THE GIFT OF A BROKEN MIRROR

THE GIFT OF A BROKEN MIRROR.jpg

THE GIFT OF A BROKEN MIRROR

 

  

Chapter 1

 

There was a knock on her office door.

“Yes? Please, come in.”

A young man entered, holding the door ajar. “There’s a package for you.”

She looked up from her laptop.

“A package? Where?”

“It’s right here.” He then stepped aside to make way for another man dressed in a brown uniform. The second man was wearing a cap matching his attire and carried a medium-sized box.

“Good day, are you Miss Katrina?” he asked.

“Yes, I’m Katrina.”

“I’m from the courier company downtown. I have a package to be hand-delivered to you.”

Katrina removed her spectacles and peered closely at the package. “Who is it from?”

“I really don’t know. The instructions were that it should be hand-delivered to you, here, at your office.”

“I don’t remember ordering anything. Or did I?” Katrina asked herself aloud.

“Would you sign here, please?”

Katrina signed and collected the package. With her mind filled with curiosity, Katrina tore it open. Inside, there was a brown, sealed carton. On the brown carton was a white envelope.

Katrina picked up the envelope and opened it. She brought out the red piece of folded paper inside it.

As she began to unfold the paper, the lights in her office flickered. At the same time, her laptop screen began to display distorted images.

Katrina stopped unfolding the paper and looked around. The lights were normal once again. She tapped the keyboard on her laptop, checking to see if it was in order. Satisfied that the laptop was okay, she stood up and walked to the wall switch. She switched the lights on and off. The lights were working normally.

Katrina then walked back to her table and looked at the red piece of folded paper. Out of curiosity, she picked it up again. But this time she raised it closer to her nose and sniffed it. It appeared to have been covered in a strange perfume.

As she began to re-open it, the lights flickered again. Her laptop also began to display distorted images. She dropped the paper and stepped back from the table, filled with a sense of apprehension.

She put the paper back into its envelope and placed it back on the carton.

She picked up the telephone on her table and dialed a number. “Hello, Martin. Can you please get an electrician to come to my office? Thank you.”

After she dropped the line, she sat at the edge of her table and waited. As she did, she found herself glancing intermittently at the brown carton, wondering what its contents could be.

The knock on her door cut short her thoughts. “Come in.”

The door opened and Martin came in. “What’s the problem?”

“It’s the lights. But where’s the electrician?”

“He’s on another floor. I figured I’d come and check things myself before he arrives.”

“I see. That’s thoughtful of you.”

“So, what was the problem?” Martin asked, looking around the office.

“I really don’t know. I was about to open my package when I noticed the lights flickering.”

“The lights were flickering?”

“Yes, like someone was playing with the switches.”

Martin looked at the lights overhead. “Maybe it was just a slight power surge or fluctuation in the current.”

“How frequently does that sort of thing happen?”

“Maybe once in a while. It rarely happens that often.”

“I see. But this happened twice.”

“Twice?”

“Yes. Twice, Martin. And it also affected my laptop.”

“Really?”

“Yes. The laptop screen became distorted while the lights were flickering.”

Martin went to her table and examined her laptop. “I don’t think that’s possible. I mean, the lights might blink a little, but not flicker noticeably, unless they’re about to burn out. And even then, surges don’t affect such devices directly. They have built-in stabilizers.”

“But I definitely saw it. The flickering happened twice, and simultaneously, my laptop was acting crazy as well.”

Martin looked up from her laptop. “Your laptop is fine now. Nothing is wrong with it. The lights too. I don’t know. When did you notice the lights flicker? Today?”

“Weren’t you listening to what I was saying? Of course, it was today. It happened shortly after the courier man left my office.”

“And you say it happened in your office?”

“Where else do you think it would have happened, Martin?”

“I’m sorry, but I’m just trying to understand. I’ve been in my office this whole time and I didn’t notice anything unusual.”

Katrina blinked at him. “You mean the lights were fine in your office? It was quite noticeable. Surely, it must have affected other offices too.”

“If it did, other staff would have complained as well.”

There was a knock on the door. “Yes, come in,” Katrina said.

A man wearing overalls and carrying a tool box came into the office. “Good day, I’m the electrician. Martin said you wanted me to come take a look at something.”

“Yes, it’s my lights and my laptop. They were flickering like crazy, as if someone was playing with the switches.”

“The lights were flickering?”

