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Reflection

by Ilyssa Monroe 7 months ago in Horror
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Foggy Waters Challenge

Reflection
Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Nestled on the sofa, under a heavy-weighted flannel blanket, Celia relaxed with her favorite novel as Trixie and Johnathan slept upstairs and she waited for Dan to arrive. The smell of cedarwood pervaded the cabin as fire danced merrily in the hearth. The earthy aroma of the fire nearly overpowered the scent of apples and cinnamon that came from the steaming mug of apple cider that rested next to her on the antique side table.

As she gazed out of the large windows that looked out at the dock extending into the small lake, she got lost in the memories of the past few days.

Celia had brought the children to the cabin early to unwind from the stress she had been under at work, and they had spent two days wandering the property. It was the middle of Fall, and she loved that the days were cool, and the nights were nippy, and the children enjoyed the plant life that was erupting with color all around them.

There were Sumac shrubs and Red osier dogwoods that burst with brilliant shades of burnt orange and crimson red. The Autumn foliage was breath-taking and peaceful but the Aspens that filled the northern end of the property which had turned a resplendent golden-yellow were her favorite. This afternoon as the kids had played tag beneath the Aspens, a sudden gust of wind had blown through the trees, sending a cascade of gold showering down around them. She smiled at remembering the looks of delight that had lit her children’s faces. She loved these mountains and their rustic cabin.

Knock… Knock… Knock…

Celia jumped, as the sound jolted her from her daydream.

It was probably Dan. He should’ve been here an hour ago, Celia thought excitedly.

“I’ll be right there,” she called out as she set her novel down on the couch and unwound herself from the heavy blanket. The hardwood floor felt cold when her feet hit the ground and she quickly withdrew them. Looking around for her slippers, she found them sitting on the floor beneath the side table. As she snatched them of the floor, she bumped her head on the underside and nearly knocked her mug of apple cider over.

“Ouch!”

Knock… Knock… Knock…

“I’ll be right there,” she repeated.

Sliding her slippers onto her feet, she made her way to the door rubbing her head.

KNOCK… KNOCK… KNOCK…

“I heard you the first time,” She said, as she swung the door wide. Celia stopped short. On the porch stood an old woman dressed in homespun clothing, a long threadbare shawl wrapped around her shoulders. Her white hair hung loosely around her shoulders and framed her deeply wrinkled face.

“Can I help you?” Celia asked, pulling her robe tightly around herself to ward off the chill of the wind.

“I’m Agatha. I live just the other side of the lake,” the old woman began, her voice crackling. “I saw your chimney there just a smokin’ and there ain’t been no one lived here since Gertrude passed on, bless her soul. I thought I might as well see who you was and introduce myself.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Agatha.”

Another gust of wind howled through the trees and sent frigid air rushing past her nearly ripping the door from her grasp.

“May I come in? That wind is mighty piercing this evening.”

“Of course,” Celia said, remembering her manners and stepping to the side. “Come in.”

The old woman hobbled unsteadily through the door, supporting herself with a gnarled, oak wood cane.

“Would you like to come and sit by the fire?” Celia offered.

“Now that sounds right nice, thank ya kindly.”

Celia led the old woman to the living room and offered her the rocking chair by the fire. The woman talked as she settled herself into the rocking chair.

“So, young lady, where is your husband?”

“He’s on his way from the airport,” Celia said, automatically before realizing that she had not mentioned being married to the old woman. “How did you know…” she began.

“I'm old, not blind. You think I can’t see that big rock on your finger.”

Celia blushed a bit.

Of course. Why was she being so jumpy? The woman seemed harmless enough, Celia thought to herself. Cause she reminds me of the old hags from every fairy tale ever.

“You know it ain’t safe to stay out here all by your lonesome,” the woman warned suddenly stopping her efforts to get comfortable. “Strange things happen ‘round these part during the harvest moon, ‘specially when it is full and shinnin’ bright on that there lake.”

“As I said, my husband will be here soon,” Celia said.

The woman arched a grey, wrinkled brow.

“I’m sure I will be okay, Ms. Agatha,” Celia insisted. “Would you like something warm to drink? I have some apple cider.”

“I’d appreciate that mightily, dear.”

“Alright, I’ll be back in just a minute.”

Celia went into the kitchen and poured some of the cider into a kettle and placed it on the burner.

That woman is bat-shit crazy, she thought as she waited for the cider to warm and shake off the eerie feeling the old woman provoked.

