Issue Seven: Frozen Mirrors

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Haunted Words Press Issue Seven: Frozen Mirrors

Published digitally March 2024

Cover artwork by Erika Salvador: ‘Winter Reflections’

This magazine is copyright Haunted Words Press

Copyright to all work is retained by the original contributor

Any resemblance to real events or persons contained in the fiction work herein is entirely coincidental. Views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the editor.

Twitter: @haunted press

Instagram: @hauntedwordspress

Website: www hauntedwordspress com


Introduction MiddleGrade The Weeping Woman Jasmine De La Paz I Am Her Vicki Flippance Mirror Maze Stephanie Henson The Mirror People C. Dan Castro The Foxing Hana Gammon Instructions Magaly Garcia We Mustn’t Go Ice Skating Nico Horton CONTENTS CONTENTS 1 3 MG | GOTHIC | GHOST MG | SUPERNATURAL | BELONGING MG | HORROR | TRAPPED MG | HORROR | FOLKLORE MG | HORROR | REFLECTIONS MG | HORROR | DOPPELGANGER 4 18 23 25 35 38 MG | MYSTERY | HAUNTED LAKE 40
2 Art Midnight Reflections Erin Braithwaite Pure Cold Noll Griffin Young Adult Out of the Cold Kaylee Nicole Bloom Kelly-Mae Matt Graveyard Snow Rye Brayley Henry’s Mirror Lucy Daniel Afterimage Maryanne Chappell Spirits Like Snowflakes Marisca Pichette Any Hundred Horrible Things Devin Reeves Author & Artist Bios YA | HISTORIC | FAMILY YA | SUPERNATURAL | DEATH YA | GOTHIC | LOVE YA | HORROR | OBSESSION YA | HORROR | BIZARRE YA | FANTASY | LOSS YA | HORROR | DEATH MG | HORROR | HAUNTINGS 51 52 53 58 61 62 67 70 71 YA | HORROR | SUPERSTITION 76


To start this introduction off as we do we each Haunted Words issue, thank you Whether this is your very first introduction to Haunted Words Press, whether you’ve been here since Issue One, or if you joined somewhere in between, thank you Whether you have work in our publications, whether you’re an avid reader of our wonderful contributors, or if you’ve found our little void by accident and are just getting to know us, we’re so glad you’re here.

This is Issue Seven: Frozen Mirrors, our first publication of 2024, featuring work from seventeen superbly talented contributors that have chosen to find a home for their work with us. We’ve amassed short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and visual art, all brought together under that theme of ‘frozen mirrors’, split as always for middle grade and young adult audiences. We’ve got portals and promises, liars and lost loves, demons and doppelgangers, ghosts and graves, and we love every single piece furiously

We hope you love the work nestled here as much as we do, and encourage you to step inside and take a peek. You might just find yourself reflected in our pages. Without further ado, welcome to Issue Seven: Frozen Mirrors




Once upon a time, tucked between forests, marshes, and bogs full of toads, sat an old English manor, propped high and lonely on a hill Three stories high, its grey stones, towers, and arched wooden doors withstood the test of time, seeing many seasons come and go, along with its inhabitants Below the hill, viewable through the manor’s windowpanes, always streaked with tears of rain, spread a cemetery. Old and ruined, its tombstones protruded sideways like rotted, crooked teeth Chipped statues of angels, some missing wings, towered over fallen gravestones, never again to take flight. It was a very typical family cemetery albeit much unkept holding generations of kin below the sodden, dark land they once roamed.

This story begins at a time when night took hold of day, and the veil between the living and the dead was thin and delicate as a shroud Evelyn, bundled in a heavy coat and woollen scarf, waddled out on the lawns, happy to be out of the house no matter how dreary the weather Even during the hours of daylight, all was misty and grey The trees stood bare of leaves and winter’s frosty fingertips tickled the land. Evelyn shivered, seeing her breath bloom and pondered where to venture

‘Stay within eye's reach of the house,’ Mrs Bromley had warned ‘If the mist rolls in, you shall not know which way is up or down.’

Keeping that in mind, Evelyn thought of the rose garden. Perhaps she could help the gardener, Mr Bromley, with some tasks and take in the last of the few crimson petals before the winter winds carried them away. It was either that or the iced-over pond; she always avoided the cemetery The roots of the trees around the graves looked too much


like limbs. Limbs that would grab you, take you under. So it was to her dismay that she found herself standing over a grave; the drab stone almost as large as her own frame. Evelyn turned round and round with a small intake of breath that later brought hiccups.

How did this happen? She only took one step, her mind on the rose garden, and in the blink of her doleful brown eyes, stood in the cemetery. A chill whispered on her little neck, and she huddled into her scarf. Evelyn looked up towards the house, ensuring it was still visible. Sighing, she thought perhaps she had let her mind drift and simply forgot where she was going. That happened to her sometimes, more so in the bleak months of the year. Mrs. Bromley called it her memory cloud. ‘Get off your memory cloud, miss! Stay present!’

She looked about, not liking the way it felt in the cemetery: so sad and final. The grave Evelyn stood before caught her eye. Worn by time, its engravings were barely visible. Pictures of cherubs lined the top; the surname Waverley (just like all the other graves) below it Everything else was too faded to read She imagined the grave to be one of a child's, based on its size and the playful cherubs etched into the stone.

She wondered if they had played in the same toy room, walked down the same paths. Were they close to the same age? Evelyn had just turned nine that spring Suddenly, she wanted nothing more than to get away from the grave; away from the bones that slept underneath her feet She took a couple of steps back, the frozen grass brittle and breaking. The air felt much colder, as if the sky had opened a cloud of frosty snow. But instead of snow, came the mist A white vapour nuzzled around her feet, clouding the ground, the grave markings, and lastly, the manor.

The only visible landmarks were the ghastly trees surrounding the cemetery, whose branches looked to be the crooked hands of witches, hanged long ago and ready to seek revenge. And just as fast as the mist came, as did the sounds. At first, a whimper – oh, so quiet, as sounds are when swallowed by a fog


Evelyn stood still, her heart a rapid drum.

The whimpering grew louder, closer, steadily growing until heavy, woeful sobs sounded from within the mist. Evelyn wanted to run, but in her dismay, could not make out which direction the house lay. She turned this way and that, disoriented and confused. Then from behind, she felt the presence approach. Evelyn turned around, frozen.

The mist swirled about, curling like tendrils of smoke. From this cloud, a delicate, pale hand appeared. As if made from the mist itself, the skin was very white, almost as translucent as ice. Behind the hand, a face. The face of a woman. Beautiful in features, but full of pain, tears spilling from her eyes.

Evelyn gasped, and the eyes of the woman looked upon her. They widened, her ghostwhite hand reaching and reaching and reaching. The air grew even colder, so cold it burned. The sound of frost cracking and groaning on the graves commingled with the woman’s cries.

Evelyn no longer cared which direction the house was, she needed to get away. Far away from the weeping woman’s touch; away from the drowning river of her tears. She ran as fast as her young legs could go.

‘No . . . no. Do not leave me,’ the woman said, her voice a mere whisper.

