The Dickens Mirror

The Dickens Mirror by Ilsa J. Bick

Book: The Dickens Mirror by Ilsa J. Bick Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ilsa J. Bick
is visible; if he were standing inside, you would see up to his knees. Of course, he sees the reflection of the chromed faucet and even the strangled, half-used tube of Crest he’s forgotten to cap …
    Oh
.
    His lungs squeeze down. Every molecule of air drains away. His heart stills into that dead space between beats, and that high whine, the peculiar sound that only silence possesses, is loud as a pneumatic drill. He closes his eyes, thinks he ought to count to ten, but loses track somewhere around four. Honestly, he doubts making it all the way would do him a whit of good, because anything—a hand or bit of hip, an arm—would’ve been bad.
    And the woman with the purple eyes is so much worse.
3
    NO . THE WORD is tiny, nothing more than a squeaky, mousy mental
eep
. His lungs shrivel. He’s not sure he’s even breathing. He’s very nearly back to the moment this all began: when he wokeafter a nightmare of fire and terror and cold and death to find that he had no name, no face. If he
could
turn to look, he’s not sure his house would even be there. Because there is only
now
: this moment, the mirror, that woman, that
woman
 …
    With something close to awe, he watches as her hands spider up the glass. From his vantage point, he sees the pads actually blanch and flatten. For a wild second, he thinks,
She can’t get out. She’s trapped. She’s …
    The woman’s fingers press—and then
curl
to hook the mirror’s edge.
    “Guh … uh …” This choking little cry is as close to a scream as he can manage. A tidal wave of dread struggles up his chest, but nothing else comes out. In the bathroom—this box he’s opened—the woman’s fingers crawl over the lip of that mirror, and now there is a boot: old-fashioned, with buttons and a blocky heel. A leg, clad in black stockings and draped in folds of a jet-black skirt, kinks, and then this woman is clambering out of the mirror. She swarms over the counter, knocking Snoopy, who clatters to the bathroom floor hard enough to crack off that black plastic nose.
Twisted Tales
spins off in a flutter of cheap paper, and now there she is, balanced on the edge of his sink, leering like a hungry, long-limbed tarantula that’s decided this juicy little fly will make for quite the snack.
    No!
Paralyzed, he can’t scream, doesn’t move, can only watch as the woman scurries off the counter, drops to the floor, and scuttles for him, nails
tick-tick-ticking
on tile.
Go, go, run!
But he can’t, and now she’s crawling up his bare legs and her lips, blue as death, peel from her teeth and her clawed hands reach for his face and then his eyes his eyes his
eyes
 …

TONY
    The Other Tony
    “NUH!” HE JOLTED awake, eyes snapping open. For a fraction of an instant, the space around him seemed to tremble, and he thought he was right back where that awful dream had begun: floating in midair, surrounded by nothing. Then in the desert of his chest, his heart convulsed with a great shiver. But what surged through his veins was icy and black as a remorseless tide, and he thought,
God, it’s the rot; it’s the squirmers; I’m infected; they’re eating me alive!
    “Tony?” A hand, wet and dripping, spidered over his face. “Tony, what …?”
    With a strangled sob, he lashed out, sweeping a wild fist. He felt the moment of impact and heard a gasp, the sound of something—someone—falling. The darkness before his eyes dissolved to a ruddy, pulsing glow, and in the dim and unnatural light, he saw a shape—
girl … no, the woman!
—in a tangle of worn cotton ticking.
Kill her, stop her!
Swarming over rags and burlap and rough brick, he pinned her, facedown. She let out a pained gasp and then a small cry as he knotted a fist in her hair.
    No more nightmares
. Baring his teeth, cocking a fist, he flippedher onto her back.
No more black visits, no more infection; kill her before she kills me, kill her before—
    “T-Tony.” Her hands closed over his balled knuckles. “Tony,

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