The Glass Darkly

📅 Published on August 2, 2022

“The Glass Darkly”

Written by Dale Thompson
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: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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As I wipe the mirror clean of the settled dust, the chaff, the ash, I, in fact, am erasing the last fingerprints known to exist of the one who only ever existed in my mind.  It was real for me, though I am told, unconvincingly, not a single word of it is true and, disagreeably, it never happened.

Touching the wooden frame with my fingertips, knowing whose hands embraced this before me, all the while dreading the purge I have been ordered to do.  No proof, no remembrance; the only thing sustainable are the memories only I carry with me.  I feel it is time I retreat into the kingdoms where judgment is reserved by God and not man.  Everything man touches, they as a people, destroy. Humanity has been handed the keys to the kingdom, and yet with the very hands in whom all things have been given, man seems determined to turn it all to nothing.

The mirror does not lie, yet the dark melanistic mood of a single lit candle cast shadows of worrying consternation.  I am as alone as the wick but not burning as bright.  Baleful inspirations of terror have planted sensational fears in the psyche of impressionable people who would rather disbelieve the macabre but are prone to religion and fabled superstitions.  These have abandoned me to my vices. What vices?  I have been made the fool, and my vices were never evil or crude, yet because I spoke truth and detailed the account of my encounter with what can only be described as a ghost, I am not excommunicated.

The monsters we fear are the monsters we have created.  We become physically mortified by what we allow to circumvent and subvert us emotionally.  We, when by our own will or pushed by an outside force are made to diverge from our standard way of life and become confronted by something worse feasting upon our perceptions, it is difficult to see, or to admit or realize assuredly the grotesque stems from our own imaginations.

Ghosts only exist once we breathe life into the horrible specters.  When these manifestations of machination materialize and take shape before our own eyes, we need no convincing.  We know they are real, yet can we ask the all-important question: ‘Have we not gone mad?’ How else can we explain the existence of such things in the natural unless they do come from the other side?  Knowingly or unknowingly, I believe the possibility of us conjuring them ourselves is likely.  I have fallen victim to my own fearful doing.  There is a truth to the occurrence of which I speak.

I have come under the barrage of skepticism and personal attacks upon my character, and yet they have not convinced me nor turned me from what I know happened.  I do struggle; at times, I straddle a fence of conviction, asking myself, ‘was it real?’  All efforts to discredit me have been launched, but with futile efforts, for I remain convinced I most assuredly experienced the paranormal.  Twice I suffered permanent scratches and corrugations on my back, arms and chest from an invisible force that assaulted my flesh.

As extraordinary as it all may sound, I have gained nothing since my initial reports of the phenomenon.  At the start of the disturbances, the visitations were not hostile, provisional without the threat of violence, but something has shifted; the mood has grown darker, changed, causing the entity whom I believed I had a mutual rapport with has assailed me with malevolence more than once, victimizing me to the threshold of insolence and threat of death.  I have fallen ignominiously out of its good graces.

The upper tier of my social associations, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues has deliberately become less than cordial.  From their thermometric point of view, I am sorely outnumbered, of course, for no one is on my side.  Dead set on defaming me publicly, they have said in not so many words that I have become reckless; I have become a blight to them.  I have no intention of cooling down my rhetoric and will burn bright to warn others before it is too late.  Not one of them mitigated my care which left me in such a precarious situation.  I was not sufficiently prepared mentally for the railings against me.

What was said about me was, and I quote, that I ‘gravitated in willful prevarication and ignored the laws of nature, thus blasphemed God while I attached myself to the unsavory phantasmagorical of the spiritually absurd.’

All the while, I was being regularly haunted by a ghost that hailed from the magnificent full-length mirror I so cherished.  I was refuted at every stage, from every angle and told in no uncertain terms, ‘erroneous belief in the existence of the supernatural outside of the church was imminently dangerous and worthy of expulsion.’ Frustrated, I argued vehemently yet unconvincingly.  I abstained from more ill banter and went my own way.  I could not help their pantaphobia.

