The Mirror

8 months, 26 days ago

Explicit Violence

A short story that I wrote based off of the prompt: "You see something in a mirror that isn’t there."

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St. Clare Church stood majestically atop a hill in the small, southern town of Blossom. It was surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful weather, and it was often filled with the happy sounds of babies crying, children laughing, and the angelic voices of the many clergy members. The church, which was not large or ostentatious, possessed a quaint charm that captivated those who saw it. Its white exterior and stately bell tower embody the essence of humility and simplicity. And yet, within those humble walls, a sense of something divine permeated the air. It was as if the Lord Himself dwelled within the very walls of the church, radiating a presence of love, worship, and prayer. For the people of Blossom, St. Clare Church was more than just a place to attend mass or receive sacraments; it was an oasis of faith where they could come together and feel the Holy Spirit’s embrace.

Deep in thought, the priest sat in the cramped yet cozy vestry as he prepared for the day’s service. The old wooden chair he sat on creaked beneath him as he ran his hands through his wavy, salt-and-pepper hair. Suddenly, a strand fell from his head onto the vanity, stark white against the dark mahogany. With unsteady hands, the priest picked up the strand and gazed at it with an expression of profound sadness. It was now that he realized that his hair was turning white, an unmistakable sign of his age. His heart sank at the thought of what his future held, and the tears of a man at the brink of the unknown threatened to fall.

Father Specter, that great and honorable man of God, had once been the symbol of devotion, piety, and youthful vigor. But the years had taken their toll, and now he was older than he ever thought he’d be. He sat in the church vestry, his eyes fixed on the strand in his hand, and felt the world’s weight on his shoulders. His youth was gone, and he would never get it back. With each passing moment, he felt himself losing everything. The memories of his friends, confidants, and mentors - all now gone - flooded his mind like a raging river. It was as if he were standing alone on a deserted shore, left to face life’s cold, hard realities. Father Specter was no longer a young and aspiring priest but a lonely old man abandoned by everyone and everything he once loved. What once symbolized hope and love became a monument to his loss and decay. He was nothing more than a shadow of his former self and feared that he had lost everything that made him who he was. He was no longer admired by all but a mere reflection of his former self, a relic of a time long gone.

The old, dusty mirror that had long been forgotten in the back of the church suddenly came to life. A faint humming noise arose from the old glass, and Father Specter turned to face it. He was met with an unexpected sight, a reflection of a young man staring back at him, bearing a striking resemblance to himself. The reflection had a youthful vigor that Father Specter could only dream of, his face adorned with brown hair and clear, unwavering eyes. A cocky grin played on his lips, and a distinct curl flowed down his cheeks like a twisted vine.

Father Specter was astounded by this vision. He thought it may have been himself as a boy, but one key difference was that the reflection did not have the garish tattoos he had received as a teenager in the Navy. This reflected a pure soul unblemished by the world’s sins. He could almost hear the Lord’s voice whispering to him through the glass, telling him to place his faith in this young man - that he would be the one to uphold Blossom’s religious crowd.

Father Specter couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He had never seen a vision like this before. But as he stared deeper into the mirror, he felt a strange calm. For the first time in a long time, he felt a renewed sense of purpose, as if the Lord was giving him a glimpse of his future. And for that, Father Specter was grateful.

Amid the bleak and desolate landscape of the quiet town, the crumbling St. Clare Church loomed like a dark and foreboding shadow. It was a forgotten landmark, left to rot in the fading light of the day. Its crumbling walls, once so elegant and ornate, were now covered in moss and vines, its windows shattered, and its door opened as if inviting the world’s lost souls to enter. To some, the place was a haven, a sanctuary from the chaos of the outside world. But to others, it was a place of dread and horror. St. Clare Church had been the subject of countless paranormal investigations, attracting curiosity seekers and daredevils from across the land. It was a mystery site where the veil between the living and the dead seemed to be at its thinnest.

Wilson was one of the few who dared to enter the abandoned church. He was a 20-year-old young man with a rebellious spirit, a fearless streak, and an unwavering devotion to conquering the unknown. He would breathe life into places where there was none, exploring the forgotten corners of the abandoned world and making them his own. He was determined to live on his own terms, unbound by society’s expectations. But the abandoned town of Blossom was a dangerous place where danger lurked behind every corner. The church was heavily guarded by undercover police officers, who sought to keep curious eyes and minds out of places where they did not belong. But Wilson was a master of evasion, slipping past the watchful eyes of the law and entering the church unnoticed.

