I was passing an antique shop one day when I saw the face of a woman looking back at me from an old cracked and crazed mirror. It’s bronze frame was chipped and pitted with age. The face looked like an old master painting, like a Jacobean lady, with a powdered wig and pale face.
I didn’t know how it was happening but I was drawn inside and paid far too much for it. Minutes later I was walking down the road with a brown paper package under my arm.
She sat looking into the hand mirror, she was going to put her mascara on, but her face was distorted. She suddenly realised it looked like a playing card, one side flipped over. What the hell was going on….. She felt her face, it seemed normal? She tried to touch the glass of the mirror… Her finger seemed to penetrate its surface. A feeling like rubber or elastic… Push, her finger disappeared into its surface. She pulled her hand away…
She thought for a second, then leaned forward and put her eye near the glass, she felt a pulling sensation, then – POP! She was in another world?
What’s in the box? She asked. I couldn’t say he replied. It just arrived in the post.
They sat and drank coffee.
Open it? She said. No wait till Chrismas he replied.
That was three days ago. Now it was Christmas morning. Let’s open it now, she said? After lunch, he said.
Each time they put it off, the tiny Christmas elf in the box got weaker, hungrier, angrier. It had been posted to bestow three wishes. Now it had decided the wishes granted would be its own. It would start by attacking whoever opened the box.
Looking out the window she saw a strange metallic structure had risen overnight. Where once there had been fields beyond the treeline now the metal was greeting the dawn. It must be 50 meters high, would it be filled in like a building or was this superstructure it? What was it?
Slowly as she watched the metal started to glow. First white hot, then blue hot. She saw the structure growing, upwards, sideways, forwards, and backwards. The light settled and she saw it had grown like a crystal, now it had reached the trees….. She waited… Would it expand again?
Misty and overcast, branches and twigs reach out like witches fingers. Darkening mist twists and turns. Hidden eyes watch as the gloom deepens. Footsteps trail through the bracken. Water lies in droplets across the dead and dying wood.
She had seen light from the footpath. A cottage.. A campfire? What was there. Goaded by her imagination she stepped off the path. Feet tangling in blackberries and vines. She stumbled and the branches reached down….
There’s definitely something odd about this watch, she said to her friend. I ordered it over the Internet and it arrived today. I needed a new one and this was cheap and cheerful……. She couldn’t explain what was making her uneasy. Is it keeping time? Her friend said, and she replied, yes, it seems to be fine.
She went home after her shift and changed into her pajamas. Put the watch on the bedside cabinet… Tick tock… Tick tock.. Tick tock … She woke in the middle of the night and realised what she had subconsciously been hearing all day…
Tick-tock, the watch was saying the words, not actually ticking or tocking !
She had let herself in the front door with a key she had found in the street. It had just been there, in the gutter. Perhaps fallen from a pocket? The address was stuck to it with a bit of sellotape. She wondered why and pondered if the person it belonged to was forgetful….
She decided to try and find the house or flat it was from, so she looked it up on her phone. Success, only two streets away. She would go round and drop it off.
A few minutes later she was outside a large, smart house. Set back in a large corner plot. Bushes and trees and a neatly trimmed lawn. She walked up the gravel drive, her feet crunching so loudly she was certain any occupent would hear her coming.
She knocked on the big blue door. And gazed through the frosted glass to see if she could see movement. But nothing but silence greeted her.
She knocked again, should she post the key through the brass letterbox, or wrap it in some paper from her bag and leave a message?
There was no reply so she pulled the key out of her bag. But she looked at the door lock. Why not? She knew she was being nosey but…. She lifted the key and unlocked the door. ‘Hello’ she called loudly. ‘Anyone home?’ No reply again…. She walked further in, looking around. A marble floor, beautiful paintings on the wall. Swag curtains on the windows, made of blue and green velvet. That was just the hall! Gradually she explored the downstairs area, reception rooms, beautifully decorated and furnished. A dining table set in a plush dining room. Each more luxurious than the last. She passed admiring glances over the fully fitted kitchen. An island! How did people afford such luxury?
Suddenly she heard the front door slam… She hadn’t locked it, whoever was there would have noticed that. ‘Who’s here?’ came a loud male voice. She stood still and silent, the shout came again, louder now, exploring. Heavy footsteps running upstairs. Now was her chance. She ran into the utility room where she had seen the back door. Keys hung on a board together with a Swiss army knife. Scrambling she tried to find the key to the back door. Keys fell, crashing loudly to the floor. ‘Who is there? ‘ Louder, closer, feet rushing. I’ve got to get out, anywhere, maybe I can hide in the back garden or find a side gate? She thought in a panic…..
Outside, running. Towards the gate. Feet running after her, he grabbed her wrist. Thrust the knife blade towards her throat. ‘Who the hell are you?’ he screamed in her face…..
At 3am on Halloween morning he awoke to see a figure by the bed. Still, silent, watching him. He blinked and it was gone. But it’s memory stuck in his mind. A grey haired tall woman. Middle aged, quite slender. He sat up and looked all round the room, but the only noise was the tick of the clock and the hum of the central heating. There was no place to hide in the small single bedroom. Not even any curtains to hide behind, with a telltale shoe sticking out. He doubted anyone could squeeze behind venetian blinds…..
Eventually sleep dragged him down into its arms again. Then when he was settled, the figure pushed through the wall and back next to him again. Eyes staring, never blinking, a look of sadness on her face. Never knowing her grandson till now. Knowing it was his last night on earth. One minute here… Tick… The next.. Gone.
Eyes open, staring at the ceiling, or eyes closed and flashes and patterns inside my eyelids. Curling tight in a ball, shivering with cold. Why did I turn the heating off? Pulling the duvet over my head, hoping the warmth of my breath will bring feeling back to my hands. Its only October but the temperature has dropped. So many nights without proper sleep. Pain and worries mingle, darkness does not enfold me in its arms, but instead picks on my mind. It hurts me, darkness extends into the future. Dawn arrives later every morning. Enveloping me in misery. Stay up, keep the lights on. Speed the night through watching TV.
Only days till Halloween, what is waiting for me? Noise outside again. Is there anyone there? If I could sleep I would be oblivious to it. Oh what can I do?