The Mirror - Part 2 (New Version)

This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to


On that fateful Saturday morning, James Noble's waking thoughts were of the previous evening's highly ignominious events, at the Cock & Bull pub.

And James groaned, wretchedly. This wasn't something he wanted to have to think about; toe-curling recollections, that just didn't bear dwelling upon. 

James moaned miserably. He screwed his eyes shut ... but the disturbing images were still there, persisting; the mental playback, set to a recurring loop of hideously embarrassing torment. So he pulled the duvet over his head, as though it was a protective shroud; a forcefield, that might at least deflect some of the poisoned-arrow memories that were relentlessly assailing him. 

But it wasn't a very effective shield ... 

James remembered the two barstool-perched stunning blondes, Jennifer and Sharon, both of them giving him a stinging, retributive slap in the face; he remembered the footsore bartender, Joan the barmaid, slowly pouring his untouched, ice-cold pint of lager over his head: his humiliating punishment ... Because they'd caught him staring at their feet. 

All of this, to the enthusiastic approval and uproarious delight of the Cock & Bull's Friday-night drinkers; those boisterous, letting-their-hair-down, end-of-the-working-week revellers.

And, the worst of it – the absolute worst of it – was that his girlfriend, Debbie, was there to share in the unspeakable humiliation.

James sighed in resignation ... there would be no more sleep for him, this morning. He got out of bed, and padded to the bathroom. 

Taking a shower, James remembered about the present he was going to buy for Debbie's mum, Doris, for her birthday in about two weeks' time. Debbie was coming along too, and she'd told him to pick her up at home at about half-past eleven.

First, he'd sort himself some breakfast. And then, he thought, he'd better give his flat a bit of a tidy-up – not that he lived like a slob, because he certainly didn't – to make sure it was decent for when he and Debbie returned later ... with the mirror. 

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It was 11:25, when James arrived at Debbie's to pick her up. He got out of his twelve-year-old, seen-better-days silver-grey Vauxhall Astra, and locked it up. He opened the front gate, walked up the path, and knocked on Debbie's door. Or rather, Doris's door ... and it was she who answered. And Debbie's mum was a foreboding, unnerving presence, this morning. Filling the doorway, she stood with her arms crossed, and glared at James.

"Er ... Hello, Mrs Morris ... Nice, today, isn't it? I've – I've come for Debbie. Is she ready? Can you let her know that I'm—"

"So, what's all this I've been hearing, James, about what happened at the Cock and Bull last night?" demanded Debbie's mum. "Deborah never said a thing – not a word! I had to find out from Mrs Ogden, the newsagent, when I went to buy a paper this morning. She says everyone's talking about it! Well, James? What were you up to, this time? What were you—"

Then Debbie suddenly appeared, saving James from Doris's inquisition. With forced cheer, she said, "See you later, Mum." Squeezing past Doris, she said, "James would love to stop and chat, but we've got to be going. Bye, Mum!"

"You haven't heard the last of this!" shouted Doris, at the hastily departing James and Debbie. "Not by a long shot. I'm not letting it drop – not this time! Do you hear me, you two? When you get back, we're going to have a serious talk."

Putting her seatbelt on in the car, Debbie said, "As you've probably gathered, James, Mum is not a happy bunny this morning."

"Hmm. Yes, I did sort of get that impression, Debs."

"Oh, well ... Come on then, James. Start up this heap of junk of yours, that you call a car. Let's go take a look at this mirror."

                                                               *            *            * 

A ten-minute drive, and they were arriving at their destination; a street in a tranquil, leafy suburb in south-west London. James drove slowly along the quiet road, while Debbie scanned the house numbers, looking for the address she'd been given the previous evening. 

In contrast to the other houses in Springfield Crescent, number thirty-seven's front garden was looking rather unkempt, thought Debbie as James pulled up at the kerb. 