Wilson’s journey through the abandoned church was a perilous one. The chain-link fence surrounding the building was covered in rust and decay, a testament to the church’s long-forgotten past. The fields of tall weeds stretching before him were eerily silent, and he couldn’t help but feel as if he were being watched from every corner.

But he pressed on, determined to reach his destination. He crawled underneath the bent wooden entry door, symbolizing the church’s once-grand status. Inside, tan paint chipped off the walls like leaves, shedding their color onto the hardwood floor. Even the exquisite stained-glass windows, once so vibrant and stunning, were tarnished and darkened with time. As he walked through the now-empty church, with cockroaches and other undesirable critters scurrying in his wake, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia for a time long gone. The magnificent statue of Mother Mary stood tall, but her head and that of the infant Jesus she had formerly held in her arms were missing. Despite the ominous aura that surrounded him, Wilson was not deterred. He heaved as he pushed several pews aside, revealing a dark tunnel. He took a deep breath, steeling himself for the journey ahead. This was his chance to conquer the unknown, to see what lay beyond the veil of the forgotten.

A damaged window at the end of the corridor allowed a chilling breeze to enter, causing light streams to flow in and out of the hall as if they feared Wilson. He rummaged through his backpack and extracted an EMF reader, which began whirring, ominously ringing as he held it in the cold, dimly lit corridor. The machine pointed to a door down the hall, and the boy walked towards it, feeling the eerie vibes surrounding him. He approached the door and felt a sense of unease wash over him. He wiped the dust off the silver plaque and read what it said: “VESTRY. KEEP OUT.”

Wilson felt a chill run down his spine as he entered the vestry. The room was cloaked in a gloomy veil of dust, cobwebs, and forgotten memories. The old wooden crates stood tall like ancient gravestones, a ghostly echo of what once was. Wilson’s unkempt blond hair began to collect cobwebs as he walked through the dimly lit chamber. He could hear the muffled cries of the long-gone villagers through the closed walls.

His EMF reader began beeping as he swatted away the cobwebs and moths that fluttered around him. The sound grew louder as he walked deeper into the vestry, the cobwebs thickening with each step. He had heard that this church was particularly active with ghostly phenomena, especially in the darkest and filthiest corners. But the force emanated from the crates around him when the EMF reader turned red. The boy’s breath quickened along with his pulse as he approached the boxes. He heard a shrill shriek and a disgusting creature leaped out with a loud cry. The rat crawled all over the crate, sniffing around as if searching for something. Using all his strength, Wilson managed to strike the flashlight, which finally turned on, revealing a large object under the dusty tarp. His heart raced as he approached the thing and slowly pulled the tarp away.

The vanity was covered in thick dust and dirt, as if it had been abandoned for decades. Wilson began to write obscene words with his finger on the unclean surface, giggling as the dust clouds parted around him. He paused, his eyes scanning the glass surface as a peculiar shape appeared in the reflection. He sat down on the low chair, holding the EMF reader to his ear, and began to watch his reflection in the dusty vanity mirror. He could see a strange figure, a priest, enter the room with a mysterious aura. It wasn’t the same room he was in, but a quaint, antique bedroom with stucco walls and spotless parquet floors. The priest began to unlock the wardrobe, revealing a cache of immaculate robes in rich hues that Wilson had only read about in school. Wilson couldn’t help but be drawn to the robes, his eyes gazing in awe at the rich fabrics and intricate embroidery. He felt a strange pull towards them as if they were calling out to him, begging him to try them on. As he reached out to touch the fabric, the priest turned towards him, his hollow eyes staring directly into Wilson’s soul. A chill ran down his spine as he recoiled from the vanity, his heart throbbing in his chest.

Wilson felt a sense of unease wash over him as the priest picked up the immaculate white robe, taking it off the hanger with a wistful expression. He watched the priest’s movements with a sense of awe, mesmerized by the rich fabric of the robe that seemed to glow with an inner light. But as the priest glanced into the mirror, Wilson’s heart fell into his shoes. He thought he might have seen him and instinctively hid, shrinking back into the corner of the dimly lit room. He took a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart, and slowly raised his head, unsure what to expect. To his surprise, the grimy glass had returned, and there was no sign of the strange priest in the mirror. He sighed in relief, realizing that it had just been a trick of the light. But as he turned back to the vanity, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched, as if the ghosts of the past were lurking in the shadows of the room.

