The Morning After – Owen Part 1

Can’t stop looking, can you?

He couldn’t, he couldn’t stop, but what was he looking at? Where was he? He could see the room, but it was like he was just gone, gone from the reflection entirely.

I’ll keep it safe, don’t worry. Still, we can’t have you reflecting nothing, right?

There was something there now, something black and dark in the mirror, and it was smiling at him, it was smiling wide, and every tooth was a shard, and every shard had his face, and every face was screaming, and–

Owen flung himself back with a scream, and he looked around in a panic. He was in a car, in the driver’s seat. What had he just dreamed? He took a moment to try and calm himself down, to keep his breathing even. He was in his rental car, and his rental car was parked on some quiet side street, where he’d left it when they’d all started their pub crawl from the night before. He could remember the start of it, but…but then it all just faded away after the first few bars. He hadn’t gotten that drunk, had he? Sure, he couldn’t quite handle his liquor like when he’d been in college, but still, he hadn’t blacked out like this…ever. He sat up, and saw the clock read a little after nine in the morning. Had he just been sleeping here that long? Everyone else was probably back on campus for more reunion festivities, but the last thing he wanted to do right now was rub shoulders with a bunch of old classmates, most of whom he couldn’t stand anyway. Besides, he ached, and had a terrible headache. He might as well head to the hotel, get changed, have a shower and then maybe join up with the reunion in the afternoon. He should probably find Billy, Tim or Carl too, and see what exactly happened last night.

He sat up, found the keys in his pocket, and then noticed something–the rearview mirror was missing. It looked like it had been ripped off entirely. He looked around for it, and as he did, he noticed that the side view mirrors were also broken out entirely. “Fuck,” he said. How much was that going to cost? At least he had insurance on the rental car, hopefully it covered vandalism. Still, seeing those empty holes where the mirrors had been…he shivered, and remembered his dream again, and he realized something. If it had been vandalism…then why was the rearview mirror missing?

He looked around. All the doors were closed, and even locked. Had he left the car unlocked last night? Then why had they just destroyed the mirrors?

“Look at me.”

He froze. Had he just heard that? It sounded muffled, from behind him in the backseat. He whirled around, half expecting to find some stranger in the backseat, watching him, but the seat was empty. His heart was pounding again. That voice sounded so familiar, but whose voice was it?

“Look at me.”

He hadn’t imagined it. There was someone in the car with him, talking to him. He scrambled for the door handle and got out of the car, backing away into the street.

“Look at me, you fucker!”

It was shouting. But where in the hell was it coming from? He waited for something to happen, but nothing did. He crept closer to the car again, and this time looked in the backseat again, this time through the window. The only thing he could see out of place, was the rearview mirror on the floor, mirror side down.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t. He opened the back door of the car, reached down for the mirror. He grabbed it by the back and picked it up, turning it over so the mirror faced him. He held it up, and he could see himself, and then without him moving the mirror, his reflection shifted showing his mouth, a mouth like the one from his dream, a black hole filled with jagged teeth, “That’s better,” it said, “and then moved its eyes back into frame, “Now I can see you properly.”

He wanted to scream. He wanted to smash the mirror to the ground, but he was frozen in place.

The face disappeared, and there were hands now at the frame, clutching at the frame, reaching out from inside the glass, and he felt them run over his hand where he was holding the mirror.  “Hmmph, too small, much too small. This is no good at all, I can’t get out here.” His frozen body returned to his control, and he dropped the mirror back onto the car seat, slammed the door, and backed away. He could hear it laughing muffled against the floor of the car, and Owen turned and sprinted off down the street as fast as he could, the sound chasing him until he turned a corner, panting and exhausted.

What the fuck was that? He had no idea what he’d just seen. It couldn’t have been real, could it? He peeked back around the corner, to the car with the busted mirrors, the driver door still wide open. They’d driven over here to begin with so they could end up back by the hotel after the crawl and avoid driving–it would take him close to an hour to walk back to the hotel on his own. Still, he wasn’t going anywhere near that car again, not if he could help it. He had his phone, wallet and keys at least, so there wasn’t anything to go back for. As far as he was concerned, he’d just call the police and report the car stolen–let the rental company deal with it–he just wanted to get back to the hotel and go to sleep, and hope all of this was just some strange hallucination.

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