This story is by Cassandra Spielbauer and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
A boy fell through my mirror. There was no sound of breaking glass, just the heavy thud of him hitting the ground. I gasped in alarm and almost slipped off my bed. Downstairs, my mom called up to me, asking what the noise was. I didn’t answer for a moment, my mouth opening and closing like a fish as I stared at the boy picking himself up off my floor. He raised his eyes to me, slowly shaking his head. I got the message.
“Sorry, I dropped something!” I called as confidently as I could manage. My heart was hammering a rhythm against my ribs so fiercely it made me shake. Lowering my voice to a whisper, I addressed the strange boy. “Who are you? Are you real?” Part of me thought he wasn’t, but if he was a hallucination, then how had my mother heard him hit the floor? “How did you do that?” I nodded at the mirror.
The boy was watching me curiously from the other side of the room. “What do you mean?” he asked, “Its easy. Here, I’ll show you.” He gestured for me to come over to the mirror, and against my better judgement, I obliged. “Just climb up on this wooden bench and-”
“What?” I asked, taking an involuntary step back, “No way! I don’t want to go in there! I just wanted to see how you did it.”
The boy frowned and rolled his eyes. “They told me people on this side were dull,” he muttered with a shake of his head, “Our side of the mirror is much more exciting.”
I raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean by exciting?” I asked. The boy grinned, eyes twinkling. “Is there something on the other side of the mirror?”
“There’s a whole world over there!” he exclaimed, and I had to shush him, clapping a hand over his mouth. I waited tensely for a moment.
“What was that?” my mom called, starting to sound irritated.
“Loud video, sorry!” I called back, wondering for a moment if I should just tell my mother that a boy had magically appeared in my bedroom. I still had him here to prove it. Unless of course my mother started accusing me of sneaking boys into the house, because I would never convince her I hadn’t.
“You need to go back where you came from,” I hissed at the boy, pulling my hand away from his mouth and jabbing a thumb at the mirror. His face fell. “Get out of here. You said it was easy. Leave, before you get me in trouble.”
“I can’t go without you,” he said, making me raise an eyebrow.
His demeanor shifted back into a smile, though now I could see how tense he was. “Don’t you want to see another world?” he asked, slipping an arm around my shoulder and reaching the other out dramatically. “It’s nothing like this place, believe me! Adventure around every corner and never a dull moment! From what I’ve heard, you don’t even have dragons over here. How do you survive without dragons?”
His offer was surprisingly enticing. It would be a lie if I said I didn’t want a little more adventure in my life, and how often do you get to go see a dragon? Besides, it would give me a chance to get away from my mother.
He kept staring at me expectantly, so I relented. “Fine,” I sighed, “but I make it a habit not to go anywhere with strangers. Who are you?”
“Eric. And you would be?” he asked, his face lighting up.
“There!” Eric declared, offering me his hand, “We aren’t strangers anymore, so will you come with me now?” I rolled my eyes but nodded and took his hand. He climbed onto my dresser and helped me up. We stared onto the sleek surface for a moment, taking in our reflections. “Well? Are you ready?”
I nodded, though I had my doubts about whether or not this would work. I may have seen Eric come through the mirror, but that didn’t mean I could do it. It wasn’t like this was my first time touching a mirror. If it were possible to pass through them, wouldn’t I have noticed before? “How does this work exactly?” I asked. Eric chuckled and patted my shoulder.
“It’s easy! Here, like this.” He reached out and touched the mirror, the surface rippling as his fingers brushed across it. I stood transfixed as he gently pressed his hand into the mirror, the reflective glass taking on the consistency of water. Gripping his shoulder for support, I reached out for the mirror as well, letting my arm disappear into the pool of liquid glass. It felt cold and smooth, but not wet.
“That’s so cool,” I muttered, pulling my arm back. I swirled my fingers across the surface for a moment before the chiming of the watch on my wrist caught my attention. My eyes flicked to it for a second, and when I looked up I noticed the hungry grin on his face. Something was not right. “No. I can’t-” Suddenly I was inside the mirror, cold liquid flowing around me. It lasted only a moment before I emerged on the other side, yelping in alarm as I landed on rocky ground.
It was dark, but the moon filtering through the treetops offered enough light to see silhouettes. Eric stood above me, his form darker and more menacing than he had been a moment ago. I squinted up at him in the dim light, but all I could discern was the faint gleam of moonlight against his teeth. “Wasn’t that easy?”
There was a tone to his voice that hadn’t been there before. Beads of sweat broke out across my forehead. “Oh, yeah,” I agreed, laughing nervously, “Super easy.” I hesitated for a moment. “Look, I was just saying that I can’t do this. I shouldn’t be here. I’ll just go back now.”
Eric chuckled, the sound sending a shiver down my spine. “I’m afraid that won’t be happening. The portal between our worlds has closed. It won’t open again for twenty seasons.”
“What?” I asked, my mouth hanging open as I scrambled to my feet, “This was a trick!” Eric laughed again and I took a few steps back.
“Afraid so,” he admitted, “People from your world aren’t just dull; they’re incredibly gullible.” He shook his head at me and I frowned.
“What do you want with me?” I asked, trying not to sound scared but unable to keep the quaver out of my voice. Eric stepped forward and I stepped back to keep the distance between us. I was not going to let this happen. “Stay back! Just tell me what you want.”
Eric was silent for a long moment. “I want a soul,” he hissed, “Your soul.” He advanced again, and this time my legs refused to move. It wasn’t just fright. I could feel something holding me there, keeping my muscles still no matter how I strained them. Eric reached me and touched a hand to the side face. I wanted to slap him, but again my muscles didn’t respond to my mind. My mouth still worked though.
“We are reflections. Opposites.” His hand move down to my chin and he gripped it roughly. “Your energy will become mine.”
I felt him start to pull, dragging my face toward him, and it was as if my entire being collectively recoiled, jerking back. I regained control over my body. “Stop!” A fist came out of nowhere and connected with Eric’s face. It took me a second to realize it was mine, because I’d never punched someone before. That, and my hands normally don’t glow.
Eric reeled, one hand cupped over his cheek. He gaped at me, and in the dim light of my glowing fingers I saw his eyes widen. “No.” He took a step back then glared. “No, that’s impossible! Your people don’t have magic.”
Magic? I sucked in a sharp gasp. Was I doing magic? Eric was backing away, out of the light. This was apparently a surprise to him. I could sense his fear. I was tempted to let him slink away into the trees with nothing, but I couldn’t. I hated him, but I needed him if I wanted to get home.
“Guess I’m not as dull as you thought,” I growled, backing Eric into a tree, “Now, take me home.” I hoped my forceful attitude would sway him to do what I wanted.
“I told you, I can’t!” he cried, “The portal is closed!”
“Then open it. You brought me here. Send me back!”
He groaned. “If I could open it, I would!” I was bearing down on him, and he raised his arms in surrender. “Look, I’m sorry that I brought you here-” I held up one glowing finger to silence him.
“You will be.”