Chapter 4: Matthias
Last night is a blur. Alcoholic beverages mixed with costumes and, eventually, sleep deprivation is not a winning combination. Nick was out cold until two in the afternoon, and he still can't deal with loud noises. Or sunlight. I don't even remember having a drink, some kid must have spiked the punch with tequila or something. However, the most worrying result of all this has been Natasha's recent behavior. It seems... stressed. No, that's The wrong word. Fake, fabricated, unreal. It's as though Natasha has been replaced with someone who only vaguely knows how Natasha acts, and is trying desperately to keep of the facade. In fact, I believe that is exactly what has happened. We have this happen every so often, some doppelganger thinks they can worm their way in to the Rousseaus' inner circle, try to take the family down. Generally they're pretty easy to deal with, but considering this one took down Natasha...
In accordance with the standard procedures for this type of incident, I'm going to document everything that has happened since the potential abduction of Natasha. I can remember very little of last night, however I do know that Natasha left our group as soon as we arrived at the local Halloween festivities, and wandered off. None of us saw her again until ten this morning, when she approached us all while we were eating breakfast.
"Hello!" she said in an uncharacteristically cheery manner, bounced slightly as she said this. Nick immediately shot me a glance, I don't think Natasha has ever initiated a conversation with him, so he was understandably confused.
"Good morning, Natasha. Where were you last night?"
"Oh, I went home with this guy-" she stopped dead, noticing all of our expressions, "He, uh... I was kidding. Sorry. Bad joke."
"Natasha, you've never really been the joker type, and now I see why," I said in an attempt to smooth things over. By this time, I was already having suspicions, but I didn't want Nick or Smith to pick up on anything. They aren't ready to be exposed to the more high-level things, such as doppelgangers, I doubt they even know the name "Rousseau International". After a short while, the false-Natasha began to pick up on how she was supposed to be acting, and did her best to fit the role. The doppelganger remained passive and did not show any signs of aggression towards any members of Projekt Oktober, nor did it commit any random acts of violence that are typical of doppelgangers. I was beginning to think that our run-in with the doppelganger was sheer chance, and it didn't have any knowledge of our employer. Then, around six o'clock... We were leaving a restaurant, Natasha and Nick had started walking to the Auto Shop (we were going to check up on Katie), Jones was chatting up the girl behind the desert counter, and I was paying the check.
Retrospectively, it was immensely foolish of me to allow a doppelganger to go alone with Nick, however I was off guard due to it's peaceful demeanor. When I finished paying, I grabbed Smith and dragged him out in to the street. Neither Nick nor Natasha were in sight, but that was understandable, they had had about a full minute head start. Jones and I walked the entire way to the Auto Shop (about five blocks) without seeing them. Worse, they were not waiting for us at the Auto Shop.
"Hey," I said to the owner, "Did you see a creepy Russian and a depressed writer come through here?"
"No, but there was a German doctor and a starving poet about an hour ago, that's close enough, right?" He said, and laughed, "But in all honesty, no I haven't." I frowned, thanked him, and left.
"Hey Matthias, what gives?" Smith asked.
"Nick is being held hostage. So is Natasha. The Natasha that we've been hanging around with all day is a fake."
"Wait, sorry, what?"
"It was an imposter, someone who doesn't like our employer and his line of work."
"... I though Midas owned a pencil manufacturing company."
"Novelty pencils. Highly competitive business."
"Right, I'll just go with that explanation for now. So how are we going to find them?"
"Natasha has a GPS implant, so do I, I'll just call up Midas and he'll be able to give us the coordinates."
"Why didn't you call as soon as she went missing?"
"We were being followed by an imposter, and if I did anything to show that they had blown their cover, we'd all be dead right now."
"Remind me never to get into the novelty pencil manufacturing business."
"Don't joke. Archduke Ferdinand made novelty pencils, look at how it ended for him."
"You are so full of crap."
"I prefer the term creative improvisation of the truth, now if you'll excuse me I have a call I need to make," I whipped out my cellphone, and Jones casually strolled away in a very 'hear-no-evil' manner.
"Hello?" Midas said, he picked up on the second ring.
"This is the twenty-first century, Matthias, we have caller ID."
"Right, sorry sir."
"Don't apologize, have some self-respect."
"Listen, sir, we have a situation. Natasha has gone missing. Kidnapped by her doppelganger." There was a silence.
"I see. Is the doppelganger a threat?"
"Potentially. She's been trying to blend in with our group all day, but she hasn't been aggressive and she doesn't show any signs of being an enemy of the Rousseau family."
"If she doesn't want to get to us though, what was her motive for kidnapping Natasha?"
"Exactly, it doesn't make any sense. Additionally, she's kidnapped Nick now, as well."
"... That complicates things. What about Smith?"
"The British one."
"They're the same person Matthias."
"Yeah but it's fun to do that to people," I smiled a bit, but I could tell by the silence that Midas was not as amused.
"This is serious Matthias."
"Right, right. Smith doesn't know much, he only knows that Nick and Natasha have been kidnapped by an enemy of your pencil manufacturing business."
"Novelty pencil manufacturing business."
"I'm going to leave him here, tell him to keep an eye on Katie. As for myself, I'm going to go hunt down the doppelganger and rescue Nick and Natasha, I'll need the coordinates from Natasha's implant though."
"Of course. I'll have a car pick you up and drive you there. And remember, it's important that Nicholas does not know too much about our operation so... I'll leave damage control at your discretion."
"Are you suggesting I kill him?"
"I'm a businessman not a sociopath, Matthias."
"That's a pretty fine line."
"I'm not say you should kill him. My boys in the biological labs have concocted this wonderful little amnestic drug. Slip it in his drink and the last day of his life will be nothing but a mildly erotic blur."
"I'm sorry, what?"
"It's also an aphrodisiac, that's beside the point, just get them back and keep the journalist quiet."
"Yes sir." There was a click, he had hung up. I explained to Jones that he needed to stay with Katie, he was surprisingly willing. I had expected him to want to come with, I guess I've been around too many adrenaline junkies for too long. A few moments later, a large, black SUV picked me up.
"Wait, what's all this now?" Smith said upon seeing the car.
"Midas sent it to pick me up."
"He has SUVs out in the middle of nowhere on the off chance that one of his employees may need them?"
"... That seems like it would be rather damaging to the finances of his company."
"Seems like it should be, and yet, somehow, it isn't," I closed the door before Jones decided to argue the point anymore. At time of writing, I am en route to the position marked by Natasha's GPS. It's a smallish cave in a smallish mountain about twenty minutes from St. Augustine. I don't have much in the way of a plan, beyond being shot at and having to run a bit, I don't really know what to expect. I've only tangled with a doppelganger once, it was not pleasant. I had peanut butter on all my clothes for*
*Editorial Note: At this moment, the vehicle that Matthias was riding in was impacted at an extremely high speed, presumably by "Echo", or the "doppelganger" as Matthias calls it. He was likely knocked out for a large period of time, according to Nick's entry, Matthias did not awake until the next day. For those of you wondering about Matthias' previous encounter with a doppelganger, we're sorry to disappoint you, we have no record of it.
On an unrelated note, we hate you and we want you to die. Thank you for reading Oktober thus far, we hope you have found our documentation of these events adequate. Once we are done slitting your throat, we will be happy to receive any criticism that you have, as we view criticism as a learning tool. Good night, sleep lightly.