Sharon’s note: Things can always get worse. Hopefully before they get better, but life isn’t always that kind. Warning: Some language and evidence of poor life choices.
So, I was unemployed.
The woman who was in charge of the college bookstore had been looking for an excuse to fire me for months. Too many Monday mornings showing up late or heavily hung over. This, as well as mysterious nose leeches, was making me seriously reconsider my life choices.
Katy wasn’t fired, but she had been a good enough employee to have a little leeway. Perhaps I could have fought my job termination because I had gone to the hospital, but the doctor hadn’t believed me, so why would any of the school administration?
At this point, I was just procrastinating telling my parents about my job status. So, in the spirit of the rest of my college career, I was using my phone to avoid obligation. In this case, I was searching for it.
Again, Katy was driving me. It was like she didn’t trust me not have an aneurysm while driving, or something. I let her drive me, because I didn’t trust me either. No matter what the hospital said, I was not ok. Between whatever had come out of my nose, and the thing in my nightmare that had attacked me, I hadn’t slept at all that night.
Mike’s bar was not open 24/7. They closed from four a.m. to ten a.m. We showed up at eleven, and there was already a smattering of faithful alcoholics stopping in for a lunchtime drink. The bartender was named Howie. He was an older guy who I knew and loved from my first time in the bar when I was 19, because he never checked IDs. He looked in the lost and found for me, but the phone wasn’t there. I asked him if he remembered the guy I had been with that night, on the off chance either the guy had taken it, or I had left it at his place.
Howie was not exactly a man of principle, and I was a regular who tipped well. He did remember the guy, and agreed to look for the name on the credit card receipts for me. As he went to the back, I stared at my face in the mirror behind the bar. I usually loved that mirror. It made me think of an old timey saloon. Today I hated it, because it showed my baggy eyes and sickly pale reflection.
“I don’t think you should be focusing on your phone.” Katy sniffed disapprovingly.
“And what else should I be focusing on?” I glowered at her. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, you don’t know what’s wrong with me, so what should I do? If I find the guy I was with the night I lost time, maybe he’ll have some answers.”
“Or maybe he’ll be some kind of serial killer.” She grumbled.
“Well, that will at least be an answer.” I huffed, and turned back to my ugly reflection with a scowl.
My reflexion cocked her head, and smiled with a wink. I was most certainly not smiling, but my breathing hitched as the me in the mirror opened her mouth, and kept opening it. And kept opening it. And kept opening as her face, my face, distended into something long and thin and monstrous, screaming at me in silence.
“Shit!” I barked, pushing away from the bar.
“What?” Katy looked around for the source of my distress.
I pointed at the mirror, which in the blink of an eye had returned to normal. “You didn’t see that?”