All Jack could remember when he opened his eyes was the time on the clock right before he shut off the lights as he crawled into his bed. It was precisely 6:65 a.m. and the sun was nowhere to be seen. He spun around, already standing up and wearing only his briefs and a lightweight white t-shirt, looking to see what time it was again. Only, there was no clock, no bed, no bedroom. Then it dawned on him that his clock had read 6:65 when he went to bed; he knew full well this was impossible.
Jack was never the abstract type. That’s not to suggest he wasn’t smart. On the contrary in fact. However, his lifestyle, by choice, was dealt in absolutes. He had little use for the games of wonderment that most people enjoyed throughout life as they dreamt their dreams of what could be. For Jack, it was either yes, or it was no; to most question. Black or white to the rules.
Thus the confusion as to what he was going through at this exact moment. Here was a man standing in a nearly pitch-black space- save the single source of light some distance in front of him- when in fact he thought he went to bed in his own room. No, he knew he went to his own room. This was a fact. He distinctly remembered he brushed his teeth using the same two-minute cycle on the toothbrush he uses every morning after his 12-hour work-shifts. After cleaning, he took his normal shower; however, this morning there was an unusually loud crashing sound that had come from his neighbor’s attached apartment. This didn’t stop his routine though.
After his shower, he changed into his usual nighttime attire of white briefs and a near equally white t-shirt- with a little brown stain in the center of his chest, it may have been chocolate or even syrup at one time-before he sat on the edge of his bed. Taking a moment to let the day fall away he stood back up, pulled back the sheets and lay down. Reaching across to shut off the lamp he gazed at the clock as to ensure he was on time. Looking at the clock seemed to have been more habitual as opposed to something he actually paid attention to. Jack saw that the time read 6:65 but didn’t think of it at the time as he pushed the switch on the light and closed his eyes.
Waking to only see the single light in the distance was not his normal routine. He again looked for something he recognized in the room or this space where his room was. Nothing was there. And if it was, he wasn’t able to actually see it. He couldn’t even see his own body as he looked down. He felt his underwear and shirt both of which were drenched in sweat. With little else to do, short of sitting down and doing more of nothing, Jack began to make his way toward the light emanating in the distance.
As he moved towards the only viewable thing in the area, he noticed that every step he took the light would flash as if his actions made it pulse.
On, off, on, off, on.
He paused to see if it was indeed his doing and the light remained steady. He picked up a foot, nothing. He jumped, and the light was out of view. Hmm… he thought as he continued to move forward.
Within feet of the light, he noticed an odd glare illuminating from around the light. As he came to the light itself, not unlike an older car model headlamp, he found that he couldn’t actually touch it. Jack made his way to the backside of the light he found that there was nothing there. Reaching up he suddenly saw a hand reaching back to him. Not just a hand- his hand. Impossible, he thought, realizing it was a mirror.
Investigated the mirror with the light, he backed up from it a few feet and found that there was only a reflection where the light was actually shining from. The rest of the glassy surface was merely there. No reflection, just clear glass with handprints on it. He jumped up and down and noticed again the light would come on and off as he did so. Staring at this non-physical light, it dawned on him to look around.
At first glance, he saw nothing. Not even those little squiggly lines one normally gets when staring too hard. He closed his eyes to think for a few moments, and when he opened them, he noticed yet another faint glow in the distance. The light was directly in front of him, a ninety-degree angle to the right of the headlamp-mirror-window-thing. The same light would have been to his right the entire time he was walking to where he is now.
With nothing to gain, or lose, Jack began running toward the faint light. He had been running for what seemed like five minutes when he stopped to gain some thought on the current situation. It was then that he realized that he was sweating more than he’d ever done before- yet he wasn’t short of breath. The light to his rear was now in the distance, only a slight din, and the dull light he was making his way to now still seemed quite the distance away. Though he contemplated stopping there to see what would happen if he waited; his curiosity won him over. Something that had never occurred to him in his life of absolutes.
He again began to run toward the duller light and started picking up the pace. It was then that he noticed a blue door appear to his left. It was still some ways from him, but it was there. He back peddled a few steps, and the door would disappear- forward, and it appeared again. A hallway in the middle of nowhere.
