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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (56): Magic Mirror - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Nov 10, 2009.

    Short Story Contest 56
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: Magic Mirror​





    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride.

    Theme: 'Magic Mirror' (courtesy of member WMMorgan). Any interpretation valid.

    Suggested Wordlimit: 500 - 3000 words.
    Deadline for entries: November 23rd 2009 10.00 am (UK local)


    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    If you would like to prepare an entry in advance, the next contests will be themed "Alien Contact - Alien POV" (Peeps), then "Utopia" (yellowm&M), and then "Wrong Number" (sirhoot), and finally "One Minute To Live" (-NM-, amongst others). Do not submit an entry for these contest until instructed to do so.

    There is a maximum of 20 entries to any contest. If there are more than 20 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest please.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.


    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. RobT
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    RobT Active Member

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    Cracked (563)

    I thought the girl was pregnant until on closer inspection I realised it was a man. Up he sidled with boobs that would fill a double D and a belly that made him look like he was full term. He pulled a grotesque face, at least I hope he was pulling a face and it wasn’t his own and then let out a roar that sounded like, well . . . nothing I’d ever heard before and I had no idea what it was all about. A couple of quick side profiles later and off he went. I knew then and there it was going to be one of those days.

    How rude of me I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Jeremy and I’m a magic mirror. I bet that’s surprised you hasn’t it? I can tell by your face you look a bit sceptical, but it’s true . . . I’m called Jeremy. Only kidding, yes it’s true I am a genuine, one hundred percent bona fide magic mirror. There isn’t just me here of course, there’s a few of us. You know the type of mirror if you’re fat we can make you look thin, we can do short to tall or tall to short, you name it and between us we can probably do it to you.

    Anyway, I’m currently living at the fun fair. Well its not strictly living in the sense that you think of, it’s shall we say . . . a touch more complicated than that since the accident.

    What accident and how did I get here I hear you ask. Go on then ask. I’m waiting . . . still waiting . . . go on Gannon, you know you want to really.

    Okay then, it’s a long story. Well maybe not that long, sort of . . . well actually it’s a short story really. You know the one with the wicked Queen? That’s it, the one with all those little guys in, you know Stumpy or is it Dumpy? No, no I mean Grumpy. That’s it Grumpy and his mates. Well anyway we’re all the mirrors that didn’t tell the Queen she was the fairest of them all. How stupid was that! There I was one day, buttering her wickedness up, you know the usual routine. “You, oh majesty are the fairest of them all. Except for . . . “, for fu%ks sake, where did the “except for” slip in from? I don’t know, it just popped out, I didn’t mean to say it, I really didn’t but I just did.

    Of course then it was too late, it was out of the bag or out of the mirror in my case. You only said it once let me tell you and you were gone, poof, gone. I was out of there before you could say abracadabra and here I am, consigned to a life of fat, thin, tall and short. Bloody marvellous!

    So next time you’re at the fun fair pop in and see me, it’ll help break the boredom. Put your face close to the mirror and ask if it’s Jeremy, if it’s me I’ve got a few more tales I could tell you that for sure. Snow White let me tell you there’s nothing virginal about old snowy, shacked up with seven men. Well the story goes . . .
     
  3. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    "Improvised" word count 564

    Why this mirror? I tilted my head in every possible angle, from left to right, rotating my head back and forth, I even closed my eyes so tightly, but still when I opened them again, it was gone. It was quite disturbing to see my face without my nose, and only in this mirror. The bathroom mirror was fine, maybe this mirror was broken? I had never heard of such a thing before though. I was captivated by it; my reflection was without a nose! I took the mirror off its hook in the hall and checked the back, all looked okay, and it sat correctly in its extravagant gold frame. A bemused smile crept onto my face and I placed the mirror back. What the hell?! My mouth dropped open in shock, but in the mirror all I could see was where my mouth had been just a moment ago, an extended portion of chin and my eyes. Now my mouth as well as my nose had completely vanished. I was so taken aback I had to check my own face with my hands, my nose, my lips, my teeth, my tongue, all still there. I took the mirror down and faced it against the wall and went to bed.

    The next morning as I returned from my shower I walked past the mirror. I was curious as its presence caught my eye. I shook my head and walked back over to it and re-hung it on its hook. I had no face, or rather that was all that was there, watching me, my face, just a blank canvas with no features at all. No eyes, no nose or mouth! I stepped back from the mirror and dropped my towel and was shocked to find... no penis! I nearly threw up. I ran from the mirror, back to the bathroom to check myself again. I was still all there.

    The next time I looked in the mirror I had just got back from the pub, I had not told anyone about my faulty mirror, maybe because I was not convinced myself that it was faulty, maybe it was cursed? If it was faulty surely I would notice, see something where the reflection was not working, but it was my skin, but that was all it was without the definition. I gingerly looked into the mirror, but there was nothing there. I was vampire like, now without reflection. Maybe I had had a few to drink, but I went to kick the stupid mirror with all my might.

    My eyes closed, waiting for the sound of broken glass, my foot expecting to feel something solid break under its force. But my foot sailed straight through the air, and when I opened my eyes I did not know where I was. Some how I had done a complete 180 degree spin and was looking at the other side of my hall? I giggled at my drunkenness, and then I looked harder at my location, and tried to focus. Everything was backwards! My door was on my left not my right, the telephone that sat in the halls numbers read 987 not 789? I swung round to the mirror. There it was, my house, as I knew it on the other side! I pressed my palms against the cold glass of that mirror. I was trapped in my own reflection.
     
  4. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    Swing Batter Batter (1220 words)

    It crackled with energy beneath my fingertips as if static electricity were dancing its way through the crumpled paper bag it was wrapped in. It made the little hairs on my arms stand on end.

    I felt like a criminal standing in a shadowy back alley of downtown Portland. It was wet and dark, there were panhandlers everywhere. They knew not to walk down this particular alley, though. It was his.

    He waited impatiently for me to fish out the wad of cash I’d brought him for it. Ten thousand dollars from my 401(k)—God, that hurt. But I had to have it. I handed him the money.

    “So how does it work?”

    He grinned. “You look at yourself in it and you say the whole ‘mirror, mirror, on the wall’ bit—“

    “Are you kidding me?” I felt my frown lines deepen.

    “No, ma’am. What can I say? The man’s got a twisted sense of humor. Anyways, you say that and then you say ‘I am.’ And that’s it. Do it every day and you’ll see results, guaranteed.”

    I had to believe him. He and the Spellcaster he represented had their street cred to protect, so they wouldn’t screw over a potential money horse like me. I could ruin them if I wanted too. I knew their names and how to find them.

    The sale of magical objects in the states had been prohibited for nearly a decade. After the nineties when crimes and injuries related to magical items hit their peak, the government had had enough. So for those of us that were willing to pay top dollar, there was a black market of sorts. And like anything illegal it had its risks.



    My back alley transaction complete, I headed home with my new magic mirror. I pulled it out of the bag and inspected it. It looked ordinary, plain even. It was a simple, round pane. I immediately found a place for it on the wall at eye level and followed the instructions I’d been given even though it made me feel like an idiot.

