Horror logo


Through the Looking Glass

By Harmony KentPublished 8 days ago 15 min read
Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own. That’s when the horror began …

Instead of replicating my wild, frizzy, but boringly straight ginger hair and pale complexion, a young girl with curly black hair stares back at me, a serious expression on her freckled face. At first, her wide eyes and raised eyebrows show surprise. She blinks. After a few seconds, a slow smile lifts her lips, and her eyes shine with … pleasure? No, something else. Something sinister? I’m too surprised to get a handle on any of this.

When she waves at me, I shriek in fright. Desperately, I want to run to Mum, even if she laughs at me and tells me I’m imagining the whole thing, but I can’t because she’s dead. Mum and Dad died in train crash four weeks ago, and now I have to live with my strange Aunty in her weird old house in the country. So, instead of running away, I stand and stare into the mirror with its inexplicable dark-haired girl, who emanates something which draws me to her despite my fear.

I miss my friends and my old school. Aunty George lives too far away from anywhere, so after summer, I’ll have to take classes online instead with a teacher who will chat to me via Zoom and catch the ferry and come to see me once a month. That’s what Aunty George does for her adult remote classes. Her teacher seems okay, I guess, but I don’t trust him. I don’t trust anyone. In the end, they all go away and leave you alone. No matter what they tell you. The only time I see any of my so-called friends is on ChatApp, and they never respond to anything I post, not even a thumbs up or a like. It’s only me who makes the effort. I may as well be invisible. When my mum and dad died, all my mates said how sorry they were and promised to remember me. So much for promises. You can’t rely on anyone. Nobody is real. Not like they used to be in the old days. Before smartphones and the internet. I wish I’d lived back then. Is that why Aunty George keeps her house filled with old stuff? Maybe we have more in common than I thought, even though she ignores me most of the time. It’s as if we live separate lives.

Uncertain, I back away from the full-length mirror with its ornate wood frame carved from an old oak tree. Hairline cracks mark the tarnished surface, but I can see the girl clearly. What I can’t see is my bedroom. Well, I can, but it’s not mine if you know what I mean. All the furniture looks different and unlike anything I’ve ever seen except for on the TV. You know, those shows and movies set in the future where everything seems to be made out of metal or glass and feels sterile and un-lived in. A bit like a show home my parents took me to a couple of years ago at one of those new expos that mimic the World’s Fairs from the 60s. Is anything original anymore? Lots of songs and movies and clothes are all just copies of old stuff, which pretend to be new and fashionable.

One of the reasons I’ve always felt different from everyone else is that I don’t like things which pretend. All my mates want the latest stuff all the time and can’t see most of it is just a fake remake. They don’t understand why I’m not bothered about any of it. With a shrug, I brush off my sudden insight about why I’m so alone. Nobody likes a weirdo. And I’m already a brainiac, which makes me even less popular. Curious, and kind of interested to see if I’ve lost my mind or if this girl in the mirror is real, I take a step forward and smile. ‘Hi, I’m Charlotte.’

Mirror-girl’s smile widens and reveals gleaming white teeth. The sight startles me enough to lift my heels from the old, worn carpet and make my heart stumble through a couple of beats. The tiny hairs on my arms and neck lift, and my skin tingles and prickles. I heave in a deep breath and swallow around the lump in my throat.

The reflection-that-isn’t-a-reflection holds out its hand for me to shake. After a moment’s hesitation, I take the proffered hand, worried my sweaty palm will gross her out. Her firm grip reassures me until she won’t or can't let go. Alarmed once more, I struggle and pull to no avail.

Then the unthinkable happens.

We switch places.

Without warning, I stand in her bedroom beneath a clear, glass-domed roof. The blood-red sky, streaked with angry black clouds, looks threatening and abnormal—unhealthy. An electric shock zings from her palm into mine, and with a yelp, I jerk and pull away. This time, I manage to free myself from her hold. My head spins, and everything goes black.

