Fantasy Funny Thriller

"Sling?" he asked, smirking. "No, I don't sling anymore."

He leaned in and put a finger to his ear, waiting a few moments for a response. Then he looked down and feigned cool surprise, as if seeing his injury for the first time. “Oh, you mean my arm! I'd almost forgotten. No, no, I wouldn’t want to bore you with the story….”

He stroked his chin thoughtfully. “What's that? You'll do what for me if I tell you? Well, you're very forward, but I am married. However, seeing as you want to know so bad, I'm inclined to oblige. Um… uh.”

Leslie Morenstein slammed his hands on the bathroom counter and sighed. If rehearsing conversation in front of the mirror was painful--and it was--his high school reunion was going to be absolute carnage. Looking up, he found it impossible to gaze into his own sunken eyes. Instead, he focused pensively on a space just below, where a web of thick blue veins disappeared into his sculpted cheekbones.

Maybe I ought to just stay home, he thought.

As he adjusted the collar of his button-down, he felt a dull ache at the back of his head and in his shoulder. Everything about the injury was dull, and Leslie only had about an hour to punch up his story.

The phone rang.


“Yeah, I’ll probably drop by, just say hello. It’s a polite thing to do. How are your parents?

“Uh huh.

“Wow, what a steal.

“No, I am excited. I am excited. You absolutely must get that cardigan. How’s that? It’s almost summer, but yeah.

“Hey, what’s the coolest way you can think of to hurt your shoulder?

"Uh.. huh?"

“You're lucky I'm not squeamish.

“Yes, I still love you. Do you still--well, that's a relief.

“Yep, see you Monday. Okay. Buh-bye. No, go ahead and get the cardigan. Bye.”

Leslie carefully let his wife hang up first and tucked his phone away in his pocket. He did love Marianne so. 

There were even a few moments of calm before his worries about the reunion rushed back in a skull-numbing wave. He retrieved a bottle of Xanax from the medicine cabinet and tipped it over his hand until a pill shook loose. It went down without water.

“Yeah,” he rehearsed, closing the medicine cabinet and placing his hand on the mirror. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the reunion. There was a family emergency. I know. I wish I could be in two places at once.”

Leslie cut the bathroom lights and shut the door on his way out. Before he made it out of the hall, there sounded a chorus of ear splitting squeals. He turned around. From the crevices around the bathroom door shone a bright white light, bleaching the hallway.

Leslie gawked as the door creaked open.

A figure walked out, no more than a silhouette until the noisy white light faded. 

Leslie gasped at the face he saw. “Are--”

“Yes, I’m you. Doppelganger, dark twin, you in a mustache and a leather jacket. Leslie in italics. Try to absorb that as quickly as you can. I’m afraid if we linger too long on the specifics, things will get grotesquely philosophical. Now. I’m positively starving. Which way to the kitchen? I’m just kidding, I know perfectly well which way the kitchen is.”

Leslie’s reflection made a beeline for the refrigerator, brushing past his namesake. Within a minute, pots were clanging against the ambience of the humming microwave.

Leslie scrambled into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. His reflection was no longer there. It had been replaced by beige tile and an empty towel rack. Now he really had a headache. He pinched himself, but nothing changed.

His living, breathing reflection appeared in the doorway.

“Look,” said the reflection, holding up an extra-large raviolo covered in grill marks, dripping chunky red sauce. Tat, tat-tat, went the sauce on the hardwood floor. “I think I invented fast food pasta. For this world, anyway. In our world we've had this for years. It’s called Piccolini Cuscino.”

Leslie stifled a shout. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m sick of your whining is all. I’m going to your reunion for you, so you can stay in and relax.”


“I need to figure out my angle. Were you bullied in high school?”

“I was a skinny boy named Leslie.”

“Say no more. What happened to your shoulder?”

“I slipped and fell in the shower.”

“Good. I was beginning to worry you really didn’t remember. It wasn’t just the shoulder, was it? You also hit your head."

“Well, yeah, but I don’t think it was too bad.”

“Yeah, it's probably nothing. Give me the sling. We both know you don’t actually need it, but it’s perfect for my plan. Our plan, I mean.”

