Fire in the sky was not a new thing for our little town. Generations had passed down stories of circular objects hovering over the woods at night with flashing lights and strange humming sounds filling the air. So when news broke of strange lights and sounds in the forest to the north, no one was upset about it; more a spirit of intrigue and fascination. That didn't stop everyone from bringing a gun though.
I think the entire town showed up before I got there. Strange, I don't really remember making the trip. All of a sudden I was in the woods with everybody else.
Whatever was buzzing the woods that night wasn't alone. I personally counted at least a dozen circular craft zipping around overhead. It looked like they were searching for something. Powerful beams of light pieced the night sky and lit up the woods like a festival.
One of the less bright, 'good ol'boys' in the back of a pickup truck thought it would be a great idea to fire his rifle at one of the craft above. So did everyone else for some reason and soon gun smoke was filling the air. The combination of light, smoke and forest made for a really creepy atmosphere. Bullets would spark against the undersides of the UFOs, but they didn't return fire. They basically ignored us.
Some of the town folk started shouting and pointing at something walking toward us. I couldn't make out much detail, but it looked like a human female. I watched the fire chief rush up and drape his coat around her shoulders. I moved to get a better look amidst all the hooping, hollering and gunfire still going on. She looked about my size and shape. I wondered if it might have been someone I knew.
I pushed through the crowd to get a little closer. I noticed her hairstyle was very similar to mine. The fire chief got a real strange look on his face when I walked up to him. He looked confused for some reason. I asked him what the problem was, but he didn't respond. He just looked at me, then looked at the woman in his coat.
I ignored him and reached out to the shivering figure. As my hand approached, the other woman reached up and intermingled her fingers with mine. Then our eyes met and I suddenly understood why the fire chief had acted so strangely. It was like I had looked in a mirror.
She locked eyes with me and a look of shock spread over her face. I'm pretty sure it was the same look I had on mine. "Who the heck are you?" she asked. "What's going on here?"
"I might ask you the same question," I replied. "What's your name?"
Her lower lip started to tremble as she replied, "I'm Sara Yorkson. Why do you look exactly like me?"
Something cold wrapped itself around my spine as I heard my doppelganger say her name. I shook my head at her and said, "No. That's not right. You're not Sara Yorkson… I am!"
We just kind of stared at each other in a combination of shock and horror. I have no idea how long that lasted, but we suddenly became aware that we were still holding hands and quickly let go. I backed away from the other me while shaking my head. I looked to the fire chief again for some sort of acknowledgement that I was me, and not this other woman that had just walked out of the woods.
He roared out the name of the town sheriff and soon I found myself in the back of his car with the other woman. I could feel her shivering with fear and cold beside me, but I couldn't bring myself to look at her. It's a strange feeling to suddenly meet your duplicate. I'm not sure how to describe it exactly – I had a mixture of animosity and dread inside me that wouldn't leave me alone.
I was Sara Yorkson. I had always been Sara Yorkson. Not this other woman. How dare she just walk out of the woods and say she was me? I had a fiancé. He loved me. Me! Not this woman that looked and sounded just like me. I had a job at the post office. Me! Not the shivering female who sat beside me. All I knew was she had better not try and take my man and my job - that was for sure! If she did… there was going to be trouble.
The sheriff and a female deputy entered the front of the vehicle. I think the deputy's name was Sharron or something like that. She tossed a blanked over the other woman and I heard her whisper a thank you back. She whispered it just like I would have whispered it. I don't know why, but I felt an overwhelming urge to wrap my hands around the other Sara's neck and squeeze the life out of her. It hurt my heart that I had that urge, but it was real and I couldn't ignore it. I never thought that me being me would be threatened before.
I told the sheriff that this was stupid, but he insisted that we both had to be locked up for now until things were sorted out. It was a precautionary action. I voiced my opinion of his precautionary action, but it failed to change his mind.
An hour later, my other self and I were dressed in matching orange garb and staring at each other through the iron bars separating our cells. The lighting was dim and it smelt like urine. I wasn't sure what to say or do at this point, so I just kept burning a hole into her eyes. She did the same back, so there we stood for who knew how long.
"You're not going to get away with this," the other me whispered finally and doubled up her fists. "I don't know who you are, but you're not going to get away with this."
I felt my own fists clenching up in response. "I'm not the one that walked out of the woods in a flood of alien light tonight, sister. I think it's clear which of us is the real Sara Yorkson!"
"I don't know what that was all about. One minute I was sitting at home watching Roseanne, the next, I'm lying in a pool of white flame in the forest. I don't' know how it happened, I just know that it did."
"Well I was also at home watching Roseanne tonight!" I shouted. I didn't mean to shout, but my emotions were getting the better of me. "And then the neighbours started making a fuss about lights over the woods north of town, so I went to check it out!"
"You are not me!" the other woman shouted and kicked the bars between us. "And you can't have my life!"
