The blaring sound of seven in the morning jars you violently from sleep, shoving dreams away like rocks off a cliff, never to be seen again. You stir and make morning noises as you reach from beneath your sheets and blindly search for the Snooze button. Once silenced, you convince yourself not to rappel back down the cliff of slumber and reluctantly get up to begin your day.
Yawning widely, you shuffle from your room to the hallway, wiping crust from your eyes and drool from your mouth. You never were a very pretty sleeper – part of the reason why you are still single. The thought makes you smile randomly.
You eventually find the bathroom and, after a few seconds of grasping in the dark, turn on the light. You flinch back like a frightened vampire before shaking your head at your own immaturity and stepping inside for a meeting with the porcelain head.
Concluding the meeting with a flush, you move to the sink to wash your hands. Your eyes wander up to the mirror, looking at your own semi-sleepy reflection. Your hair is a mess, and the bags under your eyes look like plums. You think to yourself, Wow, who’s that sexy beast? and chuckle softly, wringing soap from your hands.
Then, as you dry them on a towel adjacent, you get an idea.
Have you ever actually seen yourself looking away in a mirror? Not like you turn your head and look back with your eyes – that doesn’t count because you’d still see your reflection looking at you. You’re thinking more along the lines of catching yourself looking away, of somehow moving so quickly that you defy physics and actually see your reflection looking away before it can look back with you. Like the reflection is someone you can trick into making a mistake.
Clearly, you think to yourself, this is a dumb idea, a really dumb one. You can’t catch yourself looking off in a mirror. The amount of damage you’d need to do to the laws of nature and time… Well, simply put, it’s impossible.
That being said, you decide to try it anyway, a little pointless experiment to pass the time. It is Saturday, after all, so it’s not like you have anything better to do right now. Might as well indulge in a little childish self-amusement.
You place your hands flat on the sink, lock eyes with your reflection, and slowly turn your head until you can barely see the edge of the mirror. You mentally count one… two… three and turn sharply back to the mirror. Your reflection stares back at you. The both of you purse your lips thoughtfully.
You repeat the process: stare, turn, count to three, and turn back as fast as you can. Same result: staring at yourself. You stick out your lip in a pout. You don’t even know why you’re doing this, but it’s frustrating as hell. Maybe it’s because you’re still half asleep. Maybe it’s because you’re just crazy like your parents used to tease. Whatever the case, you decide to try again.
You stare at yourself, seeing all the colors in your irises, the red of the thin veins along the scleras. Slowly, you turn away, finding a point on the wall to focus on. However, instead of turning back immediately, you wait, keeping your head still, your eyes locked on the little nondescript spot. You tell yourself that, if you wait long enough, maybe you can fake it out, trick it into letting you win the game. You smile a bit at your own silly stupidity, but restrain the laughter, trying to maintain focus.
You count the seconds in your head. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. You remember your childhood, games played with friends, games like Hide n’ Seek or The Staring Contest. Fifteen. Sixteen. Seventeen. You remember your own competitive nature back then, the desire shared by all children to succeed over your friends, the desire to win at everything you do no matter how pointless or impossible. Twenty. Twenty-one. Twenty-two. You understand that you feel the same desire now, to reach for something you know is too far away, to try anyway until your fingers wrap around its barely material form. Twenty-five. Twenty-six. Twenty-seven. Even if it means falling over the edge, even if it means going just a smidge too far… the desire to win, in this moment of ticking seconds, is just too great.
Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine. Thirty.
You snap your head around so fast that it makes your vision blur for a moment. You have to blink the sudden fog from your eyes in order to see. When you do, you see the mirror, same as before and yet completely… different. First, you stare in disbelief, then you let out a long, deflating sigh which, as your lips slowly curl up into a smile, changes to a small, abrupt, slightly shocked laugh.