    “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” I paused and looked at myself, really looked at myself. “I am.” I whispered. “I am the fairest of them all.”

    I said it, but I didn’t believe it. Did that matter? I stood there staring at my reflection—at the fine lines that had begun to etch themselves along my face. There were frown lines, crows feet, and then there were the rogue streaks of gray that were beginning to pepper my hair.



    The next morning I stumbled to the bathroom and caught sight of my reflection. Maybe it was the light? I flicked on the light and looked closer. The lines were gone. Not just a few of them, all of them. My skin was smooth and perfect; my hair was the dark mahogany of my youth. I looked at least fifteen years younger.

    I smiled at myself in the mirror and it was dazzling.



    It became an obsession quickly. Soon I was missing days of work because I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving home without my mirror. I certainly couldn’t take it with me. What if something happened? What if some moron on the MAX bumped into me and made me drop it? What if I tripped and it went flying? No. No, we both stayed home.

    I would sit clutching it for hours, admiring myself. I looked better than I had in my twenties. That bastard Randal would regret leaving me for that twenty-something bimbo. Oh, yes.



    I had to leave the house eventually. I was out of food. It took some fierce determination but I was able to leave the mirror behind to go to the grocery store. The trick was not to look at it.

    At the grocery store people were leering at me. Not just men but women too, all making moon eyes at me. I wasn’t even wearing makeup, though thanks to the mirror I knew I still looked fabulous. After several awkward exchanges I had left the store with several phone numbers and refused mine a few times. I felt like a rock star.

    I donned my sunglasses, even though it was raining—isn’t that what divas do? —and sped down the street until I noticed the red lights flashing in the rearview mirror. I was being pulled over. Fantastic.

    After sitting there gripping the steering wheel nervously for a few minutes the officer walked up to my window. I looked up at the man and took off my sunglasses, giving him my very best Hollywood smile.

    “Is there a problem officer?” he seemed to hesitate.

    “You were going a bit fast there, ma’am.”

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.” I smiled again and this time he smiled back.

    “Yeah, I guess it can get away from you at times. Just slow it down, okay?”

    “Yes, officer, thank you.”

    He cleared his throat. “Look, uh, I’m not supposed to do this but…my shift is almost over. Would you be interested in going to get some dinner or something?”



    The next morning I woke up and he wasn’t there. I lazily donned my clothes and made my way to his kitchen where he sat frowning with a mug of coffee at hand.

    “What’s a matter, officer?” I asked teasingly.

    He started and looked me over, choosing his words carefully. “I don’t really know what came over me yesterday. I never do this. You’re not even my type.”

    I was speechless.

    “Look, I love my wife. She’s going to be back tomorrow. You should really go. I’m sorry.”

    “Your wife? You’re married?!” I looked at the ring on his finger. Somehow I missed that last night. His shoulders slumped and he wouldn't meet my eyes. He looked like a kicked puppy.

    Disgusted, I grabbed my purse and stormed out. On the drive home I went over the conversation again and again in my head. Something he said had bothered me. Not that he was married, although that was just perfect. He said that I was not his type. Was it because I didn’t use the mirror that night? It was the first night I hadn’t used it.

    I glanced at my reflection in the rearview mirror in horror. One night without the mirror and the gray hair was coming back. There was just a hint of crows feel. My smile was less potent.



    By the time I pulled in my driveway I had begun to realize just how much my life revolved around the mirror. It had to go. It was that simple. It made me look like a goddess but I wasn't me anymore. It had to go.

    As I walked back to my bedroom I shielded my eyes with one hand from the mirror just in case. I dropped to my knees next to the bed and reached around on the floor. There it was.

    I took a Louisville Slugger to every reflective surface I could find—every mirror, every picture, every window that wasn’t covered. The only thing that was left was the mirror. I grabbed it and walked outside. My hand stung where it touched the mirror, as if it knew. I tossed it into the air and swung.
     
  5. Sam R. Geraghty
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    Sam R. Geraghty Member

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    The Mirror Image (563)

    If I had a magic mirror I’d clean the glass. I’d see the things I imagine, untainted. As if the bitch I am would show up more clearly.

    I’d spray it all over, rub it down with chemical treats and smile back at it. I could use spit as the epitome of the fake tenderness shown it whilst smiling through, like I would a jilted lover, betrayed and pissed out of me like cheap gin down the toilet.

    But then if it was a magic mirror it would clean itself and when I looked in to the glass I’d see only pure things? When I try I’m forced to look down at the floor because I know I will only see what I had never wanted to see, in all its anti-glory. My face is split into two, no three, depending where I stand and the ‘magic’ here is only the illusion caused by the crack. If I stand farther back it cuts my torso in half and I remain but ever more twisted. I find it amusing for a time. It didn’t cost that much and now, like everything else, it’s broken.

    I might have been a clown; stood there with a stupid smile that lasts from ear to ear, a powdered face and a comical nose. Oh, mirror, mirror from the cheap old store, what’s the point of this drab looking whore?

    It would tell me the meaning of my life. The make-up looks good and I’ll never beat myself up for that. If it was a magic mirror maybe it would reveal my true face instead so that I could see up close enough to name the pores and trace the lines that denounce my cheap experience - my sordid maturity. I wonder how I’d look all beaten up?

    I see the blood, I imagine again, all over my arms and face and I weep with the salt-water trickling into the wounds of a doll; hurt as I was, used indescribably and lied to by a mirror that had always told me exactly what I was worth.

    But is it the mirror, the heels or the make-down I wear that please the steady, consistent queue of cocks that pass through me each night? Is it the silicone handles that protrude into a new mount’s face? They don’t wobble anymore, I try; they just sit there like fat dumplings stuck on my zit-filled chest. They don’t even sweat properly. That’s why I got a fist in the face. This mirror saw all that. The history…

    This mirror though, tells even more and the message becomes clearer as the mascara is put on deeper and the boots get higher. The whisky gets stronger. The reflections get better, until I am, again, by my own standard – perfect.

    Maybe then, the only real magic is to see the mess that a reflection can bring? I guess that’s why the 'magic' mirror has gone to the dump, along with my aspiration and there’s a new one, staring me in the face as I grin like a plastic coward and smile a crude, charming, anguished sort of smile; the remnant of a killer.

    That’s what I am, for death is my mere reflection; when I am no longer real and when I am no longer me the 'magic' mirror is that which hides my true distortion.
     
  6. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Face in the Mirror (774)

    I really hate the way I look. I’m not so much a man of self hate, I just know that when I’m staring at the mirror, I don’t think it stares back in a way I would like. I do recall many years past that I was called cute once or twice but I think this was more in line with delusional thinking than with some semi-striking feature.

    So, here I am at 43 years old and standing in the restroom of a restaurant named something I can’t pronounce and about to go on a first date. At age 43.

    I thought I was past this kind of thing. I was a married man and happily so. I’d give anything to be back there. Being widowed just simply sucks. Since she passed, I’ve had many people say that they can’t imagine. They’re right; there is nothing in the soul that can conjure up what this feels like.

