Simple Simon Says
The Wild Ride to Perdition
The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own. At least, I didn’t think it was at first. As my hand and reflection met, making a ghostly hue around the fingers on the icy glass, I struggled to recall why I was here, cold and alone in this dark compartment.
I’m a generic man, perhaps chosen for this mission because I don’t stand out. My face isn’t particularly chiseled and certainly isn’t the one I expected to see when I first hit the lights. Although, at this moment, I have no idea what I did expect to see.
Gazing past the reflection at the night scenery racing by beyond, I sighed with relief. I made the train on time as instructed. Looking down at my strong, bare legs, gray shorts and running shoes I suddenly realized I was bigger than before… stronger.
‘I wonder who I am this time?’ Came the peculiar thought. Standing alone in the dimly lit dressing closet, I forced myself to focus.
Had I been roused from my sleep? Judging by my attire, I must've been just about to go for a run…
‘Wait… on a train’?
My mind raced but a fog of uncertainty plumed into a pounding headache, covering up most of my immediate memory. I processed all of this by thinking through it logically.
‘Why was I running, and even now still out of breath?’ I thought.
Then, in one shattering moment, memory returned and my entire being shuddered in shock. ‘Oh Yesssss…’ I thought looking back at the light switch. ‘I remember! Simon was here.’
As the name “Simon” etched itself into my mind, I heard it whispered, echoing in a confused cloud of fear filling the jostling rail car.
I had been out of it: maybe waiting for the fear to pass, for the clock to stop ticking, for my heart to stop pounding... for Simple Simon to give up. I chuckled out loud, my new baritone voice writing odd refrains in the dark. The sound shocked my system and I struggled to get a grip on my nerves.
“As if Simon would ever give-up.” I caught myself murmuring.
The very instant that the thought occurred to me, fear returned. Tranquility was the cornerstone of Simon’s domain. He never worked in the chaotic, but in the stillness of your thoughts… in the moment when you would never expect an intrusion.
Flicking off the switch again, I mentally marked my location and approximate distance from the open door. Squatting close to the floor in the void, yet again plunged into the dismal uncertainty of darkness, I carefully, quietly began moving out of the closet, sneaking past the berth, and hustling out into the hall on my haunches as I made my way toward the exit of the car.
“Stupid!” I silently chastised myself for turning on the light. Before the thought had time to permeate, I found myself acutely aware of another presence.
It remained unseen and unheard, causing my heart to palpitate with bravado so intense, I held certain this lunatic had heard it.
Just as I had fumbled for the light switch, my fingers inched through the air in the blackness to find the target, this time the door handle. There would be only one chance to exit the train car and Simon would be right behind me.
As my hand lingered, poised over the door handle, cool night air washed in between the cracks, and I struggled to keep my balance while the train careened over rough, icy tracks. Swiftly, I tugged at the handle.
“Shooosh!” Came a brief interruption of silence… then movement, somewhere in the dark.
Casting the door open wide, I found myself faced with the blue-black rail running beneath and the dark mouth of the other train car across from me. Leaping without hesitation into the mysterious black void, the night air folded around me then disappeared as I landed full footed in the next car.
Running feverishly between the rows of seats where passengers would normally be, I quickly cast glances over my shoulder. The car, abandoned now, felt like the starved vessel of a vacant tomb. As I progressed amongst the rows, the icy clutches of death seemingly tore at my very soul. I just knew Simon’s own clutches were about to dig into my shoulders.
Bursting from the tail end of the second car, I had expected to jump into the next, and was stopped short.
“End of the line”. I gulped in the crisp air.
My ghostly breath froze in my chest with such pain that I could not begin to define it. I spun in a state of panic to greet the adversary, but no one emerged the dark portal. All remained silent in the night except for the sound of the train racing wildly over the rail. As the wind cascaded around me, night air clung to my skin, its dew momentarily replenishing my strength.
The idea of a raging lunatic bursting forth from the void to devour me was far less terrifying than the quiet that now stood before me. Silence was death. We all knew that. We were trained to know that.
I walked back into the passenger car, caution guiding every step.
The carriage was dimly lit by new streetlights arriving in intervals on the left side, which cast the right side into segments of blackness. I witnessed the shady, near skeletal outlines of a city approaching on the horizon. It was a good thing this train wasn’t set to make its stops, just to regain speed. Simon would never let us arrive in the city while there was breath in my body anyway. Which worked for me because I had made up my mind. If I should die here tonight, we go together.
