An Unwelcome Guest

Submitted into Contest #225 in response to: Write a story about someone coming across their doppelganger.... view prompt

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Fiction Science Fiction Mystery

An Unwelcome Guest

By Christopher Allen

The Wedding

The murmur of the guests hushed as the pianist stoked the first key to Richard Wagner’s Wedding March. The gorgeous, angelic bride entered the church accompanied by her limping father and trailed by an ample wedding dress train, held aloft at the end by the Maid of Honor, trying her best to mask her envy. 

Standing proudly at the altar, the Best Man patted the handsome groom on the shoulder. The groom gazed down the queue of his hungover groomsmen and gave a subtle nod. 

As immaculately dressed aunts dried their eyes with cashmere handkerchiefs and apathetic uncles checked the time on their garish Rolexes, the stunning bride made her way down the aisle. A clumsy, toddler aged, Flower Girl sporadically tossed petals leading the bride towards her impending nuptials. 

After the groom exchanged an awkward handshake with the Father of the Bride and the Father of the Bride kissed his daughter and retreated to his pew, the Priest started the ceremony. “We are gathered here to witness the marriage of Bridget Augustus and Michael Abernathy,” The Priest began as he opened the bible to Ecclesiastes 4:9.  

The ceremony continued as young cousins got restless, yearning for playtime and older cousins got anxious, jonesing for the dopamine hit their smartphones provided. 

“Do you, Michael Abernathy, take Bridget Augustus as your wife, to love, to cherish, to–.”

Michael suddenly threw up a hand, signaling the Priest to stop. “Wait. That’s him!” Michael exclaimed, pointing at a man quickly slinking out the church door from a back row pew. Michael dashed from the altar and down the aisle as guests squawked and shrieked in shock.

Throwing open the church doors, Michael saw the man running down the Munich streets and quickly followed. Then man led Michael from St. Peter’s church to Brunned Rindermarkt where the man, sweating and catching his breath, stopped and sat atop the fountain, letting his legs dangle over the rushing fountain.

The man reached into his breast pocket and retrieved a pack of cigarettes. The man inhaled deeply and watched the water from the fountain fall over the rocks below.  Michael approached slowly and anxiously shoved the man on the back. The man calmly turned to reveal himself: A face identical to Michael’s. 

The man offered a cigarette to Michael and Michael quickly swiped it away. The man followed the cigarette whimsically spinning to the water below. “Right, she made you quit.”

“Who are you?! Why have you been following me?!” Michael screamed and shoved the man again. The man sighed and retrieved another cigarette from coat pocket.

“Well, here’s the thing…”

The Proposal 

The cork popped out of the bottle and thudded against the wall. With the bottle foaming in his hand, Michael carefully poured the champagne into two crystal flutes. Michael placed the bottle down on the marble countertop and brought a flute of champagne to Bridget, who was admiring her sparkling, ostentatious, Cartier diamond engagement ring in the living room.

The couple clinked glasses and took delicate sips as they sat down on their wide, white leather sectional. The cathedral ceilings and grandiose windows of their living room provided a dynamic view of the city below from their penthouse apartment.  

“Oh, Michael, I can’t believe you finally proposed,” Bridget said as she placed her flute down on the magnificent Neiman Marcus coffee table.

“Finally? We haven’t been dating that long.”

“Two years is a long time for a woman of my…” Bridget paused, retrieved her glass and swished around the champagne. “...a woman of my caliber.”

Michael smirked, but didn’t not object to Bridget’s self-assessment. 

“We have to start planning right away. I don’t want a long engagement like my sister. They were engaged for three years. Can you imagine?”

“Well, they had to keep postponing because of Covid.”

“Oh, that’s right. Poor girl.”

Michael leaned in and kissed Bridget, before reclining on the couch. “Have you thought about where you wanted to get married?” 

“Oh, I’m not sure. Saint Barts or the Cayman Islands. Paris or Sicily. We could get married here in New York at the Plaza or Cipriani.” Bridget paused and let a thoughtful finger linger over her lips. “But, My father is going to insist we get married in Berlin.”

“Berlin? I know that's where your family’s from, but that’s a long, and expensive trip for my family.”

Bridget scoffed and took a sip of champagne. “Well, if my father is paying for the wedding I think he should be allowed to decide on the venue.” 

“He already gave me a lucrative position at his firm. I can pay for the wedding. I don’t want to feel more indebted to him than I already am.” 

Bridget scoffed again and looked down at the bustling city below. “You’re not indebted to him. Plus, he’ll insist on paying. You know how he is.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Michael said, nodding. “And we don’t have to figure this out tonight.”

