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The Mirror

What will your reflection reveal?

By Maria WallischPublished 11 months ago 11 min read
The Mirror
Photo by Peter Herrmann on Unsplash

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. It was Cyrus, the youngest of the group, who noticed it first. “Look, Mommy,” he said to Melissa, pointing through the gap in the woods to the cabin in the distance. Melissa turned white as a ghost as she saw the faint distant light, and her heart raced as she pondered what this could mean.

Could someone be in the cabin? Could there be other survivors? The cabin had brought nothing but sorrow to the group over the years. They had all agreed not to go back to it after what happened to Mark. Melissa grabbed Cyrus by the hand to go tell the others. The group stood huddled near the firepit when Joe returned from gathering firewood.

“What’s going on?” asked Joe, noticing the terror on their faces.

Melissa quietly pointed to the candle in the window. “Look,” she whispered shakily.

The rest of the group appeared behind her.

“Is there someone out there?” asked Blake.

“There can’t be. It’s been dark for years, and no one could survive out there anyway,” Becky chimed in.

“We should go check,” said Sarah, “Maybe it’s someone who needs our help,” she pointed out.

Or someone who will hurt us,” Joe snapped back.

“There could be others out there who could help us. Maybe they have supplies, or know something we don’t,” said Sarah.

“Remember when we found Mark and Melissa? You were suspicious of them, too at first, but they didn’t mean any harm, they just needed some help,” Becky reminded Joe.

"It could just be someone who’s hurt or sick.”

“The last thing we need is someone else to take care of when we can barely feed ourselves,” Joe warned them. “We’ve already been rationing our food as it is. We don’t have enough!”

Melissa nodded. “You remember what happened last time when Mark went out there,” she said.

Everyone went silent for a moment, remembering how Mark had volunteered to go out to the cabin to gather supplies, and returned with first aid kits and cans of food, as well as a nasty cough, complaining of being lightheaded and nauseous. Less than 24 hours later, he was dead.

“It’s a risk, but I still think we should at least go check it out,” Sarah said, breaking the silence.

“Let’s do what we always do: put it to a vote,” said Joe.

Sarah was the only one who raised her hand in favor of going to the cabin.

“It’s settled then,” said Joe. “We’re not going, it’s too dangerous.”

The group returned to their mobile homes for the night: Joe, Becky, and Blake in one, Cyrus and Melissa in another, and Sarah by herself in the third.

Sarah sat in her trailer and continued to ponder the mysterious candlelight. She knew that it was dangerous, but she remembered that Mark had not worn a mask when he went out there last time. She could at least wear her bandana to cover her mouth. She thought it would be more dangerous to not go find out what was out there, and besides, this was the third night she would go to sleep without dinner.

She knew their supplies were running dangerously low, and she remembered that when Mark ventured to the cabin last time he returned with an abundance of supplies. Screw it, she thought, grabbing her red bandana and a flashlight.

She snuck around through the back of their three trailers, careful not to wake anyone. She made her way into the dark woods and turned her flashlight on. It was a difficult trek through the woods, especially at night. There were wild animals and predators lurking in the shadows. Sarah let the candle in the window in the distance guide her, eventually reaching the door of the cabin. She fastened her red bandana tightly around her mouth and nose, and hesitated, before slowly turning the doorknob to enter the cabin.

When she entered the empty cabin, she immediately saw a mirror on the wall before her. She stood there mesmerized for a moment, struck by how gaunt and skinny she looked. Suddenly, her flashlight flickered and then went out.

“Damn,” Sarah whispered under her breath, hitting the flashlight against her palm. The light flickered on again, illuminating the mirror.

Sarah’s blood ran cold as she stared into the mirror. The reflection that stared back at her was herself, only younger. “Help me,” mouthed the reflection in the mirror. Sarah gasped in horror as a figure appeared behind the girl in the reflection, covering her mouth and dragging her away. Sarah screamed and bolted for the door. She stumbled back out into the darkness and didn’t stop running until she got to her trailer. When she reached the trailers, she looked back to see the candlelight still burning in the distance. Still shaking, she slammed the door to her trailer and locked it behind her, got into bed, and pulled the covers over her. She couldn’t explain what she saw in the mirror, but she felt lightheaded and nauseous still.

