Mirrors

Mirrors

A Story by hogan
"

The first short horror story I have ever written

"

MIRRORS

 

  What a crap day, it really had not been his fault.  He should have been finished by four today and now it was nearly six.  Sure he was the department head, but how could he know there had been such bitter rivalry between Jason and Mark, and over nothing more than Julie the receptionist.  He was recovering from the torrent of ranting from, ‘the boss.’  Yes they had lost an important client; yes he would resolve the issue first thing on Monday.  He knew that he would have to tell at least one of them they no longer remained in the employment of Argo Partners Investments.  That would mean having to go through the process recruiting another replacement, he have enough on his plate already.

  The lift finished its humming descent and the doors opened to reveal the brightly illuminated lobby.  It was always the same in winter; the overheated and heavily humid air had already begun to stifle his still agitated breathing.  As he reached the ebony black, triple glazed, automatic doors, a stab of white-blue light pierced into his retinas.  The opening doors revealed the November torrent and the anticipated crack, followed by a cascade of depleting rumbles, it was pissing it down.

    He had better call Beth, he would be home later than expected, this meant she would tell him how concerned and worried she had been.  He doubted she worried about his safety, but was more concerned about his fidelity, strange as he had never strayed.

  “Hi Beth, I got tied up here with a problem, now it’s pissing it down and I haven’t got to the tube yet.”

    “Oh you poor thing, don’t get too wet, you always end up with a stinking cold.  Remember you have to take me to Marco’s tomorrow, it’s my special day.”

    ‘S**t’ - He had forgotten it was her birthday tomorrow; he had planned to look for her present this afternoon as soon as he finished work.

    “I will try to stay as dry as I can, just for you.  I am not sure when I will be home, at least a couple of hours, Love you.”

    “Don’t rush darling, I have bought a new facial, I will put it on now, it’s supposed to make you look fifteen years younger, but as you say I only look twenty five, I doubt that will happen, see you soon, mwah. “

    He thought of Beth, at this moment she would be in the warm comfort of his semi-executive home, applying some white, green or possibly orange gunge to her face, she would then sit for the instructed time waiting for the scientifically produced magic formula to scrape a few years off her appearance.  She told him she tortured herself for his benefit.  “You wouldn’t want to make love to an old hag, would you, I only do this for you.” were the words repeatedly thrown at him.  He tried to think when they had last made love, he could not remember.  He had lost count of the excuses, “I have just done my hair, my nails aren’t dry yet, your sweat makes my spray tan go streaky.”

    He stared ahead, from the shelter of the canopy, placed at the entrance of his place of employment.  He could see spiralled rods that looked as if they were made from twisting glass, falling from the sky into a boiling froth of white fire, playing a dance over the hidden surface of the road.  He reached for his umbrella, the one still hanging from its hook in his office, he would just have to take the soaking and hope a hot shower at his journeys end would stave off the impeding cold.

    He stepped out into the onslaught of stinging icy water and broke into a canter, the route to the tube station would take him down two side streets and it was these he now turned his thoughts to.  He was fortunate to be in the right part of London, Covent Garden was laced with numerous back streets and he had noticed several of the antique shops remained open late. 

    He turned the corner and the repeated flash of the blue-white lights reflecting of the facades of the buildings gave him the first hint of a problem.  His way was blocked by a blue and white tape and three dark figures partially illuminated by their luminescent jackets.

    “Sorry sir, but this road is closed at the moment,” said the policeman, who wished he was patrolling the suburbs in warm car.

  “I have to get to the tube station,” he said, knowing this meek request was meaningless.

   “I am afraid the station is closed, there has been a serious incident.  You will have to find an alternative station, sir.”

