My life before the incident wasn’t perfect, but I was happy. My career was going well, I had a steady boyfriend who I loved, a good network of close friends and family, a beloved pet, hobbies and activities which I enjoyed and brought me fulfilment, and hopes for a bright future. I still suffered from anxieties of course – both rational and irrational fears…the occasional crisis of confidence and the awful feeling that I didn’t deserve to be happy; that I was nothing more than an imposter in my own life.
I think this is a common enough fear for anyone who isn’t entirely self-obsessed or delusional. There’s even a name for it – imposter syndrome. It’s a cliché, but we can all be our own worst enemy at times, holding a negative self-image which is at odds with how the rest of the world views us. For most, the inner demons of anxiety and depression are just a metaphor – a monster which only exists in our own head. But not for me.
Because I came face-to-face with my bad side; a physical living, breathing and walking doppelganger embodying all of my very worst emotions and impulses, including some I didn’t even know I had. Not only did I meet my evil double, but I was assaulted and kidnapped by her, held as a prisoner in my own home. It’s crazy and unbelievable but all true, and this terrifying episode has changed my life forever. This is my story.
It all started one Saturday morning, a seemingly normal day. It was my day off and I was spending it relaxing at home, lounging on the couch with Archie, my beloved black Labrador, by my side, when suddenly my doorbell rang. Archie’s reaction was my first warning that something wasn’t right. Now, Archie was always a friendly dog and he liked people, but on that morning he went crazy, barking aggressively and snarling in the direction of the front door as soon as the bell rang.
His behaviour on that morning was very out of character, and I now realise he was trying to warn me of the impending danger. If only I had listened to my faithful companion. Instead, I locked him in the living room while I went to answer the door. I wasn’t expecting company and so suspected my visitor was a delivery driver of some variety, and I feared what Archie might do to him while he was all riled up.
So I shut my dog in the living room, shushing him as he continued to bark loudly and scratch at the door, desperately trying to escape out into the corridor. Understandably, I still felt apprehensive, and so I opened the door ever so slightly with the safety chain in place. What I saw standing on my doorstep took my breath away and brought an ice cold chill up my spine.
The person standing on the other side of the door was me, or at least bore a striking resemblance to me. She looked considerably older and frailer however, and I reckoned she had about twenty years on me. Her hair was grey and straggly, and her skin wrinkled. The clothes she wore were dirty and ripped, her shoes worn out and falling apart. She was also unnaturally thin, almost to the point of being emaciated.
When she saw me through the crack in the door, the mysterious woman shot me a crooked smile, and I noticed how her teeth were yellow and chipped. But, despite her bedraggled appearance, the woman still looked uncannily like me, right down to her cheekbones and facial expression. And that was before I looked into her eyes. They were an exact replica of my own – a dark hazel brown. I could have been looking into a mirror – it was unreal! But the deeper I stared into those eyes, the more I saw the malice behind them – a malicious intent that put me even more on edge.
The mystery woman didn’t say a word. She just stood on the doorstep, staring at me with those impossible eyes and retaining a crooked smile. I was so shocked and taken aback that I struggled to speak, mumbling my words through shaking lips.
“Can…can I help you ma’am?”
I realised how ridiculous my question must have sounded and so was hardly surprised when my visitor responded with mocking laughter. When she spoke, her voice was deep and raspy, like that of someone who’d smoked too much for too many years.
“Well, I sure hope so sweetie.” she answered.
What happened next remains something of a blur in my memory. It was so completely unexpected. For a woman who appeared so physically frail, she acted with extraordinary, almost super-human, speed and strength. She charged forwards, striking my solid oak door with her shoulder. In an instant, I was thrown backwards, as the metal chain broke like it was made of paper, and the door swung open.
I hit the ground hard, banging my head against the tiles. I wanted to cry out for help but found myself unable to speak. I suppose I was in a state of shock. My wicked double coolly marched into my home, still smiling in cruel mockery as she looked down upon me – her helpless victim.