Father Specter looked into the mirror, his eyes filled with unease as he tried to make sense of the strange vision staring back at him. He couldn’t help but feel a sense of familiarity with the boy on the other side as if he had seen him before. But he tried to shake off the feeling, telling himself it was just a dream or a figment of his imagination brought on by lack of sleep. He prayed for guidance, asking God to reveal the meaning behind the sight and the boy’s identity. But he was met with silence as if God was unwilling to answer him. It made him feel alone in the vast, empty church like he was the only person left. He took a deep breath, trying to quell the thoughts swirling through his mind. This was a test; he knew that much. God was testing his faith and his sanity, and he would have to decide what it meant for himself. He would have to be strong, for he was the only one who could save himself from the darkness that consumed him.

The priest tried to convince himself it was just a hallucination, but the image in the mirror had left a deep impression on his mind. He knew that if anyone found out about the visions, they would assume the worst of him - that he had gone insane, or even worse, that he had sinned for this to happen to him. The thought of his congregation judging him for his past sins was too much to bear. Father Specter became more and more anxious as he reflected on his past. He had always tried to hide his past sins, such as his tattoos and other “immoral” things that would make his congregants clench their pearls. But now that the past haunts him, he realizes he must face it head-on. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he was determined to prove his worth as a priest, to show his congregation that he was worthy of their trust. He would have to find a way to exorcize these demons, to purge his soul of all the guilt he carries around. It would be a long and difficult journey, but he was ready. He believed that God would guide him and help him find the light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Father Specter was startled awake by a strange hissing noise one Sunday morning, its source unknown. He jumped out of bed, his heart racing as the sound grew louder and more persistent. Suddenly, he realized the source of the hissing - his own tattoo, a large snake covering the entire length of his arm. The snake, once a small scrawl given to him by a fellow sailor, had grown to consume all his other tattoos, leaving him with nothing but the serpentine image on his skin. The tattoo had grown to be a living, breathing creature, hissing and writhing on his arm as if it had a life of its own.

Father Specter quickly covered up the tattoo, hoping it would not be noticed during the Sunday morning service. He had always been ashamed of it, knowing that it could be seen as a symbol of sin and infidelity. But as he walked up to the altar to give out communion, the snake appeared again, slithering from under his sleeve onto the cracker he was handing out. As the child reached out to take the cracker, the snake struck, biting her hand and causing her to scream in pain. The child’s mother rushed to her, smacking Father Specter on the head with her handbag until he apologized for what had happened. The rest of the congregation looked on in disgust, shaking their heads at the priest, who was now labeled a dangerous man with a vicious tattoo.

Father Specter was humiliated and embarrassed. He knew the tattoo harmed himself, his reputation, and the community he was supposed to serve. He couldn’t bear the thought of being judged for what he had done in his past, and now, it had come back to haunt him in the form of a snake. He knew that he would have to face his past and find a way to remove the tattoo, to redeem himself in the eyes of his congregation.

Wilson sat hunched over the desk, scanning the photographs he had taken at St. Clare’s. He had hoped that the images would capture the unusual aura of the mirror, but he was left disappointed. He had rented out traditional image processing equipment instead of driving to the nearest photo printing store daily. The room was eerily dark and blood red, with paper bobbing in ink pans. The image spun and twirled as Wilson walked it across the thread. But despite his efforts, he could not capture the essence of the mirror in his photographs. Wilson’s mind kept nagging him to return to St. Clare’s. There was something about that mirror that he couldn’t shake off. But he knew he could not go alone. He would have to bring someone with him who could share the same experience and understand the gravity of the situation. He needed a witness, someone who would validate his claims and support him. With a sudden epiphany, Wilson realized who he should bring with him. It was someone he trusted, someone with the same interests in photography and the supernatural, and someone who he knew would not judge him for the things he had seen. He grabbed his phone, dialed the number, and with a sense of urgency, waited for the call to be answered.

Wilson swallowed hard as he contacted the local paranormal investigation team about the phenomena he had encountered. His heart raced with adrenaline as he explained what he had seen, and he could hear the team gasp and shout in response. He hoped that they would be able to solve the mystery and help him make sense of his vision. He had always been interested in the supernatural, which could be the opportunity he sought to become their right-hand man.

