileen a blood-thirsty little girl? Damhán shook his head at the thought. Not pleasant things to dwell on. And him! Quietly sulking? He was a man of action!
“My alternate silenced the rest of them, got to his feet and hauled me up by the shirt collar. ‘I demand to know who you are!’ he shouted. ‘How did you get here and why did you take my appearance?’
“I must say I was not impressed with my rather loud voice, but that was the least of my worries. I did not respond. He was right, though. With the exception of my glasses, we were identical in height, hair color, clothing choice and even eyes. My alternate withdrew a sword identical to my own, but with obvious blood stains on it. Resting it on my neck, he pressed again for answers. I didn’t have any. I did not respond. I was surrounded by all of you, but there was no security in that. I knew my fate would not be death, but surely, wouldn’t my alternate know this as well? Or perhaps this dimension contained something even worse than immortality. The ability to live forever and kill, all at the same time.”
Aichear paused, taking in the expressions of the brothers. “I had one choice. My alternate stood on the edge of a cliff. There was no other way to escape, and I wasn’t about to put my life on the limb should there be a chance death was an option in this strange world. With a quick lunge I grabbed my alternate’s hands and shoved him back, keeping the sword above us. I thought for sure he’d simply tumble off, but no, he kicked my legs from underneath me and we both tumbled off the edge. I thought perhaps this was it. You’d never hear of me again, I’d simply disappear from your lives and you’d never know my fate. We tumbled over rocks, the fall a good fifty or sixty feet. We were almost at the bottom-”
Suddenly Aichear stopped talking. He left the air in anticipated silence. Ten seconds. Twenty seconds. Forty. He didn’t continue.
Then, he slowly got to his feet and withdrew his glasses off his face. “I’m turning in,” he said simply.
“What!” Damhán shouted. “Aichear that’s awful! You can’t leave a story hanging like that! Did you die?”
“Would I be here if I had?” His tone changed. Instead of a question, his voice held a tinge of snotty arrogance. Even maliciousness, if you will.
Damhán didn’t like that tone.
“How did you survive?” Bran demanded.
“How else?” Aichear shot back. Was that a smile on his lips? “I’m immortal, am I not?”
“You said you weren’t sure,” Breandan offered. “You weren’t sure if your immortality counted there.”
“Well what do you think? If I stand here now, does that not suggest I held onto my immortality? Or do you suspect something foul?”
Aichear was never this sarcastic. Or so full in his responses. Damhán and Ciarán exchanged glances. Ciarán almost looked disturbed, if that was possible.
“The point, my dear brothers,” Aichear said, this time a definite smile on his face, “Is I survived. And the other died.”
“The other?” Damhán echoed. “Which one, you or the evil alternate?”
He didn’t respond right away. His smile only grew wider. And he didn’t put his glasses back on. “Hard telling, wouldn’t it be, if the one survived and the other didn’t? There was no way to tell us apart, except the glasses.”
Aichear glanced down at his spectacles. With a slight shrug he reached down and placed them in Breandan’s hand, curling Breandan’s fingers. Breandan stared at Aichear.
“I see you’re not wearing your contacts, brother,” Aichaer said softly, with a small chuckle. Breandan didn’t respond. “Use these. I’m not in need of them.”
The oldest Mornelly- or was he the true oldest Mornelly?- straightened, giving a quick sweep of the room with his eyes. His smile grew wider, he was smirking now. “Good night, brothers.” He did a mock wave of his hand. “See you in the morning. Right?”
With that he left the room, striding out without running into anything. As if… as if…
As if he could see without his glasses.
For a while none of them said a word. Breandan turned his gaze down to the glasses in his hands. He then slowly set them on the reading stand next to the couch.
“He was joking, right?” Damhán voiced at last, saying what no one else had dared to speak. “Come on he was making the whole thing up, right?”
“He knew I wasn’t wearing contacts,” Breandan said at last.
Ciarán snorted his usual “eh”, but it didn’t sound so condescending.
Bran shook his head. “He’s messing with us,” he said confidently. His voice lacked assurance, though. “He’s just messing around. Never thought he’d have the ability to do that. He is so bad at pranks.”
“Would alternate Aichear be bad at pranks?” Damhán eyed his brothers.
No one had an answer.
“Okay I’m going to bed, good night,” Bran spoke at last. He stood up abruptly. “It’s all a joke, he’s just playing around.”
“Aichear doesn’t play around,” Breandan murmured. “Ever.”
“Oh stop it! There’s no way it could be his alternate! Don’t you think we would have found out by now?” Bran snapped.
Somehow that did little to comfort any of them as they all made their way to their own separate rooms.
That night Damhán dreamed Aichear was standing over him with a sword, that terrifying smile on his face. “Should have heeded the story, Damhán,” he chuckled, just as he was bringing the sword down on the youngest Mornelly boy.
Damhán awoke with a yell and what he could have sworn was a chuckle from down the hall. A chuckle that sounded very much like it came from Aichear’s room. He hunkered down in his bed and shook his head, trying to reassure himself that all was fine. He hadn’t heard anything. And the Aichear who was in their house this very moment wasn’t an evil alternate of his big brother.
Or was he?
Safe to say, Aichear was the winner of the scary story contest. No one dared challenge him to a competition after that.
A/N: Well well well, it appears big brother Aichear DOES have a sense of humor! Hope you enjoyed the story, dear readers! And no, this was not the surprise. It's not ready yet. I'm sorry it got pushed out so late! Your new hint: surprise didn't actually come from France originally.
Yep, I'm going to kill you with those hints! God bless, readers, and see you on Monday with a new post!