Instructions for Using the Harborview Motel Mirror

📅 Published on April 9, 2021

“Instructions for Using the Harborview Motel Mirror”

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.75/10. From 4 votes.
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So before we get started, let me get a few questions out of the way:

– It probably goes without saying, but I won’t be providing the actual address of where the Harborview Motel is located in Texas, so don’t ask.

– Like most urban legends of this nature, it’s impossible to say for certain where it started or how it grew to be popular, so your guess is as good as mine on this.

– Although I will be providing you some step-by-step instructions on this ritual, please note that my experience is different than others, and therefore if you do attempt this, there is no guarantee you will fare the same.

The Harborview is one of those “mom-and-pop”-owned motels that have survived the test of time thanks to its reputation for always having at least one room available.

Some say this is because the owners do a terrible job cleaning up after their guests and can never have all rooms ready in case of a surge of bookings.  Others claim it’s because their budget is tight, and the owners know that they don’t get the usual clientele like other pit stops.

That’s likely due to the reputation of the mirror, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The first thing you should know about the Harborview is that people don’t come here for a good time or even a good night’s rest.  It’s near to the highway and sits kiddy corner from a 24-hour truck stop.  Most business is taken over by the name-brand hotels a few miles down the road.

No, people come here for a purpose.  What that is will vary from person to person of course, but for me it related to my wife Virginia.

Six years she’s been gone, due to an overdose from drugs.  Six years I have had trouble closing my eyes to go to sleep without conjuring up that last vacant stare she gave me when I found her.  I’ve tried to figure out why she took her life, why she left me and the kids.  I’ve blamed her job, blamed myself and even blamed God.  But it doesn’t provide any real comfort.  Her departure left a hole in my heart, a void that needed to be filled.

I’m telling you this because of the first rule regarding the Harborview Mirror.  You need to have a reason for using it.  Don’t be some daft fool that comes here and wants to try something for shits and giggles.  It won’t end well for you, my friend.

Of course, I can’t say that with any degree of certainty either, because I don’t really know if anyone’s experience is better than mine was.  I’m only giving you the same advice I was told to heed based on word of mouth spread across the Internet.

That’s where I first heard about the mirror, amid a menagerie of other articles about how to come to terms with grief by contacting the spirit of the one you lost.  There’s a multitude of them out there, but the mirror is the one that stuck out for me.

Perhaps it was because it sounded so plausible?  So tangible?  The way people described it, and the way it affected them…surely that couldn’t all be for the sake of make-believe?

Six months is how long it took me to get the courage to give it a try.  I knew that if I was going to succeed, I would need to follow the instructions given to the best of my ability.  That’s the tricky part, really.

There are at least 18 separate steps connecting to the mirror from what I have gathered, but some people put in a 19th or a different 13th step, just to throw everyone off.  Then another internet troll pops in and joins the bandwagon, distorting the original instructions more and more to the point where it’s somewhat difficult to say for certain which are correct and which were simply tacked on.

I can only tell you what I did, so please, if your experience includes steps that are different than mine… share that.

First, you need to be from out of town.  Easy for me, since I lived up in Amarillo, nowhere near to where the motel is located.  Some say it has to be that you have never been there before or even anywhere near to it.  I can check that box easily too, but I suspect many truckers and travelers cannot.

Second, you should pack several things with you for the trip, the most important of which being a small pack of matches.  This isn’t for you, and you are not supposed to open them until prompted to do so.  You can purchase them from anywhere, even from the truck stop across the road.

The other items are a change of clothes, a door wedge, a black ballpoint pen, and a bottle of water.

This next part isn’t a step, really, but I think it holds some significance, so I’m putting it out there for good measure.

It was around two in the morning when I arrived (this is important timing for later on in step 5, so I would simply advise that you arrive about an hour or so ahead of time, just to give yourself time to finish your business and maybe grab a quick smoke or something).

I walked into the truck stop to grab some Marlboros and beef jerky since I had been on the road for a few hours (like I said, I don’t live nearby), and I was trying to find a good soda pop when the bright orange neon sign from the Harborview came to life in the reflection of the Coke dispenser.

As I noticed the sign come to life, a few of the other patrons in the store did, too; so I figured I should chat up the locals and see what they had to say about the motel.

“I’m surprised they have money to keep that sign on,” I remarked to the cashier as I passed her my cigarettes and snack.

