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The Mirror Below

A short Horror story

By Jay Olivier MorelPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
The Mirror Below
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

She stood at the edge of the water, her toes slowly sinking on the gravel and sand, grounding her feet on solid land for the last time. She exhales, emptying her lungs completely, before inhaling rapidly, filling her lungs with new air. She kicks off, throwing a foot full of sand, as she plunges into the cold waters of the lake. The drop-off falls steep and deep, allowing her to dive safely. Behind her, a wisp of fog swirls behind her, then covers the area in which she plunged.

Anna floats in the middle of the lake, suspended in animation. Her body all at once feeling the rush of cold and the heat within herself. Her moment of quietude, a freedom from her thoughts. These are the moments she enjoys during her training in the lake, where she can be at peace with the world and with herself. Her body cartwheels as she lets herself sink for a moment. Then, in one quick burst, her body spasms towards the surface. As she slowly glides upwards, she could see how still the water had become. She had not let out any of her air yet, as she has trained herself to hold her breath for five minutes and fourteen seconds. It takes a lot of time a preparation to get to that point, and some have held their breath longer, the record being over twenty-four minutes, but she is still young and can learn much more. So far, she estimates, she’s held it for about a minute. This is typical for her first attempts. She reaches air and breaks through the surface. She then exhales quickly and then takes another breath before swiftly re-submerging herself underwater. She didn’t notice it right away, but once she was underwater, the thought came to her that she had not seen the shore.

Letting herself silently slip back into the depths of the lake, she sank deeper and deeper.

She forgot her watch, but it didn’t matter. She has been getting really good at estimating the passage of time. This time, she’s aiming for a cool three minutes. While impressive to most who challenge her in competitions, it is far from her personal best. She does enjoy seeing the facial expressions of those guys who think of her as easy competition when she finally emerges two or three minutes later. She finds she doesn’t perform as well in shallow pools, as she knows she doesn’t have to account for the swim upwards. The deeper you are, the longer it takes to get back to the surface, which forces you to hold your breath for just a few seconds more than you thought you could.

Usually, she’ll have hit the bottom of the lake by now, but something feels off. It’s almost as if the lake grew in depth. One part Anna usually hates is the feeling of the algae on her bare legs when she reaches the bottom, and so far, she’s been bracing herself for that feeling. But none arrive. She opens her eyes and notices it is much darker than before. She also has to pop her ears due to how much deeper she is than normal. While only having been underwater for almost a minute, she decides to kick upwards and get her body back to the surface.

While conserving her air and energy, she gently sways her legs back and forth. She has learned to control her nerves underwater, so that even when she thinks she might be in danger, she can still conserve oxygen. Face upwards, she’s noticing the still water again, and this time, almost sees her reflection. Her vision is still blurry; however, she is not mistaking. As she floats towards the surface, she sees a mirror image of herself reflected back at her. It’s as if she was swimming towards a mirror, a glass image. And then she hits it.

She would have found her collision comical if not for the fact she is inches away from air and in desperate need of it; somehow trapped under an invisible yet hard surface. Panic rises as she expends energy to move around this glass obstacle to no avail. Her lungs start hurting as she pounds on the glass trying to escape. She lets out a mouthful of air as she thrashes around hoping to break free. To her surprise, she notices the air bubbles aren’t hitting the glass, but instead are falling towards the depths of the lake. It’s been two minutes since her last breath and her thoughts spin as she holds on to consciousness long enough to understand how could air possibly flow downwards.

As the bubbles jelly-fish downwards, Anna feels compelled to let herself follow. In her mind, this might be her only hope left for air. Something seems to be pulling her away from the glass ceiling and down to the depths. Fighting the sting in her lungs and stars in her vision, she retreats in her mind to calm her nerves, winning back the extra few seconds of breath before she passes out. More bubbles escape her mouth and nose guiding her deeper into the depths. Suddenly, she falls faster into the now glowing void. She wouldn’t be able to turn back now even if she wanted to. Knowing she doesn’t have much time left, she abandons her fate to this mysterious force.

Every painful second passes by as she gets closer and closer to her end. She thinks of her mothers, they who raised her to strive for excellence not just in life, but in herself. She wonders if they’ll ever see her face again. Her body gets colder and colder as she breaks through thermo layers, stiffening and shivering at the same time. Soon the stars in her eyes overwhelm her vision and she begins to pass out. What becomes of her body now, her parents will never know.

Her body passes through the porthole, enters the reservoir chambers, and gets filtered out of the water as the porthole door shuts. The lake shudders as the world below retreats back into the depths of the earth, groaning as if a large metal object was being scraped on the side of rocks. The bubbles rise to the surface.


About the Creator

Jay Olivier Morel

He / Him

LGBTQ writer with ADHD

A fan of Queer stories, cosmic horror, science-fiction, and contemporary literature.

Also a fan of non-fiction, history, science, biographies, and wellness.

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