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The Dimension of Fear

A place filled with nightmares.

By Stephanie DownardPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 13 min read
Photo by Stephanie Downard

“The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own.”

“What was in the mirror, Ruby?”

“Look, Dr., Whatever your name is. You're the third psychiatrist I've seen. It doesn't matter; I know what I saw was real. I'm not crazy, and I know it wasn't hallucinations.”

“It's Dr. Landers, and I'm only here to listen, Ruby, no judgment.”

“Yeah, right, what a cliché thing to say.”

“While that is accurate, it is my job to have an open mind to try and help you.”

“Help me! I don't need mental help. You and the so-called other doctors just want to push schizophrenia medication. I Am Not Schizophrenic!”

“Ruby, please calm down. This is only our first session. I won't be prescribing any medication today. I've looked over your files. Why don't you divulge a little about where this fear first started?”

“Why? So you can tell me my fear is irrational and everything happening to me is unresolved trauma from my childhood. Or how my mind can't handle the anxiety of it all, so I'm hallucinating the absolute worst.”

“Ruby, how would I know if you won't talk about it? We don't have to get into it today, but you need to tell me about it at some point.”

“Fine, but I'm only talking about this incident once. So please don't ask me to retell it over and over.”

“Take your time and start when you feel ready.”

“It was summer, and my family had just gotten home from vacation. I remember being so tired that I didn't even change into my pajamas. I went straight to my room to lie down. When I went to turn off my lamp, I caught a glimpse of something crawling across my blanket. I slapped my hand down to smash what I thought was an ant. It wasn't. Instead, it was a spider. I killed it and flicked it off my bed. I felt uneasy, but I convinced myself it was unlikely that there were any more spiders. I turned my lamp off and closed my eyes. Moments later, I started feeling itching. My face felt like tiny feathers were tickling it. I turned my light back on and let out a blood-curdling scream. When I slammed my hand down, I didn't just hit the spider; I hit its egg sack too. Hundreds of baby spiders filled my bed. They were all over my body. When I screamed, some of them crawled inside my mouth. I began to choke and gag, trying to spit them out. I frantically started hitting myself all over. Slapping and aggressively wiping my hands from head to toe. At this point, my mom busted into the room and yelled Ruby, what are you doing? I just kept smacking myself. She ran to my bed and screamed out in horror. The next thing I knew, I was in the shower watching as clumps of tiny spiders washed down the drain. My parents spent the next hour trying to get a spider out of my ear. I could feel it moving around, and the scratching noises made me feel like I could go insane. They finally got it out. I wasn't able to sleep that night and for many nights after. And a month later, I still couldn't even go into my room because I was so petrified. I had to sleep with earmuffs on for years. The sight of a spider would cause me to have panic attacks. I'd begin shaking uncontrollably, and my heart would race. Chills and sweat would cause me to become nauseous. It took me a very long time to get past this. I still have a hard time when I see a spider, but I can control myself now.”

“How old were you when this happened, Ruby?

“I was 11.”

“Arachnophobia is a common phobia. I will add your fear is by no means irrational. What you went through as a child was quite traumatic, but we will explore this more in your next appointment. It also looks like you are being released from our mental health facilities today.”

“Dr. Landers, do I still have to take the prescribed pills when I leave?”

“Yes, that is a part of your discharge stipulations. Please don't suddenly stop taking them when you leave. If we decide to change your treatment, it's better to taper off of them.”

“I hate this medication. It makes me feel like complete shit.”

“Those side effects should subside in the next week or so.”

“If you say so, Doc. When do I need to come back?”

“Let's see. I'll give you some time to settle at home, so how about in 4 days? That way, we can see how you're adjusting to things.”

“Ok, I guess I'm blowing this popsicle stand. See you then.”

I finally had some freedom. I knew I didn't belong in this facility, but no one would listen. I was stuck here for a month. The first few weeks were the worst. I insisted, and I still do that what I saw in that mirror was real. I fought the doctors pretty hard. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that you can't get released if you're acting like a lunatic. The sedatives really sucked, but who would stay calm after seeing what I saw. It happened more than once. The first time I called my mom, I was hyperventilating so bad she couldn't even understand me. She came right over, and there I was, rocking back and forth outside my apartment door. So I could see how that might look. I felt like I was that 11-year-old girl again, unable to control my emotions.

By the third time, my mom had had enough, and she committed me to the psychiatric hospital. I was so pissed. I knew I acted like an unruly child throwing a temper tantrum, but I had to stand my ground. I'm not proud of it, but how would you react if you saw creepy ass spiders emerging from your mirror? Of all the things, why did it have to be freaking spiders? I had to do some lame mirror therapy, like seriously. I'm not afraid of mirrors; I am, however, opposed to mirrors that have eight-legged creatures crawl out of them. I played along, and the doctors assumed the medication had taken my so-called hallucinations away.

The day I got released, my mom was waiting for me in the hospital lobby. I was still mad that she had brought me here, so the ride back to my apartment was pretty awkward. I didn't say much to her, knowing she sensed my anger. She went on and on about how she didn't do this to hurt me. She wanted me to get the help I needed and blah, blah, blah. That car ride seemed to take forever, but we finally reached my apartment. I never wanted to bolt from a car so fast in my life. I grabbed my bags and quickly got out of the car, and slammed the door. My mom rolled down the window.