    There was no point in asking, the response would be something along the lines of I am not at liberty to say.  He turned and made his way east, the rain seemed to getting heavier and another bright flash lit up the whole scene in front of him.  In an instant he felt his skin compressed as the deafening boom erupted from the newly born dark that had been brilliant, white light, a milli-second earlier.  He had to get out this so he looked to see if there was a pub nearby.  This area was full of back-street pubs, he had once tried to estimate how many there were, but just now he needed just one.  The rain was so intense; it was now hard to make out any detail, of even the closest premises.  Across the road looked promising, he could make out a swinging sign and a feint orange glow seeping out from two windows.  The door opened as he tried it and he entered.  It was one of those old London pubs, unchanged over the decades, wooden panelled walls, aligned with benched seating.  The lighting consisted of a few brass wall lamps, the yellow stained globes emitting about the same density of light as a candle with a stunted wick.

   “Evening sir, not a nice one though,” said a voice from nowhere.  He turned and a figure emerged from a door behind the heavily ornate, timber bar.  The landlord, he assumed this was who the man was, smiled at him revealing several gaps in his brown and blackened, haphazard dental array.  He was a well-rounded man of about sixty years of age, the remnants of his grey; side-parted hair appeared to be glued down onto what should have been a bulbous shining dome.  What caused him to consider leaving, to exit out into the malevolence outside, was the man’s apparel. Above his grotesque, Buddha belly, with a forest of tangled black undergrowth sprouting from the hidden pit, that once formed his foetal connection to his loving mother, was an undersized, once white tee-shirt.  Even in the dim light, the atlas of stains and smears betrayed the weeks or months this piece of cloth had been in constant contact with its owner’s skin.

   “What can I get for you sir,” asked the man politely.  He thought, and nearly panicked, he was too cold for a beer or lager, and uncertain about how long these fermented juices had been laying idle in their half full barrels.

    “Have you any dark rum?”

    “I have a real beauty of a Jamaican here, well-aged it is, you won’t find nothing like this in them bistro, or is gastro places what have opened up around here.”

    “I’ll have a large one, please,” he said, hoping that rum could not develop a cocktail of bacteria once the alcohol had evaporated.  He handed over a ten pound note and was shocked by the quantity of change he received.  He took a tentative sip and was shocked again; this was good rum, real quality.

    “Your prices are very reasonable,” he said by way of making polite conversation, it was silent in here except for the drumming of the rain striking the very fabric of the building.

  “I have me locals, men that do manual work round here.  I stay cheap and they come in and spend.  They will all be home now having their suppers; if the rain eases they will come back later.”  His thoughts returned to his wife’s birthday.  He would have to get her something or his life would be hell over the pro-longed period of sulking.

    “Do you know if there are any antique shops nearby that might still be open?” he asked, with little confidence of an affirmative response.

    “Let’s see, I know.  Old Stiggs will still be open.  It’s not what you may call antique, but he has some good stuff there.  Old Stiggs clears out dead people’s houses, mostly junk, but he says you would be surprised at how much good stuff there is.  He stays open late because a lot of the posh dealers here get there stuff off him, you see.”

    He had the directions and the thick black rum had given him some inner warmth.  He now left the pub, took the second turn on the left and entered the hidden courtyard.  The rain had eased to a few erratic drops, some quite large, one had just exploded on his forehead and fired its offspring of droplets into his eyes.  He blinked, and in the limited light, thrown from a not so near street-lamp, he made out the faded and half-rotten sign he was looking for. 

 

 

Stiggs

  Purchasers of old furniture and other goods.

House clearances undertaken.

Open to trade and the public.

 

    He moved towards the partly open door and entered.  It was a warren inside, the ground floor was a large open space but furniture was stacked in neat rows, corridors and rooms had been formed by the endless stacks of people’s once treasured purchases.  He would soon find himself lost in this maze and called out.

    “Hello, is there anybody here?”

    “Good evening sir, how may I assist you,” responded a quietly spoken voice from somewhere behind one of the wooden walls.  He thought briefly, what could he ask for?  A diminutive man appeared in front of him.  He was dressed in smart, but over-sized clothes, his short black hair was neatly groomed and his slightly hooked nose supported a pair of gold rimmed spectacles that held only the left hand lens.  Beth had recently acquired a dressing table, she loved it, he thought it was hideous.  It was finished in a pearly pink and had large flowers painted all over it.  The thought of the mix of the dark green, gold and scarlet shapes made him feel uncomfortable now.  The table had been purchased cheaply because the original vanity mirror had been missing, nearly every day she mentioned to him how urgent it was to find a suitable mirror.

