Submitted into Contest #149 in response to: Start your story with the flickering of a light.... view prompt


Horror Fiction Contemporary

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.


by Del Gibson

I wake in horrifying fright, because the lights are flickering in our bedroom. It’s deathly dark and cold. Winter’s harshness smashes hail stones at the windows. Gradually, my hearing hones in on the cacophony of sounds surrounding me. The sickly green glow of the digital clock beside our bed says it is 1:11 pm. Someone is running around our bed, giggling, which at first I thought were our kids. Then I thought I must still be dreaming – until a sound by the closet peaks my hearing. Leaning desperately over my husband, I try to shake him awake. I’m suddenly terrified by a thump from somewhere in the room, followed by footsteps approaching the bed. My head feels fuzzy and the lights turning on and off is freaking me into a panic attack.

“Joey, wake up,” I shake him, he snores through it.

“Wake up, please Joey!”

Shaking him harder, practically shouting his name as the footsteps stop right next to my side of the bed. But it’s no use, he is knocked out on Rum and Cola. I get up, reach for the light switch flick it several times – it seems to be working fine. I am confused and slightly scared. Things have been happening in the house ever since mum dropped off granny’s gilded mirror. It’s been in the family forever. I know nothing of the history, other than the fact it used to hide in the attic under a blanket. My brother Brandon and I used to play in the attic when we were young.

I remember asking mum about it once, and received a stern telling off – to stop playing in the attic as it could be dangerous. Boxes could trip us, we could smash our heads on the low beams, blah blah blah…of course we never listened. There were other things up there, like animal heads, boxes with NEVER OPEN written in thick black permanent marker pen. Hanging around here and there were symbols made out of sticks and string. Old dusty dream catchers collecting flies and small insects. We could never understand the amount of flies. It was an ongoing mystery. You’d kill a thousand, only for them to return the next day in fuller numbers.

Grandma passed away peacefully in her sleep three weeks ago. We knew the time would come sooner rather than later. She’d been slowly losing her marbles for the past couple of years. It’s been horrendous watching as she wasted away. When she stopped recognising us, I grieved hard. Mum has been cleaning up grans house and sending off heirlooms to family members, and sent the rest of her stuff to the charity shop; where all old things go to die, in the shop smelling of old people and musky dust. But she gave me the mirror and now everything has turned to shit.

It started with knocks on the walls. Then knocks on the front and back door and whenever anyone went to check, there was no one there. Then our bedroom door would open and close of its own volition. Our ensuite light would flicker during the night, waking me – I’m a light sleeper. The water would turn on and off. One time, the washhouse was flooded when I got home from work. The tap had been turned on full, and the plug was in.

Then the shadows came…the kids would scream in the middle of the night, that there was something in their bedrooms. Casey my 12-year-old daughter got the worse of it. She woke screaming last week because someone had pulled her out of her bed. She came into our bedroom  crying and shaking; it took me a few hours to calm her. Kane saw something in his wardrobe while he was playing Fortnight on his computer in his bedroom. He was live, so when his friends saw the black shadow in the wardrobe they told him. Initially, he didn’t believe them. I was downstairs making a cottage pie when he came screaming into the room. My sensible, and reliable 16-year-old, level headed young man screaming in fear, was the last straw.

I called my sister who is a medium to come around and bless the house. She turned up with her holy water and white sage. I followed her through the house as she spoke the Archangel Michael’s prayer and spread salt after she smudged the place. Sarah stopped at the mirror. I watched in horror as she started trembling and shaking her head. When she looked into it and couldn’t see herself, Sarah ran out of the house, saying she will never come back here until I get rid of the mirror. She said it is dangerous. How can a mirror be dangerous?

I try desperately to wake my husband. It’s no use, he is out to it. I’ve tried to tell him what is happening around the house, but he doesn’t believe in anything like that. Put it this way, he is an accountant, he deals with numbers, not things that go bump in the night. I get into my robe and make my way to the kitchen for a hot chocolate – it’s well after midnight and there is no way I will be getting back to sleep anytime soon. I’ll have a rest when the kids have gone to school and Joey off to work. Then I will be alone to deal with this once and for all.

I have a plan. Dan from work, he’s a great guy, clearly gay. He only recently admitted to me that he has a boyfriend, and they’ve been together for two years. Anyway, he was talking about an APP where you can download it and talk to spirits. Ever since then I’ve contemplated using it, but to tell you the truth, I am a little scared. I installed it yesterday and I plan to use it sometime today. It’s my day off, so I have several hours here alone when everyone leaves.