"No, you are not me!" I shouted and kicked back. "And I can't steal what's already mine!"
And that's when our fiancé Joe came in to find the two of us staring at each other with tears flowing down our cheeks. His hair was different than I remembered. Longer maybe?
Of course, we reached out to him in unison and shouted, "Joe! Joe, I'm the real Sara, not her!"
He took one of our hands in each of his and said nothing as he looked back and forth between us.
"Baby, it's me," the other me whispered. "You know me, don't you, Joe-Joe?"
My blood ran cold when she used the pet name that I called my fiancé. "You stay away from my man!" I shouted at her. "And don't you dare call him Joe-Joe! I'm the only one that gets to call him that! Do you understand?"
Fire ignited in the other woman's eyes as she turned to me and grabbed my hair through the bars. "Your man?" she screamed. "This is my man and I will yank out every hair on your head if you think for one second that I'm going to let you touch him!"
I retaliated and grabbed a fistful of her hair back. We yanked our faces together between the bars screamed at the top of our lungs.
"Saras, stop!" Joe shouted. "Sara Yorkson has been missing for over a year!"
It felt like I'd just been slapped across the face. My doppelganger and I don't release our mutual hair-hold, but we turn our heads toward him and again in unison asked, "What did you just say?"
He looked at me, and then at her, and then at me again. "What year do y'all think it is?" he asked calmly.
"1989," we horrifyingly said once again in unison.
Joe sat for a moment, like he wasn't sure what to say next. "It's 1991," he whispered.
"Not earlier tonight it wasn't!" I heard the other me say.
"Yeah, that doesn't make any sense!" I offered, then turned to the other woman. "Look, just let go of me, okay?" We both retreated to the centers of our cells and crossed our arms in front of us.
"There were lights in the sky a year and a half ago, just like tonight," Joe started. "One of them UFO's was over your house, and…"
"What?" I asked impatiently.
"Yeah, what happened to my house?" The other woman asks.
"You mean, my house," I corrected her.
"Shut up!" she screamed at me.
Joe held up his hands to signal for peace and continued, "Sara Yorkson's house was destroyed. Crossed off by a flying saucer. Your body was never found, but we all figured you was dead."
The news hit me like a punch in the stomach. I other me looked like it had the same effect on her.
"And I'm sorry," Joe continued, "but I moved on. I'm with Mandy Smith these days. We plan to get hitched next month."
"Mandy 'big boobs' Smith?" the other me asked in disgust. I smiled a little. At least she felt the same way about Mandy that I did. For the first time that evening, a little spark of like for the other me happened.
"You know she ate a cat once, right?" I asked him. The other me turned and gave me a little grin and a nod. I met her gaze for a moment and something passed between us. It was kind of nice to have my opinions backed up by someone for once, even if it was by an evil twin of some sort.
Joe looked a little angry when he crossed his arms in front of him and replied, "Don't you lay that trip on me, Saras. I know you never liked her much, but she's a fine woman and she keeps me warm at night. Ain't right for the two of you to just show up after everyone thinks y'all are dead and start bad mouthing my girl."
"I…" the other woman stopped and looks at me. There was a brief glimmer of a smile in her eyes as we exchanged looks again. "We…" she continued, "we were your girl, you idiot! We're the hottest girl in town, or did you forget?"
I smiled big. I think the other me just paid us both a compliment, and I liked it. "I…" I also stopped and corrected myself. "We…" I said and gave the other me a nod, "we knew you were never that bright, but we never thought you'd start slumming with stupid 'Mandy big boobs' if we ever left."
Joe's face turned red as he continued to stare at us. He spat on the ground, then turned and walked out of the room.
We exchange another look, then both burst out laughing. "Can you believe that moron?" the other me asked?
I shook my head. "We've got nicer curves than stupid Mandy all day long!"
We giggled in unison. I think we forgave each other for both being Sara Yorkson right then and there. The mood in lockup had become considerably lighter in the last few minutes, and I think we were both enjoying that. Maybe having another me around wouldn't be so bad after all.
"Look, I'm sorry for how I acted," the other me said as she came and pressed herself into the bars between us. "Just… meeting another me just… you know…"
"Freaked me out?" I offered and approached her. We intermingled our fingers through the bars in a sign of solidarity. "I mean, freaked us out?"
"Do you really think its 1991 now?" she asked.
I shrugged. "I don't know what to think right now."
"What do you think we should do next?"
I frowned and shook my head. "I was just about to ask you the same thing."
"What is the last thing you remember? For serious," she asked.
I could only shake my head and shrug. "Roseanne. Just like you said earlier. I was watching TV, the neighbours started making a fuss… and then I was in the woods with the rest of the town. Kind of strange really, I don't actually remember making the trip. I was just… there."
The other woman slowly nods in reply. "Yeah same here – except I was suddenly lying in the forest under a bright light. Gave me a start for sure."