Looking down toward the blue door he could see it was lit from above and lit very well. He concluded that this couldn’t be a trick- being so well lit- as opposed to the reflected lights he’d been chasing for what now seemed forever? He moved towards the door with a little apprehension, continually looking over his shoulder to make sure no trick was being played upon him.
As he moved forward he came to an opening, almost like a foyer, just before the door. There was nowhere to sit or any ornate fixtures hanging from the grand ceilings, but the walls were lined with mirrors. Above each of the six mirrors that lined each wall was a phrase that Jack assumed was Latin the read "Et in Arcadia ego." He only assumed it was Latin as he’d studied French and Russian when he was younger and didn’t recognize this as either. Though truth-be-told, it could have been any language- he’s had a book on his kitchen table for some time covering languages of old. He noted that he’d have to read that when he finds his way home.
Looking at the top of each mirror, at the phrase, he noticed the colors and sizes of each iteration of the phrase were different. The first was written in white while the last of the six was written large and in red. In between the colors changed to four different shades of pink until the ending red. Making his way to the first mirror on his right he looked behind him to the opposite mirror and was unable to see his reflection. Odd. He thought.
Jack looked back at the current mirror only to see himself with only his underwear and shirt on. He began backing up and found that at about halfway across the 12-foot room he could no longer see his reflection. He turned around to the opposite mirror and, to his amazement, he could now see his reflection in that one.
Facing the door and looking to his left he began to move right to the first mirror. As he crossed the center of the room his reflection disappeared from the mirror to his left and reappeared on the one to his right. Any reasonable person could see that in a level room such as this one should be able to see their reflection in both mirrors at the same time. Putting his absolutes aside for the moment he decided to take it for what it was. Odd.
Again standing in front of the first mirror on the right he looked towards the blue door and began walking when he noticed as he passed the second mirror that his legs looked different. They were no longer the pasty white they had become from years of working night shift but instead streaked with red paint that was falling to the floor. He looked down prepared to be horrified and found nothing out of the unusual. He took a step back to the first mirror and saw the same reflection he saw before. He looked just like he did when he went to bed.
Slowing moving forward to the second mirror, again, Jack did not immediately look at his reflection. In his peripheral vision, he could see the red dripping to the floor once again. Taking a deep breath, he turned to the mirror and saw his legs were now completely covered- no longer were they merely streaked. Looking down and not seeing anything he turned to walk directly to the blue door but in passing the third mirror, he saw that his legs, in fact, his whole lower torso, were shredded with pieces of bone and flesh protruding at every angle.
The site of this reflection triggered his gag reflex and Jack threw-up a stomach full of bile. The sight of his own body in this shape, pools of blood all around him, was something he was not prepared to see. Even as he looked down, seeing he was okay, he was scared of what he might see if he continued forward. Wanting to make to the door he slowly walked forward with tears in his eyes.
Mirror four offered a worse view of himself his right arm was now missing with blood gushing from is the place. The rest of his body, from his head down, was mangled in the same fashion his legs were in the prior mirror. At the sight of this image, Jack fell to his knees sobbing in fear of what was next. He longed to leave this place, to exit that blue door but didn’t want to pass that last mirror.
Suddenly he had an idea that maybe the mirrors on the other side of the room offered a better outlook, a better reflection of himself. He was weak with grief and unable to stand, forcing him to crawl across the room to the far mirrors. The other side didn’t change the reflection as he saw his own bloody body creeping towards the opposite mirror number four.
With little other options left, less that of leaving the room to the black void of two lights, Jack stood up and looked toward the door. Taking a deep breath, he walked forward to the reflection of the sixth mirror. Stopping in front of the mirror he took another breath in and slowly exhaled as he turned to see the worst. He saw only himself. Not a reflection of his current self but what had the appearance of a reality television show of him taking a shower. He watched as the lights went out during his shower followed by a massive explosion. He watched, as if in slow motion, his entire bathroom being ripped to shreds. Pieces of tile, glass, and fire mixed as if in a blender. Colors of orange and wet sticky red plastered the space as it became a void. Nothing was left. Then darkness fell, and a reflection of Jack reappeared.
However, the reflection of a Jack wearing crisp white briefs and matching t-shirt began to morph itself into a corps of ripped flesh and bone fragments and blacken as if seared but a one thousand degrees fire. He closed his eyes to see his retro mechanical clock flip from 6:65 to 6:66 with a laugh to chill you to the bone.