Flash Fiction Contest Winner #21 – “Doppelgänger”

Please note: Flash fiction stories are submitted by members of our Discord server. Many contain adult themes and may be objectionable to some readers.


I crumpled the dollar bill in a clenched fist, and tossed it away like garbage. It should’ve been a million. That’s what we had agreed to, after all. That’s what was fair. As I stared down the long stretch of Nevada highway, with the sweltering heat casting a mirage of puddles on its dark gray surface, all I could think of was how greed changes a man. How it rots deep in the very foundation of his being, and forces his eyes wide with madness. Greed warped a man’s way of looking at the world.

Markus’ eyes were wide when he stuck his gun in my face, and told me to get out of the car. Robbing a flashy Vegas casino was one thing, but his own brother? Amidst the sea of cheering, bells, chips, and lights, it was easier to rationalize our heist.
     It wasn’t until we were hauling the money into bags that I could feel the sting of guilt pumping through my adrenaline-filled veins. I started to question myself for robbing those people. It wasn’t just the size of the haul – the sheer number of bills we stuffed into our duffel bags – which inspired my dread. Rather, it was the ease with which we came on it. That was the thought slithering about inside my head. It was just so easy. Clearly Markus had the same revelation, but without sharing my unease. 
     Clearly I had lost my brother in Vegas.

After the robbery, we had been driving for hours in total silence. There was no celebration or laughter, as there had been on so many occasions before. Birthdays. Marriages. Even personal triumphs. Instead, I remember fixating on the fuel gauge, thinking I should say something as the little red needle trembled around empty. Looking up, I caught a glimpse of the thing that had returned with me from our heist. It filled me with disgust, and so I kept silent.
     “Get out of the car.”
     When he finally turned on me, it didn’t come as a shock. Not really. I could see it on his face from the moment we began our sordid venture. His new found hunger and contempt for others was like a miasma that hung around his face. Shivering in his free hand, Markus had a single dollar bill held towards me. Was it mockery, adding insult to his betrayal? Was it some kind of peace offering? Superstition, maybe? I kept my protests to myself, took the bill in hand, and stepped out into the desert sun. There was really no need for elaboration.

Trudging along the highway alone and rubbing that greenback between my thumb and forefinger, I thought about the rest of the money. I thought about how heavy it felt in my hands when I was loading up the bags. How heavy would it be for him? Could he bear the burden?
     Time blurred out there in the barren wastes, but it couldn’t have been long before I saw a shape appear on the horizon ahead. The car. Markus had abandoned it along the side of the highway. The driver’s side door was left haphazardly ajar, and the trunk was popped wide open. I kept walking.
     My heart pounded harder as a figure later fell into view, walking a few yards before me. It wasn’t Markus. Not anymore. It was the creature who had stolen my brother away, and taken his place in the world. I drew my pistol and lined up the sights, aiming at the back of its head. I watched as it struggled to carry those ill-gotten gains, single-minded and oblivious to my approach. Clearing my thoughts, I aimed center-mass.
     This was my atonement. This was my chance to make up for what I had done, and avenge my brother. My real brother. I took a deep breath, feeling the crisp air of the Mojave desert filling my lungs. Then I pulled the trigger.