A little squib that was written and didn’t make the cut for The Campaign For Real Fear. It addresses the way we all spend so much time looking at ourselves these days – and what if one day we look and something else is looking back. It’s a common enough horror meme, I guess, but by mixing it up with ideas of infection, invasion and zombification, hopefully I’ve come up with something fresh.
Note: a horror story. Which is why it’s tucked behind a More tag.
The spike trembles in my hand. The pain from my burst left eye is close to unendurable, and the job is only half done. It will take a moment to pluck up the nerve to finish it. To blind myself. To be free of the things that have taken my wife, my child, my world.
Breaking the mirrors in the house was an elemental and foolish mistake, and based on a misunderstanding. The medusae do not require anything as prosaic as a gateway to gain purchase in our world. All they need is a fleeting glimpse, and a moment of recognition. Anything reflective will do. They can snatch at us through any bright splinter.
We must have shone like diamonds in the dark, cool realm in which the medusae swim. Our glittering world, limned in glass and polished metal. So open, so blind to any threat, so ready for their attention. They wait patiently on the far side of the mirrors, for us to catch a glimpse of them.
There is no defence. We are doomed by our own vanity. A second of pause to check our hair, to see if we have anything in our teeth. A moment of shock, as the familiar view twists into something indescribably other, and then you are lost to their will. An accidental glimpse is all they need. How many times do you catch sight of your reflection every day, in shop windows, car paintwork, computer screens? The medusae are there. They wait, patient as stone for you to see your new life as a slave.
It is quiet outside. My wife and child stand patiently on the other side of the locked bathroom door, waiting for me to join them. They are perfectly still. If the medusae wish it, they will stand there until thirst or starvation kills them.
The bathroom. Of all the stupid places to hide. A room full of traps. Every surface holds a promise of surrender. I squat on the bathmat, and keep my eyes fixed on it. It is the only non-reflective surface in the room. If I allow my eyes to stray, then the fight is over.
The bradawl in my right hand is slick with sweat and blood. I force the shakes to quieten, and lift it to my eye. One sharp jab, and I will be safe.
The point of the spike glitters, and I realise my mistake, half a second too late. Something moves in the shining mote of light. It shifts, and meets my gaze. The medusae sees me, caught in the bright tip of the tool.
In the space of an eyeblink, it rushes for me, even as with my last ounce of free will I ram the bradawl home.