Featured Story

Rated M for strong language, thematic elements, and terror. Reader discretion is advised.

Ultimalia Fiction
proudly presents

The Many Worlds of EzloSpirit
Third Annual Halloween Story

“The Mirrors are Plotting”
By Eric Biskin

I roll over just enough so that I can flail my hand around my nightstand and maybe hit the snooze button. Instead, I wind up slapping my alarm clock onto the floor, its obnoxious, droning buzzing sound continuing to annoy the hell out of me. Groaning, I slowly open my eyes and roll onto the floor to join the clock. I am too tired to flip the clock over and press the small “OFF” button, so I just yank the plug. I know, I know: you’re not supposed to pull out a plug by its cord. Kill me, if it makes you happy.
I walk over to my window and pull open the curtains. Unfortunately, my hopes that maybe light would shine in, blinding me, are dashed by the darkness that, um, doesn’t shine in. Ugh. I’m so tired.
Well, Kat, maybe you should have gone to bed before midnight, I can just hear you saying in a scolding voice. Yeah, well, lucky for you, I did; in fact, I was asleep by ten. Well…for a couple hours.
I don’t know exactly what the hell is wrong with my subconscious, but it is badly screwed up somehow. I mean, we all have nightmares, but seriously, this one was especially disturbing. I kept waking up and falling back asleep, but in every dream—a.k.a. nightmare—I saw the same thing: a large, grotesque, obese, furry, green creature with eyes as big as my fists, a blood-red nose the size of, well, my nose, and a mouth filled with two rows of scary-looking teeth. But its most terrifying feature was its hands; its hands were literally daggers, splattered with red.
Each nightmare started out innocently enough. Weird, but innocent. For instance, one time, I was “general” of the U.S. Olympic women’s swimming team. I was winning, and I was about to touch the side of the pool, when that part of the dream ended and I was apparently in the locker room, getting dressed. As there is in most locker and changing rooms—which is more than a little creepy—there was a tall mirror on one wall. Well, I glanced into it before I put my shirt on. Frankly, I’m surprised how ordinary I looked, considering it was a dream. After I pulled my shirt over my head, I saw myself in the mirror again. But this time, I wasn’t alone. Behind me was that terrifying monster, holding up one sharp-pointed hand pointed at the ceiling just behind my ear, its other hand hidden by my body. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my chest, and then…I woke up.
I probably had about ten of those nightmares last night. So that’s why I am so damn exhausted.
I move away from the dark window and proceed to take out and put on clothes, go into the kitchen, and eat breakfast, dreading, irrationally, the final step in my morning routine before I head off to work: putting on my makeup.
My cornflakes are soggy. Wasn’t cereal made to be eaten with milk? So why make a cereal that falls apart while floating in it? Why am I thinking about th—wait!
I turn around ninety degrees in my chair. I could swear I just heard something. A footstep? I don’t know. Something. I shake my head and turn back to my soggy breakfast.
That’s the thing about nightmares: they make you paranoid. As if that boogeyman who tormented you last night might be watching you in your waking life. Or as if your best friend might actually be a demon waiting for an opportunity to lure you out to some cursed bush behind your house. Or as if some weird door might really appear near your house and start turning all your neighbors into vampire-things like a plague. You know what I mean?
Suddenly, I can’t wait to put on my makeup because at least by looking in a mirror, I would know if there were something behind me. I rush to finish my soggy cornflakes, practically shoveling them into my mouth. I am still tense while I shovel, though; if something is really watching me, I need to be ready to run. When I am finished, I grab my bowl and toss it into the sink. (The bowl’s plastic. Calm down.)
I dash toward the powder room, looking behind my shoulder a couple times while slipping and sliding across the polished wood floor. When I get inside, I slam the door shut and turn the lock. Leaning against the counter, out of breath, I look up at myself in the mirror.
My hair is all over the place, and my eyes are slightly bloodshot. God, I look awful. What is wrong with me? It was just a fucking dream! I mean, that monster was like something out of a Maurice Sendak book. Well, minus the bloody knives.
I shake my head and reach for my eyeliner. For the duration of my personal beautification, every muscle in my body is tense, and I find myself constantly looking past the reflection of my shoulder, as if that grotesque thing would appear in the mirror at any moment.