Sarah awoke the next morning to Blake knocking on her trailer door.

“Hey,” Blake said, smiling. “I just wanted to come check on you and say that I’m sorry my Dad was so harsh on you yesterday. I’ve been thinking maybe it’s not such a bad idea to go out there,” he continued.

“No,” Sarah said, coughing a little to clear her throat, “I think he was right, after all, it isn’t worth the risk,” she quickly said, her eyes darting to her red bandana still on the floor from the night before.

Blake’s brow furrowed as he noticed a jar of peanut butter on the shelf next to her. “Wait, is that peanut butter?” he asked. “We ran out of that months ago,” he said, growing suspicious of Sarah.

Sarah looked confused, wondering where the jar came from. “I have no idea where that came from,” she said defensively.

“You went to the cabin, didn’t you?” Blake said accusingly. “You got that from the cabin!”

"I swear to God I didn’t, I really don’t know what that is or how it got there!” Sarah insisted.

Blake angrily grabbed the jar and began to shout for the others as he rushed out of her trailer.

“Look what Sarah has! She went to the cabin!” Blake announced.

The group quickly gathered at the firepit in the semi-circle between their three trailers.

“Where did you get that?” bellowed Joe. “We put it to a vote, no one was supposed to go to the cabin!”

The rest of the group became increasingly agitated, demanding that Sarah give an explanation.

“Okay, okay,” Sarah admitted. “I did go to the cabin, but I swear on my life, I didn’t take anything. I promise! I have no idea where that jar of peanut butter came from. It was probably just left over from before!”

“Leftover from before? We would know if we had that, we catalog everything. We wouldn’t just forget that we had that,” Joe yelled, taking a couple of steps towards her.

Sarah began to panic, feeling the hostility from the group.

“Let’s all be rational about this. I’m sorry I went out to the cabin without telling you guys, but I swear I didn’t take anything,” Sarah nervously explained.

“There are lots of supplies still out there that we desperately need, we could make a trip back there together. Mark died because he went there without a mask. I had my bandana on, but if we had some real masks, we could go in and out, and grab the supplies. We don’t have much food left!” she continued.

“How are we supposed to believe a single word you say?” barked Joe. The rest of the group looked angry.

“Did you see anyone out there?” Melissa asked nervously.

“No, the cabin was empty, I swear!” said Sarah.

“How do you explain the candle, then?” asked Joe.

“I don’t know!” said Sarah, her voice shrill with fear. “But there’s still plenty of supplies out there, I really think we should go back together if anyone has real masks.”

“You know we ran out of masks!” yelled Joe.

Cyrus tugged at his mother’s sleeve, trying to get her attention. “Look Mommy!” he said, pointing to the woods. The group turned and noticed the candle in the window had gone out.

“There is someone out there!” raged Joe.

“You’re probably in on it with them! You’re planning to attack us with them,” Joe spit at Sarah.

“No, come on, Joe, it’s me! You guys know me! I wouldn’t do something like that. That’s crazy!” she yelled.

“The wind probably blew it out, you can’t be serious!” She pleaded.

Joe turned toward the rest of the group. “We can’t trust her!”

“Get out of here!” Joe yelled, approaching Sarah aggressively.

“Get out of here, now!” he growled, taking one more step and shoving her roughly. Sarah stumbled and fell backward, hitting her head against the concrete. The group fell silent as they watched a stream of blood trickle from her head.

“What have you done, Joe?” Becky nervously asked. She didn’t recognize the look in her husband’s eyes.

“What are you upset about?” asked Joe. “This is for the best. She was putting us all in danger!” he yelled.