The mirror is a fascinating look into one’s soul.  Few ever take the time to sit in front of a polished mirror and ask hard and important questions about oneself.  I had wondered what I might see.  Was it a portal into other dimensions?  Could it predict the future for me?  Maybe it was a window to the afterlife?  If I took a cold hard look at myself, what would I see: illusion or the truth?  Could I accept the truth, or would I succumb to duplicitous dishonesty?

The mirror was taken into my upstairs loft.

I had purchased it from an antique dealer who maintained a humble store, ‘Junk and Disorderly,’ yet it held a decent collection of rarities.  He had been in business for 40 years, and he gave me a bargain price.  I thought I was robbing him.  The mirror was pristine, and I believed the shopkeeper when he said it was from the 17th Century.  The joy of my newly acquired speculum was I could see myself and everything behind me.  It wasn’t long until I was spending hours at a time staring into the mirror, desperately believing if I simply worked at it, I could see what was directly behind my own reflection. These existential thoughts were probably not healthy, yet I found myself spiraling down into perceptions, down into the catacombs of imaginaries that were dreamt and were not really there.  I was not fooled, but I will admit I was obsessed, spending unhealthy durations convinced there was more there than met the eye.  I do not know what possessed and drove my fascination.  I can only say that at the time it was something I had to do.  This inanimate fixture, newly acquired, quickly became my favorite piece of furniture.

Gazing past my own reflection, I now wonder what I was hoping to see?  I was not seeing ghosts, dreams, murders, not even a simple revelation concerning my own existence.

Over time, I reflected on my own mortality, although not a single lingering ghost made themselves known.  I pressed my face against the glass and attempted to look deep in and upwards in anticipation of seeing anything out of the direct reflection.  Regardless of how intently I applied myself, all I received were smudges that I wiped away.  I was not willing to conceptualize and make up something untrue just to satisfy myself.  If there was nothing there, then it was not there.

I took a bed sheet and carefully draped it over the mirror.  I pulled back a corner and peeked in.  Of course.  It was too dark. I retrieved more light, a lantern, more candles and repeated the experiment. Maybe it was my own vanity preventing the mirror from revealing more?  It could not be!  My fixation was on the mirror, not on my own appearance.  But what about my vanity for knowledge?  I had to consider it.  No anonymities or fragmented realities, no smoke, puffy clouds, or apparitions were expressed or revealed.  If the mirror concealed secrets, it was not giving up its phantoms.

The frustration was becoming more than I could bear.  I convinced myself there was more.  I was certain the mirror was knowingly dark without one ounce of regard to how I was feeling.  I was not asking for much.  I only wanted a glimpse to reassure myself for the sake of peaked interest that I was not alone.  I did not want to believe I was inconsequential.  If I could see only one hint of something otherworldly, I could shake this feeling of insignificance which had gnawed at me for as long as I could remember.

I comforted myself with food; my favorite was a steamed dish of gat little mushrooms dripping in butter and olive oil.  Dinner was at 6 pm and a routine I never broke.

It was a sweltering summer’s night.  The heat was unbearable, reproachable, the humidity insufferable, and the mirror stood, draped in a bed sheet.  I was at my wits’ end, unable to accept I had lost.  I was so close to giving up.  “One last time, I will remove the sheet,” I said.  Without an ounce of faith, no expectations, I jerked the sheet away and let it fall to the floor.  Nothing materialized; there was no gateway or blackhole.  Nothing was staring back from the mirror except my own perfectly mirrored self.  I felt my head drop with the disappointment rising and teeming over the brim of rationale.  I could only attribute this deep despondency to my own inadequacies.

Wait!  What did I just see?  Something on the mirror.  What is it?  It was a fingerprint.  I had not seen that print before.  I strictly cleaned the mirror every time I visited it.  I was sweating bullets from this oppressive inferno attic.  Right before my eyes, absolutely positive, I see a second print from the other side of the glass.  I took the edge of the bed sheet and attempted to wipe the glass clean, but the two prints remained, and a third…a fourth were pressed against the glass!