Evelyn shed tears of her own as she ran into oblivion, blurring her vision so that all she could see was gauzy white. She fell in a humph onto the hard ground, her boot caught in the thick roots she feared so. She felt the woman following her. The air dripped with her mournful, icy presence. It permeated Evelyn’s lungs with such suffocating sorrow. Sure that she was lost in the white-out forever, about to be taken, she looked up to see a faint orb of light.


‘Evelyn!’ Mrs. Bromley’s wavering voice called. ‘Evelyn, where are you, child?’

Evelyn quickly pulled her foot from the root's grasp, and without looking back, ran up the hill, straight to the light, and into Mrs. Bromley’s familiar embrace. *

Evelyn sat in a cosy armchair near the hearth in the servant’s hall. It was the only room small enough to keep warm. A heavy blanket wrapped around her shivering shoulders and a cup full of muddy hot chocolate in her hand. Despite all Mrs. Bromley’s attempts, she could not warm up. Her teeth chattered; the bone china holding her drink rattled in its saucer.

‘Who is she?’ Evelyn asked.

Mrs Bromley raised an eyebrow, a hint of worry in her aged blue eyes ‘It does not matter, dear,’ she said, wrapping another blanket around her. ‘I reckon she is gone now ’

‘How can how can you be sure?’ Evelyn asked in between shivers ‘And why was she . . . so sad? Why did she want to get . . . me?’

Mrs. Bromley sighed, pulled up a chair next to the child and sat. She was silent for a moment, thinking how to proceed, the firelight dancing in her eyes ‘You know this house is very old,’ she finally said. ‘Many people have lived here, and many people have died here ’

Evelyn nodded ‘Did you know them all, Mrs Bromley?’

‘I have been here a very long time,’ she smiled, ‘and yes, I did know most ’


For as long as Evelyn could remember, Mrs. Bromley, the housekeeper and her governess, took care of her. It was only her and her husband, Mr. Bromley the groundskeeper on as staff. Long ago, a ‘horrific accident’ occurred (according to Mrs. Bromley), leaving Evelyn without her parents and in her care.

Evelyn’s very old, and very grumpy Grandfather being her only relative, lived upstairs in his own apartment, never coming down for tea or supper. He stayed awake all hours of the night; the creak of his insomniac steps sounded above her room. Sometimes she would tip-toe to his door, press her ear to the thick wood, and listen to him muttering to himself about some lost item he misplaced. She was sure he was not sound of mind.

‘Sometimes when people die unexpectedly,’ Mrs. Bromley continued, ‘or if they are just not ready to go, they linger.’

‘As ghosts?’ Evelyn whispered, eyes wide and unblinking.

‘Yes, as ghosts.’

Evelyn swallowed, shivering even more. ‘Like the ghosts in the west wing?’

Mrs. Bromley frowned and quickly sat up. ‘Drink up now,’ she said, her voice now full of cheer ‘You are safe, and it is almost time for bed ’ She stroked the child’s dark curls before kissing the top of her head.

But as Evelyn lay cold in bed, still quivering and afraid, she could not get the sound of the weeping woman’s cries out of her head The woman seemed to know her; want her She closed her eyes and tried to think happy thoughts: of sunshine and roses, outdoor picnics and sweets As she drifted, the floorboards above groaned from the weight of her grandfather’s constant pacing. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.


Finally, she fell asleep. *

Waverley Manor was large. So large in fact, they closed the west wing of the house, only using rooms in the east. Evelyn did not mind. There were a few times she ventured to the closed quarters, curious to explore what was off limits a trait of most children only to discover it was haunted. Doors opened and closed on their own, sibilant voices slithered through the wood panels, the glow of candles danced on and off in darkened rooms. It felt like others were there with her, and Evelyn did not like the eerie stir it brought on in her belly. She wasn’t used to being afraid. Did not like the unknown. So, she stayed safe and sound on the opposite side of the house, content with doing lessons and reading books by the fire. But that night, Evelyn dreamed she was back in its depths.

The floor felt like snow beneath her bare feet as she walked down the draughty halls In her mind, she knew where she was going, and wanted to stop, turn around. But her body had a will of its own, knowing exactly where to go Portraits of Waverley’s lined the walls, the scant light coming through the windows so dim she could barely see the portraits, but sensed their painted eyes watching her

Her body crept past shut doors, turned down corridor after corridor, and then finally stopped outside an ornate wooden door. Her small hand grabbed the brass knob, surprisingly warm in her palm The door moaned on its hinges as it opened, and instantly the air pressure changed. A sadness washed over her, so heavy Evelyn was sure she was drowning

A woman sat in a rocking chair next to an arched window; its yellow curtains opened, allowing a pool of moonlight into the room. She wore a cream-coloured nightdress, tears rolling from her eyes and dampening the thin cloth In her hands she held tight a


porcelain doll; its eyes vacant yet knowing, as if holding back a secret.

With the opening of the door, the woman stood. The doll fell to the carpeted floor with a subtle thud; the chair rocking back and forth with her sudden movement. The woman reached out her hand, delicate and pale as alabaster. Her fingers trembled; her mouth and eyes formed into those of a gaping ghost behind white sheets.

Evelyn screamed, but no sound came from her. Like shouting through water, only a gurgle escaped her pink lips. She awoke gasping for breath with Mrs. Bromley by her side, shooing and cooing and doing her best to soothe away the nightmare.


Evelyn slept in the next day, groggy and hungry as she made her way to the kitchen. The patter of rain filled the house like thousands of beating drums. Gusts of wind blew sheets of water sideways, sending splatters of water onto the east windows

The chatter of Mr and Mrs Bromley sounded from the kitchen Evelyn heard her name spoken and stopped at the closed door. She didn’t like to eavesdrop and knew it to be rude, but sometimes that was the only way to gain information in this house, with Mrs Bromley always shielding her from the truth.

‘It is happening again,’ Mrs. Bromley said, a hint of worry in her voice. ‘The poor child, I just don’t know what we shall do about it ’

Mr Bromley cleared his throat His baritone voice ruff and raspy ‘It is the time of year, dear. It always happens this time of year. When the winter wind blows away, this too shall pass ’

‘I know, I know,’ Mrs Bromley sighed ‘I just feel so bad for Evelyn Having to go


through this time and time again.’

A strange, unsettled feeling came over her. What were they talking about? Time and time again? Evelyn took a deep breath. Somewhere inside her young heart, she knew it to be about the woman, the woman whose anguished spirit haunted her day and night. She must have lived here, in Waverley Manor. But why was she appearing now, after all these years? The thought of it all sent a spiral of goosebumps down her back. Mrs. Bromley would never tell her what was happening. If she was going to ever find out who the phantom woman was and what she wanted, she had to discover it on her own.

Just as she determined this, the room around her shifted, changed.

A waterfall of rain fell about. Evelyn's hair, soaked and dripping, clung to her skull. Water drenched her sleeping gown. A gale of wind caused her frozen toes to stumble into a pool of icy mud. Evelyn cried out; her voice swallowed by the winter wind. She stood back in the cemetery, everything a blur in the storm of rain

The same gravestone with cherubs etched into its stone was in front of her Evelyn shook uncontrollably, feeling so cold. So, so, cold. But what she saw propped against the grave made her tremble even more

A doll

The same doll the woman clutched in her dream as she wept Evelyn bent down and picked up the wet figurine. Her fingers tingled and a faint memory sprang to her mind. Just as she thought to grasp it, squeeze it, comprehend it, the memory slipped away fading, and fading, just like the rain.