“Yes.”

The man frowned. “But I changed all the light bulbs just last week. They can’t be burning out already.”

“Well, maybe they are. I don’t know.”

The man checked the switches, then the bulbs. After a while, he shook his head. “No, they’re all in perfect shape.”

“Are you sure? What about the laptop?”

“What happened to your laptop?” the electrician asked.

“The screen was warped.”

“Warped?” the electrician repeated as he examined the laptop.

“Yes, like something was interfering with it.”

The electrician brought out a meter from his tool box. He attached it to the laptop and began to run some tests. After a while, he put the meter away and shook his head again. “Everything’s fine with your laptop as well.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense!”

“When did you notice the lights were flickering?”

“Ten minutes ago.”

The electrician looked at Martin. “Have you been in the office in the past thirty minutes?”

“Yes, I’ve been indoors all day.”

“Did you notice any lights flickering?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Well, I don’t think it was anything serious. Whenever there’s a surge in power like what you described, it always affects other offices because of the central wiring. So in this case, it must be isolated. If it happens again, there might be a problem with the wiring of this room in particular. We might have to fix it, but I doubt it’ll be an issue. So that means there’s nothing serious to worry about.”

“Are you sure?”

The electrician nodded and picked up his tool box. “You don’t have anything to worry about.”

After they had both left, Katrina returned to her desk and sat down. She turned on her laptop and began to work on it. But after a couple of minutes, she found herself gazing at the lights again.

The lights were not flickering, but she found herself visualizing the way they had flickered not too long ago.

Katrina looked at the package on her table. Still filled with curiosity, Katrina pushed aside her laptop and pulled the package closer. She began to open it, but suddenly changed her mind. She glanced at the wall clock. The time was just a couple of minutes after four in the afternoon.

Katrina picked up her laptop, her bag and the package.

As she stepped out of her office, she met Martin, “Leaving already?”

“Yes, I’m going to see if I can get some rest at home. I’ll try to do some work when I’m refreshed,” Katrina said.

“How about your office lights? Are they okay now?”

“Yes, Martin. The lights are working perfectly fine.”

Martin pointed at the package in her hand. “Did you order something?”

“No, I think it’s a gift.”

“A gift? What is it?”

“I wish I knew. I’ll find out when I get home.”

“I see. You’re saving the surprise for yourself alone, right?”

“Well, it’s my gift, isn’t it?”

“Right, it’s your gift.” Martin said with a smile.

Katrina continued to walk towards the exit. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

 

***

 

At the car park, Katrina got into her car. She then placed her belongings on the seat next to her before starting the car.

Just as she was about to reverse out of her parking spot, something caught her eye, making her brake suddenly and shift the car gear to park. It was the package. It seemed to have moved on its own.

Katrina frowned as she looked closely at it. She recalled placing it on top of her laptop, next to her bag. However, the package seemed to have moved and was now underneath the bag.

This is wrong, Katrina thought to herself. The package was supposed to be by the side of her bag and not underneath it. Katrina reached to the side and pulled the package out from where it was hidden.

Satisfied that it was once more visible, she proceeded to drive out of the car park.

She had driven a short distance from the premises when her eyes strayed to the side and caught sight of her belongings. She gasped and slammed on her brakes.

The package was underneath the bag again!

“Damn it,” she called out loudly in confusion and fear.

The engine of the car was still running as Katrina leaned over and pulled out the package from underneath the bag. She held it in her hand for a few seconds, wondering how it could be that the package had gotten under her bag.

Is this really happening or am I imagining things? What’s wrong with me today? What’s in this damn package anyway?

Out of curiosity, she held the package close to her ear and shook it.

Katrina thought she heard something move and make a faint rustling sound within the package. She wasn’t sure.

Sounds like there’s a snake inside. What the hell could it be and who sent it?

She then placed it on her lap and opened the cover. The red note was still folded on top, just as she had left it.

Katrina looked around just to make sure that no one was coming around. She then began to open the red piece of paper. As Katrina flipped it open, her car began to splutter and shudder. It was as if the engine was running low on gas. Katrina held onto the paper and looked at her dashboard. The fuel gauge indicated that the tank was still full.

She turned her attention back to the paper and began unfolding it. This time around, Katrina noticed that the engine was spluttering and the electronic indicators were acting erratically. She closed the paper, and everything was back to normal again.

A smile began to play on her lips as she looked at the paper in her hand.

