~The Sandman's Curse~
The day was about to die, and the night winds were moving in for the kill.
As their dark wings beat silently against the air, finally plucking the light from the bones of the sky and coating the world below with their black feathers, a man stood at a window.
He faced outwards but his gaze did not seem able to penetrate the thick pane of glass before him. His gauzy reflection, backed by the flourescent light behind him, looked like a ghost imprisoned against the backdrop of the city below. It too stood at a window, looking through it into the room beyond where its mirror image faced it. The darkly lidded eyes seemed to rest heavily on top of the cheekbones, balancing on twin mountains of pale skin and bone. The mouth was dark and the hair darker still. It looked as if the night was coming out through the eye sockets.
Foggily the man noticed he was holding a can of Coca Cola in his left hand where it rested limp and cold against his thigh, and he let it drop onto the floor. Although the metal of the can had remained cool, the liquid itself had long been drained of life; it spilled onto the floor and plodded stickily across the surface of the carpet, leaving behind a dark stain, as if a small animal had been butchered there.
A voice called from the room opposite his, across the corridor, easily audible through the thin door. It wasn't meant for his ears and the wasted sound seemed to just slump to the floor, dead, as it entered the room.
Someone was having a party across the hall. Someone was screaming and the dead sound lying in the middle of his own room vibrated with the noise. A small gasp of horror escape the man's lips; someone, somewhere, was partying, and here he was stuck in a hotel room, in his own room on the fifth floor, unable to move or speak, his head filling with calm blankess and his eyes frozen to the gaunt figure in the reflection on the window...
His mirror image widened its eyes, as if innocent to its power over him, its binding strength...
Something struck heavily against his door, producing an abrupt wooden thump; his head snapped away towards the source of the noise, away from the window, breaking the spell. The soda stain lay puddling oozily at his feet, and he wondered fleetingly whom he'd murdered...
He turned away from the window, kicking the Cola can under the couch as he did so, then slowly made his way towards the bedroom. Halfway there he paused, and, almost guiltily, snuck a peek at his glass-encased doppleganger out of the corner of his eye.
It squinted at him blearily over its shoulder, the neon lights of a midnight city glowing eerily through its head. The man stared back fearfully, and then lurched heavily towards the door, through which the corner of his bed could be seen. It was all for nothing, he knew, and the space within the discarded Coke can seemed to inhabit his chest with a metallic emptiness.
He hadn't slept for three years.