The drops weakened to a sprinkle, and Evelyn, still holding the soaked doll, turned around to head back inside Perhaps she could slip in unnoticed and change into dry


clothes before Mrs. Bromley caught sight of her. She didn’t want her to know she had lost track of time, again. As she started back up the hill, lonely and cold, she caught sight of movement behind an upstairs window curtain. Her grandfather appeared, looking down at her and the doll in hand with a frown upon his wrinkled face, white wisps of hair in disarray atop his head. Evelyn lifted her hand and waved. Her grandfather scowled, but to her bewilderment, lifted his hand, and motioned for her to come upstairs. Evelyn nodded her head, and he disappeared behind the curtain.


She knocked at his door.

‘Yes, come in now,’ he said, loud and clear.

Evelyn opened the door to the warmth of air and a soft, inviting glow. Her grandfather sat behind his desk He took his spectacles off as she entered He looked different Aware.

‘You are dripping onto my rug,’ he said, ‘come, sit by the fire.’

‘Sorry, sir,’ Evelyn muttered, bowing her head and heading towards the flames. She had never been in her grandfather’s chambers, never spoken more than a few words to him

‘Sit, sit ’

Evelyn obeyed and sat on an upholstered chair, its fabric worn and torn She held the doll on her lap and looked around. Piled everywhere were books, dirty teacups, and an array of loose documents Several lamps cast orbs of light onto the thin rugs; tapestries needed dusting; paintings and portraits of various sizes and clouded mirrors took up most of the wall space Yet even in its mess, the place felt comfortable Lived in She


rather liked it.

Her grandfather placed a teapot and pastries on the side table next to her, then sat on the opposite chair. He nodded to the food, ‘Eat,’ he said, and looked upon the fire.

The fragrant smell of sugar and dough made her mouth water. Evelyn realised she was hungry, having skipped breakfast. ‘Thank you,’ she said and began taking nibbles, powdered sugar sticking to her face.

‘You and I,’ her grandfather said, ‘are much alike. We have moments of forgetfulness. I am sorry I am not around for you,’ he paused, turned his gaze onto Evelyn. ‘Oh, but you are so much like her.’ His eyes grew misty.

‘So much like who?’ Evelyn asked, sipping the hot tea and growing more comfortable in his presence.

‘Do you still not know?’ His eyes narrowed. ‘Why, the one who weeps! The woman in the mist, whose cries keep me up all hours of the night ’

‘You see her too?’

‘Of course, I do!’ he shouted

Evelyn shrank into her seat

‘Aw, I am sorry, my dear Do not mind me I mean you no harm I'm just an old, tired man, forever misplacing things.’

Evelyn squeezed the doll. ‘Who is she, Grandfather?’


‘Take a look. She is here, in this room.’

Evelyn’s blood curdled in her veins. She peered around, expecting to see the spirit hiding in the shadows, but all she saw was her own pale reflection looking back at her in the mirrors. Her grandfather stood with a grunt and shuffled over to the wall behind her. Evelyn followed, head spinning from the sugar.

On the wall, a life-sized portrait loomed above them. Evelyn wondered how she had not noticed it before as she approached it with cautious curiosity.

‘Take a good look, my child.’

Evelyn swallowed, the sugar dry in her throat. It was her, yet different. This woman looked happy and proud. Swirls of white made up her satin gown, backdropped in a lovely shade of blue-grey. Pinned atop her head was a perfect chignon, with ringlets of ebony framing her face She had beautiful brown eyes with a glint of mischief arched eyebrows, and pouty, heart-shaped lips.

Evelyn was mesmerised. A sinking sensation took hold of her. Suddenly, the room started to spin, turning her around so that she now faced the foggy mirrors on the opposite wall. And in these mirrors, the portrait came to life. The woman’s lips spread into a smile, her eyes twinkling ‘Come Evelyn come to me,’ her soft voice said

‘Do you understand? Do you remember now?’ Her grandfather’s voice brought her back from her memory cloud. The mirrored portrait still and staring, frozen in time once again ‘Oh,’ Evelyn whispered ‘She is my ’

‘Yes, my dear! Now, go to her Before it is too late Before you forget, again!’


‘But . . . how? How is this happening?’

‘She still walks among these halls, child. She longs for you! Do not be afraid of her.’

Tears formed from Evelyn’s eyes. With the doll in hand, Evelyn hugged her grandfather, and ran out the door, down the hall, and towards the west wing. *

Mrs. Bromley must have heard her footsteps. ‘Evelyn is that you?’ she called from downstairs. ‘Where have you been all morning?’

Evelyn ignored her, passing the staircase and entering the west wing and its maze of corridors. Just like her dream, she knew exactly where to turn. A twisted memory engraved so deep into her blood slowly unwound. Evelyn burst into the room.

Like before, the woman sat in the rocking chair, bereft and unmoving, head bowed. Startled by the unexpected visitor, she jumped in her seat, hand to her heart When she saw Evelyn at the door, she dropped to her knees. ‘My child,’ she cried and opened her arms ‘Oh, my dear child Come to me ’

‘Mother?’ Evelyn said ‘I’m sorry I did not remember you ’

‘It's quite alright, my love Come come to me ’

Evelyn ran into her arms, the doll pressed between them Her mother smelt of roses and felt warm as sunshine on a soft spring day. Her heart fluttered like a robin's wings, a fledgling returned to its nest They cried into each other, the remembrances of the past


flooding in with such swiftness. How could she not have known? The whole time it had been her mother, calling to her from a different world, breaking the barrier between the dead and the living.

As they held one another, Evelyn felt her mother's strong embrace weaken. The solid matter of her body became softer. She lifted her head and looked into her mother’s face. Saw her lips tremble, eyes wide. ‘No, do not go!’ her mother cried.

‘But I’m not going anywhere, Mother.’

The sound of footsteps came from the hall. Mrs. Bromley neared. ‘Evelyn! Get out of there, Evelyn!’

The child looked down at herself. Her body was dissipating, becoming transparent. ‘No!’ her mother said ‘Not again!’

‘Mother? What is happening to me?’

Evelyn faded and faded, becoming translucent and unsubstantial Her mother grasped for her, wanting to hold her tight, but instead of her child in her arms, all that was left was the cold, hard doll *

Evelyn stirred to the sounds of birds singing in the distance A silky warm breeze lifted her hair, and she opened her eyes to bright, blinding light. She squinted, taking in her surroundings, seeing nothing but a blanket of blue She thought to be looking down upon the ocean, floating above the still waters of the unknown.


‘Aw, you are finally awake.’ Mrs. Bromley’s smiling face appeared, upside down above her. Evelyn giggled at the way her chin and mouth appeared to be a whole new character of their own. Knowing this, Mrs. Bromley continued, talking in a silly voice: ‘That was quite the nap, my dear. You must be famished. Good thing I have all your favourites in this here picnic basket.’

