Mirror

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| 16 min read

Summary: A short form story about a man who is challenged to not look in a mirror. Seems simple enough, right

 I was walking on the street today, I had just gotten some groceries and this man in a suit came to me, gave me an offer. 
 He asked me if I could go a whole day without looking in the mirror. I affirmed that, yes, I could do that, it sounds easy enough. He explained that a survey by some University (I can’t remember the name, I didn’t care that much at this point of the conversation), proved that about 72% of people look at themselves on the mirror at least twice a day, every day.
 I chuckled and said:
-That’s funny, but what is the point of this? Am I part of the survey too?
 The man then explained what this was all about.
-Oh, no no no no. I am here to propose something to you. Let’s call it a challenge. You must avoid looking at the mirror entirely, until we say that you’re done. If you win, you get five thousand dollars. 
-Five K? And that’s all it takes? It sounds good, but how would you even know if I did look or not? I asked.
-Simple. We have this small camera that you will wear as a necklace. Always keep it on so that it tracks your day. Afterwards, we review the footage and determine whether you were successful or not.
 I was genuinely confused and gave myself a few seconds to think. I mean, someone offering me 5 thousand dollars? For something so simple? It couldn’t be true, but what was stopping me from finding out? I still needed to clarify how the camera deal would be handled when I step into the shower or…well… let’s say that I am lucky next week at Frank’s party. I wouldn’t want anyone to see my tool! I needed to clarify this. I intend to keep SOME of my dignity.
-Fair enough. But what if I wanna take a shower? I’ll break the camera. And what if I uhh, have to visit my grandma at the hospital? There’s some stuff I don’t wanna share, don’t take it the wrong way.
 The man smiled. He grabbed the camera from a small box he had in his bad, opened it and showed it to me. He then proceeded to clarify this strange ‘challenge’ or whatever they consider it.
-This camera here is waterproof. You can shower, take baths, you can even swim with it. It would only stop working at a certain depth, but let’s face it, as a human, you’d never be able to swim that far down. In terms of visiting a relative, or any other activity you keep private, you still keep the camera on. When reviewing the footage alongside our team, you can choose to cut those parts from the recordings, but that is something you do when you visit us. That will also be when you collect your prize, if you manage to complete the challenge.

I got nervous. This guy reeked of creep material, but hey, I guess a blurry video of my stuff is nothing compared to the end goal. I had one more question for him though.

-Okay. I think we may have a deal. But, if I can ask, did more people also go through this challenge? It is sounding very simple, and I’m sure you’re not just giving away five grand to everybody. What’s the catch?
- There is no catch! People accept this challenge but forget to realize how necessary a mirror is to them and end up looking accidentally. Some others can’t handle it and intentionally stop the game. In many cases, people just do not accept from the start. 


 I didn’t find it hard to believe. I mean, people are already paranoid with their laptop cameras, or phone front cameras. I can see why they would turn down the challenge. But the money? I wasn’t gonna let it slide.

So I took that deal! It’s also why I’m writing this; I want to keep a record of how my days go. I am not going to be able to look at myself for a while so writing about me keeps my brain believing that I am real or something. I don’t know. This was something the guy told me that I should do in case I feel lonely? I don’t know what he meant by that. I’ll do it though, it’s five large! I am already eyeing some sick shoes and maybe get some headphones too.

Day 1.

 So, here we go! It was my first day. I’m still good to go, baby! I’m glad I spend the day in the house, if I had to go outside, I’d be looking like a neanderthal, I pretty much brushed my hair without a mirror. I’m sure my cat doesn’t mind though. 
 I was even scared of looking at a black screen on my computer, since sometimes that creates some reflection. I mean, it’s not technically a mirror, right? I still won’t risk it though; I’m focused on chasing that bag. 
 Apart from that, yeah, nothing really happened. I don’t know what the fuss is all about. I played some games, ate my food, watched a couple of movies, it was a lazy day. But the camera did not bother me one bit, hell, it’s even REALLY light! I don’t even notice it unless the collar gets stuck on one of the hairs in the back of my neck. I really need to cut my hair…

Day 2.

  I was so focused on being a total winner that I did not even think to myself ‘Hey why haven’t those guys called me to tell me when the challenge ends? ‘ I wondered that today for like, at least 30 minutes. I texted the guy (whose name is Lucius, apparently, I am just so used to calling him guy, sorry guy!), and he told me that it was part of the challenge, to not know and to rest assured that they didn’t forget me. I know it’s only been a single day but I wanna make sure they keep my money somewhere safe! The mirror avoidance (that’s what I call it now) hasn’t bothered me, just the thought of them scamming me.
 Anyway, the rest of the day was pretty mid. I was at school most of the day and these business classes are killing me. Next semester I am DEFINITELY focusing on myself. I let myself slip and now I am stuck in this course that I am barely being able to continue. 
 I got some KFC on the way home which was pretty nice. I had to wash my hands after getting my meal, and I NEARLY looked at the mirror. What’s the deal with fast food joints and having big ass mirrors in the bathrooms? It’s like they WANT you to be a soulless pseudo-celebrity that puts both their bathroom selfie and their food on their Instagram story. They can’t even keep that part of their day to themselves, pathetic.

