Jordan Storm

The December Editor's Pick Writer is Jordan Storm

Please feel free to email Jordan at: jvstormwriting@gmx.de

Jordan Storm

by Jordan Storm

Angelina Lacey held very few beliefs outside the scientifically established ones, so when she found herself increasingly entangled in situations that defied rationality, she knew only one logical explanation: she was losing her mind.


It started a couple of months ago when one of the bulbs in her bathroom burned out. The bathroom, windowless, sagged into a relief of undefined half-shades.

The half-light didn't stop her from performing her activities adequately, but she was disturbed by the reflection now staring back at her. It seemed scarred with an expression of irremediable gloom: eye sockets cupped into shadows, and furrows slashed through her forehead.

It wasn’t the kind of sight that prompted good cheer in anyone at half past six in the morning, and Angelina relocated to the mirror in the hallway in order to subject her appearance to its daily scrutiny. The hallway was naturally bright, daylight-lit through the milk-glass framing the front door.

But even in the bright hallway mirror, one morning, things looked different.

Angelina felt more than a little dismayed when she threw a passing glance into the mirror on her way out and caught a glimpse of skin so pallid, of cheeks so shadow-slashed that her features could have serve as poster face for some serious affliction.

She stopped dead in her tracks, stepped back, frowned into the mirror—and found her image just as radiant and ruddy as always.

I must be tired, Angelina thought, and she went to work.

From then on, things deteriorated. Whenever she looked into a mirror—be it at home, work, or her parent’s house—there seemed to be a flash of that other vision, a brief distortion of her usual self, before the more familiar reflection snapped back.

Her friends and colleagues assured her that she was the living image of health; that her eyes shone and her smile sported dimples. No, they told her, she didn’t look overworked and tired. She didn’t look as if she were wasting from worry or disease.

She finally replaced the broken bulb in the bathroom, and though the tiles were refreshed to a friendlier hue of cream, the world inside the mirror still seemed tainted with shadows.

And they were getting darker.

Sometimes Angelina subconsciously avoided mirrors at large, sometimes she consciously sought the confrontation with a fear that, though dismissed, didn’t leave her side and continued to breathe down her neck. Something about her reflection remained…off, but it was getting better, she was sure of it. Definitely.

Until it got really bad.

Because suddenly she had two reflections. One was hers, just as she had known it all her life, but the other one was—horrible. Pale. Ghastly. Not dead, but it looked as if it had never been alive. Inorganic. Like rock. A face carved from chalk. Unyielding and unfeeling.

Its sneer was worst, worse even than the eyes that glimmered with maddened intensity. They could have been the embers of inspiration, ambition, or wonder. But that mocking curl of the upper lip, that slight baring of the teeth, defined the fire that burned in those eyes. It was pure malevolence. And they were watching—hungrily.

Just my imagination! Just my imagination!

The unreal face was starting to follow her everywhere, in every mirror. Shadowing her. It ambushed her in puddles and it preyed on her in the midst of the crowd, hitching its ride on the windows of busses and cars. It found a spy-hole in the metal surface of her pen, it lurked in every jar in the supermarket—leering, cackling, beautiful and disastrous.

She knew she was unraveling. She hung sheets over the mirrors in her apartment and switched off every light after dark so that the evil reflection wouldn’t find hold in glass surfaces or metal objects.

Just my imagination! It can’t hurt me.

She noticed the odd, sometimes concerned looks her family and co-workers had started giving her, but she said nothing and neither did they.


It was an evening in February, when the early dark transformed every translucent surface into a mirror-to-be. Angelina had drawn the heavy curtains in front of the windows so she could watch TV without any unbidden nightmares lurking at the periphery of her vision.

The swoosh had been swelling and ebbing for at least five minutes before she realized there was sound from somewhere other than the TV. She put it down to the curtains, billowing in a draft, only she hadn't left any of the windows open. And now that she thought about it, the sound wasn’t so much a swoosh as rather a thump…a gentle pat of fabric.

And it came from behind her.

Slowly, Angelina twisted on the couch and peered across its backrest. Wedged between door and bookshelf resided the full-length wall mirror, still with an old bed sheet draped over it.

Her breath caught in her throat as she saw that the sheet grew a lump in the center; an uneven excrescence that rose steadily, ponderously, as if the fabric was yielding to a pressure exerted from the other side. As if a hand was probing for an opening.

Icy, unadulterated terror shunted her mind. Her hands tingled numbly and her heart stumbled over its beats. She could hear a pat-pat and knew that whatever was hiding under the sheet was looking for a way in.

Never taking her eyes off the sheet, she slunk into the kitchen corner. Her fumbling fingers found their quarry—the knife block—and as quietly as she could, she withdrew one of the knives. The silky swish it made fell into a moment of silence as the movie on TV jumped into the commercial break, and instantly the patting-sound from the mirror stopped.

Angelina froze. Tension hummed across the room, like a wire strummed between her and...the thing behind the sheet.

Minutes slogged off the clock one by one as she waited. The TV glorified a brand of mayonnaise…still Angelina waited. The sheet might have moved gently, like a chest heaving with deliberate breaths, but the invisible hand didn’t push an impression into the fabric again.

Still she waited.