    Here I stand in front of a mirror. Staring at myself wondering how I got to this point. If you’d asked me a year ago, of course I would have never guessed this. I would assume I’d be married to that wonderful human. Yet, I stare at the mirror and see the lesser of us two looking back. She was really the best of us two. Her way was something people were drawn to.

    Apprehension is kind of a drag. I don’t really want to go back to the front of the place and wait to be judged. It’s a first date and I’ve never actually met this girl. I know she will judge me. I’m going to be judging her. Since we’ve only seen small pictures over e-mail, you never know who will walk in that door. The hope is for cute. Anything beyond that might lead to a mismatch with me on the losing end.

    Still, the cold granite is holds me up. It’s wet under my hands but I need to have a small brace to lean to the mirror.

    Thing is, I’m not sure I really want to be here. Any time you meet someone new, there is a little bit of nerves but I’m really wondering if I should be here at all. There is not small part of me that doesn’t think a little bit about this as cheating somehow. I didn’t divorce. I was in love with my wife more than ever. She was one of those that blindly thought I was cute. How could I not lover her?

    Seems that love that ends at its apex will always leave that mark. It will be that thing that makes you think that no matter who you meet, it may never be as good. This is what I fear more than anything. I would never want to replace my wife but it is easy to want to find someone that is really the second one in that million.

    Can’t help wondering whether or not she will like me. The mirror is not reflecting the dashing gentleman I had hoped to see at this age. No doubt I will be told that I look young for my age. You’d think I would like that but I would turn in my chubby face for a little chiseling. My goatee is just camouflage for a double chin and I’m beginning to notice that my shaving job this morning was not up to par. Just another strike.

    I suppose I should wash my hands. Since the bathroom has had a little traffic, I think it might look weird to just stand here. I’m stalling. I know it. I’m going down an old road but it’s very different and I’m not sure I’m ready for the ride. I’m here so I don’t think I could turn back.

    I’m going to meet someone new under the idea that we might hit it off and even stay together. So much of me just wants to run and hide. I want this but I don’t.

    I don’t know what it is about a deep breath that allows you to draw strength but I need that right now. Just ask myself to calm and breath. I look at the face in the mirror once more. It’s just too weird that I am here.

    Time to head to the front of this place. Dodge a table or two.

    She’s there at the front by the door. At least she looks a little nervous. Cute. A little too cute but that happened the last time and that worked out for me.

    I approach “Hi, are you Lisa?”

    “I am. Eric?”

    “I am.”
     
  7. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Mirrorcide [1,053]

    The magic of the mirror was that it portrayed perfection. The many hours people would spend grooming themselves in front of the mirror. As if asking the mirror if they were perfect enough. The magical qualities of the mirror was that it set the building blocks of a perfect world. A world that you one day wanted to reach. The destruction of the mirror was that you'd never reach it. To many people have lost their souls and their lives to the mirror. As they ask themselves if they are to fat, to ugly, what is this weird bald spot. Even I was a victim of the mirror in middle school. The chubby not so fit kid always looking for condolence to the mirror I thought was magic. Only to start crying in low self esteem right in front of the mirror, as the mirror always teased me.

    I was simply to ugly for the magic the mirror carried. The mirror made me feel good about myself as I began high school. Getting more active losing more weight and looking like what I had dream. Like the mirror had the magic to make me want to change myself. But that dropped when a girl rejected me. And I went back to that mirror who had stolen my soul. I continued looking for more desperate ways of what was wrong. What was so different from what I imagined in that mirror? Oh mirror where did I go wrong? Today I found these thoughts floating around in my mind as I stared into my reflection through a window.

    A gaunt and grim figure window shopping at a gun store. So eager to come back to my mirror. There was no one out, other then those who worked at the stores. Everyone in this world. Everyone in this world was stolen by their mirrors. It wasn't the mirror who had the magic. It was the people's perception of the mirror that created magic. I walked into the store no smile on my face.
    I stared at their wide selection, looking for the perfect barrel. A man who was the common and cliché sort of red neck walked up to me. He gave me a decaying toothy smile.


    “How can I help you son?” he said in one of those kind of accents.
    “Looking for the perfect gun to kill myself,” I said.
    “You know I can't allow myself to sell you a gun if you're going to commit suicide,” the man said, “I can refer you to help center.”
    “Have you ever been absorbed by the mirror?” I asked.
    “Well yeah, when I go home tonight I'm going to smother myself on her,” the man said, “Can't be without her.”
    “Well then you know that hideous reflection, the one that is more then you,” I said, “I'm going to kill it.”
    “Son that's crazy,” he said.
    The man walked off. As if bored with the conversation we were having. As if my reasonings weren't sound enough, but he wasn't going to try to convince me otherwise. Somewhere deep in the mind who wasn't absorbed by the mirror, he too had the conscience that there was something wrong. Something wrong with a perfect world.

    Somewhere he felt sick, the way I felt sick constantly trying to make myself better and better. We were all victims of the magic of something perfect. My mother complained to me I don't look like her son any more. But what her son use to look like is now a mirror. Whatever was left of him in this world is standing here in an act of desperation. Standing here in a gun shop. Remembering why he hated these guns in the first place. I didn't want to come up with homicide as the answer. But I couldn't live my life without thinking of the despair the mirror had given us. As if the mirror was our second life. As if mirror was our only companion. No one went outside any more.

    The only time they did was when they needed something really important. Something like food. And some didn't eat at all. Afraid of how fat they were getting.
    I found the gun. The gun I liked. The gun that would fit perfectly along side a head. I bought it because I was in love with it. I loved my gun. Did this mean I was a sociopath? Or was I a man seeking vengeance? Wasn't sure. All I knew was that I had to commit homicide to stop the mirrors. To put people out of their depressed memories and their striving for the perfect world. First up, I came home and walked inside.


    Mahogany wood flooring, steel railing on the stairs, marble counters, etc. Life of somewhat middle class luxury. I walked up the stairs and into my bedroom. Where my master mirror was. I touched it and it rippled like water. I went through the perfect world of image. And went first to my next door neighbor.
    He lived 80 years in front of that mirror. His perfect image standing beside me. I placed the gun up to the head of the reflection and shot. And I knew the staring into the perfect world he desperately wanted. Was dead. Because once you kill the soul of perfection, staring back at you always, there is no more of your life.
    And I went through every mirror. And when I came back home. I knew the whole entire neighborhood was dead. I knew it because perfection wasn't staring directly at me. Rather my regular reflection. To kill so many to see the truth.

    The evil mirrors. Not magical mirrors. Just merely perceptive mirrors. Always looking into your imaginations. But I knew the truth that stared at me, needed to go as well. Where is a world without people. I was a homicidal murder now. All thanks to the mirrors. But I needed to save them from hell. I feel as if I'm justifying it. As if I'm justifying my sins. As I sit here in Hawaii reminiscing about how I killed a town full of people because they stared at the mirrors to much.
    The police can't explain it over there anyway. And they wouldn't be able to find me anyway either.
     
