This story is by Savannah Tripp and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“One last time,” she whispered as she gripped the rim of the porcelain sink and tried to steady her shaking hands.
“One last time,” She repeated.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before slowly raising her head to look in the mirror. She reached one of her hands towards the glass, watching as she shook more intensely than she ever had before. She touched her fingertips to it, praying, like every time, that it would be solid. That her hand wouldn’t slip through the mirror into another world, like it was doing now. Like it always did.
She waited for one second, two, three, four. And suddenly, she felt something latch onto her hand and pull the rest of her body through the mirror.
Immediately, she saw white. Everywhere. The walls, the floor, the air. The only contrast was the black chair in the center of the room, seating a dark figure. What looked to be a man was hunched over in the chair, eyes locked on the ground. His hands were tied back behind the chair and his feet were chained to each front leg of it. His back was facing her, so she slowly began to walk around so she was standing in front of him. Every time she came here in the past, she refused to step in front of him; she didn’t want to see his face. So she always sunk down against the wall, sitting and staring at his back. He never moved; he didn’t even seem to breathe. She wondered if he was even alive at all.
But today, she needed to face him. She hoped that if she finally looked him in the eye, maybe even had a conversation with him, it would stop this burning desire to keep coming back. This room—this man—always struck so much fear into her, and yet she always wanted to come back. Like she had unfinished business with him.
She stands in front of him, waiting for a reaction. For him to at least look up. But even now, she couldn’t hear his breath or see any movement. She begins to wonder: has he been a corpse this whole time?
She kneels down, attempting to get a closer look at him. His long, charcoal black hair is hanging down to block his face, and without thinking, she reaches out to brush it away. As it scratches against his forehead and his eyes are revealed, she flinches and jerks back as she realizes he’s staring at her. She falls back as she trips over her own feet.
His eyes. They were as white as the room, bright and with no pupils or color. The only contrast in them was his veins: there were a dozen in each eye, bright red and making him all the more intimidating. While it seemed like he would be blind without pupils, she felt him staring right at her. He knew who she was and that she was there.
She sits up slowly from where she had fallen, unable to take her eyes off of him. Despite seeing that his eyes are open, not much else changes. As she studies him more, she begins to notice his shoulders shaking. He wasn’t laughing or crying, so she couldn’t understand why but after watching him longer, she shrunk under his stare. It felt as if he was angry at her and was shaking from his emotions.
Minutes pass. Neither of them have moved. The girl stands on her feet once again, her eyes locked on him while doing so. His eyes follow her as she moves, his head tilting up as well. So he isn’t a corpse. She takes a small step to her left, then another, then another. His eyes stay trained in front of him, as if he’s stuck in a daze. She makes it as far as a foot away from the mirror in the middle of the wall behind him, and turns her body around to face it.
Placing her hand on the glass, she freezes. Solid glass meets her hand with force, and she pushes against it harder but it won’t budge. Giving up, she looks at her reflection then closes her eyes. She is trapped; the mirror was her only way out and now it’s nothing but a piece of glass taped to the wall.
A chill goes up her spine as she feels a presence behind her. Opening her eyes, it is no longer just her in the reflection but him as well. He is pressed up against her back and staring down at her, breathing harshly as if he has just finished running. Or, more likely, committing murder. Fear fills her lungs, bones and mind, leaving her paralyzed when she knows she should shove him away. Strangely, despite her toe-curling fear of him, her curiosity still shines through and she turns around slowly to face him. As soon as they are facing each other, his hands harshly grab onto her arms and she screams in pain at the feeling of his sharp nails breaking through her skin.
He throws her across the room and she flies through the wall, breaking it like it was glass. She keeps flying through more and more walls, and it feels like it will never end. Until it does.
She lays still on the cold ground, unable to move. There is so much pain. She looks to her right and sees the figure walking towards her through the dozens of walls she had flown through. Fear grips her heart like a leech against her flesh, sucking the life out of her bit by bit. She can’t move, she’s too afraid to. If she did, would he kill her? Would he kill her if she didn’t move? All she can think about is how helpless she is. There is no hope for her, no way out and definitely no negotiating with this man. Really, she can’t even call him a man. What was he, really?
He is above her, looking down at her bruised and bloody face. He shows no sign of any kind of emotion as he stares, and reaches his hand down to wrap his fingers around her neck. He picks her up, squeezing slowly. And as she looks into his eyes—the last eyes she will ever see—she realizes what he truly is.