Evelyn sat up with a bout of giggles, a white and red striped blanket beneath her. The trees blushed with green, wildflowers covered the lush lawns, and the scent of ripe roses perfumed the air. ‘Is it spring?’ Evelyn asked.

‘Why, of course it is!’ Mrs. Bromley said, setting out a spread of treats.

‘I feel I have been sleeping all winter long.’ Evelyn yawned and stretched, then leaned over into Mrs. Bromley, head resting on her shoulder. The familiar sound of Mr. Bromley’s clippers echoed from the gardens.

Mrs. Bromley held her tight, and kissing the top of her head said, ‘Yes, dear. Sleeping all winter long is just fine Just fine, indeed ’


I am her.

She is me.

We are us.



MG |



Little Ghost opens her eyes a tiny amount, just enough to let in a sliver of light.

The girl with the long brown plaits is there again, squinting back at her. The early morning makes her skin look a little grey, but other than that she seems normal Real Alive.

The girl is wearing a pale blue, short-sleeved blouse. The shoulders are slightly puffy, and Little Ghost likes the way the edges of the collar are rounded It makes her seem more friendly, somehow. I can’t.

She snaps her eyes shut.

That’s enough for today, she thinks.


Maybe I’ll look again tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll even tell Billy.

But she can’t quite tear herself away from the mirror.


It all started yesterday, when Little Ghost was helping her best friend Billy sort through his Grandad Jim’s possessions. Well, perhaps not ‘helping’, so much as chatting incessantly while Billy did all the work. Grandad Jim died a couple of months ago and, much to their annoyance, has yet to make his presence known.

They spent several happy hours hunting through boxes in Billy’s attic. Grandad Jim was a dedicated Collector of Things. Fridge magnets, snooker trophies, plastic bags from interesting places They sorted everything into piles as they went: bin; sell; keep Every so often, they were interrupted by Billy’s mum complaining about the size of the ‘keep’ pile A perfect afternoon

Until, that is, Billy pulled an old shaving mirror out of one of the boxes

‘This can go straight in the bin,’ he said

‘Huh? What’s that?’ asked Little Ghost

‘Just some old mirror Look, it’s going rusty Nobody will want it ’

‘Gah, get that horrible thing away from me!’

Little Ghost hadn’t looked in a mirror for a very long time She had trained herself to


face the other way while Billy was brushing his teeth. Knew to keep her back to the mantlepiece in the lounge; even avoided looking at cutlery.

She hated that she couldn’t see her reflection anymore. Even if she could, what would she see? Little more than a bed sheet, albeit one with eye holes and a slit for a mouth. Billy frowned. ‘What’s got into you? It’s just a mirror.’

As he held it up a thin layer of frost crept across its surface.

And that was it. The moment she first saw the girl.

‘What on earth…’ Billy exclaimed, the ice reaching his fingers.

Little Ghost opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, but no sound came out. The girl did the same

Little Ghost knew what it meant and was sure the girl did, too


But that was yesterday, this is now

For a long time, Little Ghost couldn’t understand why other ghosts appeared as what looked like faded photocopies of their living selves. OK, so they were two dimensional and weirdly see-through, but at least they weren’t stuck in bed sheet mode

She used to avoid them, worried that they would laugh at her But when she and Billy befriended some of the residents of the town cemetery, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place


‘Little Ghost, is it?’ one of them had said. ‘Awh shame, she ain’t even remembered her proper name yet. She’s got a lot to learn.’

And so Little Ghost came to realise that her death was only the start of the journey. Ghosts are not born fully formed; the more they start to remember about their lives, the clearer their appearance becomes.

Suddenly the difference between her and Billy opened up like a great, yawning hole between them. But only she could see it.

The problem is, Billy’s alive. And he hasn’t the faintest idea how to be a ghost.

Little Ghost floats back and forth across the attic, her telekinetic energy sending some of Grandad Jim’s plastic bag collection fluttering to the ground as she passes.

I should tell Billy what I’ve seen, that I’m learning more about myself

But what if it starts to drive us apart? Maybe I’ll want to hang around the cemetery all the time, be with the other ghosts...I can’t risk losing my best friend.

She stops in front of the mirror, which is already icy from her presence. The girl looks worried

So, keep it a secret?

I feel terrible, but I need time to get used to everything

I WILL tell him, just not yet

The girl nods back


But...why now? Why this mirror, the ice?

Grandad Jim...could he see the dead as well? Is that where Billy gets it from?

But for now, the girl with the long brown plaits is Little Ghost’s secret.





Hallways of reflective glass greet me.

Taking steps forward,

Lose my friends,

Alone in the zone,

Arms out like a mime...

Feeling for freedom

Down the narrow path, dimensions create infinite pictures

Messing with my mind

Reality or illusion?

Where does it lead?

Endless images looking back in my direction

Every twist is a risk,

Every tunnel is colder,

Every turn is a version

Of me, which I see and feel:

Silly at first

Then worried

Getting nervous

Very scared

Shiver and Quiver

Totally lost


Bumping and thumping into more mirrors.

Trying to find a way out.


Like a mouse in a corn maze.

Choke down a sob, Chest heaving.

Just when I start to panic, I reach out


My arms hit nothing!

Cold air on my fingers, The hairs stand up

Goosebumps linger. But I’m finally free.






Rupashi bolted upright in bed. Had she dreamt--?

More words entered the young girl’s mind: Rupashi! Come quick!

A call using the Inherensia of Speak, also known as telepathy.


Rupashi jumped out of bed. Ran to her door.

And hesitated. Arana was a dangerous world, one filled with all the monsters that legends told of back on Earth Even in the alleged safety of Lord Maalik’s fortress, you dared not just open a door. Not without precaution.

Rupashi reached out with Sense, the most basic Inherensia magic. Did anything wait in ambush beyond her door?

The hallway was empty

She pulled open her door, ran across the hallway, and again unleashed Sense It flowed through Feng’s door. Rupashi saw outlines of a bed, a trunk, a wardrobe, and the large shape of Feng herself The Chinese girl stood by her floor-to-ceiling wall mirror


Rupashi knocked.

Enter! Enter!

Rupashi did, finding the room exactly as she envisioned it.

Feng stared into her mirror, saw Rupashi in the reflection, then waved her over.

It had to be the middle of the night, and Rupashi did not want to be out of bed. ‘What’s going on?’

‘Have you heard of the Mirror People?’

Rupashi shook her head.

Feng continued ‘Our reflections are just light bouncing back, showing what we look like. But behind our images hide shadows. Those are the Mirror People. Demons trapped five thousand years ago by the Chinese Emperor Huangdi And he left a sign, enlisting a wee fish from the Mirror World to serve as guardian between our two worlds ’

‘A fish?’

‘The fish is like a flash of light, the one you see when you glance at a mirror out of the corner of your eye. You’ve seen it?’


‘I have. When you no longer see that flash, the guardian has fled. And the Mirror People will soon replace our reflections


And then invade our world.

To replace us.’

Feng’s voice dropped to a whisper. ‘And I no longer see the flash.’

Rupashi looked in the mirror. An Indian girl and a Chinese girl stared back. If they were demons imitating them, they were doing an amazing job.