Obviously, someone must have decided to play a very clever prank on me.

First it was in the office, and now it’s happening in my car. And the strange occurrences seemed to be tied to this piece of paper, and maybe this package.

Katrina shook her head defiantly. “Nobody is going to get the satisfaction of scaring me today,” she announced firmly, before forcefully opening the piece of paper. As the paper flipped open, the car shuddered again. But this time it was so violent that Katrina had to hold onto her steering wheel. At the same time, as if coordinated, the dashboard’s controls and indicators began to flicker and display random messages and functions. The interior lights were going on and off rapidly.

Then, just as everything had started without warning, the strange occurrences stopped abruptly.

Katrina’s hands were still on the steering wheel. She shook her head to clear her mind from the shock, then pushed down on the gas pedal to rev the engine. There was no response. None of the lights and indicators on the dashboard were working. She tried to turn on the interior lights but nothing happened.

Katrina sighed. “Great. Now my car is dead,” she said aloud.

How am I going to get home? she wondered.

She picked up her mobile phone and tried to dial a number. It did not respond. The phone was also dead. She tried to turn it on, but it refused to respond.

Exasperated, she tossed the phone aside. “When did the battery go flat?”  Katrina asked in frustration. She was sure that it was still well charged before she left her office.

She looked down at the package on her lap. It was still where she had left it, but the red piece of paper had fallen to the floor. It was now open. Katrina reached down and picked it up.

She turned it over and began to read what was written on it.

Katrina, you should never have thought of breaking my heart.

For daring to think of doing this to me, I will break everything around you.

Your life will remain broken from now on.

Always,

Paul.

Katrina frowned as she read the note again.

“Paul? What?”

Katrina could not control herself as she began to curse out loud. A sudden wave of rage engulfed her and she squeezed the red piece of paper and tossed it away. She also pushed the package off her lap, letting it fall onto the floor of the car.

Katrina was fuming as she looked outside the window. She felt like screaming out loud, like someone who was deranged. But then she controlled herself.

“So, Paul was the one playing all these stupid pranks on me?” Katrina asked aloud.

She shook her head and bit her lip. She needed to tell him just how she felt about his pranks.

“‘Your life will remain broken from now on.’ Who says that?”

Who on earth is Paul to threaten me like this? Was it just because I decided to end our relationship? I always knew he was up to no good, but I didn’t think he’d be such a creep. She thought to herself.

She picked up her phone and tried to make a call. It was still dead.

“No problem. I’ll just drive straight to the idiot’s house this evening and tell him what a loser he is,” Katrina said, turning her car key in the ignition. There was no response.

“What the hell is wrong with this car?” Katrina screamed.

She could feel her heart racing as she looked around, frantically thinking of what to do. At that moment, her eye caught sight of the package where it lay on the floor of the car. Something was glinting and reflecting light.

Katrina bent down and picked up the package. As she lifted it up, something slipped out of it and fell on her lap. She dropped the empty package and picked up the item on her lap.

It was made of a black, hard wood. Its edges were rough and uneven. There were strange markings on its sides.

Katrina then turned it over. She was suddenly startled at seeing the woman in the glass looking back at her. But when she got a hold of her emotions, she realized that she was looking at herself in a mirror.

Katrina relaxed and looked at the mirror. There were several cracks on it, which made Katrina’s reflected image look distorted and unfamiliar.

“Of all the gifts that a loser like Paul could think of sending me, a broken mirror? He sure has a twisted mind,” Katrina said out aloud.

She put the mirror down and tried her phone again. It still refused to turn on. She then tried to start her car again. Nothing happened.

“What do I do, now? What do I do?! Damn it, I really need to calm down! Freaking out won’t help me at all.”

As an idea came to her, she snapped her fingers.

Of course, why didn’t I think of it sooner? I could rush back to the office and call someone to have a look at this damned car. And while I’m there, I could also use my office phone to call that stupid idiot Paul and let him know just how I feel about his stupid gift and juvenile pranks, she thought to herself.

Katrina then picked up her bag and laptop. Just as she was about to open the door, her eye caught sight of the broken mirror. “Well, why not? I can take you along with me,” Katrina said as she picked it up.

She opened the door and got out.

It was when she turned to leave that she heard the sound of screeching tires. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, as if a huge hammer had hit a huge drum. The sound was so loud that its echo reverberated continuously.