When the team arrived, Wilson was surprised to see how professional they appeared. The detective had an air of self-assuredness about him, and his girlfriend was a beautiful woman with a sarcastic grin. She held the detective’s hand but appeared on the verge of crying, preoccupied with her thoughts. The detective seemed dissatisfied with his surroundings as if he was used to more lavish accommodations. Regardless, the team set to work immediately, eager to solve the ghostly mystery. They said midnight was the best time to encounter spirits, so they waited until sunset to begin their investigation. Wilson followed the team around, observing their techniques and trying to learn as much as possible. He felt a sense of excitement and anticipation, hoping they could uncover the secrets of the mysterious mirror.

The detective knelt down to his girlfriend’s level, his curly brown hair bobbing as he looked at her with concern. “What’s the matter, honey?” he asked, trying to keep the worry out of his voice.

The girlfriend stared back at him, a blank expression on her face. “Nothing,” she said in a monotone.

The detective glanced down and saw that her distinctive lavender necklace was gone. He knew that necklace meant a lot to her. It was a gift from him, a reminder of their love.

“Your necklace...” he started to say, but the girlfriend cut him off.

“Don’t worry about it,” she barked, her voice dripping with annoyance.

The detective hesitated for a moment, unsure of how to respond. He knew something was bothering her and would do anything to help.

“My love, you can count on me to find it,” he said softly, reaching out and taking her hands in his own.

The girlfriend looked up at him, surprised at his sudden tenderness. “Oh, thank you, my valiant hero,” she said in her monotone voice.

The detective smiled at her, proud to be the one to help her when she needed it most. He knew he would do anything to make her happy, even if it meant finding her missing necklace.

The detective stepped into St. Clare’s, observing his surroundings curiously. The place seemed almost too clean as if it had been meticulously prepared for some kind of supernatural encounter. He picked up a receipt next to a creepy doll, crumpled it, and stuffed it into his pocket. In the center of the space stood an Ouija board, the presence of its planchette causing a chill to run down his spine. Wilson had tried to heighten the spookiness by surrounding the board with a ring of ketchup, but the detective scoffed at the childish attempt. He didn’t have time for such superficial scares.

The detective gestured for Wilson to lead him to the vestry, wanting to get straight to the heart of the matter. As they made their way to the small, intimate room, the detective noticed Wilson setting up a few battery-operated candles. The detective rolled his eyes at the tactic, knowing it wouldn’t do much to create a truly eerie atmosphere. But then, he heard the faint sound of music coming from the stereo in the corner. The detective approached carefully, taking in the creepy sounds from the speakers. The generator hummed in the background, creating a backdrop of noise that added to the unnatural feeling in the room.

Finally, they arrived at the vestry. Wilson threw off the tarp from a vanity, revealing its contents. The detective, however, showed no emotion, instead simply giving Wilson a look that said, “Let’s get this over with.” Wilson’s girlfriend applauded, but the detective motioned for her to be quiet, not wanting to hear any more noise. The detective was committed to solving the mystery and was not about to let anything distract him from his mission.

“When does this phenomenon occur?” the detective asked, blunt and no-nonsense.

Wilson gulped, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “Well, I can’t really say when exactly it will happen. It’s like magic! A surprise every time,” he added with a chuckle.

The detective fixed Wilson with a skeptical look, “You do realize that I’m here to help and not for any entertainment,” the detective said, his tone growing sharp.

The atmosphere in the room shifted as the girlfriend suddenly spoke up, her voice barely above a whisper. “Excuse me, can I talk to you for a moment?”

The detective looked at the girlfriend briefly before nodding, his expression growing heavy. He followed her into the hallway and shut the door behind them, leaving Wilson alone in the vestry.

The detective and the girlfriend argued about their relationship, keeping their voices down but still audible to Wilson. The detective spoke calmly, measuredly, but the girlfriend’s voice rose, her accusations growing more and more pointed as the argument continued. Wilson’s ears perked up as he heard the girlfriend say, “You’re so obsessed with yourself!” The detective’s response was muffled but prompted another sharp reply from the girlfriend.

Just as their voices reached a crescendo, the girlfriend’s lost necklace, accompanied by a note, caught the detective’s eye. He pushed the group of candles out of the way and grabbed the girlfriend’s necklace. A tag attached to it read, “Thanks for everything,” with the girlfriend’s phone number.

The girlfriend’s jaw dropped, her eyes widening in shock, and she tried to protest, “It’s not what you think!”

The detective growled, his voice dripping with anger, “Liar.”

The room went silent as the detective and the girlfriend exchanged a long, intense stare. Wilson felt he should say something, but he wasn’t sure what to say or if he should say anything.

