Reflections On The Past

Harold avoided mirrors. He’d learned to do so over the years, because something disturbing was reflected within them.

Where other people looked into a mirror and saw a reversed image of themselves, Harold saw something else.

The first time he’d seen himself in a mirror, he was so freaked out that he cried for a week. He couldn’t understand why other people didn’t look at themselves in a mirror and scream out in terror.

The reverse image that Harold saw was hard to explain to anyone, and so it was easier to just ignore mirrors entirely. He’d learned to shave with his eyes closed. He never cared how his clothes looked, or how his body looked. Anything to avoid seeing what was staring back at him.

Harold only saw himself in a mirror.

But reversed.

Not in space.

But in time.

At the age of three, he saw himself reflected back as an eighty seven year old man.

When he was ten, he saw an eighty year old man.

At fifteen, it was a seventy five year old.

After that, he managed not to look in a mirror again for years.

Things changed when he was forty.

The ironic birthday badge on his chest, announcing his age in numbers was a silly gift from work colleagues. The constant marking of time was the bane of Harold’s life, but he grinned, and bore the badge being pinned to his shirt.

And like he always did when it all became a bit too much to handle, he retreated to the toilet. He didn’t have a weak bladder. He had a weak capacity for socialising. He’d learned at a young age the best way to cope was to retreat for a moment. And the best excuse for a retreat was a piss.

Bathrooms have mirrors. And he had become adept at avoiding those. Except that day. That day he walked in, his eyes up, and caught a glimpse of himself reflected on the wall.

What stared back at him wasn’t so terrifying. A little more wizened maybe, a few more grey hairs, and a badge on his chest that said he was 50 today. It wasn’t too horrifying at all.

And so, once a year, on his birthday, he examined himself in the mirror. On his 45th anniversary, he saw himself in the reflection for the first time ever.

And hated what he saw.

From then on, as he aged, his mirror image got younger.

We watched his youthfulness grow, watched the energy, the spark, the drive, and resented all of it.

It became overwhelming.

He’d stare at that runt in the mirror all day long, smiling back at him with a vim and vigour that made him sick to the stomach. But in those sparkling eyes he saw something dark. Something sinister. He saw the look of betrayal at a wasted life.

And so, from both ends of his time, before he passed into dust, Harold’s life was nothing but resentment.

*Batteries Not Included

There’s a drawer in her house that she never opens anymore.

It was a good idea at the time.

In her youth Ruth had a lot of energy. Too much really. She got a lot done, and at the end of the day, she’d still have the vigour to want to do more. So she put that verve to good use.

When everything else was done, she sat down and designed a machine. Then she built the machine.

And when it was done, she put the machine to use.

As the day came to an end, every day, she plugged herself into the machine and extracted all the excess energy she still had, decanting it into little vials that sparkled and fizzed. Each one she carefully placed in the drawer, smiling to herself that when the day came that lethargy took over, all she had to do was swig back a vial, and she would be reinvigorated.

Except, it never quite panned out that way.

It was such a lovely feeling, putting away those vials each night, that she couldn’t stop doing it. Even when the day was long and her reserves were spent, she plugged herself in, and made the effervescent vial.

And so each night, she was even more tired, and in spite of everything, she sucked out what little energy she had left and put it away for a rainy day. Soon she was passing out from exhaustion as the machine did its work.

Now, when she needed it the most, she didn’t have the energy to get to the drawer.

The Silent Invasion

It’s the secret no one knows is a secret.

People haven’t died trying to expose the truth. There’s not a shadowy cabal of men in rooms conspiring to keep the secret. There’s no clandestine agency tasked with keeping the truth from the public, using mind erasers or anything.

Earth has been invaded.

Revealing this won’t put my life in danger.

We have been invaded in the the most passive way imaginable.

They landed two hundred years ago. And we didn’t even blink an eye.

It looked like a heavy hail storm. Big, impressive, but not big enough or impressive enough to have been recorded.

Their DNA seeped into the soil, and years later, they sprouted, small at first, but then bigger. Clever things, they began to mimic something that soon surrounded them. They spread their seed, and looked different in different places.

Here, they were red. In Europe, they became yellow. In the US, blue, and in China green.

They stood there, planted to the spot, unable to move, just watching us for decades.

And we fed them.

Every day we pushed our most intimate thoughts into their mouths. They devoured them, and regurgitated them to look untouched. They learned everything about us. Our desires, our secrets, our financials, even where we had been on our holidays.

And they’re still there.

While we keep on feeding them.

We pass them every day. Even if we do use them less than we used to.

If they had thumbs, they would have wiped us out. If they had teeth, they would have eaten us.

As it is, they just read our mail.

Food For Thought

It was when she bit her own cheek that things started getting out of hand.

Once she’d bitten it, and the teeth marks became a magnet for the tip of her tongue, she got an odd taste for things. And it didn’t help that every time she ate something, she would chomp into the swollen wound a number of more times.

It reminded her of when she went in for a bouncing hug with one of her friends, and banged her chin downwards on an upwards travelling shoulder. The bite marks that left in her tongue lasted for weeks.

It was only when she woke up one night, chewing her own cheek, teasing and probing at the gouges there that she realised there was a problem.

Not that it wasn’t healing.

No.

That was a good thing.

And that was the problem.

She liked the taste of her own flesh.

Which was why now, two months later, things had escalated quickly, and her left forearm was boiling in a pot on the stove.

The smell it was giving off was lovely. She could hear the water bubbling away, wafting the scent of cinnamon and cloves into the air so they tickled and teased at her nostrils.

In ten minutes she could decant the limb, put it in a baking tray, baste it with honey and mustard, and enjoy the smell of it baking for a few more hours.

When her friends arrived, she knew there would be some awkward questions about her missing arm. But it was okay, she was looking forward to explaining it all over dinner.

Tax Cuts

It used to be a percentage of your earnings. Plus a percentage of what you spent on non-critical stuff. Plus a percentage of any capital you gained.

Then one day, I woke up, and my finger was missing.

The tax man had come in the night, and like a psychotic anti tooth fairy, he lopped off a digit, and left me a receipt.

I don’t mind paying my fair share.

My finger went to a good cause. It’s now being used to type information slowly into a computer so that hospital appointments can be made.

I have a feeling that the toe he took the next year is now plugging a hole in an aircraft carrier.

And the ear the next year is now listening on a helpline for traffic cones.

I can’t help noticing that the rich people on my telly still have their fingers, toes, and ears though.