The door opened and the sheriff sauntered into the room. A toothpick hung from his lips as he looked us both up and down.
"Well, ya sure look like the Sara Yorkson that I remember. The both of ya that is. Where have one or the both of ya been the last couple of years?"
The two of us rushed to the front of our cells and pressed our faces through the bars.
"Sheriff?" I asked. "Is it really 1991?"
The old man slowly nodded in return. "Yes, ma'am. It is."
"Was my… our home… destroyed?" the other me asked.
He slowly nodded again. "Been rebuilt, of course. New family living on the plot now. Real nice folks. From upstate North Carolina if I remember right."
"This is insane," the other me whispers and looks over at me.
"Now you two didn't answer my question. Where have you or you two or whatever the case is, where have ya been the last couple years?"
I shook my head. "Earlier tonight, it was 1989 and I was at home watching Roseanne. That's all I know. I swear it, Sheriff."
The other me nodded in agreement. "And to the best of my knowledge, there was only one of me." She then turned to me and whispered, "No offence." That was a nice thing to do. I decided to fully forgive her for also being me.
The sheriff just stood there and stared at us without saying a word. Finally, he shook his head and said, "And then one of you walks out of the woods, and the other just shows up out of nowhere like it's just another Wednesday night."
I exchanged a look with the other me, and then we both nodded at the old lawman.
He cussed and spat on the ground not far from where Joe did. "Well what in the Sam Hill am I supposed to do with the two of ya? Are ya aliens or some other business? This ain't right. Nothing about this or the two of ya is right."
I let out a deep sigh. "Well, you can't keep us locked up. We haven't done anything wrong."
The other me nodded in agreement. "She's right. We haven't."
The sheriff cussed and spit again. "Nothing wrong? You call coming back after two years as two people nothing wrong?"
"I mean we haven't broken any laws," the other me replied. She turned to me and gave a little nod. "We know something is bonkers about this whole thing, and I don't know about the other me, but I intend to get some answers!"
I nodded back at her. "No, I'm with you. Maybe we could work on it together?"
"Oh well look at the two of you just getting along all sisterly and nice now," he said with a note of sarcasm in his voice. "For all I know, you're just a couple of body snatching aliens that decided to wear the same skin suits tonight!"
I exchanged looks with the other me. The expressions on our faces were priceless. I pulled open my jumpsuit and showed my other self some skin. "Do you see any zippers anywhere? Is an alien hiding inside me and wearing me like a glove?"
The other me giggled and pulled open her own clothing. "Nope. I think you're safe. What about me? Any skin flaps hanging open where a little green man could have climbed inside?"
The old sheriff looked away in disgust. "Ah stop it, that both of ya! I'm calling the feds. You can both stay in those cages until they get here." With that, he lumbered out of the room and slammed the door shut.
"Never actually liked that old fart," the other me mumbled as she fixed her clothing.
"Nope. Never did," I said in agreement as I did the same. "Guess we've got a little time to kill."
"I guess so," the other woman said as she flopped down on her cell bed.
I sat down on mine and stared at the ceiling. A small fan made a low whirring sound as it cycled the jail air around. The single florescent tube that lit our confinement made an annoying buzzing sound.
The other me suddenly sat up. "Call me 'Jane'".
"Jane? My… our… middle name?"
She nodded as she stood and again pressed herself into the bars between our cells. "I'm the one that woke up in the woods tonight. If either of us is some sort of clone, or alien or whatever… I'm thinking it's probably me. So, you use the first name, I'll use the second. It will just be easier that way."
I thought about her offer for a minute before standing and joining her at the bars. I took her fingers in mine and squeezed. "Okay, Jane. I'll go along with that, but I'm not above suspicion here either. Maybe I didn't wake up under a UFO tonight, but you heard the sheriff – I just showed up out of nowhere, so maybe I'm the clone. Maybe you're the real Sara and you spent the last couple years being probed on an alien ship or something?"
Jane squeezed my fingers as best she could. "The very thought makes me uncomfortable inside, like I want to vomit. Maybe I was and something went wrong with their alien technology and somehow I was split into too? Or maybe the real Sara Yorkson was killed in that explosion a couple years ago and we're both clones?"
I shook my head. "I don't know, but can I tell you something crazy?" She nodded and I continued, "Deep down, I'm kind of glad that you're here. Weird as it is, I don't feel like I'm alone in all this. Does that make sense?"
Jane's eyes began to moisten a little. She leaned forward and pressed her forehead into mine. I felt her nod. "I do know what you mean," she said softly. Except for my 'now-scumbag-ex-fiancé', I've always kind of been alone. Only child and all that."
I nodded back, remembering all the times I had wished I had siblings to journey through life with.
"So I don't know much," she continued, "but I do know this. From this moment on, we're sisters. Okay?"
A warm feeling came over me as I stepped back and looked into my twin's eyes. Smiles crossed our faces as I nodded back in agreement.