I had seen many faces in my lifetime. Some seemed to always be happy. Others seemed to be caught in some chaotic mix of rage and addiction. This was the price I paid for working with the public as their Judge. It was a price I willingly accepted. But of all the faces I came upon, none caused me as much terror as the face in the gilded mirror.
My story begins as most tales of terror often do. It was born from innocence. I had always considered myself to generally be a good man. I would much rather laugh than fight, support, instead of subdue, and give instead of gain- emotionally speaking, of course. It was these three ideals that led to my demise.
A winter storm had whipped up and poured its horrific belongings along the streets of London, and I- leaving my ailing wifeís side, had, by chance, stumbled upon a shop that I had never before visited. The lights seemed warm and offering, so I preceded to enter. Knowing what I know now, I would have never pulled that brass trigger from its home.
The shop-keep stared quietly at me as I passed from the streets into the sanctity of his store. Never had I come across such a mindful eye as the one that he laid upon me. His untrusting gaze ran the length of my form, as if he thought me a thief. I offered him a polite grin and tipped my hat, then ignored him entirely and began to browse his shelves.
There were many odd trinkets and fantastic gadgets to be found lining the rotting wooden beams, but none caught my attention quicker than the old portrait mirror resting alone on the bottom shelf. I cannot say what it was about this piece of reflective glass that I found so spectacular. Perhaps it was the dirty silver frame that encased it. Or perhaps it was the way it cast my reflection with a faint, golden tinge. Whatever the reason, I simply had to have it.
"How much for this mirror," I asked as I turned to face the shop-keep, who still had his eyes fixed upon my wandering hands.
"That is not for sale," he replied.
Thinking him trying to up the price on me, I chuckled. "Most certainly it is for sale, good Sir. All things have their price. State yours."
The man moved his head from side to side. "It is not for sale, because it is not part of my inventory."
Quizzically, I looked back to the shelf that I had taken the mirror from, and then back to the man.
"But it was sitting right there? Why is it not for sale then?"
The man behind the counter cleared his throat. His voice took on a tone of aggravation as he glared at me curiously. "Sir, I donít know what kind of little rouse you are attempting here, but that mirror was not in this store before you came in here. So please, take that blasted thing, as well as yourself, into some other shop, and stay out of mine."
Had I had it all to do over again, my mind would have led me to believe that this awkward situation was too good to be true . Things were never truly free in this world, especially when they appeared to be. But instead of taking the time to think this situation through, I simply tipped my hat to the man again, and headed back from whence I came.
Along my trip home, I had stared several times into the mirror. Although I would not realize it until later, each time I gazed into it, my head began to lighten. The longer I stared, the lighter it would become; until, finally, upon reaching the door to my modest estate, I began to feel a sudden queasiness wash over me. It began as a simple ache of the stomach, much like the flu virus. But as I turned the knob and walked inside, my temples began to pulsate. Placing my hand to my forehead, I tried to stave off this horrible headache that had already begun to worsen, and strode across the heavy wooden floor to the side of the bed where lay my wife.
"I brought you a gift, my dearest," I whispered as I set the mirror down along her side and took her hand up in my own. The immediate chill of death poured into my fingers, and I let her hand fall. I tilted her head toward me and stared into vacant, lifeless eyes.
"Oh no," I cried as I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her cold body toward my own. Tears began to fall from my eyes like tiny droplets of condensation rolling down a cold window. I squeezed shut my eyes and tried to force them away as I bowed my head and sobbed.
Finally, some of my mental strength returned, and I opened my eyes, and stood aghast at what I saw. Dark red blood stained my white button-up shirt, as well as my hands. I looked down at my wife, and saw the same stains running the length of her white nightgown.
I dropped her from my arms and stumbled backward.
"My God, what has happened!" I cried.
The candle that was burning beside her bed cast a glare from the mirror that lay in between us. Calming myself, I picked the mirror up, as morbid curiosity crept in.
I dropped the mirror as soon as I saw the reflection it held. It was I, standing over my wife, a knife clutched in my hand!
The mirror never shattered, it merely remained still on the floor. Even as I tied the noose around my neck, it cast its horrible reminder of my deeds back at me. Even as I fell from the chair and felt the cold embrace of death as my neck cracked loudly, I could not escape from its terrible image....
The mirror still lay untouched to this day.