In the midst of all the noise, Katrina found herself being hurled backwards by some invisible force. She landed hard on the bare ground and screamed out loud as she bruised her hands and arms.

 

Chapter 2

 

There was smoke everywhere and Katrina was coughing. As she tried to clear her head, she could hear footsteps running towards her.

“Are you okay, miss?” someone asked.

Katrina looked up into the faces of several people. They were not familiar to her. She only nodded and muttered something incoherent at them. She looked in the direction from where she had been flung.

Her car was now a complete wreck. Its windscreen and windows were shattered, the body crumpled and its rear tires were completely deflated. Behind it was an SUV, with its front fender damaged.

Katrina struggled to sit up.

“Take it easy, miss. Are you sure you’re okay?” someone asked again.

Katrina looked up into the face of a man. “You tell me. I mean, someone just crashed into my car, and I’ve just survived being flung a distance like a rag doll. So, you tell me—how am I supposed to feel?”

“I apologise, miss. But what were you doing parked in the middle of the road like that?”

Katrina felt her face redden with rage. “Excuse me, did you say I was parked in the middle of the road?” She immediately regretted her outburst as her head started aching and she had to hold it with both her hands to ease the pain.

“Yes, you were parked in the middle of the road. You do know that this is a very busy road at this time of the day.”

Katrina remembered the engine that refused to start. “But I wasn’t parked there. I was stuck there. My engine refused to start.”

“Why didn’t you put on your hazard lights?”

“My engine was dead. Everything was dead. Nothing was working.”

“Then you should have gotten out of the vehicle and put up some warning signs, like the triangle.”

“But I did get out of the vehicle,” Katrina protested.

The man closest to her shook his head. “But there was no sign displayed to warn other motorists of the danger your stalled car posed. You are lucky to be alive. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if you were still inside your car, or even close to it.”

“I was close to it. Maybe I was lucky not to have been too close to it.”

Someone stepped forward. “Are these yours?”

Katrina nodded as she identified her bag and laptop, “Thank you.”

“What about this mirror?” another person said.

“Mirror?”

“Yes, I think it broke when you fell,” the man said, handing it over to her.

Katrina collected it and looked into the broken glass. As she did, she gasped as she saw what looked like a replay of a video. It was all playing out in the mirror, like a broadcast of a programme. Katrina saw herself getting out of her car. Then the SUV came around the corner, racing towards where she had left her car.

Katrina’s back was facing the oncoming vehicle. Then just before impact, its tires screeched loudly. The SUV rammed into her car forcefully, just as Katrina was flung into the air. She fell on the hard ground and passed out.

“Are you okay, miss?” someone asked.

Katrina blinked as she seemed to snap out of a trance. She blinked again and stared at the mirror in her hand. All she could see now was a reflection of herself.

“Miss?” the same person called.

Katrina looked up. “Yes?”

“I was asking what we could do for you.”

“You were?”

“I was suggesting that we take you to a hospital. You still seem shaken by the accident, sort of out of focus, and you might have been injured from the fall. It might not be a bad idea to get a few tests done. You never know with accidents, especially with concussions, things might be a lot more serious than they initially appear to be.”

“No, I’ll be fine. Thanks.”

“Are you sure about that, miss?”

Katrina nodded and looked at the wreckage. “I’m sure. But my car, what about my car?”

“Yes, I was about to get to that. I was the one who hit you from behind. So technically, I’m supposed to handle the damages.”

“But it’s so badly wrecked!”

“Well, isn’t it better that it was the car alone that was wrecked? If you were injured, I doubt anyone would be talking about the condition of the car right now.”

Katrina smoothened her ruffled hair. “You’re right about that.”

“Here, have my card. I’m Nicolas.”

“Thank you. I’m Katrina.”

“I’ll call a mechanic and a towing company to come look at both vehicles right away.”

As Nicolas began to dial some numbers on his phone, Katrina caught sight of the broken mirror again. At the same moment, she recalled the message that was on the red piece of paper: ‘Your life will remain broken from now on.’

“Paul.”

Katrina felt her rage return and wanted to give him a piece of her mind.

Then she remembered her office. It was not too far from the scene of the accident. She picked up her bag, laptop and the mirror.

Nicolas came over to her. “I just called a towing company. They’ll be here soon, with a mechanic.”

“Thanks.”

“How do I get in touch with you?”

Katrina opened her bag and handed him her card.

