I had only one regret, and this might be the only chance I will have to tell it.
I was going to visit my grandparents in Germany, mainly at the behest of my parents. Mind you, I love my grandparents, but I haven't seen them in years; I only hoped that they would recognize me. The last time I was in Germany, I was barely past the age of twelve years and, as a kid, I was privy to share much of my experiences with them.
They, in turn, would share their experiences with me. My grandfather told me about how his grandparents fought in resistance groups in Germany during "the darkest of German times", and that was how they met. My grandmother would relay tales of lore shared by her grandparents, from the feudal times of my supposed ancestry fighting alongside kings and queens of honor. She also shared many a mythological tale that originated from her homeland, starting with the Erdhenne and ending with the "White Ladies". Being twelve years of age, I remembered asking if such things were real or pure fantasy, and she only responded with, "If you meet them, you'll know." She would also chide me to be careful going outside, lest the "pure fantasy" took me away.
I had arrived in Germany about three hours ago, in the city of Osnabrück. As my grandparents lived in Bremen, I would have to take a train, especially during the rainy season. Surprisingly, when I was making my way to the train station, the rain had stopped despite the clouds still covering the sky; the only illumination came from the lamps. My German was intermediate, so I had to pay close attention to the times of arrivals and departures, and finally boarded my train. I was the last of a small gathering of people who also waited, yet I could have sworn that there was another person with our group, seemingly disappearing as soon as I climbed aboard.
One hour. Thirty minutes. I had arrived as dusk was swept away by the evening, and my grandparents were not yet at the station. In fact, surprisingly, no one was at the station. I was told that they would run late, having to drive from the outskirts to me especially given the weather here. I walked away from the station, keeping within the range of the lights as I looked at my watch...
No one else had gotten off the train with me, as the doors had closed shut almost as soon as I had left, yet it felt like someone was with me. A feeling of dread suddenly crawled up my spine, and I looked past my watch. Ahead, there was no one. To either side, there was no one. Then I looked down. Somehow, in the dim reaches of the lights of the station a hundred paces at my back, the outlined humanoid shadow showed upon the ground as if it was standing directly in the path of light, like a cutout made from black paper. It accompanied my own shadow, which itself was not so clearly defined.
Sweat started forming around my crown, and I tried to breathe slowly; I thought that this could be a simple mugging. I diligently raised both my hands to my sides, signifying that they were empty. "Okay, pal," I said, "don't do anything rash. I have cash on me; it's yours. Just...take whatever you want and then leave." I received no response. Whoever this was, the person wasn't even breathing heavily like some criminals do when they are about to commit their act. Reluctantly, I turned my head towards where I assumed the perpetrator was standing, seeing what kind of being could make a shadow so dark.
There was no one there.
Confused, I look back at the dark shadow, now having shifted closer to mine. I looked back again, but still glimpsed no one. I actually spun in a circle, trying to capture some sort of glimpse of anything that could explain this occurrence; was it a bunch of kids pulling a prank on me? Perhaps there were criminals in the area, trying to scare me out of more than my money? I looked around again, and I looked back at the shadow, now having moved closer to my shadow.
As I stared, the darkened silhouette raised its left arm and moved it back and forth. I could not believe this; it was waving at me! I looked on this for a full minute, while the shadow continued to wave at me - not to my shadow, not at anything appearing on its plane of existence (if one could call it that), but solely at me. Curiosity overcame my fear, and I waved back in response. It stopped, and it pointed at my shadow and held out its other arm. At first, I wasn't sure what it wanted, but it indicated to its hand and pointed directly at my shadow's own hand. I smiled, believing that this was still some sort of silly game, but I played along, and I held out my own hand in front of me as if I was greeting someone; my shadow followed suit, holding out its arm towards the silhouette.
The silhouette grabbed at my shadow's hand; in that moment, a cold vice-like grip wrapped itself around my own hand. I tried to pull away, but I was immobilized! I looked around again, but no one was there. No outlines, no heavy breathing, not even a sound emanated anywhere. I looked down at the silhouette, and it reached with its other arm unto my shadow. Another cold vice-like grip was felt, this time wrapping around my bicep. I shifted my feet; something was pulling me to the ground!
I fell to my knees, and the grip upon my hand released; a new grip was made upon my shoulder, and I felt like something, or someone, was pushing me as well as pulling me down. I tried to resist, but I could not pry off anything because there was, literally, nothing to fight back against! Yet, the silhouette was still there, now almost on top of my own shadow. Again, pressure was relieved upon my arm, namely around my bicep. And, again, a powerful clamp of an invisible hand was upon me, this time around my throat. I was basically dragged to the hard ground, my cheek slamming against the cobblestone. I couldn't scream or call out, I couldn't move, and I could barely breathe.
My view was that of a tilted world, the empty station with its bare vicinity hanging below my chin and the open world of Germany above my brow. Ahead, there were the spots of distant lights, the dark sky, and the darker mass of the silhouette; it was now close enough to touch my nose, if it were more life-like. The vice-grip on my shoulder lifted, and suddenly I felt it around the rest of my throat. Now, I could not breathe!
As I floundered upon the hard surface, the dark shadow seemed to shimmer and expand before my eyes. It appeared more like water, or more like a shape breaking through the water. As it grew, outlines started showing up, including an extension that bridged from the shadow to my throat, splitting down the middle in the process. Two larger extensions stretched out from below where the silhouette's "legs" were located, with smaller appendages tapered at the end. The shape finally breached, a dark humanoid shape that had cold hands pressing deeper into my throat as its legs moved over me, straddling me underneath this being.
In the evening, far from the lights, I should not have been seeing what was before me, and yet the shape continued to be unveiled before my eyes. The shape was still forming, from the hair at the top to the shoes pressing upon the surface. A shirt and jacket wrapped around the being, with jeans to match, and the face...
It was my face!
A scent hit my nose like the train I had been riding. It was my scent! This thing was wearing my clothes, my shoes, my hair, my face! This thing was becoming me, and it was killing me!
A new sensation was felt throughout my body. Was it death? I still couldn't breathe, but the strength of the grips had weakened. I looked around, and my eyes met the gaze of the creature. It stared upon me, as if peering into my soul one last time. It smiled, and then the realization hit me; the grips weren't weakening, but instead releasing! I tried to move, to get up, but I felt glued to the ground. I looked at my arm, and my heart froze; it had sunk into the ground. I tried looking at the rest of my body, but my head, too, was now part of the general environment, and my eyes only saw as much as my unmoving head would allow. Then, one eye went blind, and I felt myself sinking even more; the creature had its hands, my hands, upon my chest and was shifting its weight to push me deeper into the ground. Only...it wasn't really the ground. I did not feel the stone, the mineral, or even the dirt underneath. This was something cold, moving, and pulling me down.
I saw the distant moving lights of a car. It must be my grandparents! They'll be here, and see...
The creature also looked at the distant car lights, but it still continued pressing its weight upon me. Wherever I was going, whatever I was sinking into, I was almost completely consumed. I looked over to where my arm was, but it was gone; I saw only a literal shadow of its former self, unable to touch and unable to rise. I was nearly submerged before the being turned his head back to me, and he stared at me with my own eyes. Then, he smiled with sharpened fangs that started flattening into my own teeth. He opened his mouth, and spoke to me with my own voice:
Then he waved at me. The last thought I had was on my grandparents, especially the "pure fantasy" stories. One came to what was left of my mind, one specific creature notorious in German lore: the doppelgänger.
I should have heeded the warning.