Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Duality Of Man By Afra Sterne-Rodgers

“It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.”

Along the corridor I could make out only the peripheral lines of the hallway mirror, and the single lamp that had been standing in the same place since at least the eighties. The fuse for the corridor’s lighting had gone some time ago, so the lamp emitted no light. Beyond the lamp, there was only the corridor and the edge of my shoulder reflected dimly in the mirror. I moved closer to the mirror, and could see no indication that it was in any way out of the ordinary. But from what I could tell - having moved forward only a matter of inches - my reflection grew smaller as I approached, rather than larger.

I stumbled back from this phenomenon, bewildered. My reflection swelled accordingly, though I doubt its muscles seized as mine did, or its skin constricted and oozed forth perspiration as mine did. I could not force my body to remain in such a corridor, yet I could not force it to leave. Try as I might my will could not overpower the strange paralysis which had consumed me, and my feet remained fixed to the floor. As the seconds, minutes, passed, I could feel terrible whispers of groanings under my feet; the agonised sound of oak boards being pressed together past bearing, and the crystalline sound of the beginnings of splintering.

Though I thought the floor was going to split, it did not. I could feel nothing beneath my toes, and yet the infernal sound of splintering continued; it was only after I caught sight of myself in the hallway mirror that I understood (or rather ‘saw’- I could make no sense of any of the events). The skin around my lips was cracking, peeling and I could feel myself being rent from the inside out. As I watched myself in the mirror, the last terrible glimpse I stole was of a gnarled, devolved, odious creature emerging from the womb of my flesh.

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