Midday sunlight was already filtering through Marcy’s blinds by the time she’d woken up. She groaned, getting ready, still half-asleep, and glanced at her watch. She’d missed her first class of the day, but there was another in ten minutes.

Not that she attended class much; she never understood much of anything. But somehow she still scored perfectly on the exams.

Her therapist had explained it as, “Impostor syndrome. It’s common among high-achieving young women.”

She passed by her friend as she headed toward the hall. She caught a whiff of a strong chemical. Formaldehyde?

“I forgot to thank you,” her friend said, grinning. “I would’ve been dead if you hadn’t let me copy this morning.”

Marcy automatically answered “no problem” and hurried to her class. It was only when she sat down did she parse what her friend had thanked her for.

But Marcy hadn’t even been awake that morning.

Late at night, she walked through the dim corridor to her dorm room. She let herself into her room, flicking on the lights. She screwed up her nose as a stench hit her in a wave.

There was someone in her room. Marcy jumped, heart racing. She gasped, coughing as she choked on the smell.

As her eyes adjusted to the bright light, she saw that it was an ugly, pallid figure with sunken eyes and her face.

The thing slowly winked. The stench became so overwhelming that it burned.

She barely managed to wheeze out, “Who… are you?”

“You,” answered the thing. It was breathing now, its movements lifelike. “A better version. Why did you think nobody ever noticed you keep skipping class?”

As Marcy tried to suck in a breath for a protest, she found she couldn’t, chest and limbs leaden, brain a fog.

The thing with her face and voice winked again. “The ‘real’ you is a disappointment. So I’m here to take your place.”

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Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
5 months ago

Welcome to Voice Club, Melissa! This is really a scary story, having someone or something take over your very identity. It’s similar to my Doppelganger story, isn’t it? I always thought the idea of having an exact double, that you didn’t know anything about, would be terrifying. Good first story!

Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
5 months ago

‘The ‘real’ you is a disappointment.’ That line has stuck with me… Living in a world where we sometimes have to invent varying versions of ourselves can be tough. Family member, employee, friend, folks may get different parts of us but not always the whole. I suppose, that may make us all an unintentional imposter of sorts? I loved everything about this piece, you have a real talent! Welcome to the club!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
5 months ago

A warm welcome to Voice club, Melissa. I cannot quite imagine having a doppelganger. That’s scary in many ways. Especially when you are locked up in a place where no one can see you, then your exact double (doppelganger) will replace your life; and be loved more by your family. And then your exact double (doppelganger) has done more right and succeeded in life than you do. It is a big slap in the face that you did not want to come back in a real you. How scary it was. Good job on your first story, Melissa.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
5 months ago
Reply to  Melissa Dai

You’re welcome, Melissa.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
5 months ago

Your story is the ideal deterrent for truancy, Melissa, and should be on every school’s reading list! Having read your comment to Fuji, what a terrifying thought to be living in such a world. A well-written, thought-provoking story. Hope to read more from you.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
5 months ago

Hi Melissa and welcome to Voice.club. This is a powerful story; the idea of being replaced because you’re not a perfect version of yourself definitely makes you think. Well done.

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