A mirror is the unwavering reflection of what is, true reality. Wishes, ideals, and self image never reflect, only the true picture of whoever is standing in front of it.
Prior to the experience I share with you ,I thought of myself as a very calm and easygoing man. If I were to become startled or anxious, it was due to an event sudden and unexpected, or an emotional fog which, during that time prevented logic or reason. On the topic of death, it did not unnerve me to think there will come a time when my light burns out. Nothing in this world had me so attached that I could not bear the thought of being mortally separated from it. In death I also found a sort of human comradery for, it is an experience all must face and nobody ever seems fully prepared for. It gives a great humbling to men, no matter what success they may have found or power acquired during life. As for pain,physical or emotional, I wonât say I didnât flinch when it was clear I in harms way, but even in the worst circumstances a man can face regarding pain, it is a passing sense. A rather unpleasant feeling, but a temporary one. Not a fear to hold one from the triumphs of life.
Iâve also never been, what most would consider to be, a religious man. Born a catholic, I spent a fair amount of my sunday mornings at the local church down the street attending sermons and sunday school. As comforting as the feeling is to think there’s a karma to our actions, and theres a clear and rewarding path for the righteous ,I drifted away from any beliefs around the age of fourteen. I wouldnât consider myself an atheist, for I canât deny that existence itself is a rather strange phenomenon, but the churchâs sense of order and structure didnât match up to the world as I thought I knew it. Their ideals just didnât seem to meet the laws of entropy and disorder our time so clearly runs on. The loss didnât sadden me as I considered myself one of many simply playing his part in an insubstantial play and when the act was over, Iâd simply get off the stage.
I believe my loss of faith came with my first experience of losing a loved one. I was thirteen when my grandmother died. She had been battling an aggressive bone cancer and was terminally ill. A very kind woman and as a child I loved spending time with her. Sheâd give me presents for my birthday and tell me funny stories of my parents when they were younger. A very religious woman as well, the walls of her house had many crosses and portraits of the virgin mary. The only piece of jewelry she wore was a necklace with a purple medallion in the shape of a cross. She told me her mother had given it to her when she passed away, and my grandmother wished to be buried with it. In keeping with tradition she gave my mother her favorite cross which hung over her bed.
Our family went to visit her in the hospital, a very bleak environment for anyone to spend time in, let alone spend their final days that way. We came into her room and tearfully said our goodbyes. She was weak and on many medications for the pain, but she was able to tell us she loved us and she would see us again. Very strange for a child to see someone they love so removed from their usual personality. She was still my grandmother but with a noticeable lack of joy or livelihood that was exhibited in all my previous memories of her. We held hands as the priest in the room said a final prayer, but she began convulsing during the prayer, and I remember seeing the pain she was in and the way her eyes stared openly after she had stopped shaking. I had always seen death portrayed much more gracefully, and was shocked by the image. You’re told to remember those as they were in life and not in death but I often wondered how successful people were with that. Her final moments were long lasting and lead to a maze of thoughts I hadnât previously been able to entertain. I think it was the blank stare and the direct confrontation with a death which I had a strong emotional attachment to, that lead me to question religion for myself.
The loss is sad in the same way a childâs inevitable discovery of santa is, but the lack of a higher power is not what causes my skin to crawl when nobody else is around. I was twenty-five when the catalyst of fear happened and itâs something that has never left me. I was a plumber working in the city and had just purchased my first apartment. It was my first time living alone. Furnished but missing a few essential items I decided to go shop at small antique shop a few blocks from my house. I had been amazed at how the shop was still in business as I saw few go in or out and the furniture was very strange and dated. It intrigued me as iâve always had a taste for the unconventional, and what some would say, visually appalling. Small businesses like that one also have a great character to them and if money is going to be spent, it should be spent at these shops to keep their uniqueness alive.
I walked a few blocks from my house to get to this basement antique shop. Even the door had a quality not found in modern day. Dark red with a beautiful glass knob and one of those old fashioned hand knockers made of brass. The hand knocker was heavily oxidized which only added to its charm with its dark areas and specks of green here and there.
Inside the shop I poked around, and had found silverware and a lamp which caught my interest due to its age and visible wear. Things like that struck me as having a history or some untold story and mystery behind them. I approached the counter, I made a slight remark about the age of the cash register to the elderly man behind the counter. He didnât reply. He himself looked like he well outdated most of the items for sale. A very slender small man with patches of white hair and sunken eyes. He looked as if a slight breeze could knock him over, and his movement was shaky and uneasy, as if he was in constant peril just tending to his own shop.
ât-twenty-two fifty,â he stuttered waving his hand over my purchases.
As I pulled out my wallet, a mirror behind the man caught my eye. A round body sized mirror with a dark black frame. The frame had small exotic suns carved into the wood surrounding the glass. The center of these suns however was an eye with the radiant swirling rays of the sun surrounding it. Remembering I had been using a hand mirror at my apartment, the old and creepy aesthetic this one held would be perfect for my new bachelor pad.
âHow much for that mirror behind you?â I said
âReally, for that one right there?â I asked.
âYes, nobody buy. It frightens c-customers and I w-w-want it gone,â he paued for a moment and said âI have had enough with it. I d-donât mean to scare you from a purchase, but I myself have seen reflections of those n-not with us anymore. I w-wouldnât be offended if you d-didnât want it. I’m only giving it a few more d-days in the store before I dispose of it.â
âOh, neat,â I said, at the time buying into none of what he was saying. âI donât think it will cause me any problems and Iâd rather buy it than see something so ancient in such pristine condition get thrown away.â
It seemed like a bargain at the time but, that mirror cost me five dollars, my comfort, and my sanity.
