House of Mirrors, by Hallie M. Smith
September 4, 1852
It is with a heavy heart that myself, my dear wife Adeline, and our son Richard have taken up residence in the mansion that my late mother left to me. The carriage from London was long and dreary, as the sun never once showed her face. It took three days to arrive in the village of Overstrand. The manor house lies a mile south east of the village on the cliffs overlooking the sea. As soon we reached the front gates, mother’s long-standing housemaid, Mrs. Ashton, showed us about the place. Though I grew up here, I cannot recall there having been such a great many mirrors as there are now. They seem to speckle the walls like family portraits would in any other grand house.
Adeline has retired to our bed, and I now sit alone recording these events. It is strange to say, but the mirror opposite my desk seems to be malfunctioning. When I look up, my reflection seems to reflect my actions a few moments after I perform them myself. I believe my exhaustion from the long journey is causing me to imagine things. For this reason, I shall retire.
September 20, 1852
I believe the gloom of the house is having an effect on my mind. Over the past few weeks, I have noticed the delay in every mirror in the house. In fact, the reflections seem to be moving slower and slower as the days pass. The mirror by my desk now holds a still image of myself, head down over my parchment even though I am looking into its surface at this very moment.
Adeline thinks me overworked and deep in mourning for my mother, but Richard asserts that all the mirrors in the house now show only my reflection. I have noticed this too. Even when I am not standing in front of them, they hold my image. I worry my own imaginings are affecting the poor boy. Adeline suggested I see the village doctor who has recommended a tincture of laudanum every night. I shall do my best to follow his prescription as I wish to rid myself of these delusions.
October 3, 1852
I have taken to inspecting every single mirror in the mansion every day. Adeline has pleaded with me to stop what she calls madness, but I cannot. I know there is some kind of magic occurring. Richard occasionally joins me on these walks throughout the place, laughing at the strange slow moving images of myself in the mirrors.
Adeline has threatened to send Richard away for his own safety. She does not understand. If I could only discover the mechanism behind the mirrors, I can prove to her they are truly magic.
October 25, 1852
I have done it.
I have discovered the magic of the mirrors. Whilst going through the papers in my mother’s desk, I discovered a photograph of myself as a boy. In it, I was standing in the hall at the bottom of the grand staircase. Behind me were many portraits of my grandmother. Upon inspection of the hall as it now stands, I discovered that mirrors now hang where the portraits once did.
It is the house. When mother died, the house must have erased her from its walls, replacing her image with empty mirrors as it mourned her. Thus, when I took up residence, the house recognised me from my time here as a child. It was joyful to have me living once again within its walls and so began transforming the mirrors back into portraits, not of my mother but of me.
November 10, 1852
Perhaps Adeline cannot see the portraits because she is not blood? Richard can see the mirrors are now portraits, or at least he could before he and Adeline went away to stay with her parents. Without Adeline, I am free to study the mirrors day and night as I please. The house keeps me company.
When I am gone, the house will mourn for me, and again the portraits will become mirrors. When Richard grows old enough to run the estate, the mirrors will contain his image instead of mine. The house will welcome my son home, as it welcomed me.
Hallie M. Smith grew up in a land of 10,000 lakes but hardly any beaches. Fascinated by the human skeleton, she studied osteology in England, and learned that every bone tells a story and those stories deserve to be heard. She started writing fiction, and published a short ghost story, Tobias on Amazon and ‘In Sheep’s Clothing,’ a tale of terror, in Aphelion Webzine. Her website can be found at AnatomyStory.com
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Tags: fantasy, Hallie M. Smith, horror