When I was a child my father owned a janitorial company that worked almost every night at our local Showbiz Pizza Place/Chuck E. Cheese’s. He would often bring me to work with him so I could play all of the arcade games without having to wait in line. He’d even spark up the towering animatronics and let me watch them play their “Happy Birthday” songs and other quaint jingles. It was so much fun…until the curtains closed and it went dark.
A part of me hated not being able to see the fake animals, especially the wolf and big gorilla playing the keyboard. It would get so dark once all of those circus lights stopped undulating, but knowing they were hiding behind the curtains severely spooked me. Another part of me was glad I couldn’t see them, with their large plastic grins, bulging eyes and blink-less stares that trapped the false joy of their act. Anything that can remain that happy in the dark, imprisoned by crimson drapes, and frozen in time until the puppeteer presses “go” is just sinister in nature. Even the empty arcade, full of fantastic memories of the day past, sits dark, quiet and abandoned. There is something very unsettling about a place that can bequeath equal parts joy and dread when the sun sets and the doors are locked.
I’ve long since taken over my father’s company and we still hold the contract for this haunted place. Tonight is the first time I’ve brought my young son with me to work so he can enjoy the arcade like I once did. My hope is that when my son finally builds up the courage to pull back the curtain to view those plastic beasts, he isn’t greeted with the same malevolent stare that looked down unnaturally upon me.
He laid in bed, tired from a day of work and ready to let the sleep wash over him. He lived alone in a small house on the outskirts of town with his dog named Roxy. Roxy usually spent the night in his room for the night but would occasionally sleep in the hall.
That dumb dog thought the man. He forgot to come into my room when I went to bed. The man was content on letting Roxy stay out in the hall all night since it was his fault he didn’t make it in before lights went out. Yes, thought the man., I’ll just scold him tomorrow then he’ll remember to be in before lights out.
Fine if that damn dog won’t let me sleep then I’ll make sure I give him a piece of my mind in the morning. As the man got up to open the door and let his companion in he tripped over something. He caught himself before he fell cursing loudly at whatever it was his foot struck. He heard whimpering and felt a warm tongue lick his hand checking to see if its master was ok.
There’s a monster in my mommy’s room. It’s been there a while now. It makes terrible sounds all the time and it doesn’t let me sleep. I know what it wants. It wants to take my mommy. But my mommy is mine. I have to save my mommy. My mommy read me a book about monsters once, so I know what to do.
The monster seems to be sleeping at the moment. I’m quiet sneaking into the room, not waking the monster. I feel so brave, like the people in that book. I get to the monster at the end of the bed and I do what I have to do.
Mommy comes to the room and start crying. I don’t understand. I killed the monster. I killed the monster for you, mommy. You’re my mommy again. All mine.
Now, I could say I have spectrophobia, the obsessive fear of reflective objects, but then everyone will think I’m some crazy nut who freaks out whenever he encounters a mirror. I’m not. I have reason to fear them and you should too.
Take a moment next time you brush your teeth or fix your hair and take a good look at the person staring back at you. Do you trust them? They’ve been awfully good at copying your movements for years now, so good that it would tear apart your mental stability if you saw your reflection make one, slight false move other than yours.
You see, I’ve noticed what I see in my reflection is different from what I see in pictures of myself. I always think my pictures will look like my reflection, but they don’t. Almost as if my reflection is a different person. Almost as if that reflection is a different version trapped in glass. A different side of yourself that you didn’t become, so it’s trapped there for as long as you live. Watching you. Mirroring you. They do as you do. You do as they do.
I can’t say you should trust me or believe me, that’s your choice. I may be a nut after all.
My mother had always told me that I should never give into temptation. But, I suppose you could say I was tired. Tired of her worrying, tired of my dad suffering, tired of my own distress. I wanted it all to end.
My dad, on the other hand, always told me to do what needed to be done. So as soon as I was able to muster up the courage, I said a quick prayer and asked God for forgiveness.
Then I pulled the plug and his heart monitor beeped flat. See you soon, dad.