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It had been a long, dull day at work. James fumbled for his keys in the pouring rain, dropping a few dollars from his pocket in the process. Didn't matter. He just wanted to get inside and get some well deserved rest, even though he knew sleep would only evade him. Sleep.
The word seemed so foreign to him. Otherworldly, even. How long had it been? Three days? He couldn't keep this up. He needed to sleep, but he knew as soon as his head felt the soft embrace of his pillow, and his eyelids closed over his bloodshot eyes, his fatigue would leave him. He had medication, both legal and illegal, that he took frantically and fruitlessly to achieve at least a small taste of rest. The insomnia had begun to control his life.
James popped a few pills down his throat, not caring about the side-effects, and slammed his head onto the pillow. His eyes closed, and he was plunged into an inky darkness. His mind refused to empty itself. He tried to concentrate, to forget about the real world and slip away into the darkness, but he couldn't. He suddenly had the urge to watch some TV, to get something to eat.
Had he forgotten to brush his teeth? Yes, he had. James drug himself out of his bed, and shuffled hazily to the bathroom. He lazily drug the red electric toothbrush over his teeth, then rinsed in the sink. As he looked up into the mirror, he stared into his reflection. A scruffy and uneven beard had begun to sprout up on his face. He didn't like it.
James whirled around to locate his razor. Had he misplaced it? It wasn't in the shower where he usually kept it. He searched the entire bathroom, and even checked down the narrow hallway outside the bathroom door. It wasn't like him to misplace things, especially trivial objects such as a razor. James believed in the simple philosophy of a place for everything, and everything in its place. He scratched his head, went back into the bathroom, and gasped.
He wasn't sure exactly why he gasped, or why he was so startled by what he saw. The razor that he had been searching for had been on the sink the entire time. Or had they? No, he thought, it hadn't been there. I would have seen it. I should have seen it. Shrugging it off, James decided he didn't have the patience to shave anyway. What he did need, however, was a nice, hot shower. That would surely help him to relax. To clear his mind.
The water was soothing, if not completely intoxicating. James closed his eyes and experienced the closest thing to sleep he had achieved in the past three days. The water kissed the tip of his nose as he slowly began to drift off. Just as he began to lose himself, the water became warmer. Not a substantial change in temperature by any means, just a tad hotter than it should have been. James paid no attention to it, he just figured that it was some kind of faulty plumbing.
Besides, he was far too relaxed to open his eyes now. He then heard the ever-so-subtle squeaking of the knob that controls the temperature of the water, followed by the intense burning of the hot water ricocheting off of his unsuspecting face. He cursed and flung himself back, desperately reaching for the knob to turn the smoldering water off. The knob had been turned all the way to the side labeled with a bright red letter “H”.
Insomnia was a bitch, that was no question. A fickle, uncaring, heartless bitch. James was confused and disoriented, and his face had been slightly burned by the scalding water. After he had gotten dressed, he glanced at his bedside clock. It read 3:22 A.M. Realizing that there was no way he was getting any sleep, James went back into the bathroom and stared into the mirror once again. His eyes, which were normally a deep blue, were now a tired gray.
Thick red veins could be seen running through both sides of his retinas. His pupils were enlarged, as if he had done some kind of hallucinogen. James stood there quietly, examining his features in the mirror for a little while. He occasionally made strange faces at himself, twisting his features and squinting his tired eyes. He then brought his face close to the mirror, so his nose was rubbing up against the glass. Just to be silly, James lowered his voice to a menacing growl. “Who are you?” He rasped, not taking his face away from the mirror. His reflection blinked.
James yelped and flew back. That hadn't happened. He was just tired, that's all. He would have been foolish to think otherwise. But he couldn't help but be terrified to look back into the mirror, to see what horrible, disfigured monster was waiting for him to get up off the floor. But when he finally worked up the guts to look, all he saw was himself. James noticed something, though. Hadn't the door to the bathroom been closed when he first came in? He thought so, although he couldn't be certain.
His brain was fried, he needed to rest. His mind had certainly been playing tricks on him. As he turned his back on the mirror, he heard a noise. A scratching sound, coming from directly behind him. The sound resembled the screech of nails on a chalkboard. As he turned around, he saw that there was a long, thin scratch running up the side of the mirror. A sharp pinch of pain pulsed from James' right hand pointer-finger. His fingernail had been cut and gnarled, as if he had been scraping away at something.
It was the mirror, wasn't it? It was causing all of the confusion and all of the sleepless nights. Every time he turned his back on it, something strange happened. Something bizarre. James bolted into the bathroom and stared into his reflection again. He made many sudden movements in a desperate attempt to psyche out whatever was hiding behind the mirror. Nothing abnormal happened. James was extremely frightened to turn around, but he knew that he had no choice but to do so sooner or later. He slowly turned his body, but didn't break eye contact with whatever was looking at him behind his reflection. Mimicking him.
When James finally looked away from the mirror, everything was silent. For ten whole seconds he stood there, waiting for something horrendous to fly out of the glass and gobble him up. But, for the longest time, nothing did. Then an ear-shattering WHAM broke the silence. He whirled around to inspect what exactly had made such a loud noise. There was a large crack in the center of the mirror. It appeared as if someone had taken their fist and slammed it against the glass.
Once again, another shooting pain ran up James' right hand, this time more intense than the last. As he looked down at his had, it had been cut in several places around his knuckles and was bleeding immensely. He instinctively ran to clean the wound, completely forgetting about the mirror. James wrapped his fist in a few paper towels and pressed down in a desperate attempt to stop the crimson liquid from flowing out of his hand. It took around five minutes, but the cuts suddenly stopped bleeding. After the bleeding ended, James remembered the mirror.
He sprinted up his staircase, stubbing his toe on one of the stairs in the process. He whirled around the corner and down the hallway towards his bathroom, his heart beating in his throat. Once he arrived inside his bathroom, he fell back into the corner and gasped for breath. There was blood smeared all over the mirror, as if someone had squirted it and splattered it everywhere. On the ground was a long, jagged shard of glass which was also dripping a familiar red liquid. A small puddle of blood was accumulating under James' now lifeless body. His throat had been slit open.
“Well, what do you think of this one George? They said they found small amounts of marijuana in his basement.” Private Investigator Paul Kyte said, while he gazed grimly at the gruesome scene. Private George Henderson chuckled and said: “Mary Jane doesn't do this to people, you know that. I found at least ten different brands of sleeping pills in his medicine cabinet downstairs. Ever see the side-effects for those things? Anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, etc. I'd bet that this poor guy just took one too many pills.” Private Kyte frowned as he looked at the smashed mirror covered in dry blood.
He could have sworn that, for a second, he saw a different man in there, a different face than his. The face was sullen, and expressionless. It was a man, no doubt of that, with extremely bloodshot eyes. The reflection's face took a slight red tint to it, as if it had been burned by something. Kyte rubbed his eyes, and stared back into the mirror. He saw nothing but his own reflection. He squinted and got close to the bloodstained glass, so that the tip of his nose was almost touching it. As he stared at his reflection, it blinked.