30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 13
Hold it up sternly! See this it sends back! (Who is it? Is it you?)Walt Whitman, A Hand-Mirror
At first, it was just a campaign of rumors. At least that’s what most folks told themselves. Some misinformation spread for some reason or another. But then, after enough different people reported the same story of seeing their reflection in the mirror behaving unusually, the story gained enough traction for the posted videos to go viral.
The trusted reflection would lag behind their movements or turn left when they turned right. Initially, you might think you were hallucinating or that you’ve ingested something that was messing with your noggin, but when you heard it happening from dozens of your friends, you realize something’s up.
Those were the reported incidents in the first weeks. Then, the reports evolved and became more commonplace, more troubling to read. Rather than just a few dozen incidents per day, now thousands of people all across the globe were saying they had seen erratic behaviors in their mirrors.
One couple, John and Julia, were brushing their teeth before their twin vanity when their reflections took it upon themselves to slowly and deliberately switch places. John ended brushing his teeth, staring slack jawed at Julia’s reflection and vice versa.
A man in Wisconsin was shaving, but his reflection refused to shave. The image only stood there, blankly staring at the man as the cream began to melt, soften, and drop into the sink on his side.
A YouTube video showed a teenage girl, Liza, applying makeup. She was shocked to see her reflection not mimicking her movements; the mirror version of Liza stood silently shaking its head in judgment of Liza.
Reports of more openly hostile behavior were made daily.
Steve, a third-grade teacher, looked up from rinsing his face to find his reflection flipping him a middle finger. That upset Steve very much.
Darlene, from Grand Rapids, reported seeing her mirrored self drag a languid finger across its throat.
Jimmy, a retired firefighter, stared as his optical counterpart drew a skull and bones on the bathroom calendar. Jimmy could see that the reflection had drawn the figure on the next day’s date, July 17, 2021.
This story, with minor variations, was repeated several times that day.
Most people covered their mirrors with sheets, blankets, or tarps.
Others smashed their mirrors and learned to live without them. As it would turn out, it was a pity not everyone in the world chose to do this. But we are a visual species, are we not? We love (or loathe) the sight of ourselves staring back at us as we wash our faces, brush our teeth, or preen.
The fact that independently (to say nothing of the impossibility) thousands of light images had drawn the same skull and crossbones death figure on calendars everywhere, all on July 17, had officials concerned. That felt like a thrown white glove, a warning, a promise, something, but a threat certainly.
Congress convened, and a handful of conservatives and progressives tied up both chambers as they argued for a nationwide mandate on destroying all mirrors. This reaction was seen as laughable, knee-jerk histrionics, and the motion was rejected.
History, if we have one, should record those voices as would-be heroes.
By the next day, it was too late for mandates and governmental solutions. By the next day, it was too late for us.
Jimmy, the retired firefighter, watched in disbelief as his reflection slowly pushed through from his side of the mirror. He clumsily fell onto human Jimmy’s vanity, sending his wife’s cosmetics and toiletries cascading everywhere. Human Jimmy was strong, but he was no match for mirror Jimmy.
He killed Jimmy, choked him to death.
Then, with more grace than he entered, he picked up the human corpse and shoved it back through the mirror.
Seven men in an airport bathroom, standing at the urinal, were caught off guard when they finished their business and turned around. In the mirror that spanned the entire bathroom wall, the seven watched as their reflections emerged from the mirror. The ensuing fight was fatal.
By covering her mirror with a black sheet, Sheila felt she was playing it safe. But when she entered the bathroom that morning on July 17, she saw a figure pushing out from the mirror, making a human-shaped lump in the sheet. She swatted ineffectually at the figure with a toilet plunger. When it was over, the reflected Sheila pushed human Sheila’s corpse through the mirror. The body’s limp leg became caught in the black sheet, and it too disappeared into the mirror universe, the sheet wrapping around Sheila becoming a death shroud.
Breaking your mirror was no guarantee that you were safe. You might destroy yours, but there were plenty of folks, your neighbors, for example, who didn’t. In the end, the reflections weren’t what we thought they were. They weren’t merely reflected light. Well, they were, and they weren’t; they were also citizens in a kind of hell forced to show up for mirror duty whenever their human counterpart was anywhere near a mirror or reflective surface.
Then it was over; the mirror-hell-realm people had conquered the earth.
The first order of business for the new congress was to enact the measures that would lead to the required destruction of every mirror, every shiny, reflective surface. Not surprisingly, the measure passed unanimously.