    “Have you any mirrors I can look at?” he enquired.

    “This way sir, I have a very extensive assortment of mirrors, and all are very reasonably priced.”  He followed the fast-paced little man who now seemed to accelerate as he power-walked through his labyrinth like empire.  They passed a wide set of stairs which led up to an open floored area and shortly afterward reached a corner piled high with endless mirrors.

    “Have a look and see if there is anything that takes your eye sir.”  He looked through the piles of mirrors, at first he thought there were no suitable mirrors here, but as he looked more carefully he noticed several mirrors of suitable shape and size, but the colours were wrong.  He stopped searching and took a step back to think, could he get her something else.  It was while he was deep in thought he first noticed it.  It was not there in front of him, but in a way it was.  He was looking at a perfectly shaped vanity mirror, set in a pearly pink frame, just the right size.  The image was a reflection of a reflection in one of the mirrors leaning against a wall.  He turned and tried to make out where the refection was coming from.  He looked and looked but could not locate the mirror.

  “Take a look in that mirror; can you see that pink one?  It’s being reflected from another mirror somewhere.”

    “Oh that one, yes I know which one you mean, sorry it’s not for sale, it’s reserved for a very special customer.”  He realised now that this was going to be a very expensive purchase.  So many times they had visited antique shops, Beth had seen something she really liked, and announced it to the entire world.  The owner had then regretfully informed them the item had just been reserved, only a few minutes earlier, by a regular customer, it would not be possible to sell it, the expense of obtaining a suitable replacement would be too great.  A few minutes later they had left, Beth delighted with her new purchase, he feeling depressed by his depleted bank balance.

    “Right, tell me how much, I am in a hurry so name your price.”

    “But sir, I have told you it is reserved for a very special customer.  I cannot sell it to you under any circumstances, no matter how much you offer for it.  That is why it has been placed upstairs, all the stock up there is awaiting collection.”  A voice called out from somewhere, it called again.

    “I have to attend to another customer, I will leave you here to look around, I will be back shortly, please excuse me sir,” said the little man as he set off on another power-walk.

    He looked up at the open first floor, there was the solution to his problems, how much could it be worth, one, maybe two hundred pound maximum.  He listened, there was no sound.  He made his way to the staircase and crept up the stairs.  He was standing in front of the mirror now; he took off his coat and dropped it over the mirror.  He could not steal it, but if he left more than it was worth that would not be stealing, he left two hundred and fifty pounds on the table the mirror was on.

    His main problem now was how to get out of here, he wondered if there was a back door or fire escape.  He made his way down the stairs, he could hear voices but they were not close.  He looked in every direction and in the distance could see a set of large black doors, he made his way over.  Set in one of the large double doors was a smaller door; above it in faded letters someone had once painted the words ‘FIRE ESCAPE’.  He tried the door and it opened onto a small street.  He could here and see the busy London traffic just down the narrow street.  In a quiet and orderly manner he walked to the main road and disappeared into the throng of people making their way home.

    “Good morning darling, happy birthday.”

    “Did you get me a card?”

    “Yes”

    “And did you get me a nice present.”

    “Of course.”  He sneezed.

    “I knew it, now you are going to come down with one of your colds, did you get me some flowers?”

    “No, because I was delayed at the office and the weather was so bad, I didn’t get the chance.”

    “Surely, it would not have been that difficult to pick up a little bunch of flowers from somewhere on your way home.  What did you buy me?”   He handed her the mirror, he had found some old Christmas wrapping paper that did not look too seasonal and hoped she would not notice.  She tore off the paper and looked at the mirror.

    “Oh darling it’s just perfect, go and make me a cup of coffee, I will set it up and use it whilst I remove my night lotion.”  He had just reached the bottom of the stairs when he heard the scream.  It was not just a scream but a shriek of total terror.  He ran upstairs and Beth sat at her dressing table with her back to him.