KNOCK… KNOCK… KNOCK…

“Oh, thank god! Dan is finally here,” she mumbled as she walked back through the door of the kitchen into the living room. “Let me…”

The old woman was gone.

“What the…”

At first, she thought the woman had gone to use the bathroom, but the door stood open with the light off.

A chill went down her spine.

KNOCK… KNOCK… KNOCK…

Celia rushed to the door, using the peephole this time, before opening the door.

It WAS Dan!

Thank god, she thought as she swung the door open.

She flung herself into his arms and he laughed.

“It’s good to see you too,” he mumbled into her hair as he half carried her back inside and shut the door behind them. “It’s really cold out there.”

Dan tossed his camo duffle bag on the floor and pick Celia up fully, wrapping her legs around his waist as her slippers fell to the floor. He kissed her passionately as he carried her into the living room and deposited her onto the couch.

“As much as I have missed you, I need a shower,” Dan said, pulling out of their embrace and beginning to strip off his BDUs as he headed to their room.

“You do stink,” Celia said, scrunching up her nose mockingly.

He stuck his tongue out playfully before stepping into their bathroom and turning on the water.

Celia sat on the couch smiling. Dan’s latest deployment had been longer than normal, and she had missed him very much.

Whiiiiiiieeee!!!

The kettle with the cider began whistling from the kitchen reminding her of the old woman who had just vanished.

Celia jumped up and went into the kitchen, turned the stove off, and pulled the kettle off the burner.

As she went back into the living room, she could hear the shower still running, and settled back onto the couch.

Where did she go? Did I just imagine everything? Celia thought as she pulled the heavy quilt over her lap.

Gooseflesh spread over her body as she looked out the oversized windows and noticed that there was a small shadowy figure at the end of the dock. Squinting her eyes, she saw that it was a child, wearing a white sailor dress. It looked just like the one…

“TRIXIE,” Celia screamed before taking off at a dead sprint out the front door.

The chill autumn wind stung her eyes as it whipped around her, and her bare feet crunched over brittle leaves that now seemed dull and gray where they had earlier been vibrant. She cried out as her right foot hit hard on a rock that jutted from the ground and sent her tumbling to the ground, scraping her knee.

Celia regained her feet quickly, afraid for her daughter who should have been asleep upstairs in her bed. Pain lanced through her ankle and up her leg as she placed her full weight on the injured appendage.

Tears streaming from the pain, Celia finally gained the dock head.

Trixie was gone.

Celia’s fear spiked and she ran faster down the dock.

She skidded to a halt at the end.

“Celia!” came Dan’s voice from the side of the cabin. “What are you doing out here?”

The surface of the lake was still. Undisturbed.

The wind had stopped blowing.

Celia looked down at the smooth, glassy surface of the lake and saw her reflection staring back at her, breaths puffing out billowing clouds of steam.

She felt a slight shake of the boards beneath her feet moments before Dan wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

“What are you doing out here?” he repeated. “Come on, it’s freezing.”

Dan began turning her around to head back to the cabin.

“She was… Trixie…” Celia stammered as she continued to stare at her own reflection.

It smiled back at her knowingly.

“Trixie is asleep in bed,” Dan said, sounding concerned and not a little confused. “I was just checking on the kids when I heard you scream. Are you okay?”

“My ankle…” was all she could mumble through the fear coursing through her.

Had she really just seen that?

Dan scooped her up into his arms without another word and carried her back inside where he gently set her back on the couch. He prodded her ankle checking to see if it was broken.

She winced.

“Looks like it's just a sprang. I’ll wrap it up,” he said, going to the duffle bag he had discarded earlier and pulling out his military issue medkit.

After wrapping her ankle and covering her back up with the blanket, he looked at her with concern.

“What happened?” he asked, again.

Celia took a deep breath to calm her frayed nerves and told him about her entire evening, including the old woman and her warning.

“Maybe you fell asleep while you were waiting?” he suggested, picking up the Dean Kontz book she had been reading earlier. “I didn’t see anyone leaving when I was driving up. It was probably a bad dream.”

“Maybe…” she said, unsure.

“Why don’t we get some sleep? It’s pretty late and I had a long flight and drive up here.”

“Okay,” she said, her nerves still wracked.

Dan helped her to their bed and tucked her in before climbing in next to her. Despite the pain in her ankle, she curled up on her side in the crook of his arm as he rubbed her back.

