"Curiosity Killed the Cat"
This metaphor is one everyone has heard at least once in their lifetime. I had never really taken it to heart; After all, Mankind couldn't have progressed without CURIOSITY being the driving force behind most of our ideas. No, I was a practical person with enough common-sense to keep myself well-off. I had cruised through high-school with nothing below at least a "B-", and I had always managed to stay off the target list of those referred to as bullies.
After getting my diploma, I moved on to college, where I earned a degree in both Art and Literature. I married, had a son, and was supporting them off a well-paying job as a Professor at the college I had attended. Yes, I was a man who appreciated the finer things in life, which ultimately led me to my mental deterioration.
It was a breezy August afternoon, and I was walking with my wife home from one of our weekly excursions to the local market. The sun was making its way to the horizon, which probably meant it was around 5 o'clock. As we rounded the corner, a man in a pin-stripe suit that must've been at least a size too small for his body, approached us. The expression on his face was one of a calm, collected mind, but with a tinge of eccentricity burning behind his eyes. I knew within an instant that he was about to try and sell me something.
"Good afternoon!" he said in a friendly tone, "My name is Howard Snipps, and I was wondering if you would be interested in purchasing one of my very-hard-to-come-by antiques!"
Now, any sensible person approached by someone such as "Howard" would instinctively respond with a polite "No thank you", or simply keep walking. Being one of these sensible people, I attempted to keep on with my walk, but my wife had anchored me to the spot.
"Oh! What kind of antiques?" she asked, obviously interested.
"Only the finest, Miss!" responded the salesman.
My wife turned to me with a pleading expression. Gosh, she was beautiful.
"Well, I guess we could look around for a minute," I said.
The man led us into a small alley, where a table, some odd knick-knacks, and a tall item covered with an old blanket, were kept. He took his place behind the table and began to point out various items to my wife. I, however, could not tear my gaze away from the blanket-covered item. Suddenly, my wife's voice broke me out of my trance.
"Thank you, but I think we'll be going," she said.
She grabbed my arm, ready to leave. Unfortunately for her, I was still curious about the covered item.
"Excuse me, sir?" I asked, "But what's that under the blanket?"
An expression that read of fear, sadness, and relief crept over his face. He solemnly approached the object and tore away the blanket to reveal an old,dusty mirror that must've been almost 100 years old.
"Ah yes," he said, "Your curiosity won you over, I see. This is an item that has never left my collection since I myself purchased it long ago."
For some reason, I was inexplicably DRAWN to this particular mirror. Maybe it was the age, or the peculiar weeping angels that adorned the top of the border, but for some reason, I couldn't shake the desire to buy it.
"How much?" I asked.
Howard hung his head. He let a noise escape from his mouth that sounded an awful lot like a sigh of relief.....and disappointment.
"50 dollars," he responded.
As I prepared to give him the money for the mirror, Howard stared at me intently with a look of sadness.
After giving him the appropriate amount, I helped him lift the mirror on a small dolly that he kindly included with the purchase. He followed us to the entrance of the alley, where he thanked us, and then returned to his table to quickly pack up his things. I thought this odd, but before I could question further, my wife began to complain that dinner would never be ready if we didn't return home immediately. I nodded, and we continued our walk home.
That night, with the help of my 17 year old son, I brought the mirror into the room my wife and I shared. After he finished helping, he returned downstairs, leaving me to clean the mirror by myself. I grabbed a few micro-fiber cloths from a drawer in my bathroom, and proceeded to scrub away at the mirror. When I had finished, I stood at a distance to admire my work.
The mirror had a beautifully carved oaken border with two weeping angels that knelt at the top. The faces of Cherubim adorned the sides of the border, while a skull with its mouth hung open lay at the bottom. But while the mirror was beautiful, a small, annoying feeling pierced my brain. Something was off about the mirror. Again, however, my wife called me out of my trance, signalling that it was time for dinner. I quickly pushed the mirror into the corner of the room facing my side of the bed, and joined my family downstairs.
That night, the same feeling that had invaded my thoughts had surfaced again and prevented me from falling asleep. I shifted my body to face the mirror.
Nothing was out of the ordinary, just my reflection stared back at me from the mirror. And yet, I couldn't shake the feeling that there was definitely something eerie about the whole situation. I rose from my bed, and slowly approached the mirror, kneeling down in front of it. Everything was normal. I saw a reflection of myself staring back at me. I heard a noise that sounded like a whisper, and I quickly turned to see if my wife had woken up and was calling me back to bed. Seeing her still asleep, I turned back to the mirror, only to recoil with fright.
The reflection of myself was still staring at me, as if it hadn't moved at all. But the eeriest part was that its mouth was moving, as if trying to communicate. The longer I stared at it, I noticed the whispering noise again. Was the reflection attempting to communicate with me? I moved my face closer to the glass, but my reflection did the same. It took me awhile to realize that the phenomena had ceased and I was simply staring back at myself again. I quietly returned to my bed, and closed my eyes.
The next night, the same event occurred. I rose from my bed, curious to see if I could witness my reflection attempting to speak again. Sure enough, my reflection again moved its mouth slowly, and the whispering noises were audible again.
