The Hunt

The Hunt

Continued from Something Followed

     “Mary Jane!”
     Angie was tugging at my arm and I finally looked to my left at her.
     “Wh-what is it?”
     “I saw it, okay? Can we leave now?”
     Even in the low light, I could see Angie’s brow creased and her mouth in a deep frown.
     “Okay, we’ll go, Angie,” I said.
     She opened the door and nearly tripped over the threshold trying to get out of the bathroom. Mike was standing just outside and caught her.
     “You two all right?” he said. “You were in there forever.”
     “It was only a couple minutes,” I said, and checked my watch. “We were in there for twenty minutes?”
     Angie ignored me and headed straight to the large window in the living room.
     “It’s dark, but it stopped snowing,” she said.
     Without another word, she grabbed her jacket from my coat rack and left.
     Mike looked at me and then back at the bathroom.
     “What happened in there?”
     I ran a hand through my hair.
     “It was just a game we played, you know, like Bloody Mary?”
     Mike nodded and chewed on his lip.
     “Well, I should probably get back to Sarah. It’s getting late, and you know … it might start snowing again.”
     I leaned against the open door frame of my hallway.
     “You don’t have to make excuses, Mike. I know this is weird.”
     “Did y’all see anything in there?”
     He already had his hand on the knob of the front door.
     It didn’t matter what I said next; Mike was leaving and I’d be alone.
     “Yeah, we saw ourselves and it was a trick of the light and our imaginations. Just like you said,” I told him.
     “Okay, well, get some rest. Sarah and I will come by tomorrow if we don’t get snowed in overnight.”
     “Be safe.”
     He closes the door behind him and I’m alone. I scan my apartment for any movement and listen for any sounds. There’s nothing but the usual silence during the winter, and the consistent dripping of water from the bathroom faucet.
     At this point, I’m satisfied that whatever it was that happened tonight was a fluke, so I turn to my bedroom, but there’s a bit of darkness just in the corner of my eye that seems to whoosh by out of sight.
     “Hello?” I said, and then laughed. Who did I expect to answer me?
     I turn on the light in my room and change into my PJs, even though it’s the middle of the afternoon. I put on my fluffiest pair of socks, knowing I’ll freeze without them. My bed is cold, but if I just bundle up, I’ll be cozy in my little blanket cocoon soon. As I feel myself starting to drift off, I click my bedside lamp off.
     Once the darkness envelops me, I’m wide awake again. I can hear the water dripping. And I think I hear voices coming from next door. I look at my phone. It’s almost three in the morning. There’s no way others are awake. Also, did I really sleep that long?
     I try to focus harder on the voices. At first, it sounds like two distinct voices, but now it sounds like one—like someone is talking to themselves. It almost seems like chanting. I listen harder. It’s two words. Three syllables.
     I sit up in bed, stiff with fear.
     Holy shit. It’s my name.
     “Mary Jane. Mary Jane.”
     What the fuck is going on?
     It’s Mike, right? Mike is messing with me.
     It can’t be Mike, though. The voice is higher and lighter. It sounds like a woman. Angie wouldn’t do anything like this. She was way too freaked out.
     I grab my phone and tap the app open to start recording a live video.
     “You guys, if you’ve been following the last few videos, you might be wondering how this all ends. What was behind the mirror? Well, we’re going to find out right now.”
     I explain what happened earlier with me and Angie in the bathroom and that Angie and Mike have left. I talk about the likelihood of an optical illusion and laugh about it all in the end. Even I can tell there’s an edge to my laugh, though. It’s an unfunny and unconvincing laugh.
     “So, we’re going back to the mirror to see what this was all about. Want to know what I think is happening here? I think Mike is messing with me somehow. It has to be, right?”
     I look down at the comments and likes coming through. My followers are increasing rapidly. I have thousands of people watching right now and I need to get this over and done with so I can move on to something way less stressful, like a cooking video or something. And I don’t even cook.
     I flip the camera around so it’s on what I’m seeing in front of me: my face in the mirror, slightly blocked by my phone.
     “The voice I heard earlier was coming from here. Probably behind the mirror. And the voice was saying my name,” I said, whispering the last bit.
     The comments from viewers are a mix of caution and excitement. Some people are urging me to go back behind the mirror, while others are telling me to leave the apartment and never come back.
     “I’m going to show you guys what’s really going on. At first, I thought it was … well, I don’t know what I thought it was. I will admit what I saw freaked me out, but it’s just what our brains do, you know?”
     I prop my phone up on the towel rack behind me and make sure it’s pointing at the mirror. I turn to face my audience.
     “So, it’s time to finally find out.”
     As I turn to face the mirror again, I’m surprised that it took no time at all to see the shadow again. The shadow with my eyes. I didn’t have to focus on the dripping sound, and I didn’t have to count. I realize that I left my hall light on and none of it matters. The shadow is there in the mirror, but it’s replaced my own reflection entirely.
     I don’t feel like I have a facial expression at all. I feel numb and emotionless, but the image I see in the mirror is wearing a sinister smile that seems to widen farther than possible.
     Somehow, I managed to find my voice.
     “Do you guys see this?”
     I’m not even sure I realize I’m leaning in toward the mirror until I’m practically nose to nose with the shadow me. There’s this vague awareness that I want to climb behind the mirror again, but I don’t reach to move the mirror to find the hole. I move my hand up and watch as my reflection does the same thing. I look from my hand to the one in the mirror.
     When I place my hand on the glass, expecting to feel a typical mirror, cold and hard, I instead feel another hand—my hand. As I push against it, the fingers of the shadow version of me wrap around my wrist and pull.

                                                                    ****

     It’s difficult to say how much time has passed. At first, I thought it was still a massive practical joke Mike and Angie were playing on me. If that were the case, they both deserved an award for the performance they put on when they broke my front door down and searched my apartment for me.
     They stood in front of this mirror and called my nickname over and over. I came to the mirror and called their names back to them. They didn’t seem to hear me. 
     Then there were other people who came to the mirror. Cops and the landlord. And then a maintenance woman who patched the hole behind the mirror.
     I realize now that this is my new existence. I live in the mirror. I have figured out how to travel to other mirrors, though. I have to be summoned. So when little girls have sleepovers and dare each other to stand in the bathroom with the light off and say my name three times, I can go to them.
     “Mary Jane. Mary Jane. Mary Jane.”
     I wonder how they know to say my name. Maybe the video I made went viral. I already know my nickname won’t work.
     I think I’ve found a way to get out now. If one of the girls is brave enough to do it and stay just a while longer after she sees me, I can pull her in. Trade places with her. Just like the one before me. The one who slipped back through the mirror and into my apartment. I remember watching as she climbed down from the sink and the shadow falling off her.
     If I can just get out, I can find Mike and Angie to tell them what really happened to me. Maybe Angie will stand in front of her bathroom mirror and call my name. I’ll come to her. And then I’ll be out.
     Call my name, Angie.
     Mary Jane. Mary Jane. Mary Jane.

     THE END