  8. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    A Study in the Difference Between Life and Fantasy
    Word Count: 330


    "Oh, Magic Mirror; what is the meaning of life?"
    "42."
    "Oh, you are a clever one, you are. That was rich and unique. Frankly, I am stunned at your linguistic prowess."
    "Why," my magic mirror asked me, "do people always expect that, simply because I am magic, I am a genius?"
    "I do not 'expect' you to be a genius," I replied, gazing upward pensively, "but the word 'magic' seems to imply something more than. . . simply being sentient."
    "I am not merely sentient. I can also speak."
    "You are also a master of the obvious, Mirror."
    "Something no other mirror is probably capable of."
    I blinked slowly with an agreeing nod, "Granted."
    With a sigh, I considered my next question. Should I? I must.
    "I know that I have asked before, but--"
    "No, I cannot grant wishes, I have no omnipotent or omniscient powers; nor am I able to use any form of magic, except that which sustains my existence."
    "Then," I said, becoming rather frustrated, "you are quite useless, are you not?"
    "I am able to keep you occupied. Another human might have become weary of your insults and endless questions, but not I."

    "James!" It was my mother.
    I quickly looked over my shoulder toward the voice, then turned back. My reflection stared back at me. I blinked. My magic mirror was gone, and remaining was a regular one.
    "James," my mother called again, and, still staring at my reflection, I called, "Yes, mother?"
    "We are departing. You do still want to go to the park, do you not?"
    "Of course! Coming!"
    I clapped the mirror closed and slid it into my pocket.
    Downstairs, I walked out the door with my mother. As we strolled abreast, I looked up at her and said, "Mother, what would a mirror do if it were magic?"
    "Oh," Mother smiled knowingly, "it would grant wishes, I presume, and it would tell you that you are the most handsome boy alive."
    I looked confused, "That," I said in a distracted sort of way, "is what I thought."
     
  9. Mr. Munchkin
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    Mr. Munchkin New Member

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    Death in the bathroom [556 words]

    I can still here the dinging to this day. It doesn't stop.
    'Ding, ding, ding, ding.' Ever since the night, with the mirror.

    Elsie sat down in front of the television, after just coming out of the shower. Her long fingernails scratched on the leather couch softly, and her feet alike made a small scratching noise.
    'Ding, ding, ding.' The grandfather clock in the hallway struck three o'clock in the morning.

    "Four hours until work," Elsie muttered, as her wide eyes gazed upon the television, "four hours of freedom".

    The red hair whipped around as she got up, and started heading towards the bedroom. Shadows danced across the walls in her room when the light was off. She had always regretted the street-light being right alongside her property, and the trees that were outside here window made her feel uneasy.
    She got up to close the windows as a loud smash came from the room next to her.

    "Angel? Is that you?" she shouted, walking slowly to the hallway, grabbing the hardest object available in the room, "Puss puss".

    She saw a long dark shadow move across the back wall, slowly into the back door. The one that lead to the now steamy bathroom.
    Elsie tiptoed past the picture of her mother, looking down upon her daughter. Elsie gave it a little kiss, before making it into the bathroom.

    The shower curtain was drawn. A person had been in Elsie's house, and she was betting that he or she was behind this curtain.
    Elsie was a person with quite a lot of courage, she wasn't one to back down when a challenge was right in front of her, or in this case - behind a curtain.

    She could hear breathing, unsure if it was her own or it was the robber's, none the less, she reached in and pulled the shower curtain away.
    Just to find a shower cap on the ground, she picked it up and put it in it's rightful home.

    Elsie turned around and stared at foggy mirror. She always loved staring into a mirror, where she couldn't quite see herself.
    She drew a new face onto her fogged up reflection.

    Suddenly a figure grabbed her from behind. Elsie gasped and struggled but the firm grip of the figure held tight onto her biceps.
    "If you do as I say, you want get hurt." an obvious fake voice spoke behind her, "I want you, to close your eyes, and count to three."
    Elsie closed her eyes.
    "If you chase, I'll shoot." the male voice announced.
    'One', Elsie felt the grip soften on her arms, she swept the air with her legs and swung around.
    Hitting the body, as a loud 'thump' hit the floor.
    'Two' she hit the floor as she tried to hold the thief down.
    'Three' the man launched Elsie up, straight back into the wall.

    "You stupid girl," the thief shouted.

    'BANG'. Elsie joined the thief on the tiled floor. The African American man got up, without Elsie noticing.
    She shot a glance at the foggy mirror, as she saw his body move towards the door.
    He suddenly stopped, saw the foggy mirror. And changed Elsie's face, to 2 crosses for eyes. And one large frowning mouth.
    After that, he turned around swiftly, "Nun night"

    'BANG'.
    'Ding, ding, ding, ding.'
     
  10. stephenwdennis
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    stephenwdennis New Member

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    The Magic Mirror (2,002 words)

    Snow began to fall lightly on the knight and his apprentice as they approached the cave. Clouds began to mask the night’s early moon. It had suddenly become eerily quiet.

    “What are we doing here again?” the apprentice asked, trying to mask his shivering fear.

    “How many times do I have to tell you?” the rugged knight replied. “Legend has it that this cave was once the lair of a powerful wizard, and an exceedingly wealthy one at that.”

    “And an exceedingly evil one …”

    Smoke bellowed from the knight’s mouth as he laughed in the cold night air. “You need not fear, my young apprentice, he is long since gone from this place. Yet his treasure remains, and I intend to take it.”

    The apprentice, though, remained nervously sceptical, now looking over his shoulder, now peering into a nearby shrub. “And what of the magical device, that which the wizard poured all his evil into, that which still haunts this place?”

    The knight laughed again. “Fairy tales, apprentice, fairy tales. Even if such a device exists, it cannot harm us if we do not touch it, and I have no intention to. No, I am here for something altogether different …”

    “The magic mirror …?”

    “Yes, the magic mirror. If the legend is true, it will grant my every wish.” A broad smile crept across the knight’s face. He looked formidable riding atop his steed, some might even say, kingly.

    “And what will you wish for, Sire?” the apprentice wondered aloud.

    “All in due time, all in due time.”

    *
    Torchlight bathed their faces in a warm glow as they explored the dark, mysterious cave. An unexplained, cloudy mist covered the floor of the cave, hiding their feet from view. For the past several hours they had explored the cave to no avail. It seemed to be nothing more than an ordinary cave, save for the peculiar mist.

    Finally, though, the knight believed he had found his quarry. He and his apprentice cautiously approached a black, unadorned door. It certainly did not look like anything one would naturally find in a cave such as this, and there seemed to be mist coming from under it.

    “How will we get in?” the apprentice asked, secretly hoping they would have to give up and go home.

    “I suppose we will need a magic password,” the knight thought aloud. He had not anticipated any magically sealed doors. He sighed and rested an outstretched hand on the black door. It burned cold to the touch. The knight quickly removed his wounded hand. Then, there was a click. The next moment, the door slid up rapidly, revealing a small chamber.

    The knight smiled to himself. He quickly walked into the chamber, still nursing his injured hand. He bade his apprentice to join him. Reluctantly, the younger entered, and the door shut swiftly behind him.