“Exactly,” Bridget said as she took her cellphone out of her pocket. “Let’s watch the proposal again.”

“Again?”

“That’s why you got Brendan to film it, right?” Bridget responded as she unlocked her cellphone. “I guess he’ll be your Best Man?”

“Definitely.”

Bridget leaned against Michael’s chest and started the video. The video followed the couple from behind, walking slowly, arm in arm, through stunning autumn foliage in Central Park. Amber, coral and marigold danced wistfully around the couple as the leaves drifted to the ground.    

The couple reached the Bow Bridge and stopped in the middle to gaze over the water towards the New York skyline. The camera followed from a distance as Michael reached into his black Chesterfield overcoat and dropped to one knee. Bridget giddily tossed her hands over her mouth and nodded excitedly to the unheard question Michael asked. The camera quickly caught up with the couple and Michael could be heard saying, “She said yes!”

“Congratulations!” Brendan could be heard behind the camera. Brendan spun slowly allowing for a panoramic view of the location before cutting out as Michael and Bridget embraced.

“I wish we could hear what you said when you proposed.”

“I didn’t want Brendan getting too close and ruin the surprise.”

Bridget started the video again while Michael shook his head bemused. When the video was ending with the panoramic spin, Michael suddenly reached for the cellphone and paused the video. “Wait! Look!”

Michael pointed flabbergasted at a man leaning against the railing on the other side of the bridge. Michael realized he was staring at a man that looked exactly like him. 

“He looks just like me,” Michael said confused.

“Oh, he does,” Bridge responded. “He could be your doppelganger.” Bridget restarted the video as Michael rubbed his forehead, perplexed.

The Engagement Party

Champagne and scotch poured as the debonair New York elite celebrated the engagement of Michael and Bridget from a luxurious rooftop terrace in upper Manhattan. Tuxedoed waitstaff drifted around the space, offering caviar, scallions and sushi to the distinguished guests. 

As the guests chartered and gossiped, Bridget hobnobbed with her father’s friends who perpetually offered her envelopes stuffed with cash and cheques. Michael watched on, leaning against the bar with his Best Man, Brendan. 

“I know people have doppelgangers, but isn’t it weird that mine would show up during the proposal?”

Brendan, swirled his scotch, knocked it back and threw an inebriated arm around Michael’s shoulder. “Maybe. Maybe it’s not a doppelganger at all.”

“Then what is it?

“I don’t know. A clone. You time traveling,”  Brendan paused, turned to the bartender and signaled he was in need of another scotch. “Or it’s a multiverse situation.” Brendan graciously slipped the bartender a fifty dollar bill and relished a sip of scotch. 

“Multiverse? Like in the Marvel movies?”

Brendan let out a hearty laugh. “No, not like the kid’s movies. Like, Parallel World’s. It’s by…well, I forget who it’s by, but you should check it out. It’s real trippy”

Michael briefly entertained Brendan’s theory, but once he noticed his Best Man swaying, he decided it was nothing but drunken nonsense. “Maybe, I’m making something out of nothing. It’s probably just a coincidence.”

“Yeah, a coincidence.” Brendan nodded and gazed around the room as Michael ordered another scotch from the bartender. “A coincidence like how that guy looks like you too.” Michael quickly spun from the bar and followed Brendan’s index finger pointing to a man across the room who was accepting an hors d’oeuvre from the waitstaff.

Michael froze when he spotted the man. A man that shared Michael’s exact facial features. The man and Michael held eye contact for a brief moment before the man haphazardly tossed the food on the ground and bolted towards the exit. 

Michael sprinted from the bar in quick pursuit. Just as Michael was within reach, Bridget’s father grabbed Michael by the elbow and spun him around. “Michael, my boy, where have you been all night? I have people that very much want to make your acquaintance. Very affluent people.”

“Of course, sir. It would be an honor to meet some of your friends,” Michael responded as he watched the back of the man rush through the exit doors. “I just need to attend to a business matter.” Michael motioned to the exit, but was pulled back.

“Nonsense. There is no business to attend to this evening. It’s a celebration!”

Michael followed Bridget’s father as he looked back helplessly towards the exit.

The Bachelor Party

Lederhosen draped servers, carrying trays full of stein glasses, weaved through the crowd of customers. The mostly foreign crowd of revelers clinked glassware, made toasts and laughed while yelling poorly spoken German insults at each other. The bar brimmed with jubilation and gaiety while Michael sat, stoically, swirling his Weissbier at the head of a table surrounded by his groomsmen. 

