free short story horror thriller

Look In The Mirror – Free Short Story

Irrational Pie brings you another free short story, this time a horror/thriller. I’ve originally published this for the “A New Me” prompt on the 12 Short Stories website, now seemingly rebranded as Deadlines For Writers. Enjoy!

Most people celebrate New Years by vowing to become a new version of themselves. I, on the other hand, have to do this literally by inhabiting a new host or else I die. I’ve had to keep this up every single year for the past 476 years and, much like myself, it’s getting rather old.

Christmas mornings… always chillier than I want it to be. I stared at the ceiling, not wanting to get up. Some days I am in no mood to face the mirror. It didn’t used to be like this. The winter solstice was the perfect time to pick a new host, leaving the old one to carry my decay for me, leaving unanswered questions for their families, their friends. Leaving the city without a second thought and a care. But the last few years changed all that. The internet became a gateway for the unanswered questions to reach me. I don’t know why I even went searching for the name of my host of seven years ago, but I did and I couldn’t stop. Regret and compassion were two abstract ideas that never bothered me until that fateful day when I typed “Rachael Stevenson” in the search bar.

As I stared at the ceiling, I realised that it was time for me to die. I’ve had a good run. But there was one person that I didn’t convince yet. Myself. I heard her breathing in the en-suite bathroom and realised that it was time to face her. I took my time putting on my slippers, my warm, fuzzy bathrobe, combing my hair. At the same time, she started to whisper our name. I hated when she did that. It sounded so foreign to me. I was Chloe and I have been Chloe for nearly a year now. But she used our name with purpose and it had the effect she wanted on me. I just wanted to get in there and shut her up.

“What is it?” I asked, bringing all the attitude of the the 19-year old I appeared to be. I avoided eye contact when I walked in and looked her in the eye when I was good and ready. The mirror revealed Chloe, my host. And behind me, always to the right, my true self glared at me.

“You are avoiding me.”

My true self. I could always tell the time of year by looking at the decay on her face. Her eyes were yellow, blood-shot, icy cold blue staring at me through thinning black hair. The rotting flesh revealed the inside of her mouth through one cheek. Her teeth were yellow and her lips cracked and thin. She definitely looked like she needed a bit of moisturizer. Come January, she always looked perfect. Amazing what twelve months would do to you when you’re cursed. I glared back at my true self and then at my host. Chloe was everything my true self wasn’t. She was beautiful, blonde, green eyes and full lips. Oh, and not peeling off rotting flesh from her face, that’s one of the key differences that I feel I should point out. Chloe was in her second year studying medicine when we found her and my true self nearly begged me for her. The ceremony was quick, painless, leaving another unsolved mystery in our wake. I adjusted well. I picked up most of her mannerisms from her memories. Fleeting, warm, memories. The people in my hosts’ lives could always sense whenever I intruded but it didn’t matter in the end. After all, everyone changes at the start of a New Year. Did things a little differently in order to become a new version of themselves.

“I am not avoiding you. It’s cold and I need to sleep in after the finals.”

This did not appease her. She glared. She didn’t used to glare. She used to know exactly what I was thinking… what we were thinking. But the last seven years, we became two persons. We both felt it but we didn’t say anything. It’s an unspoken truth hanging between us. Almost like the unspoken truth of finding out from a third-party that your partner is cheating but you do not confront them. Sooner or later, the truth will rip the relationship apart. I wondered if it meant that she would be able to rip me apart but, thinking about it, I realised that I welcomed death. It would only expedite the relief.

“You studied harder than you’ve ever done. What’s the point, if we’re moving on?”

“I wanted Chloe to be remembered fondly,” I said, doing a bit of glaring myself. “I… she helped her fellow students and each of them thanked her for carrying them through.”

She snorted. “She’ll be dead within the coming week. You really want people to mourn her?”

I realised why she snorted. I wanted to be remembered fondly for a change. She could see right through my facade to my true intentions. Maybe she could still hear my thoughts.

“It’s time to find a new host,” she continued, her icy cold eyes fixed on me as if she studied my reflection for any sign of doubt on my side.

Chloe looked tired. I was tired. But when I looked at my true self, I realised that she wasn’t tired at all. She looked ready to run a marathon. Not that anyone would allow her in her state, of course. Morticians would be called, Mulder and Scully would investigate. But when I realised that she was not tired, I realised something else. It really was over and it was time to confront.

“You can’t see out of the host’s eyes anymore, can you?” I almost felt the shock in her eyes. “You can’t control me anymore.” I smiled at the look on her face. “I quit. It’s time for us to stop this charade. We’re not together anymore,” I shrugged, “and I refuse to pick a new host and leave Chloe in the woods.”

“You can’t do that. You’ll die with me.” She looked smug as if she won the argument with the threat of death.

“I don’t mind. I am tired. Tired of life, tired of you staring over my shoulder whenever I look in the mirror. I don’t fear you or death anymore.”

The look on her face, that cornered animal look, told me that she still feared death. But since she had no control over us anymore, there was nothing that she could do to stop me. With one more smile in the mirror, I said only one word.


I left the bathroom and got dressed, all the while enduring personal insults and pleas hurled at me.

“Look at your hands! You’ll die when Chloe dies! Our rot has already set in!”

I looked at Chloe’s hands and froze. Usually, my hosts’ hands shows signs of rot under the nails. But there was no sign of rot. Maybe… just maybe…
I left the apartment with a bounce in my step. I might just have a few more years before death visits me. I have a new aim. I, as Chloe, will become a doctor and save 476 lives.

Want more free short stories? Just keep in touch!

Leave a reply