Step by step instructions to kill another version of yourself:

Step 1: Pretend that you’re thinking of using the human terrarium built by the Mi-Go as a method to save humanity. Mention to them that you will need time to consider, and would like to not be disturbed by anyone. No, not even if the friendly Mi-Go want to invite me to a party and observe, or research how a human acts when deciding the fate of its kind. Not even when the very nice and helpful humanoid abomination dressed in yellow wants to keep company and enjoy the jacuzzi some more.

Step 2: In fact, ask expressively that both are not allowed to interfere with you for the next 24 hours. It might take some negotiation and stubbornness to achieve it, but you don’t want either Mi-Go researchers nor the Queen in Yellow meddling and stopping you from killing yourself successfully. In this matter, it is best to use their fears to enforce this decision. The Mi-Go would not dare interfere with anything you do, if they fear punishment from the nearest eldritch horror, even if it currently goes by the name of Suzy.

Step 3: Don’t worry about alibi, or even investigation. This is not even technically murder. You are simply disposing of a test subject, barely a step over breaking equipment or stealing supplies. And besides, the victim is yourself. Would that qualify as euthanasia? Suicide? Or perhaps, you are simply clearing things up. The existence of two of you is a confusing state of affairs, let there be one. Let the best man win.

I let my body flop back onto the bed and let out a chuckle. That never got old. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a bed that large before, certainly not in the last few years stuck in my small apartment. The contrast between my place and… This, was as night and day.

I still could not believe how lucky I was, that all students had been entered into a lottery for this resort, and somehow I managed to win despite not even knowing that such a thing existed. Why, I had never even heard of Springpalms Resort until the phone call two weeks ago. It was a shame though, that the ticket had only been for one. If only Regina could be here, that would’ve been perfect. I had to remember calling her tonight, before bed. Was there any difference between her timezone and mine? I’d have to check.

It was all hazy, now that I thought of it. Saying goodbye to her, the entire trip to this resort. The entire path to this room, with its clean sheets and bed entirely too large for one person, or even two. Hell, someone could easily arrange an orgy in this bed.

The thought briefly distracted me for a moment, until the thought was dislodged by another issue niggling in my mind, all the more obnoxious because I couldn’t place my finger what it was. Something… Off? Or strange? A weird sense of déjà vu that seemed to permeate my every thought.

It was probably the new environment, I decided. I definitely did not belong in this place, or anywhere this fancy and different from my regular day life. It was probably affecting me more than I realized, and I shook my head ruefully. I probably looked like a country bumpkin on my first day in a fancy house or something. Needed to be sure to get ahold of this throughout my stay, or I would just make a fool of myself, well… More than usual.

Once again, I missed Regina. She had a way of grounding my thoughts when she was around. She talked, or decided something, or did something, and forced me to react to it. I kept busy while she was around, and while that could be tiring sometimes, it was better than the funk I settled in when left alone for too long. With no other company, my thoughts had a tendency to devour me in my sleep.

No, this would not do. I would not spend this wonderful surprise vacation moping in my room! With that decision, I got up from the bed in a single movement, determined to go visit the pool or water resort or… Whatever it is people did in this place for fun. There were so many in the brochure that they hadn’t fully registered in my mind, but now was the time to find out!

And when I got up from the bed, my heart leapt to my chest in fright as I realized I was not alone in the room.

The man had a knife in his hands, which he thrust at me in a stabbing motion before I had a chance to think. It was pure instinct that made me duck and move back, which is why his knife hit me just below my collarbone instead of the middle of my chest. I did not feel pain, even as a spurt of blood stained my neck and shirt crimson, but my body was suddenly flooded with adrenaline as every cell of my body told me to fight or flee from this sudden danger that had opened a new hole in my body. I had to fight with all my strength!

So of course I kicked the man in the balls. He grunted in pain and we both pulled away at the same time, the knife dislodging from my sternum with another spurt of blood. This one was followed by pain, and my vision blurred with tears as well as the loss of blood. I leaned onto the soft bed for support, another arm raised protectively against the man who attacked me. He was now double in two, grunting in pain and clutching at his balls in obvious pain, not that I felt particularly sympathetic.

Until he looked up at me and I realized he looked exactly like me.

Step 4: Visit the hotel kitchen and look for a good, sharp knife. The kind used to slice meat. Make sure it’s sharp, and not too unwieldy. You can’t ask your friendly neighbourhood abomination for a gun or a sword. Even given her lax standards towards rule-abiding and safety, it would still seem a bit suspicious. So a sharp knife will have to do. Also, don’t get a roque mallet. It sounds good in theory but people are a lot harder to bludgeon to death than you would think. Unless you get a good hit to the head, it would only hurt your victim rather than incapacitating them.

Step 5: Sneak into the room where your other self is currently relaxing on the bed. This is a lot easier when one of the walls simply isn’t there. Ignore the Mi-Go staring at you, they have promised not to interfere and are too afraid of the King in Yellow to do anything. So long as you have the element of surprise, killing yourself should be easy.