When I open my eyes, I’m back in my room in Aunty George’s house. George … I must remember she doesn’t like me calling her Aunty. It feels disrespectful, though. Mum always said I should address people with their titles, but Mum’s not here anymore, and I should do what Aun—George wants. I suppose she’s my mum now, sort of. Which feels weird because we don’t know one another. Dad said his sister George met me when I was a few weeks old. Apparently, I was born with a thick thatch of straight, bright red hair, and it hasn’t changed much in the last twelve years.

My chest heaves up and down, too fast, and my breathing comes in panicked gasps. I’m on my back on the old, smelly carpet. The mouldy mustiness tickles my nostrils, and I sneeze—once, loud and hard. It hurts and makes my eyes water. Slowly, I look around, careful to avoid focussing on the mirror. I daren’t check to see if she is still there. Not just yet. When I recognise familiar furniture, and the old ornate bed with my out-of-place modern quilt cover on it, and everything as it should be, I push out a sigh while relief floods through me and makes me hot then cold then hot again.

A funny feeling in my tummy makes me feel sick, and I turn my gaze—reluctantly—from the bed to the mirror’s frame and back to the bed. Same oak wood. Same ornate carving. Same dark energy. How have I missed that until now? A surge of adrenaline has me sit up and lurch to my feet. I dash to the bed and pull the mattress, bedding and all, onto the floor and drag it over to the far wall, as far away from both bed and mirror as I can. It will be drafty and chilly here beneath the old, single-glazed window, but I care less about the cold than whatever menace inhabits the old wood of the furniture.

Why now? I’ve been here for four weeks—28 days, to be exact. And nothing like this has happened before. My heart hammers in my chest, but it feels weak and unsteady, more of a rapid thwup-thwup-thwup than a strong thud-thump-thud. Sweat beads and runs down my spine and pools, cold, in the dip at my lower back. My throat constricts, and I find it hard to swallow, no matter how much I clear my throat. Even my eyes water, and I want to run. But to where? I have nowhere to go. Nobody to take me in. There’s only George and this creepy old house.

From downstairs, laughter and muffled chatter drifts up to me. George has company, and I’ve learnt not to disturb her when she’s entertaining. She doesn’t like that. Tells me its rude and disruptive. It doesn’t feel nice to know my Aunty barely tolerates my presence in her house. I miss my mum and dad and my friends. Now my traitorous throat thickens, and my eyes sting. I blink like mad to stop the tears. My duvet flattens beneath me and whoofs out air when I drop onto it. After stuffing a bunch of cushions and pillows against the wall, l fall limp against them and—slump shouldered—stare around the room that felt like a refuge and now feels like a prison. When was the last time I went outside?

‘Come on, Charlotte. Pull yourself together. You’re better than this.’ I hug my arms around myself and sigh. My sense of loneliness makes my chest ache. Then I chance a furtive glance toward the mirror. Curiosity and longing get the better of me. From here, I can’t see the girl, but I can see the room. It’s still that weird futuristic-looking monstrosity, which makes me appreciate this old room even more, though it smells and is always cold. Slowly, I ease onto all fours and creep-crawl toward the scary mirror.

Not-me-girl still stands in front of her side of the looking glass, staring, wide-eyed and sheet white. She holds one arm in front of her chest in a half-hug and the other up to her face so she can bite her thumbnail. Only now do I realise that our place-switching would have freaked her out as much as it did me, if not more. I offer a smile and let my hands hang at my sides. ‘Hi. Sorry about earlier. I don’t know what happened. Are you okay?’ Though I’m acutely aware of my rambling, I can’t seem to stop it. ‘My name’s Charlotte.’ I stare at her for a couple of seconds, and she stares at me. When she doesn’t speak, I try again, ‘What’s your name?’

The girl in the mirror blinks and takes her thumb away from her mouth. ‘E-Emma.’ Her voice sounds scratchy and high-pitched. She gulps and resumes the nail biting.

‘Nice to meet you!’ I sound over eager, but I’m so desperate for someone to talk to, and she seems about my age. Maybe we could become friends?

Emma spins around, and a look of dismay crosses her face. She gazes over her shoulder at me. ‘Mum’s calling me down for dinner. I’d better go.’

