Short Story: The Image in the Mirror

The Image in the Mirror

By: Alex Crowder

Outside observers would hear nothing during my slumber. My mind begins to travel to a state beyond consciousness and reality. The soothing sounds of white noise implore me to let go. My eyes had already closed when I felt a surge of relief consume my body. I slept the same every time like a mummy bandaged up. Some called it abnormal that I fell asleep with my head looking up at the ceiling, but nothing could be stranger than this night. I counted the sheep as they leaped over a fence. An abrupt crash interrupted the sheep’s jump. My body in response moved upwards like a vampire from its grave. Then, I could not believe my eyes.

This abominable cretin looked down at me. It resembled the sheep from a few seconds ago. It sure is ugly I thought to myself. A growly voice responded as if it could read my mind. “You do realize you only see yourself in me?”

I squinted, “Huh? What do you mean?”

“You humans are all the same. Akem Manah is the name. I am projecting your image.”

The sheep’s visage started to shift form, and it truly did resemble me. I wondered if a mirror had fallen onto my bed. No mirrors. I am not nearly as attractive as I thought. No wonder no girl wants to go out with me. That does look like me. My eyes slowly closed as I spoke out loud, “I must be dreaming.”

I continued to keep my eyes closed trying to fall into sleep. I knew all dreams must pass. My weariness must have brought about delirium. It seemed quite logical to me.

The growly voice roared once more, “I’ll turn your daughter into a goat if you don’t look at me!”

The words spoken by this demoniacal being reassured me of the present absurdity. No one would ever say such a ridiculous thing in reality. A yawn escaped my lips. “Goodnight, imposter.”

My body rolled in the covers never wanting to get up. The soft fabric embraced me with its warmth. Why do we even wake up in the morning? I decided to get up despite the trepidation to check on my daughter. My eyes widened as my imposter stared at me from a chair in the corner. I rolled my eyes and ignored his presence this time. I need to go back to the therapist. The divorce is weighing me down. I burst through the doors wondering why she slept so soundly.

An implosion nearly tore my chest apart. The hole in my heart grew by the second. My daughter had vanished from her crib, and a baby goat took her place. I started to panic rummaging through the refrigerator until I tripped over my own feet. My doppelganger’s laughter maddened me. I picked up a hammer and threw it at his skull. “THIS IS NOT FUNNY, YOU SON OF A BITCH.” The hammer clanked against his skull causing his body to fade.

Suddenly, I felt a smoldering heat. I feel like I entered a microwave.I had no chance to collect myself when a horde of beasts stampeded towards me. The loud rumbling appeared to shake the ground beneath my feet. These hellish creatures squeezed me tightly with a hug. Each beast had horns that protruded from their heads. The brown fur of this beast covered me as I desperately pushed it away. The repugant smell nearly caused me to choke. Minotaurs? All the minotaurs had nose rings, and most of them resembled a naked human. Also, they seemed to hear my thoughts like the doppelganger. I wish they put on some damn clothes.

One of the pack responded to me, “You burned all the clothing, Akem Manah…It is about time you returned. What is the 411?”

I looked at it incredulously, “I need to Google something.”

Another of the pack replied, “Google? We do not know how to Google. Boss, are you feeling okay today?”

I growled, “SOMEONE GET ME THE DAMN COMPUTER!”

Surprisingly, the minotaurs backed away in fear. A minotaur cried out in a nerdy voice, “Mr. Manah, we..we got rid of the computers. We shall go to the store and prevent the cashier from counting.”

Whatever, I whispered to myself. I decided to ignore them for the moment. I found myself enjoying this new world except for the heat. Blue flames doused everything around me. The landmarks remained strange. Volcanoes surrounded me. I saw minotaurs dropping people into pools of lava. The bubbling lava disintegrated anything it touched. Hard bone melted at its core leaving nothing intact. I saw two minotaurs taking a sponge bath in a crimson pool. I poured a water bottle down my throat, and my throat got greeted by scorching ashes. The smell of gasoline consumed my nostrils, and the water barreling down my throat should have burnt my throat to pieces. I let the lava slide through my fingers. Suddenly, a keyboard appeared beneath my fingers. I decided to Google Akem Manah.

The name Akem Manah represented a demon. The demon Akem Manah created evil allegedly. He wished to prevent people from fulfilling moral duties. Interesting I guess. I might as well live in the moment. My research got cut short. The minotaurs made this horrid noise. A few of them started throwing objects across this strange realm. A temper tantrum, perhaps? These minotaurs might suspect the truth.

I shouted with a cheerful tone, “Minotaurs assemble!”

The lumbering minotaurs rampaged through this strange hell and looked at me giddy. I knew this dream would subside in time, so I decided to play along before they tore me apart. The power rush started to exhilarate me a little I must admit. Whaaa. Whaaa. Whaaa. I ignored the background noise and gave each group of minotaurs a task.

I told the first group to target meter maids. I told the second group to target cart pushers. I told the third group to target pizza joints. I told the final group to target college students. I waited for them to complete their task and skinny dipped in the smoldering heat. The heat did not faze me anymore. My body’s soreness faded due to the lava’s touch. Whaaa. Whaaa. Whaaa. The minotaurs did seem to find my tasks strange, yet they complied.

The meter maids took extended lunch breaks that caused numerous car crashes. News broadcasts wondered why a record number of accidents occurred on this day. The cart pushers stayed at home stoned instead of showing up to work. A few of these cart pushers could not pay the bills, and parking lots were never the same. The consumer’s inability to put a cart up left cars etched in scratches. The pizza joints closed down early and ate the pizza themselves. Some of them developed diabetes due to gluttony. One consumer died of starvation and whole families ate less without a cheap alternative. Whaaa. Whaaa. Whaaa. The college students caused the most mayhem. Riots ensued as college students burned their tests and threw couches through the windows of their professors. Other college students neglected school for video games. This failure left them without a degree and led to a lifetime as a cashier at the local burger joints.

Whaaa. This incessant sound rang through my ears. The sound never stopped. I forgot to change her diaper last night before bed. A loud sigh surrounded me nearly breaking my eardrums. My wife’s disapproving glare could be felt even in this hell. “You’re such an asshole sometimes. Do you ever consider my feelings?” I knew she would be pissed that I spent a 120 dollars on a video game. Everything made sense at that moment.

I finally saw the joke in all this. I erupted in maniacal laughter wondering why I never saw it before. I needed to be a good parent, a good boyfriend; I should have realized what is truly important. I neglected my duties. The minotaurs erupted in laughter, as I looked into the mirror one last time.

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