I work at Becker & Slatter, a loans company. For ten hours a day, five days a week, I sit at the desk in Cubicle 26 and type numbers into a computer. It is completely mindless, so long as I don't make a mistake, and I find myself functioning on autopilot throughout much of a single workday.
Not today. I can't shake the image of that thing. That thick, green fur. Those enormous, red eyes. Those hands. I can't focus! I am going completely out of my mind!
At about 9:30, Jill leans over the wall separating my cubicle from hers. “Hey, Kat, does my makeup look smudged to you?” I look up from my monitor and see a mess.
“Yeah,” I admit. “Yeah, Jill, it does. You get caught in a storm or something?”
Annoyance flashes briefly across her all-too-colorful face. “No, I didn't. But everyone's been saying it's all smudged, but every time I look in a mirror, it looks perfectly fine to me. Am I going crazy?”
I give her a sweet smile and look back at my spreadsheet. You think you're going crazy, woman? You don't know the meaning of “going crazy.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Jill roll her eyes before she settles back into her little space. I take this opportunity to swivel around to look behind me. Nope. Nothing there. Get a fucking grip, Kat.

By lunch break, my paranoia has subsided substantially. Having people around—including a small force of security guards—who could alert me if I were being stalked by a big, green Gossamer with a bloodlust really helps.
I join a group of my coworkers heading down the block to Starbucks. On the way, I decide to strike up a conversation with Phil. Phil is a tall, pale man who always wears a navy-blue sport jacket and navy-blue pants to work. He is also perpetually quiet and a bit on the clumsy side.
Today, however, I notice that Phil is looking particularly dejected. “Yo! Phil! What's up, man?” Too perky?
“Oh, hey, Kat,” Phil says glumly.
“You okay?”
He stops walking and starts to sob. God, I hope somebody didn't die. Or he didn't lose something important or something like that. I turn back, genuinely concerned.
After another thirty seconds of sobbing, Phil holds his tears back for long enough to tell me, “I have cancer,” and then he starts sobbing harder than before. I give him a little hug; those tend to make people feel better, at least temporarily. Then I let go, realizing that no hug is going to help him get through this.
When we get to Starbucks, Phil and I sit at a table on our own, away from the prying eyes and ears of the rest of the Becker & Slatter crew. By this point, Phil just looks depressed, though he’s stopped his crying.
“The worst part is that I could probably have easily prevented this had I only known that I’ve had a tumor growing above my left eyebrow,” he tells me.
I look above his left eyebrow, and sure enough, there is a sizable mass of skin. How could anybody not have noticed it there, a big lump growing constantly, sticking right out of his face? “And you didn’t see it when you looked in a mirror?” I have to ask.
He shook his head. “I only noticed it in the mirror after I found out.”
“And that doesn’t strike you as weird?”
“It strikes me as stupid!” Phil shouts angrily, as he suddenly slams his fist down on the small table, causing me to jump and drawing a fair amount of attention to our little corner. “It’s things like these that make me just hate myself! I’m always missing the obvious things!”
“Come on, man. It…happens to the best of us. Why, if we all noticed tumors growing on our bodies, the number of skin cancer patients would be much lower!” I think about these words for a moment after speaking them. I determine, even before Phil can respond, that they are not going to be helping and that I should probably shut the hell up before this guy throws his coffee cup at me.
Also before Phil can respond—thank God—a couple of small girls come screaming out of the women’s room. “IT’S BLOODY MARY!” Phil and I just stare at this spectacle in unnecessary fascination. Pfft. The games children play.
A woman who is probably their mother gets up from her seat, exasperated, and drags both girls by their arms back into the restroom. A minute later, the trio bursts out, the mother yelling at her kids as quietly as possible, “There was nothing there! Don’t you ever embarrass me like that in public again! And Maddy—” she turned to the slightly taller girl “—don’t go scaring your sister with silly, little games. Come on. We’re leaving.”
Phil’s and my eyes follow the family until the girls and their mother are out the door. Then I burst out laughing. Hell, even Phil cracks a smile! “And that…that is why I am never having kids!” I admit while tears fall down my face from laughing so much.