Sad, I nod. She’ll be back. On a whim, and my brain itching to know what might happen, I step up to the mirror, which still fails to reflect my own room. After a deep breath, I stride forward and press my hands to the tarnished glass. Instead of the resistance of a cool, hard surface, my fingers slide into … neutrality. That’s the best I can describe it. Not cold, not hot, not warm … not anything. I push harder, and my palms go through, then my wrists and forearms. Desperate to see, I lean my whole body into the mirror and go through. A moment of terror engulfs me as I’m blind in a blackness that steals all my sensory input—no sight, no sound, no aroma, and a complete absence of touch. All at once, the darkness blinks out just like that, and I find myself back in the new room with all its metal and glass and domed roof. Above, the sky has darkened, but it still holds the menacing hues of red and black. Where am I? When am I?

A strange, ominous presence lingers in the air and seems to follow me as I take tentative steps around the room, wanting to explore and look outside through the dome. Somehow, my body feels lighter. Thinner. Less substantial. What’s happening? Abruptly exhausted, I shuffle to the bed and drop on top of it, where I curl into a ball on my side. Sleep claims me immediately. A voice whispers to me over and over, telling me, it's timeit's time it's time, but I don’t know what it means. Time for what? I came here hoping to find a friend. Even when I jerk awake again, the voice won’t leave me alone. It’s inside my head. It's time.

Weak evening sunlight, tinted crimson, bleeds into the room. Even in this illumination, half-seen things scuttle from shadow to shadow. I shiver. Maybe I should go back. I shouldn’t have come. In the doorway, Emma stands and stares. Her ashen complexion and trembling lips show me she’s scared. In an effort to reassure her, I stand up. It’s then I catch my reflection in the mirror. Emma’s looks solid and normal. Mine is see-through. My breath hitches and catches, and I have to force the air in and out by using my stomach muscles. It's time, the voice says, more insistent now.

Frightened myself by all the strangeness, I step up to Emma and place a hand on her shoulder. She flinches and stifles a yelp. Memories—not my own—flood into my head. Her life merges with mine. In the mirror, my old bedroom fades until all I can see in the reflection is Emma’s modern room. It takes a few more moments for me to realise I can no longer see myself in the reflection. I’ve disappeared. Only Emma remains. The looking glass shows a sick girl, gaunt and haunted as she grips her abdomen, doubles over, and gags.

Fascinated, I watch through eyes that don’t belong to me. A new voice pushes out the hateful one that, I now understand, wanted me to take Emma. ‘GET OUT!’ It’s Emma’s voice, and she does not sound happy. But isn’t she in my head? ‘LEAVE ME ALONE. I DON’T WANT YOU HERE. I TOLD MUM NOT TO BUY THAT STUPID OLD MIRROR!’

Oh, wow, I’m—somehow—a part of Emma. I got it wrong. Her reality wasn’t bleeding into mine, but mine into hers. And now I’m inside her mind. Wow. What a wild ride! The things is, although I get that she hates my presence—just like George—I like it in here. Finally, after 28 days of rejection and loneliness, I’ve made a connection and want to stay right where I am. Since the train crash, everything has felt off. Wrong. Out of kilter. Now it feels right. Wonderful, in fact. Joy floods me with heat, and I feel alive once more. I hated being dead. Stuck in a no-man’s-land of wandering in the walls with barely enough energy to manifest. Only as the days morphed into weeks did I gain in strength. And, finally, the veil between the worlds has thinned enough for me to break through.

The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own. That’s when the horror began … but not for me. For Emma. Inside her head and privy to her thoughts and memories, I see that she’s suffered nightmares for the last month. Some sixth sense, I guess, warned her I was coming. Tried to alert her to the danger the antique looking glass posed. The kicker, for her, is she didn’t believe or listen and, instead, decided the night terrors were nothing more than bad dreams. Now she knows better and she’s screaming her head off. I have to shut her up.

