The world is a scary place. Every day we’re forced to make choices, no matter how small, that may be leading us along a new path. Whether that path is heading towards something good, like a promotion or meeting some special, or towards something bad, like an accident, or even death, we can never know. In the end, that’s possibly the scariest thing of all.
That’s why I need your help to guide a character, or characters, through the possible dangers that await them in #YourHorror, an interactive horror story that will be shaped by the choices you make. Even I don’t know what will happen, and I’m the writer…
From Monday to Friday, at roughly 8pm GMT each day, there will be a new Twitter poll. These polls will ask you to choose between a number of options, each of which may take the story in a new direction. Sometimes a decision will give a bit more insight into the character, setting, or backstory, while other times the decision will solely focus on driving the narrative forward.
Excited? Intrigued? A little bit terrified of the unknown? Yeah, me too. Get involved.
A flash of lightning lit the sky on fire, illuminating the walls of her new home. The strange situation she found herself in was revealed under a brief spotlight, proving that there really was a hand reaching from the bathroom mirror in front of her, her own hand held tight in its cool, porcelain grip. It startled her into action.
She grabbed her left arm, the one being held against its will, with her right hand – no longer feeling the burn that gave her hand a bubbly, shiny quality – and pulled. It made no difference. Even when she pulled with all of her might, grunting with exertion, to the point where she thought she might actually break free without her hand, the mirror hand showed no signs of letting her free.
Another spotlight of blue and white lit the room and revealed a woman looking much sweatier and more exasperated than it had before.
The next time the light was flashed across the room, it was empty. Just as she had been ready to take a break, with the possibility of having to live her life from this very spot in her mind, the hand in the mirror had pulled. Hard.
Her arm was nearly pulled from its socket as she was yanked towards the mirror. No, not towards the mirror, into the mirror. In one swift, painful motion, the pasty mirror hand snatched her from her ordinary bathroom, where she had already been retching and licking her wounds from her less-than-ordinary day. The damp towel lay on the floor where it had landed, looking as if it had been thrown to the floor by an angst-y teenager.
Once again, the property was still, at complete odds with the storm that raged outside.
As she flew head-first through the mirror, she felt the hand release its grip on her own.
(Bit late now…)
Clearly, it had done its job.
She landed with a thump on something that felt simultaneously smooth and wet, like glass made of mist so concentrated that it became solid. It was hard to tell what exactly it was, because the world around her was almost entirely black. That was, except for a thin beam of light that trailed in from somewhere behind her. When she looked over her shoulder, still on all fours where she’d landed, she saw what looked like a faraway window. She squinted.
(Is… is that my bathroom?)
It was impossible to be sure from this distance, and there was something that concerned her more. The air in front of her, if that’s what it could be called, was disturbed. She could feel eyes burning into the top of her head. Like a deer trying to find its feet for the first time, she clambered upwards and met its gaze. Only it wasn’t an ‘it’. It was a ‘she’.
(Wait… that’s me.)
Staring back at her with no emotion whatsoever, was a mirror copy of herself. The same hair, the same eyes, the same lips, the same clothes, thrown together for an afternoon of unplanned research and Netflix napping. Everything.
(Readers: I bet you’re wishing you’d gone with the character detail option! This is killing me.)
Unsure of how to react to this carbon copy, which watched her through eyes that were as cold as its freakishly strong hand, she lashed out.
(It’s not real. It doesn’t matter. Whiskey and pills could make anyone see things.)
She neglected the fact that she’d fallen to sleep before ever taking any pills, and even a lightweight like herself could manage more than two sips of whiskey without hallucinating. Thinking that any of this was real would be too much.
Her hand whipped through the darkness, curled into a fist, but just before she could come into contact with the copy, she pulled the punch. Hell, it was herself she was punching in the face. Surely anyone would struggle with that. What started as a right hook turned into more of a claw, and she raked her nails across the copy’s cheek. It was like scratching a pane of glass, and had almost no effect at all. She’d almost punched.
(Know what makes a burn worse? Broken knuckles.)
She was dragged from her relief by a warm tickling sensation on her cheek. When she touched her hand to her face, her finger came away with a smudge of blood.
(Okay. That’s a new one.)
Too scared to test the developing theory in her head, she decided that she wouldn’t lash out at the copy again. It seemed unfazed by the fact that she’d even tried to attack it, and had definitely come off better from the encounter. She believed she could see a slight groove in its pasty cheek, but it could have been her imagination. Either way, it continued to stare in her direction, unwavering, detached.
It was in this same way that it spoke to her.
“You are being drawn deeper into something you do not understand.” In a way, it was her own voice that left the lips of the copy, but so devoid of personality and life that it could have been anyone.
“No, not at all. This is pretty much what I expected in a new town.” This thing wouldn’t know sarcasm even if it slapped it in the face, and probably for the best, because it seemed sarcasm would come off worse. No-one wanted that.
“You have been chosen. Even now, you are slipping further down into a world that you do not understand. A world that you are not prepared for. A world of madness.”
“I can see how you would think that…” She looked left, then right, then back at the copy. “I’m inside my bathroom mirror.”
“You still do not understand the situation you are in. They will break you. Jokes will not save you.”
“How else would I deal with my feelings? Talk about them like a mature adult? Stop that.” She swallowed. “Who are they?”
“They are everywhere, and they have set their sights on you.”
“Helpful,” she muttered. “Why am I here?”
“For my warning. Part of you, me, understands the web of madness and deceit you are being entangled inside, while part of you is clinging to the threads of what should and should not be. It was the only way to make you see.”
“Okay… message received,” she said, thinking how much easier it would have been for her to send a tweet or a WhatsApp message. This she kept to herself, knowing that the copy wouldn’t understand or care, and also not feeling liking joking anymore. “What do I do?”
“There are many paths. I cannot tell you which you take, only that there any many potential endings to your story.”
“As long as none of those endings come too quickly. Thanks, I guess.”
“You have been warned.” With those final words, the copy disappeared and the light from behind grew larger and brighter. She was pulled backwards towards the real world with as much force as she had been pulled from it, and was thrown to the bathroom floor. If it hadn’t been for the towel, there’d have been yet another injury to add to the collection.
As it happened, with the storm finally breaking outside, and the light of early morning beginning to stream through the window, all she had was even more to think about.
(How long was I in there?)
New day. New problems. This one had to be better, right?
Well, I guess that's up to YOU! Thanks so much for voting, sharing and reading - it means a lot, and I hope you'll get involved in the next week of this interactive horror story.
If you're enjoying it so far, please make sure to let me know in the comments, or by sharing the story with encouragement of "amazing," "brilliant," and "this guy is the next Stephen King!" That's just a few options, if you're struggling to think of anything... See you on Twitter!