I found I couldn’t stand and so I crawled backwards in a pitiful attempt to escape her grasp. All the time I could hear Archie barking maniacally, clawing at the shut living room door in a desperate attempt to get out. My faithful companion would protect me, if only I could reach him. But my attacker anticipated my next move, and she acted fast, reaching out with her bony arms and roughly pulling me up onto my feet, exerting impossible strength as she pinned me to the wall.
Her face was so close to mine that I could smell her foul breath, and it made me retch. I knew that she meant to hurt me. My fear was all encompassing at this point. I could hardly breathe let alone speak, but somehow I managed to open my quaking lips and mutter just one word – “Please…”
But my pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears. In fact, my appeal only seemed to anger her. I remained pinned to the wall as my wretched double screwed her face up in a rage, spitting her hate-filled words through clenched teeth.
“Shut the hell up bitch!” she snarled.
A second later, she literally flung me across the corridor, forcing my head to collide with the hard wall at an immense speed. I felt a shooting pain inside of my skull as my body fell, and then everything went black.
I awoke sometime later – it could have been minutes or hours… there was no way to tell. I felt weak and groggy, and my head was still pounding. It took me a moment to fight through the pain and open my eyes, adjusting my sight to take in my surroundings. I discovered I was in my living room, sitting on my couch, but something wasn’t right. I tried to lift my arms but couldn’t. When I glanced behind me, I saw that my hands were bound with duct tape. Looking down, I noted my ankles were also bound together. I tried to scream, but my cries were muffled by a tight gag over my mouth.
My attacker had tied me up while I was unconscious, taking me hostage in my own living room. My mind was racing as I struggled in vain against my binds, whimpering pathetically as an intense panic almost overcame me. Suddenly, I looked up and saw my kidnapper approaching from the far side of the room. The cruel smile was still plastered across her face, but her appearance had changed significantly.
She was no longer emaciated and frail like before, but instead she appeared young and healthy. In fact, she now looked practically identical to me, even down to the clothes she wore and the way her hair was styled. Before, the woman had looked like an older relative, but now she could have been my identical twin. But there was something different which I could see, even if no-one else could. There was a wickedness behind her hazel-coloured eyes, an evil that wasn’t present inside of me.
It chilled me to my very bones to look upon her, yet I couldn’t understand why this was happening, and how it was even possible! But there was worse to come. My kidnapper’s sadistic grin widened as she nodded towards the corner of the room, prompting me to look in that direction. I glanced across to Archie’s bed and recoiled in horror, seeing my beloved companion lying totally still in his cot, his neck broken and twisted in a most unnatural manner. I knew straight away that he was dead.
“I never understood what you saw in that filthy mutt.” my attacker gloated, “I’ve always hated animals myself.”
Tears ran down my cheeks as the grief overtook me. I wanted to cry out in agony and rage, but the tight gag over my mouth muffled my screams. I experienced an immense pressure building inside of my skull and felt myself drifting away, losing consciousness once again and returning to darkness.
I woke up for the second time due to a series of short, sharp pains. I yelped in disarray and slowly opened my eyes, realising that my captor was repeatedly slapping me across the face.
“Stop it!” I exclaimed, suddenly realising that I was no longer gagged. As my eyes refocussed, I saw that hateful face staring back at me, the wicked smile still etched across her lips.
“Wakey, wakey princess.” she said, in a mocking tone.
I opened my mouth to speak, but she stopped me, holding a single finger up to my lips.
“Don’t you dare scream!” she threatened, “Or I’ll make you regret it!”
I gulped as my whole body trembled. It was obvious that this wasn’t an idle threat, and so I didn’t dare utter a word. Next, she lifted a plastic water bottle, holding it up to my bone-dry lips.
“Drink.” she ordered.
It was the first act of kindness she’d shown me, and I should have suspected a trick. But I was dehydrated and so gladly accepted the water, gulping it down as she held the bottle up for me. I was still bound with duct tape and so expected my captor to reapply the gag once I’d finished drinking, but she didn’t do so.