I wiped the prints again.  The glass would not come clean.  I decided to place my fingers against the prints newly formed.  Impulse driven, with bare fingertips, I pressed them against the glass.  It was icy cold to the touch.  It was so chilling it burned.  I was compelled to push harder.  Harder and harder I pushed until my fingers were penetrating the glass.  The glass did not break; it did not crack.  It withstood every pound of pressure.  I closed my eyes, feeling my arm freeze up to my elbow.  I felt a hand.  It was not from inside the mirror.  Someone touched my shoulder on this side of the glass.  I opened my eyes and looked into the mirror.  The reflection was not me alone.  Standing to the right of my own image was a clear image of someone, something otherworldly.  I do not know why I began to laugh, but I laughed.  It was fear, maybe joy.  I felt like I was somebody.

I had achieved my aim, and now I question what purpose.  Honestly, what was the purpose?  The image standing beside me was as real as you or me.  The hand on my shoulder was frigid, but I did not mind.  My blood quickened.  I was smiling slightly flushed.  I wanted to speak, and unspeakable words came into my head, like foreign occupiers trespassing my notions and binding my tongue.  The person – yes it was the shape of a person –  was not allowing me to utter a word.  We stood gazing at our reflection silently for the longest time.  Truthfully, I marveled.  I thought to myself, “This is what is commonly known as supernatural.”

I was unequivocally taken with the manifestation.  I wondered how it saw me?  Could it be my reflection in a distant universe?  I wondered.  I would soon discover the answer.

It may interest you to know to my great satisfaction, our meetings were a daily occurrence.  I believed we had an increased kinship though words were never spoken until one evening, I went to the attic to call my friend and noticed the bed sheet I had draped over the mirror had been dropped from the mirror to the floor.

The awful thing had come to me.  We were sharing a moment of intimacy between two worlds, but now the manifestation had broken our bond.  I would have thought it a dream, but the sweat pouring from me and the pain I felt from the intentional scratches assured me it was real.  I found this peculiar because it would have taken a strong wind to blow the sheet off.  This was a windless attic.  Only a person could have removed the sheet.  I gazed into the mirror but saw only my reflection.  I touched the mirror with the tips of my fingers.  I felt nothing.  I tapped on the glass with my knuckles.  There was no answer, no response, nothing stirred.  Shockingly out from behind the mirror, not from within the mirror, appeared the manifestation.  It materialized right before my eyes.  It was awful, no longer beautiful.  It was leering and scowling at me with the darkest eyes I had ever known.  It was blacker than anything I had ever seen.  A bitter taste filled the air like wormwood.  I took a cautionary step as it emerged.  Looming grimly over me, insolently, it approached me.  I restrained my fear, but its impudence was unforgivable.  With a haughty sneer, it addressed me for the first time.

“Did you believe I was your plaything?  Did you imagine you could simply call me, and I would be there?”

I hardly knew what to say.  Its voice was harsh and dry, morbidly bland, lacking personality.  An ebullition of the weakest accosted me as a result of my discomfiture and embarrassment. I questioned myself.  Had I taken this for granted?  In my defense, I was crippled in futility, so my thinking was scattered at best.

I rationalized; my unrestrained imagination had obviously built a relationship based on my inability to see the whole picture.  The manifestation smashed one of my lights in what could only be defined as a vociferous tantrum.  This was no spook or a simple specter; this was a large, dark and menacing manifestation magnified and angry for an unknown reason.  I had invited it into my terrestrial world. This was my problem.

“I want out!” it demanded.

I reassured it with quivering lips, “But you are out!” “I cannot leave the mirror.  I only go where the mirror goes,” it informed me, acting as though it was about to destroy more of my property.  I stood enthralled, still amazed by my will, by my hands, that I had released it from the mirror.  The implied violence was vexing.  The applied rage was troubling on a level I was unfamiliar with.

“Don’t you like it here in my attic?”  I was naïve.  I screwed up because it attacked me.  The manifestation yelled in my face and pushed me to the floor, mounted me and began to smash me with several punishing blows to my head, chest and arms.  I turned on my belly and began to crawl for my life, but was quickly apprehended and dragged across the floor by its claws hooked into the flesh on my back.  The impossible truth was the moment between breath and death.