I loved my gran. She was always loving us, taking us places our parents were too busy to take us to. We would go on vacations with her, stay at her house nearly every weekend. Her house was humungous. She had money and riches my parents could only dream about. Her house was full of antiques and trinkets from her numerous vacations. Wooden masks from Africa and other Eastern countries. She had several ugly looking dolls in glass boxes, these always gave me the creeps. I swear they would watch me; I could see their eyes move. But it was probably just my small child imagination. The weirdest thing about her house, was the fact she covered all of the mirrors. I asked her why, and she would say it was to keep them from gathering dust. I might have been a child, but I could tell a lie a mile away.

Everyone has gone and now I am all alone. I’ve made the beds, done the breakfast dishes and vacuumed the house. I suppose I am putting off the spirit box session. I make a coffee and sit at the dining room table. It’s a cold miserable day, so the heat pumps are cranked high to try to eliminate some of the chill. I pull up the APP on my phone. I say a prayer to the lord and turn it on.

“Hi,” it says immediately.

“Hi,” I respond.

Cold shivers attack me.

“Am I dead?”

I don’t know whether it is a good idea to confirm whether they are dead or not?

“I think so,” I reply.

My hands are shaking, so I place the phone on the table.

“Help me!”

“What do you want?” I ask.

It doesn’t answer. I am contemplating stopping this, when it screams through the phone.

“I’m stuck.”

“Where are you stuck?”

“In the mirror.”

Goosebumps travel my body.

“Who are you?” I ask.

“You know who I am,” it responds.

“Granny, is that you?”

Laughter explodes through the phone, spiking my anxiety to a whole new level.


“Granny, are you there?”


“Are you here in the house?”


“If this isn’t granny, who is it?”

I’m gobsmacked by the responses and frightened as heck. Also, very confused as to whom I am actually talking to. I get the feeling I shouldn’t be communicating this way. Dan had mentioned something about the APP, I now just recall: Evil spirits can pretend to be your loved ones, but are actually Demonic forces trying to come through to wreak havoc and mayhem.

“Spirit, do you know why you are here?”

“Am I dead?” It asks again.

“Yes, you are dead.”

My phone goes flying off the table. Too scared to retrieve it, I bolt it to the living room, leaving the phone on the floor. After several minutes of trying to calm myself, I hear it ringing, so I go back in to answer it.



“Hello, is there someone there?” I ask, trembling.

“Hello darling, it’s granny…” then a scream in the phone makes me drop it.

It lands hard on the table. This isn’t working, it is freaking me out too much. I’m not sure if I am communicating with gran or some other entity? I get the feeling the mirror has something to do with all of this crap happening in my house. When mum dropped it off, she had warned me to keep it covered. Currently, it is behind the couch in the living room. I close the APP and delete it. I will never use it again. It is too terrifying.

Several months later everything has returned to normal. In fact everything is just perfect! People in the township have heard about the mirror and it’s power, now we are rich! Filthy rich! We have so much money we need for nothing. We have friends in high places and even higher than that! My husband is no longer an accountant at the firm he worked at, he gave it up months ago to take care of our books and taxes. We have seats reserved for us in the front row at church. I’ve even been given a medal by the Mayor for my constant community work for the under privileged. Our donations to several charities has grown our stance in the community. Life is spectacular, to say the least. Nothing could be better than this.

I had realised the gilded mirror’s potential purely by accident. On my way out the door one day, heading for work – I glimpsed myself in it as I walked by. Joey had moved it into the hallway, leaning against the wall so he could fix an unexplained hole in the wall behind the couch. None of the children fessed up to doing the damage, it remains a mystery still. It had mold reaching out of it, like spreading fingers, and it smelt rotten. So, the mirror needed to be moved, and required both Joey and myself to carry it. I’d forgotten it was there, until that moment I walked by it. Due to the angle, I could see myself. At first I was confused by what I was seeing. I could see my black boots, grey slacks and white shirt. Nothing looked a miss. My eyes travelled up my body, and at my face I stopped. Something was definitely different. I actually looked younger, only I would notice the difference as it was merely slight at first. But, this carried on for days, knowing now it wasn’t in my imagination. The more days I watched, the younger I became; as if time were going backwards. Eventually all the fine lines had disappeared, and my skin looked as smooth as my 20-year-old version. Before the children, before Joey. Then I noticed other changes. My physique was slimming by the day, leaner and healthier than my 47-year-old self.