The rows of seats stood still as head stones even though the train continued its wicked path into the night. Simon could be in any number of shadows between the seats.
At orientation, I saw the words “Simple Simon” next to pictures of his victims and I recall thinking to myself even then, that the very name somehow beckoned me to meet him. He had been on a killing spree like no other since he broke free of The Panel, with no apparent rhyme or reason to his killing.
Traditional law enforcement couldn’t hope to catch him. Simon was a wraith who used the reflection of a mirror to enter the human world. All he needed was a victim on the other side. I was thankful there were no mirrors here.
My training came from a higher source, a panel of wraith hunters called the Giab’-Hye. For centuries Giab’-Hye challenged the violent activity of the one who called himself “Simon” with the hope of converting him to the power of the light and recruit him.
I am a foot-soldier with merely a higher success rate at hunting than the others. I come through the mirror as whomever stands on the other side and leave them whole when I return, so long as I can escape the wraith I’m hunting. Depending upon how long a stay, I stand the risk of losing myself in the person I inhabit. I feel their memories, understand them. In time my memory will fade, just as it did when I came through the mirror into this man I inhabit.
Simon steals their soul and comes as himself. The person who brings him through, is no more. Which is why it was so important to try again.
Our first “official” meeting as enemies in this particular chase had been unsuccessful. It was a busy Marta station in the sweltering July heat. There were so many citizens around that we could never get a good fix on him. All I saw was the white of his long, straight hair as he pushed his way through the crowd to get away from me. Obviously, he knew he’d been under surveillance.
One minute, Simon was there, sloped Nordic features almost goblin-like from between two black suits of the men in the subway, and then as the men boarded the train, he was gone… an apparition, disappearing as soon as he'd come. As my head cleared, memories flooded the channels of my mind.
Nearly the moment he was out of sight, the phone had rung. The softness of the voice on the other end totally belied the owner, and he had given me instructions of when to board this vessel... and wait. I should've probably declined but the threat on human life was too great, and since public transit went airborne, I’d never been on a train.
The moment I stepped from the mirror, Simon was on top of me, his white face and hair glowing in the scanty light like an angel… the very angel of death. Making a near unconscious stroke to the knot on the back of my head, I realized instantly that this encounter had been why I wasn’t able to remember who or where I was earlier.
I had seen only the glint of steel as the man made to plunge a knife into me, and I managed to kick him away in the darkness. As I rose to go after him, I fell over something and hit my head, losing memory of what had transpired… until I’d had a moment in front of the mirror, to think. Like some sadistic feline, Simon had waited for me to come to, so that I would be awake when he killed me.
‘Where would he be?’ I wondered, trying to call up my training and think those “three moves ahead” we were graded so hard upon.
Surely not hovering overhead, although the thought had me gazing at the ceiling for a few moments. Though I could never explain it, I have a way of “feeling” Simple Simon when he’s nearby so I knew at that moment he wasn't in the car with me.
It’s almost as if we’re each a different version of the same creature. Which, is also how I know that if no one stops this thing, he will single handedly reshape the world as it exists since Simon last escaped the Giab’ Hye. At my vigilante classes, they tried to stress the importance of bringing a criminal alive to face The Panel for possible conversion, but they don’t understand Simon. I now know why he cannot be allowed to live.
I alone comprehend that time in a penal colony means nothing to men like Simon. If anything, it would only add to his power, giving him the chance to do to “bad” people what he had been doing to seemingly undeserving ones… until he got out and the whole meat circus started back up again. Wraiths like Simon don't rehabilitate, they branch out.
His motives truly are simple to me, in that his deepest desire is purely murderous without construct. He loves everything about death, the initial longing to see something writhing in pain, the lust to do it harm, to taste its blood and flesh. He needed to watch them struggle until there's nothing left in them, never seeing a person as a living being but as weak prey, tortured quarry unworthy of the gift of survival… mere sheep led straight to us wolves. I rose above that when The Panel turned me, but Simon ever delighted and fed upon it, taking it almost as spiritual fulfillment that occupied the empty void he had become, even if only for a time. The revelry in the demise of another, to any end, is just wrong to me.
Sure, the means to an end makes sense in the greater scope of things if you don’t look at it as personal amusement. It makes the kind of sense that is found in perfection to my mind: weeding out the weak links and building upon that which is best and strongest… and my understanding of this psychopath is what freaks me out the most.