Leslie handed over the sling and watched his reflection put it on. A couple of breaths later, the front door slammed shut.

This is fine. That wasn’t real, so this is fine. The reunion will be just fine. I'll just stay home and nobody will think twice. Unless I’m really in two places at once. No. This is fine.

Leslie turned back to the empty mirror, numbly reached into the medicine cabinet, and took another Xanax before going to bed.


The next morning, Leslie heard three solid knocks on his front door. It was an Officer Moore, and she had a wicked look on her face, as though she knew Leslie’s darkest secret.

Leslie squinted as Moore flashed her badge. There was something familiar about her. 

Oh, no. What happened?

“Hey, Les. May I come in?”

“Do you have a warrant?”

“This isn’t a movie,” said Moore, barging into the apartment.

Leslie yawned. “What’s going on?”

“Rough night last night, eh?”

“Er, no. I crashed early and just woke up.”

Moore cocked her head to one side. The smile playing at her lips twisted into something quizzical. “You’re a tough nut to crack, Les. Here, you forgot these.”

As Moore reached into her back pocket, Leslie realized why she seemed so familiar. Officer Moore used to be Faith Moore. A member of the Sycamore Class of 2009, same as him. Faith pulled out a piece of gray cloth. 

“Are those my underwear?”

Faith nodded, and the quizzical look twisted into annoyance. “Oh, God. You don’t remember anything, do you? I had no idea you were that messed up. Tell you what, work’s slow. Make me a cup of coffee and I’ll fill you in.”

Leslie reluctantly walked into the kitchen and got a pot going. Meanwhile, Faith began to tell the story of what had happened the night before. She did so in a lovely sing-song way, as if recounting a pleasant dream.

“About half an hour into the reunion, when everybody had run out of small talk, a man in a slick black motorcycle helmet walked in through the gymnasium’s back door. That man turned out to be you, and the back door was the one with the alarm. For some reason, the alarm never went off. I thought that added a cool layer of mystery. Mind you, I wouldn’t put it past Sycamore to leave a door busted until it caused a serious problem. Anyway, you didn’t set off an alarm, but you might as well have. From the moment you walked in, all eyes were on you. Including mine.

“Curious--you don't today, but you had a sling on last night. When I asked you about it, you told me you’d been living on a native reservation, and when a buffalo rushed the chief’s daughter, you ‘sacrificed the body.’ At first I had no reason to doubt that, but I later heard a few… slightly different versions. Jake Witte said you were at a charity snowboarding exhibition and crashed forty-five degrees short of a Backside Quad Cork 1980. He said that you said you slid off a cliff and should have died. And Jenna Gold told me you couldn’t explain what you did for a living, but you ‘got in a little tiff’ when a group of terrorists tried to enter a children's cancer ward.”

“Wow,” said Leslie. The reflection had far outperformed the rehearsal.

The door swung open and Leslie’s reflection sauntered in. He looked at Leslie and Faith with pursed lips. “Well,” he said, ruffling his hair. “This is a bit awkward, isn’t it?”

Faith looked like she’d seen a ghost. She waved a drooping finger between the two Leslies and fainted, sinking into her chair.

The reflection turned to Leslie. “Say, have you seen my underwear? I’ve been all over town looking for them.”

All over town. He’s real, she saw it. And he was all over town last night.

Leslie presented his reflection with the underwear in silence.

“Say, what were you two talking about just now?”

“She, er, she was telling me about last night. She said something about me--you, showing up in a motorcycle helmet and telling all kinds of crazy stories about the sling. I don’t remember anything.”

“Naturally. There’s nothing for you to remember, unless you dreamt something strange.”


“I’ll fill you in on the rest, then.”

The reflection folded his arms and leaned on the wall with one foot raised and pressed against it flat, posing like a male model.

“There was a live band. Local folk; a little pitchy, but the guy who did lead vocals was extremely sexy. Objectively speaking, I mean. Though it would be thematically sort of interesting, I’m not gay. Officer Moore here could attest to that, I think. When I got there, nobody was dancing. So, I got up on stage and started, basically, gesticulating along to the music. I closed my eyes and got lost in what I was doing, and the next thing I knew, the whole dance floor was packed.

