Shark didn’t know how to react at what he just heard. The man before him had some resemblance to him, but not entirely.
The supposed other Shark wore glasses, and had a different hairstyle. He wore a more formal attire, and had a five o’clock shadow growing on his face. He also looked rather sad, and defeated.
What stood out the most to Shark, however, was the bruising on his neck, indicating something terrible happened.
“That’s…” Shark reached out to touch his face. “How is that possible? Are you like an identical twin or something?”
The other man shook his head. “It’s very hard to explain. And I don’t think I have a lot of time to explain all of it.”
“Dude, what are you doing?!” Sinbad shouted as he watched Shark giving Harwood an intense bear-hug. “Come on, let him down!”
His request went unheeded. The Builder just giggled at the futility of his demand.
“He isn’t going to listen to you,” she said while taking pleasure in the sight. “You don’t care about him. You just want to use him as a fling.”
Now Sinbad was disgusted at what she was implying. “What the fuck are you talking about? Of course I care about him! He’s my fiance!”
“That’s not what I’ve heard. I’m quite sure he was involved with your father.”
Annette could certainly feel her cheeks burn at what was being said. She was starting to fully realize now what The Builder’s intents were.
“Hey, sleeping with him once to keep another person alive ain’t what I would call ‘involved’!” Marc said while irately waving his stump towards her. He ended up getting something thrown at him in return.
“Oh hush, you! You don’t even belong with these morons. Shouldn’t you be out screwing women half your age?”
Marc was stunned into silence. He took a step back and put his hand over his mouth.
“If you really are me,” Shark said to his presumed doppelganger, “then tell me something that only I would know.”
The other Shark was quiet for a few moments, then said something fairly random. “Your least favorite episode of Steven Universe was ‘Island Adventure’.”
Hearing this got Shark to gasp in astonishment. “That’s…”
“And your most favorite episode was ‘Jail Break’.”
Now all Shark could do was nod. What the other Shark just told him was the truth. He then smiled, remembering something else related to that show.
“I used to watch that cartoon all the time a few years ago. Every time a new episode aired, I’d drop whatever I was doing to watch it.” Then Shark’s face fell, like he could feel a dark cloud hanging over that memory.
“One day, Lolly caught me watching the show. Boy, did she get mad. So mad, that she grabbed a pair of scissors and threatened to gouge my eyes out, if she ever caught me watching it again.”
Then, once more, his face lit up. “But the fact you know that…It is you! Me, whatever. But what are you doing in what I’m guessing is my mind?”
“I don’t know myself. But while I’m here, can I ask you a few questions?” As the other Shark spoke, it sounded as if he were on the verge of crying. With little other choice, Shark nodded.
Everyone was staring dumbfoundedly at The Builder, unable to comprehend what exactly she was saying.
“Whatever the fuck it is you’re smoking, lady,” Sinbad called out to her now, “Might wanna cut back on it.”
His words just made The Builder giggle. “What do you mean? Everything I said is the truth. Just ask Netty.”
Now, all eyes were on Annette, save for Shark and Harwood’s. She trembled as she tried to figure out what to say.
“Come now, dear! Don’t keep them waiting! Tell them it’s true!”
Annette could hear Shark behind her, whispering something along the lines of, “I’m not letting you go this time”. She tried to ignore it as she solemnly nodded.
“Yeah, it’s true. She’s telling the truth.”
Now The Builder skipped over to her, grabbing hold of her shoulder. She grinned at all the others.
“And if you don’t believe me…” She snapped her fingers. At once, everyone grabbed hold of their heads and doubled over in pain.
Even Annette could see the memories flooding into everyone’s minds. Though the events happened several centuries ago, they still seemed as fresh as if they only happened yesterday.
Sagebear was now running to everyone, whining and whimpering. It appeared that she too was being affected, given how she then flopped to the floor and rolled about.
The questions that Shark was asked were rather innocent ones; “Do you live in Twinbrook? Is your father named Dennis?” and so forth.
Then came a question that had to have indicated he knew more than he let on:
“Do you know a man named Harwood Clay?”
Shark looked up in astoundment, then nodded. “Of course I know him. Do you?”