Brendan took a deep gulp from his stein and nudged Michael. “I know, I was really looking forward to Vegas too, but Oktoberfest in Munich is pretty amazing. And Bridget’s father paid for the whole thing! Granted he insisted on coming as well, so I guess German strippers are out of the question.”

“It’s not that,” Michael responded, staring at his stein.     

“I get it. After tomorrow you can only have sex with one woman for the rest of your life.” Michael chuckled and took a swing from his stein. “No, it’s not that either.”

“You can always cheat. I mean, if you did, I wouldn’t tell anyone.”

“No, I love Bridget. I wouldn't do that.”

“Okay, grumpy, then what is it?”

“I’ve read and re-read that book you suggested. I’ve read suggested readings from that book. I’ve even–”

“What book?” Brendan asked, confused.

“Parallel Worlds! You told me to read it at the Engagement Party.” 

Brendan responded with a smirk. “Man, I don’t remember anything from that night. I was wasted.”

“You don’t remember telling me about the multiverse then pointing out a man that looks exactly like me?”

Brendan shook his head and flagged down a young lederhosen clad woman. “Barmaiden, could you please bring us a fresh round?”

“Ich verstehe nicht,” she responded, perplexed.

“Mehr bier, bitte,” Michael interjected without looking up from his stein.

“Ja, Naturlich,” she responded with a warm smile and quickly sashayed away.

Brendan suddenly shoved Michael on the shoulder. “What did you say that guy looked like? The one that looks like you?”

Michael rolled his eyes with a chuckle, “he looks exactly like me.”

Brendan pointed towards the back of the bar, where the man stood, accepting a stein from a server. “That guy looks a lot like you.”

Michael followed Brendan’s index finger towards the man that shared Michael’s face. “He’s not getting away this time!” Michael said as he jumped up from the table and dashed towards the back of the bar. 

Michael maneuvered through the throng of inebriated guests. Scampering, he accidentally knocked someone's drink out of their hand. Before the glass smashed to the ground, Michael ducked a drunken swing from the annoyed patron. Michael continued rushing to the back as German insults were hurled his way.

Michael’s soon-to-be father-in-law suddenly stepped in front of Michael. “What’s wrong, my boy?”

“I have to catch that man!”

“What man!?” Bridget’s father asked and threw his arms around Michael’s shoulders. Michael quickly threw Bridget’s father to the floor and loud pop echoed. Bridget’s father laid on the ground, groaning and holding his knee. “You busted my leg!”

“Sorry!” Michael exclaimed as he darted to the back of the bar in pursuit. 

An alarm blared as the man busted through an emergency exit door. Michael followed swiftly into an alleyway, in the Munich night. Michael chased the silhouette of the man, yelling after him. “Stop! Stop! Who are you?!”

The man had outrun him and Michael was left, alone, in the dark alleyway, panting and confused. 

The Wedding: Part 2

Bridget’s father limped up to the altar and embraced his daughter. “He’s a fool,” he said as he offered his daughter a handkerchief.

“Looks like you’ve done pretty well for yourself,” the man said as Michael stood over him.

“Who are you?” Michael asked, giving the man a quick shove.

“What? You don’t recognize yourself?” The man asked while playing with the cigarette in his hand.

“I do, but where are you from?”

“Same place as you,” the man replied with a smirk. “A low-class suburb of Detroit. Born to a single mother. Raised in poverty. But, our paths diverged at a certain point. That point being when we met Bridget. You started dating her, I didn’t”

“So, there is a multiverse?”

“Yes, but in my timeline Professor Ball learned how to access it. In yours, he became a ballet dancer.”

“Okay, but why do you keep showing up? Why are you here?” Michael asked as he sat down next to the man and let his legs danger over the edge of the fountain.

“I was curious. I wanted to see what wealth would have been like. The extravagant parties, the rich friends. What my life would have been like if I married Bridget.”

 “So you’re following the important moments in my relationship with Bridget because you regret not marrying her? Regret not becoming a successful partner at her father’s firm? Regret not becoming wealthy?”

The man put the cigarette to his lips, lit it and smirked as he exhaled. “Well, I’m actually working backwards through your timeline. I’ve seen your future…” The man stood and patted Michael on the shoulder. “...and it works out much better for me.”

THE END

November 24, 2023 04:41

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2 comments

05:24 Dec 01, 2023

Thanks for reading the story! I appreciate it. I really love the idea of alternative life tourism. Definity something I'll be exploring. Thanks again for taking the time. I really liked Stomach Scorpions, but I'll comment on your page about it.

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Amanda Fox
14:52 Nov 28, 2023

This was fascinating - I love how you tied the pieces together. It would be interesting to see this as a larger piece of work, almost like alternate life tourism.

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