Lily got in her car, flipping down the visor to check her mascara. She quickly batted it back up, realising it was yet another mirror she had to avoid. Safe to say, she avoided them since whatever ‘that’ was at work the week before.
The entire experience replayed over and over in her head, the drive to her old friend Ash’s apartment was no different. Reflections of herself were everywhere. Faintly in the window of her car door, in the windows of the other cars, even in her phone screen before she unlocked it.
Every visible reflection of herself brought back the memory of the ‘thing’ in the elevator, and it’s desire to break through. Even reflections she couldn’t see properly, but those she knew were there. The rain pouring into her car for example, the patter of little prismatic reflections shattering on her windscreen, all images of herself. Watching, waiting, anticipating her next move.
This was the first time Lily had gone out for anything other than work after the ‘incident.’ That’s what she called it in her head, something that wouldn’t immediately remind her of the waving monster in her peripherals. Safe to say, she took the stairs in work from then on.
“C’mon Lil’, it’s been weeks since I’ve seen you! You have to come over to my publication announcement, it’s important!” Lily couldn’t say no, she and Ash had been close ever since her mother passed away and he was there for her. He’d show up with food, he’d stay however long he needed and not think twice about it. She couldn’t let him down, not for something that meant so much to him.
So, she’d found a dark navy dress that hugged her figure perfectly. With a cascade of crystals dispersing from the bodice down towards the floor, back exposed, heels on, she put on a brave face and crossed her front door for the first time in what felt like forever.
Arriving slightly late, she pulled up into the drive of Ash’s building, a modern apartment block in a great part of the city. He was the envy of all Lily’s friends, they’d been bugging her for years to get settled in with him and get even closer “if you know what I mean” they’d say. Truth is, she wasn’t interested and neither was he, she knew that.
Taking note of the conscious decision to use the stairs, again, she began her slow ascent. Floor upon floor of stylish lobbies and welcoming entrances all beckoning her in for ultimate comfort and class. Luckily for her, at the top of this building there was an open door with an actual invitation inside.
She felt like she fell into the apartment in the end. Feeling flustered, she wasn’t the only one taking note of the state she was in.
“My god, Lils, are you alright?-” Ash saw it right off, her face was red and her hair wasn’t as tidy as he knew she preferred “-did you take the stairs? You know there’s a perfectly working lift, right there?” He pointed to it down the hall as if to prove his point.
“Ha ha, yes, very funny you bastard, I’m a mess. Can’t help putting a little effort into looking good for the red carpets you’ll obviously be taking me along to, once you collect all your bestsel-”
In a hushed voice, Ash cut in “-please, L, I haven’t even given everyone a drink yet, never mind told them all the big news.”
They quickly resolved the drinks issue among the rest of the guests, and everyone got comfortable into a night of light conversation and the mandatory publication world chatter. All of which bored Lily, she was really only here for Ash’s benefit.
She loved Ash’s place, it was decorated perfectly and, while much more than she could afford, it was tasteful. Off-white walls gave a clean warmth to the place while casually dotted with works of simplistic modern art. The second floor stopped at a balcony overlooking the living area which opened it up brilliantly and the whole apartment looked over city through expansive windows, it was gorgeous.
A polished grand piano stood proud as the centrepiece of the room tonight, usually off to the side, Ash wanted to impress his business associates and show off that he wasn’t just a writer. The porcelain keys faced the window, Ash never liked to see himself reflected as he was playing, it distracted him.
Gradually, the rest of the city went to sleep and the party was booming. The windows now threw back a wonderful show of the party going on inside as outside no longer shone bright, the night was pitch black.
With the clinking of glasses, Ash raised his own and called for a toast to his book’s success, and success to come. As he spoke, however, Lily felt a brief draught that caught her back. Sending a chill down her spine, she tried to ignore it and concentrate on what Ash was saying.
A light from the kitchen flickered faintly. ‘Electricians’ she thought, always working on the building at the worst times.
Then the light went completely haywire and flickered on and off, she seemed to be the only one noticing it through. She looked over at it briefly, and on turning back she saw that everyone had disappeared.
She was alone, accompanied only by the struggle of the lightbulb which had taken her attention only for a split second.
The striking of a high note on the piano shattered the silence. Seeing the room was still empty, she approached the piano slowly.
Another key was struck and the chill went through her again, she was alone, definitely alone. She turned to the flickering light again and then back to the piano.
She studied the keys and a movement from the window caught her eye. There it was, her reflection was sitting at the piano, pale back exposed to the window, crystals twinkling back at her.
Dropping her wine glass and sending a violent crash of red across the white rug she screamed
“No! This cannot be happening again.” Another high pitched note struck on the keys and the reality of it struck her even harder. There it was again, in the window.
Then it spoke.
“I love this dress. It’s very…me.” Lily studied the reflection at the piano, looking back at the real one to make sure it wasn’t there in real life. The occasional high note had now escalated into clusters of sharp times as a hand glided over the keys playfully.
“Why are you here? What do you want with me?” On asking these questions, the reflection it’s hovered a hand over the keys and paused. The silence was deafening once again.
“I’m here for you, of course. I thought we’d established this, Lily.” Hearing it say her name felt wrong, completely wrong. Her skin crawled as she watched the reflection strike more notes. The irregular piercing tones quivered throughout the apartment as each cluster reverberated throughout the emptiness.
“The question is, how?” A demonic laugh escaped the reflection and surrounded Lily. The high pitched tones began again, escalating into violent jabs at the keys, violent jabs at her sanity. The laughing calmed and nothing was said for a short while.
Lily approached the window, staring at the reflection still with it’s back to her, she cleared her throat and tried to sound confident.
“Whatever you are, and whatever you’re trying to do, I’m not scared.”
It laughed in that unnaturally low tone again. The lights flickered once more and Lily turned to them in surprise. Turning back to the piano she screamed and fell backwards onto the rug.
It was right at the glass, tapping lightly.
Now able to see it’s face, Lily felt that horrible sick feeling rise to her throat, choking her in her own fear. It’s pupils were now indistinguishable from the rest of it’s eyes, blood had poured from them and crusted down it’s face and neck, right down into the dress.
“I think you’re pretty scared, Lils.”
“Actually, I think you’re terrified.”
The glass began to crack where it was making contact, spreading thin lines across the entire window, splintering the image of the reflection.
“What might happen if I break through, you ask?” It took a few steps back, Lily’s heels clicking against the dark wooden floor.
“Let’s see, shall we?” It ran at the glass, face first.
Shielding her own face, Lily screamed as she heard the window shatter and the lights flickered again.
“Lils, oh my god, why happened? Are you ok? You’re bleeding.” Several gasps from the party guests alerted Lily that they had returned, and the reflection was gone.
Looking up, she saw the window was fine, the lights were working perfectly and everyone was now looking at her. She’d landed on the glass from the wine she dropped earlier. Ash helped her up, one of the guests had fetched towels and they took to picking out the shards.
Wincing, Lily could finally focus on herself. Broken glass was lodged right the way up the arm she’d raised to shield her face, and more had shredded her dress from the bodice right the way down one leg.
What everyone was really puzzled at, though, was the clean papercut-thin slice across one cheek. On noticing this, Lily caught a movement in the window again and saw her reflection sitting in the same position as she was.
Only it was winking and laughing that deep demonic laugh once again.