“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
It was only a simple handheld mirror Brenda found in a secondhand store, but if she knew what dangers were hidden within its reflection, she would have shattered it on the spot. It all began at Toby’s, a secondhand store in South New Berlin, a small town located in upstate New York. As each week Toby would attend estate auctions, more items would come into the store, adding to his inventory, and Brenda was one of his regular customers. One day while Brenda was browsing through the store, she happened to open the bottom drawer of a newly arrived dresser and discovered a handheld mirror hidden in a blue velvet purse.
The mirror was a work of art. Made of silver, images of roses were engraved on the back, and the handle and borders were vines interlaced with each other. Though it was a blustery winter day, and the store was quite chilly inside, when Brenda grasped the handle of the mirror, it was warm to the touch and trembled in her hand.
Strange, she thought. It was as if the mirror had a life of its own, a living breathing being.
Overcome with curiosity, Brenda lifted the mirror up and looked at her reflection. What she saw was familiar, but at the same time, something new, something that had remained hidden, was now revealed. Brenda discovered that hidden treasure was both pleasant and alluring. The longer she stared into her reflection, the more she wanted to see. There she stood transfixed, until Toby announced he was closing the store. Broken from her trance, Brenda paid for the mirror and left the store.
As Brenda drove home, she found herself continually glancing at her new treasure lying on the seat next to her. More than once, she had to force herself from taking the mirror and looking into it, but as soon as pulled into Brenda driveway and before even putting the car in park, she snatched up the mirror and gazed into its reflection. If Brenda had dragged a puff of weed accompanied with a shot of heroin, it would have been a disappointment compared to what she was feeling. And what she saw in her reflection was a view of Heaven. How could she put down the mirror and retreat from perfection? Still, she was forced to when a neighbor tapped on her window.
“Hey, Brenda! You, okay? For a moment there, you looked like you were in another galaxy.”
Gathering all her strength, Brenda dragged her eyes from the mirror and glared at her unwanted guest. “I’m fine, Frank. Just gathering my thoughts.” Without saying another word, Brenda grabbed the mirror and went into her house.
With no more interruptions in sight, Brenda leaned back in her recliner and resumed looking into the mirror. Like before, she found her reflection inviting and more alluring than ever. Then she could swear she heard her reflection whispering to her, begging her to come closer. Brenda pressed the mirror to her face and stared directly into her eyes. Like blackholes, the reflection of her pupils pulled at her, forcing her to fall into their abyss. Then, Brenda blinked, and when she opened her eyes, she found herself pulling away from her reflection, unable to stop herself from falling. Then she heard the crash of the mirror dropping on the floor.
How is that possible, she thought. I’m still hanging on to it. But when she looked at her clenched fist, the mirror wasn’t there but lying on the floor. It was then Brenda realized something was horribly wrong. Everything in the room was reversed, even the titles of the magazines laying on the table were reversed. Fearing for the worse, Brenda lifted the mirror from the floor and peered into it. But instead of seeing her face, she saw herself lying motionless on the floor. “Wake up!” Brenda shouted, but it was no use, for her pleas fell on lifeless ears. Through some unknown curse, Brenda found herself trapped on the other side of the mirror.
There must be a way out, she thought. Brenda went to the front door and opened it. But when she looked out, she was greeted by an unsurpassable gray cloud of nothingness. Thinking the mirror might be the key to her freedom, Brenda picked up the mirror and retried passing through the door. But as she tried to step through, the mirror disappeared from her hand, and she heard a crash on the floor and found it lying where she first picked it up. Again, she tried to escape, this time through the kitchen and then the dining room, but as before she found herself trapped in the living room with the mirror lying ever on the floor.
Desperate for a miracle, Brenda looked back in the mirror, searching for any means of escape, but as much as she wanted to find the key to her cage, her efforts were in vain. Powerless to do anything on her side, Brenda waited for intervention on the other side of the mirror.
So, Brenda waited for what she thought was an eternity. Day after day passed by, as Brenda waited to be rescued. Then it finally happened. A knock on the door drew Brenda’s attention and a moment later, the door opened, revealing a familiar face on the other side of the mirror.
“George,” Brenda shouted. “Help me!” But it was as if she wasn’t there. George gawked at Brenda’s body sprawled on the floor and immediately dialed 911. Soon after, the house was filled with people all trying to decide what happened. In the end, it didn’t matter to Brenda. Her body was taken away, and eventually everyone left, leaving Brenda alone, trapped inside the mirror.
Three more days have passed before anyone returned to the house, and when the door opened this time, five moving men enter who were led by Toby. Toby, she thought. I got the mirror from his store. He must know the mirror’s secret and is able to free me.
Throughout the day, Toby’s workers packed everything draining the house of its goods. While they were doing this, Toby glanced at the mirror, and the look on his face told Brenda he knew of the mirror’s secret. “Toby! Can you hear me? You know I’m here! Do something. Get me out!”
Toby turned away and walked outdoors and a moment later he returned carrying a paper sack. Brenda watched in anticipation as he approached. When Toby reached the mirror, he reached into the sack and pulled out a blue velvet purse. No, it can’t be! But it was. Without looking into the mirror, Toby placed it in the purse and snapped it closed. Darkness fell across Brenda’s world, and soon it turned to nothingness, consuming Brenda with it.
As the sun began to set, Toby returned to his store and placed the purse back in the dresser drawer, leaving it for its next owner.