【Short Story】Man in the Mirror

“You think you’re smart, huh?” I shoved the frail boy into his locker. A loud bang resonated throughout the empty hallway.

“If you’re so smart, you should’ve realized what would happen if you call me an idiot in the middle of class,” I grabbed the glasses off his face, threw them on the ground, and stomped on them.

It was the end of the school day. All the buses had left, and it was mostly people who had clubs that remained. The nerd said nothing, and did nothing to retaliate. Instead, he just preemptively tried to shield himself from any blows I might make.

“You’re lucky I’m in a good mood today, or you’d be in the hospital,” I gave my last words and one quick jab at his upper arm. Tonight, my parents would be gone for work, and my girlfriend finally decided to put out. I turned away from the nerd, and just down the hallway I saw her: my girlfriend.

“Cayla, I thought I told you to wait in the car,” I told her.

“Is this why? So you could bully Kevin without me knowing?” she responded, her voice beginning to quiver.

“Babe, don’t worry about him,” I walked up to her and tried to calm her down.

“Of course I’ll worry about him, he’s been my friend since elementary school!” she yelled at me.

“Well, he should know his place,” I looked back towards him, and saw him running the opposite way down the hall.

“Was it that joke he made during class? You really couldn’t take a joke?” she was starting to turn from upset to irritated.

“Look. No one makes fun of me,” I raised a single finger and pointed at her.

“You used to be different. You used to be a leader everyone could look up to. Now you’ve let it all go to your head,” she folded her arms and turned away. Her long hair slapped my face softly.

“It’s not like that, I promise,” I tried to tell her.

“No, we’re over. I’ll see you in class tomorrow.”

She began to walk away, but instead of chasing her, I went the opposite way. That damned nerd is going to wish he was never born. I ran down the hallway, and nearly caught up to him. He was just outside on the schoolyard, but when I tried to exit the building, the doors wouldn’t open. They wouldn’t even budge. It was as if they were completed fixed in place. I assumed this exit was out of order or something and didn’t even think about how the nerd left. I just needed a different way out. I went to the gym right nearby and tried to leave that way, but again, nothing would budge. Something also seemed off—the gym was completely empty. I thought there was supposed to be basketball practice today.

The front door was shut, the fire exits were locked, and none of the windows would open even the slightest. Not to mention, the entire school was empty. I tried peeking into the staff room, but even there, was nobody. I banged on the windows, and even threw a chair at them, but the window did not break. However, something did happen. A high pitched, inhuman shriek came from the direction of the staff room’s fridge. It almost sounded like someone screaming for their life, but it was more mechanical and inhuman sounding. The fridge door started opening by itself, but I could only see it from the side and the door was opening towards me. I wasn’t able to see inside. All I could see were extremely long, and sharp, metal claws coming out from inside.

Shit, what the hell is going on? I booked it to the only place left that I could think of. As I ran down each hallway and up the stairs, I could hear the sound of metal digging into the floor, and the ear-piercing shrieks continued. I didn’t dare look behind me. Eventually, I made it to my last hope: the door to the roof. It opened with a creak, and made a loud thud when I shut it behind me. A second later, I heard a loud metallic bang and the door shook. Whatever was chasing me must have hit the door. My heart was racing a million miles a minute and my brain couldn’t even think properly as I was guided only by survival instincts. The thing kept pounding on the door, and I backed up to the edge of the building. I looked down and saw nothing. Actually nothing. It was as if the school was floating in empty space, except there were no stars or planets or anything like that. Then, I heard a crashing noise as the door broke down, and what came out was a diabolical machine. It had four sharp metal legs, and two arms. One was a rusty hook, and the other was a pincer. Sitting atop the mass of metal was a human head. It was the head of the nerd who I saw not that long ago, except the flesh almost seemed to be melting off.

With barely a moment to react, the machine darted at me. I tried to turn away and jump into the void, but felt a sharp stinging sensation in my back, and was pulled away from the edge of the roof. I could feel my limps dangling as I was suspending in the air, and the machine turned me towards it.

“You should know your place” it said in a non-human voice, before placing the pincers around my neck.

Snip.

I suddenly felt myself fall to the ground, except I could not move. After all, who would be able to move without a body? My vision went black, and completed faded out.

Then, I was surrounded by a bright white. It did not give the impression of brightness, so much as the absence of dark. Surrounding me were countless mirrors. I looked down, and saw that my body was still connected. I could move my limbs, but only a little. I was bounded. It was painless, but it felt like I was pinned to a cross. It wasn’t long before I heard a voice.

“Welcome to my world, where you shall atone for all you have done wrong” it said.

“W-who are you?” I could barely even speak at this point.

“The one you so mercilessly tormented,” it emotionlessly spoke back.

“Kevin? Is that you? You have to let me out man. What’s going on?” I began to plead.

“Out? How can a computer program leave a computer?” the voice laughed.

“Huh? What are you talking about? We were just at school together, weren’t we?” I couldn’t hide the confusion in my voice.

“Maybe that’s what you think. Take a look into the mirrors,” he said, and I obeyed.

In each mirror, was a different me. I would see myself picking on Kevin in countless different ways, and then I would meet a gruesome end.

“This is your fate,” he said, before continuing.

“What a beautiful world,”
“What a twisted world,” we said at the same time.

Once again, I was thrown into the mirror, my memory erased, and I was slaughtered, again, and again. Sometimes, I would be forced to experience Kevin’s life, and be beaten up by myself. Sometimes, I would experience my girlfriend’s perspective, and laugh and cheat on myself behind my back. The sea of mirrors and worlds contained within them was endless. After each time, I would end back up in the white space with an amalgamation of memories for a short period of time. Kevin’s voice eventually stopped, but the experience would continue. Endlessly, I would be born, and disposed of. This world could have been anything, but, reflecting the heart of its tortured creator, it became disgustingly distorted. Despite the torture and knowing that I was a piece of garbage without a soul, I still clung to hope. In the end, it felt like having nightmares. But even nightmares are just dreams.

After what felt like a hundred years, I finally heard Kevin’s voice again.

“I think you’ve learned your lesson. I’m satisfied. You’re free to go,” and I was thrust again back into school. This time, I kept all my memories. I was me. I was able to leave and do whatever I wanted. I avoided Kevin and graduated high school, married my girlfriend, and moved to Hawaii to get as big of a change of scenery as possible from that school. I’d get a job as an electrician, make a respectable living, grow old, and eventually retire. I had children who grew up and had their own kids, and on my deathbed, I was surrounded by all my loved ones. I would die in peace. My world faded to black.

Then everything went white.