This time, however, the reflection reached out its hand and began to scratch at the glass. I could hear the noise made by this action, and I began to realize that this wasn't a mere reflection anymore, but some paranormal entity. A feeling of dread began to fill my brain at the sight of this creature. I retreated from the mirror, but the creature continued to scratch at the glass. I ran for the light, and, after turning it on, the creature disappeared. My wife, however, had awoken, and began to question me.
"Mike, what's wrong? Why aren't you in bed?" she asked.
"It's uh....nothing." I responded. She must've seen the terror in my face though, because she folded her arms over her chest.
"Something is clearly not okay," she said, "Why can't you tell me?"
"Can we just go to sleep?" I pleaded.
Clearly not satisfied, my wife laid back down, refusing to speak. I turned off the light and joined her, wrapping my arms around her body. The noise of scratching glass was the only noise I heard before I fell asleep.
For the next few days, the same sounds of whispering and scratching kept me awake, causing me to lose precious sleep. My co-workers at the University began to question my constant state of weakness and lack of motivation, and my wife would occasionally ask me what had woken me up that night. My answer was always the same.
"I thought I had heard a noise is all, Dear."
She had finally grown tired of this answer and sat me down one night, before we went to bed, in our room. We sat across from each other on our bed, with me facing the mirror. She explained that she was getting worried of my constant state of anxiety and weariness, and asked if it had to do with anything that happened the night I had woken her up. I assured her that everything was okay, and that I was simply a little restless. This seemed to satisfy her enough, so she decided to give me a hug. As I held her, I nonchalantly looked in the mirror.
There I again saw the creature, this time hugging my wife also. I heard the whispering noise again, but I could make out one phrase:
That night, I rose from my bed and ran to the mirror. Instead of the creature, nothing appeared, not even my normal reflection. All I saw was my wife lying motionless in sleep on the bed. Out of the corner of the mirror, however, I saw the creature appear. For some reason, it was paler, and its eyes and cheeks seemed to be sunken in. It stalked closer to where my wife lay, and then stood motionless over her. At this point, the whispers I usually heard were beginning to grow louder.
"She....must....die," it said.
"What do you want?" I asked, beginning to grow worried.
"I....want....you," it responded
The reflection shifted to that of my wife screaming in pain. I could see a look of intense fright in her eyes as she called my name, as if I could save her. I turned quickly to see my wife still asleep. I sighed and turned my face back to the mirror.
There sat the creature, its face almost touching the glass, directly in front of me. Its face was definitely paler, and its eyes were large and dark. It looked like me if I had been starved and hadn't slept for a week. The whispers had died down, but one sentence was clear:
The next day was a blur. I had received a phone call at work that my wife had been in a car crash, and that officers that arrived on the scene found her still alive, crushed under the car that had hit her. She apparently called out for me, before falling dead on the grass.
When I arrived home, relatives, friends, and neighbors were present to offer their condolences. I didn't care. I needed to get to that mirror.
Upon entering my bedroom, I locked the door. I began to scream wildly at the mirror, tears running down my cheeks. I should've seen this coming. I could've told my wife to stay home that day.
No, it was that thing. The monster that had prophesied her doom. I began to look for anything in the room that could help me break the mirror, before I heard a slow knock at the door. I composed myself, wiping my tears, and opened the door to see my son standing there.
"Dad...." he said, before bursting into tears.
I took him into my arms. I stood there for what seemed like hours before putting him at arm's length.
"I miss her too, son," I said in the most convincing voice I could make, "She'll watch over us from Heaven, though. I promise."
He thanked me and gave me one last hug before he joined the relatives downstairs. I closed the door behind him and turned around to see the creature in the mirror again.
"Not....all....in....Heaven," it said, smiling.
My wife's scream became audible before I quickly slammed my fist into the mirror, shattering it to pieces. I hastily exited the room.
The proceeding weeks were ones of loneliness. My wife was no longer there to keep my warm in my bed, and my son was becoming increasingly distant and prone to violence. I had received reports from his high-school of picking fights with other students and general disrespect to authority. I could occasionally hear him sobbing alone in his room.
On one such occasion, I sat downstairs, alone, watching a football game. I heard the sound of shattering glass, which sounded like it had come from my room. I sprinted upstairs and opened my bedroom door to a horrifying sight.
There stood the mirror, completely intact. And there also stood the creature, its face pressed to the glass. The combined noise of its whispers and the dragging of its nails on the glass hurt my ears.
At that instant, I heard a thud from down the hallway. I instinctively sprinted from the room to my son's.
I fell down instantaneously. My eyes couldn't look up at the horrible sight. My son had given up hope, and was now hanging from his ceiling fan.
After the initial shock, fear rose inside me. This creature had even said it wanted me. Was I doomed next? Was I going to die?
"CURIOSITY killed the cat."
I whisper this phrase to myself every night before I fall asleep in the motel room I've rented. Whereas this metaphor had meant nothing to me a month ago, it meant the world now. CURIOSITY is what caused me to check the noise that I heard from my room the night my son passed away. CURIOSITY is what drove me to communicate with the creature in the first place. And CURIOSITY is what's urging me to look at the mirror now. Yes, the mirror has kept up with me. No, I can't seem to avoid it in any way. I know that if I look at it again, the creature will show me horrifying things......but I'm just.... so....CURIOUS.