Day 3.

 Hey, I am still in on this! I am slowly getting used to brushing my teeth without a mirror. I’m also attempting to master the art of shaving without one. Progress is… well. It’s definitely slower than brushing. I had an accident. I was trying to shave, and I cut myself pretty bad on the cheek. I was bleeding a lot and I washed my face plenty of times, but I do not know if there is any dried blood there still. I can’t be sure, and I’m not gonna let some old razor be the end of my wallet getting fat.
 I got some weird looks at school. I guess my beard is poorly done, but I don’t care. I don’t need people to like how I look. Money talks louder.
 I do miss seeing myself though. Not to look good to others, but just to make sure I am still there. What a weird thing to say though. I guess this is why people fail. I am better than them.

Day 4.

 I had to finally do it. I cut my hair, most of it anyway. It was ALWAYS being pulled by the damn necklace collar, and yesterday it hurt like a bitch, when I was getting some coffee. I nearly let out a scream and I got so embarrassed, man. I got home and shaved. But I am still not good at that. I am pretty sure I have another cut. I think I cut myself right in the center of the back of my head. Maybe at like, ear level, but still in the center. I don’t know how big it is, and for a moment I thought about snapping a picture, but that would be like, cheating, right? I decided against it and I slapped a band aid on it. It should heal in a few days, whatever.
 I almost forgot, my day! Apart from the obvious cringe, it was more of the same shtick. Wake up, school, eat, get lazy and sleep. I don’t know how those guys will go through hours of my footage without dying of boredom. I would. 

Day 5.

 So I thought this was some deeper meaning level shit, and that on the fifth day they would call me or something, cause like, five grand, five days you know? But no, nothing. Not a call, not even a text. I called the number but they were busy. I am not even sure of who they are, but if it’s some sort of survey like the other one, I understand that these people have lives, unlike me. Lucius is probably having dinner with his family or enjoying a nice movie with his partner and I’m sitting here calling him like a loser. I guess I’ll go on, I have gotten this far. I hope the money is still there.
 I am hoping this thing is done soon. I have Frank’s party in three days and I GOTTA look good. I’m sure Jane will be there, and Katy too. Oh and I need to go to the mall in two days, too. I only got groceries for a week cause money was tight. This time, I’ll get brand EVERYTHING.

Side note, someone at school said I walk with a limp??

Day 6.

 Still radio silence. I am starting to get worried. I skipped school today, I just think I look like an animal today, but I can’t be sure. I also ran out of groceries, and I spent the last 3 hours starving. I can’t go out like this, so I’ll stick to my schedule and head to the mall tomorrow. I just gotta watch out for mirrors. If they catch me, I am done. All of this for nothing. 
 I’ll sleep now. Hunger usually goes away when I do it.

Day 7.

  Fuck the mall. All the superficial bullshit designs nearly made me lose the challenge. Why the hell do people need mirrors EVERYWHERE?
  I got thrown out of the supermarket because of ‘body odor’ and ‘general poor hygiene’? What the fuck was the cashier on about? I showered yesterday. I think I did. Was it my breath? I’ve been brushing. I’ve been getting better at it. I promise.
 I also overhead people laughing at me or pointing at me. I swear, you go out with a poor haircut and badly shaved and suddenly you’re a walking circus. Why do people feel the need to look at me? They have that privilege, and I don’t. Just quit staring at me, stare at yourselves. 
 I’m shaking and I’m hungry, but I managed to order some take out. I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait for this to be done, but I need groceries ASAP. My body feels like is decaying from the junk food and leftovers I had.
  I did try to reach the number again, but Lucius must have homework or something. Come to think of it, he looked to old to be a student, maybe he was a teacher? Still, least he could do is tell me if this crap was ending this week or not. Jesus.

Day 8.

 I don’t know if I can go to Frank’s. I don’t know. I am shaking much more than yesterday. I don’t know how I look, and with the party going on, I am afraid I’ll forget the challenge. What if I drink too much? What if I step in and he has a mirror where I don’t expect one? I am nervous, I am pretty fucking nervous. But I need the money. I really do. I am sure other parties will happen. Who cares about drinks or sex when you got money?
 Well, I do. But I’ll stay true to myself, or at least try, I guess. Respectfully, fuck that party. I’ll be rotting away today. Shame I won’t be able to get some free food in my stomach.

Day 9.

 Yeah I feel good about yesterday. I think that was the right call. The deal is more important. 

