I had to write a spitefic, about Hannah Blake, the alternate Anita Blake. I hope you enjoy it.
I was spending some time alone in my apartment. Normally, I’d be being pestered by the demands of either Richard or Jean-Claude; or if I wanted to go out, I knew that some guy would come up to me and start trying to put moves on me. There was never any peace when I wanted it, so I’d decided to spend an evening alone with my goldfish and my favourite stuffed penguin toy. Heap big vampire slayer was spending a quiet evening in. Riiiight. Knowing my luck, something would happen.
Other people watch TV or read or do other meaningless stuff to fill their lives. Can you imagine knitting or sewing, or other crap like that? Feminine useless stuff Judith would no doubt approve of. I like silence. I like to sit in silence in my apartment, just enjoying the time I was able to luxuriate in, all on my own.
I was just in the process of dialling the phone to gloat to Jean-Claude about how much I was enjoying myself without his annoyingly attractive presence, when I felt a wave of power rush over my entire body. As an animator and necromancer, I had the ability to sense minute changes in the world around me, invisible and indecipherable to others. Something was happening in this room – something huge, impossible, cosmic. Like a dinosaur rising up from the deeps to stalk on land once more. The real world was never so impossible.
To my surprise, a purple haze of magic and purpose hovered in the sitting room before me. I had never seen anything like it in my four years of working as an animator. My entire body swelled with the power coming from it, a huge wave of energy rioting inside every cell of my body. A woman stepped from it and my mouth gaped in surprise. She was my exact double.
Well, there were some key differences. As we sized each other up and down, I realised that wherever she was from, it hadn’t been kind to her. She was my height and weight, but her black curls, so different from my exotic own, had been shaved down to her skull. It was really unflattering, and only highlighted that hated feature we shared – our height. One eye of hers was a pale, puckered blue – an ice cold colour that made me shiver. She didn’t look like a good guy, not like me. Her chest was smaller, her breasts boyish and ugly under her flapping wife-beater top. She looked like a grizzled combat veteran, not a vampire executioner.
This… other me wore what looked like army fatigues. Dark green wife-beater, plain brown trousers, and black steel-tipped boots. The boots were a poor choice on her – our – petite frame; they stunted her legs, made her look short and ungainly. She had no weapons on her. I wondered if she’d damaged her own eye, just to make herself look tougher. I saw a little girl, dressing up and playing armies, stood in front of me.
She’d been looking me up and down. I was wearing a leather trench coat, red Victorian blouse with a fussy little trim down the front, black jeans, my trusty Firestarter at my side and my familiar knives in my sleeves, and some plain white Nikes; but I had some spiky leather high heeled boots waiting my couch for when I’d inevitably be called out to look at some murder scene by the police. A simple outfit, but impressive.
“You must be Anita,” this other me said, extending a hand to shake. I took it and found her handshake surprisingly strong. I bet she practised that every day. “I’m the other you. I’m Hannah Blake. This must all seem really weird, but… the easiest way to explain it is that the universe is riddled with parallel versions of reality, with voids of existence separating between them. I’m you, on an alternate version of Earth, and I’ve crossed over to… talk to you.”
This sounded like the plot to a sci-fi movie. A really bad sci-fi movie.
Hannah continued, stepping forwards. She’d released my hand and was now staring about the apartment as if it was some kind of wonder. “I’m glad I got you alone. Other people might get confused about everything. Civilians tend to panic about universes colliding.”
I could understand about worrying what civilians might think. I just knew that if a guy were to see the two of us together, he’d probably assume we were working together in some low budget porno. Like I’d ever do something as disgusting as that.
“How’d you know about me?”
“Oh, well, technology in my world is a bit more advanced than over here.” She frowned, as if I’d spoken gibberish. “I thought that might be obvious, or do beings from other dimensions regularly cross into your domain?”
“I just figured it might be one of my – our – abilities. Heap big vampire slayer, heap big Quantum Leaper. Or don’t you have any necromancy powers?” I sincerely doubted it. Her arms were bare, and I could see the differences in our lives written as plainly on them as words in a magazine. She was tanned, lean, and entirely scarless. She probably sat around doing nothing in her spare time, letting other people deal with the monsters who stalked humanity. Yeah, I bet she commanded some sort of police or played armies, but never did a single dirty, down on her knees execution in her life.
Hannah stared at me like I was speaking gibberish. “I’m you Anita. We’re the same woman. We have the same parents, the same powers, the same abilities, just that there are certain key differences to our societies, our worlds.”
“That much is obvious.” I crossed my arms across my chest, finding it a struggle. I wasn’t showing off my assets, I swear. Maybe.
Hannah looked at me, her single brown eye looking almost sad. Her blue one remained impassive, the pupil staring out like a single black dot. “Oh, right, you’re talking about our physical differences. Well, I had a breast reduction when I entered the force, if you really want to know. I – I wanted to fight, but I had difficulty operating the machinery. It seemed – it made sense. They were always getting in the way, anyway. I wasn’t upset about it.” Taking out a battered packet of cigarettes, she crossed the sitting room to my couch. She sat back, lounging, and shrugged. “Big breasts or small breasts – what difference does it make to me?”
