Baby in the Mirror
I was performing my duties as a night time orderly for the Metropolitan Hospital when I noticed the letter lying on the floor just outside room D-18. This was so unusual that at the end of my shift at 7:00 am I immediately took it to our Director, Dr. Tremain, for further instruction.
“Come in,” he said. This was only the second time at Metropolitan that I’d been inside his office. The first being a month ago upon my arrival. “Jordan Balch, isn’t it?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” I replied.
“Well, Jordan, sit down, sit down. No need for formalities here. Ruth tells me you found a letter up on D wing.” As I handed it to him, I wondered if I should have made an appointment with his secretary Ruth, first, rather than just dropping in. He peered down at it through thick reading glasses then smiled slightly. “Did you read it?” he asked.
“No, doctor. I brought it straight away.” He handed it back to me.
“I want all my staff to be familiar with the patients they attend; therefore…” He motioned to the letter. I admit I was now very curious as to its contents. It read:
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this in the hope that you will fulfill my request to install a mirror in my room and here is why: It was twenty years ago on the 23rd of September, 1946 when it all began. I remember the date because it was a week shy of our baby’s second month. At the time, I was working on the line of a steel factory where the most deplorable of working conditions existed, but because I was in desperate need of extra income I committed to working double shifts for as long as they’d allow. My wife, Sondra, tragically had died during childbirth.
Fortunately, our neighbor, Mrs. Dorington, was willing to look after the baby while I worked and at the end of my second shift I’d return to care for him. Generally, Eugene was a happy baby but on this particular night, he was very cranky and would not go to sleep. His kicking and screaming was loud enough to wake the dead. I tried everything to get him to sleep: I sang to him, coddled him, rocked him back and forth and, I’m ashamed to say now, even got angry at him but nothing worked.
By 3:00 am I could barely keep my eyes open. It was at that time I happened to glance at the dresser mirror. I needed a distraction to take my mind off my exhausted state so I looked at myself directly in the eyes and asked, “Can you please do something with him?” To further the joke, I put our baby up against the mirror and smiled at myself for my foolishness. But I was fully-awakened when I suddenly felt the sensation that Eugene was being pulled away. It frightened me for a moment, but I felt comforted after looking down and seeing Eugene fast asleep. I looked up at my reflection and of course all I saw was myself smiling back and holding a sleeping baby. I put Eugene back in his crib and nodded off into a deep sleep.
I woke up convinced it was just a weird dream so I never mentioned it to anyone. The next day was Thursday, just two more days of work to go, but it was also a very long and tiring day. I returned home, hoping Eugene was in better spirits this night but it wasn’t so. He was extra fidgety and after burping him, singing to him and pacing the floor for two hours, I was so exhausted, I’d forgotten about the night before, that is, until I glanced up at the mirror.
The longer I stared, the more it felt like my reflection and I were in two separate worlds, as if the mirror-me and his baby lived in another world, one with a calmer existence. The idea to offer my baby up to him again in the hope of getting a sleeping baby in return was attractive. I had at that point an overpowering sensation to let my mirror-me take control. I remember my mind felt numb, as if in a trance-like state, completely taken in by the idea of holding a quiet baby, longing for it, needing it. I held Eugene up to the mirror and again felt the pulling sensation. This time I wasn’t afraid but thrilled that soon I’d be able to go to sleep. I don’t remember paying much attention to Eugene after that but I must have set him down right away. I do remember glancing at my watch. It was 3:00 am. I woke up with a terrible headache and found I had not even changed out of my work clothes.
Friday was finally here. At the end of my shift, I was so happy to have the next two days off, I paid a co-worker 35 cents for a few shots of whiskey out of a bottle he kept in his car. But, my celebration was short-lived because, again, today, Eugene seemed determined to keep me from sleep. His crying was louder and even in the darkness, I could see his face getting red with frustration. The shots of liquor didn’t help and I literally found myself falling asleep standing up.
I walked over to the mirror and didn’t think twice about it. I put crying Eugene against the mirror and seconds later held calm Eugene. This time; however, things were different. The mirror-me was holding a baby who was still crying and wriggling about. He then walked the baby around the mirror image of the room as I stood still, frozen in shock because I could no longer see my true reflection. What I was seeing was myself doing things in the mirror that I know I wasn’t doing. It was like watching myself in a movie. I realized then this was no reflection.
Although it looked like me and acted like me, this thing I was seeing was anything but me. After watching its movements for a few minutes, I was startled when it suddenly turned around and stared back at me with eyes that were glowing red. It smiled devilishly, showing off its sharp fangs, long-nailed claws and evil intent.