Step 6: Immediately lose the element of surprise when your clone randomly gets up from the bed in a quick motion while you’re halfway across the room. Panic when your plan goes to shit, like it always does, and stab him in a random place. If you do these steps successfully you should get a kick in the groin as a reward for your efforts. Also, be sure to not stab him anywhere fatal. Where would be the fun in that?

We stood there, frozen in pain and shock, for a brief second before he lunged at me again. Cornered, I threw myself across the bed and immediately regretted it. The shoulder close to where I was stabbed exploded in pain, forcing me to collapse to the floor on the other side while grasping at my shoulder, as if pressing on it hard enough would mend the cut where warm blood seeped between my fingers.

This gave the man enough time to run around the bed and, once again, corner me on the other side. I looked up in horror, but it was unmistakable. He was exactly like me, from the tan skin and shaggy black hair to the expression of anger and sadness in his face, which I could read as well as my own face, because indeed it was my face. The only difference were the eyes, those eyes were wide and haunted. Eyes that had seen far more than they should have. He looked at me like I was a pet to be put down, like the rabid dog at the end of that movie, full of pity and dreadful purpose. With horror, I realized the man did not even see a human being when he looked at me, and I forced myself up again, trembling with fear.

How could this be, I thought. A long lost twin? A hallucination? No, pointless to wonder. What mattered is he had a knife. He had stabbed me. And he pointed it again at me, while raising his other hand defensively. Without bothering to explain or make sense, he just grunted and rushed at me again.

Step 7: Stab at him again. This time he is cornered, so there’s no way to escape. Unless he rolls across the bed like a ninja despite having enough blood outside his body to stain one his sleeves entirely crimson. Did they teach this guy kung-fu behind your back or something?

Step 8: Do not let him brush against the missing fourth wall and come out the other side. Corral him if you have to, but if you let him past the hotel area, things get a lot harder. For one, you might have to chase him though alien territory in a large cavern where it might be easy for him to either hide or lose you. Another danger is that a Mi-Go might actually rescue him, which is not unreasonable. They were warned against interfering specifically with you, but there is nothing stopping them from taking him away from you forever. Rescuing him into a life as an experiment, so he never lives his life or chooses anything else freely, without even knowing he is a prisoner. A puppet for all eternity. You wouldn’t wish that life on anyone, least of all yourself.

Step 9: Rush forward and rush at him one more time, while making sure he stays cornered. Third time’s the charm, as folk like to say. Then you may marvel at how useless folk wisdom can be when he grabs a lamp near the bed and throws it at you. His aim is pretty good, too, hitting you right in the face. With any luck even after that your momentum will be strong enough for the stab to connect, because otherwise this will start looking silly.

We collided, falling together in a confused wrestle, as each stained the other with their blood, although from different wounds. He had blood seeping down his head from a cut caused by the shattered lamp, and looked stunned. Still he clung fiercely to his knife, which was now buried halfway in the side of my torso, just below the ribs.

It didn’t bleed as much as my other wound, but hurt more. Anger, pain and fear were as much my enemies as the man struggling to pull the knife and stab me again. My fear and desperation were mimicked in his expression, as he yanked again and caused me even more pain. Even our strength was matched, as we struggled to control the knife and clawed or kicked each other.

So eerie, to see two people so alike fighting so fiercely, like something out of a bad nightmare. We were evenly matched except for the knife, but after a particularly vicious headbut from me he finally relinquished it and jumped away, clutching at his bloody nose while glaring at me, blinking furiously as the blood running down his forehead reached one of his eyes. I tried to get up as well, but pain flared up again, forcing me into an awkward sitting position while gasping for air, tears forming involuntarily on the corner of my eyes. My body, which had been so firmly in my control until now, betrayed me with pain and tears, automatic processes of the human body in its blind design and little ironies.

“Why…?” I gasped, grabbing the knife by the hilt. An experimental pull was enough to convince me not to try it again, as I shouted in pain. The knife was staying where it was.

The man hunched like some sort of predatory animal, blood dripping from his nose as well, but didn’t move a muscle, looking down at me as I lay there, vulnerable.

“Why? Why the fuck are you... Stabbing me? Who even are you?” I groaned, between shallow gasps and tears. My hands trembled now, I could not even trust them to hold anything. “What the fuck is going on?”

“You’re better off not knowing,” the man replied, and his voice, again, was exactly like mine. But that was not as much of a surprise as hearing him speak at all. His voice was bitter and cold, but I had the sudden realization that he did not hate me. He was angry, true, but not at me, which I could read on him like an open book.

“I’m sorry...” He added, taking another step towards me.

“Fuck you!” I spat, which I regretted immediately as my face contorted in pain. Even shouting was too much for me. “You come here… Fucking stab me… Then apologize? Say I’m… I’m better off not knowing why you’re killing me? Go to hell!”

I grabbed one of the broken shards from the lamp and held it as tightly as I could, its sharp tip pointed at him while I struggled to breathe without my stomach exploding in pain. A pathetic weapon, all things considered.

“You have every right to hate me,” he said, bowing down his head in mute agreement, “but this is necessary. If you don’t die today, then the rest of your life... A prisoner. An experiment. This is the only way.”