The young twenty-something didn’t make a reply at first as she rang me up, but for the life of me, I swear there was something in her eyes that told me she had something to say.

“Isn’t it run by just two people?  Don’t they ever sleep?” I said, hoping to goad her into a conversation.

“They come on when they’re supposed to come on,” she replied curtly.

“What does that mean?” was my next inquiry.

“Owners know when they have someone coming by.  Don’t ask me how.  They just do.  Must be a traveler out tonight needing a place to rest their head,” she said as she passed me the change and then asked me, “What brings you here, stranger?”

Now according to some blogs, this question is important to the ritual.  Honestly, I don’t see how.  The cashier likely changes nightly, and there’s simply no way they could always ask the same question.  But it did unnerve me that she asked, and I felt compelled to reply truthfully.

“My wife, I’m hoping to see her tonight,” I told the young girl as I stared at the lights to the Harborview Motel.  It was like they were meant for me.

“Good luck,” she told me.

I went back to my car and checked the time.  2:24.  Time to begin step 3.

You must leave your car parked at the truck stop and go on foot.  Parking at the motel is bad luck, and getting a cab to take you there is worse, or so people say.

There’s an overhead walkway that links the truck stop to the motel, and the next step says you can use it to go to the Harborview or to return, but never both ways.  It’s up to you to decide.  Even at this time of night, I didn’t want to risk walking the six-lane traffic, so I made for the overhead.

Once you are in front of the Harborview, it’s time to wait.  You should be there no later than 2:45 and no earlier than 2:40 (see, I told you timing was important, and since every version of the ritual mentions this, I’m doing it too).  I arrived mere seconds before 2:45 hit, and I sat down on the second row of parking tape and looked toward the manager’s office.  The place seemed abandoned.  No one ever comes here except people like me, searching for purpose in their life.

This step is important (but then I guess all of them really are), and it’s going to require you to remain undistracted by the noise.  The sign will say CLOSED when you arrive, and you are to keep your attention on the sign until an unseen hand turns it over to OPEN.

This isn’t easy, mind you.  There’s a lot going on.  There are cars zooming by; some even get into wrecks while you wait.  Police sirens going off, helicopters flying overhead, the occasional prostitute trying to get your attention.

Oh yeah, about that.  This is a step I thought was fake, but since it happened to me, I’m including it.  Some of the versions of the ritual say there is a particular prostitute that can appear while you wait, and while descriptions vary from account to account, one thing that is consistent is that she is supposed to be asking for a smoke.

It happened to me about 3:09 as the minutes crawled by.  I didn’t hear her approach, and when she stood beside me I didn’t smell any perfume.  I was focused on the door, but in my peripheral vision, I gathered she was wearing stiletto heels and fishnet stockings with a short turquoise skirt and a skimpy top to match.

The rules say she will be insistent on getting a smoke, and you must refuse her.  And you must also keep your eye on the manager’s window.  I did both, despite the fact that she was right in my ear, whining to grab ahold of my cigarettes.

After writing this, it has occurred to me that this is likely due to me buying them in the first place and hence her presence.  So if you want to avoid this distraction, just stay clean.  I felt her tugging at my arm.  She was very stubborn and wouldn’t take no or my ignoring her lightly.  Finally, I came up with an alternate solution and offered her my food instead.

“Mighty nice of you!” she said, snatching the jerky from my hand.  At that exact moment, the sign in front of me moved and I felt my heart race.  I wonder still if it was kindness that allowed me to move on to the next step.  All I know for sure is that I left her there and moved with haste toward the door.  The instructions say you can’t take longer than a minute to get inside.  If you do, you might wind up meeting someone besides the owner.

I don’t rightly know if I met that time since I didn’t look at my watch, but I can tell you the manager’s office was not at all like what I expected.

People say it appears to them in different ways.  It’s led me to think that maybe it’s not simply the mirror that holds power, but the entire location.  For me, it looked like a mash-up between a Chinese restaurant and a video rental.  Bland greens and bright yellows mixed.  Old wallpaper peeled from the ceiling.  Jazzy, scratchy music played in the background.  Incense filled the air.

I couldn’t really see the owner in the dim light behind the counter as he was busy grabbing something from under the desk, but he appeared to be short and stocky and of Asian descent.

He took out a guest book, slid it across to me and said in broken English for me to sign in.