The detective grabbed the necklace and crushed it in his hand. The beads fell to the ground and disappeared into the room’s shadows. The girlfriend’s eyes began to water, and she could not look up at the detective. She felt trapped in a nightmare, her best friend and lover now filled with rage and contempt for her. His emotions were in overdrive, and she had no idea what the repercussions could be.

With tears streaming down her face, she tried to leave the room, but the detective shouted, “No! You are not leaving until you tell me what you did.”

The argument escalated, with the detective becoming more and more worked up and The girlfriend now screaming and crying. Wilson could no longer stay on the sidelines, and despite his small stature, he tried to grab the detective’s arm. But the detective overpowered him, punching Wilson so hard in the face that he was knocked to the ground, bleeding from his nose.

The detective’s eyes were filled with hatred as he loomed over Wilson. “You think you can just come here and take my girl away, don’t you?” he growled. “I’ll show you.”

As the detective raised his hand to strike Wilson again, The girlfriend jumped in front of him, pleading with him to stop. “Please, don’t hurt him!” she cried.

But it was too late. The detective’s eyes were filled with blind rage, and he didn’t even seem to recognize the girlfriend standing in front of him. The detective’s fury was so overpowering that he hardly noticed the girlfriend trying to intervene. He just kept assaulting Wilson, shouting over and over again, “You’re done! You’ll never be a part of this team!” He threw Wilson to the ground, sending a shock of pain through his body. It felt like an eternity before Wilson regained some sense of awareness, looking up just in time to see the detective getting ready to throw another punch.

But quick as a flash, Wilson grabbed the vanity from behind him and used all his might to tip it over on top of the detective. There was a moment of silence, with only Wilson’s labored breathing filling the space. He could feel the cold sweat dripping down his back and the adrenaline coursing through his body. Then the screaming began—loud and long. He couldn’t tell if it was the detective or the girlfriend, and he couldn’t even imagine the worst-case scenario. The candles on the vanity flickered sinisterly, almost in rhythm with the screaming, before going out altogether. Finally, the detective went silent, and all left was the sound of Wilson’s panicked breaths. He couldn’t see a thing, but his heart raced a thousand miles an hour. When he thought he was going insane, the girlfriend shoved the vanity off the detective and screamed, “What have you done?”

There was a pause and then another scream. This time it was different, almost like a moan of despair. The girlfriend fell to her knees, and when Wilson could sit up, he saw nothing but fragments of broken glass and the detective’s outline where he had been lying.

Father Specter stared into the vanity mirror with a worried expression. Despite all the religious help and blessings available to him, the mirror seemed to have a malevolent influence over him. He was drawn to it like a moth to a flame, no matter how hard he resisted. Father Specter knew he had to get rid of this cursed item once and for all. With strength that defied his advanced age, he pushed the vanity out of the vestry and to Blossom’s furthest street corner. Braving the public’s judgment, Father Specter slapped a “free” tag on the dirty glass and boldly strode back to the church. However, when he returned to the vestry, the vanity was still there, waiting for him like a shadow. Father Specter let out a frustrated groan and collapsed onto the nearest chair. His second attempt to sell the mirror would be a more effective method to eliminate this cursed item.

Father Specter presented the vanity to the crowd during a charity sale where furniture would be distributed to the needy. The same young girl bitten by the snake bought it from him with delight. She gushed to her mother as she described all the hairstyles she planned to try with her new toy. Father Specter grinned up at the wall-mounted statue of Jesus on the cross, feeling incredibly proud of his brave deeds. If he was not lying when he said he had rid himself of it, that is. Sitting quietly in the dimly lit chapel that evening, he heard a loud knock on the church doors. Father Specter reluctantly got up and answered the door to find the vanity waiting for him on the other side. The drawer included a message that read, “Infested with bugs! There are HOLES EVERYWHERE!”

Father Specter was terrified. He carefully examined every nook and cranny of the vanity but found no signs of damage or infestation. He felt like he was going crazy. “There’s nothing here! Nothing at all!” He cried out into the empty chapel. “Why won’t you leave me alone?!”

Father Specter stood before the vanity, feeling a sense of despair and anguish wash over him. He could not escape the feeling that this mirror was central to his problems. For too long, he had been using his faith as a crutch to distract himself from the real issues. He realized now that he must make a significant shift in his life or risk being consumed by the mirror’s hold on him. Father Specter turned to the church floor in his frantic search for answers. He took a hammer and began to pound away at the wooden planks, determined to find the source of the mirror’s reappearance, even if it meant destroying the very foundation of the house of God. He would stop at nothing until he had finally uncovered the truth, even if it meant sacrificing himself.

