Alternative Realms and Tangents:
The ART-icles …
When my good friend, John Stacy Worth, informed me of this web-zine endeavor, I was well pleased. I've always thought that the guy was one of two things: (1) a genius, or (2) insane. Whichever the case, I have also always felt that his genius or madness should be shared with others. Perhaps, I surmised, the world would be 'infected' with his condition and, therefore, become a more bearable place in which to live.
Stacy asked me to write this article about any issue of my choosing. After he explained the nature of his web-zine to me, I was immediately confused. A genreless genre? What the heck is that supposed to mean? As usual, his train of thought was running along a different stretch of track than was mine.
But then I realized, here is a guy who is extremely multi-faceted and multi-talented. I have had the pleasure of reading several of his stories and am simply awed by his artwork. He'll tell you he's not a poet, but I've read stuff of his that would make the coldest heart swoon. Talent such as his was meant to be expressed and, since it hasn't found expression along other avenues, it only stood to reason that his talent would eventually find its way to the web.
But, then, as I got to reading his 'zine in its earliest stages, I realized that there wasn't a lot of his work to be found there. Sure there was his editorial and an interview, and one of my favorites of his short shorts, Grock, but none of his longer writings. Like the steadfast altruist he is, Stacy was taking a backseat, choosing a behind-the-scenes role, while making a place for others to do what he himself loved to do.
Now, lest you think I am here to sing praises to my friend and nothing more, I will cease this course of dialogue and move on to the real topic of my ART-icle: The Truth About Doppelgangers is my attempt to illustrate what I believe Stacy and Robert might intend with this literary standard they have created.
(By the way, Stace, I'll be expecting that cash in crisp, unmarked tens and twenties.)
The Truth About Doppelgangers
by Valerie Marinaccio
They come as twins and triplets. It's usually early of an evening when they arrive and always when I am alone with my grandparents, who've raised me since I was eight years old. (My grandparents depend on me to take care of them, now that they are both nearing the fragile age of ninety.)
Anyway, the first time they came I was checking the locks on all the windows. Grandma and Grandpa were already in bed, and I was running through the last routines of the evening before curling up on the sofa to read. I heard the rustle of footsteps on carpet as I pushed the last lock into place, but thought nothing of it.
Only when I'd sat upon the sofa and had cracked open my tattered copy of Folklore and Faerie Tales, did they fully make themselves known. There were only the two that time, and they came traipsing down the hallway right up to the rug. They stopped there, neither setting foot upon the large woven heirloom upon which rested the antique coffee table and my Grandma's large sofa. I gasped in horror, unable to speak.
"Fear not," the left twin said. "We won't hurt you."
"That's right," affirmed the right twin. "Why would we? After all, you and we are the same."
And it was true. These twins echoed not only each other's appearance, but mine as well.
"Doppelgangers, for want of a better word" said the left twin. She was obviously aware of my literary tastes. "We're here to help."
And they did. Administering Oxygen to my Grandpa, to combat his emphysema, cooking the special meals that my grandparents must both have, low sodium diets and all that. They've even ventured from the house (though we made sure there was only one out at any given time) to help me with grocery shopping and other such errands.
"Where exactly is it that you come from?" I asked the red Val one-day. (We had taken to distinguishing ourselves via different colored bandannas about the neck.)
"From the doorway at the end of the hall." She was laying freshly filleted mullet across a pan to bake. "It's not just a doorway into a hall closet, you know. It leads to and from our worlds."
"Narnia…" I whispered, tugging absently at my own blue bandanna and remembering a tale I had read as a child.
My double laughed. "No, not Narnia. Though I wonder if Mr. Lewis may have had an experience such as ours to influence his writings." Red Val placed the pan in the pre-heated oven and closed the door. "Surely, you've put it all together by now. I mean, it's not as if we've kept you in the dark."
And it wasn't. Not entirely, anyway. They had told me certain things. That the three or four of us could never touch one another. To do so might be catastrophic. They had also told me that, upon their worlds, events had taken different turns, however slight, and that each of my other selves had already lost her grandparents. The yellow Val, in fact, had never even known hers. They had died in the car accident with my parents, having chosen to take up their offer to accompany them to Vegas.
Then it hit me. Alternate quantum realities. The possibilities of Matter and Antimatter also came to mind. Perhaps there were even types of matter that we didn't have a name for yet. At any rate, somehow a bridge had been erected between dimensions, these other quantum realities/anti-realms that mirrored my own, and my other selves were crossing to and fro. I explained my surmisings to Red Val, winning myself an approving smile.