    The room was lit in a dim yellow light that, somehow, seemed to be emanating from the stone walls themselves. Mist seemed to cover the floor here as well, though its source was not evident. There was little else of note in the chamber — an old table and chair, a few dirty blankets — and a curious old wooden chest.

    The knight rushed to the chest and fell on his knees in front of it. It was not even locked. Without hesitating, he threw open the lid and peered inside the old container. It contained but one object — an old, plain mirror.

    The knight quickly grabbed the old mirror and held it high to look on it in the dim yellow light. The metal handle was cold but it did not hurt his hand. He looked at his face in the small round mirror — he needed to bathe badly, but he paid that no heed.

    “Is that it?” the apprentice asked uneasily.

    “There’s only one way to find out,” the knight smiled eagerly. “Magic mirror …” he began.

    The handle became warmer in the knight’s grip. The mist on the floor began to swirl and rise. The mirror’s face seemed to melt and it became like liquid water. The liquid began to violently swirl like a whirlpool as it sucked the cyclone of mist into it. The knight struggled to keep a grip on the handle. Within a minute, though, it was over. The mist was gone, revealing the stone floor at their feet.

    The knight looked again into the strange mirror. He could no longer see his face — it was blocked out by the peculiar white mist which now floated about slowly inside the mirror.

    “Maybe we should just go,” the apprentice suggested hopefully.

    “Go? Now?” the knight sounded shocked at the very thought. “Don’t you see? This is the magic mirror.”

    The mist in the mirror began to swirl faster at the knight’s words. He cleared his throat and looked directly into the mystical object. “Magic mirror …” he began again.

    The mist began to move again inside the mirror. It seemed to almost be taking the shape of a human face, but it was too fluid, always shifting and changing. Perhaps it was only the knight’s imagination? Perhaps it was only his face showing slightly through the mist?

    He opened his mouth to speak again, but he was interrupted by an odd, low, almost sleepy voice. “Yes …?” the voice said.

    The knight fell back. He looked amazedly into the mirror. He had always hoped that the legend was true, but perhaps he had never really believed it could be. He looked up at his apprentice, who somehow looked even more nervous than before.

    The knight looked back again at the mirror and tried to gather himself. Clearing his throat, he spoke again, “Magic mirror, is it true that you can grant me any wish?”

    The mist swirled slowly inside the mirror. The color seemed to be more of a gray now than a white. Finally, then, after a long pause, the mirror answered, “I can grant thee any wish that thy heart desires.”

    The knight did not try to hide his smile. Without hesitation, he said, “Make me the most handsome man in the kingdom, one that all will wish to see.”

    The mist swirled more violently now, coming out of the mirror and filling the entire chamber. Then, after a few moments, it quickly returned to its place in the mirror. Now, though, the mist was an unmistakably darker gray in color.

    The knight turned to look at his apprentice. “So, did it work?” the knight asked him quickly.

    For the first time, the apprentice smiled. “Yes Sire,” he said happily, “you are indeed the most handsome of men that I have ever seen. Surely no maiden will be able to resist you, Sire.”

    The knight smiled and quickly looked back at the mirror. “Magic mirror,” he said in an unpleasant voice that rather shocked his apprentice, “I wish to be the richest man in the kingdom.”

    Again, the mist swirled violently and filled the chamber with a dark gray smoke. Once again, however, after only a few moments, it had returned to the mirror. This time, though, the mist (or was it smoke) in the mirror was as black as the night.

    The knight looked around. The entire chamber was filled with gold, diamonds and fine jewels. He began to laugh delightfully with an evil glee. “Hahaha, I’m rich, I tell you, rich! There will be no bounds to my glory. Why … I could be king. Why not? Magic Mirror …”

    “Sire …” the apprentice began.

    “Silence!” the knight commanded. “Insolent fool, you will be my chief knight, if your foolish tongue doesn’t get in the way first. Go, prepare the horses with all the gold and jewels you can load onto them.”

    The apprentice swallowed hard. He had never seen the knight behave in such a way. Still, there was nothing he could do. “Yes, Sire,” he mumbled as he clumsily left the chamber, now filled with wealth beyond imagination.

    When the apprentice had finally gone, the knight looked longingly back into the dark mirror. “Magic mirror …” he began.

    “Yes,” the mirror spoke in a much fouler voice than before, “what is thy command, o great master?”

    The knight smiled evilly. “My beauty and my wealth are matched by none,” he boasted, “yet there remains one in the land with still more power. Make me king, o magic mirror, and none shall rival me.”

    Yet again, the mirror swirled and the black smoke filled the chamber for a moment before returning again to the mirror. All semblance to the mirror found in the chest was now gone as lighting began to spark and erupt inside the thick black smoke.

    The knight reached slowly for the top of his head. His hand clasped onto the object resting on it. He pulled the object off and looked at it with a wicked smile — a beautiful golden crown adorned with magnificent jewels. He was king.

    *
    “Are we about ready to go?” the king asked grumpily. “I want to get back to the castle and take what is rightfully mine!”

    “Yes, Si … your Majesty,” the apprentice corrected himself. “But I don’t think the horses can carry this much. Perhaps we should leave some of this and come back later.”

    “Are you questioning me, fool?”

    “No, no, of course not your Majesty.”

    So, with the morning sun rising, the apprentice finished loading the horses and they were off, albeit quite slowly, being laden with much wealth. The king beat his horse mercilessly, but it was no use, it could not go any faster bearing such a heavy weight.

    “Come on, you old mule!” the king screamed angrily as the horse slowed down even further.

    “Your majesty, with all due respect,” the apprentice began, “these are the finest horses in the land, none could do better.”

    “Really?” the king asked mockingly as he dismounted. Pulling out his mighty broadsword, and without the slightest hesitation, he chopped the great steed’s head clean off. The stallion fell to the ground with a mighty crash. “We’ll see about that,” the king said menacingly.

    He reached into the pouch hanging about his waist and pulled out the magic mirror. He paid no heed to his apprentice, running like a mad man into the nearby forest in utter fear and disbelief. He also paid no heed to the band of orcs approaching silently from the south.

    “Magic mirror …” he began evilly. This time, however, he did not get to finish the sentence — an orc arrow skewered through his throat. The mirror fell from his hand as he choked, battling for breath.

    He fell to his knees, searching feebly for his beloved mirror. If he could just get to it, he thought, he could wish a horrible death onto his unseen assailants.

    Then he saw it out of the corner of his eye, resting gently on the grass. Even as he breathed his last breaths, he only had thoughts for the mirror. He reached out for it, and took it firmly in his grasp.

    Looking into the dark mirror for the last time, he tried to speak, but he could not — the arrow in his neck choked every word. He groaned longingly at the mirror, hoping that it would somehow understand — but then something strange happened — the mirror began to laugh.

    The cold, mocking laugh of the mirror was the last thing the shocked king ever heard. An orc axe promptly cleaved his head from his body.

    “Orc! Orc! ORC!” the green beastmen cried.

