December 2nd – The Festival of the Doppelgängers

It’s strange how, when they look at other people’s faces, people focus on different features, interpreting them in an individual manner. Some people even interpret expressions differently, being more likely to see a stronger degree of anger or happiness. This strange element of human neural processing is probably part of the reason for different people finding different things attractive. It is also an important part of today’s festival, and the reason for the publicly-judged competition that takes up most of the day, which ennables the organisers to get a good average opinion of the participants’ visual characteristics.

What the audience are looking for is similarities between two faces; they are looking for doppelgängers. In order to win the competition the two contestants must get through several rounds of eliminations, until a single pair of candidates remains. They cannot have been in the presence of each other for more than ten full days, so most identical twins are banned. The competition is often fierce in the later rounds, and it can even come down to differences in mannerisms, but the early rounds tend to be full of those who bear little more than a passing resemblance. Again, because of the ten day rule, few past winners are able to compete, yet the entrants keep coming every year.

Buentoille is thought to have a higher-than-average number of near-identical citizens, at least when compared to its neighbouring cities. This could, however, be down to factors like the vast number of mirrors on show in shop windows and on the streets today, an old tradition that’s thought to link back to the Heinbrow play, The Bashful Poisoner, in which the Druid says that famous line, seemingly to the audience given that there are no other characters on stage at the time: ‘You will see yourself reflected yet not in glass, and not of thy kin’s flesh. This thing shall come to pass when there are but two days elapsed of the yere’s final month. The integument of the world shall draw thin.’

Quite what Heinbrow meant by these words is lost to time and scholarly argument, but in the general population it has been treated almost as a prophecy waiting to come true. It is the last line of this ‘prophecy’ that is of most interest to today’s organisers, who are looking to perform strange magic with the two chosen doppels resulting from the morning’s competition. By sitting them in precisely the same positions, wearing the same clothes, and given the same exact haircut, the esotericists who organise the festival hope to be able to ‘crack and then peel away’ the surface of reality, to see whatever lies beneath. The idea is that, by placing an empty picture frame between them, the world will be tricked into thinking that this is a mirror of one person, and so reality will waver, allowing the esoteric practitioner to reach into the resulting ‘crack’ of thin air, and to tear it.

Perhaps thankfully, and certainly not surprisingly, they have never been successful, yet they keep trying every year, blaming their failures on the lack of an identical doppelgänger pair. They must have spent out several fortunes over the years, as the prize, necessarily to ensure anyone coming across their doppel quickly organises to meet them at the festival and does not linger in their presence, is a large sum of money. Quite who funds this is seemingly unknown, a mysterious benefactor, thought probably to be resident of a nearby city. The Magnificent Coterie of Esoteric Practitioners are frequently in trouble with the tax authorities for failing to disclose any details pertaining to the prize.

Other festivals happening today:

  • Roomy House Day
  • The Invisible Scent of You Festival
  • The Festival of Careworn Satisfaction