I saw lights throwing out a yellow glare, heard strange footfalls, a hiss like a viper and a curtain of acrid black smoke rolled down from the ceiling like smoke from a crematory.  I thought, “Life happens, then we die.  It is fleeting.  I am nothing more than a drop of water in a bitter sea.”  I was betrayed by my own lack of ability.  I held out my hand to him as he flipped me back on my back.

“Can you free me?”  His black sideral eyes burned a hole through me.  Looking at him uneasily, I mumbled something in a pathetic, taciturn way.

My hypothesis turned to superstition by my calculations.  Nothing added up in my linear world. Although the pain from the pummeling hurt, and I knew I was bleeding, I was rationalizing the event. I almost believed it likely I was in its world of relative and immense spaces where life was undefined. When I looked at the manifestation, all I saw was malice behind its eyes.  A thought came to me.  “In hell, the fires always burn brightly.”

With my senses dulled, the funereal atmosphere left me as a corpse.  Rooted to the floor, I was unable to stand.  My mind was teetering on the realm of madness.  The amorphous manifestation gazed upon me with its formidable face.  My face was horribly impassive, mainly from its threatening tone.  I collapsed under the immense clamor which filled the air.  I was struggling to breathe.

The manifestation pulled me to my feet.  He was glowing like liquid glass, refracting, pixellating with shriving shards, transparent while my complexion had changed.  I have discolored myself.  I had not foreseen and was totally unprepared for the beating and abuse I had unjustly received.  It was showing no contrition.  It was utterly inhuman, caught up in provocation, plunging its darkness into my chest. I ached, I moaned.  This was not hypnagogic scrying; I was doomed to obsidian divination.

I will admit my adversity invariably left me exhausted and shaken.  I should have listened to my friends and colleagues when they warned me this fascination of mine and attachment to the mirror was approaching demonology, which I say is founded entirely on deception.  I explained to my friends, beseeching them, the mirror conceals what it wants to conceal.  I was honest; up until this time, I had not succeeded.  Disappointingly, no ecstatic revelations had come to light, yet I was hopeful.  They mocked me, which only encouraged me even more.  I saw the light, however, and what a fool I have been.

All I wanted was furnished commentaries and supplementary interpretations from the mirror.  Due to indirect excitation, something outside of the manifestation was dominating my soul.  I cursorily heard it speak again.

“Can you free me?  Do we have a bargain?”

“Yes, I can.  Give me a chance!”  I was facilitated by my own fixation.  Strained expectations in repositories of memory were like flash bulbs exploding in my mind.

“Get me out of here,” the manifestation ordered.

“I cannot unless you free me first.  I can move the mirror and you can leave the attic,” I negotiated.  I had to think of something fast because I had the impression my time was short otherwise.  My transcendental capacities exposed a salient fact.  This was no striking hallucination.  It was the personification of significant propensity.  This momentarily caused me to pause.

The manifestation allowed me to approach the mirror as I struggled to maintain an upright position while traversing the dark regions of insanity.  I had to find a reason in myself to free this incorporeal being.  Although it eclipsed my expectations and contradicted my thoughts, I knew the importance of saving myself.  It had already alienated me from my innermost self.

It was a powerful mesmerizer, unfathomably able to cause insensibility and cataleptic torpidity in one’s heart.  I found myself trapped in an alternative consciousness sliding the enormous mirror across my attic floor.

“Free me!  Free me!” the manifestation demanded.  As I pushed the mirror to the edge of the staircase, I focused my attention on survival.  My every intention was to push the mirror, hands-free, down the steps so it would shatter into a million pieces.  As I stood contemplating with the manifestation breathing icy air down my wounded back, I had a thought.  “Darkness unlit by even a ray of light was no more than a bottomless pit.”

But my logic dictates unambiguously that knowledge is limited to a beginning and an end.  I concluded immorality could not be understood in this life.  Perceptible reality always exists.  It is impossible for me to erase the mental picture, the landscapes, even in my unconscious soul, the knowledge of external reality is no more than an encrustation of my intellect obscured and inglorious, undeniably erroneous.

I leaned back and took a great deep breath.  With all my might, I laid into the mirror in order to force the mirror down the steep steps.