Rupashi turned toward Feng. ‘Are you sure?’ Feng had dark circles under her eyes. Too much practice in various sorcery classes could explain it. They had taken on psychometry, shapeshifting, and two other new forms of sorcery in the last week. And the heavy-set girl was slouching, her skin more pale than usual.

Only Feng’s hair radiated its typical beauty, even so late at night. It was long, black, and silky Feng always parted it on the right side

‘I can prove it That’s why I called you,’ Feng said ‘Lean close to the mirror Really study so-called reflection.’

Rupashi turned toward the mirror. Examined her own reflection first. Rupashi hated her own hair Not as long, not as luxurious She always parted her hair in the middle, where it was thickest, but nowhere near as thick as Feng’s.

She focused on Feng’s reflection.

The Chinese girl smiled, her grin small and sad.

‘Why are you smiling?’ Rupashi asked.


‘I’m not,’ Feng whispered.

The reflection kept smiling, and it took Rupashi a moment to realise

‘You didn’t send those words using Speak!’

‘No, I simply said them. But my reflection is a step behind.’

Rupashi whipped around. Determined to catch Feng smiling. Determined to prove this was a practical joke.

She wasn’t smiling.

Rupashi turned back.

Feng’s reflection stood inches from her Still smiling But now showing her teeth, which the real Feng would never do. Always embarrassed because they were crooked.

‘She hasn’t quite mastered copying me,’ Feng said behind Rupashi.

The reflection mouthed Feng’s words, a couple seconds behind the actual ones.

‘But she’s catching up,’ Feng said, the reflection saying those words almost simultaneously

The reflection leaned closer

Rupashi gasped The mirror was bowing out Just a little And far, far too much

‘What do we do?’ Rupashi asked, back-pedalling to her friend Never taking her eyes off


‘the doppelgänger.

‘You and I are the best students at Sealing magic. And our mirrors face each other across the hallway. Go to yours. I’ll count, and on three, Seal your mirror. The spell should partially function, and partially reflect, that part hitting my mirror. Just as my spell will hit my mirror and then yours. The two spells will bounce back and forth and seal not just our mirrors. But all of them.’

‘Okay, I ’ ‘Rupashi!’ Feng cried.

‘What? What!’

‘The other Feng is Speaking to me. Yours may speak to you.’ Feng dragged her hands through her hair, pulling her hair’s right-side part tight ‘Don’t listen Don’t even look at her--at it. Just prepare to cast the spell.’

Feng’s reflection now perfectly copied Feng. Her words. Her movements. Even the anguish on her face Rupashi ran back to her room

Toward her mirror

Even not looking, Rupashi could see her image run up

She focused on the Seal spell It was new magic, learned only days ago, but Feng was


right: she and Feng were excellent at it.

Rupashi, someone sent.

Not Feng.

It sounded like Rupashi herself, but the voice was slightly higher in pitch.

Like when she’d heard her voice on a recording.

Rupashi. Help us.

Shut it, you fake.

We’re not demons. We’re you from an alternate reality.

Feng, I’m almost ready.

Please Rupashi. It’s not just me here. Look!

Rupashi knew she shouldn’t, but she glanced up.

In the mirror, Rupashi stood there, a wan smile on her face.

I’m not smiling, faker.

Look past me.

Beyond the mirror Rupashi, in the reflected doorway, stood a man. Rupashi leaned close, her grinning reflection mimicking her in every way except her expression


The man looked like...looked like… Papa!

He’s alive here, Rupashi. Alive and trapped. Help him!

Rupashi looked back at her actual doorway.

No one stood there. Through her doorway and Feng’s, Rupashi saw Feng raising her arms, getting ready to cast the Seal spell.

Rupashi didn’t turn back to her mirror yet. She thought about what the reflection’s Papa looked like.

A little too hunched.

A little too grey.

Nice try, faker, but not good enough, Rupashi sent, turning back.

The mirror was close.

Too close.

Bulging toward her.

Rupashi instinctively raised her hands to protect herself.

Her fingertips brushed the glass surface.


Touching where her reflection touched.

And she couldn’t pull away!

She was sinking into the glass, cold like a frigid pool of winter water.

Rupashi strained to pull herself away. No good.

Her reflection was laughing, eyes wild, teeth too long and too sharp.

Rupashi arched her back. The best middle grade athlete of Kanpur wasn’t giving in.

She stretched, stretched so far, bending away until

Rupashi snapped off the surface, staggering backward several feet.

Her reflection howled silently, then beat her side of the mirror with her fists.

On three, Feng sent.

Shaky but unhurt, Rupashi raised her hands.



Rupashi couldn’t remember whether Feng would send ‘Three’ and then they should cast the spell, or if Rupashi should just cast on three She guessed the latter

A good guess, because Feng didn’t send ‘Three ’


Rupashi tossed her arms down and yelled ‘Seal!’

A neon blue light flashed before her and pummelled the mirror, some absorbing, some reflecting back, shooting past Rupashi, who backed away as blue light reflected back and forth between the two mirrors, again and again, the energy dwindling with each ricochet, until

Another flash, and the light was gone.

Standing off to the side, Rupashi now approached the mirror, determined to stare down the enemy.

When she stepped before the mirror, so did her reflection, like in any mirror. Rupashi raised her arms. Made faces. Mouthed words. Even dared to lean close.

Her reflection repeated everything perfectly on the flat, silvery glass

Rupashi walked back into Feng’s room

The large Chinese girl sat on the edge of her bed, her right side toward Rupashi She looked exhausted, but peaceful.

Rupashi smiled. ‘We won.’

‘Well done, Rupashi.’

‘You should get some sleep.’



Feng turned, pulling back her sheets and getting ready to lie down.

Something was wrong.

Rupashi knew it, but couldn't immediately put her finger on-Feng’s hair.

Her thick, beautiful hair.

It was parted.

On the left side.

Feng noticed Rupashi staring. The Chinese girl looked up, her eyes going to where her hair was now parted, then turned her gaze back to Rupashi

And she gave Rupashi a wide smile, her teeth too long and too sharp




It was my sister’s idea that I go out to the middle of the lake. You go first, she said, and I’ll be right behind you I nodded without saying anything and watched the water crease under the frozen surface. I was the one who was supposed to do this sort of thing. I was the one who tore the skin off my knees climbing trees, who chased frogs through the reeds in the summertime, who ducked through the shadows with my eyes wide open. I wasn’t afraid to get my feet wet

We’d both grown that winter My sister was a head taller than me, but I was braver than her. She didn’t like bugs and she was still scared of the dark. She was well-mannered. Clever Likeable Everything I could never be She was the one who apologised on my behalf while I glared from the shadows behind her back.

