Catoptrophobia, fear of mirrors, interlude


“You say you have eight minutes left? You’re not leaving here alive, gentleman suitor,” said the suave apparition. “No one, no one, NO ONE shall get near my wife.”

Roger’s life flashed before his eyes in an instant. He had eight minutes to go to complete the dare. Now he could not get the stench of death away from him. Now what looked like real knives were inches away from his neck.

Then Roger remembered something. It was in his back pocket. He pulled out the strange mirror that Beth had given him. Then he also remembered who this suave guy was. Hector Hundred, #10 of 24 ghosts known to haunt the school grounds, was supposed to have been the one responsible for killing his wife, the old drama instructor, with twin hunting knives.

It was said Hector was responsible for all 24 victims who would later haunt the grounds, claiming extreme jealousy, holding everyone under suspicion that they were courting his wife. The book advised to run away fast if Hector was seen. Thankfully, he only showed up late at night, just like he would in life after frequenting the bar.

Roger now had the face shaped mirror in his hand and set it on the table. Immediately Hector saw it and cringed. It was his only weakness: Catoptrophobia: fear of mirrors. Hector started to back away from Roger.

“Are you still gonna make me ‘specter #25’?” said Roger, gaining confidence.

“Get that mirror away from me!” shouted Hector backing up to the stage. He disappeared. The blood all over the place disappeared too. It was no longer cold, and tension was lifted.

Roger had six minutes left. He was no longer scared, but it still felt weird seeing this. The lady in the red veil on stage was watching the whole fiasco with Hector. Once he left, she resumed her dancing as if he had never showed up. Roger kept his head to the table and continued recording. At the end of the full twenty minutes, the lady bowed. Roger could somewhat sense she would disappear. Having gained some courage from his bout with Hector, Roger called to the lady.

“You don’t have to be afraid anymore. You don’t have to wear that veil.”

The Red Veil Phantom stood straight up, startled that an intruder would come watch her. For the first time she realized Roger was watching her. But now she was watching Roger. Though she seemed to be kind hearted, there was still a reason why she was rated #15 of 24.

“Hello, dear boy,” said the apparition, “What is your name?”

“Um, Roger,” he said.

“And how long have you been here, Roger?” she asked.

“Twenty minutes,” he said, “I’ve come to see you.”

The Red Veil Phantom smiled behind the veil.

“Will you come dance with me?” she asked. She stretched out her hands.

“Thank you for the offer,” said Roger, “But I really must be going.”

“Oh,” she said disappointed, “Am I not beautiful? Do I not dance with grace?”

“You dance wonderful,” said Roger.

“Well if you must be going, return when you can,” said the lady.

“Thank you,” said Roger.

“I insist,” she said, “Visit me again. I will wait patiently for your return,” said the lady.

from “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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How about a Tangent? Everybody loves tangents.


Veiled in Red, Interlude

Roger was slow at many things. At eating. At test taking. He was slow at finding courage for simple things, such as telling the one girl, out of many in his class, that he liked her. Roger was slow in all these things and more. Yet he still found himself acing the latest test in the gifted math class. How’d he pull that off?

The one thing Roger was not slow about was how white his skin turned, right at midnight, as he put his head to the fourth grade lunch table, listening, when the anomaly suddenly appeared. Roger’s hair stood on the back of his neck.

She was beautiful. From behind the lifted curtains, a red light illuminated her and the stage. Draped in a scarlet, transparent, red veil that covered her whole body, she couldn’t have been older than twenty-four. An air of sadness could be felt as she silently, gracefully, danced on the stage of the theatre at the back of the cafeteria. The sounds that came from the table as Roger put his ear to it were of church bells.

It was everything that was described to Roger. The school librarian had even loaned him a book on the various ghosts that haunted Bernard Berenson Middle. “The Red Veil Phantom” was rated #15 of 24 specters found all around the school grounds, ranging in poltergeist activity and frequency of appearance. Wrestling his fear under control, Roger pulled out his phone. He set it to camera mode to record. Now he had to stay there for a full twenty minutes.

Suddenly the Red Veil Phantom stopped dancing as the stage light suddenly turned off and the darkness suddenly became totally black. The sounds from the table went silent. Slowly, quietly, Roger could hear strange sounds. The sharpening of iron.




Then a dialogue, first a female voice:

“Alas, Hector my love, why do you do this?”

“Eugenia, Eugenia, my love, my bride,” said a smooth male voice,
“If I cannot have you to myself, THEN NO ONE SHALL.”

Now a ring of steel, as if two knives were clanged together; a sudden spark was seen on stage. A sudden ripping of flesh, a curdling scream that sent Roger’s heart into his throat, followed by the sounds of water. But it wasn’t water.

Roger suddenly felt warmth. And a smell, no, a stench. It was familiar to him, he had to deal with it when his brother gashed his leg and had to be sent to the ER. Blood. The smell of blood.

It was everywhere. The book never covered this. All it covered was the red apparition dancing. The darkness lifted, but Roger wished, wished with all his might, that it had just stayed dark. Blood was everywhere. On the walls, on the curtains, on the stage, on the tables. It was also on Roger.

He couldn’t leave. Even if he could, he was plastered to the table. Roger wanted to run out the door screaming. He was panting, cold from fright, and had ten minutes left.

The red stage light turned back on. On stage now could be seen the woman in the red veil, but now she was held in an embrace by a suave, older gentleman in a white dress shirt and black pants. He held in his hands two long knives soiled red. The couple stood still for at least two minutes. Roger thought it would be over soon. Then the man turned his attention away from the red veiled woman. He then turned to Roger.

“Who are you?” said the man, “I will not allow suiters.”

He suddenly stepped down from the stage and walked toward Roger.

“Answer me this: who are you to court MY WIFE?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” said Roger, “I’m just here for another eight minutes, then I’ll be out of your hair.”

The man scoffed. “Eight minutes? You will not last one more, much less eight.”

He brandished the bloody knives. The blood dripping from them was still warm.

“I’m going to make you specter number twenty-five,” said the man.

Excerpt from “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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