His alarm went off, signaling the start of another day he would spend at work. He brushed the loose strands of his light brown hair away from his eyes before opening them. If he were being honest, he’d admit that he didn’t like his hair being long enough to fall into his eyes, but the longer hair seemed to be more popular with the ladies. That’s the only reason he kept it.
He rolled over to the edge of the bed and sat up. A yawn escaped as he cursed his lack of sleep. Not only had he been up late putting his hair to good use last night, but what little sleep he did get was fitful. He tossed and turned. While he sleeps, his mind bombards him with images and memories of the times he’s been hurt. And the times that he’s been the one hurting another. Those are the moments that haunt him the most.
Lately, those feelings of hurt had escaped from his dreams and they started attacking him throughout the day. Whiskey and women helped push the feelings away, but they were a temporary fix. Once his bed was empty, or his sobriety returned, the feelings would come back to try to break him down. If things stayed the way they were, his breaking point would come soon.
“It’s too early in the morning for this shit,” he mumbled to himself as he stood up.
He walked into his bathroom and turned the cold water on in the sink. Cupping his hands, he splashed some of the water on his face before looking at himself in the mirror. The water on his hands wet his hair, which pulled back as he ran his fingers through it. Red ran through the whites of his green eyes. Stubble covered his dimpled chin. He needed to shave, but didn’t feel like it. A little bit of growth on his face for a day wouldn’t kill him.
As that thought ran through his mind, his reflection in the mirror smiled. He jumped. That shouldn’t be possible. He hadn’t smiled. Only his reflection did.
A nervous chuckle escaped his lips. I’m just imagining things, he thought. It’s just a manifestation of too much to drink and not enough sleep.
He splashed another handful of water on his face, hoping the cold liquid would wake him from whatever stupor he was in. After staring at his face in the mirror for a minute straight, waiting to see if something else would happen, nothing did. He wrote it off as his mind playing tricks on him. That’s when he got the most excruciating headache he had ever felt. His brain felt like it was on fire.
He grabbed at his head and cried out in pain. His body thrashed about uncontrollably. Tears formed in the corners of his eyes and threatened to block his vision. Somehow, through all of that, he saw what had started this whole thing in the first place. His reflection in the mirror didn’t match his movements.
While he writhed in pain, his reflection stood motionless, with its arms crossed, as if bored by the whole display. He tried to hold still long enough to get a better look at it, but he couldn’t. His body wasn’t responding to his commands. The pain was too much.
To his surprise, and horror, his reflection moved. Its hands shot out of the mirror and grabbed him on either side of his face. “Be still,” his reflection ordered.
His uncontrollable body responded to the demand instantly. “What are you?” he asked when he finally found his voice.
The reflection laughed. It began changing in front of his eyes. He watched as it kept growing darker and darker until it was devoid of all color and light. His reflection was nothing more than a human shaped area of blackness. It laughed even harder as a chill of fear rolled down his spine.
“You wish to know what I am?” it purred. “Then I shall tell you. I am every hurt you’ve ever felt. I am every hurt you’ve ever given. I am every fear that has shaken your soul or has come from your actions. I am your every wrong. I am the part of you that you don’t wish the world to see.”
“I’ll simplify it for you. You know how everyone has inner demons that they wrestle with?”
“Well, your inner demon isn’t very ‘inner’ anymore.”
Before he could ask what that meant, the dark form lunged at him. Right when it looked like it would hit the mirror, it disappeared. The hands holding his face went away too. Then he felt a thud in his chest and couldn’t breathe. It suddenly felt like he was drowning. He fell backward, the blackness that made up his reflection pouring out of his mouth and nose.
The impact with the ground made him see stars. A black shape appeared in his blurred vision. “Thank you for birthing me,” it said. “Thank you for feeding me and making me so strong.” It paused. “Unfortunately for you, you’ve made me strong enough that I don’t need you anymore.”
The last thing he saw was a surge of blackness coming for him.