But, after James and Debbie had entered through the front gate, it wasn't so much unkempt, thought Debbie, as sadly neglected: There was a private-hire taxi parked in the drive, its tyres going soft; the opened front gate was hanging off one of its hinges; there were weeds growing between the cracks in the flagstone paving; and heaven knows when number thirty-seven's windows last saw soapy water, thought Debbie as she and James made their way to the front door, holding hands.

Debbie rang the doorbell, and a few seconds later a blurred image appeared behind the door's frosted-glass panel. 

The woman who opened the door was brunette, brown-eyed, and she was in her mid-thirties, Debbie guessed – Mrs Leadbetter, if she was the lady she'd spoken to on her mobile, from the Cock & Bull last evening. She had a good figure, and an engaging, pleasant face. She was very welcoming, too ... though her demeanour seemed rather agitated, to Debbie.

Standing just behind the lady, was a man – Mr Leadbetter, Debbie assumed. But he wasn't so welcoming. Wasn't so hospitable. In fact, to both Debbie and James, his enmity was palpable. His expression was sullen, and he emanated resentment. With open hostility, the man looked James and Debbie up and down, and James felt Debbie's hand tighten its grip in his. He certainly had a thing or two to learn about doorstep etiquette, thought James.

Debbie, though, rather more charitably, thought the man looked unwell. He looked overtired, haggard – gaunt. His skin had a pale, unhealthy looking pallor, and he had large and unsightly purple-black pouches under his eyes, as if he hadn't slept properly in some time. And Debbie was sure he hadn't shaved for at least a week – maybe even two weeks. And if Mrs Leadbetter was looking agitated, then her husband looked outright panicky.

"Yes?" said the lady politely. "Can I help you?" she asked, addressing Debbie.

"Hello, Mrs Leadbetter – it is, Mrs Leadbetter, isn't it? We spoke on the phone, yesterday evening ... about the mirror?" 

"It's not for sale!" barked Mr Leadbetter aggressively, taking James and Debbie rather aback. "The mirror's not for sale – go away! And don't come back!"

Mrs Leadbetter glowered at her husband. "How – how dare you, Howard Leadbetter? Embarrassing the life out of me, in front of this lovely young couple. I've told you! Now, and for the last time: The mirror is going – and that's that. Get over it!"

Mrs Leadbetter turned back to James and Debbie, her face creased in abject apology. "I hope you'll forgive my husband's appalling rudeness. But, for some unfathomable reason, he's become terribly ... attached to the mirror. It's up in the attic. His little retreat, from the world ... and from me. Won't – won't you come in, please ... to see the mirror?" 

Debbie and James exchanged discomfited glances ... there was definitely something strange, something weird, going on here.

Mr and Mrs Leadbetter led the way, preceding James and Debbie up the ladders and into the attic. Mr Leadbetter had tugged on a pull-cord light switch, and the attic was illuminated by a naked light bulb dangling from the rafters. James's first impression, was that the attic – Mr Leadbetter's "little retreat" – was actually quite spacious. 

As James looked around, though, he thought that his initial sense of roominess was deceptive. For, in the top-of-the-house, bare wooden floorboards room, there were only three items taking up space: a coffee table; a small folding seat, made of grey tubular metal and dark-green canvas; and, just a few feet in front of the little flimsy chair, supported by a two-foot-tall, plinth-like wooden stand, was ... the mirror.

"Well ... what do you think, dears?" prompted Mrs Leadbetter encouragingly.

James regarded the mirror with keen interest. It was quite intriguing, he thought. Not that he was any expert, but he was sure it must be a very unusual piece; what the presenters of The Antiques Road Show on TV might call a 'curio'. 

The mirror was unusually large, too, thought James. Rectangular in shape, James estimated the mirror to measure about two feet tall, by four feet wide. Of similar dimensions, he thought, as his recently bought pride and joy – his Internet-capable 46-inch flat-screen TV. 

The mirror was framed in an ornately carved, highly-polished hard wood, that James thought might be mahogany, or maybe teak. And he thought the mirror glass itself was in remarkably good nick – just as was claimed, in the local newspaper advertisement that Debbie had seen. Hmm ... he mused. This was an antique mirror, crafted in the seventeenth century. Yet there was no sign of ageing; no sign, of the pitting, patina, or any other age-related blemishes that James had been expecting to see upon such an old glass surface ... No sign, of imperfection. 