Back at the office, things go much more smoothly than they did before lunch. I actually manage to get some work done over the next five hours, some numbers crunched. I now have a secret weapon to use against my best friend the ugly, green knife monster: comic relief. Take that, you big lug! You ain’t gonna be messing with my head anymore! No, sir or madam!
I get back to my apartment at 7. I am oh, so hungry. I put down my purse, take off my damn high heels, and get cooking. Yeah, Kat! You work that frying pan! I can hear my stomach saying. Gimme some of those delicious stir-fried veggies!
While I am stirring those delicious veggies, I hear a creak behind me. A footstep. I put the frying pan on the other burner, leaving the stove on, grab the butcher’s knife from the knife rack, and turn around to face my stalker. Who still isn’t there. I look to my right, where a tall mirror hangs on a closet door. Nope. No Mr. Knife-Hands. Damn it, self!
I put the knife back and get back to frying those veggies, waiting for the next false alarm so I can blame my upstairs neighbors for driving me fucking crazy.

I have outdone myself. These veggies are more than delicious: they are divine. There’s nothing quite like eating a divine dinner while reading yesterday’s comics to stave off paranoia. …Okay, who am I kidding? These aren’t remotely funny. Except for Garfield.
So when my lights go out suddenly with a click, I don’t really have to worry about not being able to read the so-called “funnies.” Unfortunately, I can’t see my dinner. Damn it, ElectriCo!
And then I hear a creak again. I take slow, deep breaths. Cool it, Kat. The building owner is going to hear about this.
I reach out my arms in front of me, slowly walking to the counter while my eyes adjust to the darkness. I open up a drawer and draw out a flashlight. I turn it on and point it across the room at the mirror on the closet door. Only my own reflection stares back at me. What the fuck, Kat! Stop it! Then I hear what sounds like a little girl giggling, but only for a second. Okay, now I’ve really lost it.
I turn back around, and my eye is caught by something outside the window. What? I go over to the door and step outside onto my small terrace. My eyes really weren’t deceiving me; the building across the street has power. I lean over the metal bars separating me from the street sixty-six stories below. My downstairs neighbor has power! I look up. My upstairs neighbors have power! What the fuck‽
Pissed off, I step back inside and slide the door shut as hard as I can. I go over to the light switch.
The light switch…is in the “off” position.
“Hello?” I call out. Somebody is in my apartment. Has to be. I wasn’t paranoid at all. Well, except about the green monster with knives for hands. “I know you’re there. Show yourself! I’ll call the police! I will! I will call the fucking police!” I walk over to the phone. I dial 911 into the handset and hit “TALK.” It doesn’t ring. I hit “END” and shine the flashlight on the phone’s base. I then trace the phone cord with my light until I get to the end…which isn’t there—it’s been cut off. Horror movie much?
“Alright! You’ve had your fun! Phil? Jill?” I’ve never noticed until now that those names rhyme. No! Stop! Focus! You are probably in danger! What should I do? Leave the apartment? Lock myself in a room? That second one sounds a hell of a lot better. That way, this creep can’t just run down the corridor and stairwell after me.
Just as I did this morning, albeit about sixteen times faster this time, I dash into the powder room, scrambling to lock the door. I lean back against the wall, my eyes closed, my head spinning, my breathing rapid and shallow. I have just about had enough of this.
I walk up to the sink, staring at myself in the mirror. All things considered, I look much better than I did this morning. That’s probably because I don’t have bed head, though.
I turn on the faucet and cup my hands under it. I lean over the sink and bring my cupped hands over my face, letting the cold water wash over me. I do it again. And again. And—
I hear that same giggling sound. And suddenly, I understand: the mirror is laughing at me. They are all laughing at me. The mirrors are all laughing at the whole lot of us. At Jill, whose facial disaster was hidden from her. At Phil, the sight of whose tumor, the one thing he truly needed to see, was denied to him. At those two little girls at the Starbucks, who were shown the one vision that they did not want to see. (Well, deep down, they must have wanted to if they were doing the whole “Bloody Mary” thing.)
At me. Whose stalker is an obese, green-furred, huge-eyed monster with knives instead of hands who, as my nightmares had implied, can only be seen through a mirror. And the mirrors hid it away from me.
Because the mirrors have been plotting. Plotting a cruel joke—a sick joke—on humanity. And they played it. Because they find it funny. We always show the humans the truth, what they don’t want to see. So sure, why not? We’ll show 'em what they do want to see! Even if it kills them!
I take my hands away from my face. I stare down at the sink bowl for a few seconds. Then I slowly lift up my head to look into the mirror.
Over my shoulder, I see it grinning, baring those horrible teeth. It holds up one sharpened, bloodied hand to show me. The other is hidden by my body.
Joke’s over.
I feel a sharp pain in my chest—

©2012 Eric Biskin. Republished here by the author. Please do not publish this text anywhere without the author's permission.