“Seeing that, I was overwhelmed with euphoria. I went up to the lead singer mid-ditty and kissed him on the lips. Honest to God I’m not gay, but it turns out the lead singer was. And so was the drummer, and I guess they had some kind of a thing going, because a flying snare pushed me offstage into the crowd.

“I weaved my way into the center of the crowd, and a circle naturally formed around me. I didn’t know what else to do, so I ran straight into a wall of folk. They pushed me into another wall, and soon enough we had a full mosh pit going. I guess the band had a good sense of humor about it, because the music suddenly got a lot more aggressive. There were people zooming all throughout this circle, crashing into each other, so on, until Pierce Voth and Helga Menadue bumped heads. Helga of course has Viking blood, so she was fine, but Pierce had to be carted away to the hospital.”

“...is he okay?”

“No idea. It was around that time Officer Moore took me for a ride in her cruiser.”


There were rats skittering in the ceiling and footsteps in the hall outside the apartment.

The door swung open again, making way for three people.

“Marianne!” shouted Leslie, as if caught in a lie. “And Marianne’s parents, Murray and Elise--what a surprise! How was the drive?”

Marianne felt one of her mother’s hands clasp tight around her arm. The other was carrying a dish of hot casserole. Marianne scanned the room. There were two Leslies and an unconscious police officer. “Leslie. What on earth is going on here?”

“It’s all a bit confusing, isn’t it? Allow me to explain.”

“Like hell,” shouted Murray, drawing a pistol and waving it around. His liver-spotted hands shook with old age, but his finger was firm on the trigger.

Faith roused from her slumber and, upon seeing the gun, drew her own and pointed it squarely at Murray’s chest.

"Drop the weapon!"

Leslie pointed at the ceiling. “Shh.” The rats skittered above. A tense silence followed, but was soon broken by the sound of shattering glass at the back of the house. A man in a black ski mask walked into the living room brandishing guns akimbo.

“Alright, I don’t want to hurt anybody,” said the intruder. “Just hand me the keys to the Ducati and I’ll be on my way.”

Leslie’s ears were ringing and hot. “Nobody in here owns a motorcycle, dude.”

Leslie’s reflection interjected. “Actually I do, although I think 'own' is a strong word. I found it in a parking lot and jumped it. Perhaps I could have been a bit subtler.”

The robber gritted his teeth and pointed his pistols at Leslie’s reflection. However, just before he could do anything, the reflection reached into his leather jacket and withdrew a compact submachine gun. He tagged the robber right between the eyes.

Faith turned her sights away from Murray and drilled Leslie’s reflection right in the shoulder. The reflection groaned and fell, hitting the back of his head on a table. As he collapsed to the ground, pooling blood made him a halo.

Murray’s gun was pointed at Leslie, but when he pulled the trigger, his safety clicked. As he unclicked the safety, Marianne pushed his arms up. Bang. The skittering above became panicked. A bullet-sized hole appeared in the ceiling, and the area around it began to sag. Slowly, the hole opened up and rats rained down. One landed in Elise’s casserole.

Elise shrieked and, in a knee-jerk reaction, lobbed the casserole up in the air. The dish’s protective cloth sleeve slipped free and floated down to the floor.

Marianne, a good daughter, held her hands out and caught the falling dish. But the porcelain was scalding hot. She grimaced and launched the casserole behind her.

The fallen rat stood at the starboard bow of the flying dish, peering out over the lid, bracing himself like a Kamikaze pilot. Crack. Officer Moore once again sank unconscious into her chair, steaming sticky green bean casserole mixing with her trickling blood.

Leslie looked around at the chaos. Faith was knocked out. Marianne was blowing on her burned hands, and the in-laws were wriggling about trying to get rats out of their clothes. The robber and the reflection lay dead. Only he remained unharmed.

“Excuse me,” he said sheepishly, retreating into the bathroom.

He touched the empty mirror. There was a blinding flash of white light, and an ear splitting chorus of screeches. When the lightshow faded, he could see his reflection in the mirror where it belonged. It was evening again--the evening of the reunion, he realized, feeling the stiffness of his collar.