Instead, she allowed me to speak for the first time.
“You have questions? Speak now or forever hold your peace.” she said.
My mind was racing and part of me still couldn’t believe this was happening. It seemed like a very vivid nightmare, but the physical pain I felt was all too real. There were so many questions inside of my head, but I asked the two most obvious.
“Who are you? Why are you doing this to me?”
My captor laughed in open mockery.
“Don’t you get it yet, you idiot? I’m you…Or rather, a version of you. I’m the girl you’ve always wanted to be, deep down in the darkest recesses of your mind. I’m the side of you who bullied kids at school, who cheated on tests, shoplifted, and broke boys’ hearts. I’m the version of you who would screw over your best friend to get ahead in your career, and I wouldn’t feel the slightest bit bad about it.
And that’s only the half of it. I’m capable of things you could only imagine in your worst nightmares! You saw what I did to your mutt.”
I gulped, my eyes welling up with tears once again as I remembered what this monster had done to poor Archie.
“And why am I doing this?” she continued, “It’s because I hate you. I despise everything that you are, and all you pretend to be. I hate your weakness, your self-doubt, and neediness. And I hate how you always need to prove yourself, to show you’re a ‘good person’. That’s right missus – I’ve been watching you all this time, resenting you more and more every day. Well bitch, I’ve had enough of you screwing up our life. I’m taking over, and I’m going to do a much better job of living than you ever could.”
I was literally left speechless by her hate-filled rant. I just couldn’t understand how any of this was possible. It was like she’d reached inside my head and revealed my deepest and darkest secrets and desires, knowing about things I’ve never told anyone about. It was totally unbelievable, but I couldn’t deny what was occurring in front of my very eyes.
I realised how much danger I was in, and so struggled to ask my next question through trembling lips.
“…Are…are you going to kill me?” I whispered.
She laughed again, louder this time. “Now, why would I do something stupid like that?” she asked.
A moment later, she roughly grabbed hold of me, dragging me off the couch and across the floor, out into the corridor and to my waiting prison. I must have been unconscious for longer than I’d thought, because my captor had been busy while I was out of it. I have a storage cupboard in my home, no more than six foot by four foot and without windows.
My captor had converted this tiny room into a cell, padlocking the door from the outside and affixing a chain to the wall that was linked to a sturdy collar around my neck. To complete my humiliation, she served my food and water in the bowls I had for Archie and forced me to use a slop out bucket to go to the toilet. I was literally chained up and left to live in my own filth. This would be my hellish prison for the next six weeks, while meanwhile my evil doppelganger was having the time of her life.
Now, you might wonder why nobody missed me during my month and a half absence. After all, I had family, friends and a boyfriend who all cared about me. But of course, as far as they knew, I wasn’t missing, because my double was out there pretending to be me, and apparently no-one could tell the difference. And damn, that bitch really screwed up my life, destroying precious relationships which had taken me years to build up, all in just a few short weeks.
I know all this because she told me. It wasn’t enough to keep me chained up in a prison cell, she also took pleasure in torturing me. Sometimes her attacks were physical, as she punched and kicked me while I curled up in the foetal position. But these beatings were rare and not really her style. My captor was more into doling out psychological torture, making me feel like I was less than nothing, and attempting to remove my last glimmer of hope.
I can’t really describe how vile and disgusting it was inside of that closet where I remained for weeks, eating whatever gruel she decided to give me and having nothing but a bucket for all my bodily functions. I spent most of my time sleeping upon the one pillow I was permitted. After a while, I realised I had no energy and was tired all of the time. I began to suspect that she was drugging my food and water to keep me weak and docile.
I also worried that I would become sick as a result of my unsanitary conditions. But I could have dealt with all that, had it not been for the terrible things she whispered to me through the door late at night. My double enjoyed telling me about the awful stuff she’d done out in the world while pretending to be me. She described in detail how she’d broken up with my boyfriend, making sure to humiliate him in the process – telling him he was a loser who would never find happiness. Apparently, he was in tears by the time it was over, totally broken and humiliated.
