The night before the dinner party Michael has a dream that he gets up in the middle of the night to use the toilet. When he’s finished, he stops at the sink to run some water over his hands. Twisting the knobs, he waits as the faucet spits and chokes to life.
Bleary-eyed, he cups his hands beneath the stream when, from the corner of his vision, he notices the water is black, viscous. Spreading his fingers, he lets the water drain back into the sink but not without leaving a stain on his hands. Lifting his palms to his face, he breathes in the unmistakable smell of ink. He tries closing the faucet, but the knobs only continue to spin. Twisting them harder does nothing as the inky, black liquid continues to flow. Soon the sink is full. Overrunning the sides of the basin, it spills across the counter.
He steps back.
Behind him, a gurgling sound bubbles up from the shower drain as the same black ink fills the tub.
There’s a rumbling followed by a slight shaking.
He reaches for the door handle, but it’s gone, replaced by a solid wall, a single continuous flat surface. Frantic, he searches for an escape. As the shaking grows stronger, a rupturing sound draws his eyes to the upper corner of the room where a large crack begins spreading out across the ceiling. Other cracks form along all four walls, stretching until they reach the floor. Tiles snap and break up around his feet.
The shaking mounts. A lightbulb above the mirror explodes. The curtain rod tumbles to the floor.
He grabs hold of the towel rack.
The mirror cracks, a tiny splinter in the middle of the glass that grows, radiating outward in all directions like ripples in a shattering pond. Loud popping sounds accompany each new fracture. Soon a reticulated web covers the entire surface.
Then suddenly everything stops.
The shaking, the cracking, the ink draining faucet, everything ceases in an instant.
So too does Michael. In the stillness, a slow, almost imperceptible movement draws his eyes to the mirror. Glass pops and crunches as the surface appears to warp inward. In the reflection, a figure materializes, a long dark shadow standing just over his shoulder. There’s a knife in his hand. Michael turns on his heels, but is left staring at an empty bathtub. Circling back around, drawn by the tiniest snap of fracturing glass, he turns just as the mirror releases forward, exploding in an awful blast that sends thousands of tiny shards of glass screaming at his face with detonative force.