Then she started walking away. It was not long before Katrina was stepping in through her company’s office doors into the lobby. It was Martin who first saw her and waved. “Katrina, finally!”

Katrina looked at him. “Finally?”

“We’ve been trying to reach you for a while now, but your phone was off.”

Katrina held up her dead smartphone. “Yes, my phone’s been dead this whole time. And if you must know, I was involved in an accident.”

“An accident? How? Where?”

“Not too far from here. My car just went dead in the middle of the road, then I got rammed from behind.”

“My goodness! Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine. But my car’s a complete wreck. I’m lucky that I wasn’t in it when the accident happened.”

“That is serious. You should go home and rest, instead of coming back to the office!”

“I know, I will. But I need to make some urgent calls first.”

“I see. Well, I guess we’re lucky you came in, since we’ve been trying to reach you.”

“So you said. What’s the matter?”

“No one told you anything yet?”

“I haven’t spoken to anyone since I left the office. What’s going on?”

“That means you haven’t heard?” 

“Heard? Heard what? Can you get to the point?”

“Not long after you left, a memo came from headquarters.”

“What did it say?”

Martin looked into her face, hesitating. “Katrina, maybe you need to sit down first. I mean, you just survived an accident. I really shouldn’t be putting you under more stress like this.”

“What stress? I’m perfectly okay, tell me.”

“Those of us who saw the memo were very shocked. We still don’t know what to make of it.”

“Martin, would you stop beating around the bush and tell me what’s going on?”

“You have been suspended, Katrina.”

The bag, the laptop and the mirror fell from her hands, clattering noisily on the granite floor.

 

As Martin rushed to pick up her belongings, Katrina slumped into one of the nearby chairs. “Suspended?”

“Yes. As soon as the memo arrived, I tried to reach you. But I couldn’t.”

“But why?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. Everyone is confused.”

“And management did not say why?”

“No, they didn’t give any explanation.”

“That’s a bit unreasonable of them. Surely, there must be something I did. They can’t just suspend me without a cause.”

“You’re right, they can’t do such a thing without a reason. Many of us think that it is a mistake, some kind of an administrative goof-up.”

“You think so?”

“We can’t think of any other explanation,” Martin said, placing her belongings next to her.

Katrina picked up the mirror. “What a day it’s been for me. First, I get involved in a car crash, and now I’m suspended from my job.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Yeah. Thanks. I guess some days can be like this, right?”

“Sorry about your mirror, it must have broken when you dropped it.”

Katrina shook her head as she looked into the broken mirror. “No, it was already broken even before I arrived here.”

“Really?”

“Yes. That’s how it’s been since I opened up the gift package.”

Martin pulled another chair and sat close to Katrina. “Wait. You mean this is the gift that you got?”

“Yes. The one that the courier man delivered to me.”

“Really? Let me take a look at it.”

After Katrina handed it over to him, she watched as he carefully began to examine it.

“You seem to like it,” Katrina said after a prolonged silence.

“Not exactly. There’s something wrong about it.”

“It’s just a mirror. A broken mirror, for that matter,” Katrina said.

“No, it’s not just a broken mirror. Did you displease anyone lately?”

“Displease anyone? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? I just got suspended, so I must have displeased someone in management to get the suspension.”

“No, not the management.”

“What do you mean? Who suspended me?”

“I’m not talking about your suspension. I’m talking about this. The mirror. Who sent it to you?”

“Some loser.”

“Loser?”

“Yes, my ex-boyfriend Paul.”

“Let me guess, you broke up with him and he’s angry, right?”

Katrina shrugged. “Well, that’s his business. I wish I could tell him just what I think about his stupid gift. That’s why I came back to the office. I needed to call him and give him a piece of my mind. I didn’t return to get the news of my stupid suspension.”

“Well, that explains everything.”

“What are you talking about?”

Martin glanced around, making sure that there was no one close to them. “Look, I don’t know how to explain this to you, but do you believe in curses and black magic?”

Katrina suddenly burst out laughing. This seemed to annoy Martin because she saw the expression on his face suddenly change. As she tried to calm herself down, she patted his arm. “I’m sorry. Honestly, today has been a very hectic and stressful day for me. I mean, you’ve heard all that I’ve been through already. You can’t imagine how angry I am at Paul for his stupid pranks. But now your idea of spells and magic is just comic relief for me. I never knew you had such a wonderful sense of humour, Martin. Honestly, I never knew.”