    The orc chief then slowly approached the dead king. He grunted and snarled at the dead man at his feet. Then, he noticed something lying on the grass. He picked up the strange object and studied it closely. Black smoke swirled inside it. An image faintly formed — it seemed to be … smiling.

    “Orc?” the chief grunted.

    “What does thy heart desire?” the magic mirror asked.
     
  11. McDuff
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    McDuff Member

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    Magic On A Mirrior [560]

    It sat there, watching me. Taunting me from across the room with its empty, glazed over stare. I lay huddled in the bed, blanket tucked tightly up under my chin as my body shivered uncontrollably underneath, sheathed in a thin coating of sweat.

    I had awakened a few minutes prior and had laid here in a fetal position, fighting the desire to arise and give in to Its teasing promises. It had to end sooner or later, I knew that. The phone lay across the room, thrown there in a frenzy of rage and frustration, because of this fact. She had called me again last night, pleading with me to leave. Walk out the door and come to her. Leave that terrible thing across the room to Its own hideous existence and start a new life, far away from Its reach.

    Unable to see beyond my own weakness I had hung up and flung the phone from me, rushing across the room to the only friend I had and embracing It whole heartedly. Looking back now, in the mornings dim light, faded behind thick curtains, I realized that it had not been my choice. It had conquered again and now It lay across the room, seeking the ultimate sacrifice, which It knew, in Its own narcissistic way, was coming sooner or later.

    Rising from my stupor, I sat on the edge of the bed, head cradled in my hands and waited for the air conditioning to dry the sweat on body. It, of course, failed to do so, nor did the trembling stop. Occasionally I would glance out of the corner of my eye at It and It would glance back. I hated it, more than anything. Hell, I hated It more than I hated myself and that was a lot. I hated It more than she should have hated me, but did not. I felt sorry for her deep down inside of myself, but it was smothered under my own self loathing and my hatred for the object that sat across the room. It controlled me without even trying and that was the worst part. It didn’t even try! It just sat there, like a damned bump on the wall and snickered at me, knowing in its black heart that I would give in and return to Its wicked embrace sooner or later.

    Rising off of the bed, leaving behind the stench of night sweat and fear, I crossed the room and stared down at It. It stared back up at me, beckoning to me with all the promises that the devil could hold, and I gave in. Drawing a line of poison out across Its surface I took it in and felt the shattered pieces of my life fall into place. Glancing back down at It I saw a wide smile on Its face and knew, somewhere back in the far reaches of my mind, that I had lost again. For now I did not care, for the strength that it gave me, while false, was strength all the same and helped to cloud over the reality of my life.

    Taking It from the top of the dresser I climbed back into bed, cradling it to my chest. My friend who understood me. My friend that would not leave me. Until death do we part. My Magic Mirror.
     
  12. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    'Improvised II' Word Count 521

    I yawned and blink several times as I stared into the room; I'd been here for too long. The bar was only just coming alive now; I could hear it through the thin walls. The annoyingly loud music of Motorhead from the jukebox vibrated through me as someone ‘whoops’ as they pot the black. I stared into the room, waiting; I knew it wouldn't be long, but I was beginning to twitch. The room looked dank and was kitted out with a red leather two seater, which had a tear in the seat from a previous brutal knife attack, and an armchair, the armchair had a dirty cream throw over it. A small battered coffee table sat between them, with today’s paper and an ashtray with four stubbed out cigarettes in it. I hated being here. It dragged me down. The walls were originally white but over the years had turned a kind of ocre yellow; from where I was I could see the damp rising too. Where the hell are they??? I switched my gaze to the clock on the wall. 11.13. The clocks ticking was driving me crazy, I admit I was on edge, I always am. I just gotta stay here, wait a little longer. I glanced up at the ceiling at the flickering strip lighting and then down at the murky muddy carpet of black and red 1970s decor. I needed to get out of this dump; this place was no good for me....

    The door crashes open and Keith leads Jenny the barmaid in by her arm, and then turns to kiss her as the door swings shut again. She giggles as he grabs her ass. They don't even notice I'm here as she gets down on her knees and unbuttons his trousers. I decide out of politeness to look back up at the ceiling, this is what I tell myself, but by my nature I'm a voyeur, I’ve seen so many things, and not just in this room, but the real reason I look away is because the last thing I want to see is the love of my life degrading herself again. Now the ticking clock and jukebox is drowned out by the sound of what I can only describe as a plunger on a blocked sink. I feel sick. I look back at the clock when they are finished its 11.28. I want to kill myself... Keith throws himself into the red leather and digs a lighter and cigarette from his pocket. Jenny looks at me and smiles. My heart stops. She walks over, in the way she does, her hips hypnotically swaying left to right and then looks within my soul and puts both her arms around me. Before I know it I'm on my back on the coffee table with Jenny on top of me as Keith just watches. I gaze up at that beautiful ceiling in ecstasy as she snorts a line off my chest. I'm high, the room suddenly rushes with colour and excitement, I feel what she feels. I feel alive again, and its all because of her.
     
  13. Piestein
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    Piestein Senior Member

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    Worth (855)

    He was running.

    For how long, he didn’t quite remember. The time when his muscles didn’t ache seemed like ages ago, his memories of sitting down – an eternity away, but on the other hand, nothing around him had changed, so he couldn't really measure time. The sun hadn’t come up, there were still no lights, no people… nothing. Just everlasting darkness – everywhere.

    Not that it mattered much. He had to do this bec…

    Why was he running again? He had forgotten. It was something important, he was sure of it… something vital. Yet, he couldn’t remember. And he couldn’t exactly stop to think about it, else It would get away. And if there was one thing he remembered, it was that he wanted It – badly.

    There it was! Barely visible through the darkness, a couple of yards away, something was moving. He couldn’t quite see what it was, not even the shape, but he was sure it was what he desired. He sped up, ignoring the suddenly appeared silhouettes in the darkness. He started hearing noises, but he didn’t care – they’d only distract him. He didn’t look around, not even when he realized those noises were voices coming from the silhouettes – he didn’t have time. And time was vital.

    After another small eternity, the world around him started to make sense. Darkness gave way to light, but no shadows, and he could finally see where he was – he was entering a big city. Just like any other megalopolis, this one had lots of hurrying drivers, their cars barely moving, luxurious sky scrapers filled with people trading emotion for money and of course, ordinary people on the pave walks whose faces one forgets immediately.

    The scale of everything was big, truly big, at some level – even frightening. However, even here there could be found nobody to help him, he was sure of it. They’d want him to share if they helped, or worse – they’d steal it for themselves. And he wouldn’t allow that, oh no. The Object was rightfully his after all – his and his alone.

    The second that thought crossed his mind, he saw someone else running alongside him, a woman. She must be after It too, he thought. His heart started to race. She knows, she knows how important It is…

    No. She’s not going to get it, his eyes flickered determinedly. She is not going to steal it. He tried running faster.

    Slowly, the woman started falling behind. First by an inch, but eventually he had to turn his head to see her. Not that he would, of course. He didn’t do that even when he heard a sharp scream and a loud thump behind him. He wasn’t that stupid – he knew it was a trick. And so was the dead silence that followed.