My thoughts desiccated like an old well in an Arizona desert.  I felt hands all over my body.  They seemed to be struggling, lowering me down.  The effects of asphyxiation were present but slowly wearing off.  Neurologically I felt fine.  No one could determine how long I had been hanging there by the neck, dangling with my feet inches from the floor.  I had retrograde amnesia and do not remember the act itself.  My cervical spine was still intact and uninjured, but I was partially paralyzed on one side of my face.  I would shortly recover from it.

My thoughts had augmented inside my cranium to the degree to have contributed to my delusion and suicide attempt.  The doctors confirmed this saying it was my friends who had saved me by cutting the rope, and they incontestably agreed with his final analysis of the near-tragic event.

All liability was cast upon me.  It robbed my aspiration, leaving me practically lifeless.  I had no memory of the attempted hanging before I was heroically cut down from the rafters, which essentially was my own gibbet and saved from the moment of death by strangulation.  I would have never committed such an unforgivable act.  It is what it is.

I was labeled a weak-minded suicidal maniac who had freakish episodes and strange associations and entertained imaginary beings from the netherworld.  I was considered unstrung and a danger to myself and others and received the strongest condemnation as if I were a criminal.

I have prefaced my story, and unquestionably it is the unvarnished truth.  I am now in a place not of my choosing, but a facility I have been forced to reside in until I am diagnosed competent and in my right mind.  At any rate, this is quality time away from the bombardments of insult and scorn I had currently received from those who claimed to be friends.  Where I am now is not so bad.  Everything around me is dazzling white.  The staff are polite, and they too are in white.  To the satisfaction of all involved, I am assured, unarguably, I am better off here.

What family I had left have all forsaken me, but I have made friends here.  I no longer see unwelcomed ghosts nor have conversations with the unseen or seen paranormal.  I have had my fill of the phantasmagoric, the diaphanous, transparent, or translucent.  I have seen what I should not have seen and suffered correspondingly when it would have been easier to have not engaged at all, and I would be free of the provocation which has landed me in a secure place to rest.

No more surrealistic events for me.  In here, I receive three hardy meals a day.  I take in the fresh air of the gardens, which is medicine to my still throbbing brain.  I have books to read; the library is rich in subject matter.  There are games to play with my newly acquired friends who, like me, are mostly here not of their will.  I do not have to elicit approval from anyone.  I merely need to ‘get well,’ I am told.

In here there are no mirrors, no true reflections.  There is no way to look clearly at oneself, to examine, to reflect, to judge.  There is no way to watch yourself fade away into old age.  Creeping imprints pressed against glass are not something that occur here.  And since the medical world has decided it best for my safety and overall well-being, I have been administered a cocktail of approved drugs. Remarkably, I do not see those imprints in my dreams anymore.

I hope to be well and to join normal life once again.  It is with much regret how diminished my thinking has become.  The memories, no matter how horrible they were of that fateful day, have regressed and faded from my mind.  I wonder how this turned out so ugly?

I was informed at the time my friends had found me suspended and nearly dead that there was a turned-over chair, suspiciously appearing to have been kicked to the side of the human pendulum which I was.

The curious other matter was the mirror. It was not broken, smashed nor shattered as my intention.  I had every intention to throw it down the stairs.  It was found at the edge of the staircase in pristine condition.  Further to the report on the mirror, I was told it had been removed from the house.  I was silently outraged by the blatant disrespect of my friends who did not have permission to extract the mirror.  They foolishly returned the mirror to the store where I had originally purchased it.  That hurts me to think about.  Why does my laughter always turn to tears?  Why does the hand that holds us let go?  How can we have been held so close to be pushed away to a hopeless distance?  How can we be judged an eternity when we have only lived a moment?  How harsh and unjust would eternal flames be?

I am convinced, though, with no shred of evidence, the manifestation tried to kill me by hanging me on that despicable day.  My realm of affixation did not invent what happened.  I will make myself well.  I will free myself from this institution, and I will visit ‘Junk and Disorderly,’ and I will bring back my mirror!

In an archway of this marvelous apparatus, I swear I caught a fleeting glimpse of an unexplained blur, a smear, a formless blotch.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Dale Thompson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Dale Thompson

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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