I had a friend from work help me move it into my new home. We placed it not far from the door, in the open area near the tv.I didnât think much about what the man at the shop had told me, and talked to my friend about going out for drinks after work the next day. He obliged, left, and I went to bed.
That night I heard a loud scratching from outside my bedroom. Not a sound I was fully familiar with hearing, but an easy one to give a rational explanation. My building had allowed pets and I played it off to one of my neighbors dogs wanting to go out, scratching on a door. I was able to ignore it and sleep fully through the night.
Waking up the following morning, everything seemed fine until I went into the kitchen, which was attached to my living room separated by a low bar. While making a bowl of cereal, I glanced at my new purchase and noticed it was scratched and marked up.I hadnât seen the marks the night before, but it was dark when I brought it home and the shop was dimly lit.
âexplains why it was five dollars,â I mumbled to myself, smirking.
I walked over to see how deep the were with my fingernail but was confused when I touched it. It was as if the scratches were from the other side of the glass.I was puzzled by this, but didnât have time to investigate further as I was running late.
At work, all I could think about was what the old man at the antique shop had said, and the strange piece of evidence which I had been noticed that morning.The combination left me a tad wary, although at the time I wasnât too startled by it, however I became more interested and willing to make a closer examination.
After work me and my friend met up for drinks at a local bar, a few blocks from my home. After talking about sports and the job for a while, I decided to tell him about my trip to the antique shop and my knowledge of the mirror, somewhat jokingly. We shared a laugh at the idea for a bit, however a few drinks later he then insisted we test it. I agreed to go as I didnât feel completely comfortable walking the streets alone at night, because I had been the victim of a previous mugging when I first came to the city.The mirror had also been on my mind, though I still didnât believe it possessed any of the qualities the man had spoken of, so off we headed to my apartment.
After fumbling with my keys for some time, I found the one to my door and we stepped inside. He glanced over at the mirror.
âMan, that thing really is creepy,â he laughed as he said âwho the hell makes a mirror surrounded with eyes?â
âI donât know but for five bucks Its something I can overlook,â I said âPlus I think iâm the only person with such a thing, its a unique possession certainly.â
âSee if that old dude was right. See if you can get anyone to show up, and maybe theyâll chill with us,â he said jokingly.
âAlright,â I turned and faced the mirror and said half-heartedly âIf anyone in there wants to talk, iâm here. I am open for contact!â
Nothing happened. I had felt a bit relieved and disappointed at the same time, being just buzzed enough to entertain the possibilities of an otherworldly experience.
âAw, no dead people,â he said âwhat a shame, still a badass mirror though.â
âyea, at least it looks cool,â I replied âyou can turn on the tv, I think the game was on channel five,â I said as I went into the kitchen to grab a few more beers.
We finished watching the game that was on tv and he decided he was going to head home.I got up and walked him out to the street, we said our goodnights and I walked back to the building.
I walked up to my floor thinking about work and how its good I found a nice drinking buddy at work. The city seemed lonely when I first arrived. I got back to my door, turned the knob and stepped inside. I put my keys on their hook and was ready to hit the hay. I turned around casually couldnât believe what I was faced with. I opened my mouth as if to scream but no sound came out, I was in a terrified frozen shock.
What was in the mirror was in no reflection of anything on this earth. A black haired, naked figure, stood inside. Its eyes were deep inside its sockets, yet dark red and staring directly towards me as if staring through me. It resembled the anatomy of a human, except both hands severed at the wrists, and missing pieces of flesh on its chest and legs leaving visible bone and rotted dark looking innards. The rest of the skin was tight and gave the appearance of leather, but had a deep burgundy color.The hair was jet black and matted. All of this was enough to send a person over the edge of sanity, yet the characteristic I remember most was the mouth. Pieces of thread had been sewn through the lips and torn, and it was open impossibly wide as if itâs jaw was unhinged. It looked as though it couldnât scream loud enough, even though a faint groan was the only audible sound.
It began to lift its arms, exposing jagged fragments of bone jutting from the wrist. At this point I came out of my panic enough to reach for the door. My hand searched for the knob for what seemed like minutes, unable to avert my stare. I finally found it and stumbled out into the hall, slamming the door closed behind me and running towards the exit stairs.
Once outside I lit a cigarette contemplating what I had seen. I had tried to explain it rationally as a skewed reflection of something in the room but I knew that wasnât true. I tried to convince myself that it was a product of too much ale. one thing had seemed all too real to me though. Under the head of that abomination, was a necklace with a purple cross medallion.
After about thirty minutes I mustered up enough courage to revisit my apartment, as I had nowhere else to go. I grabbed a rock from outside, climbed back up the stairs slowly, doing everything I could to persuade myself that what I had seen wasnât real. I got to my door, slid in the key and turned the knob cautiously, fearing that what I had seen before hadnât left. As I peered in I was at first relieved to see the thing was no longer standing in the frame, but what replaced it led me to shatter the mirror upon sight. There, in a mix of etched glass and blood, were the words âNO GOD NO MERCYâ.
I now understand what it means to live in fear, and in this case die in fear. Since that night I have been unable to enjoy any of the pleasures in life and cannot remember the last time I slept for more than a few minutes. That image of my grandmother haunts me in my dreams as well as when I am awake. I have considered ending it all, a gun, or at the end of a rope in hopes that what I saw that night was some terrible hallucination, but I canât, for fear of that only speeding up my confrontation with those inevitable horrors. For I canât imagine the terror that change such a kind lady in life, such as my grandmother into the unspeakable hag that stood before me. Those four words I will never forget, and I shudder at their implications. That nightâs visit was not an attack, it was a warning of fate from beyond.