(Okay, this has been sitting on my to-do list for long enough. Let’s see what kind of story I can scare up for you. It picks up where my fic “The Manor Borne” left off. I hope you like it!)
You don’t know how long you were trapped in that damned broken mirror, in that empty hall inside that cursed manor. You were only vaguely aware that time had passed. Probably. Sometimes you wondered if you were frozen in time as well as space.
Why did Damien do this to me? He promised we’d fix things! you had initially lamented to yourself many an unearthly still night.
Being trapped gave you time to think, however. You thought over and over about what had happened since you’d entered the front door. How things might have been different if you’d had a little foresight.
It didn’t take long for you to realize that the being who shoved you inside the mirror wasn’t your friend. It took you a bit longer to figure out whether it was still Damien that had left you behind… or something else.
As you analysed the events over and over again, you began to lean more heavily on the “something else” side of things.
Damien was your friend. He was caring and careful with those he loved, and would never hurt anyone. Not willingly, anyway. He wouldn’t leave you like this. Not ever.
The isolation gradually made your senses keener. Trapped as you were in the darkness, you could still feel. It wasn’t the kind of feeling brought on by human touch – the squish of wet sand beneath your feet at the beach, or holding a pen in your hand, or feeling the whisper of fabric on skin as you got dressed in the morning. Those simple things were denied to you now. You were dead, after all.
But you could sense things. Presences that you imagined music might feel like if the living were more conscious of the vibrations sound caused in the air. There were vibrations here. The evil that had permeated the damned house wasn’t as thick in the surrounding atmosphere. Whatever had been here had left the day Damien walked away, leaving you stuck in the mirror.
Somewhere in the long, endless stretch of silence, it occurred to you that you might be able to gather the residual energy to you. To do… what, exactly? You didn’t know. You had long ago stopped hoping that you could get out. But it was sure as hell much better to do something than to be stuck just thinking to yourself in a dead silence, an image in a broken reflective surface in a house with mouldering corpses.
And that was interesting as well. As soon as the presence had left, the bodies had returned to the places they’d been where they died. You found this out when you discovered your ability to “see” using all the mirrors in the house, not just the one you were trapped in.
With this newfound skill, you located Damien’s burnt and decaying husk of a body in the seance room with Celine’s, which was likewise all but reduced to ashes. That’s when it hit you.
Damien had said to you Mark had walked off with his body. He had lied. Damien was many things but – political aspirations aside – he wasn’t a liar by nature.
THAT WASN’T DAMIEN, your thoughts shrieked in the emptiness.
Whatever it had been had murdered your friend and his sister and assumed their forms so you’d let it in to your body, to give it a way out. It had been very smart, telling you everything you wanted – no, desperately needed – to hear.
You had set a monster loose somewhere. Something old and evil that had plucked what it needed from you, then left you here to make its apologies.
If you were still flesh and blood, you would have been shaking, shuddering and crying from that fearful realization by now. Whatever was that strong, that smart and that malevolent needed to be avoided at all costs in the future. If it ever came back. Which you doubted. There was nothing but death here now.
So you worked on trying to gather the remaining bits of energy that had been sloughed off in its wake. Maybe some good would come of it.
It took time – you don’t know how much, but it felt very, very long – to gather those little pockets of energy lying about the house like discarded snake skins. When massed together, it turned out to be quite a bit. Your stash of cast-off demonic essence had enough power humming through it that you felt like you could actually do something with it.
More out of curiosity than plan, you wondered if you could repeat the monster’s little body-snatching trick. Damien and Celine’s bodies were too badly damaged, but Mark’s was in reasonable shape… well, for a corpse, anyway.
Beggars can’t be choosers, after all. So, you pulled all the energy you had painstakingly collected into yourself, and focused all your attention on Mark’s body.
You found yourself blinking in the light, and you began to weep with joy. You hadn’t seen the sun in so long, and now could feel it streaming in through the window! You could hear birds chirping outside! There was still life outside this house!
You looked down at Mark’s body – not yours, you realized. But it really wasn’t Mark’s anymore either, was it? He was long gone, too. Surely, he wasn’t such a bad chap to mind you taking the body he’d left behind.
You took a breath, savouring the feeling of air in your lungs. You exhaled, trying to steady yourself, as you prepared for the next part of the trick.
You stared a long moment at Mark’s hands – not your hands, not yet – and focused on what you remembered yours had looked like, before the monster took your body and made it his own.
You felt the sickening crack at the base of your spine, and cried out in surprise at feeling pain for the first time in a long time. You cried out, half in exultation because the pain meant life. It meant you were real again.
You took another breath, and there was another painful crack just under your shoulder blades. You yelped, but focused again. With the painful snaps of bone, you could feel things shifting, altering the shape of your new – well, new to you – body.
God, it hurt! But pain was good. Pain means life, you reminded yourself. The dead don’t feel a thing.
It felt like a long time, but paradoxically not long enough. The physical shifts occurred faster now as you took pleasure in the discomfort. Eventually, you found yourself looking down at your own body… what you had been, or at least you believed you had been, before you had died.
You looked around the empty mansion for a moment. There was nothing left for you here. Maybe another world would be kinder.
There was still a small bit of energy left that hadn’t been burned up in the combustion of freeing yourself from the mirror and doing some “redecorating” of the body you’d entered. And with that small bit of energy left, you felt it… the portal that the dark being had created. It had been sealed as the being had departed, but you might be able to reopen it with the bit of cast-off energy you had left.
Except that would take you wherever He had went. You shuddered now, dreading the thought of meeting Him again.
But… there was nothing but death here. And maybe the world it leads to would be a nicer place… and big enough to avoid Him.
You take a deep breath, open that mystical door and step through.