The concept of martyrdom had always intrigued Father Specter. The idea of giving up one’s life for a noble cause, for the greater good, always had a certain allure for him. He saw it as an opportunity to prove his devotion to God, to show that he was truly worthy of His grace. And so, when the vanity appeared before him again, he saw it as a sign. The vanity told him it was time for him to be a martyr. But why? What was the cause for which he was willing to lay down his life? As he pondered this question, Father Specter couldn’t help but reflect on the many lies he had told throughout his life. He had never visited the Holy Land or taken a baptismal plunge into the Jordan River. In fact, he had made up the location of his baptism and many other aspects of his life. He was a notorious liar, and he knew it. The reality, however, was far different from anything anyone could have imagined. The vanity was not a message from God but rather a manifestation of Father Specter’s insecurities and shortcomings. He had lived a life of deceit and was now being called upon to pay the price. His martyrdom, then, was not for a noble cause but for the reason of truth and honesty. It was a chance for him to redeem himself, take responsibility for his actions, and make amends for the lies he had told. And so, in the end, Father Specter knew that his martyrdom was not for God but for himself. He had lied to himself for too long, and now he was being allowed to face the truth, confront his sinful nature, and find forgiveness.

“I, uh, remember, it was... it was…” Father Specter cleared his throat and continued. “Back in the Navy, I came to America for a county fair. The air,” He coughed to clear his throat, “was thick with humidity, and the – sigh – sky was a sickly egg yolk color.” He shuddered. “The fair was a mess. I saw it all. Sweaty people everywhere, greasy food, and rides that made me sick to my stomach. I was surrounded by the stench of it all.”

“But then,” He paused for effect, taking a deep breath before continuing, “I heard him, the televangelist. He was yelling scriptures at onlookers, preaching about God and salvation. And for some reason, I was drawn to him.” He shook his head, unable to explain his actions. “Even though everything else about the fair disgusted me, I... I couldn’t look away.”

“I... I couldn’t stop watching the televangelist. He was so charismatic, so... so perfect. He knew how to work the crowd and make ’em believe every word he said. He was flawless. Like, uh, he was... created out of... out of... clay. He never... ever showed signs of age. His skin was, uh, golden-brown... like the ends of a French fry. He, uh, he was... he was a true leader... a, uh, man who... who evoked both respect and... and... dread. And, for just $50, I could be just like him... just like him.” Father Specter shook his head, unable to comprehend what he had just admitted out loud.

“I... I remember... The baptismal chamber, it was... it was disgusting like a pig’s, uh, pen at the petting zoo section of the fair. And yet, I was... I was ordered to kneel in that... in that vile trough, full of... full of food scraps and, uh, dead flies. And then, before I knew it, uh, my head, it was being submerged in the water…” Father Specter paused, reflecting on the moment. “And, uh, and the priest’s face... it, it was, uh, bright red and, uh, burning. As soon as the priest, uh, pulled me out of the baptismal vessel, I, uh, I felt goosebumps cover my... my body. I, uh, I knew then, I knew then, there was no going back…”

“I... I remember it... It was a burning sensation... My face, uh, it was burning and... plagued with blisters, uh, from the... from the contaminated water.” Father Specter shuddered, unable to contain his emotions. “I, uh... I screamed in agony as I felt the left half of my face burn... The fire, it seemed... it seemed to radiate from my eyes, uh, up into my ears, around my neck, uh, and... and into my brain…” He shook his head, tears streaming down his cheeks. “And then... and then I grew blind from the pain and…” He broke down, his voice trembling, “eventually passed out. And... and... And years later, I’ve awakened, as a desolate priest, with... with, uh, with no desire to live…” Father Specter cried harder, curled into a ball on the floor.

Sawyer raised a rock, feeling the weight of history on his shoulders. This mirror was the devil’s creation and had to be destroyed. It had to be broken, along with his devout life. He never wanted to be addressed as “Father” again. He pulled his fist back, ready to strike. The wind was howling through his ears as he slammed the rock into the vanity, trying to reduce it to a pile of garbage. The sound of wood shattering filled his ears, and he could feel the rage building inside him. Being outside at night never sounded so pleasant. It sounded like the end of his suffering, and Sawyer embraced it. He raised the rock above his head, ready for the final blow. “This is it. This is my martyrdom.”