Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

The Dark Mirror By Jennifer Baines

It wasn’t until an almighty roar shook the house that I realised how late the hour had become. The 9.15 to Lincoln thundered past, shaking the walls and briefly illuminating the keyboard before vanishing as quickly as it had appeared. I straightened and glanced around the darkened flat. How long had I been sitting here, hunched over in the shadows? A sharp burn at the base of my spine suggested too long.

Rain streaked across a filthy window where the curtains hung limply open, letting the night shadows seep in. I shook my head but the fog remained, a curtain of obscurity in my mind. I could not seem to recall when I had arrived home that day or what precisely I had been doing since. As I breathed in deeply, dust caught in my throat and I let loose a ragged cough. The air tasted stale, yet strangely unfamiliar to my lungs.

I blinked then and screamed in agony. The eyelids that scraped across my eyeballs were dry as a bone. Instinctively, my hands flew to my face to hold them wide, yet the fingers did not seem to follow my command. Lowering pale arms to examine the place where my hands should have been, horror gripped my heart. Monstrous claws, misshapen and bulging with swollen veins, protruded from the sleeves of my shirt. Dear God, what nightmare had I stumbled into?

Leaping from the chair, I staggered across the room, crashing past furniture and toppling ornaments as I went. Cobwebs caught across my nose and lashes. Fumbling wildly for the light switch, I gave up and flicked it with my elbow. Nothing happened. I let out a howl of frustration, shocked by how inhuman it sounded. Hot tears stung my eyes, my whole body convulsing with sobs as I sagged against the peeling wallpaper.

An age passed before I sensed something shift in the shadows; a flicker of movement from the corner of the room. My gaze snapped to the screen squatting there on the dust-covered desk. A shiver ran down my spine. It was off, sleeping, yet still I was drawn to it for reasons I could not explain. It called to me, as if there were nothing but the two of us in the room - in the world even.

As I inched closer, the monitor sprang to life, bathing me in sterile light. The keys began to type of their own accord and the screen filled with words. Profanities, atrocities, all of them written under my screen name. Is this what I had been doing? Is this where I had been? Foul black spittle covered the screen, the keyboard, the desk. No, it could not have been me. I could never have written those things!

Heart thumping, blood pounding in my ears, I raised my deformed fists and brought them crashing down on the keyboard, shattering it. The writing stopped. The screen went blank. All I saw was my hideous reflection in the dark mirror.

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