Mirror in the Bathroom

I had the dream again last night, always the same sequence of events, the same cataclysmic outcome. Except now it was happening every night, proof as if any were needed that it was almost upon us.

I’m drying myself after a shower in the bathroom. I go over to the mirrored medicine cabinet on the wall, rooting around for something I can never find. As I open it, something catches my eye, a flash of movement, I’m never entirely sure. I slowly adjust the mirrored door knowing I’m being watched I rub the steam away and see the outline of a young woman standing directly behind me, clouds of water vapour gently eddying around her.

I whirl around and she puts her finger to her lips with one hand holding out the other with an odd formality as though asking me to dance. An alien thrumming through my head tells me she’s dead, although the solidity of her body belies that fact. But it’s her face that makes me want to scream: devoid of features apart from two indentations where her eye sockets should have been. But it’s not a smooth blankness, it’s as though what passed for the skin of her face is malleable like putty and has been flattened by inefficient careless fingers, leaving bumps and odd ridges in their wake. I try to call out but my voice has deserted me and I know I’m alone.

With her.

She’s dripping from head to toe and her dirty white dress is torn and hanging off one shoulder.

She walks towards me, the mottled flesh of her narrow frame discernable through the thin fabric of her dress. I press myself as far against the wall as I and try again to shout, but can’t summon the breath, choking instead on the hot, sulpherous steam.

My own power blazes through my bones and before I can even direct it, bursts from me and slashes the thing’s face and body and then again and again, numerous times, too many to count. Bright blood wells to the surface of these cuts like a profusion of jagged red mouths just before it begins to gush onto the floor. Something is moving around beneath the skin like a frightened rodent and the more I cut, the more excitable the burrower becomes. I throw myself to the left towards the bathroom door, but the bloodied figure gives me a contemptuous, almost lazy swipe that connects with my shoulders. I hit my head off the tiles, and feel a warm wetness running down my face and pooling beneath me as it cools. My vision blurs and I fight to stay conscious, but it’s only a matter of time.

I can only see the creature’s bare feet from my vantage point on the floor and now they begin to walk towards me slowly. No need to rush, not now. With a detachment born of blood loss and shock, I watch it approach, stand over me for what seems like minutes but could only have been seconds and then it squats down beside me, so I can see its face. The wounds I’ve slashed into its skin gape wide and move of their own volition. Inside the raw meat, the wet flick of an eye, the extrusion of a decayed tooth roils in a fevered constant motion. I whimper and try to edge away but I can’t move, can’t call out, can’t get out of this one.

Because this time, it’s not a dream and she’s finally decided to come for me.

And there’s not a damned thing in this world or the next that I can do about it.

Old Gods and New Tricks

“Lady,” it said, stepping out from the dark and blocking my progress. But it turned out to be a he, huge at six seven, but there the similarity with a human male ended. A corpse candle up to no good fizzed past his face and circled him as though for my benefit. His skin was a rich moss green and two sharp, jutting horns rose from either side of his head, their base lost in the thick tangled matt of dark hair which hung down to his chest. Long legs covered in shaggy hair ended in hooves, but for all that the face was human, finely boned even, with a full red mouth that looked faintly obscene especially when it smiled as it was doing now. The chest and arms were recognisably human too: muscled and curiously hairless as though to suggest vulnerability when I knew there was none worth the name.

A ripe, animal stench reached my nostrils and I fought not to gag. He smiled wider at that, showing wickedly sharp incisors that could crack an elephant’s thigh bone all so he could suck the marrow.

More corpse candles appeared circling us in a bobbing, weaving ring of purple light and I could believe the old stories where they led unwary travellers to their death. Their beauty made the thing in front of me all the more perverse and the fear crackled along the length of my spine, forcing the hairs on the back of my neck to attention.

“How do you like your final resting place,” he said indicating Arthur Seat and Holyrood Park with a sweep of his arm.

And then he lunged.

High Spirits

Storm clouds gravid with snow mobbed a sickly sky, tainting the jaundiced daylight a death-bed sepia. I trudged to my next job through the detritus from the last snow fall, virginal purity violated without so much as a proposal to show for it. As I was nursing a particularly vicious hang-over, I felt pretty ravaged myself. The address I’d been given was in the Grange, Edinburgh’s most exclusive post code. It was only half an hours walk from my flat in Bruntsfield, but in terms of the aspirations of a worker ant like me, it was like a mouse pining for a castle on the moon. My blinding headache jarred every step of the way turning the short journey into an epic worthy of Homer never mind NASA. When I finally lurched into the right street I was greeted by the first line of defence of the rich: the seemingly endless vista of anonymous tree lined street; the second being the high stone walls, over which nothing was visible, presumably to discourage the crass curiosity of those vulgar enough to be less fortunate.

If I had known then what I know now, I’d have told my erstwhile employers exactly where to stick their sicko ‘requirements’. Maybe they, along with half the street, would still be alive now…

Cupboard Love

It had lived in the cupboard for as long it could remember although it did not know quite how long that was. Given that happened to be a few centuries and then some change, a spot of forgetfulness was not perhaps surprising. What was odd however, was how the little bodach had managed to survive for so long in such a hostile environment because the cupboard was situated in the infamous Marchmont tenement, 17 Arden Street. Infamous of course only in certain circles, those you might say that were in the know. Sadly that knowledge did not extend to the poor chumps who bought the place and then fled, selling it hurriedly for a knock-down price low enough to attract the next batch of poor, unsuspecting chumps. And on and on it went.

Night time was the worst, because that was when they came out, slithering round the walls, across the ceiling and over the few items of furniture that remained. It shivered at the memory, knowing darkness was not far off and pressed itself tighter against the wall. It was hiding on the top shelf, behind the rusting tins of carnation milk to be exact. It had not always been this way, but the bodach could not remember exactly when it had changed.

It had moved into this tenement flat not long after they had been built in the 1800s and it had faithfully looked after the place and people in it, even when they had forgotten to leave little tokens of their appreciation in return for such service. But people did not recall the old ways and the bodach had been weakened by the fact. He, for it was a he, was almost translucent now and his fiery nature had been dampened by age and neglect. He had tried hard to protect the humans, but he had been beaten steadily back until this cramped, damp little space had become his only refuge and now his whole world.

But last night during the few minutes of fitful sleep he had managed to snatch in between fearfully waiting for them to discover the only living creature left in the flat, he had had an idea.

A scary, awful idea perhaps, but tonight he was going to carry it out or die in the attempt.