The Other You by James Cannice

There is another you. You can feel them. You are linked to their soul that lives on the other side. They are living another life and will die another death.

Most people do not know there is another them living another life on the other side. But on very rare occasions they will hear something that they won’t be able to explain—something nobody else will hear. Most will not even realize what they are hearing, and they will let it fade into the recesses of their mind. But not you.

In your life you will hear more. You will see more.

You live in a two-bedroom apartment with your roommate Jonah, who you describe to those close to you as an ‘asshole’. He never cleans up the messes that he makes and expects them to just disappear. Once, he came home from a party and projectile vomited blood all over the wall behind the couch. The next morning, he asked you where the blood came from. You wanted to slit his throat right there and then.

But you didn’t, of course. There is still a large stain there: a constant reminder of who he is, even if he pretends to be someone different. You’ve lived together for eight months. He is an asshole. It is seven o’clock in the morning, and you are eating your Cap’n Crunch, staring at the large stain, when you notice the three nearly empty bottles of beer that he’s left lying on the floor next to the couch. When he comes out of the bathroom, ready to head off to the electronics store where he works, you tell him to wait.

“You mind taking care of that before you go?” you ask, politely enough, pointing to the three beer bottles.

You almost pop a vein in your forehead while you’re waiting for him to do something. Anything at all. All of a sudden, you hear his voice, but altered. It has a static quality to it, as if it’s coming from an old radio broadcast. “Chill, dude, it’s too early for this,” you hear, though Jonah hasn’t moved his lips.

You know the voice is coming from the other side. From the other Jonah.

You almost want to lunge at Jonah for what the version of him on the other side has said. But you don’t because he doesn’t say the same thing. He stays quiet, rolls his eyes, and then picks up the bottles of beer, taking them with him on his way out the door. You think about how it has been a long eight months living with him, but how it must have been an even longer eight months for the other you that lives with what seems to be a Jonah who is a slightly bigger asshole.

After you finish your breakfast and get ready for the day, you head to the bookstore where you work, usually manning the register. The bookstore is in an old, rather dilapidated neighborhood where nobody seems to live, let alone visit. Because of this, you spend much of your time letting your mind drift, sometimes studying the books that fill the shelves that form narrow corridors inside the shop. Otherwise, you are mostly talking to customers, occasionally hearing their voices overlap, often conflicting with their static voices emanating from the other side. This also happens to be one of those special days when a customer lays down her book and you can see an apparition-like image of a different title by the same author the customer is purchasing on the other side. It makes you smile. Once, you hear one static voice mention to you that you look tired and ask if you are feeling well.

“Thanks for your purchase. Enjoy your book, and have a great rest of your day!” is how you conclude all of your interactions, and you’re fairly confident the other you does the same.

After a long shift, after which the sun is down, you head to the grocery store and pick up a couple bags worth of food. You take a bus home. When you get there, Jonah is playing some hack n’ slash game on his Xbox while taking sips from his beer. He places the bottle down next to the couch where the beer bottles from this morning had been. If they were still there, he would have knocked one of them over.

And that’s when you hear it. You hear the sound of grocery bags falling to the floor, the contents inside exploding, accompanied by the sound of labored breathing. You know it’s coming from the other you on the other side, but it’s not static. You hear it so clearly that it practically rings. You don’t like it.

“Jonah,” you hear your own voice rasp while you yourself say nothing.

As you watch Jonah continue playing his game, not giving a second thought to your entrance into the apartment, you hear the voice of the other him yell, “What’s your fucking deal, dude?” You hear the pounding of your feet racing toward the couch, the breaking of a glass bottle, then a repressed, quickly silenced gasp.

And that’s when you see it. Next to where Jonah sits, a ghostly image of your roommate is holding his neck, now punctured by the broken glass of a beer bottle. Blood sprays from the wound, onto the fading stain on the wall, making it come alive again. His hand does little to stop it. Then the other you appears, hunched over the bleeding out Jonah. An apparition of you, whose back is rising and falling with their ragged breath, turns to look at you.

At you. With wild, red eyes. They look tired. They look unwell. But eventually, the other you fades. Your Jonah is still on the couch absent-mindedly playing his game and drinking from his bottle. You set down your groceries and start to put them away.

As you lie in bed that night, you wonder how different the other you must be from yourself. The other you is a killer, although you two were living almost the same exact life up until this morning. Up until that moment. You turn over in bed and try to think about something else. Anything else. This is one night you actually hope for dreams about work.

You wake up early in the morning, just after the sun has risen, to the faded sound of police sirens. You realize that they are not actually there. They’re coming from the other side, and yet you feel compelled to stand up and head towards the roof. You make sure to grab and put on your black trench coat before you leave the apartment.

When you get to the roof of your building, you walk to the ledge, unsure as to why you are doing so. You look down to the street and wonder why you have brought yourself here. You hear the crash of a door being kicked open, and you see the apparition of a policeman approaching slowly. He points a gun at you.

At you. You hold your hands up as if he is in your world, as if you are the killer he is arresting. But he is not in your world. You hear his static voice yell, “Don’t move!”. You shut your eyes.

You hear the sound of a bullet firing. You don’t feel any impact, but you are now falling. You hear the wind whistle through your ears as the shadow you cast on the pavement grows larger, closer. Your heart pounds once for every floor you pass on the way down. And, just before you collide with your own shadow, you are back on the roof as if you had never left, because you had never really left.

It takes a moment for you to ground yourself back in your reality, your life, and you take shuddering breaths to help you do so. You look over the ledge to see nothing different about the same old sidewalk you walk onto each day. There is no body. There are no cracks. There are no stains.

You head back to your apartment and mull over skipping work while chewing on Cap’n Crunch. You decide not to call in sick and continue about your day as if nothing had happened, because you believe it shouldn’t matter. The other you is not you. The day is normal, except for the fact that you no longer hear or see even the faintest inkling from the other side. There are no static voices, no faint images of different books. You come to accept that the other you has been killed after murdering the other Jonah in a fit of rage, and now you will not see anything from the other side anymore.

The second day, when you come home from work, Jonah’s door is shut. As you pass by it on your way to your own room, you hear loud, ugly, heavy sobbing. Jonah is wailing so loudly that you have to assume someone close to him either broke his heart or died. You wonder if he’s feeling the loss of his other—as if a piece of his soul is now gone. You, however, do not feel the same even though the other you has died, so you assume that it has to be something else. But you’ve never heard Jonah like this, and the way he howls tells you that it can’t be anything other than a deep soul hurt. Nevertheless, his door is shut, so you carry on to your own room.