The Thing In the Mirror [fiction]

© 1999 by Steven L Campbell.
(Approximately 1,500 words.)

Inside a single yellow eye of a two-story brick house, fifteen-year-old Randy White sits at his bedroom desk and stares into a rectangular wall-type mirror propped in front of him. He draws a few lines to his portrait, trying to capture a convincing likeness of himself to show Mr. Everly, his art teacher, on Monday.

A crowd roars from outside his bedroom window; he wonders for a moment if the Warriors have scored. A half-block away, Ravenwood High School’s football team is battling a well-matched contest with their neighboring town, Birchville. His parents and sisters are there amidst the fervor.

Randy glances at the radio on the stand by the side of his bed and considers turning on the game. Then, annoyed, he realizes the noise of the game has become a distraction; the skinny boy stamps to his window to close it.

Football season has ascended upon Ravenwood’s Friday nights and tonight the air is heavy in the third quarter, the game tied. Randy knows that sweat and adrenaline and coffee and soft drinks are flowing fast. He had been part of that life once.

Before he closes the window, a loud cheer follows a brown elliptical ball kicked over the heads of the visiting blue and white team. The ball passes end over end between white jutting poles rising toward the scarlet sky, and then falls and bounces into a wire backstop. The fence rattles, Randy knows, where on the other side, a few bees buzz atop the uncut field of brush and scrub in the waning September daylight.

Behind the school and beyond the field lights, portions of Myers Ridge jut like jagged canine teeth trying to bite into the bands of red and gold sky above it. Randy notices a sphere of white light blinking along the cliffs and wonders what it is. It moves back and forth and up and down, then zips away for a few seconds before it returns and repeats the pattern.

Randy thinks of UFOs, so he hurries back with a digital camera. He zooms and snaps a picture. The orb blinks off and on. Randy takes another picture. The crowd roars. The orb stops blinking.

He waits for the strange light to blink on again, but the ridge remains dark.

Bands of lightning spread out across the northern sky, streaking and skipping over the amber clouds. Randy reaches to close the window when white light flashes in front of the window and sends him falling backwards. Partially blinded, he scrambles from the floor to the window and closes it. Then he ducks and waits; he wonders if little gray beings will enter his room and want to abduct him.

After several minutes, he peeks outside. Then he pulls his curtains over the window and hurries to his desk. He watches his window in the mirror for several minutes. The football crowd is muffled on the other side; there is no other disturbance out there. No UFOs. No aliens. All is safe. Right?


And the light?

Probably a flash of lightning. That’s all.

He returns to his portrait and draws. His hand, eyes and mind become synchronous and he discovers he really likes what he is doing. He understands the rules of composition and positive and negative space now. He has become an artist and he knows it. Drawing what he sees is easy to do.

He looks at his face and studies the forms made clear by the light from the lamp on his desk. Then behind his mop of brown hair where thick green curtains should cover the window he closed not long ago, he sees a closed door instead.

What? This can’t be.

He slowly puts down his pencil, rubs his eyes, and looks again at the mirror. The door is there! A dark oak of plain, smooth slab with a glass doorknob on it where his window should be. He quickly turns from the mirror and looks at his window. It’s there, covered by green curtain. In the mirror, he sees the door.

Fascinated and a little frightened, he repeats the procedure until he is certain the mirror is not lying to him.

He looks at his window. “Hello. Aliens?”

No answer.

He lifts the mirror from its propped up position and crosses his room. Facing the curtain, he holds the mirror by its wired back with his left hand and sees clearly in the mirror the door now next to him. He reaches out to where he knows there is curtain. He watches it happen in the mirror as he touches cold wood instead.

He yanks his hand away and blows on his fingers.

He hears the muffled noise from the football field where his parents and two young sisters are watching the game. But he barely thinks of them now.

He lifts his hand to the curtain and watches his hand in the mirror grasp the faceted doorknob. It is solid and cold and he shivers and takes a deep breath to calm his excitement. Then he turns the knob.

The door in the mirror swings out and he feels its weight butt against his right shoulder as the door comes to rest. He moves forward and watches the door open all the way in the mirror.

Beyond the door is a hallway with a wood floor as dark as the door and just as polished. Across the hall is a plain, off-white wall where a large painting of a seascape hangs from an ornate gold frame.

He reaches back toward his window and sees his arm enter the hallway. He turns and looks at his hand pressing against the curtain and the window behind it. He does not feel the curtain or window, even when he leans his shoulder against the curtain.

When he looks again at the hallway in the mirror, he tumbles through the doorway.

In his bedroom, the boy holding the mirror falls into the curtain and window, evaporating through green fabric and window glass and wood frame and wall. His reflection continues to tumble likewise into the hall, sprawling onto the cold, hard wood.

In Randy’s room, the mirror falls to the bedroom floor and bursts into shards and slivers.

At the window, Randy White has vanished.

At the window, glass begins to chatter with the sound of rain. Two-hundred yards away the football game has ended. Several minutes pass before the front door at Randy’s house opens. His father calls upstairs to remind him of their ritual of going out for ice cream after a home game. Wear a jacket, Randy’s father says, it’s raining.

Minutes pass. The youngest girl impatiently stomps upstairs calling for Randy to hurry. Inside his bedroom, the girl sees on his desk his drawing pad and a self-portrait looking back in wonderment. Past the desk, Randy’s camera lies near a broken mirror below his window. She crosses the room, picks up the camera and turns it on. She looks at the pictures that Randy took of the flashing orb. The images are blank.

She puts down the camera and picks up a piece of mirror glass, jabbing the end of her thumb on an edge. She cries out, switches hands and sucks at the bead of blood from her injury. She holds up the knife-like length of glass and sees the door. A shadow falls across the polished floor. She looks closer. The shadow is crouched over a body. A long, smooth, gray face turns. Large glowing yellow eyes peer at her. A mouth of sharp teeth consumes the Navy blue fabric of Randy’s shirt.

The creature lunges at her. She screams and drops the broken mirror and runs from the room, crying and yelling all the way downstairs. She races past her mother and older sister and into the arms of her concerned father.

No one believes her when she tells them what she saw. Upstairs, no one else sees the door or the hall or the creature consuming Randy White’s body in the mirror. They see the broken mirror, but nothing more than shards of glass and splintered wood. Looking around, they see Randy’s drawings and evidence of a boy missing from home, perhaps running away.

He did stop enjoying sports, his father says.

The police officer suggests abduction, which would explain how the mirror was broken.

Definitely abducted, the girl says. By an alien.

No one listens. No one ever really listens to the stories that come from a child’s overactive imagination. Not ever.

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