Of course it was the Scientist. I should have guessed it. He seemed to show up everywhere. Unless it’s his Double.
“You shouldn’t be out here you know,” he said. He still wandered around, sort of circling the same place. Exactly what he was scanning for I had no idea.
I stood up. I shoved my hands in my pockets. They were cold.
“Why?” I asked. Stupid question.
“The crows,” he answered. Quite casually. “And we don’t want any confusion with Doubles.”
“Are you one?” I asked. Even if he was, he couldn’t tell me.
He laughed. Almost like I expected him too. He looked back at his scanner. And his expression dropped.
“Are you?” I repeated. He looked back at me. I couldn’t see his face very well, but well enough to see that his expression changed half a dozen times. But then he finished it.
“No. Of course not,” he said. Scoffing. “Why don’t you come back with me. You’ll have a tough time getting back through the crows. I have some protection from them.”
I hesitated. I couldn’t just stay in the woods. And I knew I could never get out of them on my own. I was trapped.
I nodded. Consenting rather uncomfortably, still wondering if he was Double.
We started walking back through the woods. I walked behind him, keeping my hands in my pockets and keeping my distance. He kept scanning, nonchalantly. I hoped he knew his way back, because I certainly didn’t.
Everything was dark and dank. Crows echoed in almost every direction.
I was relieved when I finally spotted some green grass up ahead. Of course that meant the crows were closer too. They brushed the treetops and sat on the high branches waving in the wind. We came to the edge of the tree line. The Scientist stopped. I did too, still a little behind him.
He looked up the sky now, not at his scanner. He pocketed it.
“We’re still going to have to make a run for it,” he said, without looking back at me.
“Alright,” I muttered. I didn’t want to go back in that house. But I had no other choice. And I didn’t have any time to change my mind.
The Scientist had already dashed forward out of the trees.
I was right after him, running right out into the open air. Crows thumped it. But they were all above us. The porch was clear, but they still circled the house. The forest did too. Mist was coming in over the treetops.
We ran up the porch sets. Jumped up them. He opened the heavy door and I shut it behind us.
The noise of the crows was muffled instantly. I kept my hand on the doorknob. It was very dark in the hall. But I was relived to be out of the forest, besides my misgivings about the house.
The Scientist gave a lighthearted sigh and took out his scanner again, quickly over our little flight. I stood still where I was as he slowly took a few steps forward.
This time I caught sight of his scanner.
It read, Double detected.
Me. It had to be what it meant. And that meant I had just let the Double Scientist into the house.
I let go of the doorknob and walked into the parlor. I let the Double Scientist continue down the hallway. I didn’t care what he did there. I just wanted to get out as soon as possible.
I found the parlor empty and I plopped down in a chair. It was dark in there too. All the curtains were closed. I could shadows of the crows flying behind them. Even now they were still circling me.
All because of one crow sitting on a fencepost one morning.
I leaned back my head, closing my eyes. My pulse still pounded and my feet felt wet inside my boots. I thought of trying to find Myra; but then again, she was only a reporter and wouldn’t be able to do anything. And besides, the real Scientist was who-knows-where.
Then again, maybe I did care about what the Double was doing at the house. I couldn’t see any reason he would want to be over here, not if thought everything around him wasn’t real.
Nothing makes sense. I should my head and put my thoughts away.
I jerked up when I thought I heard a scream.
The house had been quiet since I walked in. Only a clock was making any noise. I sat listening.
There was another scream. It came from upstairs.