The mirror's glossy, dark wood frame was in very good condition too and, though it did look its age, its succession of owners had obviously cared for it extremely well, over the long years of its existence. 

James had already decided that he was going to buy the mirror, it being such a fine looking piece. Debbie's mum was going to be over the moon with it, he thought. Nonetheless, he turned to Mr Leadbetter and asked, "I'm just curious, but ... is this the original mirror glass?"

"Oh, yes. It's the original glass," Mr Leadbetter assured James. "It wouldn't work, otherwise," he added cryptically. 

Debbie and James exchanged discomfited glances again. Was Mr Leadbetter right in the head? they wondered uneasily.

And now Debbie, for some ... instinctive reason, was having second thoughts about the mirror. Second thoughts, about letting James buy the mirror as a present for her mum's birthday, in about two weeks' time. She couldn't put her finger on it, but, there was something ... disturbing, about the mirror. Debbie was experiencing a niggling, ominous feeling about it. And Mr Leadbetter's strangeness; his weird behaviour, and the way he was so clearly letting himself deteriorate – not to mention, Mrs Leadbetter's obvious eagerness to be rid of the mirror – only served to unsettle Debbie further. She felt foolish. Told herself not to be silly. It was crazy, she knew, crazy to think this way. Yet ...

It must just be her over-active imagination, thought Debbie, brought on by her growing sense of deep unease, that she felt her fingertips tingle unpleasantly as she traced them along the top of the mirror's ornately carved wooden frame. Nonetheless, Debbie hastily withdrew her fingers, and she asked Mr Leadbetter, "What – what are all of these ... weird symbols, carved into the frame?"

"They are a sort of, well ... spell," Howard Leadbetter supplied. "The mirror was designed and crafted by Edward Landry, a seventeenth-century practitioner of the occult. See ... here is his signature, in the bottom right-hand corner of the frame. The mirror's ... powers, pass on. Transfer, from owner to owner."

"Now, that's enough! Stop spouting your nonsense, Howard! Do you hear me? I won't have it!" railed Mrs Leadbetter, her voice high-pitched in great annoyance. "Don't think I don't know what you're trying to do: you're trying to frighten this young couple – trying to put them off buying the mirror."

Turning to Debbie, Mrs Leadbetter said, soothingly, "Take no notice of my husband, dear. If you want to buy the mirror, it's yours – and for just twenty pounds, just like I said last night. An absolute bargain, in anyone's book."

But Debbie wasn't soothed. In fact, her unease was deepening by the second. And whether the mirror was going to cost twenty pounds, or Mrs Leadbetter was actually going to pay her and James a removal fee just to get the damn thing the hell out of her home, was no longer of any account. Debbie had changed her mind about the mirror; wished she had never set eyes on the newspaper advertisement. And now the thought – just the very thought – of her mum giving that odious thing pride of place in their home, in two weeks' time, was giving her a bad case of the heebie-jeebies.

In growing trepidation, Debbie asked Mrs Leadbetter, diffidently, "May I – may I ask why you want to sell the mirror?"

Mrs Leadbetter emitted a great, eloquent sigh, suggestive of long-suffering. "The honest truth? Because I want my husband back. Back to the way he was ... before he bought the mirror. It's as simple as that, dear. He bought it at a car-boot sale in Crawley, three months ago, for a hundred pounds ... and he's not been the same since. 

"I'm sure you must have noticed the state of him, dear," she went on. "Look at him ... But he's actually quite a handsome man, believe it or not ... underneath all that. He's a self-employed taxi driver. But his cab hasn't moved from our drive in three months, and so we are getting behind with our mortgage. And, as you can see, he's letting himself go all to pot; no longer taking any pride in his appearance. He spends every waking moment, up here in the attic ... with the light off. That's – that's the funny thing: For hour, after hour, in the dark, he just sits in that canvas fishing-chair, and stares at the mirror. Lord knows, what he sees in it – if you see what I mean. Sometimes, I'll quietly come up here, to find his eyes absolutely glued to it ... in the dark. Just staring, and staring, and staring at it. And he's letting the house and garden go all to pot, too, besides his own appearance. He just shuts himself away up here, and doesn't so much as lift a finger around the house. 