I went to school today and asked around how Frank’s party was, just to see what I DIDN’T miss out on. People said it was fun, but was it as fun as having five K? Nah. Fuck them. And fuck mirrors. Fuck car mirrors and fuck pocket mirrors. Miranda had one in class today. I told her to stop playing with it and she instantly got up and got away. What a win.

Day 10.

 I am so tired. I need to see myself. Like, when I write, it feels like I am writing to someone else, for that person to read. Stop reading my stuff, dude! This is for ME, I am writing this to the person writing this!
 I skipped school again. I skipped because I got a text this morning. Lucius said ‘’Game is still on.’’. I replied asking when is it NOT ON and he just never replied. At least there is some reassurance on their end. What a shitty social experiment. But at least I am getting paid.

Day 11.

 I do not want to write much today. I am tired. I am hungry. My stomach is killing me for only having a bar of Snickers and some old can of Diet Coke, all day. I broke my bathroom mirror, while having my eyes shut, because I felt my body aching for some signal that I’m here. I’m so fucking stupid. I’ll get another one soon, for now I’ll sleep. I’ll try to sleep all day.

Day 12.

 I’M FUCKING HAPPY TODAY! I am also DYING for a warm meal but DUDE! THEY SAID THE LAST DAY IS TOMORROW! THEY LITERALLY WROTE TO ME:
‘’Hello. We have decided to end your challenge tomorrow, 6th of June, at exactly 6PM, sharp. We want you to meet us at the location attached at that time. If you are not here at 6PM exactly, please consider the challenge extended to a further date. Come to us to receive your prize and review your footage.’’
 THEY LEFT SOME ADDRESS, I AM PRETY SURE IT’S THAT WAREHOUSE NEXT TO BEN’S HOUSE! WE USED TO SWIM IN HIS POOL AND THEN SNEAK IN, ALTHOUGH IT WAS LIKE, EMPTY! I GUESS LUCIUS’ THING IS NEW OR SOMETHING? I DON’T GIVE A DAMN, TOMORROW I AM PAID!

Day 13.

 I am heading there now. I’m still stoked, but I can barely smile because of how exhausted I am. I feel like a corpse, I can see the bones in my belly now. Does this count as seeing myself? Oh, fuck I hope not. I’ll ask in a bit. Anyway, I’m out. I’ll keep writing here what I get with my 5 bands. Spoiler alert: First thing will be a dinner at that nice Italian joint next to the skate park. 

THIS DOCUMENT IS NOW PROPRIERTY OF NORFEIN ENTERPRISES.

We are continuing this document, as an extended study of the subject who has written it. The subject arrived at Norfein at the exact time that they were told to. Lucifer spoke to them, and alongside our special team, we reviewed the footage. The subject managed to complete the deal and has, successfully, earned the 5000 US dollars. A transcript of the subject’s interaction with Lucifer and the rest of the staff will now be presented. Lucifer’s quotes will be represented by red letter, the subject’s will be green and the on-site staff will be blue.

START OF RECORDING

-Well, it does seem you have completed the challenge. Not a single mirror looked at. Tell me, how does it feel? -It just feels… great! I mean, I have had a rough patch the last few days, but I’m happy about the money. That’s still coming, right? -Yes. You have earned it. Now, can I take a quick picture of your face? We have a wall full of pictures of our winners, and we wish to add you to the collection. It will also be easier to know you, if one day we need you again. -Uhh… sure? I guess that’s okay. -Please look into this lens. Aaaand, perfect. Thank you.

(10 second interval)

-Tell me, would you like to see that wall? -Sure, whatever. Please tell me this isn’t some sort of scam though. -The money will be delivered. Now please, follow me.

(The subject followed Lucifer through the hallway. They have arrived at the wall and Lucifer put the subject’s picture next to last year’s subject, Randy McCain, from Oakland)

-Why do they all look similar? Bruises on their face, they look red-ish, sleep deprived? Is the mirror challenge THIS bad? -You tell me. You look identical to them.

(The subject stumbled on his words and wished for us to stop recording. All cameras and audio-recording devices were shut down. The subject briefly explained he had places to go and left. The money has been transferred to the subject’s account and in about an hour the sum of 5000.00 US Dollars will be in his account. The procedure was complete.)

END OF RECORDING

(This document will be continued by Lucifer Norfein.) Norfein Enterprises has successfully struck another deal. Today’s subject did not ask for not even another dollar. 5000 dollars were enough to trade for a soul. The transfer did go through, as I have confirmed with John Evilton. I always am true to my deals. The soul is intact, but the subject’s body seemed rather fragile. I hope he puts the money to good use. We never know when I’ll need him to do some bidding. As usual, I want to finish the document with a quote, written by me, of course. It is tradition by now.

‘’When all Hell goes loose, only those corrupted by the seven sins will prevail. Deal with the Devil.’’

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Comments
@archivistmoth commented 1 month ago

Interesting storytelling format! Nicely done.