This is a follow on from my previously published short Finsbury Park, so if you haven’t read that you probably should so you know who the characters are.
Mimic Madness: A Finsbury Park Mini
Finsbury Park was in his living room watching a foreign movie when a loud crash came from his kitchen. He jumped up and ran to investigate and found, to his great disappointment, Mister Universe standing there eating a biscuit.
“No, no, no. Whatever you want. No,” Finsbury said.
“At least hear me out! I’ve got a great one for you this time,” Mister Universe replied, his white teeth flashing at Finsbury through his smile like an angry motorist.
“The last time you sent me on an adventure I almost died,” Finsbury counted on his fingers, “well, I’m not even sure how many times! I lost count that’s how many times I almost died.”
“Oh stop, you know full well you were in no danger.”
“I didn’t at the time!”
“Well, be that as it may, you’ll love what I have in store for you this time.”
Mister Universe clicked his fingers and with a flash of light Harpy Lee appeared in the middle of Finsbury’s kitchen, her wings fully extended as if she’d been gliding mid-flight seconds before.
“What the hell?” Lee said as she crashed landed on the tabletop. “Oh, I should have known,” she added after seeing Mister Universe.
“Lee!” Finsbury shouted enthusiastically.
Lee folded her wings around herself then turned around.
“Finsbury! Great to see you.”
Lee’s wings spread apart as she pulled him in for a tight hug, burying his head into her chest. When she let go of him, she laughed.
“Your head has turned bright red again!” she said while pulling her wings around herself.
Finsbury spluttered incoherently before regaining his faculties.
“Hello again Lee, nice to see you again.”
“So, who’s feeling adventurous?” asked Mister Universe. “I’ve got two options for you. The first is an adventure at the centre of the galaxy. Is it really just an inescapable and crushing black hole, or is it a super fun happy time?”
Finsbury and Lee looked at each other, each wearing the same worried expression on their face.
“Okay, a bit more enthusiasm wouldn’t go astray. So second option is… how should I put this? Before the night is over, you’ll get a unique perspective on yourself and see others in more ways than one.”
“Look, I really don’t think,” Finsbury said before being cut off by Mister Universe clicking his fingers.
When their eyes adjusted to the low light, Finsbury and Lee found they were standing in an underground stone cavern. Spaced evenly along the wall were burning torches, the only light source. Two doors were built into the walls of the cavern, one at each end.
“I see Mister Universe took off before you could punch him in the face,” Finsbury said.
“Probably his safest option. At least he hooked me up with some clothes, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that. Well, let’s get moving then. You know he’s not going to let you go home until you’ve done whatever he wants you to do.”
Lee flicked her attention between the doors at either end of the cavern.
“I’m going to try that one,” she said, pointing to the one closest to her.
“Do you really think that’s wise?”
“Come on, or I’ll leave you there!” Lee said, and with a flap of her wings she was standing by the door.
She pulled the door open and disappeared into the darkness beyond. Finsbury sighed, but before he could move the door at the other end opened, and through it walked Lee.
“How did you get over there so fast? You just left through that door,” Finsbury said pointing at the door Lee just walked through.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Lee replied.
“I swear, you-”
Finsbury’s thought was interrupted when, through the door Lee originally walked through, another Lee strode in.
“Are you joining me or what?” she asked, then seeing the Lee at the other end of the room, added “Who the hell is that?”
“That’s what I was about to ask,” said the other Lee.
“What the hell it’s going on? Who are you?” Finsbury shouted.
“I’m Lee,” replied the Lee at the far end.
“No you’re not, I am,” said the Lee closest to Finsbury.
“Wait, wait, wait. Just stop. This isn’t going to get us anywhere,” Finsbury said.
“Damn right,” the Lee closest to Finsbury said. “Let me at this imposter and I’ll have this sorted out in a second.”
Both Lees moved toward each other but Finsbury moved between them to hold them apart. Only then did it occur to him that being between two harpies with razor sharp talons may not be the best move he’s ever made.
He dodged the swiping claws lashing out either side of him then pushed the Lees apart.
“Stop, there must be a way to settle this sensibly,” he said.
“There is, let me rip her throat out,” said one of the Lees, Finsbury unsure which was which.
“It seems to me,” one of the Lees said, “the fake would try to kill the other to avoid being found out.”
As they argued another Finsbury entered the cavern.
“Who the hell are you?” both Finsbury shouted simultaneously.
“Not as easy as you think is it?” asked one of the Lees.
“But this is simple,” replied the first Finsbury. “I’m me, I know I am. That’s an imposter.”
“You’re the imposter!” shouted the other Finsbury, charging over. “I was locked in a cupboard and only just escaped, and good thing I did from the looks of it!”
After a few minutes of everyone arguing over the top of each other, Finsbury, one of them, managed to calm everyone down.
“Okay,” he said once everyone had quietened down, “so we all agree this is madness, and until we can work out what’s going on maybe we all work together until we find what Mister Universe is trying to make us do.”
