Mirror in the Hallway

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story that involves a reflection in a mirror.... view prompt


Contemporary Fiction Funny

Mirror in the Hallway

It was Saturday morning, eleven o’clock. The doctor that Alice and Jim were seeing was doing his bit as an ‘after hours’ doctor. The problem plaguing both of them was a wax build-up in their ears that affected what they could and could not hear in their conversations. They would have to be in the same room when they spoke to each other. And their television was set up loud enough to be heard outside their house. And when they were driving, the sound of the radio was as loud as a teenager’s blasting.

They knocked on the door of the doctor’s office, and the secretary/receptionist/nurse answered it. She told them that as it was covid times, they were not allowed to sit in the doctor’s office, but on a long couch a short way down the hallway. As she shut the door, a young boy’s laughter could be heard, probably her son. Being a school day didn’t mean the same thing in covid times.

It was comfy enough, but across the hallway was a long mirror, longer than the couch and the few chairs beside it. It was unnerving to see what they looked like so very clearly. She was 66. He was 72. They had seen much better reflections in their earlier years.

They waited for some considerable time. Jim got bored, as he had not brought a book with him, as he normally would if he expected to wait in a doctor’s office. Fortunately, Alice had with her the Kobo means of reading a story, which she kindly did. The story she read was one that they had learned about from a movie that they had seen the night before on television: Mary Shelley. Both had read and enjoyed her Frankenstein book, so thought the movie would be good. It was. 

While watching it, they not only learned to dislike intensely Percy Shelley, Mary’s eventual husband (he got together with her when he was already married and with a daughter), and the odious Lord Byron (who liked to lord it over everyone), but were introduced to someone they had never heard of before, Jim William Polidori, a physician and friend who wrote the first mystery novel (more a short story) that included the character of a vampire. The vampire was very much modelled on the character of Bryon.  The story Polidori wrote  was called “Vampyre”. He wrote it as part of a competition with the friends to write a scary story. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was her entry.

As Alice read the story out loud, they both started to relax. But then Jim thought that he saw what looked like a puff of smoke in the mirror. As he watched more carefully, he began to notice that puffs would appear whenever Alice read out the word “Ruthven”, which was the name of the Bryon-modelled aristocrat who was the ‘Vampyre’. At first he thought he was just ‘seeing things’, which sounded better to his mind than the word ‘hallucinating’. But that proved to be wrong.

As he didn’t want to disturb or even startle Alice, he asked her what seemed to be an innocuous or harmless question. “Did you ever see the movie ‘Candy Man’? It came out I think in 1992, before we met.”

She said “No, I didn’t, and gave him a searching look, as if to say, ‘Why are you asking me that?’

“Well I did. I went to see the movie on my own, as I did in those days, and sat near to the front. The movie dealt with a supposed urban legend. It went like this. If you look into a mirror and say, ‘Candy Man’ five times, then this monstrous killer would suddenly appear behind you. One of his hands is a hook. It was written by Clive Barker, based on some novel, and you know how scary his movies can be. The tag line was ‘I dare you to say his name five times.’ I heard that there is going to be a sequel coming out some time later this year. It will probably suck.

“Why bring that up now?”

“Well, in my deep delusions, which you know that I have, I keep thinking that I see a puff of smoke and a scary-looking face whenever you say “Ruthven”. It just reminds me of the movie. Maybe I’m just tired, and susceptible to my mind overriding my eyes. It wouldn’t be the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last.”

“Okay, let’s try it out.  I’ll say the name and we both can look at the mirror to see if anything appears.”

“Do it.”

“Ruthven. Ruthven”

Each time that she said the word, what looked like a puff of smoke appeared. And when it faded away, a face could be seen, a scary face at that. Then a hook was held up where a hand should have been. It did look to Jim like what he could vaguely remember from watching the movie.

She said the word “Ruthven” again. And again they saw the smoke, and, a few seconds later, the scary face and the hook. Once more it disappeared, completely vanished.

“Let’s wait this out,” Alice said. They did and nothing happened for about five minutes.

Then she said ‘Ruthven” once more, and waved to Jim, directing him to walk towards the mirror. Not wanting to look the coward, he did as he was shown. He stood a foot’s length away from the mirror. Feeling emboldened, he said to Alice, “Say the name again.” And she did. When the face appeared, Jim put his hand on the mirror. He could feel nothing but mirror.

But he also heard something, the laughter he had heard when the nurse had shut the door to the doctor’s office. He returned to the couch and gave his explanation for what he believed was happening. They would just have to wait until they were allowed into the doctor’s office, to find out if what he was thinking was right.

A few minutes later the door was opened, and they were waved into the office. Jim walked over to where the boy was playing with his computer with his headphones on and asked him, “Show me the Candy Man image again.” The boy smiled, and the screen lit up with the face Jim and Alice had seen.   His mother said – “His two loves are computers and vampire stories.”

July 07, 2021 10:49

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.