“Room,” he adds, pointing to the list.  It is supposed to be a question, but for me it feels like a statement.

These next few steps are supposed to be the easiest in the process that I figured it’s impossible to get them wrong.

Use the pen you brought with you.

You sign in under an assumed name.

You choose room 8.

I think for most people, the ease of these is likely what throws them off.  Everything up to this part feels like you could easily get it wrong and ruin the whole ritual.  But how could you possibly fuck up these three?

I didn’t understand it until I was signing in, and you probably won’t either.

It was this overwhelming sense of disturbance in the air around me.  A compulsion to write something, anything, anything besides what the rules told me to put down.  I had to practically force myself to forge a signature.

When I was done, the Asian man smiled in a queer sort of way and put the book away.  For the life of me, I wish I had seen how many other people had come here before, but in the heat of the moment, I must have panicked.  Had my name been the only one?

The owner told me to wait while he got the room key.

I couldn’t help but notice the scratchy music had stopped. In fact, the office was dead quiet.

He returned a minute later with a large gold key tied to an even larger rusty copper plate that had an 8 scrawled on it with permanent marker.  It actually looked a little like an infinity symbol, although I don’t know why that correlation came into my mind.

The next step is supposedly optional – like I said, some instructions don’t include it – but others say you can tip him.  Now the rules do say that you aren’t supposed to bring any more than 44 dollars to pay for the room and that you must insist on paying that amount, but the rest is up to you.

I brought along about 100 bucks for gas, food and possibly HBO if it turned out the whole ritual was a dud and this was all a stunt to boost their business.  So I gave him a 10 dollar tip.

Per the script, the owner refused, and I insisted.  Then I grabbed my key and made my way toward room 8.

It should be after 3:30 by the time you get there.  Some people call this the witching hour, and as I walked toward the room, it certainly felt like it.  Where once there was noise and distraction from the highway, now everything seemed quiet.  Now would have been as good a time as any to say fuck it and go home.

My purpose for coming told me I couldn’t, though.  So I used the key on the door and heard the lock grind as it unlatched from the hinges.

Room 8 looks like someone threw up in it everywhere.  You don’t come for the scenery.  It has gray carpeting with dark stains on it (that some people claim are blood) and two twin-size beds, both of which are made with peppermints on the pillow.

The instructions say you are to choose the bed on the left, so that’s what I did.

I sat down and looked at the bed opposite of me, my heart pounding as I realized I was actually going to go through with this.

The door was still open; the rules don’t specify whether you need to close it, just that you use the door wedge.  But something about staring out into the world felt wrong.  This place is separate from where I came, and I shouldn’t let it interfere, I thought.  So I closed it, placed the door wedge down and went over to the bed again, taking a few short breaths.

I told myself I was ready.  People always do.  I don’t think anyone ever really is.

Then I went to the bathroom and turned on the light.

The mirror was waiting.

Now, from an outsider’s perspective, the mirror inside room 8 looks no different than any other grimy dingy motel would have.  It takes up the whole wall, and it’s got a few fingerprints and dust on it.  It’s even got a crack along the top, like one sharp hit could shatter the whole thing.

I wondered how many people might actually come here for just a normal visit, stare into this mirror and go about their business without a care.  It seemed unlikely, because, despite the fact that the mirror itself was ordinary, I felt uneasy about it.

Something felt off.  Don’t ask me what.  Maybe it was because I envisioned that the fingerprints were likely from the last person who came to perform the ritual.  After all, the next step did say you were to sit in the chair in front of the glass and place your right palm against it.

According to the instructions, you must do so within two minutes of the first time you are entering the bathroom.  So don’t go in to go potty or whatever, go in to get this whole thing started.

I sat and pressed my palm on the surface, feeling its cold resonate on my skin.  You are to hold your hand there for another minute, and while doing so, you should look toward the right-hand side of the reflection.  Wait until you see the flicker of a candle.

I must admit, I don’t recall if there was a candle when I entered the bathroom.  I was too focused on the mirror.  I’m sure most people say the same.  It’s all-encompassing.  Unyielding.  Demanding of your attention.

But after a few short breathless minutes, I finally saw the candle ignited, and I abruptly seized my hand away from the mirror.

The gentle flame from the wick lingered as I stared at it, my throat dry as I reached into my pocket and took out the matches.  Getting this next part right was essential.

