“We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen!”
The final shout and at last, the room went silent. The priest rose from his kneeling position and peeked over the edge of the bed. The child’s parents emerged from the closet they’d taken shelter in and took in the damage.
The window was shattered; the chair broken on the floor, and the door hung loose on its hinges. But the destruction was over. And on the bed, the restrained young girl sucked in ragged breaths, her eyes roving around the room, a terrified expression on her face.
The only thing in the room left unbroken was the circle mirror on the wall. But a strange smokey shadow swirled over the surface as they watched. Only for a second, and then it was gone.
The child wept and her parents collapsed at her side to untie the ropes. The priest crossed himself and then went to help them.
They were finally free from the demon.
Judith watched the movers carry in the boxes and sipped her coffee. Her first morning waking up in their new house had been very nice. Rolling over to see her new husband with his morning scruff had filled her with delight.
But now she’d like it if all of their things were in the house with them. She hadn’t been able to make coffee until nearly eleven when they finally brought in her kitchen boxes. But now she was content to watch them bring in everything else.
Then she spotted the padded and taped and bubble wrapped package that was her new husband’s strange inheritance. They hadn’t even bothered opening it at their apartment. It had arrived after they’d received a letter from his great aunt’s estate. He’d only known her when he was a child, but she claimed he’d loved to stare into the mirror every time he’d visited. So she’d left it to him in her will.
Judith followed the movers into the den where Max had decided to hang it and watched them unwrap the several protective layers.
Gradually, she saw the ornate gold frame and then the reflective surface of the mirror itself. The movers hung it on the wall they’d marked and one of them wiped it down before they passed back by her to return to the truck.
Judith walked closer to the mirror and tilted her head as she examined her reflection. There was something… off.
A glint of light caught her attention in the bottom right of the frame. Upon closer inspection, she saw a small chip in the mirror and ran a finger over it.
“Hey, honey, everything going okay?” Max said from the doorway.
Judith jumped and nicked her finger against the broken piece, the tip instantly stinging and blood welling up to the surface. “Oh!” She put her finger in her mouth and spun around to see her husband.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” He crossed the room and took her hand to examine the minor cut. “We should get this cleaned. Who knows how long it’s been since that mirror was disinfected?”
He stared over her shoulder at his reflection and frowned.
But the face in the glass didn’t frown back.
He wasn’t even sure the face he saw was his own. The basic features were there; the slope of his forehead and the shape of his eyes. But the color was a darker blue, and red around the edges.
But when their eyes met… whatever was in the mirror grinned.
Judith pulled herself along the hallway. Her bloody fingers gripped the rug and tried to find purchase. Her legs were limp and useless behind her, but she had to keep moving. If only she could get down the stairs and outside…
He couldn’t go outside. She’d tested his limits.
“Judy!!” Not Max shouted from the floor above her.
She whimpered and pulled harder, tried to move quicker. He’d break out of the attic soon enough. She had to keep moving.
At last, she was at the top of the staircase and stared down at it with a new worry. Her legs were shattered by how she’d fallen from the attic. The only way to get to the bottom would be to fall again. And she wasn’t sure she could take the pain.
But then she smelled the smoke and head the smashing of wood and knew Not Max was on his way.
She wrapped her hands around the furthest baluster she could reach and tugged with all her remaining strength. Her body slid onto the stairs and gained momentum after the first three. She tried to slow her tumble with her hands, but the stairs were slick from the blood she’d lost earlier when Not Max had chased her up into the attic with a knife.
And then she was really falling, her body crumpling into a ball and going end over end. The pain, so excruciating, took over her brain, and she lost consciousness until she landed flat on her back in the hall below.
Judith stared up the stairs when she heard a chuckle.
The last thing she saw before the end was the Not Max galloping down the stairs with a machete, flames flickering around in the hallway behind him.
And that awful, awful smile on his face.
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