A Thingy I Will Probably Never Finish

The backstory:

It was a dark and stormy night as I perused my saved files on the computer, looking for a pesky Pages document I needed that I had not only mislabeled but immediately lost after that mislabeling. I opened a folder entitled STUFF and saw something called I Don’t Even Have A Clue.

This is as good a try as any, I thought, and clicked on it. Immediately my brain and eyes were assaulted by something I neither remember writing nor even remotely recognized and I was spun into an existential crisis from which I am still recovering.

Did I write this?

Does life have any meaning?

Why are we put on this Earth?

Does Tom Cruise really do all his own stunts?

There are notes with this snippet. Apparently I was intending to make one absolute spine-chilling epic of a horror novel, but those days are behind me because I have no idea how to string those notes together into anything resembling coherence, let alone a reasonable facsimile of the English language. I cared about this thing once, though, so maybe it deserves some airing out on the internet. Someday I might even do something with it. This I doubt.

The POV in this is from a guy named either Jake or Jeffery, or maybe even both at once. I do not know, nor do I care. If I rewrite this I’ll probably rename him anyway, just because I can. Without further ado, however, here it is in all its stale glory. Have at it.

He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be looking for in this closet, but his mind wouldn’t let him rest until he found it. The niggling in the back of his brain, the uneasiness that wormed its way through the walls of his throat to constrict them with each too-loud breath he took, echoing in the depths of this still, unhappy house, told him there was more here than he had first thought. Somewhere underneath the peeling layers of neglected antiquity lay something darker even than the shadows that clotted the corners of every room and the niches of each cracked ceiling, something that thrummed with a subdued, silent unrest, lurking just beneath the surface of each bare wall, each empty picture frame, drawing him closer but eluding him just as he began to dig deeper.

He was going to find it. Whatever it was.

The closet was filled with faded clothes from another time, grayed with age and dust, the sadness of disuse etched into the stiff folds and buttonholes. He paused a moment, frowning as he examined the contents of each hanger. These clothes had never been worn. They had been bought and washed—he could still sense, very faintly, the cloying scent of perfumed soap as their dusty vigil was disturbed—but that was it. Not a single sign of wear and tear could be found.

That’s unlike her, he thought curiously. She wasn’t one to be so extravagant. From what he had seen of her, she wore the same few things until they wore out. There was no room in her view for all the costume changes this amount of clothing would demand. Who had bought all these clothes, then? Her mother?

Empty hatboxes and a cracked leather suitcase occupied the shelf. A tumble of mismatched shoes strewed the floor from edge to edge in the small space, intermixed with broken hangers, gloves, a splintered, empty picture frame with its glass plate long since shattered. Delicately, watching for any loose shards, he bent and picked through the disorganized mess. This, too, wasn’t like her. The vast house may have been worn down, bare in places and neglected in others, but it was as neat as a pin. There was no unnecessary clutter lying in ragtag heaps everywhere. He recalled how the condition of the house had gone from clean to dust-coated somewhere between the foot of the stairs and the landing. Suddenly he wondered if all the rooms on the second floor were in this state of disarray.

There was nothing in the mess to allay the prickling at the back of his neck. Whatever was bothering him, whatever was driving his nerves to distraction, wasn’t here. He straightened, and tried the hatboxes. They were all empty save a few neglected mothballs, rolling like enameled marbles amongst a field of dusty, winged corpses, evidence that they had done their job well through the years—and it had been years. Wrinkling his nose at the faint chemical scent that still lingered, he replaced the hatboxes, and pulled down the suitcase.

As it slid from the shelf something shifted inside it, and his heart gave a quick lurch of apprehensive anticipation. Perhaps this was what he was looking for. He put the case on the floor, knelt in front of it, and clicked open the latches. He lifted the lid.

Against a backdrop of torn, faded lining lay a thick, dark book of leather. He recognized it as a photo album; eagerly, nervously, he picked it up and laid it across his knees. He opened it to the first page.

It was full of photos. Scores and scores of them. But as he flipped through, a frown setting itself across his mouth, they provided him no answer. Each one was ruined—overexposed, underexposed, faded or torn or marked out. Some seemed to be pictures of blurred, unrecognizable objects, others clearly what had once been people, their facial features too distorted to make out. Not a single place in the album was bare—but not a single photo was recognizable.

Why did she keep this here in this closet? She obviously didn’t want anyone to ever see it. These photos are useless. So why didn’t she throw it away? He couldn’t help the quick glance over his shoulder as he heard a creak and thud below, his heart rate spiking. Was she home? Was someone else?

It’s only the gremlins settling in the walls of the house. His mother had always said that, laughing, when their creaky old home had shifted and groaned. It had always made him feel better to take something so eery so lightly. But he hurried anyway, returning the album and suitcase to their rightful place. He stood, brushing dust from his pants, and made to close the closet door. He didn’t want to linger here any longer.

But as he reached for the handle, something caught his eye. He pushed aside the hanging clothes and leaned in closer to get a better look. It was an unevenness to the old wallpaper, a peculiar pattern of bumps and ridges rippling beneath the design of faded stripes. At its corner, the paper had peeled up ever so slightly. Hardly knowing why, he reached forward and pulled it back further. It came away with a quiet tearing sound that seemed like a shriek in the silence of the house. Flinching, he kept at it. The wallpaper gave easily, too worn to fight very hard. And as it came up, the something beneath it became visible. It was his face, dark and blurred, reflecting from a slender rectangle framed by blackened wood. It was a mirror, its coating tarnished and flaking. For a moment he only stared, confused, as the unsettled rattling of his nerves came to a head and abruptly vanished. The source of his unease had been identified. A mirror. And then he remembered, and he knew why he was still frightened.

She had no mirrors in her house.

Eisoptrophobia (also catoptrophobia or spectrophobia) is the irrational fear of mirrors. I don’t know why it’s got so many names and I don’t know if the mysterious female in this snippet has it or not, but if she did it would make for an excellent cult horror flick starring Lynda Day George as the tormented heroine and Peter Cushing as the creepy old dude who happens to be an expert on mirrors. So if you see a film like that up on the big screen someday, I apologize in advance, because I probably wrote it.


3 thoughts on “A Thingy I Will Probably Never Finish

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s