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The clicking in the mirrors

by Ciara McGregor 11 months ago in fiction

a short horror story

From the beginning, they had warned her. In one of her earlier trips to the town, she had introduced herself, and shared her plans for the renovation of the mansion. The townsfolk had muttered to each other, shooting her worried looks. She had laughed, brushing away their concerns, summing it up to resisting change. she was not laughing now.

On the very first night, the clicking noise began. The day had been busy. A score of workmen had been employed, along with house staff and gardeners. They had been able to make a start on taming the wild garden, and the house had been fully dusted and swept. The transformation of the house was fully underway. At the end of the day, she was exhausted. The workmen and house staff had gone home for the night and Katherine was ready to sink into the bed. For hours she tried to sleep. The clicking kept her awake. She had tried to search for its source, inspecting every room, but the sound seemed to jump around the house anytime she got close.

The next morning she had ordered the staff to search for the origin of the noise, before any work would be done. They didn’t find anything. As the staff had searched, they reported feelings of unease and fear, following them like a shadow.

Her house staff had quit after they saw the box. They had told her that she would be cursed to cruel insanity and that they wouldn’t stay around to watch it

She began renovating this house to find some semblance of quiet and solace, away from the busy city life she led in London. It seemed a cruel irony that the one place she was supposed to feel relaxed was the one place she had never felt more alone and vulnerable. She wondered if tonight, just maybe, she would be allowed to sleep.

As she walked beneath the high, arched ceilings, she felt cold. Dread seemed to weigh down on her like a lead coat, pressing on her shoulders. Passing the shattered mirrors, she turned to face them. Her reflection appeared haunted; lifeless eyes and dull skin, dozens of reflections staring at her stared mockingly. ‘You’re just the madwoman. No one will help you.’ Pushing away from the intrusive thoughts, she reluctantly began to walk towards her bedroom. The shadows loomed behind her in the dull glow, following her and dancing in the candlelight.

Walking into the messy master bedroom, she began to change into her nightgown. The spring air was cool and heavy and smelled like wet soil after rain. Tossing aside her worn blue dress, she pulled the shoes from her feet and kicked them to the other side of the room. They hit the wall with a despondent thump, falling to the floor in a clatter.

Pulling the silk nightgown over herself, Katherine collapsed upon a small chair in front of her ornate vanity and began slowly pulling the pins from her hair, letting them fall, strewn across the surface of the wood. Pulling a brush through her hair, she winced as the bristles of the brush caught in her tangled locks.

Staring at herself in the mirror, she gently touched the cut on her forehead. A woman at the bakery in town had thrown a glass at her. Katherine had told her about the broken mirrors, and just how quickly the workmen had left the property when their friend collapsed. The woman flew into a rage, screaming at Katherine, saying that she had brought evil into the town. Katherine had run out of the bakery, bleeding, and stumbling. She was soon chased from the town and had fled back to her property.

Katherine lifted herself from the vanity and surveyed the room. The mess was overwhelming. Dust on every surface, clothes in piles in the corners. Draws and cupboard doors open, their contents spilling out across the floor.. Katherine had tried to clean, but she was so tired and the mess seemed to keep growing and growing.

She pulled herself onto the bed, slowly sinking into the soft cotton sheets. Laying back on the pillow, she stared through the gossamer curtains. The temperature had dropped dramatically, and there was now a thick mist outside, obscuring the dim lights of the faraway town and muffling all the sounds from the woods. It was disturbingly quiet. It was strange. She wasn’t used to the silence.

Staring at the cobweb-covered ceiling, she let out a sigh. She had tried to find more workers to complete the half-finished construction work, but the townspeople must have warned people not to take the job, for no one would accept the work. 'Which was ridiculous.' Katherine thought, 'its 1930, we’re in the middle of a depression. Workmen should be everywhere and cheap to hire'. But even, though she would be paying a fine wage, no one would work for her.