The first time I remember coming to the lake, it had been spring. We had stood side by side with our trousers rolled up to our ankles, feeling the pebbles and duckweed against our bare feet. I’d looked up at the sky, at the clotted grey clouds overhead, and traced them down to their reflections in the water Floating alongside them were our own reflections, foggy mirages of gangly limbs and missing teeth. I’d asked my sister, who I was then convinced knew everything in the world, why we could only see the outlines of us, filled in by water and sunken pebbles, while the clouds looked whole. She said that maybe a thing just needs to be big enough to cast a proper reflection

That was long ago Childish questions don’t get answered anymore, and I’ve learned to stop asking them. I emerged from behind my sister and took my first step onto the frozen lake Go on, she told me, I’m right here Under the glassy surface, I could see


shadows and sunlight rippling in the current. Under the ice, everything was moving. Everything adrift. I walked on the reflection of the sky. And now, I could see my reflection drift beneath me too, though still not as solid as the clouds against which it was cast. I could see the water straight through me. Maybe, I thought, as I slipped and stumbled along, my sister really was brave, in her own way. It takes bravery to watch from the banks. To grow a head taller in one season. To let your shadow walk away from you.

Soon, it was too deep to see the riverbed anymore. Only icy water, glassy and flowing, casting my image in ripples of grey and green blue. I had seen myself like this before in an old, dulled mirror in a spare room in our grandmother’s house. My reflection had been made a ghost of itself, half-unrecognisable. I remembered it as I neared the middle of the lake. And with each step, my reflection crept up closer from the current.

When we were little, still little enough to paddle in this water in the summertime and feel like we were crossing an ocean, my sister had teased me and told me that there were monsters in this lake. Hollow-eyed shadows with long grasping hands eager to pull in any unwary child who got too close I was not afraid of them Not then But now, every crease in the current became an open mouth. I told myself that there was nobody here but me on the water, my sister at the edge of it, and my foxed-glass reflection waiting underneath, standing foot to foot with only the thin ice between us.

I wanted to go back. I wanted to hold my sister, to bury my face against her, and beg her never to grow any more, or to let me grow either I wanted to run But I could only stand frozen. If the ice gave way now, I would plunge through the surface. Would I sink or swim? I stood on the centre of the lake, in a mirror of sunken clouds, and looked neither up nor down.

I’m too far out, I cried, my voice shrill over the ice, I want to go back.


Then come back, called my sister from the snowy bank.

Then come back, echoed my reflection below.





1. Visit your oldest library

2 Kill time roam shelves charge electronics skim local ads do anything do everything

3 Find it a shelf single empty splintered

4. Take a seat inside said shelf press yourself against its walls it will hurt you will want to scream

5. Do not scream it will br eak this next part

6. You will sink you will merge into


the shelf you will fuse and your eyes sight will dim

7. Drop d o w

n further into the dim something will glint something will glimmer

8. You glimmer no your reflection glimmers and your veins will run cold

9 You will extend a hand to your reflection

10. You realise it did not extend the same hand

11. You stay 12 I will leave.





We mustn't go ice skating.

That’s what they always tell us, every year once the air gets cold, and frost begins to eat away at the grass of people’s gardens and farmers’ fields. Then the snowstorm comes, and the lake, along with all the small duck ponds that pinprick the town, freezes over. It stays frozen for months.

People used to go ice skating on the lake. Everyone in the town knows this. It must have this bewitching beauty to it, to have lured large bouquets of people onto its face that is said to be as smooth as silvery silk - especially the children. The children that used to live in this town, generations ago, would shake with excitement for the oncoming snowstorm because it would be a sure sign that the surface of the lake would harden into ice and become ripe to ice skate over it. The children aren’t excited for it anymore.

The lake belongs to the Manor House. But the Manor House has been empty for years now since the last owner died, back when our grandparents were our age. Nobody ever takes the narrow road that quivers away from the edge of town, passing under the crooked trees and the cackle of crows, to lead themselves into the house. Perhaps it’s because nobody wants to go there, perhaps because one day little Sam of the Waywards’ family had boasted to all of his classmates that he could get inside the Manor House and then back out, and not a single parent, teacher, or any adult, would ever find out.


We weren’t alive yet when Sam went to the Manor House, but our parents remember. And some of our older siblings, too, and they love scaring us with the story of Sam Wayward, laughing at the end every time. The adults don’t like it. They’ve always been far more serious, because they’re scared one of their own children might end up the same way Sam did. But no one has ever been, and has never dared, to step foot inside the old Manor House since the day Sam came back from it.

It happened after the snowstorm quite a few years ago, when the midwinter was as fatal as the bite of a wolf. School had been closed early, and Sam directed some of his classmates, those who were excited or curious, towards the private lane leading to the grounds of the Manor House. We know some of the classmates that were with him that day: they’re adults now, most of them. No one, however, followed Sam down the private road. It was getting dark, after all, and nobody had the thought of bringing a source of light to aid the eyes. But Sam was a wild boy, stubborn and dauntless, and he headed towards the house anyway. In a very short time after, all his classmates headed to their homes, hearing the calls of their worried parents They were too scared to reach out to Sam through the gloom of the undergrowth and trees, and too scared as well to tell their parents where he was

But, eventually, one of the children couldn’t take it anymore Mr and Mrs Waywards were clinging to each other like frightened rabbits when they were told where Sam had disappeared to A search party left in haste, and they spent all night and all the following day foraging around the manor and its grounds, using every failing wisp of hope to keep them going until time sought to tell them to give up During the two days after, a black shroud of silence had fallen upon the town.

And then Sam reappeared. Out of nowhere, people thought. The little schoolboy; the headmistress found him lying on the road just outside the school as she was walking in that morning. She collapsed in a panic. Sam was dead, his skin as pale as milk and bone.


By the next hour, everyone in the town, from the youngest to the oldest, had heard of the finding. And of course the word ‘dead’ spread along each murmur and gasp, as if it were a honey stuck to the tongue, too sweet to try to swallow it down or to wipe off with a napkin. It was worse, the adults now had felt then as children, knowing that Sam was dead, left on the road like a show for all to spectate. Many children became plagued with grim fears, crying in the middle of classes; some teachers stepped down because of stress. There was a man who turned bellicose and instigated a fight inside one of the pubs one evening of winter; three men were admitted to the nearest hospital. There was discussion, frantic and anxious, of inducting a curfew upon the children, but it never came to be, although the private road to the Manor House was sealed off with a makeshift wooden fence on which a sign read, and still reads, Warning: Hazardous Path Ahead. Entry Is Prohibited. But no one really needed to be told. The day Sam’s body returned to the town, everyone was shown. And Mr and Mrs Wayward are no longer around.

The manor remains untouched, and for this the mystery of Sam’s ending has never been acquainted with an unravelling. The police never bothered to look into it, and perhaps it was because they were scared of something, too, just like the children were all those years ago. The children are still scared now, but not as loudly. There’s a feeling that lingers like the stench of rotting fruit, to not wander anywhere near the Manor House or the lake.

We mustn't go ice skating, because if we do, bad things will happen. The lake and the manor: that’s where bad things come from in this town, though it’s a statement more often performed by our parents and teachers. Because things can get muddled up in the passage of time - we know this well - and the bad things appeared to have begun a very long time ago, before Sam dared to sneak inside the Manor House.

A schoolgirl’s grandmother remembers. She’s one of the few children who witnessed the onset of the illnesses and the disappearances and the deaths, but remained a


resident of this town despite it all. Whitney Tufrock, grandmother of Susie Tufrock. She spends most of her life inside her family’s house; it’s a rare occurrence for her to speak, now she’s so awfully old, in great extents, or even to present herself in town in public view. Perhaps the scarcity of her presence beckons the children to ask about the lake and the manor, a kind of curiosity towards the past, the history of this place. But they don’t get the answers they want. Mrs Tufrock doesn’t want to remember.