“Katrina, I am not in any way trying to humour you. I am dead serious.”

Katrina looked into his face. She could see the seriousness in his face. “Are you serious about this? For real?”

“Yes. For real. You have been the victim of something diabolical. And it was sent to you by someone who was close to you, someone whom you have hurt.”

“You mean Paul?”

“For now, it is safe to assume that it’s Paul. He is the one you have hurt. He is the one with the motive to do such a thing.”

“But how could he do such a thing to me? I only broke up with him. I didn’t harm him in any way?”

“That’s what you think, Katrina. But not everyone has such a simple view of things. Interpretation and misinterpretation of other people’s actions are always a precursor to their committing violent acts to those same people that they once claimed to love and care for.”

“I’m sorry, Martin. I feel like none of this makes sense. And right now, I need to make some sense out of everything that has been happening to me. Please, give me the mirror and let me get out of here.”

Martin nodded and handed the mirror back to her. “You know that you’re in grave danger.”

“Am I? How can you be so sure? I mean, you’ve spoken about black magic and spells like it’s something you know a lot about. What do you know about all this?”

“I know because I have been exposed to it before. But that was a long time ago, before I joined this company. While I was growing up, I often stayed with my aunt. She was fond of using some of this stuff. And that was where I learned about it.”

“So, you’re saying that this broken mirror isn’t ordinary?”

“Exactly, it is most certainly not ordinary.”

“So how does it work?”

“Well, if I can remember well, such a mirror induces a spell to seriously disrupt and break the victim’s life.”

“Break the victim’s life?”

“Yes. And it can happen in several unobtrusive ways.”

Katrina was silent for a moment as she thought about the events of her day. “But I can explain all the bad things that happened to me today.”

“Are you sure you have explanations for them?”

“Of course I do. The accident was simply because my car was stuck in the middle of the road. Any oncoming car would have rammed into it.”

“I see. But why did your car stop in the middle of the road?”

“It must have been an electrical fault. The car just refused to start.”

“So, you think that a mechanical or an electrical fault is the reason your new car refused to start, on the same day you got this mirror?”

“Of course, yes.”

“And your suspension? How do you explain that?”

“I must have done something.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know, this has gotten me confused. Do you really think that this thing could have been the cause of all my bad luck today?”

“I don’t think, I know. And it will only get worse as time goes by.”

“What? You mean things will go on getting worse for me?”

“Yes. Its purpose is to make sure that your life as you know it gets completely broken.”

“If this is true, how do I stop it? How do I reverse its effects? Surely, there must be some kind of an antidote or a way of reversing what’s happening to me.” Katrina’s voice now had a noticeable undertone of panic.

“Yes, of course there is. First, you have to figure out whoever is behind it.”

“I know it’s Paul.”

“Well, there you go. All you have to do is to go to him and ask him to reverse the spell and its effects on you. Once he reverses the spell, the entire effects will disappear.”

“Disappear? You mean, my life would go back to normal?”

“No, not just normal. When he reverses the spell, all that had been broken in your life would become all right again. In your case, your car would be back to its former state and you would not be suspended from work anymore.”

“So, all I have to do is get to Paul and my life will be back to normal.”

“Yes. But you need to do more than get to Paul. You need to convince him to reverse the spell. He has to be convinced enough to be able to undo what he has already done.”

Katrina picked up her stuff and began to walk towards the door. “No problem. Just give me some time and I’ll fix all this mess.”

“Are you going to see Paul right now?”

“Of course I am. I know him, and I know how to get him to change his mind.”

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

About an hour later, Katrina was standing in front of a door in a block of apartments somewhere downtown. In one hand was a gift bag containing a box of chocolates and a bottle of red wine. In the other hand, she was clutching her bag. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

The door opened and a man stood smiling at her in the doorway with an intense look on his face. 

“Hello, Katrina. This is a surprise. To what do I owe this visit?”

Katrina tilted her head to one side. “Why not let me come in before I tell you why I’m here, Paul?”

“Of course. Do come in.”

Katrina walked inside and sat down on one of the settees. Paul sat down next to her. She looked around the nicely furnished apartment. “Everything looks neat and orderly. How are you doing, Paul?”

“Well, my apartment may be orderly, but I can’t say the same about my heart.”