“Yes I did,” the other Shark said. “He and I, well…Let’s just say I would’ve loved to have married him before he…”
He went silent, covering his mouth. Tears began to drip from his eyes. This proved to Shark that the other Harwood hadn’t met a very pleasant end.
“Well, if you knew Harwood,” Shark said to his double, “Then you knew his son Sinbad too, right?”
The other Shark nodded. “He wasn’t very nice to me, though. And he was engaged to my world’s version of Amy. I was just some fuck toy to him in the end. I guess it wasn’t meant to be, anyway.”
Hearing this made Shark cringe, and glance down at his ring. It pained him to know that in at least one other universe, the two didn’t end up together.
“Um, well,” he said to get the other Shark’s attention now, “if it helps at all, like in any way, things were better for you.”
“How so?” The tone of the other Shark’s voice sounded as if he didn’t believe him.
Shark tried to think of the best way to put it. “In the world I come from, Sinbad and Amy didn’t get together. He got engaged to someone else.”
Now Shark’s double looked surprised at what he was hearing. “How do you know that for sure?”
Holding up his left hand, Shark gave a little grin. “Because I was there.”
Annette shook free of The Builder’s grasp, stepping away so as not to be grabbed by her again.
“Knock it off! You’re hurting all of them!” Her pleas were ignored. The Builder’s grin seemed to get bigger when everyone started to collapse under the torture.
The only thing Annette could think of doing now was to run to Sagebear, trying to get her to snap out of it.
“It’s okay, Sagebear! Mommy’s here.” The dog’s pitiful whines were like a knife in Annette’s chest. It certainly wasn’t helped by The Builder maniacally cackling.
The next horrific sound that joined into the messy cacophony were even worse. Annette’s blood ran cold when she caught wind of Harwood’s shrieking.
Once she quickly turned to look, she saw his face contorted in pain.
“No way…” Shark’s double took hold of his hand, inspecting the engagement ring. “You mean in your world, you’re engaged to Sinbad?”
Shark nodded. The other Shark stood motionless for a few moments, before he bowed his head. Before Shark could ask what was wrong, he began sobbing.
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about this! In another world, I’m happy?”
This just made Shark incredibly sad. “You’re not happy in your world?”
“In my world, I’m dead! Does this not tell you anything?!” The other Shark then pointed to the bruising around his neck. Then he continued to cry piteously.
He was then caught off guard by Shark hugging him. He was so shocked, he almost didn’t return it.
Neither of them said a word until Shark let go and stepped back a few seconds later. He looked away as he started talking again.
“It tells me that you were suffering when you died, physically and emotionally. It also tells me that you needed someone who wasn’t there when you needed him the most. And it tells me…”
He hesitated, possibly hoping that he didn’t come off as selfish with what he said next. “It tells me that…maybe I can do enough living for the both of us?”
The other Shark wiped his face. “You’d do that for me?”
Shark nodded. “Of course I will. It’s only fair that I live for another me whose life was cut short.”
With a smile, the other Shark then began to fade from view. He was taken aback as he held up his disappearing arms.
“Goodbye…” Shark whispered to him. When he was gone from view, he sat down and closed his eyes once more.
Once Shark came to again, he was back in The Builder’s domain. This time, though, he could hear screams of pain and confusion.
“Huh…?” Looking down, he gasped at realizing who he was holding. Immediately, he dropped Harwood and let him fall to the floor. Then he knelt by his side.
“What’s going on, Harwood? What was I doing?” Harwood tried to get sat up as much as he could, but was clearly in a good amount of pain.
“I don’t know, but you definitely weren’t yourself-” He was then cut off by a frightening revelation. “Waaa…I can’t feel my legs.”
Neither of them had any time to freak out about this, though. Both of them then looked to watch The Builder causing the others immense hurting.
“Gah! Can one of ya get that lady to quit with the mindfuckin’ here?!” Blaise cried out to the others.
“I’m with her!” Dennis said after her. “How many times do I have to watch this blonde lady shoot who I guess is me?!”
Their discomfort was clearly causing The Builder much joy, given the way she was giggling now. Annette was looking around, pulling Sagebear into her lap.
Before Shark could stand up to confront The Builder, though, the sound of a gunshot was heard, breaking her concentration. She then fell over backwards and looked about for the perpetrator.
“What the fuck was that?!” A frantic search about the room quickly disclosed who fired the shot.