Content warning: alcoholism
A Case of Alienation
The face in the inky black window was mine, but there was something wrong with it. Its eyes were dead, blank, sparkless. The lamp from my living room lit it, as I was drawing the curtains, and I stopped to examine it, disturbed my reflection should show such a soulless version of myself. Haloed by the night and front lit, its pallor made it look dead.
Then it blinked its bloodshot eyes, by itself, and stepped away from the window, leaving just me and my reflection, staring at each other in surprise. I snapped the curtains shut, turned on the overhead lights and made sure that all of the doors were locked.
I sat there in the glare, the TV on, the images unheeded by my brain, whose gears failed to mesh what I’d seen with a rational explanation.
A double reflection, I settled on a few days later. The light from a car had reflected me onto a parked car, and as the car moved, so had my strange reflection. That’s what it was, I told myself, unconvinced that the solid face, pressed so close to the window that it should have left soft patches of condensation, was anything but real.
A few days later, the curtains were shut, the overhead lights on (this had become a habit – no more shadowy lamplight for me), and a little rap came from the window. I froze, my hand on the TV remote, paralysed by indecision. Turn it off and listen again, or turn it up and pretend I’d heard nothing?
I muted it and immediately regretted it.
‘Henry,’ something whispered outside. ‘Let me in, Henry.’ Its soft voice reminded me of dying words gasped by characters in films. ‘Let me in, Henry, it’s me, You.’
Creeping as quietly as I could, I gently opened the passageway door and glanced at the front door. The chain was on, the latch, too. Locked, I thought, good. It was a shadow of relief.
I froze as the front flap of the letter box squeaked, and two pale, fish-flesh fingers stuck themselves through the inside flap. They felt about for a second.
‘Let me in, Henry, it’s cold out here. I’m You, Henry, your shadow. We shouldn’t be apart,’ the other person whispered, a pale face unclear through the frosted glass panes in the door. It disappeared, as the creature ducked down. It lifted the flap with its fingers and I saw its bloodshot blue eyes then, my bloodshot blue eyes. The ones that had stared at me from the mirror every morning I woke up and drank. Every morning I woke up from another fight with people who cared about me, who’d promised not to have anything to do with me unless I sorted myself out.
‘C’mon, Henry. We don’t have to be apart. Let me in.’
I went into the living room and crawled inside a bottle, and prayed it wouldn’t come back another night.
Day 9 of Short Shocktober complete. A particularly creepy one this one. Who hasn’t been alone at night, locking the doors and shutting the curtains, and wondered if there could be something out there?
I think, personally, that the quality of these is improving as time progresses. I confess to not having written much flash fiction before, and it’s a unique form – you have so few words to get things done in, that you find yourself having to cut things that you would normally be happy leaving in a longer piece.