She soon heard his breathing grow heavy and it lulled her into a fitful sleep.

When Celia awoke the next morning, Dan was no longer in bed with her but the smell of bacon and eggs told her that he was making breakfast.

EEEEkkkkk!!!

The loud squeal of her song had her bolting out of bed before she remembered her ankle. A sharp stab of pain made her groan loudly.

“Daddy, your back!” Johnathan’s voice rang out before she heard the sound of little feet rushing down the stairs.

Celia calmed her racing heart and gingerly made her way to the kitchen where Dan had Johnathan clutched in one arm as he expertly flipped a fried egg.

When Dan saw her, he smiled and walked over to kiss her on the cheek.

“How is your ankle?”

“It hurts,” she said before sitting at the kitchen table. “Is Trixie up yet?”

“Yes, Mama,” Trixie said from the swinging kitchen door.

Trixie stood there, copper curls in disarray and yawning widely.

“Good morning, Pumpkin,” Dan said cheerily.

Trixie only shuffled over to the table and sat down.

“Are you okay?” Celia asked, reaching over to see if she was feverish. When her hand touched her forehead, Trixie's eyes snapped to meet hers and she smirked. Celia jerked back nearly falling out of her chair.

The look was gone in the next instant.

“Do you want some pancakes?” Dan asked over his shoulder.

“YES!!!” said both of the children in unison.

Celia just sat there, staring.

Johnathan ran over to sit next to his older sister and waited eagerly as Dan dished out bacon, eggs, and pancakes for everyone.

Everything seemed to go back to normal for the rest of the day and Celia began to think she had just imagined or dreamed everything she had experienced the night before. They spent the day taking their ATVs through the mountain trails since her ankle was still hurting, putting hiking out of the question. When they returned to the cabin, they ate dinner and Johnathan talked them into making smores for dessert.

“Daddy, can we go outside and watch the stars tonight,” Trixie asked as her marshmallow roasted over the fire.

“That sounds like a great idea, sweetie,” he said smiling at his little girl.

“Can I watch the stars too,” Johnathan asked, excitedly.

“Only if you both bundle up, it’s chilly outside.”

They both rushed off, Trixie dropping the skewered marshmallow in the fire without a backward glance.

Dan chuckled and grabbed the poker.

“Do you want to join us?”

“You guys go ahead; my ankle is still sore, and I think it’s starting to swell up a bit.”

“Alright,” Dan acquiesced and gave her a kiss on the cheek before grabbing his coat. Moments later, Trixie and Johnathan rushed back down the stairs dressed in their parkas and boots.

The trio walked out the front door and Celia could see them a few moments later as they rounded the side of the cabin and made their way to the dock. Celia watched as Dan stopped at the dock’s head, sat in one of the lawn chairs next to the fire pit, and began to kindle a flame as Johnathan and Trixie chased each other around.

Dan eventually gave up on the fire when the wind kept blowing it out and joined Trixie and Johnathan who were now standing at the end of the dock looking up at the clear night sky.

Celia’s stomach fluttered nervously when she saw Trixie look back, her face illuminated by the full moon.

Trixie smiled before pushing Dan into the water and then Johnathan.

Celia gasped and bolted for the door, ignoring the shooting pains.

She limped as she ran, desperate to get to them.

What is going on? She thought frantically.

Then she remembered the old woman’s warning about the strangeness of the lake during the full moon and she doubled her efforts. A few moments later she was at the end of the dock.

The surface of the lake was still. Undisturbed.

The wind had stopped blowing.

When she looked down, she saw her reflection and the terrified faces of Dan, Trixie, and Johnathan reflecting back at her as if they stood right next to her on the dock.

Her head snapped up.

They WERE standing next to her but the looks they wore were full of malicious glee.

She felt a small hand on her back.

Then she was falling and struggling.

Trying to swim back to the surface.

But there was no water.

She was falling in a dark void, the only light from the large harvest moon above her.

Celia looked towards that light as she struggled against the nothingness.

There on the dock, she saw herself and her family smiling down wickedly at her.

They turned and walked away, leaving her drowning in the void.

KNOCK… KNOCK… KNOCK…

...

Celia’s eyes snapped open.

...

Someone was at the door.

Horror

About the author

Ilyssa Monroe

Married, mother of 8, Student of IT/Cybersecurity, and aspiring author in the realms of Fantasy and SCI-FI. Enjoy!

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