I was devastated when she told me, and filled with rage, but there was nothing I could do. And of course, the bitch didn’t stop there. She dumped my life-long friends, telling them they were no good and she no longer needed them. And she started a blazing row with my parents, telling Mum and Dad that she’d always resented their interference in her (or rather, my life) and saying she never wanted to hear from either of them again.
She knew how much my relationships with my family and friends meant to me and so took great pleasure in destroying them and telling me what she had done. Slowly but surely, my evil double was unravelling my very existence and removing my presence from my own life! Its difficult to describe exactly what that feels like. But my doppelganger was only just getting started.
Once she’d cleared the decks, she made a whole new set of ‘friends’ and really started enjoying her new life, while making sure to rub my nose in it. Late night parties became a regular occurrence. She made sure I was securely bound and gagged before any visitors came into my home in case I tried to cry out for help, although I doubt anyone would have noticed even if I had.
The loud music and rowdy partying would continue into the early hours, all why I was tied up in the closet, imagining what a mess these strangers were making of my home. Other nights, she would come home late, bringing a man with her, and she’d proceed in having very loud sex in my bed, gleefully telling me all about her sexual encounters the morning after.
I had many long hours and days to think during my captivity. Despite all the misery and pain she’d inflicted upon me, I believe the worst thing was the fear I held in my heart – the fear that she was actually doing a better job of living my life than I ever had. I was literally being erased from the world and I had this awful feeling that it wouldn’t even matter if I ceased to exist.
These were my lowest moments, when I felt like giving up, thinking I would simply stop eating and drinking and let myself die. But even as I grew physically weaker day by day, I retained a fiery defiance in my heart. I still had hope, because I came to realise there was a reason I was still alive. And one day I decided to confront her with the truth.
She came to me that morning as she always did to bring my food and water and empty my slop bucket, making sure to get in a few insults while she was doing so. But on that morning, I wasn’t playing her game.
“Why?” I asked her, in an accusatory tone.
She was standing by the open closet door. My hands were unbound, but I was still secured by the thick collar around my neck, affixed to a chain that restricted my movements.
“Why what?” she shot back in irritation.
“Why don’t you just kill me?” I asked. “Why go to all this effort, just to keep me alive and in captivity?”
She rolled her eyes before replying. “I’ve already told you…”
“Yes, yes…” I interrupted, “You enjoy torturing me. That much is obvious. But there’s another reason, isn’t there? I know the truth now. We’re linked. Our relationship is symbiotic. As I grow weaker, you get stronger. But you still need me. If I die, you die too. Isn’t that the truth? As much as you hate me, you need to keep me alive.”
I could tell straight away that I’d struck a nerve. My captor’s face screwed up in anger and she reacted the only way she knew how – by flying into a violent rage. She stormed forward, reaching out to strike me, but I acted first, grabbing her hair and pulling hard.
She yelped in pain and surprise before breaking free. And then she struck back, punching and kicking me hard as I rolled up into a ball in a futile attempt to protect myself. I felt every blow, the pain reverberating throughout my body. Her attack was so fierce that I feared she might take it too far, but she eventually stopped, leaving me battered and bruised but still in one piece.
“Listen bitch!” she snarled through clenched teeth, “I might need you alive, but there’s still a lot of bad shit I can do. I can permanently disfigure you, chop off one of your arms…The only limit is my imagination. You’ve had it easy so far. Just think on that…”
After the threat, she left me beaten and bloodied, slamming the door shut and locking me in. But as soon as she did so, I smiled and silently celebrated my triumph, because my nemesis had fallen for my trick. Yes, I’d suffered a beating, but I’d also managed to pull out her hairpin and secure it in the palm of my hand. And now I had a means of escape.
