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A Game of Impostors

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Author's note: This is a finalist pasta for CrazyWords' Writing Competition. My topic was, "An ordinary man's hallucinations."

John stumbled through the door to his tiny apartment, immediately hanging up his shadowy black coat and collapsing on the floor. He knew he shouldn't have spent his whole night at the nearest pub trying to drown his problems in bourbon, but at the time, the decision was just so simple. After all, he had went there enough in the past for the event to pretty much be part of his daily routine.

John crawled over to the dirty couch near his coffee table and rose only to fall once more, this time right on the cushions. He closed his eyes in an attempt to sleep. He was planning to visit his parents for his birthday tomorrow and he probably should be getting rest to be able to be cheery and awake around them. However, thinking about his parents just made his thoughts of depression linger on.

Everything went downhill when John lost his job. He tried out for multiple jobs, all of which resulted in rejection. His parents were beginning to view him as a failure, and his alcohol addiction certainly wasn't helping his current money situation. It wouldn't be long until he wouldn't even be able to afford the monthly rent of his apartment.

After a while, John finally managed to convince himself that he would do something about his problems tomorrow (subconsciously knowing full well that he probably wouldn't) and drifted off into sleep.

John awoke, smiling at the fact that he was no longer delirious. It appeared to be morning, as he saw a tiny amount of sunlight peeking through the shutters of the window. He yawned and arose from the couch to see himself standing in front of him, grinning.

“Oh, hello!” the duplicate said before breaking into a fit of laughter.

John was completely awestruck and just stared with shock. The double continued laughing before calming himself down and outstretching a hand.

“Sorry about that, John, it was just your expression was absolutely hilarious. Anyway, I’m… Doble? Daburu? Deobeul? Ooh, those first two were decent, but that last one is particularly nice. I’m Deobeul.”

John took a deep breath, having no idea what exactly was going on. Right when he wondered who exactly this person was, Deobeul confidently stared at John and said, “I’m you, obviously. You seem a bit out of today, was it perhaps yesterday’s bourbon?”

John was essentially flabbergasted at the fact that this person just read his mind and even knew the exact alcohol he had drank the previous night. Looking at his double, he noted that every detail was uncannily perfect. The light green eyes, the wavy light brown hair, the wide nose, and every other part identical.

Finding the courage to speak, John said, “W-what is going on?”

Deobeul chuckled a bit before saying, “Well, I’m here to play a bit of a game. I’ve always loved games, especially the satisfaction that one gets from winning, so this should be fun for both of us.”

John, completely puzzled, then asked, “How can you read my thoughts, how did you get here, and what is this so-called ‘game’?”

Deobeul made an exaggerated hand gesture before saying, “Slow down for a second, okay? I’ll answer them all, but really, don’t get too overexcited now.”

He paused for a second before briskly stating, “I am you, but I know you much better than you even know yourself. Perhaps I know you so well that I can even know exactly what you think at every moment, while you clearly can’t seem to grasp any of the things I’m pondering about right now.”

John contemplated this for a moment before asking, “How did you get here?”

“What do you think, dumbass? The door, of course.” Deobeul heartily laughed before whispering, “Actually, I just sort of appeared here, but I thought that previous line would be a lot more amusing.”

John’s mind felt as though it was about to explode due to the amount of confusion he was experiencing, but he pressed on and asked, “What about this game?”

Deobeul’s expression suddenly got more serious as he stopped grinning. “Well, this game will be unlike any other sort of game you have experienced. This one is a lot more gripping in my opinion. The objective is simply to figure out the impostor, simple as that.”

John began to feel rather freaked out by how quickly Deobeul changed from being light-hearted to appearing almost stoic. John realized that he might want to get away from this twisted duplicate.

As John backed away, Deobeul quickly raised his hand and swung it towards John’s eyes, causing John to flinch and blink. Upon opening his eyes once more, his jaw dropped.

He was in a large, dark room, the only light being a small light-bulb on the ceiling. Underneath the light-bulb was a couch on which Deobeul seemed to be comfortably sitting with his legs on a footrest. He laughed a bit as he said, “Again, you have that shocked expression. It is classic, really. Anyway, I knew you would probably try to escape, so I thought we should change location to a place with no exits.”

John looked around and put his hands on the walls, hoping to find some sign of a door. He found absolutely nothing. With that stupid grin once again on his face, Deobeul calmly stated, “You’re playing the game no matter what. You tell anybody about anything you think related to this game, such as impostor, I will assure you that your life will be much shorter than it would be by participating.”

John sighed deeply before mumbling, “When do I start?”

“Oh, you start whenever you blink. I just switched locations as a show of power, really. Blink and you should be back in your apartment. I’ll see you in this room after the game is done,” Deobeul said as he waved goodbye.

John forcibly shut his eyes before opening them to see he was standing in the exact same spot he was when he was trying to back away from that devil earlier. He began contemplating how odd the event was when he noticed something sitting on his coffee table. Once John got closer, he noticed it was a piece of paper that said, “Aren’t you supposed to be going to your parent’s house?”