“Ruby, please call me later and tell me how you're doing.”

I just kept walking.

“RUBY, PLEASE!”, She yelled.

I responded, “OK, I WILL!” and walked inside.

I headed straight for the elevator, but of course, my landlord spotted me.

“Hey, Ruby, welcome home. How was your vacation?”


“Yeah, your mom said you were on vacation. She came by your place a few weeks ago because she said you forgot a few things and needed her to send them to you.”

“Oh, right, vacation it, umm, was just so relaxing, Mrs.Greenstone.”

“Glad to hear it. I could use a relaxing vacation myself.”

“I bet you would have fit right in where I just came from. This place had so many nuts to choose from I didn’t know what to do with myself. Anyway, I better head up and unpack. See you later.”

As the elevator was closing, Mrs.Greenstone stopped the door and said,

“Yeah, talk to you later, Ruby. You’re probably exhausted because it must be hard to sleep in a straight jacket.”

She smiled, let go of the door, and walked away. I was a little shocked by her reply, but honestly, it didn’t surprise me. Mrs.Greenstone was very nosey, so of course, she knew where I really was. I also liked to refer to her as a nice bitch. She can be overly friendly, but I knew it was a ruse. It probably wasn’t a good idea to make her mad, but I couldn’t help myself.

The day I first met Mrs.Greenstone lived rent-free in my mind. It was weird. We had an appointment for her to show me the apartment, and I was a little early. The door was already open, so I decided to go inside. I heard talking, so I figured I should tell the landlord I was there. When I got closer to the bedroom, a voice said,

“She’s going to be the perfect tenant.”

I peeked around the door, and Mrs.Greenwood was staring straight into the mirror, and then she saw me. The expression on her face looked like she got caught stealing. She held up her index finger like give me a sec and said,

“Sorry, I got to go. I’ll talk to you later, bye.”

She pulled the Bluetooth earpiece off and put it in her pocket. The strange part was I never saw her cell phone. She didn’t have a purse, and her other pockets were empty. Where was her phone? I made a mental joke later about how instead of a stick up her ass, it was a phone. Sometimes though, I wonder if she was talking to the mirror. Then again, that made me seem crazy, so I told myself the phone was somewhere else in the room.

It felt odd being home. My bedroom seemed almost eerie at night. I didn’t sleep much. I couldn’t stop looking at my mirror on the wall beside my bed. Sometimes I stared so long my eyes would start to burn. I tried to ask Mrs.Greenwood to remove the mirror, but she gave me a death stare and said absolutely not. On the plus side, I’d been home for over a week, and I hadn’t seen any disgusting spiders coming out. I hated to think that maybe it all was hallucinations. What if the schizo meds were the reason it stopped happening. Was I the crazy one all along?

It turns out I wasn’t insane. There was something or someone in the mirror. One night a red glow was coming through into my bedroom. I watched as a decrepit hand with grotesque fingernails slowly emerged from the mirror. My heart was pounding so rapidly that I could hear the fast-paced rhythm in my ears. Every breath I took got harder and harder to control, but I couldn’t look away. I was too scared to run. Any power over my body was gone. The hand stopped once it was elbow length out, and oozing blisters started forming. Red and black puss was running down and dripping onto my floor. Spiders began to burst out from the seeping sores. They came out so quickly that within seconds my bedroom was covered. The room was turning black. My mind couldn’t tell if it was the black spider-filled room or because of a lack of air. I began to lose consciousness. I tried to take a deep breath, but my lungs were fighting me. I lost the battle and passed out.

When I woke up, I had an excruciating headache. Everything was hazy. I tried to look around, but the room was spinning. I became nauseous and threw up all over myself and my bed. It was revolting, but I still didn’t have the strength to get up. I just laid there covered in vomit for an unknown amount of time. My vision slowly returned. On the pillow next to me, I saw one of those black spiders. I jumped up so fast that my hand slid in the puke, and I fell to the floor. It was dead, but when I threw up, it wasn’t food or stomach acid. It was red and black slime and filled with spiders. My stomach churned in disgust. I didn’t want to know how or why they were in my stomach. The thought of it made my skin crawl.

I ran to my bathroom and instantly got in the shower, but when I reached for my shampoo, it was gone. So were my towels. Nothing of mine was in there, not even my toothbrush. I walked out of the bathroom naked and confused. I began to look around my apartment and was shocked to find I had nothing. My furniture, pictures, shoes, clothes, everything was gone. The only thing I had left was my bed, but there were no blankets, sheets, or pillows. The anxiety set in. How was this possible? Where did my stuff go? So much terror and questions filled my mind.

I couldn’t leave or call anyone. Even if I could, what would I say? I’d probably be committed for good if I tried to explain this to someone. I wanted to get out of there so badly, but I knew if I stepped out of this apartment naked, I would be doomed back to the psychiatric hospital. I almost convinced myself it would be better, but I hated that place. I didn’t know what to do.