Melissa scooped Cyrus up into her arms and made her way to their trailer.

“This has gone too far! You guys are crazy!” she shrieked as she ran into the trailer and pulled away, driving into the woods.

Blake and Becky stood looking at Joe in disbelief. They backed away from him slowly and headed back towards their trailer. Blake sat down in the trailer, with his head in his hands, trying to process what had just happened as Becky attempted to comfort him. The door swung open, and Joe entered with a smirk on his face.

“Good riddance. We were always better off without them!” he declared. He dug through his bag, pulling out a box of masks. “Now we can use these and go get as many supplies as we want from the cabin. And we won’t have to share,” he said smirking, satisfied with himself.

“Where did you get those?” Becky asked in disbelief, “Why have you been hiding them from the rest of the group?”

“I did this for us! So that we could survive! We were running out of food and there was no way we could all make it. I did what I had to do to make sure our family survives. Stop looking at me like I’m a monster! I did it for us!”

“There could still be someone out there, we could still be in danger. We would’ve been stronger as a group!” Blake shouted, looking at his father in disgust.

Joe grabbed Blake by the shoulders, shaking him.

“Don’t you see?” Joe screamed, eyes wide and veins pulsing.

“There’s no one out there! There never was! I lit the candle. It was me! ” he continued, yelling and spraying Blake’s face with spit. Blake had never seen his father like this before, and he was terrified.

“Sarah is dead because of you!” Becky screamed. “You are a monster!”

Joe lunged toward Becky, slapping her across the face. Becky fell to the ground and Blake leaped up to come to her defense.

“Don’t touch her!” he screamed.

Becky stood back up, grabbing Blake’s arm.

“Let’s get out of here,” she said to Blake

“You’re not going anywhere!” Joe screamed. “I did this for our family!”

Becky tried to push her way past him, but Joe was blocking the doorway to the trailer and shoved her back down.

“Dad, you’re hurting her,” Blake pleaded.

“I could never be with such a monster, there is no family. I won’t be with a killer,” Becky said through tears.

“I’m not a monster!” Joe screamed. He was on top of Becky now, just inches from her face.

“I’m not a monster!” He screamed again, slamming her head against the floor.

“Dad! Stop!” Blake cried, trying to yank Joe off of his mother unsuccessfully.

“I’m not a monster!” Joe bellowed again, continuing to slam her head against the floor.

Blake’s eyes filled with tears as he stared at his once beautiful and caring mother now covered in the blood that was dripping from her head, the light in her eyes gone.

“I’m not a monster,” Joe said again, whispering as if he was trying to convince himself this time. He rolled off from on top of Becky and laid in her blood in the fetal position, shaking.

Blake stood speechless, his tired and hungry body not able to completely process what he had just witnessed. He slowly backed away, out the trailer door. When his feet hit the ground, he ran as fast as his body would allow, disappearing into the woods.

A few more seconds passed and Joe rose to his feet. He stared down at Becky for only a moment and then quickly grabbed the box of masks and headed straight through the woods, towards the cabin. He kept a steady pace and reached the front door of the cabin in no time.

Finally, Joe thought, reaching for the doorknob.

As he entered the cabin and saw the mirror before him, he was stopped dead in his tracks, as he saw the most horrific sight staring back at him. A monster. The deadliest kind. The kind that would go as far as to hurt everyone around it to get what it wanted. Its eyes as dark as the woods that surrounded it. Its hands and face covered in blood. Though the mirror had played tricks before, now it could not lie. He searched for himself in its reflection but found only a monster. He was the monster.


About the Creator

Maria Wallisch

Self-identified Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) trying to carve out a joyful corner in an increasingly bleak world. I have one daughter, a French Bulldog named Chanel who farts a lot. I'm an Aries.

Instagram: @mariadubbs

Medium: @maria.wallisch

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  • Adam Raynes11 months ago

    Love the use of the mirror and how it reflects who people truly are inside... and also a glimpse into the future in Sarah's case? Great read!

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