This is our second selection for Humor Meets Horror Week. We are honored and thrilled to have J.A. Crook on HO this month!
Mirrors met mirrors in an illusory replication that exiled reality and surrounded the girl by a hundred of her own eyes, each stare of her reflection an ode to judgement that she didn’t understand. The way into the place and out of the place was obscured by halls of meaningless repetition. She walked with her hands and promised herself she’d follow a single wall until she found her way out. Hand over hand she went like an alien creature traversing some foreign world until the mirror in front of her gave to open space and she leaned forward into a hall she didn’t know existed.
Sense could be made space around her as light disappeared into the depths of this mirrored hall and it all looked like an animation reel that’d been covered in black ink. She went toward that darkness and when vision became a thing of the past, that sound— that familiar jingle that children understand to be indicative of something sweet and good — was a sound that made her heart drop to the very pit of her stomach. Carnival music echoed between mirrors until it beat on her. She kept one hand on the mirrored wall as she approached the darkness. Cartoonish giggles erupted from the space beyond the blackness and split between a sort of sardonic joy and gurgling laughter that rest on the far spectrum of anything natural. The excited fit rose into an eerie cacophony of pure madness that gripped the girl as she went closer, driven by dread and curiosity alike.
The sound crumbled into a crash and a catastrophe of bouncing springs and bell alarms and zipping sounds with no source but the emptiness in front of her and then everything was quiet. The lights went out everywhere as if that darkness in front of her lurched forward like some hungry demon and swallowed her whole and she sat in its belly and shook in intense fear and waited for whatever meant to come. And something did.
A squeak resonated at an indescribable distance in the broken geometry of the place like a dog’s chew toy. It came again but closer. And again. She wanted to run but her mind no longer understood the purpose of direction and she stood there dumbly with her hands out touching cold glass. Her feet shuffled beneath her. She heard something breathing like a low engine. A squeak right there in front of her.
The violent light of a match broke the darkness and something was birthed of it behind that light with a wide painted smile that extended past the confines of its face and teeth in so many rows that it was perplexing and eyes that stung more red than the tips of that fire and a red ball of a nose that dripped a thick bloody goo that splattered in mockery of the infinite reflection around her and it snarled and blinked before devouring her and giggling foolishly.
J. A. Crook is an independent American horror and literary fiction author. He writes anthologies that combine terror, suspense, and supernatural elements. His short literary fiction focuses on the human condition with southern gothic influence. His inspirations include the modernist writers Ernest Hemingway and Carson McCullers. Contemporary inspirations include Stephen King, Clive Barker, CormacMcCarthy, Raymond Carver, and Flannery O’Connor. He has written and released two horror anthologies and has published a series of short fiction pieces. His style involves the use of intertextuality between stories and anthologies, with a focus on keen dialogue and minimalism.