"So, there you are," said the unhappy housewife, addressing both James and Debbie. "That's why I want to sell the mirror. It's been turning my life upside-down. I've had enough, and I want to get back to normal. So ... Do you – do you want to buy it, then? For just twenty pounds? I'll let you have it for twenty pounds. Just like I promised you, last—" 

"Done! You've got yourself a deal, Mrs Leadbetter," said James brightly. 

Smiling in self-congratulation, James handed Mrs Leadbetter a £20 note, the agreed upon sum. She promptly handed James's money over to her husband ... thereby completing the transaction: Sealing the bargain, and confirming the mirror's transference of ownership.

"Um ... actually, James, I'm not so sure about this, any more," demurred Debbie uneasily. "I – I think we should forget about buying the mirror, James. There's – there's something about it ... something—"

"Don't be daft, Debs! Just listen to yourself!" James chided, with a foolish grin. "Like you said last night, Debs, it's just the thing for your mum's birthday present. She's going to love it!"

Turning to Mr Leadbetter, James said, "If me and Debbie stand down below, Mr L, will you pass the mirror down to us, please?"

At seeing a stern and reproving look from his wife, Mr Leadbetter finally nodded his reluctant acquiescence. Resigned, at last, to the fact that the mirror was going, he said grumpily, "Oh, all right, then." 

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The mirror wasn't too heavy and, with it still attached to its two-foot-tall, plinth-like wooden stand, Debbie and James managed to carry it to James's car easily enough between them.

It was only after James had opened the Astra's hatch, and they had lifted the mirror out of its stand, that Debbie thought they might have a problem. "Um ... I'm not sure the mirror is going to fit, James," she said uncertainly. "Maybe you'd better fold the back seat forward to accommodate it – I don't want to have to struggle with this thing any more than is necessary. Go on, I'll hold the mirror until you've folded the back seat down."

"Okay, Debs," said James.

As the Astra's central-locking no longer worked, in order to get access to the back seat, James had to open the driver's door again, and then pull up the door lock on the rear door.

Having folded down the back seat, James then walked to the back of the car, where Debbie was waiting for him. "It should be easy enough, James. I'll hold this end, you hold that end, and we'll lift the mirror into the car together. We'll put it in face-down on the boot's carpeting, and the stand can sit on top, okay?" James nodded his understanding and acquiescence.

James had gotten a good, firm hold on his end of the mirror, and he was just about to start lifting when, reflected in the mirror, he saw a from-the-knees-down view of a girl or a woman's legs and high-heeled, open-toed strappy sandal shod feet approaching. Her legs were tanned and shapely, her toes were painted a lovely shade of pink, and he could hear that exciting sound of high heels clack-clack-clacking on a hard surface getting louder and louder, as she drew nearer and nearer ... and then it was the receding backs, of the girl or woman's legs and feet that James saw in the mirror, the clack-clack-clacking sound of her high heels, growing fainter and fainter, as she walked further and further away ...

James was nonplussed. Mystified. How could that be? he thought in amazement. What he'd just seen ... How could it possibly be? 

He looked over the Astra's roof, looking for the walking-away girl or woman he'd just seen in the mirror ... but there was no girl, there was no woman. In fact, there wasn't a soul on the quiet street – either way – apart from him and Debbie.

"Er ... when you're ready, James," prompted Debbie, her voice conveying that she was wondering why he wasn't lifting his end of the mirror yet.

"Did – did you see her, Debbie? Didn't you – didn't you hear her?" James stammered. 

"What are you on about, James? See who? Hear who?" said Debbie in puzzlement, surveying the street in both directions ... the empty street.

"There was – there was a ... didn't you see, Debbie?" James stuttered incoherently.  