A Xanax rolled over his palm. He dropped it back in the bottle and returned it to its place in the medicine cabinet.

“Yeah,” he said. “On reflection, I really oughtn't go.”

September 29, 2020 17:45

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Jay A
19:00 Oct 03, 2020

Hey A.g. Scott. I loved the humor and dialogue in this story, and I find that is why I am in love with this story. And the ending, oh lord. That was awesome!!! Keep up the amazing work! By the way, I am here because you responded to that kind of "hate" comment on Ruth's post. Thank you for that. That person really shouldn't have said anything. I decided to say something as well to them, in hopes that they delete that stupid comment. Didn't you find the story as amazing as I did?


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Charles Stucker
22:03 Sep 30, 2020

The morning-after scene is a riot. But the initial one is a little slow. Make the phone call shorter. Clip a bit of the initial practicing lines at the mirror. Tighten the dialogue with his reflection- work in a bit more patter or just edit out a few lines. Because that last scene is a showstopper and it deserves a good opening act.


A.G. Scott
22:41 Sep 30, 2020

Roger that. I'll give it another pass in a bit. As always, thanks for your help.


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Daniel R. Hayes
07:15 Mar 05, 2021

Hi, I thought this story was amazing. You did a fantastic job writing it. I can tell what you meant about our stories being a little similar in the escalations. You're right, I did like this story. Also, I loved your story on After Dark Fairy Tales. You did one hell of a job with that story as well. I think your very talented and I look forward to reading more of your stories.


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K. Antonio
15:14 Oct 01, 2020

Oh my GAWD! I came to this story after reading "Pinned Wings" which was already good, but this story. IT WAS A HOOT! Loved it, I laughed out loud a few times, but when he drew out the machine gun, that did it for me. There was a moment that I was reading and kept thinking "how is this real?" and of course I knew you had to explain it, so the ending was a nice way to reveal the plot and how everything came about. Critiques: - I noticed a spelling mistake: ambience = ambiance - Also you forgot to use an article before "white," (...


A.G. Scott
15:54 Oct 01, 2020

-it actually is ambience, not ambiance -I don't know what you're talking about when you say I'm missing an article after white. -the repetition of 'really' was intentional. But if my intention didn't come across I'll just get rid of it. -you're probably right about the Xanax, I'll fix that -yeah, I tend to make that mistake once or twice during dialogue. I'll give the longer blocks another pass. -I think the opening paragraphs are essential, actually. They add quite a bit to Leslie's character (how he wants to be seen, what his fantasy ...


K. Antonio
16:12 Oct 01, 2020

- I had to actually look in the dictionary. Yeah, ambience/ambiance are both correct, I'm guessing its a regional variation on spelling ( had never seen ambience before). - The article was meant to be before "white", but I think there was a moment of misinterpretation on my part, because I read it again and to me there was no mistake, Maybe I read too quickly xD. - You could keep the reallys it's not that big of a deal, if it is intentional just leave it. - Commas are always annoying, they tend to be 99% of peoples' Achilles's he...


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Lani Lane
22:56 Sep 29, 2020

This was fantastic and hilarious!! From the call with his wife, to his reflection popping out of the mirror, to the crazy shootout scene--this kept me entertained the whole time. Had no idea what was coming next. I love a good "double" story, and I also love the last line. My favorite phrase: skull-numbing wave. That better be a band name soon. Only critique: The next morning, there were three solid knocks on Leslie’s front door. Maybe to avoid passive voice: The next morning, Leslie heard three solid knocks on his door. Really g...


A.G. Scott
23:12 Sep 29, 2020

Good catch, seems like I always miss at least one of those. Glad you liked it!


Lani Lane
00:47 Sep 30, 2020

Keep up the great work!!


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Iris Silverman
19:28 Sep 29, 2020

Omg. I was captivated from the moment I read that he was rehearsing in the mirror. I also loved the concept of the reflection as the self in italics, " Or your reflection, if you must. You in italics. " What a whirlwind of a story! I loved it


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Rhondalise Mitza
18:36 Sep 29, 2020

I can't comment right now because I'm busy and working, but :) and I'll be back later!!


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