Written for another writing challenge on Forumopolis, this one coincided with Halloween and was meant to be simply “spooky flash fiction.”
Alone at a table in a dark room, the two of us sat facing each other. His hands were clasped like mine as he sat in silence, his face a mask of shadow as he leaned back out of the cast of the single light.
“Who are you?” I asked, trying to jump directly in.
“What did they tell you?” he asked, cool, collected, still not looking in my direction.
“They told me enough,” I lied. Truth was, nobody really knew what was going on.
“They didn’t tell you anything,” he said, seeing right through me, his voice icy. “They don’t even know.”
So he knows what I know, I thought. Not good. “They don’t,” I conceded. “Neither do I, for that matter.”
“Don’t you believe your own eyes?” he asked, his gaze piercing. “Your own senses?” There seemed to be a mocking note in his voice.
I dropped my eyes. “I don’t know what to believe anymore.” It was the truth. Since this whole weirdness started, I was trusting myself less and less. And there was, of course, that other undeniable fact. “But then they aren’t really my senses to begin with, are they?”
“No,” he said, no trace of irony or sarcasm, only a sincere conviction. “They’re mine.” It was that conviction that scared me the most.
“What do you want?” I asked, ignoring his last statement, and its implications.
Naturally, I thought. “And you think you can get it?”
There was no hesitation. “I do.” His voice dropped a few degrees. “I will.”
“What makes you so sure?” I asked, though I had a feeling I knew the answer already.
“I’ve got a foothold, don’t I?” he said. “It’s only a matter of time.”
That much I couldn’t argue with. It was already in front of me, staring me in the face. “Who are you?” I asked again, though futilely, as I got the impression the conversation was over.
He leaned forward into the light, so I could clearly see my features on his face. “I am you,” he said. And I could feel the muscles move as the words came out of my own mouth, his grin spreading across the face reflected in the mirror before me.
“But not for long.”
I felt a wet prickle, like limb numbness, and caught a ghost of movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head and was startled to see my own right hand lifting up in front of my face. With an odd fascination I watched as both it and its mirror image slowly turned over and back, each finger flexing and curling as if testing the range of motion. My brain seemed to catch up with this as I realized something was about to happen, and in a blind panic I attempted to leap up from the table and flail away as quickly as possible –
Only there was nothing. I had clearly felt the nerve impulses fire the length of my arms and legs as I tried to wrench myself backward, but I was still somehow sitting in the same position, immobile, my hand still hanging in front of my face as if suspended in liquid. The fingers curled into a fist, and even though I tried to brace myself for whatever was coming, I was unprepared for violent spasm that lurched through me as the room spun sickeningly, followed by the crack of thunder and a horrible wet jolt of pain down my forearm.
As the room settled and my vision cleared, I realized that I had just punched the center of the mirror and was now covered in broken glass and powder. My hand, held in front of my face as if willing me to examine it closer, was still clenched in a fist, covered in cuts, with the glint of bone showing at two of the knuckles and rivulets of blood running down to the elbow. Powerless to move or even cry out in pain, I watched in horror as my hand reached down to the table, gingerly sorted through the broken glass and selected a jagged looking shard roughly the size and shape of a large kitchen knife.
Gripping the end tightly so as to cause more blood to run down my arm, I slowly pushed back the chair and got up from my seat. The dawning realization of what was happening, coupled with the searing pain and the fact that I couldn’t even close my own eyes brought on a powerful wave of nausea the likes of which I hadn’t experienced before and I wondered dimly if I would be able to keep from throwing up.
My body was undeterred, however, and continued calmly toward the door, and as I watched my left hand reach out to turn the handle, I once again felt the muscles in my face move. “Don’t worry,” said the words coming out of my mouth, maddeningly cool as ever.
“This will all be over soon.”