I’ve had to change a few names in the following story for legal reasons but beyond that, the account is exactly as it was related to me. 

In 1970, a 50-year-old Huyton bachelor named Noel Peake was getting rather fed up with his humdrum life. 

For the past twenty years he’d been the company director of a cardboard factory and did nothing all day but sit in his office on Greenland Street, either signing a wad of cheques, poring over reams of invoices or gazing out the window at the brick wall of the warehouse facing his own grim-looking premises. 

Sometimes there were meetings with major shareholders in the firm, but every one of them was a septuagenarian and each meeting was mind-numbingly boring. One lunchtime, Noel got into his Triumph Herald and drove to a café on Islington’s Soho Street where, as chance would have it, he met an old friend from his college days - Maurice Pickering - a strange individual who studied and dabbled in the occult. 

Noel had always regarded him as an oddball but being utterly depressed and in need of friendship he was so glad to see him. Noel told Maurice about his boring, soul-destroying existence and how he would give anything to have a new, exciting life. Maurice smiled and said: “I think I may have the answer, Noel.”

I’d love to hear it but I bet it involves the supernatural,’ said Noel. Maurice nodded and replied: “Yes it does. I’ve made a lot of progress in the study of the occult since you last saw me, and I had a nervous breakdown because of it five years back. Anyway, you probably won’t be able to take this in – no offence but it does require high intelligence, but there is a sort of dimension running alongside our one called the Altern Void.”

“A dimension next to ours, yes I can take that in, go on” said an intrigued Noel.

“The Altern Void is where most doppelgangers come from - exact doubles of people that have been documented over the years - they’re close copies of us but they’re a little dim.”

“You’re not pulling my leg with all this?” Noel asked, offering Maurice a cigarette.
Maurice accepted the cigarette and said: “Straight up, Noel, and I now know how to bring a person’s double from the Altern Void to our reality, so do you see what I’m getting at?”

“Not really,” admitted Noel, lighting his own cigarette then Maurice’s.

“I could bring your double into this world, and he’d look exactly like you and because he’s rather dense, I could tell him what to do and how to behave. He could run your cardboard factory and you’d be free to do whatever you wanted. 

“You’ve described the boring routines Noel, and they be right up the carbon copy Noel’s street.”

“No, don’t start messing about with all that Black Magic stuff, Maurice”, said Noel, looking a little disconcerted, “I’ll just have to retire and find a more exciting line of work.”

But three days later he received a rambling letter from Maurice Pickering – and it was obvious from its wording that his old friend was mentally unstable. He said he’d conjured up “Leon, Noel’s name reversed, and that the double would take over his job, thus freeing him. 

Leon would also be moving into Noel’s home on Roby Road. 

If anything went wrong with Leon, Maurice promised he’d intervene and send him back to the Altern Void. 

The handwriting style in the letter then became erratic and illegible. That morning, Noel left the office to go to the toilet and when he returned he looked through the window in his office door – and saw his double, seated at the desk. 

He was dressed exactly the same, but had his hair parted on the left. This really frightened Noel and in a confused state he left the factory and drove about aimlessly, wondering what to do. 

He called upon his ex-girlfriend Lucy at her home on Huskisson Street, and she answered the door with a black eye. She asked him why he’d come back and tried to slam the door on him. 

Noel listened in horror as Lucy claimed he had battered her the night before. 
She refused to believe her ex-boyfriend’s story about a doppelganger and threatened to call the police. 

Noel drove to the Islington café and there was Maurice. “What have you done?” Noel seethed, and his trembling friend said, “He’s a bad one Noel, it’s never happened before. Don’t let him see you or he’ll kill you. I was only trying to help you.”

Noel’s dangerous replica embarked on a string of assaults and even a robbery. Noel had to flee from his home and he told a priest what had happened but was advised to go and see a doctor. 

Then Noel’s double tried to run him down with his own car, and Noel went into hiding. He lived over a shop on Bold Street and Leon started to empty his bank account. Then one afternoon as Noel was walking up Bold Street, he heard a familiar voice behind him say, “Hello Noel.”

The double seized him and produced a knife, but a policeman on his beat bravely seized the knife. The double ran off and was hit by a lorry. There were screams, and a pool of blood spread out under the vehicle but no body was found – perhaps it had returned to the Altern Void...

* All Tom Slemen’s books are available from Amazon


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