“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 50: Double, Double Toil and Trouble

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

Earlier this month, Mother was watching some program on the television. Normally I do not concern myself with the lowbrow entertainment afforded by that glowing box, but that day I decided to curl up beside her on the couch to watch.

In this old movie, a man continues to see another man who bears a striking and uncanny resemblance to himself; he thinks he sees him out of the corner of his eye, lurking around and slipping into the shadows before he can obtain a better view. This “other self” commits terrible crimes, and the man is forced to take the blame. No one suspects for a moment that the poor, innocent man is being mercilessly hounded by a malicious “doppelgänger”.

Now, I find myself in a frighteningly similar situation.

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I blink at the bulldog who has just asserted, with no hint of deception, that I was at the Lodge yesterday, and that I was behaving in a most uncharacteristic manner. Ordinarily I would dismiss such outrageous claims, but the nodding heads all around me are sufficient proof that something strange is afoot.

The lovely blue of the sky is obscured behind large swaths of gray cloud, so that the pale sun can barely peek through the curtains of an impending storm. A strong, sharp wind rattles the branches of a nearby tree, and the eerie music sends shivers down to the tip of my tail. Though a thousand pairs of eyes follow my every move as I flee my circle of subjects, I am keenly aware of hers alone.

My…doppelgänger! My double!

Even now she might be lurking in the shadows, hiding her glossy gold coat under a table, or in the corners where the fences meet. I quicken my steps, cursing for the first time the limitations of these tiny paws. My eyes narrow as another gust of air whips past me. Straining to make out my surroundings, I do not notice the hulking shape just ahead until I collide with it rather…ungracefully.

“Not abdicating, are we? Who would spoil our fun if you left?”

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The nightmare continues. Still, I am relieved to find that I have not run into a terrifying vision of my double, but rather, a mildly irritating German Shepherd.

“Yes, please, derive your cheap amusement from my suffering! But I do not have the time to waste in the company of fools,” I say, frantically attempting to change direction.

But Max blocks my path. “What’s wrong with you? I’ve never seen you so…freaked out.”

He stares down at me with genuine concern, all traces of mischief vanished from his long face. While I might question his motives in any other situation, at this moment utter terror dulls my keen powers of discernment. I shall allow him to worry over me, and I will even indulge his curiosity.

But I do not plan to make a habit of such reckless decisions!

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“My adoring subjects…they believe that I was at the Lodge yesterday. And that I…sought conversation with them! Can you imagine? I can only conclude that I am the tragic victim of some nefarious doppelgänger’s plot!” I say with a despairing bark, to be sure that he understands the severity of my predicament.

“Doppel…what now?” he asks, raising his brows.

I suppose he does not, in fact, have an answer for everything.

“A double! A walking, talking reflection! A being that bears an identical resemblance to me and wreaks havoc, to the detriment of my reputation!” I declare, tossing my head.

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“Hmm. Sounds like yours just made you popular. You should thank her,” Max says, the smug grin returning to his snout.

Suddenly I hear footsteps behind me, delicate and graceful – exactly like mine!

Without thinking, I dart between Max’s legs, my whole body quivering.

“What are you doing?” Max asks, lowering his head to my level.

“PROTECT ME, YOU FOOL!” I shriek, my eyes screwed shut.

I hear a light snickering from above me, and if I were not being crushed by the grip of my own fear, I would officially banish him from the Lodge. Suddenly I feel his wet nose touch the top of my head. My heart beats faster.

Who does he think he is?!

“As much as I would love to protect you from your supernatural stalker, I don’t think I need to. Come on, take a look,” he says, removing his nose.

Though I should know better than to trust Max, I cannot help but follow his suggestion. I carefully open my eyes, peeking first through my lashes, then gradually taking in the entire scene before me.

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My heart ceases to beat. There, right in front of me, is a perfect reflection of my glorious being!

“Who…are you?” I ask, my voice shaking.

My double tilts her head to the side, exactly as I would do.

“Surely you recognize your own flesh and blood! Scarlett, I am your beloved cousin, Lochsie!”

Lochsie?! I have not seen her since we were young and without a care in the world. To think that as adults we resemble each other so closely…

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“Dear cousin! Of course I remember you! But what business brings you to my kingdom?” I ask, calmly leaving the shelter of Max’s legs with as much dignity as I can muster.

“I shall visit the Lodge occasionally from now on. But the strangest thing happened yesterday. It was my first day, but when I tried to introduce myself to the other dogs, they seemed a bit uncomfortable. I had to treat them with additional kindness even to speak with them at all. Oh, there they are now! Hello, friends!”

Lochsie runs off with the dogs that surrounded me mere minutes ago. It seems I will have some competition for the respect of my “loyal” subjects!

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“She’s pretty cute. Think you could put in a good word for me, Your Highness?” Max asks with a wink.

The fur along my spine rises. “Your taste is exceedingly strange!”

Max smiles down at me, his tail wagging.

“You got that right.”

As I return to my usual spot along the fence, I catch a sudden flash of gold in the distance.

Lochsie must have tired of her entourage…

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But when I turn to look behind me, I see her playing with them, exactly as before. My heart sinks.

If Lochsie is over there, then what on earth did I just see…?

…to be continued…