⑤ The Contorter
Who looks at a window to see a window?
No one’s ever answered that question with an example of someone. Mirrors reflect your outward appearance as soon as it catches sight of you. Even if your gaze isn’t fixed on the looking glass, you’re still aware of your reflection mimicking every slight movement you make, every blink and every expression. There are windows in cars, houses, and most other indoor areas, just for the person inside to gain a glimpse of the outside world and those who pass by, ones of all shapes and sizes and kinds. But the most important of all is the window I call The Contorter.
The Contorter gets its name from its effect. It contorts the appearance of the people you see out of it into something horrific and disturbing and seemingly unknown. But really, The Contorter does reflect such persons truthfully. Very truthfully. However, instead of it focusing on their outward images, it specialises in their inner.
I’d like to be the first to say that the phrase ‘inner beauty’ does not apply in the slightest to The Contorter. Quite the opposite, actually. See, it focuses on the fears, the darkness, what they could be in another life, another world, another time. The terrifying potential stored in them, flecks of their personality and lost thoughts that, by themselves, could indeed transform into the reflection The Contorter projects.
A child, for instance, a bullied child, who has all their frustration and upset bottled up inside them which eventually manifests itself into anger and empty vengeance that they will never attempt to act on. The Contorter doesn’t see that as an issue. The Contorter shows the possible outcome, that twisted figure of what could be, the skewed results of a potentiality. You take one look out of The Contorter, catch sight of them, and won’t be able to rip your stare away. Watching wide-eyed as another version of themself tortures and tears apart the bullies, drenched in gloopy red blood which stains their skin and clothing, eyes maddened as their victims spew up their insides in torrents from every opening until there’s nothing left. Then the child’s gone, completely oblivious to the situation, past the window and out of sight, leaving you trembling and traumatised and screaming.
What happens after? I wasn’t entirely sure before. But I know now for a fact that the people who happen to experience such sights go completely and utterly out of their minds. Insane. Demented. Torn apart by the ominous ordeal, never being able to discover how and why a window manages to conjure outwardly normal outsiders into something seemingly unthinkable.
See, I have such a window as the one in my very bedroom. And after several sightings of The Contorter’s contortions, and feeling a little less and less shocked and horrified at each occurrence, I decided to investigate. Because after seeing several strangers morph into even stranger things, you begin to question what you yourself would mutate as. But was I the only one capable of seeing someone’s inner darkness, their unconscious evil, through The Contorter? Was I just seeing things? I was sure I wasn’t, since what I saw was far too vivid and realistic - well, as realistic as they could be - to simply be figments of my imagination.
But wouldn’t it be cruel to put an innocent friend in my place and allow them to be mentally scarred by The Contorter’s impacts if it wasn’t only limited to me? Was it worth the risk?
Of course it was.
But I didn’t use another person. I simply had to be creative. So I took the long floor-standing mirror in my bedroom and positioned it in front of the window so that it would be the first thing you could see if you looked in. I waited until evening, where snoopers and passers would be few in number. Then I put the plan into action.
I quietly opened the front door to my house and closed it again, the keys in my pocket as I advanced towards the window. I took a deep breath, the hazy blues of the sky gradually darkening by the minute around me and casting a dim highlight which bounced off the glass. Then I stepped forwards, until I was face-to-face with the mirror, standing in front of it entirely, my reflection mimicking my actions and shivering as I did from behind the window.
Nothing happened for a few long, long moments. But then The Contorter was awake and ready in the blink of an eye, and I watched as the mirror’s glass let thick crimson droplets drizzle from its top corners, leaving faint red trails as they went. My skin’s colour paled and bubbled grey, eyes bursting and small cracks appearing in the glass as I stood frozen, watching with my breath hitched in my throat and eyes round, in spite of the very many times I had witnessed the occurrence and the transformation procedures. A high-pitched ringing blasted in my ears, and I flinched, hands trembling as I watched my limbs twist and turn and crumble. Then, as soon as it had all started, it halted.
I let out a long, shaky exhale, and slowly, the cracks formed in the mirror began to reassemble themselves and mend until there was no hint of any damage. I stared at the mirror, the mirror which bore no reflection, long and hard, until the reflection reappeared as my contorted self.
And what I saw, I dare say, broke me.
A good thing? A bad thing? Somewhere in between, perhaps. Some may call it a learning curve. I don’t know what to call it. As I’ve mentioned, it focuses on the fears and the darkness, what they could be in another life, another world, another time. The terrifying potential stored inside of them, flecks of their personality and lost thoughts that, by themselves, could indeed transform into the reflection The Contorter projects.
And The Contorter projected my reflection.
Nothing more. Nothing less. Just my reflection. Exactly what I looked like then, looks for looks. No horrific portrayal of myself as some evilly warped beast or bloodthirsty murder. Not physically, anyway. Just myself, my reflection, staring straight back at me blankly.
I blinked, then blinked again. More silence.
Then the reflection grinned, a dark look in its eyes. Something dark and different I’d never known I could possess before. Something malicious and cruel, an awakening of a kind.
And I kept on grinning.