“I bet Judith didn’t think much of your decision,” I gave a smile that I hoped looked genuine enough. I didn’t want her smoking in my home. I would have thought we’d be close enough for her to know I thought it was gross.
Hannah looked genuinely confused. I wondered if she hadn’t gone into vampire hunting because she’d… been made special, in some way. She couldn’t seem to understand me in any way, as if I were alien from her.
“Why would she? Judith always supported my decisions,” she said softly, that single brown eye tinged with a deep melancholy. The blue one stared furiously at me, as if I’d done something wrong. “That’s why I wanted to talk first. I wanted to know… I needed to know that she’s okay. That Judith and Mom are okay over here.”
“Judith? Mom?” I stared at her, not believing what I was hearing. “Judith replaced Mom, and ruined our lives for it. She’s so bitter, just because she has to have me as a stepdaughter. All this crap about how I’m not feminine enough and how I haven’t got a husband and how I’m such a waste…” I trailed off to look at Hannah, this double of mine, this imperfect copy. “Well, at least I can tell her it could be worse. She might have ended up with you.”
Hannah stared up at me, looking like a lost little lamb in a big, scary world. The wolves on this side would eat up this little scrap in one bite and still have room for afters. She gave a shrug. “At least she’s alive. And happy. That was all I really wanted to know.”
I pulled off my leather trench coat. My red Victorian blouse had short puffed sleeves, and underneath the wide collar, down to the start of the buttons, the cloth had been cut away to reveal my shoulders and breastbone. It made me look like a prissy little doll. But it had the added bonus of showing off my collection of hard-won scars, detailing times and places I’d rather forget but couldn’t. They were burned into my skin. Burned into my soul. Hannah’s good eye trailed up and down my arms looking awestruck.
“Yeah, I used to look like that. Before I joined the force. Nanobots heal all wounds, including the old. Not that I minded.” Hannah fiddled with her cigarette idly, turning it round in her fingers. “Still in the vampire hunting business then?”
“I guess that you are not.”
“Nope, how could I be? Haven’t killed a vampire in years. They’re too useful to be killed. Too many uses in the war.” She sighed. From one end of the cigarette, she pulled out an impossibly thin blade. It shone blue-silver in the electric glare of my apartment, a thin tiny hair of a knife that looked too insubstantial to be real, like it had been made from a tiny dart of paper.
That other me had been in the middle of making some other comparison with me. Another one to put me down, no doubt. Her speech was riddled with false positives, put downs, insults and aggravations. I couldn’t believe that this was me, even as I stood over her corpse.
I’d had the darts concealed in my cigarettes. I’d devised it ages ago. You can’t get arrested for being a member of the resistance and carrying concealed weapons when they can’t find them on you. Just a simple matter of pulling one out while she was prattling on. I freed one, lifted it, and threw it squarely between her eyes. It had imbedded itself in her skull, burrowing deep inside her brain where it would dissolve and never be found. The perfect kill.
She had fallen with such a look of surprise on her face, as if she couldn’t believe what was happening. I wouldn’t either, but I know how to react if I saw my double appear. Her clothes were too garish for me, and far too impractical; you couldn’t run in leather, it was too heavy and squeaked. Can’t sneak up on anyone in leather. You wear leather and you’re dead. I bent down and considered looting her knives, but I didn’t want them. You should use anything you find really, waste not want not, but I wanted nothing of this woman and her life. Nothing at all.
I looked around this place she called home. It was Spartan. There was no life in this place. This was somewhere a person came to sleep, that was all. In that way, it reminded me of home. This other Blake, Anita, didn’t seem to have any interests. No radio. No television. No books. No music. Just an army of penguins who glared at me with accusatory glass eyes when I crossed the threshold to the bedroom. I shuddered, and shut the door on them. I’d not been able to bear stuffed toys since my father had died.
My cybernetic eye scoured the place, checking for any remnants, any pockets of magic left behind. Necromancers can do that, if they try. They can store parts of their essences in others or objects and just spring back. Nope. Nothing here. Anita had never bothered to stretch her abilities beyond killing and, later, fucking. We knew all about her. We knew how she drained power and life and love. We knew that, in time, she would begin to drain power and life and energy from more than just people – she’d start to take it from the ecosystem, from the balance of the universe, from the gentle movements of the planets. She’d devour it all within herself like a parasite, and crash down all reality around her.
That’s why the general had sent me here. I was her. She was me. It was both my duty and my right to kill her. All I’d asked for in return was the chance to know that Judith and Mom were happy. Had been happy, I guess, in Mom’s case. It sounded like she’d died in that accident instead of Dad. I couldn’t tell. Anita had been too worked up in how bad Judith was. I couldn’t imagine her being that way. Maybe she was, in this version of reality, this sour little world. But she was alive and happy and that was good enough for me.
She’d been killed in the first wave of the Zygon invasion. She’d opened the door and thought it was me.
A message flashed across my cybernetic eye. I was needed back on base.
I stepped towards the thin portal between worlds and took one last look at my double, lying dead on the floor. I had come from a world where humans were an endangered species, where alien civilisation had invaded the planet and burnt it for sport, and where I fought a guerrilla war I knew we could not win. But I felt the sorrier for her.