Katherine closed her eyes, trying desperately to think of a solution to her trouble when she heard a clicking, seemingly coming from the window.

Leaning forward, she pulled back the curtains, only to see nothing that could have caused the noise. She jumped, hearing the clicking again. It came a third time, a slow clicking, but this time from her vanity mirror. Katherine slowly walked towards the sound, and, just as she was about to reach for the surface of the glass, she heard three knocks.

Startled, she lept back, clutching her chest, trying to calm herself. The knocking came again, thrice, softer this time as if it was trying not to scare her. She inched towards the noise, curious now, to see what could be causing it. Just as she was about to touch the glass, her hand froze.

There, in the centre of the glass, was a crack. It was small, barley bigger than a pinhead. Katherine didn’t know why it unnerved her so much. A sharp click, resonated through the room, and the crack grew slightly bigger. Katherine stiffened. The clicking sound continued, and, as the crack grew, she pulled the vanity away from the wall. She twisted herself so that she could look behind it, trying to find what could be causing the mirror to break.

Nothing. The wall was bare.

Sitting back down at the vanity, she jumped back in shock. The crack had grown to cover most of the surface of the glass. She steadied herself, reaching forward to touch the glass. Just as she was about to touch the mirror, she saw something move out of the corner of her eyes. Her reflection was staring at her. It was smiling. Katherine froze, and in that moment of hesitation, a grey hand burst out of the mirror. It grabbed Katherine by the hair and slammed her head into the surface of the mirror. The sound of shattering glass faded into silence.

A moment passed. Katherine pulled herself up from the vanity, cradling her aching forehead. She looked up. All she saw was herself in the mirror. But something was wrong. She looked around the room and quickly realized that everything had been moved to its opposite place across the room. Spinning back to the mirror, she screamed. Her reflection had a cold smile pulled across its face. Its eyes were dark and lifeless, seeming cold and unfeeling. Katherine jumped as the reflection reached its hand up to pull back a lock of hair from its eye.

‘It's strange in there. The same room. The same house. But somehow… smothering.’

The reflection's voice was no more than a whisper, but it rang in Katherine’s ears like a drum.

‘The noise is different too. Everything is so loud in there. The smallest noise can be simply agonizing.’

The reflection slowly picked up the hairbrush and, with a sickening grin, slammed it down against the vanity table.

Katherine fell back as the sound reverberated around the room. Her head seemed to swell with the noise, making her writhe in pain. She desperately tried to muffle the sound. She pressed her hands to her ears, feeling warm blood flow between her fingers.

Silence fell.

After a few moments, she looked up at the mirror to see the reflection putting on Katherine’s clothes.

‘Im sorry for the trouble I caused you. All that clicking. I needed you to notice me. I needed you to hear me. So you would stop making noise.

You wouldn’t stop.

You wouldn’t stop.

You wouldn’t stop.

You wouldn’t stop.

You wouldn’t stop.’

The reflection's face began twitching. The features seemed to twist out of shape, like clay being stretched and pulled. Katherine shrank back as the face morphed into a wide grin with deep hollow-eyes. Just like the shadow.

That’s why the loud man had to go. He kept yelling.

Gasping in horror, Katherine thought back to the dead workman. His twitching body lying on her floor in front of the large mirror he had been carrying.

‘Don’t worry. I’m out here now. Out here, I can stop the noise. I can make sure no one makes noise, ever again.’

Her reflection turned and began to walk towards the door. Just before she was out of sight, Katherine heard her whisper.

‘You’ll be alright, love… If you’re quiet, life the madness won’t affect you for a few years. All you have to do… is not make a sound.’

Katherine began to pound on the mirror, trying desperately to get through. Her blood-soaked hands slipped against the smooth surface. She tried everything, anything to get through.

But all she heard was clicking.

fiction

Ciara McGregor

Creator of micro fiction for the easily distracted!

Imagination prompts and fantasy ideas

Read next: The Fall

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