I know it. Simon knows it, but thank God no one else knows it. Then I’d be locked up and unable to stop him.
So here I stand, alone in the dark, a child of the armies of light, summoned to stop the darkness of another as though I wield that power. As I contemplated the dynamic of it all, the phone on the wall to my right, rang.
I leapt in the quiet. Then, reaching for the phone, it seemed a tortured eternity to reach the red protrusion on the wall. Dreamlike, the seconds waned.
“Tick”, I jump.
“Tick”, I take a deep breath.
“Tick”, I reach out.
“Tick”, I touch the phone.
“Tick-Tick-Tick”, I put it to my ear.
“Hello?” I began, my voice a seemingly foreign sound in the stillness of the empty car.
“Honey? Are you okay?” Came the soft voice.
“Mom?” I asked incredulously.
Lightning streaked the sky outside signifying the storm on the way. Icy rain pelted on the metal roof, and I clung to the seat before me, too weary to handle the incredulity.
Present circumstances considered, (and my probable death looming), I thought of all the things I had wanted to say to my mother before I die: of all the wicked things I had done as a boy, and the kindhearted things, too. I wanted her to know that I have loved her completely, that I'm sorry she has no grandchildren. My heart longed that she, of all people, would understand my purpose for taking another life, any life, with such zeal. I needed to repent to my mother as a dying man would confess to a priest, just once to be held in her arms as a child again, to weep a boy’s tears of innocence; a man’s bitter tears of remorse. I had been here too long, and I wearied of the chase.
Faint breathing. My heart nearly stopped. What if he had my vessel's mother somewhere on this damn train? Frantic for answers, I spoke again.
“Are you okay?”
“Your mother.” Came the familiar, breathy reply.
Simon had copied her voice so well that for a moment, I held the ridiculous thought that I had actually been speaking to my mother.
It’s one thing to torture a man with his own fears, but another thing entirely to bring his mother into it.
“Where are you?!” I screamed into the dark, the echoes bouncing from the walls and the seats, then disappearing into the floor. He clearly was not inside the car. But he had to be close. I could feel him.
“Simple Simon says sit down.” He murmured into the phone. The low gravely undertones in his voice made the hair on the back of my neck rise to attention.
Truth be told, I was tired. He wasn’t in the car, as evidenced by this call, and I needed to sit down. My legs had become like rubber and my adrenalin level dropped now that the imminent threat seemed far enough away to prepare myself should he show up.
I sat down in the last seat on the train with the wall to my back, glad to have a moment to rest. Taking a deep breath, I let my head fall back to the wall with the phone pressed to my ear as I waited for the reply to my obedience.
The doors at both ends of the train stood ajar and the freezing air rushed in just beyond the place on the threshold where the rain pelted inside. I caught my breath, shivering in the cold as I waited to hear what the white devil had to say.
Looking across the car at the lights of the city nearly upon us, I closed my eyes for a moment. Once we cleared that station, my plan was to blow the train. I just had to last long enough to get us past the city. Even so, I had to know what was next, where we went from here.
“What do you want Simon?” I asked bitterly. “What will it take for you to stop?”
My question was simple enough for a man who deemed himself simple, but the reply was existentially complex.
“Death.” Came the breathy answer.
“Yours?” I quipped smartly as I glanced out the window to my right.
Lighting split the opaque horizon on the opposite side of the approaching station, and a brief flash of light revealed Simon, suspended outside the window with a blue light shining above his ear. His black coat flapped in the wind, his goblin-like face peering gleefully through the window. Quicker than thought, his feet shattered the glass and his reply rippled into eternal darkness…
About the Creator
I'm a mild-mannered business consultant by day, a free-spirited writer, artist, singer/songwriter the rest of the time. Let's subscribe to each other! I'm excited to be in a community of writers and I'm looking forward to making friends!
So terrifying! I love the premise of this with Simple Simon - so clever! 😍 That ending is so creepy! 😅
I am seriously thinking of getting rid of all my mirrors after this challenge, Such horrors you folks are concocting, horribble and terrrible tales of terrible mirrors. Oh this one gave me chills. Well done,
Wow! You had me flinching and grinding my teeth. I don’t want to give too much away, but the way Simon enters the world is a touch a genius. Well done!