“Agreed,” said the other Finsbury. “Let’s get cracking then! The sooner we start the-”
Finsbury’s speech was cut short when one of the Lees sliced his throat with her talons. As the final spark of life drained out of him, he shape-shifted into a grey formless rubbery tube. One end of the tube was a ring of teeth, the other, nobody wanted to look at.
“What?” said the Lee who killed the fake Finsbury. “Don’t look at me like that. The real Finsbury wouldn’t be that excited. It was obvious it was the duplicate.”
Finsbury wasn’t sure if he should be offended or grateful.
“What is it?” he asked.
“They’re called mimics,” replied one of the Less. “Nasty buggers too. They’ve evolved the perfect camouflage.”
“So that still leaves me with two Lees. But,” Finsbury said, thinking he had worked everything out, “you knew about me not being excited to be here, so you must be the real Lee!”
“Wait,” the other Lee shouted. “Not so fast, that was easy to deduce. You’ve been complaining since you got here.”
“She’s not lying,” said the other Lee.
“Stop agreeing with yourself! It’s very confusing,” Finsbury said grasping his head in frustration.
“See? You’re still complaining!”
The other Lee nodded in agreement. Finsbury glared back at them.
“Neither of you look upset that one of your kind has just been killed.”
“She wouldn’t,” said one of the Lees, “they’re solitary predators. She wouldn’t feel any sorrow or remorse.”
“So what could be so important it’s being guarded by mimics?” asked the other Lee, picking at her teeth with a talon.
“How do you know it’s being guarded?” asked Finsbury. “What if they were looking for it too?”
“Unlikely, mimics are basically brainless meat tubes. The only thing they want is to eat you.”
“Dumb? One of you is a mimic and you’re able to have a conversation clever enough I don’t know who is who.”
“Don’t mistake ability to mimic as intelligence. They don’t understand what they are doing or saying. Everything they do is drawn from their host. They use the knowledge of person and even the hosts own brain to process what to say so it even sounds like what the person would say.”
One of the Lees cocked her head and stared at Finsbury.
“What?” asked Finsbury.
Both Lees were staring at him like he was a hamburger and they hadn’t eaten in days.
“I’ve got an idea,” said one of the Lees. “You’ve been trying to get me naked ever since you met me, so how about…”
Lee winked at him seductively and ran a talon between her breasts, slicing the fabric of her top and bursting free.
“Wha…wha… What are you doing?” asked Finsbury backing away.
“You know you want some of this,” the semi-naked Lee said squeezing her shoulders inwards and jiggling.
“Finsbury, duck!” said the other Lee.
Finsbury ducked and Lee flew over his head, claws out and reaching for the throat of the semi-naked Lee. The semi-naked Lee reacted with millimetres to spare and lashed out with her own talons.
The Lees battled with synchronised ferocity and Finsbury was no longer sure if he should be scared or aroused. They tumbled across the floor, wings and talons moving so quick Finsbury couldn’t tell who belonged to what.
With a scream followed by the sound of ripping flesh, one of the Lees fell defeated to the ground. Blood pumped from her neck and pooled on the ground. A chunk of skin had been ripped out and an artery severed.
The surviving Lee stood, panting and covered in blood.
“Sorry about that. I deliberately thought about wanting you so to make the mimic act of character. Hence it’s failed attempt at seduction.”
“But how do I know you’re the real Lee?” Finsbury asked.
Lee closed her wings around her body.
“The mimic needs a live host to feed off. If I’m the mimic in a few seconds you’ll be looking at yourself.”
The Lee dying on the ground let out a final gasp before slumping and shape-shifting back into its natural tube shape.
The sound of a thousand far-away trumpet fanfares filled the cavern, and with an elaborate light and smoke show Mister Universe popped into existence.
“Did you have fun? You can go home now if you want,” he said.
“But what about the treasure or whatever we’re here for?” asked Lee.
“There isn’t any!” Mister Universe said with a chuckle.
Finsbury scratched his head.
“So what was the point of this?” he asked.
“Don’t you get it? The mimics were the adventure! I really didn’t know how this would go. I deliberately blinded myself from seeing the outcome and gave the whole thing free will to play out.”
“So we were really in danger this time?” Finsbury asked.
“Yes! But you suspected I might be controlling again, so you believed you were safe didn’t you? See what I did there?”
Lee punched him in the face.
“Every time? Really?” asked Mister Universe then snorted a glob of blood out of his nose. “Anyway, you did well and survived.”
“So I can go home now?” asked Finsbury.
“Sure, but for being such good sports,” Mister Universe looked accusingly at Lee and snorted out another glob of blood to punctuate it, “I’m going to treat you. How about dinner at the centre of the galaxy?”
“You mean at that inescapable and crushing black hole you were going to send us to before sending us here instead?” Lee asked.
“That’s the one. There’s a restaurant which orbits it at a few light years distance. Spectacular views.”
“So long as it’s just dinner and not some trick to get me on an adventure,” said Finsbury.
“I swear it,” Mister Universe replied with a wink.
The pupils in his eyes twirled like the spiralling of galaxies and together everyone disappeared from the cavern.
If you liked this and haven’t read the original short it’s based on, you can find Finsbury Park at Amazon.