Katrina reached forward and touched his arm. “Paul, you know that it wasn’t working out between us. I mean, I couldn’t continue to live such a life with you when we both knew that it was going nowhere.”

He looked her in the eyes, his beautiful green eyes soft and tender for a moment before becoming cold and impassive. “And so you just walked away?”

“I didn’t just walk away. Have you forgotten how long I spoke to you about it? We could still be friends.”

“Friends? After all we’ve been through, you think I’d be satisfied with just being your friend?”

In response, Katrina reached into her bag and brought out the mirror. “So is that why you had to send me this mirror?”

Paul collected the mirror and held it. “I apologise, I was angry, I don’t know what came over me.”

“Angry? That’s your excuse? Do you realize that I almost got killed in an accident today? In fact, my car is a complete wreck. And I’ve been suspended from work. But all you can say is that you were angry with me for walking away?”

“It’s alright, Katrina. At least you’re here now.”

“You know what I’m saying is serious. My gosh, how did you get into such diabolical things in the first place?”

“Don’t worry, dear, there is nothing that can’t be fixed.”

“Are you sure? Can you fix it?”

“Of course I can. Do you think I am so callous and insensitive that I’d be unwilling to rectify things for you? I only wanted to get you to come and meet me again. And now you’re here, you don’t have to worry about anything.”

“Then please fix my life. Do it now. Reverse these evil spells. Let my former life come back to me.”

“Hey, easy now, Katrina. What’s the rush? Is that the only reason why you came to see me?”

Katrina passed him the bag of chocolate and red wine. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I almost forgot, I got you a gift.”

“A gift? Red wine and chocolate? You haven’t forgotten my favourites.”

“How could I?”

Paul got up and walked to the table close by. “This calls for celebration, don’t you agree?”

Katrina saw him pick up two glasses. “What are we celebrating? I just told you that I’m suspended from work and my car is a complete write-off.”

Paul sat down by her side and offered her a glass. “But you’re still alive.”

“Alive? So you want to celebrate my being alive?”

“No, I want to celebrate the fact that you are finally here with me, after such a long time.”

Paul opened the wine bottle and poured some into their glasses. He then lifted his glass close to hers and smiled. “Here’s a toast to new beginnings.”

Katrina raised her glass to his. “To new beginnings.”

After the toast, Paul drank his wine and smiled as Katrina raised her glass to her lips. “So, what do you want to talk about?”

Katrina saw him refilling his glass. “What else is there to talk about, Paul?”

Paul lifted the bottle close to her glass and realized that it was still full. “Why aren’t you drinking?”

“I am. I’m just taking my time. You don’t know how terrible my day has been.”

Paul placed the wine bottle on the glass table. “You must take things easy, Katrina. I just told you that I can reverse everything. Why not relax and drink with me?”

“I will be more relaxed when you reverse everything, Paul. Can’t you reverse it right away?”

“You sound like someone who is really in a hurry. What is the rush all about?”

Katrina touched his face. “Paul, you don’t know how much you have always meant to me. I am really sorry that I had to walk away. In fact, right now, I can see just how selfish I was. I’m really sorry.”

Paul touched her face. “Katrina, my dear Katrina. I knew you would eventually realize how wrong your decision had been. You should never have walked away from me.”

“Yes, you’re right. I was wrong. And that’s why I’ve come back.”

“So, we’re back together again?”

“Yes, Paul. We’re back together again. Now reverse the curse. Please.”

Paul took another sip of his wine. He looked at the glass before drinking everything in it. Then he saw Katrina putting down her glass on the table. But her glass was still full. “Are you sure you still like red wine?”

sure you still like red wine?”

 tenderer ado?

“Of course I do. I’m just not too keen on drinking right now. You should understand how low I’m feeling. Maybe if you reverse the curse, then I might be motivated to join you in drinking.”

“Anything for my Katrina. Anything for you. Now, where is the mirror?”

Paul picked it up. As he looked at it, the lights inside the apartment began to flicker erratically.

Katrina looked around, frightened by what was happening. Paul noticed and patted her hand. “Calm down, darling, it’s all right. You don’t have to be afraid.”

“But I am, Paul. Can’t you hurry up and do what you need to do? Please?”

“Sure. I’ll reverse the whole thing. Let me just—”

Katrina saw Paul suddenly stop talking and drop the mirror on the floor. He then clutched his stomach and fell down on his knees.

Katrina rushed to his side and held him. He grabbed her shoulder and stared into her eyes. “What’s wrong with me?”

