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The Mirror in the Darkened Room

The Mirror in the Darkened Room

By: James G. Boswell

I flipped the light switch in the darkened room. I’d come to investigate an odd noise I’d heard in the middle of the night, and I carried my pistol with me. The light didn’t turn on, and I guessed it must’ve burned out.

I was house-sitting for my friends who were on an extended vacation. There was nothing remarkable about their home, though it was too old for my taste. The smell of mold hung in the air, and the floors creaked no matter how soft my footsteps were.

The mirror stood propped up in the corner, angled so that it would reflect its subject as they entered. Faint light spilled into the room from the hallway behind me, and I saw my reflection. Not knowing I was looking at myself, I felt like someone else was there with me.

“What is this person doing here, and why are they alone in the dark?” I thought with a twinge of fear. “It must be an intruder.”

I stared at him for a few moments, and he stared back at me. My eyes adjusted to the darkness a little, and I was able to discern some of his features.

“What a weird looking person,” I thought. “His nose looks bent like he was often punched in the face, and he appears wide-eyed and paranoid. Maybe he’s on drugs. Maybe he’s crazy.”

I took a step toward him to confront him, but he stepped toward me at the same time. His sudden aggression spooked me, and I jumped back. He must’ve felt scared as well, because he did the same thing. When he moved, I saw something in his hand. He had a gun!

I pointed my pistol at him, and he pointed his at me. We both stood there completely still for several seconds, each afraid to make a move. Finally, the tension overwhelmed me, and I pulled my trigger, scoring a hit in his gut. But he fired his weapon too, striking me in mine.

We toppled over, dropping our weapons on the floor. We struggled to breathe as we each sat up against the wall behind us. I touched the wound on my stomach, then held my hand up to the light. Blood covered my fingers. Then I looked at him and he looked at me. He was holding his hand up as well, and it was bloody.

I tried to stand up, but pain held me down. He tried to stand up while wincing as well, but failed.

Unable to move or get help, we could do nothing but lay there and bleed. I started feeling cold. I started thinking of my family and friends. I wondered why I chose to confront this stranger in a strange house that wasn’t mine. Perceiving the absurdity of the situation, I said, “Nice shot, man.”

I thought I heard him say the same thing, but it was the echo of my voice bouncing off the walls. Then my eyes adjusted more to the dark, and I saw the mirror’s wooden frame. I realized I was speaking to my reflection.

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