John suddenly was on full alert as he glanced over at the clock. It was already 9:34 in the morning, and he was supposed to be meeting them in their country home at 10:45. The drive was about an hour, so John quickly showered, put on casual clothes, and rushed out the door.

The drive was boring and uneventful as John began to doubt if what had previously occurred was actually real at all. Upon arriving at the home of his parents, he got out of his car and ran up to the door.

Before he could ring the doorbell, he took notice of a note on the door, reading,

“Dear John,

Your dad and I are at the condo at the Sagikkun Beach down from here. I’m sorry for the sudden change in location, but we thought it would be a nice place for us all to meet up. It is only a few minutes away from here, so you should be able to enter the name into your car navigation and find it.

From, Mom.”

John, finding it odd why they didn’t simply call him to tell him of this changed location, shrugged and went back to his car. He found the place and, after a quick drive, arrived there.

Upon getting out of his car, he noticed that there was only one condo on the beach. Seeing it as strange as to why there weren't any other condos, John began to stroll over to it when he realized that literally nobody was on the beach. Noting the odd detail, he continued his walk to the condo before finally arriving.

After John knocked on the door, he was greeted by his mother. In previous visits she would usually greet him with a hug or some sort of affection, but this time, she just welcomed John inside. Dismissing it as due to their rather negative relationship recently, John asked, “Beth, is dad home?”

Beth smiled and said, “Oh yes, he’s in the bedroom, tidying up a bit. I’ll get him for you.”

John waited a minute as he observed his surroundings. The space was limited, but there was still room for a particularly nice kitchen and living room. He noted that there was a beautiful painting of a purple flower on the wall near the bright white table near the kitchen.

Soon, John’s father David stumbled out of the bedroom door, uttering, “Happy birthday, John. Your mom and I figured that you might need to cash after you got laid off, so we sent it over to your apartment the other day. Did it get there yet?”

John coughed before saying, “No, not yet.”

His dad’s face seemed to look slightly disappointed as he mumbled, “Alright.” He then hastily made two lattes before inviting John to sit at the coffee table with him.

As John sat down, he asked, “Where’s Mom?”

“Oh, she’ll be out in a minute. She spilled something on her shirt, so she wanted to change it before coming out again.”

John, unaware that his mom was even having a drink at the time, ignored the nagging suspicion and nodded his head.

A few seconds of silence passed before David abruptly asked, “So, how’s the job situation going?”

John sighed before replying, “Do we really have to talk about this again?”

His dad, acting rather defensively, said, “Aren't I supposed to ask what problems are happening in the life of my son?”

“I mean, I guess, but we literally just discussed that I haven’t been able to get a job about two days ago.” John was very tired of having to discuss his lack of a job over and over, and he certainly didn't want to get into it now.

“Well, maybe you got one yesterday that I just didn't know about yet," his dad said rather plainly.

“Well, I didn't. Let’s move on, please?” John asked, almost begging his father to just talk about another topic for once. David grumbled as he took another couple sips from the latte. John noticed that Beth still wasn't back yet.

“Dad, is Mom alright back there?” John asked, slightly worried about why she was taking so long.

“Yeah, she should be, but I’ll check,” David said as he rose from his chair and casually opened the bedroom door before shutting it briskly.

John saw this as quite peculiar, as his dad was acting pretty lethargic mere seconds ago. Studying the condo further, he noticed that the picture on the bedroom door was the very same one that hung above the table he was sitting at.

Looking up to clarify if it was in fact the same, John noticed that there was some tiny writing below the painting. Upon further inspection, he saw that it read, “This game really isn't too fun. Your suspicion is entertaining at times, but the rest is starting to bore me. At least try to entertain me, okay? You got it? Thank you, that's very kind of you!”

John started to tense up a bit at the thought of having to talk to that demon once more when he saw his mother come running in. He looked up at the painting quickly and saw the writing was no longer there.

When Beth finally came closer, he noticed that his father wasn't in sight.

Beth was about to sit down when John stopped her and said, “Why is Dad not out here now?”

Her eyes darted nervously to the side for a second before refocusing as she said, “Dad isn't here, son. What are you on about?”

John, however, was not going to let this one slide. “Stop avoiding it and just tell me what is going on.”

John's mother, sighing and starting to tear up, whispered, "I got a call last night."


"Dad is in hospital. He was coming home and..."

A tear dropped from Beth's eye as she covered her face with her hands.

"But... Dad was just here. He was talking to me about my job, hell, you even mentioned him a few minutes ago!" John yelled, getting more agitated every second.

"Wha... What are you talking about? I went to change and..."

"Tell me the truth, Mom."

His mother’s eyes began to dart around even more, but before she could say anything, John blinked.

Reopening his eyes, he noted a sudden shift in his mother's face. It seemed to be slowly rotating itself, as though she was slowly turning it. Her face continued to contort, and John stared in shock the entire time.