But once she told Susie a story. A tale belonging to time long before her granddaughter’s birth. The tale of when the bad things began happening to the people, and more so the children, for the children were always lacking the caution and reluctance that the adults grew to develop.

It began with the lake, after the first snowstorm that came to this town and swept over every stone building, every teary tree, every body of water, with a whiteness never seen and a coldness never felt before. Everyone had to shut themselves inside, firmly lock every door and window; if people had a fireplace, they’d tend to it every night; those that didn’t had to settle for layering clothes and thick blankets, and hoped that the creaking noises sliding around the house would not lead to a dreadful denouement

When the snowstorm passed, people at last found in themselves a reinvigorated joy to depart into the outside, to feel the fresh chill of air on their skin and through their mouths Snowmen were built, snowballs playfully thrown, pubs and shops reopened and were welcomed with delight, and no one had any fright of the weather anymore.

Then someone saw that the duck ponds were now shrouded with a thick sheet of pallid ice Mentions of the lake, whether that had morphed in the same manner as the ponds, scurried down the streets like tendrils, and tapped schoolchildren’s ears; all heads turning towards the big body of water just outside of the town It would be the most perfect spot for a day of ice skating - even just a morning or afternoon, a new thrill to experience for anyone who dared enough


The ice was found to be thick enough that when someone did fall, even an adult, not a crack occurred. Very soon, the lake received visitors by the day. There was in fact one particular day, Whitney recalls and Susie repeats to us, when every single child living in the town went ice skating there on the lake, accompanied by some parents who didn’t mind too much the task of responsibility. Whitney was one of the children that day. The day that the bad things began to happen.

Four children never returned home. They were found dead after a harrowing three days of toiling to try and find them, lying on the white banks of the lake like a nest of rabbits shot down by hunters. But they weren’t bleeding. In fact, nobody was quite sure how they died, not even the couple of doctors who lived in the town. Their bodies weren’t wet, so they couldn’t have drowned, nor were there any marks of physical harm or symptoms of some kind of poisoning; but the most peculiar thing of all, Whitney remembers, was that all four bodies had somehow escaped the creeping incursion of the necrotic cold. Not a single spot of their skin was touched with frost; lips as red and pink as in summer; clothes as dry as sand But no hearts were beating Those four children had died, and no one ever came to know how.

It was as if something, for whatever reason, took them, kept them for a few days, then returned them dead This was the rumour Whitney heard passing among the school children along corridors in between classes and through the open air of lunch and break times It lurked in the dark of every classroom corner, kept some of the children up at night as it followed them home, and sat at the dinner table like a silent stranger.

But without a mind to resist the joy of ice skating, many children returned to the lake. Whitney wasn’t one of them She was frightened so much by how her parents stifled her with admonitions:

The lake is a dangerous place, the ice could crack so easily and then you’ll drown…


Don’t follow your classmates, Whitney, their parents are irresponsible, they don’t even care about their own children.

Don’t go to the lake, Whitney, DO NOT GO TO THE LAKE!

She stayed obediently inside, not even able to leave the house for school because a sickness had crept up on her. Her parents thought it was the flu. It was that time of year, of course.

Day after day, more people went missing, and out of those missing a great number always returned dead, in the very same manner of the first four. It was after a couple of weeks had passed that the townsfolk began to suspect that the cause of all the deaths and disappearances had something to do with the lake, and every adult and child had become too frightened to go there.

But eight years later, children went back to ice skating They were either too young or hadn’t yet been born when the first snowstorm smothered the town and trouble - some adults called it misfortune, others preached it was devilry - was left behind like thick smoke after a wildfire; and despite warnings from their parents and teachers, there were children who thought it fun to sneak out on weekends, all directed towards the frozen lake.

It was an annual expectation, the snowstorm and the ice that lingered for a long while after It became an ineradicable part of the town, attaching itself to the structure of the streets, the age of the buildings, the relationships of the people. It stayed like a ghost, undying, sinking into winter stories until spring awoke and eased away the apprehension. But it always came back, and it always kept with it the promise of tragedy

This year, the snowstorm is fierce


Shuddering walls, white bullets battering against armourless windows. A monster trying to force its way inside, and so certainly hungry. We become captive in our own home, living off the food our parents bought the other day, as did every adult to keep them and their families sustained through these days that the snowstorm ravages the town. There is a coldness unbridled, that fills the house with the cadences of frost caverns.

It passes. The snow settles. People feel the attendance of safety on the other side of their doors. We breathe in renewed cold air, and like everyone else, thankful to have it descend into our lungs. It’s still hard to move about outside because of how much snow has accumulated everywhere, but the children are happy because the school is forced to stay shut. Almost four feet of thick and brazen snow are weighted against the doors; in their own homes, and some shops, people have learned to shield the entrances before the snowstorm comes, but the school has never had the resources. It will soon close for the winter break, anyway. We suppose the headmistress didn’t think it was too much of a problem if school ends a few days early.

We’re with our classmates. A handful of them, not all, because some parents like to keep their children inside during the immediate aftermath of the snowstorm It’s hard to sneak out of their houses: parents can easily notice when their children aren’t home, it’s a kind of sense they have, although some children have escaped in the past But some children like us, our parents don’t tell us to not go ice skating on the lake. We have a bit of freedom, and today, we’ve decided to go ice skating Everyone’s ice skating boots are in a heavy bag we’re carrying.

But none of us have been to the lake before, and neither have we ever been ice skating. We know the way to get there - everyone in the town has known it since their first few days of school - but to actually struggle through it... We can’t help but feel a little bit of fear for what will be ahead

By four o’clock on this desolate, grey afternoon, five of us are bundled in the park beside


the school grounds. On the other side of the park and school, there’s a farmers’ field, and on the other side of that, past a line of thicket, is the lake. People used to be able to get to it without stress. A path was once constructed, almost entirely by the hands of an enthusiastic group of townsfolk, to cut through the field from the park, and they opened a gap in the thicket.

But for years and years the path hasn’t been used enough to keep it unaffected by nature as it swelled and swelled until a straightforward path could no longer be seen.

Over the soggy wooden fence, which is about the same height as ourselves, the grass of the field looks like spikes. The farmer has never paid much attention to its tidiness - it definitely won’t help us get through it.

Something tells us we shouldn’t go any further, and we ask aloud, ‘What if it’s too dangerous? What if all the children disappearing and dying is because they went to the lake?’

‘Ha! Are you a chicken?’ Logan, one of the boys in this group of five, teases us.

‘Don’t be a chicken,’ Susie mimics.

‘Why don’t you go, Susie?’ we egg her on.

‘No, no,’ she shakes her head decisively. ‘You go first. We’ll follow afterwards.’

We look ahead over the fence, across the field and at the thicket, doused in white. The lake is beyond that, waiting for us Our parents, our teachers, and even other children from school, would reach out and warn us now. It’s too dangerous! So many people who have been to the lake have suffered tragedies What if it happens to us? We can be chicken, and we won’t disappear forever or die in a mystery.


