"Do you have any last words?"
The warden with his craggy face loomed above Earl, who was strapped to a gurney. Earl shook with a cold sweat and turned to the window and looked at his reflection and then the faces beyond. He thought he might see him, the man, the other, but all the faces were unfamiliar, except for the family members of the three men who he was accused of murdering. They'd shown up in court everyday of his trial and heard him plead repeatedly that he was innocent of the crimes. None of them cared; they only wanted what they thought was justice.
"It wasn't me." Earl croaked out the words, tears blooming at his eyes.
"Anything else?" asked the warden after a long sigh.
"I'll tell you, I'll tell you what really happened," said Earl.
"Oh? This again?" asked the warden with a smirk.
"I was embarrassed," said Earl. "It was years ago now. I was ravenous. Just hungry all the time. I put on a lot of weight and I felt ashamed of it. And after a few months I realized I wasn't growing fatter. I was...I was growing sideways."
The warden sighed deeply again and rolled his eyes.
"I know you won't believe me, but I have to tell the truth. You're going to kill me anyway, put down like a rabid dog. But I'm not a bad person."
"Uh huh." The warden looked at his watch.
Earl hurried to continue.
"It got noticeable, and my clothes wouldn't fit. People looked at me funny, and when I got stuck in a doorway I thought, 'that's enough, people will talk'. So I took some time off sick. I kept eating until all my food was gone. I didn't dare go to the grocery store. And when there was nothing left to eat, the pains set in. Oh the pains! All on my left side. The skin started stretching, and new bones started to poke out under my flesh. I stayed in bed, curled up under the covers. I must have been there for days. I'd take the odd call and tell people it was just the flu and not to worry, but I sure was worried! I was getting wider and wider and things were moving under there without my control. And then the pain got so bad that I passed out.
"And then I woke up, feeling dizzy but remarkably better. And there he was, sitting in the chair next to my bed."
The warden squinted in confusion.
"Who was?" he asked.
"The other me. The one that came out of me."
The warden laughed.
"It's true," said Earl. "He looked exactly like me and he was staring at me with those dead eyes, sitting in my chair, completely naked. I could just feel the bad thoughts swirling down deep in him. I knew he was a bad, bad thing the moment I saw him."
"And what did he do?" asked the warden, wiping tears of laughter from his cheeks with the back of his hand.
"He put his finger to his mouth and went 'shhh'. And I was so scared I couldn't move. I watched him dress in my clothes, and he took my wallet and then he went outside and took my car. And I never saw him again. I don't know what happened to him, but I know it was him that committed the crimes you think I did. That's why the DNA matches and why the witnesses identified me."
"Well that was a whopper. How convenient for you that you have an evil twin to do all your dirty work."
"You don't believe me warden, and I understand that. I've come to terms with the death you're about to hand me, but the true killer is still out there, and you need to know that."
"Are you finished?" asked the warden.
"Yes, sir, I am."
Earl stared up at the ceiling and let out a long, relieved sigh. The warden signalled to the doctor to begin. The first injection was put into the IV. Earl felt his limbs go numb and heavy. His tongue slackened in his mouth and his eyelids started to slide together. Then the doctor leaned over him, masked as he was, and shone a light into Earl's eyes. As he leaned in, the doctor winked at Earl, and Earl looked up only to recognize the eyes that were his. He tried to scream, to point, to flail, but was unable to. The doctor, Earl's other self, moved back and administered the second injection while the warden looked lazily on.