You are to stand up, burn a match and walk backward into the room.  Keep your eyes on the flame and not on the mirror.  My hands were sweaty when I struck the match against the box.

It only took one try.  I got up from the chair and immediately started walking backward.  I didn’t want to get anything wrong, so I was slow with my gait.  I could see my reflection doing the same out of the corner of my eye.  But again, that dreadful peculiar feeling lurched into my body.  Why did it seem like the reflection was moving faster and I wasn’t?

I stopped right in front of the bed opposite of mine.  Then the match went out.  At the same time, the candle did, too.

I stood there, looking toward the dark bathroom where my reflection had disappeared from sight and tried my best not to shake.  Everything had gone exactly according to plan so far.

I knew I was to strip from my clothes and to change into the ones I brought with me.

Some speculators say that this is so the spirit you meet is fooled and doesn’t haunt you from beyond the room.  Others claim it’s because you are trying to appear differently than the way you came, so as to symbolize some sort of transformation you are trying to make.  Personally, though, I wanted out of my regular clothes because I was soaked in sweat.  Never had I been so nervous in all my life.

It took me less than three minutes to get into the robe I had brought.  I figured something simple would be easier, but for some reason putting it on felt like I was slowly drowning.

All the while, I got the sense that the bathroom seemed darker than before.  I was close to finishing all of the steps.

Once dressed, I tossed my used clothes in haste over to my bed and reached for the matches.  There wasn’t a moment to waste.

You are to start walking forward, toward the darkness with the match ready.  But you are not to light it until you are face to face with the mirror.

I took a tentative step forward.  Then another.  Then another.  Finally, I was there.  The bathroom was colder than before, I was certain.  And despite the fact that the mirror was only a few feet in front of me, I saw nothing.

My hands trembled.  I struck the match near to my chest and closed my eyes, saying the phrase I was told would provide me closure.

“Show me why,” I whispered.

I held my breath for what seemed like an eternity, then opened my eyes and slowly brought the match up to my face.

It was still me.

My mind panicked, thinking I had done one of the steps wrong.  The ritual was meant to answer my fears, explain the loss I couldn’t let go of.  Was it all a hoax?  Was this all a waste of my time?

Then, a smile creased across the features of my reflection’s face.

Silently, its free hand gestured toward the counter where somehow there was a bottle of water on its side of the mirror.  It was the one I had brought with me, but I swear to you, the steps do not say to bring it into the bathroom.  Somehow, it was there anyway.  Across the void.

Then it took the cap off the water, and gently poured it over the match that was illuminating us both.  Mine was the only flame that went out.

In those few seconds of darkness, as I stared across at my illuminated reflection; I can rightly say that I forgot what I looked like.  It was like staring at a stranger.  The reflection did not move or waver.  It just stared back and held my gaze for another few seconds.

It raised its mouth toward the glass and breathed gently, just enough to fog it up.  Then it used its finger to write me a message.  Slowly, I watched as the letters unfolded before me, my brain trying to comprehend what each of them was as though I had never seen them before.  It didn’t seem to make sense until the word was spelled out in its entirety.

BECAUSE was all it said.

Then the darkness returned.

I sat there numb for a few long lingering minutes.  I thought back to Virginia and all the times we had argued.  The last things I had said to her were cutting and harsh.  That was why I had blamed myself.

So what did this message mean?  This simple puzzle kept me awake the rest of the night as I lay in the bed.  The rules say you don’t have to stay until morning, but I had no idea where else to go.

I think I know what the mirror was telling me, and I think I understand now why the ritual is not recommended.  Why my answer may not be so unique after all.

The morning light is creeping into my door, but it isn’t welcoming.  The roar of traffic is all that buzzes into my mind.  I can leave whenever I want to; the ritual is over.

This here for anyone else who is listening to these stories and searching for answers of their own to whatever is keeping them up at night.  I’m telling you if you are searching, you should stop doing so.

Because sometimes bad things happen, and there is nothing you can do about it.  And that’s a hard pill to swallow.  Maybe even impossible if you realize the deeper implications.

But maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe your experience will be different when you come to the Harborview Motel.

All I know is that I have to cross the highway.

And I can’t go back the way I came.

Rating: 9.75/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Kyle Harrison

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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2 years ago

I’d like to hear Drew Blood do this.

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