Grandpa always told him not to be afraid, “Thomas there is nothing in the dark to hurt you. There is no need to be afraid.” He replayed the words over and over. There is nothing in the dark to hurt you. There is no need to be afraid. He sat in a dejected lump on the side of the bed and tried really hard to believe in Grandpa.
The trouble was that he didn’t think Grandpa had ever seen them he didn’t think anyone had ever seen them, only he had. The first time was when he was seven, he had gone to the bathroom for a glass of water and glanced in the mirror and they were looking at him. Screaming he fled back to his bed and deep, deep under the covers he shivered and shook until daybreak.
In the morning he waited until his brother Patrick had been into the bathroom and come out safely again before he dared to go in. He was so scared of pushing open the door and facing the lustrous silver portal that the mirror had become that he wet the bed. Mummy had been patient and kind but he was so ashamed and they knew that didn’t they? He also knew that they would come back unless he could find a way to get rid of them.
The crash when the mirror hit the floor was stupendous and the shock and fear on mummy’s face dashing into the room made him very sorry but it had to be done.
The next time was at school and that was worse. He shared a dorm. with three other boys. Everyone laughed and pointed and jeered for weeks after the night they had pulled back the covers to see what the noise was and found the tiny shivering sobbing figure that he had become. Daddy had been very cross when the school asked him to pay for the broken mirror but no matter. He couldn’t tell him about them. He must never, never speak about them.
So it was, year after year wherever he went there would be a mirror and there would be a dark night and at some point he would have to go to the place where the mirror was. He would try to keep his eyes down but they could make him look up, they could make him see and he would have to shatter it and break it, smash it to smithereens. Dresser mirrors weren’t a problem, once he was alone he could drape a coat or a blanket over them and that made them safe. The dangerous ones were the ones fixed to walls. There was no way to cover them. They sat and waited for the dark and then called to him.
His mummy and daddy took him to see doctors and they tried to make him talk about them but he knew, oh yes he knew that if he ever once made the mistake of trying to explain they would know. They wanted to destroy him, they wanted him dead.
Now here he was again, in a strange room in a strange house and there was a mirror in the bathroom. “Is there a lock for this door?”
“No dear and it’s only for you to use anyway.” Mrs Jenkins had smiled kindly and left him to unpack. His best friend Jamie was downstairs waiting to play computer games. He was stuck here in the “guest bedroom” scared of the mirror in the bathroom. He made a decision, “Okay Grandpa, you’d better not let me down.” He spoke to his now dead grandfather in an effort to build up some sort of courage.
All the lights in the room were shining, the ceiling light, both bedside lamps and the reading lamp on the desk. It had to be now tonight. It was time, they had ruled his life for too long.
He pulled open the door. There it was glowing dully in the borrowed light from the bedroom. He prodded at the switch on the wall. The bulb in the ceiling popped and splintered into tiny fragments peppering the floor with tinkling sparkling debris. He jumped backwards into the bedroom, took a huge steadying breath and readied himself for another assault.
The door thudded against the wall thrown as wide as it could possibly go. One step inside, another. The mirror leered at him a gleaming eye waiting for him to take another step. He moved. His head high, fists clenched at his side he took four more steps. Now he was truly in the lair of the beasts it was further to go back than to go on. His breathing was suspended, moisture ran between his shoulder blades and collected in the creases of his armpits. He gulped and took it head on. For the first time in seven years he looked directly into a mirror in the dark.
As the police car and undertaker’s van pulled out of the drive Mrs Jenkins wrapped her arms around Jamie’s shoulders. “You couldn’t have known darling, we often don’t know when someone is very upset and depressed.” She wiped the tears away and tried to stop trembling as she turned to go and help the girl with the cleaning up. There was such a terrible amount of blood. Who ever would have believed such a small boy would bleed so very much but then the gashes in his wrists had been so deep. She must make sure the girl didn’t miss any of the shards of mirror glass on the carpet it was so sharp, so dangerous.