Friday, March 8, 2013


The Looking Glass

Late that night she awoke screaming in terror. Sweating profusely, she clutched at her shirt, choking and gagging. She sat up straight, her stomach roiling. Once again she was waking from a nightmare.
Breathing laboriously, thoughts scattered, she wiped the sweat from her face and pulled her knees up pressing them against her chest. She buried her chin between them, shivering in the cold sitting on the bed staring into the dark. The intensity of this latest dream burdened her with a heightened sense of dread that she had not experienced before. Yet, she could not remember what it was that she'd dreamed about. She glanced at her dresser across the room. The box. That was the problem. She had to get rid of it. 
It was late dusk and the weak embers of sunlight were still hanging about. She could still see most objects in the room if she squinted. Wine bottles were spread about on the floor. She finally got up and went to the bathroom, turned on the hot water, letting it run. 

Time passed, she couldn't remember how much. Hot steam billowed up from the sink and drifted towards the ceiling. She rinsed her face. The air became very warm and moist. Steam curled and wafted all around the bathroom turning it into a sauna. She wet her hair, running her fingers through it and then reached for a towel. She frowned, looking around her. The bathroom was enveloped completely in thick steam. She couldn't find the door. Then she heard soft clucking noises and snapped her head around, looking for the source of the sound. There it was again, then a soft, mocking laugh. She slowly lifted a hand and wiped the steam away from the mirror above the sink. There, her reflection was staring back at her. Except it didn't behave like a reflection. It wore a dark, blood red tailored Italian suit and a silk, ink black tie. She merely stared at it, stunned.
“Hello Mary. It's about time we got reconnected.” The voice was deep and mellifluous, like oil. Her own voice. Only the timbre was different.
“Who...who are you?” Mary felt an odd sensation coming over her. It wasn't quite terror.
“You've forgotten already?” It smiled widely, showing a set of beautiful white teeth. The canines were sharp.
“Come now. It's time for me to collect, Mary. I thought that leaving a few clues would help you remember your debt.”
“The box, Mary. The box. Remember?” She slowly sank down, seating himself on the edge of the tub, voluminous steam swirling everywhere. A dim realization began to dawn.
“No, no......”
“Let's not make a fuss. Come with me now.. Give me my due.”
“But you don't understand. I never opened the box.”
“What do you mean you never opened the box? Everyone always opens the box."
"Well I didn't. therefore I don't owe you anything. Have a look for yourself. And furthermore, I will never open that box. I don;t know what I was thinking when I took it but you can have it. back. I'll go get it for you." The reflection stared at her dispassionately and said nothing. She went to the bedroom and opened the top drawer to her dresser and took out the bright red lacquer box, about half the size of a shoe box. She set it on the counter in front of the mirror.
“I have nightmares and terrible headaches every night and I've felt sick to my stomach for weeks. It's this thing. It's cursed. Take it!”  At this the reflection laughed.
“Some people are made of stronger stuff  than you. If you have nightmares it is because of your own guilt. Coward! Who would turn away from the chance of such power but a frightened fool? Control of all that you see is only at your fingertips. All you have to do is open it, Mary." It said. Mary detected an edge in its voice. She shook her head. The voice softened.
"Come, now. Hold out your hand and touch the mirror once again.” The voice became quieter, hissing  like a snake. Mary felt a force pushing down on her willing her to disobey her own mind. She was now fully terrified. The powers of the red box and the parameters of the moral box she was in were finally coming into focus.
“No!” She repeated stubbornly, her voice trembling. The  reflection's eyes changed. The brown pupils turned black and became unusually large, like a cat's eyes in the dark, full of predatory malice.
“I will come at a later time. Take care.” The reflection smiled broadly. It was a million watt smile, bright as a Las Vegas night. A smile that was not reflected in the eyes. It would come again, of that she had no doubt. She had the perceptive power to see it and others in mirrors and this perceptive power tormented her. Accepting the box - and the power offered with it was a mistake. There was no other alternative.

She would have to burn it.