"I haven't seen anyone ... Now, are we going to stand here all day, like two morons, or are we going to put this mirror in the car? On a count of three, okay, James? One ..."

James had gotten another good, firm hold on his end of the mirror, and was waiting on Debbie's count to three, when, reflected in the mirror, he saw a from-the-knees-down view of a girl or a woman's legs and feet, walking away. This girl or woman's bare legs were quite pale, and she was wearing a pair of well-worn looking black flats.

"Two ..." said Debbie.

James turned around. He wanted to see the girl or woman; to actually see her, with his own two eyes. He wanted to see the real, live, in-the-flesh, girl or woman, to see who she was, to see what her face looked like ... but there was no one there. 

"Three!" said Debbie.

James turned back to the mirror, to see the walking-away girl or woman suddenly stop. She slipped her foot from her right, well-worn black flat, and James saw her hand reach down for her shoe. She upended it, rapped the heel of her flat against the pavement, and James saw a tiny stone fall out and roll away. "Ah, gotcha!" he heard the girl or woman say, her relief and satisfaction plainly evident in her voice. The girl or woman then raised her right leg behind her, and James got a superb view of her bare sole, looking all hot, and sweaty, and smelly. Her arch was pale, starkly contrasting with the redness of the bottom of her heel, the ball of her foot, and her toe pads. But he had no more than a brief, tantalising glimpse of the highly arousing sight, before the girl or woman gave her toes a quick, splaying wiggle, and then pulled her flat back on again with her hand.

"Aaahhhh!" wailed Debbie, holding her hand to the small of her back. Angry and upset, she demanded, "What the hell, James? I've hurt my back! Why – why didn't you lift? Oh ... I could really throttle you, sometimes!"

"I'm sorry, Debbie. But – but I saw ... I thought I saw ..."

"What? You saw what, James? What the hell is wrong with you? There's no one here but us! I'd said: On a count of three. Didn't I? And now ... and now my back's hurting. Oh, I said we shouldn't have bought the mirror! Didn't I? I told you I was having second thoughts about it, that there was something ... something about it. But, would you listen? No.

"Anyway, James," said Debbie, getting into the front passenger seat of the car, "you'll have to find someone else now, to help you lift the mirror into the back of the car."

James's mind was all over the place. He didn't know what to think. What to think, about the girls or women he'd seen walking along the pavement, reflected in the mirror ... girls or women, that Debbie hadn't seen. Was he having some kind of ... episode? 

He was distraught, too, that he'd caused Debbie to put her back out, and ... and how was he going to explain that, to Debbie's mum?

James looked up and down the street, hoping to spot a likely helper ... and he saw Mr Leadbetter. 

Mr Leadbetter was in his drive, with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge, about to start washing his private-hire taxi. He'd had a shave, James noticed, and combed his hair. And already he was looking healthier: less gaunt, more sparkle-eyed, and the pallor of his skin wasn't quite so pale; even had a bit of colour to it now. And he had a look of get-up-and-go about him, too, that hadn't been there before. Looks like Mrs Leadbetter is getting her husband back, thought James. Looks like he's getting back to the man he was ... "before he bought the mirror".

"Er, Mr L ..." James said, walking over to him. "Couldn't do us a bit of a favour, could you? Help me get the mirror into my car? Debbie's put her back out, you see, trying to lift—"

"Yes, I know. I saw what happened. I've been watching ... and waiting. Waiting for the moment, when you found out. When you ... realised."

"Realised what, Mr L?"

Mr Leadbetter stared at James for some moments, before saying, "The mirror. It ... it tunes in, to you. And it knows you, now ... Just as it knew me."

"Um ... Right you are, Mr L ... Er, any chance of a hand, then, Mr L? It'll only take us two ticks."

"All right, then, come on ... And my name's Howard. My friends call me Howie."

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Fifteen minutes later, James was parking the Astra at the kerb outside Debbie's. "How's your back feeling now, Debbie?" asked James solicitously.

"Terrible, thanks for asking.”

"Oh," said James.