"That's what we think too. Caution, though. We aren't a hundred percent sure that this theory is correct, even if it does make the most sense given what our sciences know. It may very well be that we can touch without the cataclysmic results that we predict. But of course, we can't afford the risk."
When I asked how they discovered the bridge and what their true purposes were, the Red Val replied:
"It was your need that created the bridge. That's what we think, anyway. We witnessed its formation before our very eyes as each opened a closet door of our respective homes. As for our true purpose, it is exactly what it seems to be. To help you with our grandparents. All of us, except for the Yellow Val, have gone through the same arduous regimen of caring for elderly grandparents. As for Yellow Val, she saw this as an opportunity to get to know them. She grew up with absolutely no knowledge of her blood relatives and has really enjoyed getting to know the grandparents that, before, she never knew."
I nodded and smiled. "I do appreciate what you've all done for me." I reached into the utensil drawer, never one to stand idly by while someone else did all the work. "Thanks for everything."
Red Val smiled at me and then turned to attend to the potatoes that were coming to a boil.
That's when I made my move.
With one hand I shoved the knife into her spine, breaking off its hilt in the process, while, with the other I shoved her face down in the boiling pot of potatoes. Her screams bubbled up from the scalding water and then ceased as her body went limp. I pulled her head out of the water and dropped her to the floor.
"Is everything alright?" my senile, half-deaf grandma called from the bedroom.
"Yeah, Grandma, I just broke a knife off in my doppelganger's back is all." The blade had severed her spinal cord and had entered her heart from the back, stilling it forever. Her face was a mass of red welts, her eyeballs had burst, and a stream of blood oozed from her gaping mouth.
"Oh, Okay dear." As always, Grandma was oblivious to everything.
I went to the tool shed out back and came back with my grandfather's ax. Since becoming a complete invalid, he'd had no use for it. I'd kept it razor sharp, however, awaiting the chance I knew would someday come.
A few minutes later, Green Val came back from grocery shopping and walked through the door. I slammed it behind her and stood there blocking the nearest escape. She turned. I relished her look of sudden horror, then swung.
Whack!!! Off went her head. It hit the floor rolling, alongside the lettuce she'd purchased for the evening salad. Her body spasmed, falling amidst a heap of canned goods and vegetables. Whack, Whack, Whack!!! It was glorious.
Now, you might think I'm an ingrate, and that I'm insane or some other crap like that. But you see, this is how I've got it figured; my need did open that bridge and bring my doubles here. But it wasn’t the need of help with my aging grandparents. It was my need to kill. My need to let out some of these frustrations that have been building year after year.
On the night my doppelgangers first came I was already contemplating the murder of both my grandparents, but that would have been too hard to explain and carry out. Besides, those monthly checks come in quite handy.
With my alternate selves, however, there was no need for stealth, no need for finesse. Chop! Chop! Hack! Hack! Let the blood spatter where it will and tear through that soft, red flesh with all the fury of ten years of tending to Oxygen treatments and all that other crap. Yeah, my need built the bridge all right, and tonight my need will be sated.
For you see, Yellow Val's gonna come through that door tonight and I'm going to be waiting. Waiting with a pickax and an appetite for blood. With no need for alibis, I've simply ground up the meat and packed it away in the freezer. I put the bones and guts down the old well out back. Sure they'll stink for a little while, but maggots and insects will soon do their work. And I've found out something. I can touch their flesh with no ill effects. I can run my hands through their innards and rip them out with my fingers. I can wallow in their blood before rinsing it down the bathtub. Yes, I can feed my need with no fear of prosecution. After all, it's not as if there's any reports of missing persons. No one to be missed and no one to complain.
Yeah, I'll be waiting for Yellow Val and after I take care of her, I've got a little theory I want to test out. You see, I think that I can open and close the bridge at will, since it is my need that creates it. I think I might be able to cross over into these other dimensions. And I think that I'll find all the fulfillment I need. The best part is, I'll always have a place to run to. A safe haven. This dimension, my home dimension, will always be waiting to welcome me back each time I feed my need.
Editor's note:Ha ha, very funny, Val. Rest assured, you will never be published again, at least not in these pages, you homicidal maniac. And as for all of you who just read this article, we apologize from the bottom of our hearts and we beg of you:
Please, please, pleaaaasseeee!!! Somebody please send us an article worth publishing so we never have to ask our friends for submissions again.