I paced all around my apartment. I noticed my garbage can had a liner in it. I lifted the lid off but was taken aback by a horrid smell. It was filled with old moldy, spoiled food from my fridge. I dumped it out on the floor and pulled the liner out. I turned the bag inside out and ran to the bathroom. I washed it off the best I could in the shower and made a hole for my head and arms, and slipped over me. I ran for the door. At this point, I didn’t care what happened. Maybe I could spin some crazy story about being robbed.

I put my hand on the doorknob and tried to open it, but it wouldn’t move. I pulled and pulled on the door. I couldn’t get it to budge. I started banging and screaming for help, but no one came. My body slid to the floor. I gave up, too tired to do anything. Madness was creeping into my mind. Breathing was getting hard, and my head felt dizzy, so I closed my eyes. Back into the blackness I went.

I woke up from being abruptly shaken and someone yelling my name.


I opened my eyes and sat straight up. Mrs. Greenwood was kneeling before me.

“I heard banging and screaming. I tried knocking, but you wouldn’t answer, so I used my key.”

Mrs.Greenwood grabbed my arm and helped me off the floor. I looked around for a second, and my apartment was completely normal.

“My stuff is back.”, I whispered.

“What did you say?”

“Oh, nothing. I think I must have been sleepwalking or something. Those crazy pills I take must cause some wild dreams. Thanks for checking on me, Mrs.Greenwood.”

“Well, I’m glad you weren’t being murdered or something. I don’t need any drama in my building.”

“Yeah, we wouldn’t want that. Thanks again for the help. I’ll try to keep it down.”

“You better, Ruby. Keep the crazy to a minimum.”

“Will do, Mrs.Greenwood.”

I closed the door and cautiously walked all around my apartment. Everything was right in its place. My bed was nicely made and free of vomit. Maybe it all was a deranged dream. What if all along I wasn’t having hallucinations or going insane? Was it just vivid dreams? I couldn’t get the feeling of disgust out of my mind. I had to take a shower. Even though it wasn’t real, the thought of the spiders crawling all inside my mouth and body was enough reason for me.

I felt refreshed after my shower, almost like it washed all my problems away. It was wonderful to put on a clean pair of pajamas. I'm not sure how I was so relaxed. My mind was clear, and I could confidently take a deep breath. I went to my room and spread out on the bed. I didn't even think of the mirror once. The mattress was like a cloud in the sun, warm and fluffy. I drifted off to sleep.

I'm not sure how long I was out, but I woke up to the feeling of the bed moving. The mirror was glowing red again. I glanced down and saw spiders using their web to pull the bed towards the mirror. That relaxed moment was gone. I slapped myself, hoping I would wake up. Nothing, the bed inched closer and closer to the red glow. I didn't want to lose myself to fear, so I rolled off the other side of the bed just in time before the mirror swallowed it. I was going to try and run out of the room, but I was frozen. It wasn't by spiders this time. Out of the mirror came a decomposed woman covered in festering sores. Her eyes and mouth looked like black holes that would suck out your soul. They had no beginning or end. That black and red pus started oozing out from her deteriorating body. I knew what was next. I had to try and run out before the spiders crawled out of her decaying skin. I didn't make it. The spiders flowed from her eyes and mouth like waves slamming into shore. They were too fast, and within seconds, I had webs wrapped around my feet, dragging me into the mirror. I tried to fight back, but I couldn't grip anything to stop from being pulled in.

Inside was like a dimension of fear. I tried to go back through the mirror, but it wouldn't let me. The spiders crawled off into the world of nightmares. The webs were too strong; I couldn't rip them off my feet. On either side of me, I could see different people being sucked inside their own personal hell. Suffering and screams filled the air. I couldn't let myself get stuck here, but it didn't matter what I did; I couldn't get back to my apartment.

I was too scared to move or turn around. The sight of this world terrified the hell out of me. I just kept my eyes on the mirror, looking into my bedroom. Time must have moved faster here because, within a few minutes, I saw Mrs.Greenwood showing my empty room to someone new. I tried banging on the mirror, and I screamed as loud as possible. It was useless. When they were leaving the bedroom, I saw Mrs.Greenwood smile in the mirror, and her reflection flashed to the decrepit blister woman. She leaned in closer and said,

“Welcome home, Ruby.”


About the Creator

Stephanie Downard

I'm a mom of 3 plus a bonus son. I've discovered I love writing, and in my free time, that's what I do! I may not be the best, but that will not stop me! It can only go up from here! I hope you enjoy the words that trickle out of my head.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (3)

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  • C. H. Richardabout a year ago

    Great horror piece! Spiders completely creep me out, but add to the scare. I am also on the fence about warnings as it is horror. Nice take on the challenge.

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a year ago

    I enjoyed this tale. And on the fence about adding a warning. The fact that it's a horror story lets you know there will be something disturbing. On the other hand, it could trigger something for someone that is scared of spiders like Ruby was. Maybe the picture you added will foreshadow that part. Anyway... Great story!

  • Whoa, that was a trip! Spiders are sooo creepy and that mirror, gosh! Fantastic story!

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