An Old Friend… (part 2)

Yeah, went and turned it into a webnovella again.  Retitled part 1, so this is now officially part 2.  Not too long this time, but I have plans for this novella, and the next part will invariably be much longer.  We’re going into flashbacks I think, which should be fun.  Let’s see if I can maintain some semblance of regularity this time…

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In all the time I’ve devoted to studying the various phantasmagoria that inhabits this country, I’ve never seen the same creature twice. Once that specific case is closed, the entity in question was gone, for one reason or another, never to return. I had allowed a crust of arrogance to build up as a result, one that was well and truly fractured by the spectre haunting Hyde.

It was ironic, I suppose, that the first entity to be encountered twice would be the very first phantasm I ever encountered.

The porcelain eyes shifted soundlessly in the not-quite-reflection. Hyde had moved out of sight of the mirror now, yet still the image remained, just as I had expected. Now it was me that should have been reflected, standing as I was mere inches away from the glass, but still it was Hyde leering back at me.

The real Hyde was breathlessly muttering to himself now. After it was explained to him that the creature in the mirror was using his image for some sort of nefarious purposes, the man had suffered some form of mental imbalance and shut down. This suited me fine, however, as it allowed for a bit of science to go undisturbed.

With the imposter-Hyde staring blindly at me, I began an examination of the mirror to the best of my atrophied ability. A few years prior, and I would have been able to recall every factor that required observation, but time and drink had dulled the senses and I could only summon the knowledge to look for the most general of witchcrafts. What this amounted to was a cursory observation of exactly how close to manifestation the doppelgänger currently was.

Manifestation is the endgame when it comes to phantasms. Like pest control, a great deal of Phantasmagology is concerned with preventing the spread of whatever spectral nuisance is in question. Allowing them to manifest tends to mean that you have failed, and will often lead to a bit of combat, which is best avoided when dealing with malevolent spirits. The porcelain eyed beast was closer than I would have liked, and that set me on edge. At the corners of the mirror, small bubbles were starting to form. Within the hour they would have progressed to hideous distortions in the surface of the glass, and not long after that the beast would break through.

I turned to Hyde and tried to rouse him from his fevered babbling, but had little success. For a moment he looked up at me, but all I saw in his face was confusion and fear. An old colleague of mine, a psychiatrist once remarked that, to an unprepared mind, the fantastical world that I studied could be nothing more than a catalyst to psychosis. Hyde was the latest in a vast library of corroborating evidence.

The beast was becoming more animated as time progressed, and I could see the small bubbles in the mirror beginning to grow and blacken. I racked my mind for anything from the past that could help me, something that could spark an old memory and rejuvenate some of my hard-earned skills. One memory answered the call.

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