“I don’t know.”

“My stomach. It’s on fire.”

“Maybe it’s something you ate?”

Paul stared at her with wide eyes. “Ate?”

“Or drank?”

Paul shot a glance at the bottle of red wine. He looked at Katrina’s glass, which was still full. “No wonder you weren’t drinking your wine. Damn you, Katrina! What have you done?”

“Nothing much, I just took out a little insurance for myself. You didn’t think a girl like me would come here unprepared, did you?” She opened her bag and brought out a small vial.

“What is that?”

“It’s the antidote to the poison.”

“Poison?”

“Yes. Now, reverse the spell or else you’ll be a dead man in the next five minutes.”

Paul coughed and smiled in a deeply sardonic manner. “You’re a fool, Katrina. I should have known that you could never be trusted.”

“And you should have known better than to try to wreck my life the way you have. Now, reverse the spell. Or do you want to die?”

Paul shook his head and pointed to the mirror. “All you have to do is hold it close to you.”

Katrina picked up the mirror. “Yes? And then what?”

Paul was now breathing slowly. “Please give me the antidote, Katrina. I’m feeling weak.”

“Damn it. Answer my question.”

“Hold it close to you, then recite the words.”

“I’m holding it already. What should I say?”

“I reverse the spell in this mirror.”

Katrina looked into the mirror. “I reverse the spell in this mirror.”

After she said this, the lights began to flicker and fluctuate. Then everything stopped. She looked at Paul. He was sitting on the floor with his hands wrapped around his stomach, coughing severely.

“Is that all?” Katrina asked, placing the mirror down on the settee.

Paul nodded. “Yes. Now give me the antidote, for goodness sake!”

“How can I be sure that you have reversed everything?”

“Give me the antidote, Katrina, please”

Katrina shook her head. “Not until I confirm.”

“Katrina, please—” Paul began to say, but could not continue. The pain in his stomach seemed to have increased. He fell on the floor and began to roll, jerking and coughing.

Katrina didn’t care. She watched him writhing uncontrollably on the floor. “You should never have tried to play such a prank on me. Now it is my turn to pay you back.”

Suddenly, Paul sat up and reached for the mirror on the settee. “You’re going to pay for this.”

“Pay? How? Go on, tell me how you intend to do that, Paul.”

Paul raised the mirror and threw it forcefully against the wall. As it collided with the wall, the glass shattered into several pieces.

Katrina saw Paul fall on the floor and remain still.

She stood up and walked towards where the mirror had been broken. She then looked at the pieces of glass on the floor. “Such a loser,” she said as she walked back to the settee.

As she picked up her bag, she observed that the lights had begun to flicker again. Alarmed, she looked towards where Paul lay. He was still lying there, but by his side was the same mirror he had smashed against the wall not long ago. She looked at the floor but did not see any broken glass.

Then the lights stopped flickering.

Surprised, she walked back to where his still body lay and bent down to pick up the mirror. It was lying face down. As she turned it, she saw that the mirror was still broken in several places. But apart from that, there was no reflection inside the mirror.

“Now this is strange. No reflection?” Katrina asked aloud.

Maybe it’s because the spell was reversed, she thought.

Suddenly, a face appeared in the mirror. She looked closely and screamed when she saw that it was Paul’s.

Paul was staring at her from within the mirror.

Katrina screamed and tried to throw away the mirror. But she realized that she couldn’t accomplish her feat.

She looked and saw that a hand was holding onto her wrist. The hand had come out of the mirror. It was Paul’s.

“You don’t think I’m going to let you go this time, do you, Katrina?”

Katrina tried to free herself from his hand. But her efforts were fruitless.

Not believing what was happening, Katrina grabbed the bottle of wine. She raised it with the intention of smashing it on Paul’s hand. But what she saw made her scream more.

Paul’s hand was no longer visible. Rather, her entire arm up to her elbow was missing, buried inside the mirror. She dropped the wine bottle and began to wrestle with the mirror.

But the more she wrestled with the mirror, the more it continued to swallow her. All the while, the lights in the apartment continued to flicker erratically.

Gradually, Katrina watched in horror as her elbow, shoulder, and eventually her body was consumed by the mirror.

All of a sudden, all the lights in the apartment went off. And the mirror lay still on the floor next to Paul’s dead body.

 

THE END

Lamees Alhassar