As he said those words, he walked to a coffee table nearby and picked up a small decorative statue sitting on the desk. He hefted it, judging its weight, then swung it experimentally, before looking back at me.

“No!” I shook my head fiercely while keeping the rest of my body as still as I could. “Fuck you! You don’t get to choose for me. It’s… This is my life. And if shit comes my way, then I will deal with it then. So… Quit your samaritan killer act.” I gasped as another stab of pain shot through my body, but it felt weaker. Endorphins and more adrenaline rushed through my body as I lay there on the floor, cornered and bloodied, desperately trying to come up with a plan.

“I am you,” he quietly replied.

“The hell you are! If you’re so sure you’re me then why don’t you bash your own face in?”

He stared at me for a moment, confused and at loss for words. And in that moment I realized how absurd our conversation sounded. A man exactly like me, trying to kill me and then convincing myself that I should die. It was like a bad joke.

“You are a nothing but a copy of me,” he said, narrowing his eyes as any empathy in them dulled out, leaving only determination as he took another step towards me, holding the statue with two hands like a small club.

“Bullshit!” I spat out again, holding onto the bed for support. “I am me! I have my stuff, my memories, a family, a girlfriend… Fuck that!”

He stopped at that, but his expression did not change. “Your memories were tampered with. You’re nothing but a test subject.”

He took another step, only a few feet away from me, when there was a crack below his feet. He glanced down briefly to realize he had stepped on a broken shard of the lamp, and at that moment, while he was distracted and off balance, I jumped at him.

Even if it hurt like hell, it was my only chance. With a shout I lunged at him with a pointy shard as my only weapon. He had no time to swing the statue to bludgeon me, and instead we grappled while the force of my jump made him stumble back a few steps, until he almost touched the wall behind him.

“Oh shit,” he said, looking at the wall behind, before one final step pushed us both into the wall.

But instead we went through the wall. And then the whole world went mad.

Step 10: Leave him there bleeding to death on the floor. After being almost murdered by a man who, looks just like him, now is the perfect moment to convince him that you are right and he should die. Your reasonable arguments will certainly convince him of your righteousness and how he deserves death. After all, he is exactly like you, so he is sure to be smart and understanding.

Step 11: Be surprised at how unreasonable he can be in accepting his own death. Give up on the rhetorical strategy and resume trying to kill him the old fashioned way. A statue heavy enough to bash his brains in when he is that weak and helpless, should work just fine.

Step 12: Did I say weak and helpless? Nevermind that, the bastard apparently has enough energy left to bum-rush me even with a knife stuck to his side. Doesn’t this bastard know how to quit? Of course, he also manages to push us both past the wall mentioned in Step 8. If you follow each of the steps mentioned before, your plan should now be going terribly wrong.

I landed on top of my other self, on the other side of the wall we somehow went through,, with enough force that the knife finally came out with a sickening lurch of pain that disoriented me. The first thing I noticed when my vision settled was that the floor was brown and slightly spongy, not quite carpet or fur but still, somehow… Organic.

We were in a cave, so immensely large that one could fit a skyscraper inside it. The whole place was illuminated by the phosphorescent glow of strange growths covering the floor or walls in intervals, illuminating horrifying things that defied comprehension. Structures and objects made of what seemed like flesh or bone, a hideous mixture of architecture and biology as chitinous growths covered ramps and scaffolds and tentacles writhed and tasted the air, attached firmly to fleshy cubes or fungus growths.

And there were also those terrible creatures. Like gigantic insects, with six legs and a carapace, but instead of heads they had only a gaping hole, surrounded with hundreds of small tendrils or tentacles, which wriggled as they all turned to face me with their faceless heads.

I had gone mad. That was the only explanation. I looked behind me and saw my hotel room, somewhat messy with the scuffle but still well-lit and inviting, with its potted plants and flatscreen TV and soft bed I was resting on just a few moments ago. But when I looked forward, all I saw was incomprehensible horror, so fantastical it had to be a delusion. Nobody sane could ever see such things.

“What the fu...” but even my swearing died in my mouth, unable to compete with the utter shock of what my eyes were telling me. I looked down at the man below me, terrified, and his expression was cautious, but unsurprised. He knew.

“This makes no sense...” I whispered to him, the only human face I could see. “This is… No way. It makes no sense.”

“As I said, you are happier not knowing,” he replied.

My hands closed around his throat and I squeezed it. The throat of this man that would hide such a thing from me, this human nightmare wearing my face. Madness producing more madness in an endless, fractal insanity. He fought against it, but I was on top and pushed my weight on him. Weakened as I was, it was enough to see his face going red, as he struggled for breath.

“This makes no sense...” I whispered, breaking into hysterical laughter. “What is going on? What is going on?”

He only shot a terrified look back at me while struggling to dislodge my hands. I wasn’t expecting a response from him anyway. Nothing made sense. Nothing mattered.

Step 13: Fail at killing yourself.

Step 14: Fail at everything in general.

Step 15: Die.


About the author

Mike Spivak


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