    Eventually forgetting that the woman even existed, he noticed something. The object had become bigger. Hope filled his heart – he was gaining on It. It was brown, probably wooden, but it was still too far to see anything else.
    Then for a split second, It went alight, leaving only a hint of its glow in his sight; he wasn’t sure his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him. Actually, he was almost sure that the light beam had been just an illusion, when he saw it again. This time it was certain.

    Energized, he sprinted. Getting exhausted, he knew he couldn’t keep this for long, but then he noticed he was getting closer again and kept the pace. Now or never. His feet became heavier, each step was harder, but that didn’t slow him down. His entire world crumbled into that object – The Object. It was just ten feet away, flying up in the air. The man never asked himself why, nor how something wooden could fly in the air, moving at such speed.

    Now in range, he reached out, trying so hard that he almost fell. His fingers could touch the wood, but only enough to tease him, unable to grasp yet. He recklessly shifted his balance to the front, leaning forward.

    Almost… Almost…

    And then his hand clenched. It felt like time had stopped. Practically bowing to get the item, he couldn’t see it yet, but he sensed it in his hands. Finally, It was his. After all those… had they been years? Yes, he started remembering, yes. It was all coming back to him now, as if he had never forgotten a thing in his life.

    And that’s when the world came back, crashing down. Confused by all the sudden memories, he fell as he tried to slow down -- his chest got badly bruised, his shoulder – dislodged. There was a big thump and his head felt lighter. The world spun.

    Knowing he would die, he looked up, towards the Object in his hand – a wooden object with a piece of perfectly-shaped glass in the center. He looked directly at it with a red smile on his face. For a second, or for an eternity, he felt all the happiness in the world. And then that last moment passed.

    He died, looking at himself in the mirror.
     
  14. proceedcyclone
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    proceedcyclone Member

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    The Suitor (945)

    Magdalena's parents were beautiful, so it was no surprise that she was beautiful as well. It was only reasonable that coming from such a handsome and wealthy family that she would be married to a handsome, wealthy gentleman. It appeared that that time was nearer than she'd thought as a young suitor was arriving for dinner in a few short moments.

    Magdalena had spent the entire afternoon preparing for his arrival. She’d carefully selected her dress, spent hours mixing the colors of her make-up to create the perfect shades, and had painstakingly curled and pinned-up her hair. Afterward, she was pacing back and forth in her room with eager anticipation. She began daydreaming about him when there was a loud, confident knock at the door and Magdalena was suddenly brought back to reality.

    She hurried down the hall. "Mama, are you coming?" called Magdalena outside her parents’ bedroom. A moment later there was a quick, light knock on the door before it opened wide and she appeared in the doorway. Her mother jumped at her daughter's sudden appearance and dropped the miniature mirror she had been holding.

    "Are you alright, Mama? I didn't mean to startle you," she said.

    "Yes, yes, Sweetheart, I'm fine. I just didn't hear you coming down the hall," her mother assured her as she picked up the small mirror off the boudoir and shoved it into the drawer behind her.

    "Let me see it, Mama. I want to check my hair before we go downstairs," said Magdalena as she leaned forward and grabbed the drawer handle.

    "Your hair looks beautiful, darling," insisted her mother as she gently put her hand over Magdalena's and moved it away. "Come dear. We mustn't keep our guest waiting."

    "Good evening, gentlemen," her mother said as she and Magdalena entered the luxurious dining room. Behind the vast glossy hand-carved wooden table and matching chairs hung an antique mirror, the only mirror in the entire house. The young suitor was seated directly in front of it and Magdalena took her place across the table from him. She quickly glanced into the mirror only to discover that her mother had been correct: her hair looked perfect, not a single hair was out of place.

    The dinner was a huge success. The suitor told jokes and Magdalena laughed accordingly. She batted her eyelashes at him flirtatiously across the table when her parents weren't looking. When he'd pass her the butter or the salt, their fingertips would brush against one another lightly. Her parents seemed overjoyed by the impending match.

    At the end of the evening, Magdalena walked the suitor to the door as he was preparing to leave.

    "I enjoyed meeting you," Magdalena said shyly. She glanced up at his face, but upon seeing his eyes staring intently at her, she quickly looked down again. For a split second, her eyes found her reflection in the face of his watch. She wasn’t sure it was her reflection, though; it looked like her, had many of the same features her face had, but it was oddly distorted.

    Her thoughts were interrupted by her father’s sudden appearance at the door. “Magdalena, sweetheart, why don’t you say goodnight to the gentleman and let the men have a conversation?”

    “Yes, Papa,” she said as she kissed him on the cheek. “Good night,” she said to the suitor with a small courtesy before she left the hallway.

    Rather than going upstairs as her father had intended, she turned the corner and went into the dining room. She gazed at her reflection in the mirror. It was the same as it had been during the meal, the same as it has always been. As she was leaving the room, dismissing what she’d seen in the suitor’s watch as nothing more than a trick of the light, she heard her mother’s voice in the hallway. She quietly peered around the corner.

    “This is the amount we agreed upon,” her mother said urgently.

    “But she’s just…” The suitor paused. His face contorted and he finished, “So ugly.”

    Magdalena glanced back at the mirror. She didn’t see a single flaw in her face.

    “You have to honor your agreement,” insisted her father. “Your estate is in no position to refuse our offer.”

    Perplexed, she ran upstairs to her parents’ bedroom. She yanked the drawer out of her mother’s boudoir and held up the handheld mirror she found inside. The reflection that stared back at her in the suitor’s watch now stared back at her in her mother’s small mirror. Frightened, she dropped the mirror on the floor, where it shattered. Her parents, hearing the noise down the hall, ran into the room, where they found Magdalena standing above the broken shards.

    “Oh no,” whispered her mother.

    “What’s going on, Mother?” demanded Magdalena.

    “We…we thought it would be for the best, the best for you,” stuttered her mother. “We thought if you believed you were beautiful, others wouldn’t mind so much and you could live a happy, normal life.”

    “But the mirror in the dining room,” interrupted Magdalena.

    “It’s an enchanted mirror. It allows you to see yourself in any way that you want to,” explained her mother. “You wanted to be beautiful so badly.” With that, her mother’s voice trailed off into silence.

    “And the suitor?” asked Magdalena.

    “He was willing to marry you,” insisted her mother. “For a small sum of money,” she quietly added.

    “How could you, Mother?” cried Magdalena. She pushed past her parents and ran down the hall. Flinging the door open, she fled into the night.

    “We did it for you!” yelled her mother after her, but Magdalena wasn’t so easily convinced.
     
  15. thecox
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    thecox Member

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    Black Mirror (1545)

    Another smudge, another dark stain taints the surface of my looking glass. With a clean white rag I kneel and wipe it down again. Sherry stands behind me, her reflection’s eyebrows raised. Her sharp eyes bore into me but I continue to scrub.

    “What is it with that thing, Mike?” I look up to see her standing close. Her hand seems to hover uncertainly above my right shoulder as if some force field keeps it from moving closer.

