“The Face in the Mirror” by Allison Rose

Other works with this title by: Barbara S. Stewart; J.T. Collins; Rhys Bowen; Stephanie S. Tolan; Gordon Gallup, Julian Keenan, Dean Falk; Ashraf Pahlavi; Denys Val Baker; Traci Storey; Elise Title; Yael Mermelstein; Marion Crook; Wayne Andre, David W. Balsiger; Sheila Holroyd; Donald White; Mainak Dhar

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At the risk of sounding cliché, I begin this account with an accurate statement of the weather: It was a dark and stormy night.

Indeed, it was.  The torrential raindrops were indistinguishable from balls of hail as they pattered … no, smashed against my poor windowpanes, and varying in their intensity to the point that I was awoken not once, not twice, not thrice, but frice after the grand old clock in the next room tolled the midnight hour.

Unable to sleep off my lethargy, I pulled the covers from around my tired body and crept silently from the bed.  Whether I was in or out of bed that night, I would still be pained by morning; so I might as well use this time productively.

Across the hall was my study, where I often spent long hours composing poetry or tales of men who suffered from extreme maladies of the head.  It is a niche genre that only I fill, well enough that people are so transfixed by the uniqueness of it all that they do not question my ability to represent the ailing mind with sensitivity.

Most nights, I write by candlelight, as artists are wont to do when only affluent businesspeople have the privilege of electricity (or good food or familial support).  By now, my light source had melted to a stub, only the slightest hint of a charred wick reaching vainly from the waxy depths.  I lit the candle and brought it and my book of notes back to the bedroom; should I eventually collapse from sheer exhaustion, I might still wake up in my bed come morning.

With its meager light illuminating my way, I held the candle outward and kept my notes tucked beneath my other arm.  The shadows it cast were enough to fuel my morbid imagination, and already, I knew how to continue the story of a man trapped by his own cat within the walls of his great, gothic manor.

As I passed the framed pane of reflective glass hanging on the wall adjacent to my bedroom door, I was met by an unexpected sight: a hideous face, in the dark, leered back at me!

A mirror serves as a way to view one’s reflection, but this one beheld a glimpse into another realm – a realm populated by the restless undead!

I could not recognize the queer visage, with its malevolent, red-rimmed eyes and purplish, hollow features.  A nest of auburn hair covered the scalp, extending in tangled tangents.  Twisted teeth formed an evil grin, and it too held a burning candle to its face.

It seemed to mock me in my horror, its ugly features contorting themselves into a poor imitation of what was surely my expression of shock.  This was not reciprocation; the sadistic pleasure it gleaned from my pain was evident.  For how long had it been here, watching me during the day from behind the pane of glass?  I did not know and I did not want to know.

Unable to bear its perverted gaze one second longer, I fled the rest of the way to my bedroom.  In my fear, I did not bother to cover the mirror or otherwise prevent its assault on my emotions.  If I could not see it, perhaps it would not see me either.  If I had to stay in my room for the rest of my days, I did not care; for I had with me my candle and my book of notes.

And so, I was content…

…Until I realized, I’d forgotten my pen.

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