"And James, make sure you get someone to help you with the mirror when you get back to your flat. I don't want you ending up with a bad back as well," Debbie said while unbuckling her seatbelt.

"No ... I mean yes, Debs. I'll get Mr Jessop to help me. He's the caretaker at Hopwell House. We're on friendly terms, Joe and me. He'll give me a quick hand with it, no problem."

"Come on then, James. Come in for a cup of tea, before you go back to your flat."

But, having seen the pair return, Debbie's mum was waiting for them on the doorstep ... and James didn't like the look of her body language. Doris was standing there, arms crossed, and with a face like thunder. 

"Right then, you two," she said in no-nonsense tones as Debbie and James came in through the front gate. "As I said earlier, I want a word. You are in trouble, James. I want to know what you were up to last night."

"Er, oh-oh ... I think maybe you'd better make yourself scarce, James," Debbie said quietly. "Mum's on the warpath."

James didn't need telling twice. When Debbie's mum was on the warpath, you'd better look out – if you knew what was good for you.

"Oh! Debbie, love, what's the matter with your back?" exclaimed Doris, upon seeing her daughter holding her hand to the small of her back.

"Er ... It's nothing, Mum. Just a slight twinge, that's all. I'll – I'll probably be all right, in a few hours."

"Come back here, James!" shouted Doris, at seeing James making a sharp exit. "James! James!! I said: come here – you've got some explaining to do!" she yelled, as James hastily let himself out the front gate, leaving it wide open behind him. "Come back now! I want a word with—"

"Um, James can't stop, Mum. He – he's ..."

Debbie and her mum watched, as James raced headlong to the Astra. He flung open the driver's door, slammed it shut behind him, hurriedly fastened his seatbelt, started the engine, and then floored the accelerator, wheel-spinning away about 2,000 miles' worth of tread as he shot away from the kerb with a loud squeal of tortured tyres, and leaving behind him the lingering, acrid stench of burnt rubber, and the oily tang indicative of worn piston rings.

Debbie looked at her mum and smiled. "Looks like that old heap of his has got some life in it yet, Mum."

And Debbie's mum, though she tried to remain stern-faced, couldn't resist smiling back. Linking arms with her daughter, she said, "Come on, Debbie. Let's go in and have a cuppa."

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James didn't live far from Debbie's, and so it was only a matter minutes before he was arriving at his flat at Hopwell House. He parked the Astra in the residents' car park, and looked out through the windscreen for any sign of the caretaker. 

And, as luck would have it, there was the fifty-something, brown-boiler-suit-wearing caretaker, Mr Jessop, wielding his hard-bristled sweeping brush. He was tidying up outside the six-storey block of flats; a sure sign that he had nothing much else to do.

"Joe! Just the man!" said James cheerily through the now half-lowered driver's window, causing the crouching caretaker to pause and look around just as he was sweeping a discarded crisp packet into his dustpan. "Give us a quick hand here for two seconds, Joe, will you, if you've got a quiet minute?"

The caretaker deposited the piece of litter into his black plastic refuse sack, straightened up, and arched his back. "Okay, James. Bit it'll have to be quick – you can see how busy I am," Joe quipped.

"Yes ... and backbreaking work it is, too, by the looks of it," James quipped back.

Smiling, the caretaker walked over to the Astra. Patting its roof, he said, "How the scrap man hasn't got his hands on this thing yet, I'll never know, mate."

"That's what Debbie keeps saying. It's a cracking little runner, though. Never lets me down."

"Hmm ... So, cock sparrow, what do you need a hand with, then?"

By way of answering, James got out of the car, opened the hatch and, after taking out the two-foot-tall, plinth-like stand and placing it on the ground, he pointed at the mirror. "This, mate. It slots into its stand, so we can carry it to my flat all in one piece. I've bought it as a present for Debbie's mum's birthday, in about two weeks' time – which is why I've brought it here. You know, to keep it out of her sight, so the surprise isn't spoiled. So, what do you think? She's going to love it, Joe ... don't you think?"

"Hmm ... A mirror."

