The Man with the Mirror

#picturefiction #flashfiction 

I first saw the man with the mirror in July. I was dining in Chez Antoine’s with a young lady I met online. Seated at a corner table was a man in a business suit which had seen better days. His dinner companion was an ornate mirror. The mirror was oval in shape. It was approximately three feet tall and half that in width. The dark wooden frame appeared hand carved with ornate curly-cues and flowers. It was an odd sight to be sure, a man eating dinner with a mirror in the opposite chair, but who was I to judge. He was probably some sort of self absorbed narcissist who couldn’t go more than a few minutes without admiring himself. My date and I had a good laugh at his expense; it was the most memorable part of an otherwise forgettable evening.

In August the man with the mirror was in Luke’s Pub. I spotted him in the mirror behind the bar. He was seated in one of the few booths with the mirror opposite him once more. He was still in his now slightly shabbier business suit and I could swear he was talking to the mirror; the dude must have been seriously off mentally.

In September I spotted him three more times. He intrigued me to no end. His appearance continued to decline with each sighting and the mirror remained his constant, sole companion. The third sighting was once again at Luke’s and I just had to find out what was going on. I grabbed the booth behind the man and listened to what he was saying. It was the most mundane, one sided conversation of all time. He wasn’t monologuing to the mirror, it sounded as if he were actually having a conversation although only his side of it was audible to the sane world.

I shifted in my seat to get a look at him in the mirror and almost jumped out of my skin. His haggard face was clearly visible in the glass but there was something else there as well, another shape which moved independently of him. It had a vaguely human shape but there appeared to be horns or spikes on its shoulders and the head was misshapen.

I couldn’t get the image out of my mind after I left the bar. The mirror’s shape was burned into my mind and the thing in the mirror preyed upon my thoughts until I was consumed with longing to see it and possibly converse with it myself. I wanted to know how this man came upon such a thing and either obtain one for myself or persuade him to share his.

I began frequenting all the places I had spotted the man every night. My job suffered as I spent more time traveling from restaurant to bar to café. I worried that I would not see him again and spent every waking hour seeking him out. I was rewarded for my vigilance during the second week of October. I spotted the man walking down the street after leaving a café he frequented. The mirror was tucked under his right arm and I could see that his one sided conversation continued as he walked.

I hurried after him until I mere feet away.

“Hey buddy, I want to talk to you.”

His face showed fear when he turned to face me and he hugged the mirror tightly to his chest.

“Leave us alone,” he said and walked quickly away.

I jogged after him, refusing to allow him to escape. I quickly caught him and grabbed him by the arm.

“I’ve seen your mirror. Tell me where you got it.”

“No, it’s too soon. I’m not ready. Please don’t make this happen.”

“You’re not making sense dude. Just tell me where you got it.”

“We’ll go someplace new,” he said. His voice was pleading and he looked like he was about to cry.

His crazy act was starting to piss me off. I shoved him and he staggered and hit the side of the building. The mirror slipped and he frantically scrambled to maintain his grip.

“You’re going to break it you moron.” For some reason I wanted to hit him for putting the mirror at risk.

“You don’t understand,” he said. “Please make him go away, I’ll be better.”

I looked around and saw that we were alone on the street. I grabbed him by both shoulders and shook him.

“Just show me the mirror. I need to see it.”

“No.”

I’ve heard the saying about everything going red but had never experienced it before this. Rage swept through me and everything took on a red tinge. This self important jerk wanted to keep the mirror and its secrets for himself. If he wouldn’t share I would force him to share.

I gripped him hard enough to elicit a yelp from the man and began shaking him. His head snapped back and forth and he clutched the mirror tighter than ever attempting to protect it. I screamed in frustrated rage and slammed him into the wall. His head hit the brick with a sound like a baseball bat hitting a ball. The sound was a loud, hollow sounding, thock which repeated over and over as my rage swelled and I continued slamming him into the wall. At some point the sound changed, becoming wetter and less solid. The man’s eyes rolled back into his head and he sagged. I released his shoulders and quickly grabbed the mirror. He slumped to the ground leaving a dark, wet trail down the wall. I hurried away from the man. I didn’t know if he was injured or dead, all I cared was that the mirror was mine.

I returned to my apartment and placed the mirror in a chair. I sat opposite it and stared at my reflection. For a moment nothing happened and I began to worry that I had just committed a crime against an insane man for no reason; then a form appeared in the distance and rapidly moved forward until it filled the mirror.

The thing in the mirror was covered in bumpy skin which appeared to be mottled gray and black. A line of spikes began on its shoulders and ran down each arm. The head was larger than that of a man with swollen temples surrounding enormous black eyes. The creature had no nose and a wide mouth with almost non-existent lips.

“Hello new friend,” it said. Its voice was inside my mind but I knew that it was the voice of the creature. It was deep and had a growl to it which sent a shudder through me.

“Hello; you’re real.”

“Of course I am, as real as you. I was bored with my last friend so I summoned you.”

“Summoned? What are you talking about, I just wanted to see the mirror. I got angry; I didn’t mean to hurt the other guy.”

“They all think that, all my friends. You were summoned by my magic. I was bored with my last friend and you came to fulfill my need.  Now you are mine until I tire of you.”

“I’m not yours. I can get rid of you easily.”

“Oh no friend, I own your soul now. You murdered a man out of avarice and damned yourself. When you die, I will claim your soul. Entertain me, make me feel wanted and you will live a very long time; bore me and I will just find a new friend.”

I now wander from place to place with my friend in the mirror. I have become the object of whispers and secret amusement. I live in fear of boring my new friend; I have seen the tortures visited upon his former friends in the mirror. If you see me, do not envy me or covet my mirror. Friendship has a price.




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