Only when her calves threatened to cramp and her eyes grew itchy from staring, did she begin to inch forward, reluctant and determined. Reluctant because she didn’t want to go any closer. Determined because she had to know what was behind that sheet, even though her mind screamed at her that it clung flat to a wall, veiling an object that was more two than three dimensional. There was no space to accommodate a hand, let alone a person.

There is nothing there, the voice inside her whispered. It’s just your brain fooling your senses. You know you’ve been going mad for a while now. Things like this happen to crazy people.

But a far more ancient memory made her adjust her grip on the knife: Better safe than sorry.

The sheet looked so innocent again. Holding her breath, Angelina stretched out her hand, pinched a fold, wrapped it around her fingers to pull it away from the mirror…

She jerked violently at it, but the sheet didn’t come off. It was stuck, snagged by a corner. Frantic, Angelina yanked at it repeatedly until the elastic snapped and the sheet crumpled onto the floor.

She caught a flash of face and spun the knife up towards it; a face that was pale and dark and glistened with crazed fear.

It was her face. Her own weary, frightened face. And though she squinted and blinked and strained her eyes, she didn’t see anything else.

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

She remembered the book about Alice that engendered her fascination with mirrors during her early childhood. There had been fairy tales and rhymes, but The Story was different. A queen, a cat, a hatter. She had loved the queen, she had loved the cat, but now she was the hatter. Just as mad as him.

There was nobody in the room but her. She was alone, all alone with her snickering madness, alone and crazed with the blaring TV in the background.

And her. Preying in the glass of the TV screen, a rift in the rainbow world, a demon in a child’s narrative. A fragment of nightmare in a dream.

Angelina threw herself around, her pulse exploding, her eyes fixed on the TV, scanning the flashy Morse cord of patterns for the wicked colorless creature but not spotting it. Her stomach cramped. She yearned to throw it up, her stomach and her stupid heart, to do away with everything and hope that the nauseating terror was eliminated in the process. She knew the nightmare woman was still present somewhere…she could feel her proximity, sense how strangulatingly close she was.

Suddenly she felt arms from behind clinching themselves around her. She tried to scream but a hand—a smooth hand, a marble hand—sealed her mouth like the closing stone of a crypt. The hands tore her backwards off her feet, much further back than the wall should have permitted, and she felt herself pass, not water but something else, pass, pass through the looking-glass, not Alice but Angelina, into the mirror world with its pulsing shadows and undead stones.

It will drag me into the mirror, she thought. Things like this should not happen, not even to crazy people.

She thrust her knees to the side. They caught painfully against the mirror’s frame, and the sudden jolt jarred her body. A hiss sounded close by her ear, angry, irritated. Its owner redoubled its efforts to drag Angelina with her, but the mirror creature had lost its momentum, and Angelina had everything to lose.

Fuelled by the primeval drive for survival, she hooked her feet against the wall and began to push herself back towards the lights of her living-room. Bit by bit she gained traction over herself and the creature.

The thing released another jet of hissed non-breath, claws tearing her lips, and the brush of incisors scraping past her neck. Angelina tensed forward; twisting her arm, she wrenched it downwards and felt the knife blade crunch into muscles and sinews and bone.

There was no scream, no shattering of a universe. Just a soundless gasp and the moment of silence before the glass broke into shards. The force intent on dragging her into the mirror relinquished her nearly instantly, and without resistance to work against, Angelina catapulted forward and slammed onto the floor…on her side of the mirror.

She scrambled to her feet and spun around, poised to run, and prepared to fight with all she had: nails and teeth and kicks.

But the mirror-creature didn’t lunge. It cowered, one hand resting in the air with the palm up front, as if it was leaning against an invisible barrier. Angelina saw that the wooden hilt of the knife that protruded from the creature’s right side.

The mirror creature began to shake, and Angelina realized with dull repulsion that it was with mute laughter. Did it even notice the knife in its side?

She wanted to step away from the mirror and its horrible inhabitant, but shock and bewilderment kept her on the spot. She just stood and watched as, gradually, the darkness bleached from the mirror and the creature dimmed into opacity. All the while it laughed, laughed hysterically, and for a brief moment Angelina’s reflection fused with the creature and gave birth to a new persona. Angelina saw herself, her horrified expression paired with the creature’s odious eyes, her bruising arms mottled like marble, the kitchen knife sticking from its side like a stray rib.

And then the creature was gone. Angelina stood alone, staring at the mirror. Her reflection was hers again, trembling but uncorrupted.

A strange dizziness blurred her thoughts. The air suddenly seemed short of oxygen, and her side tickled as waves of hot and cold lapped her skin in turns. She commandeered her body towards the couch but it didn’t budge. She folded up and fell onto the floor instead.

The collapse didn’t even register with her, only the altered perspective did. How gritty the floor looked from here. She could discern every single dust particle underneath the couch, picked out in the white and red and blue of the alternating images that flashed across the polished wood.

Beside her, the mirror loomed. It reflected her only partially, but she could see her left flank, melting into a pool of crimson mercury. And, if she turned her head, she could see the knife that jutted from her ribcage. She recognized the hilt.

But I used that to stab the monster, she thought. Just my imagination?

Then the shadows engulfed her and she spiraled away into darkness.

A fourth year medical student by day, Jordan does most of her writing after dark, when the windows reflect the image of a pale figure hunched over its laptop. She only recently discovered the amazing world of short stories but has already set up camp and won't leave. Splitting Image is her first published story.