James, remembering what the mirror's previous owner, Mr Leadbetter, had said about it, thought he'd josh his caretaker friend a bit. "Ah! But not just any old mirror, Joe. It's a seventeenth-century antique mirror, designed and crafted by Edward Landry, the infamous practitioner of the occult. Look, see all of these scary symbols, carved into the frame? And look, here's his signature, in the bottom right-hand corner of the frame. See, Joe, the mirror has ... special powers."

"Ha ha ha! A supernatural mirror? And you are going to give it to your girlfriend's mum, for her birthday! Ha ha ha! Priceless that is, mate. Just priceless ... Seriously though, James, at times, you do talk an awful lot of—"

"Not me, Joe. The bloke I've just bought it from. And he was being dead serious, too. Honest, he was. He was desperate to keep it, too. It was the missus who made him sell it. She said her husband was sitting in front of the mirror all the time, up in the attic, and in the dark too, just staring, and staring at it. Talk about loony tunes! Bonkers, he was. I'm telling you, mate, I've never heard such a load of old cobblers: The mirror had 'tuned in' to him, he told me. He said that it 'knew' him. And now, because I'm the mirror's new owner, it 'knows' me."

"It takes all sorts to make a world, James, doesn't it, mate?"

"Yeah, I suppose. Sad, really ... Anyway, shall we get it inside, then? It's not very heavy, but Debbie told me not to carry it by myself."

"No problem, cock sparrow. No problem at all."

                                                                                                        *            *            *

James was in his kitchen, making a cup of coffee. And he was chuckling to himself. He was remembering the utter gibberish, the unadulterated hogwash that Mr Leadbetter had spouted ... Edward Landry's occult mirror, indeed!

He shouldn't laugh though, really, thought James in self-admonishment. Mr Leadbetter was obviously a marble shy of a full bag.

But ... It was weird, though, he mused. What he'd seen reflected in the mirror – and heard, too, come to that – just as he and Debbie had been about to lift it into the back of his car ... but that Debbie hadn't seen, hadn't heard.

The approaching – and then, inexplicably, impossibly, receding – from-the-knees-down view of a girl or a woman's tanned legs and high-heeled, open-toed strappy sandal shod feet, her toes painted a lovely shade of pink, clack-clack-clacking along the pavement ... when the street had actually been deserted in both directions. 

And then, his seeing the second ... manifestation? ... of the second, from-the-knees-down view, of the walking-away pale-legged girl or woman ... 

Seeing her stop, to remove her right, well-worn looking black flat. And, at her rapping her upended shoe on the pavement, his seeing a tiny stone fall out and roll away. And, upon which, his clearly hearing the girl or woman's relief and satisfaction, plainly evident in her voice when she said, "Ah ... gotcha!" ... 

And, his seeing the girl or woman then raise her leg behind her, preparatory to pulling her flat back on, and getting a superb view of the sole of her bare foot, that looked all hot, and sweaty, and smelly ... 

And, his seeing her foot so vividly, too: her pale arch, contrasting starkly with the redness of the bottom of her heel, the ball of her foot, and her toe pads ...  

And, his seeing the girl or woman give her toes a quick, splaying wiggle, the deliciously teasing sight glimpsed but briefly, in the tantalising moment before she pulled her flat back on with her hand ... Again, when there had been no one on the street, but him and Debbie. Absolutely no one.

James was trying to pooh pooh the weird incident. He was trying to dismiss it – trying to expunge it – from his mind. Trying to chalk it up, as just 'one of those things'. 

Well, what else could he do? It was just some ... some strange trick of the imagination, that's all. Wasn't it? What people meant, when they said you must be 'seeing things'. 

So why, then, he thought, did he remember all of those details – such arousing, details – so clearly? And so vividly? And with such total recall? As if they were now indelibly imprinted in his mind, for the purpose of ... ready recollection. 

In fact, there was now a steadily growing bulge, at James's crotch, just at the very remembrance of those images. 

Images, that he now seemed unable to dismiss. Unable to expunge ... And could no longer pooh pooh.