Although I was changing in the mirror, I could still feel the soft laugh lines in the corners of my mouth. My frown mark in between my eyes was still a deep rivet. My mother’s belly still soft and curvy, not the slim young woman I saw in the mirror. At first I didn’t tell a soul, holding this secret deep inside, not wanting it to end. Until one day I called my sister, she came over and I showed her the mirror – which I had Joey mount on the living room wall. So I could see the younger me, the better me, every day. Sarah was hesitant at first when I showed her what I looked like in the mirror, she thought it was a trick. Then she stepped right in front of it, and believed everything she saw.

After that it was like a snowfall effect. As rumours spread around town, people began turning up. Old friends I hadn’t seen since high school, colleagues from other jobs I had worked for, and parents whose kids went to the same school as ours. Even the church members came. We started charging. First ten dollars, then when more people kept arriving we raised the price to one hundred for five minutes. But due to the fact they wanted to keep coming back, our fountain of youth mirror drawing them in, we started to see the financial benefits.

The mirror is gold with intricate details surrounding it – leaves and flowers, vines laden with grapes, and snake like creatures spiraling around it. Gran had once called it a black obsidian scrying mirror; it certainly is an oddity. Definitely not like any of the other mirrors in the house. It’s oval shape gives it a Victorian style look. It is beautiful, but is the beauty the secret it hides?

Something strange is happening now we have been using it for several months. I noticed it very gradually, something in the mirror approaching by the day. I keep this a secret, until I know what is going on. I have seen other things in the mirror that in truth, is beginning to scare me. I saw granny in it one day and screamed my head off. Then the day I saw dad in it, I had to tell Joey. To this day he still refuses to look at himself in the mirror. He says he is scared and that what we are doing is wrong. But he enjoys the money we have. We’ve got plans to extend the house by another floor. Joey brought his dream car, a C3 Corvette Stingray, painted gold. Since it only has two seats, we had to buy a bigger vehicle, so we brought a red Dodge Ram. I’ve never been one for materialistic items, but that has changed now that we have an abundance of money.

Celia my neighbour and best friend comes over every single day to check herself in the mirror. One day she stopped coming over. So I called her, numerous times, but she never picked up. This prompted me to visit her to see what was going on. Her front door was wide open. She lives in her house alone as her husband Thomas passed away a couple of years ago from cancer. I knock on her door.

“Celia, are you home?” Screaming her name, over and over.

I keep knocking until my knuckles are nearly bleeding. Entering the house, something smells and there are flies everywhere. Walking room to room I notice all of her mirrors have been covered. It’s a big house so it takes me a while to find her. She’s dead and lying on her bedroom floor. Backing out slowly with my heart in my mouth, I turn and run all the way home. I call the police and tell them what I’d discovered. It doesn’t take them long to get to Celia’s house. Emergency services swarm the place for hours.

Eventually, a detective arrives to take my statement. When he tells me her manner of death, I’m shocked into terror. It appears she killed herself with a bullet to the head, and she left a suicide note saying something about seeing her husband again last night, and he came to take her away so they can finally be together in Heaven. This could either be a lie and she was miserable? But that can’t be it. She was the happiest I’ve seen her since her husband passed. She saw his ghost? Which is a possibility, considering what has been happening to me with the mirror, and could explain why all of the mirrors in her house are covered?

It's late and I can’t sleep after everything that happened today with the death of Celia. Joey and the kids are asleep and the house is deathly still. There have been no visitors to see the mirror today, I cancelled all appointments until further notice. A chill travels down my body as I make my way towards the mirror. What I see is terrifying. I’ve a bullet in my skull and Joey, the kids, granny and dad are standing beside me. They are bloody, their clothing ripped and torn, donning injuries so severe I nearly pass out with fright. Why am I seeing this? Is this what will happen to us?

I tell Joey what I saw in the mirror. When he comes into the kitchen, I’m huddled in the corner of the room, shivering and crying. Although, he says he doesn’t believe, he is clearly startled by what I tell him. We take the mirror up into our attic. I don’t want it in the house anymore, but I don’t have the heart to destroy it. Plus I don’t want to have seven years of bad luck! I’ll put it away so that one of kids can have it when they eventually move out, as it is supposed to be passed down the family. But whom will I pass it down to? Only time will tell…


June 10, 2022 02:06

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