Freebie Mondays: The Imposter’s Truth

Freebie Mondays: The Imposter’s Truth

This may be the most evil thing I’ve ever written.

A few months back, our regular Dark Space GM expressed that he would like a break. Sometimes we rotate who runs sessions, and it had been awhile since anyone else took control. There was an opening in the story for some random one-shots, and I had an idea, so I decided to go for it. I’ve mentioned before that Domerin appears across several realities (for reasons that may someday be revealed). Because of this, I saw a way to create role play opportunities my companions might not usually get.

I asked everyone to create at least one alternate version of their Dark Space characters. This allowed everyone to try something new without having to commit to a long-term character that might not turn out to be fun. It also resulted in some hilarious confrontations between the canon characters and their non-canon counterparts.

Perhaps my favorite idea came from the person who plays Domerin’s boyfriend, Crescent. His alternate reality Crescent drew on an incident from the two characters’ past. Crescent had once been approached about murdering Domerin and taking his place – possible because he’s a shapeshifter. Crescent rejected the offer both because he loved Domerin and because Domerin had already pledged to help him with the issue in question. But what if he hadn’t? What if he had taken the offer?

One of our other players can read people’s minds, so I wrote this little Easter egg in case she looked. Much to my delight – she did. (It’s written in second person so that I could just read it to the player in question without having to improve bits because I’m bad at that.)
. . .

You perform the familiar action and the tree representing this mind appears. It looks the way you would expect it to; perhaps a bit small for a man of Domerin’s age, but nothing initially strikes you as odd about this particular mind tree.

Until you take a moment to scan it.

Sifting through the leaves and branches you come upon a red one. From a distance it looks like a brutal slash, from up close it’s more like a crimson stain. It shifts strangely, as if calling to you, as if wanting to impart to you its truth.

You answer this call by reaching for it.

. . .

Suddenly, you’re standing in a bathroom. It’s small, almost like a closet tucked as an afterthought into some larger room. But you don’t really notice much else about it.

What you do notice is the face in the mirror – a familiar face, Domerin’s face.

But unlike the man you’re used to seeing around the ship, this version of Domerin looks gaunt and haggard. His cheeks are thin and there are dark circles under his eyes as if he hasn’t slept well in a very long time.

You notice him examining his face in the mirror just as you are – something you’ve never known him to do. He sets a hand against his cheek and rubs the waxy flesh, seeming displeased with something he sees that you don’t.

. . .

With a nauseating sort of spinning sensation, the scene shifts. You’re standing in a large room – an open space living room, kitchen, dining room. There are wide windows set along two of the walls and beyond them there is greenery glittering in bright sunlight.

You’re near the center of the room and Domerin is standing across from you. You watch as he downs the last sip of a drink – probably whiskey of some kind – and sets the empty glass aside.

Your eyes linger on the glass before they shift to him.

Despite the bright sunlight streaming through the windows, he seems pale to you. Not gaunt the way he did in the mirror, but ashen, like his dark skin has been somehow drained. He rubs one hand against his chest – an odd gesture, half-seeking, half-placating.

He notices you looking and he smiles a weary sort of smile.

He says, “Suddenly I feel so tired.”

It’s not an odd thing, given the man you know him to be. But there’s something odd about the way he says it, as if he’s vaguely concerned about where this sleepiness came from.

He flicks his wrist, dismissing both the sensation and the comment out of hand – another familiar gesture. He crosses the room and puts his arm around your shoulders. You inhale and get a distinct imprint of his scent – musk and desert spice, smells you always feel you’ve associated with this man. But there’s an odd undercurrent, a strangely sweaty, acidic tang that hovers in your nostrils.

You dismiss it as he draws you toward the couch. You let yourself be pulled onto the cushion beside him, let your head come to rest in the crook where his neck meets his shoulder.

This is a comfortable place, and you should feel comfortable. But you’re not. You’re nervous and on edge. And your eyes are drawn back to the glass. A glass he emptied much more quickly than you anticipated.

Domerin shifts and nuzzles his nose lightly against the top of your head. He draws a deep breath and releases it in a sigh that seems to you very oddly content.

“I love you,” he says, his voice soft but warm.

The words hit you like a jolt and tear through you like a knife to the chest forming a red, red slash.

“It seems very important all the sudden that you know how happy I am when I’m with you,” Domerin continues when you don’t answer. There’s an odd rasp to his voice, an odd hiccup to his chest whenever he tries to draw breath, but he ignores it. Perhaps he attributes it to the fatigue. “It’s been such a long, long time since I loved someone like this.”

His body is leaning on you now, a heavy weight, growing heavier by the second. You can’t see his face, but you imagine his eyes closing as his chest heaves oddly. He sucks down a deep, deep breath, but it comes out as a ragged sound, halting, hesitant.

Suddenly the last of his breath escapes him like a contemplative sigh, and the body pressed against yours goes limp. Completely ragdoll limp.

You hesitate, wondering if, perhaps, you stay this way, the outcome will be different. Maybe he’ll wake up and say something else.

It might not be too late.

But if you divert now, try to change this course of action, there will be questions you don’t know how to answer.

So you slide forward and feel the body slump behind you onto the couch. You turn and press your hands to the side of Domerin’s neck – tawny-colored, fur-covered hands. There’s a ragged flutter of a pulse against your finger, faint and rapid. But it quickly fades. There’s warmth in him still – warmth that lingers against your cheek – but you know it will fade soon, and then he’ll be gone for good.

A long moment passes and Domerin doesn’t draw breath. His death is real now, not just some hypothetical concept. You remember the soft timbre of his voice as he said I love you and an odd sensation wells in your chest. It’s like a scream that can’t get out. Every time it tries, it lodges in your throat. So your tail twitches instead, puffed up to twice its usual size in agitation.

You rock back and forth, trying to dispel this odd feeling that consumes you, but it lingers even as the warmth fades.

. . .

Then with a sudden, shocking jolt, you’re yourself again – Giana, staring at the face of an imposter.

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