Images, that were now persistently demanding the undivided attention of his mind's eye. 

Images, that now seemed, somehow, to be irrepressible. Insistently asserting themselves, imposing themselves ... insinuating, themselves.

Images, that were ... invasive. 

And James realised that he was rhythmically stroking himself, through the fabric of his trousers. Rub, rub, rub ... Rub, rub, rub ...

Oh, for Pete's sake! he thought, trying to dislodge those sexy sights from his mind. This was ridiculous! Get a grip! he admonished himself. He didn't want to have to go and ... After all, he didn't have to do this – he had Debbie, to care for his needs.

James reached up and opened a cupboard, looking for some biscuits. Seeing there were only two or three chocolate-chip cookies left in the packet, he emptied the remaining few treats out onto a small plate. Refreshments prepared, he put his coffee and biscuits on a small wooden tray and took them through to the living room.

He'd put the telly on, thought James. He'd watch the Parliament channel. That should help take his mind off ... things. 

He sat down in front of the TV, in his most comfortable chair; a black leather, high-backed, and well-padded armchair, carefully placing the tray in his lap as he sat down. 

The remote was on the coffee table, just to his right. And he was just about to take the TV off Standby when, for some reason, his attention was drawn to his right ... towards the mirror. 

James looked at the mirror. 

Mounted on its two-foot-tall, plinth-like stand, it was up against the right-hand side wall of his living room, where he and his caretaker friend, Joe Jessop, had placed it so that it would be out of the way. What had drawn his attention? he wondered.

At first, James couldn't put his finger on it. And then ... No. It had to be his imagination, thought James. Had to be. Didn't it? Or some trick of the light. Yes, that must be it. After all, light could do funny things. Maybe it was just sunlight, somehow glancing in off another window somewhere. Anyway, whatever it was, there would be a rational, logical explanation for it ... 

Nonetheless, James put his tray on the coffee table. He got up, and went over to draw the curtains closed ... To find that it wasn't, his imagination. That it wasn't, some trick of the light. That it wasn't sunlight, somehow glancing in off another window somewhere ... And, that there wasn't a rational, logical explanation for it.

In profound disbelief, James stared at the mirror.

And then his phone rang. James didn't move ... just stared at the mirror, in wonder. 

The phone rang four times, and then his answer-phone kicked in automatically. It was Debbie, and her voice was all bright and cheerful and sing-song.

"James? Are you there? If you are there, James, pick up ... Oh, bother! I suppose your caretaker friend is still helping you in with the mirror. Anyway, it's about tonight. About what we said about going to the cinema tonight ... remember? There's a showing of a film called They Came From The Beyond, at seven. Duh, I know ... it's bound to be really naff, some silly supernatural flick, but a least it'll be a laugh, won't it? And, I could do with a laugh, after last night! So come and get me at about half-past six, will you? Oh, and Mum's not mad at you, James. Honest, she's not. In fact, she's – ha ha ha! – she's hardly stopped giggling, since she saw your bat-out-of-hell impression! See you later, then. Bye."

James continued to stare at the mirror ... and there was no doubt about it. No longer, could he try to deny the evidence of his own eyes ... Not now. 

No way, could he shrug this off, as just a trick of the light. No way, could he blithely palm it off, as being some strange trick of the imagination. No way, could he so nonchalantly account for it – conveniently categorise it – as being merely 'one of those things'.

Because James knew ... he wasn't 'seeing things'.

There was a discernible glow, all around the edges of the mirror, where it fitted into its ornately carved frame. 

A glow, that grew brighter, and whiter, even as he watched. The glow continued to brighten, yet it didn't dazzle him. The glow brightened, until it became impossibly white ... And then, slowly, the glow began to lose intensity ... and pulse.

Something was about to happen. James knew it. He just knew it.

But what? 

James waited. Waited, in wonder. He waited in fear, too. In fear of the unknown. 

Mostly, though, he waited in awe. 

But the mirror didn't keep James waiting, for long.


The Mirror continues, in Chapter 3.

This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to