Beth's nose, previously tiny and thin, became larger and more bulbous. Her eyes became rounder as her entire face shape was completely altered. Her hair seemingly melted off, dripping off her head in what appeared to be a disgusting, gooey substance. The most disturbing part of it all was that she suddenly let out a low-pitched, almost demon-like growl that made John worry that his mother was possessed by Satan himself.

Out of nowhere, an unknown voice beckoned for him. It sounded as though it was physically slowed, as it was almost as low-pitch as the growl.

"John? John! John, can you hear me?"

John turned his head to see if anybody was behind him, but there was not a trace of any person.

Upon cautiously turning back to Beth (promising to run if her face had become more grotesque), he saw his father, perfectly fine.

"John, what is going on? Are you okay? You've been staring at nothing for the past couple minutes, I was trying to get your attention.

John blinked, in disbelief of what he was seeing.

When his eyes reopened, he realized he was back in the room with Deobeul, who was still strung out on the couch. His clothes had changed to reflect John’s current outfit. He greeted John by saying, “Welcome back, my dear John. Have a good time? I know I did. It reminds me of the old days when I would shake things up and get involved myself, but I think I've gotten a bit too weary for those times.”

John, angry at the fact that this person was controlling his life, wanted answers as to what this being was immediately.

Deobeul, upon seeing that John was having this thought, spoke, “Isn’t it obvious? I mean, come on, John, how could I orchestrate all this and make things magically reappear and disappear? How could I even physically teleport and be here right now? Evidently, the stress and your alcoholism has finally drove you to the breaking point.”

John stood there, frozen and motionless. His mouth managed to say, “W-what do you mean?”

Deobeul chuckled for a good couple seconds before stating, “I don't need to give away all the answers, now do I?”

John stood there, eyes glancing at the floor, unable to comprehend what he was feeling. There was no way anything he said could be true. It just didn't fit into John's mind.

"I still don't understand though. Please, just a tiny bit more before I have to guess..." John uttered.

Deobeul continued his speech, saying, “You aren't really experiencing real life. You’re just driving further off the deep end, but like any person, you don’t want to die unless you were completely hopeless. So, what is your brain to do?”

Deobeul pointed to himself and giggled. "I think you can figure it out from there."

John had his entire head pointed down at this point as he tried coping with this thought. He knew that he had to choose something and that he couldn't simply give up, but he knew that if he guessed wrong, that would be the final point of defeat. There was no way he could keep living after that, and that trickster was the embodiment of all of it.

After a minute of waiting, Deobeul quietly whispered, “Make your decision. Who is the impostor?”

John raised his head as he thought about the way his mom darted her eyes and how she disappeared only to reappear by herself. John took a deep breath and said, “Beth, my mother.”

Immediately, Deobeul cackled at the answer. “Really? I mean, really? I thought it was obvious, and I even gave you a hint earlier, but after that, you still didn’t get it fully correct.”

John’s mind began to run through the possible reasons why he wasn't completely correct, but Deobeul decided to explain it anyway.

“Think about it. Your mom and dad tell you to come to this condo that you never knew about on a beach your parents had never been to with no people there. That alone, regardless of everything else, should have gave you a wide and clear hint. Did you not pay attention?” Deobeul stated. Suddenly, his face began to contort. His complexion morphed into a face that John assuredly recognized.

Beth’s face.

Deobeul than shook his head as it contorted once more to turn into the face of his dad.

“I mean, come on, John, I gave that long speech about your mental deconstruction, and you still believed that the condo and your dad were real?”

John’s face turned pale as he murmured, “I-I thought you could only pick one…”

Deobeul turned his flesh into that of John and heartily laughed as he said, “I’m a trickster. You even stated it yourself. I can play fair when I want and I can give hints whenever I’d like, but I love screwing with your ordinary, puny little head above all of that.”

John was fuming at this point, but at the same time too depressed to move. He lost to this insane, unstable portion of his mind when it should have been obvious, but he knew that no matter what, this was still a part of him. This part of him was accepting his death, constantly laughing it off, and John realized he might need to as well.

John walked straight up to Deobeul and clearly said, “Go on and kill me.”

Deobeul turned serious. “I’m not doing it for you. You’re doing it yourself. If you don’t, I’ll mess with you for the rest of your life on Earth.”

John looked at the duplicate straight in the eye when he stated, “Don’t worry. I’ll do it.”

Deobeul waved his hand before John blinked. When he opened his eyes, he was on that very same beach as before. There was no people, and no condos. He saw the waves coming towards the beach and knew exactly what to do.

John ran into the water and forced himself to stay underwater. No matter how much he wanted to resurface, he stayed put. He accepted his death.

John’s eyes closed as he breathed his final gasp of air in this life.

John suddenly woke, slightly delirious. He was in a completely white room, with absolutely no other colors.

As John stood up straight, he noticed a man in the center of the white room standing right there.

That man was himself.

Written by AGrimAuxiliatrix1
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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