By Nate Anderson
"It's hideous…I don't like it," said Sarah. She placed the box she was holding down on the floor. A small cloud of dust puffed up around the box. They were looking at the old antique mirror that stood across from them. It was framed in black wood, and the mirror itself was tinted dark, like a one way mirror.
"It looks really old. I bet it's worth quite a bit. I've never seen anything like it. A one of a kind…" said her husband Bastian.
"I still don't like it. It creeps me out," replied Sarah. She was keeping her ground, no matter what.
"Fine, we'll sell it the next time the Antiques show comes around." Bastian picked up an old sheet off a pile in the corner. "Until then, we'll just cover it up."
* * *
Hermiode Dell, an elf of the forest of Middle World, was listening from his end to the conversation between Sarah and Bastian, with his friend Compodious Paq.
"Sell out portal? Materialistic mortals!" muttered Dell, aloud.
"Does it really matter?" responded Paq.
"No…I suppose not," he muttered. Still, Dell didn't want to go through the portal and end up in the middle of a PBS telecast.
* * *
Bastian and Sarah had just moved into their new home. They had been married about three months earlier, but felt like they'd belonged to each other their entire lives, they had know each other since the sixth grade.
Bastian was conceivably more excited about moving into a new house than Sarah was. Bastian simply saw it as an opportunity to stretch out and get some space after spending the first five years of his adult life in a cramped on bedroom downtown apartment. Sarah on the otherhand was receiving the message that she had entered, unwittingly into the kind of marriage that she had been trying to avoid. The white picket fence, the 2.4 kids, the mini-van, the whole nine yards. The idea of becoming a soccer mom terrified her to her bones. It was a doom she would not fall to.
Sarah had taken a week off work to try and get their house into some sort of functioning order. Bastian would have done the same, but he was unable to, because one of his biggest clients was coming into town that week.
Sarah read the side of the box. "Christmas decorations," she whispered. Sarah trudged up the stairs with the fragile box of Christmas decorations. She turned and walked up the foldable stairs to the attic. Sarah felt very weary about those steps, especially when carrying a box.
Sarah set the box along the wall. Behind her, the sheet began to billow out, like a breeze was blowing it. Slowly, it became apparent that it was an arm reaching out. Sarah whipped around quickly and when she saw the mirror, the arm was gone, but the blanket was still moving. Sarah went over to the window across from it to make sure it was shut tightly. She found that not only was it closed and latched but paint sealed as well. Sarah quickly ran downstairs to wait for Bastian to come home.
* * *
"I swear, the sheet was moving! I didn't touch it either!" exclaimed Sarah. She was very distressed. It was 6:30 p.m., and they were standing in the kitchen talking. Bastian had just gotten home.
"And the window was shut?" asked Bastian.
"And you are 100% sure you didn't touch it?" Bastian was in full detective mode now.
"Oh god…you don't suppose we have an infestation up there, do you?" Bastian was worried.
"Eww…I would hope not," she replied, grimacing at the thought.
"I'll call the exterminator in the morning," said Bastian, reassuringly. "Don't worry, this happens to everyone."
* * *
"Well, Mrs. Jaffray, you have nothing to worry about. I found nothing…no traces of any kind of infestation," said the exterminator, after examining the entire house.
"I don't suppose you're interested in an antique mirror?" asked Sarah.
"The one upstairs? No thanks. It kinda freaked me out."
"Yeah, me too." Sarah handed him a check to pay for inspection. "Thanks anyway."
"No problem. Have a nice day," replied the exterminator.
* * *
Bastian snuggled up next to Sarah. The roaring fire in the fireplace and a few candles were all that illuminated the room. The couch was big and comfy.
"The exterminator didn't find anything. Now that damn mirror freaks me out more then before," said Sarah, taking a sip of her wine.
"It's just a mirror. You're reading too much into this." Bastian was trying his hardest to be reassuring. This whole mirror thing was just absurd.
"You don't believe me, do you?" Sarah was beginning to get upset. She sat up and looked Bastian right in the face. "You think I'm making this up for attention or something, don't you?"
"Are you insane?" Bastian couldn't believe what he was hearing. "I just think that maybe your imagination may be running away, that's all."
"I can't talk to you right now." Sarah ran upstairs and slammed the bedroom door shut.
"How did I get myself into this." Bastian gulped down the remainder of the wine in his glass. He got up and walked upstairs to the bedroom. He tried to open the door, but it was locked.
"Go away! I don't even know why I married you any more!" yelled Sarah, from inside.
"Where am I supposed to sleep?" asked Bastian. The door flew open. Sarah shoved a pillow and a pair of pajamas into his arms.
"Not here!" replied Sarah, slamming the door again.
"Would it help if I said I was sorry?" asked Bastian.
"NO!" yelled Sarah.
"Honey, are you getting your period?" Bastian asked.
"AH!" screamed Sarah. You could hear her feet thudding on the floor as she marched to the door. The door flew open and she socked Bastian one right in the face. Bastian flew back and hit the door to the guest bedroom, which was looking more and more likely to become his room. The bedroom door flew shut one last time.
"Oh, don't worry about me. I'm fine." Bastian was holding his nose and his voice sounded fittingly distorted. He opened the door to the guest bedroom and scooted in. It was going to be a long night.
* * *
Bastian had already woken and gone to work by the time Sarah rolled out of bed. Sarah felt terrible about what had happened and decided that she had over reacted. She was tempted to call Bastian and apologize, but decided she would rather do it in person when he got home that night.
Sarah picked up another of the attic boxes and brought it up with her. She was going to give this crazy mirror one last chance. Sarah sat the box down by the others and took the sheet off the mirror. The mirror appeared the same as it usually did. Black and dark tinted. Suddenly, a ripple went through the reflection.
"What the..?" said Sarah. Before she could turn and run, a large clawed hand shot out of the mirror and pulled her through.
* * *
Bastian came home, and was amazed at how quiet the house was. "Sarah? You home? Listen, I'm sorry about last night. Sarah?"
Bastian searched each room of the house, with no sign of Sarah. Bastian figured she must have gone to scout out the neighborhood, and would be back later.
* * *
Bastian looked at his watch. It was well past Seven o'clock. He had expected her back in time for dinner, but she never showed up. Bastian wasn't quite concerned yet, just wondering what was keeping her. Bastian reached over and hit the play button on the CD player. "Because We Can" from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack began booming as Bastian started doing his own interpretive dance to the music.
* * *
It was now nine o'clock and Bastian was quite distressed. He debated whether or not to go out looking for Sarah. He didn't call the police because he already knew what they would tell him. They couldn't file a report until after the missing person had been missing for 24 hours.
Bastian paced back and forth. He was so worried he couldn't think straight. He lay down on the couch and tried to think things through. Nothing was coming to him. All that raced through his mind was what happened to Sarah. He couldn't believe this was happening. The last thought that crossed his mind as he fell asleep was, "Who invented liquid soap and why?"