Now, as you’ve probably guessed, picking a lock with a hairpin isn’t as easy as it looks in the movies, especially when you’re weak and half-starved, working in the dark, and the lock is a collar around your own neck. It was a long and frustrating process, and all the time I feared that my captor would realise the hairpin was missing and come to get me. But I persevered and eventually got free, experiencing an elation like none other when I finally heard the click of the lock popping open.
The first part of my plan had worked, but the difficult bit was still to come. I didn’t sleep a wink that night and I didn’t touch the food and water she’d left me. I couldn’t risk being affected by whatever drugs she’d put in them. I struggled to control my nerves as I waited for her to come the next morning. The tension was unbearable. I knew that this was my only chance at escape.
I jumped up when I heard the footsteps, followed by the clinking of metal as my captor worked the padlock. The adrenaline was pumping through my veins. I knew she was strong, but I had the element of surprise on my side, and weeks’ worth of rage built up inside of me.
I prepared myself as the door slowly opened, the light creeping in from the corridor, and I leapt as soon as I saw her, attacking with all the strength and anger I could muster. I’ll never forget the look on her face in that moment – one of shock and terror. I savoured it as I launched my attack, screaming in righteous fury as I jumped onto my captor, pushing her down to the floor.
What followed was a vicious, visceral fight as we both struggled for our very lives. To be honest, the whole thing is something of a violent blur in my memory. I recall the fear I had that she would overpower me, but I fought like a wild animal, getting on top of my kidnapper and slamming her head repeatedly against the hard floor until she stopped resisting.
Then I jumped up onto my feet and ran to the kitchen, grabbing the largest steak knife in my possession before running back into the corridor, pinning my doppelganger down as I lifted my knife, preparing to stab. She was still breathing, still alive but incapacitated. All I needed to do was plunge the knife into her heart and I’d be free of the bitch. But I stopped myself at the last second, suddenly realising what the consequences would be. I dropped the knife and started to cry uncontrollably, as all my emotions spilled out at once.
Life since the incident hasn’t been easy, and I know I’ll never get back to the way things were before. I was able to wash the dirt off my skin and change into fresh clothes, and my injuries healed before long, but the psychological scars proved harder to erase. I still wake up screaming during the night, as I imagine being chained back inside that damned cupboard.
No doubt I’m suffering from PTSD, but I’ve not been able to seek professional help. How would I explain this all to a therapist? I’ve spent months trying to repair the damage my doppelganger did while pretending to be me. I lost my job and was nearly evicted from my home. I’ve spent so much time and energy trying to rebuild bridges and making amends for actions I wasn’t even responsible for!
I apologised to my parents, saying that I hadn’t been myself and didn’t mean the terrible things I’d said. Thankfully, they forgave me. I’ve also been able to rebuild some of my friendships, but others have proved beyond repair. My ex-boyfriend won’t even return my calls. I’ll never forgive that bitch for the way she treated him.
But the worst thing is that I’m still not free from her, and I fear I never will be. I realised in that moment I was holding the knife over her chest. I couldn’t kill her – not because I felt pity for the monster, but because we’re still connected, and if she dies, I’ll die too.
I racked my brains while she was unconscious, trying to think of a solution, but in the end there was only one thing I could do. And now my evil doppelganger has taken my place, chained up in the locked closet, waiting for me to feed her and empty her slop out bucket.
As evil as she is, I don’t like doing this to her. I dread every morning when I have to open the locked door and see her chained up, listening to her abuse and threats. I’ve tried to be a more humane jailer than she was, but the woman is dangerous, and I need to take every precaution to prevent her escape, knowing all too well the damage she would do if she got free.
You may judge me harshly, but deep down I’m not a bad person, and I’ve only taken this course of action because I had no other choice. People go to great lengths to control the demons inside of their head and to keep their dark side from coming to the surface. The only difference is that my demon is a living and breathing person, but I need to control her nonetheless. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must check in on my prisoner.
Credit : Woundlicker
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