    “I just don’t like dust,” I whisper and turn back.

    The man in the mirror looks weary and unkempt. My short black hair is matted and wild. Dark circles have cropped up beneath my blue-grey eyes.

    “Well – I’m going out with Alicia,” she says, retracting her hand. She turns to walk away. Her reflection pauses at the bedroom door and she turns her head slightly.

    “Please, Mike, will you get rid of that thing?” I hear in her voice that tears are welling up in her eyes. “Please, Mike, I have enough mirrors. It’s you I’m worried about.”

    I sigh but don’t answer. She continues through the door and I hear her soft steps wend a path through the house and out.

    She doesn’t understand. She couldn’t understand.

    I’ve never felt so alive. The disheveled man before me is only a shell, a vessel to fill with power and to discard if needed.

    And again I find myself daydreaming about that day in the attic.

    I owned my own business as a repo man, collecting the garbage and discarded treasures of a generation of consumers. Each house contained the same thing: a life’s worth of things, mounds of trinkets and symbols of wealth that added up to nothing. In each house, the flat screen TVs, industrial blenders, mahogany armoires, Whirlpool appliances remained as a testament to forgotten riches. But the walls shared an intriguing phenomenon: they were always barren except for the rectangular outline of dust that once surrounded pictures of families, vacations, lovers and life.

    It seems memories are the one thing worth saving when you’ve lost everything.

    I can still remember the crisp snap of the dusty white sheet as I unveiled the mirror. As the dust settled, the thick oaken mirror stood full-length before me, with odd symbols etched along its borders. I knew immediately that I needed to bring this home to my wife, who had been asking for a full-length mirror for months. And so I did.

    The first night after bringing it home, I could tell there was something unique about it, something altogether intriguing. I spent hours staring at myself in its surface. Or was I staring into myself?

    And there it was, at the bottom right corner, that glaring black stain. Very small at first, no larger than the tip of my thumb. Then slowly it grew into a black rose and larger and larger the more I scrubbed. It might as well have been under the surface, like a slow-motion drop of black dye moving through water.

    Weeks later, I handed over my share of the repo business to my partner with the excuse that I needed to work out a family emergency. But there was no emergency, only that cursed spot growing larger still and replacing my clear reflection with its soot-black filth. I scrubbed it with Windex, all-purpose cleaner, turpentine, everything and anything.

    Then one night, I pushed all the furniture in our living room against the walls and laid the mirror flat in the center. As I watched the black stain spread to every corner of its crystal surface, I became infuriated. I raised my heavy boot and with all my might brought it down on the mirrored surface.

    Instead of hearing the satisfying crash of broken glass, I heard a sudden rush of wind. Instead of feeling the crunch of that despicable mirror, I felt myself plummet suddenly through the floor and into a limbo of utter darkness that seemed to last for an eternity. Then with another rush of wind I found myself tossed down onto an unfamiliar dirt floor.

    I lifted myself from the dust and turned to find my mirror standing upright in the middle of a small shed. The first thing I noticed was the oppressive heat. It emanated through my entire body and my clothes quickly became drenched with sweat. The low beat of a drum and chanting echoed across the night, pulsing with the rhythm of some lost and forgotten time.

    I placed my hands on the mirror, hoping to find my living room waiting at the other end again. But it was as solid as ever, without enchantment or even its familiar black stain. The single door at the front of the shed creaked open.

    “We’ve been expecting you,” an elderly black man said in a deep bass voice. He smiled a toothless grin that forced years of wrinkled skin to migrate over his face. As he stepped into a patch of light, I could see his grey eyes staring blankly in my direction. He wore a dusty black suit that seemed too short and too wide for his frame.

    “And where am I?”

    “I’ll show you all that. My name is Jonah.” He stepped forward and hooked my arm. For an old man, he sure had an iron grip.

    “Ah, you don’t understand. I need to get back-.”

    “All things in their time, Michael.”

    “Now you know my name?”

    “I said we’ve been waiting, didn’t I?”

    “No, this isn’t going to happen. I just need to-“

    I pulled against his arm but his grip tightened. I could hear the drumbeat drawing closer and hear the otherworldly chants rising in frantic bursts. As we approached the camp, I could see a ring of fire encircling a group of revelers. Their glistening forms heaved as if in the agony of some ancient ritual. With yips and howls, they jumped and tumbled through fiery embers that seemed to orchestrate their odd movements.

    “You’ve got the wrong guy,” I whispered frantically to Jonah.

    “We know you better than you think. You’ve been cleaning our mirror for months.”

    “That mirror?” My frustration came back.

    “Yes. You’ve been summoned.”

    My head was spinning. The mirror was some sort of portal to this voodoo ritual?

    “Why me then?”

    “Why not?”

    “I’m nothing.” Saying it out loud made it sink in for once and I said it again to myself. “I’m nothing.”

    Jonah became suddenly still and spoke in a powerful voice that hummed in my chest. “Tonight you will feel true power, you will feel the power of the ancients and the spirits of the departed will lift you up.”

    With that he tossed a handful of brick-red powder over my head and walked me through the ring of fire. The revelers danced around me as they laid me across an ancient stone slab. Their dark faces floated eerily through the darkness, illuminated by the intense flames.

    Jonah stood over me and began to chant. Indeed, I felt a sudden energy, a power even, coursing through my veins. I closed my eyes and listened to the guttural commands that Jonah called out. I felt imbued with a power that I had never felt before. Before drifting to sleep, I saw the unmistakable flash of metal.

    I woke up on the floor of my living room that night, drenched in sweat. Red dust still clung to my clothes. And the mirror was standing upright again.

    Tonight, I will venture into the mirror for the third time. My life is no longer consumed with that black stain, though it has returned. I live to feel the power that attends me at Jonah’s stone altar.

    The black stain spreads and the mirror calls out. My reflection looks faded and impoverished, my hair and beard disheveled like a prisoner of war might look. There is no hint of blue left in my eyes, only grey. I don’t recognize the man staring back at me but I wonder if that was ever me at all or whether there is even such a thing as myself. I live to feel. My soul is full of discarded treasures and trinkets that have all but disappeared. Even my memories have abandoned me.

    I close my eyes and walk through the portal. Jonah is waiting.

    “Michael.” He nods.

    I would speak but there’s nothing to say. I’ve forgotten why I even came.

    Jonah leads me arm in arm to that stone slab. I notice how cold the night feels. No revelers greet us with their furious dancing. No fiery embers wink and pop to the beat of ancient rhythms. We walk slowly.

    “Jonah?”

    He tosses the red powder over me and I become suddenly sedated. As he helps me lie across the altar, I know that something has changed. I see the flash of metal once more and watch as Jonah steps over my body. The curious knife seems to weave its own dance of supplication as Jonah chants.

    “Now you will know true power. Your sacrifice will call forth the pardon of our great ancestors. Michael, you have been chosen!”

    I let myself sink into blackness as the knife flashes and then lifts one last time above me. Then I’m nothing.
     
  16. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for your entries. Voting and the new contest will be launched later today.
     
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