Too late. The bedroom door bursts open, and Emma’s mum comes dashing in, mouth open in consternation. ‘What is it? What’s wrong?’ She kneels in front of me and cups a hand at each of my elbows. Hurriedly, I shove Emma’s psyche to one side and squash it deep down, where it smothers and loses all power. I paste a smile onto Emma’s face. ‘Sorry, Mum. I saw a spider and now it’s gone.’

Mum smiles and rubs my arms. ‘Well, let’s look for it together shall we?’

I nod and bite my thumbnail.

Mum raises to her feet and makes a show of searching for the hated arachnid. As she looks, she says in gentle tones, ‘Try not to scream like that again, sweetie. You scared the life out of me. I thought you were dying.’

Carefully, I hide my smile. If she only knew.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

[Author’s Note: Though the required opening line for this story is in past tense, the character refused—point blank—to let me write this in anything other than present tense. And, believe me, I tried, but it just wouldn’t stick. Each time, I kept falling into present tense, and when that happens, I’ve learnt to go with the flow. I love it when my characters take over like this and come alive on the page while pushing ‘me’ out of the way. And, for sure, written in this style, the present tense creates a sense of urgency as well as uncertainty. So, although first person, present tense, isn’t always loved by readers, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this tale about Charlotte and Emma. And, um, sorry for being so cruel to Emma! Lols 😂. Thanks for reading! Harmony 💕😊]

[For any of you interested: the 28 day reference refers to research carried out by paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who found that after a period of 28 days in contact with ghostly entities in a haunted building, the veil between worlds thins enough for the ghosts to fully manifest physically and do the most damage. ... So, erm, if you're reading this before bed ... sorry! 😉]

This story is for the Broken Mirror Challenge, which you can find by clicking the link below ...


About the Creator

Harmony Kent

The multi-genre author who gets write into your head

I began writing at 40 after a life-changing injury. An avid reader & writer, I love to review & support my fellow authors.

Find Me:


Story Empire

Amazon Author Page




Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  4. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  5. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

Add your insights

Comments (16)

Sign in to comment
  • Samia Afraabout an hour ago

    Great flow

  • Mary Haynes4 days ago

    You did it again Harmony! Excellent work. You took us on a character driven journey where we learned a few things too!

  • Robbie Cheadle4 days ago

    HI Harmony, an excellent short story. Very creepy. Poor Emma!

  • John W. Howell6 days ago

    I loved this, Harmony. I also loved your explanation about the first-person present tense. I could feel it. Great job.

  • Jacquie Biggar6 days ago

    Freaky on all counts!

  • Crazy twist and very disturbing, I loved it!

  • Staci Troilo6 days ago

    Super creepy. Nicely done, Harmony.

  • Joan Hall7 days ago

    To sum it up in one word, "Wow!" Great job.

  • Mae Clair7 days ago

    Oh, my! That's quite an unnerving story, Harmony. Well done!

  • Donna Fox7 days ago

    Wow…. Harmony, you set the scene right from the beginning and it drew me in. It was eery and thrilling from the beginning and such an engaging read! That scene where she switches places with the girl in the mirror was thrilling and unexpected! You did a great job with your descriptive language, playing on the senses and making it feel realistic! I wasn’t ready for the twist that Charlotte was the intruder. I also appreciate the notes from you at the end where you gave us insight to your creative process. Love the idea that Charlotte lead the way on narrating the story, you were her ghost writer in a sense! Simply inspiring!

  • Gwen Plano7 days ago

    Oh my...definitely worth a scream or two or three! Well written, Harmony. You've masterly built tension and sent chills through me. 😱

  • David Prosser7 days ago

    You're always welcome.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Jan Sikes8 days ago

    That is chillingly excellent, Harmony. Fantastic work!

  • Sarah Stuart8 days ago

    About BEDTIME, Harmony... it's not that far off, and I'm already tapping with one hand - I'm cuddling the dog with the other arm. Brilliantly terrifying, and a fab picture - I got the shivers before I started reading. I agree with David, An anthology would sell, sell, sell, especially with that illustration included in the cover.

  • David Prosser8 days ago

    SUPERB TENSION HARMONY, not my usual genrethough I can see the appeal.A book of short stries of this quality would be a sure fired hit. Hugs.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.