Something Followed

Continued from Behind the Mirror

     “Look, there’s probably a logical explanation for it,” I said, scrolling through videos to help prove it was just a shadow we saw or something.
     Angie sat staring out the window still, and she hardly blinked. Was she in shock? A bit dramatic, Angie.
“If I had to guess, I’d say it was a trick of the light, for sure,” Mike said.
We weren’t going to convince Angie of anything until we knew what it really was.
“Would you rather go home until we can figure this out?” I said.
“Even if I wanted to, look,” Angie said. 
Mike and I both stood up to look out my window that had a partial view of a nearby park. Snow had piled up on top of the cars parked below. The grass was blanketed in white. And even though it was probably just a few hours after noon, the sun wasn’t having much luck penetrating the deep grey clouds. 
“Okay, so we’re all staying here tonight. Angie and I will take my bed. Come help me find sheets for you, Mike.”
I picked up a remote from the coffee table and tossed it at Angie. 
“We’ll be just a minute,” I said. “Find us something funny to watch.” 
Mike leaned close to me as I dug out sheets from my small hallway closet. 
“Did you look at the footage from your living room?”
Mike pulled out his phone, turned the volume all the way down, and fast forwarded to the last few seconds of the video. I saw my living room, Angie on the sofa, and … wait. There was something behind Angie. 
“What was that?” I said, my voice a hiss. 
“I don’t know, but if Angie sees it …”
“Yeah, don’t say anything to her,” I said, handing Mike sheets and a blanket. 
We walked back into the living room to find Angie still zoned out, but toward the direction of the TV. She was watching dance videos, I think.
“Do you want more hot cocoa?” I said. 
Angie looked over at me. Good, at least she heard me. She shook her head. 
“Hey,” I said. “Mike and I did some research, and I think I know what it was we all saw.” 
I sat next to Angie and pulled the remote from her hand. I used voice activated search. 
“Truth about Bloody Mary,” I said into the microphone on my remote.
A bunch of videos popped up, and I chose the one with the most views. 
We watched through the seven-minute video that explained why the legend of Bloody Mary almost always works. 
Part of it could be because of the “dissociative identity effect,” or basically when your brain kind of misfires when trying to recognize a face. Another explanation could be Troxler’s fading, an optical illusion that can occur when you focus your vision on one thing, causing other objects in your line of sight to seem to disappear.
“That’s probably what happened. The lighting was low in that tunnel, and we just sort of conjured our own Bloody Mary or Candyman,” I said. 
Mike nodded in agreement, but Angie still looked like she didn’t believe it. 
“Maybe we just participated in the latest mass hallucination. Like a UFO sighting, but in this case, it was some weird shadowy figure,” Mike said. 
I walked over to Angie and held out my hands.
“Come with me.”
Angie’s eyes, which were already large and round, seemed to widen more. I could see my own reflection in her eyes. And I swear, if Angie hadn’t been so freaked out by all this, I might’ve said something about what else I saw in that reflection standing just over my shoulder. 
     I closed my eyes to clear the image, and when I opened them, I only saw myself in Angie’s glassy eyes.
“Please just trust me,” I said. 
She took my hands and came with me, but it was as though she was on auto-pilot. She followed, but she was so rigid.
We walked into the bathroom together, and Mike was trailing just behind us. I gently pushed Angie farther into the bathroom, and just as Mike was about to walk in, I shook my head slightly and closed the door between us. 
“I’m going to turn off the light, Angie, okay?”
She just stared at me.
“I’ll have my phone out for a little light, though,” I said, swiping up on my phone’s screen. The faint light barely illuminated our faces. 
“Come stand next to me. Face the mirror.”
Angie did as I told her. That probably should’ve tipped me off that she was in shock or something. But I had to prove to her that this was all in our heads.
I looked in the mirror at Angie’s face. She was facing the mirror, but her eyes were fixated on something down in the sink. I followed her gaze. We watch the water drip slowly from the faucet. 
“I’m sorry, I can’t turn that off or the pipes might freeze,” I said. “Look up here.” 
I caught Angie’s eyes with mine in the mirror. 
“Now just look straight ahead. Not at me. Look at yourself and don’t break eye contact with, well, yourself.”
Angie’s eyes straightened and she stared at her reflection. 
“I’m going to count, and as I do, I just want you to keep looking straight ahead. I’ll do it with you, okay?”
I set my phone on the right side of the sink and started counting in rhythm with the water falling from the faucet.
Drip, drip, drip. 
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven …”
I’m not sure when I stopped counting, but we kept our eyes on ourselves in that mirror. It didn’t take long before I didn’t even see Angie’s face in the mirror. The blue bath towel that hung on the wall behind me seemed to have disappeared. 
All I saw was me. My eyes were barely visible in the low light, but also the dark circles around them seemed to encase them in shadows. I didn’t think I had moved, but my eyebrows were drawing together into a tight knit. My mouth started to curl on one side. All of my features seemed to sink into my skeleton.
Then the twisting started. It was as though my face were being distorted into a spiral, like water swirling down a drain. I blinked several times to break the spell, and when I looked back in the mirror, I saw myself again. 
But I also saw the shadow. Something followed, and it was behind me in the bathroom. 
I bit my bottom lip to keep from screaming, and as much as I wanted to check on Angie, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the monster behind me.
“Mary Jane.”
I could hear my name, and I heard my own ragged breaths coming from my mouth, but I was immovable. Was it the figure behind me that spoke? Was it Angie? 
Each breath seemed to come faster from me, and I focused on the sound, the rhythm. 
“Mary Jane!”
That was Angie’s voice. I just needed to focus on something else. I heard my heart beating. Or was that the water dripping? 
The shadow stared at me, and I held my breath. 
I cocked my head. The shadow mirrored my movement. 
That’s when I recognized its eyes.