Your reflection, standing directly opposite you, is still staring off to the side. You can’t believe it. A disembodied image of yourself following movements and actions completely independent of you. You’ve only seen yourself like this in pictures or home videos. It’s unsettling, not to mention completely terrifying, to see it happen in a mirror, something not capable of prerecording images. But, more than anything, it’s unbelievable. You didn’t think this would happen – it’s just a silly little game, a whim, the result of boredom and one foot still in dreamland – but somehow it did exactly what you’d wanted it to do. It’s like finding fossils in your backyard or creating a hair loss solution from blood pressure meds.
You want to tell someone about this, show this to someone, maybe even create a sideshow attraction out of it and become exceedingly famous. You want to let someone know how you played the most impossible game there is and came out on top.
That being said, you’re locked to the sight of yourself looking away, unsure what might happen if you move or speak. Then, as you continue to stare at your imperfect doppelganger, the elation you feel slowly degenerates into something like soft unease. Something isn’t right. It should’ve moved back by now, the delay filled up as the reflection struggled to right itself and restore the natural order of things. But it remains fixed on the spot on the wall, so still that it doesn’t even seem to be breathing. The unease begins to calcify, to cling to the lining of your stomach and slowly weigh it down with growing nausea. What’s going on? Why isn’t it fixing itself? Why won’t it look at you and put everything back the way it was?
As the seconds pass without change, panic begins to bubble inside you. You want to speak, to shout at the reflection, to reach up and smack the glass as if you could wake it up or something, but you remain as fixed as it is, though a slight tremor begins to move through your bones. You shake and sweat, the desire to scream and cry and beg for the figure in the mirror to please, please look at you almost overwhelming. What if it never moved? What if it stayed that way, and every time you looked in a mirror next, all you would see is this sideways glance, unsullied as you brushed your teeth, unbent as you washed your hands, unsaturated as you stepped out of the shower? What if it never leaves this mirror, and all the mirrors in the world would only show the wallpaper behind your back, the towel rack behind your head, the empty space where you should be but will never occupy again like a lifeless ghost?
Then, after nearly twenty straight seconds, it finally moves – slowly turns its head to face you again. Your relief is palpable, heating your skin like a warm blanket. You are about to smile and let out the biggest breath, maybe even laugh and crack some kind of nervous joke to break the excruciating tension, but you stop when you actually see what it looking back at you in the polished glass.
Your reflection has changed but in a subtle, unnerving way. Its eyes are wide and fixed, its forehead smooth, its mouth a straight line – veritably, the complete opposite of the expression you wear now of fearful confusion. This face, combined with the renewed stillness and flawed exactitude, makes it seem more like you’re looking at a doll replica of yourself than your actual reflection. You find yourself wanting to back away, to turn out the light and leave the bathroom as fast as possible, but you’re fixed to the spot, staring at what should be a perfect representation of yourself but is somehow anything but.
Then, to your horror, the eyes of your reflection roll back into its head, leaving only bloodshot whites and fluttering eyelids. The head falls back while the mouth opens in a soundless, screaming gape. Then, with a brief shudder, the body crumples out of frame like a puppet relieved of its strings, the sounds of flesh and bone thud-thud-thudding against the floor clear and perfect.
Suddenly, you are staring at a reflection of the wall behind you.
You feel your heart hammer in your chest. Sweat beads across your skin and makes your hands slick and clammy. You’re shaking all over. Something’s wrong. Something’s gone terribly wrong, and you know that, if you just turn your head, you’ll know exactly what it is. But you’re scared, more scared than you’ve ever been in your whole life.
It’s just a game, you find yourself thinking. It’s just a game. Nothing was supposed to happen, especially not something like that. It’s not even possible, none of it is. It’s just a stupid, harmless little game… right?
Against all better judgment, you slowly, slowly turn your head and look down.
You see your own body lying still and lifeless at your feet.
As the knowledge of what you’ve done invades your mind, as the enormity of it brings you towards complete and total mental collapse, you have one final, cognizant thought: It is just a game, and I guess I won.
Credit To – MercuryCoatedVeins