    “Is this your idea of a joke, I don’t know how it works, but buying me a trick mirror that makes you look two hundred years old is not my idea of birthday present given by a loving husband.”  She stood up and stormed past him to the bathroom.  He sat down gloomily at the dressing table and looked into the mirror.  The blood drained from him as he looked at the reflected image.  It was him, but now there were only trace wisps of white hair emerging from his wrinkled scalp.  His skin was sagging and grey, dark brown spots had erupted over his face.  Held by the horror in front of him, he smiled, pulling back his limp, purple lips.  Two browned stumps were all that remained of his perfect and very expensive dental array.  He heard Beth enter and turned to face her, it was her, but she had the same appearance he had seen in the mirror.  She looked at him and they both started screaming until everything went quiet.

    He looked out of his front room window.

    “Joan there is an old lorry outside of next door; I am going to check who it is.”  He made his way up the drive and watched the figure come out of the front door.  The vehicle outside was an old furniture removal van, what had alarmed him was the state of the paintwork.  At some point the owners name would have been clear, but now only a few flakes of paint remained.

    “Can I help you,” he said to the man coming out of the door.  Strange little man he thought, his clothes are about four sizes too large, and he needs a new pair of glasses.

    “Good morning sir, my name is Stiggs and I have been instructed to clear the last of the contents from this house.  Do you know what happened to its occupants?”

    “It was a strange thing, both of them found dead on the bedroom floor, seems they both had massive heart attacks at the same time.  Seems weird to me.  Anything good in there?

    “Not really, the best stuff has been sold, though I did find a very nice mirror, I have a special customer who is looking for one just like it.”     

    

 

      

 

     

 

© 2012 hogan


Author's Note

hogan
First attempt at anything like this, would love a comment.

My Review

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Featured Review

at first i thought of Dorian Gray, but that's not really quite how this stroy works, is it? the descriptive process was very good. at the outset i could actually feel myself stuck in the English rain looking for a pub, and the characters were well defined, almost to a fault. i loved this.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

hogan

6 Years Ago

missed this review, had not thought of that story, this one was a first attempt at a short story, ha.. read more



Reviews

You paint vivid pictures throughout this story: the streets in the rain, the cosy pub, the antique shop and the cold hearted wife. I like the twist too!

Posted 6 Years Ago


This is very good. I was going to pass it by, because of its length, but knowing your stories I went ahead and read it through. I understand what Claire is saying; it takes careful reading to understand this part, but you have the lorry parked in front of the house next door, so logically there has to be a neighbor...

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

hogan

6 Years Ago

the part at the end is meant to be confusing, the main character is only ever referred to as 'he' an.. read more
Marie

6 Years Ago

I think you made your point in this story...not everything has to be spelled out...
at first i thought of Dorian Gray, but that's not really quite how this stroy works, is it? the descriptive process was very good. at the outset i could actually feel myself stuck in the English rain looking for a pub, and the characters were well defined, almost to a fault. i loved this.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

hogan

6 Years Ago

missed this review, had not thought of that story, this one was a first attempt at a short story, ha.. read more
I really enjoyed reading this. It moved along well and kept my attention. Your writing style is very good and I thought you did well with description and characters. The only place I stumbled a bit was when you switched to the neighbor, perhaps if you separated that part out so that it might be clearer that there is a change, or use the neighbor's name instead of "he" I think that is what threw me. Just my take though. It's very good as is.
If it is your first attempt then you have a knack for it!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Shimmerbliss/CAF

6 Years Ago

Your early stage is way past my intermediate! :)
hogan

6 Years Ago

I will look at your work in more detail before I accept that comment. Or have you now reached the a.. read more
Shimmerbliss/CAF

6 Years Ago

LOL! Not there yet! Every day I read someone's work that makes me feel that I am still crawling. I.. read more
Fantastic great try

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

hogan

6 Years Ago

thanks

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Added on October 21, 2012
Last Updated on October 21, 2012
Tags: mirrors, vanity, age, chilling

Author

hogan
hogan

blackpool, United Kingdom



About
Currently working on a series of short and contemporary horror stories. Decided to join this site because I have been working on a project for the last fifteen years. Fourteen thinking and one writi.. more..

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