‘Go on!’ Logan presses.

Our heart is a manic thumping, but we climb over the fence, our hands getting slimy and mucky as we grab the wood, and jump down onto the field. The grass is hard to push against, but we are joined soon by everyone else, and we push together towards the thicket, towards the lake.

The thicket doesn’t seem to have an obvious ingress. At least the snow hasn’t been able to make it to the ground, and we can see where we put our feet. We begin by planting our arms in front of us, shoving branches and thorns away from our faces. Pellets of snow fling onto us from all the motion we’re causing inside the thicket, and more than often one of our hands loses its force onto the branches, and those blades of wood retaliate as quickly as snakes lash out against danger. Despite these cuts and bruises, we submit to the trouble and continue on through, until the thicket is behind, and the frozen lake before us.

We put the bag of ice skates on the ground, and everyone picks out their own pair. They’re all old, these boots, because they belonged to people in our families over generations. It must have been a couple of decades at least since any of them have been used on the lake, and our parents had stashed them away deep into cupboards, thinking we wouldn’t be able to find them.

‘Parents can be so stupid,’ Logan laughs.

With each of us now wearing ice skates, we slowly and carefully walk onto the dense ice.

‘It’s so slippery!’ Susie cries out. She’s kicking her legs out frantically, miles away from finding her balance

Two other girls, Cas and Morgan, try to help her, but everyone is grappling with the


search for balance. Logan has fallen backwards about ten times by now. We haven’t done much better.

‘This is so stupid!’ we hear Logan yell as he falls yet again.

‘Get up then you goose!’

It’s fun to tease him. We ready ourselves for a laugh as we turn to look at his failure. But he’s not there. We look in another direction. Not there, either.

‘Logan?’ we call out.

But no answer.

‘Where did he go?’ Morgan asks, her voice trembling.

‘He was just there a second ago,’ Cas says.

And now he’s vanished. Everywhere we look around the lake, there’s not a boy to be seen

‘Did he leave?’ we ask

Silence follows

‘Um, did he leave ?’

As our eyes shift back to where the three girls were huddled together, holding on to each other in a collective attempt to not fall over, there is empty space. Just the ice. No Susie, no Cas, no Morgan Just the smooth, silvery ice


They’re gone... All of them are gone.

We pull our face down. And there it is looking back at us, a shape and its qualities exactly like our own. We smile, and so it does too. We frown, and so it does too. Expressions exactly like our own. The lake has observed every detail of us and projected a perfect copy. It knows our face, and maybe even our whole body, as if it were its own. It maybe knows even what we -

A shadow. We catch a glimpse of it before it vanishes. Flitting across our reflected face. What is it? It’s marred us. There’s something not quite right now. We don’t look the same in the reflection. We need to fix it. We bend down and reach out with a hand to touch the ice, the face of ours inside the ice. But we freeze when we realise that our reflection isn’t moving. Not moving, and looking at us.









In the darkness was heat. The warmth called to Lisobel, an undeniable temptation that made her forget about the fading symphony she left behind

This was a comfort she had not known for a long time Even caught up among the balls with glittering lights, twirling dancers, and tinkling champagne flutes, she forgot her life once she had turned her back on them She left the ballroom, skipped down the dark hall, and danced into the room on her left.

Lisobel couldn’t see a thing. And yet there was no need for her sight with the temptation of warmth so readily enveloping her It felt as though she were being hugged by her mother again, the late duchess who had passed only weeks before Lisobel’s coming out in society The last three months had been absolute torture The bright lights and cheerful chatter had left her ill at ease, utterly miserable.

It was forgotten now.

She crossed the room with only the quiet swishing of her gown making any noise. She didn’t even hear her heartbeat, for it was a sound she had long since stopped noticing

Every step pulled her free of the chill Finding a heat so warm she felt a droplet of sweat drip down her nose, she smiled and reached out. It felt as though she might be consumed by the sun She wanted that more than anything The thought of summer was just enough to––


She gasped when she touched something frigid instead.

Recoiling, Lisobel stumbled back a step in confusion. The freezing sensation left her fingers so quickly she wondered if she had imagined it. This made no sense. She swallowed loudly. Something was here, she could feel that in her stomach. There would be no leaving until she understood where the warmth came from.


All the knots binding her insides suddenly loosened when she thought she heard her mother’s voice. Tears stung her eyes, hot and itchy. She looked around, but the darkness remained. ‘Mother?’ She whispered.

Slowly spinning in a circle, Lisobel returned to facing whatever frozen object stood in her way. This was it. Whatever it was. She wasn’t certain and yet she knew she could not give up

After taking another deep breath, she tugged off her elbow-length silk gloves They were beautiful and soft and useless. She didn’t hear a sound when they dropped to the ground Instead, Lisobel gathered her courage to reach out once again to find whatever might be there before her, hot or cold.

It was freezing.

Lisobel sucked in a gasp as she grabbed hold with both hands to something flat. She felt the hardness before her dancing slippers, too The crushed velvet she wore over her feet did little to defend against the harsh chill. But now she knew exactly what this was. She was victorious before the mystery


This was a mirror.

Even as the cold bit at her skin with such ferocity she was confident it left marks on her bare hands, Lisobel didn’t let go. She ran her fingers over the hard metal. Feeling grooves and indentations, she could soon imagine just how it might look in the light of day. A beautiful mirror that was situated in this dark, still room.

Lisobel was alone. There was no one else in the room. She was confident that she would surely hear another soul if they so much as breathed. And yet, she realised as she forced herself to explore every inch of the mirror, she could sense that she was not alone.

When the cold tugged at her, trickling into her veins, Lisobel could still sense the warmth. She heard her mother’s voice in her head. Though her father reassured her day in and day out that her mother was gone for good, Lisobel had known it could not be true. She felt it every time she drank a cup of tea or brushed her hair with her mother’s old gilded brush

‘Lisobel,’ came her mother’s voice again

‘Mother,’ she whispered in relief

A tear spilled down her cheek She couldn’t help it Clinging to this mirror, she noticed the very moment her tear touched the glass. A spark of light flared so white and so light that she thought it was her imagination But then it rippled out Silver threads spilled over from where her tear had landed to spread across the entire mirror. The glow was soft but certain ‘Come to me ’

‘How?’ Lisobel begged ‘Tell me how ’


‘Through the winter comes the spring. Out of the cold comes the warmth. Step through the mirror, my darling,’ her mother continued, ‘and I shall be with you always.’

Nodding, Lisobel freed her grasp of the mirror’s edge. Hope soared through her in a way it had not in so long. The difficult mornings and evenings and everything in between could all go away with her mother there again.

Her hands shook as she reached out for the mirror with the last of the ripple scoring the glass. But it started all over again when her finger moved past it. Lisobel paused. She could barely see. And yet, there was part of her hand slipping through the mirror.

Another finger went through and then another. Soon, she had pushed through to put her entire hand and elbow onto the other side.

It was warmth. That familiar warmth enveloped her hand even as the skin next to the glass seemed to freeze But the temporary pain was worth it Eagerness soared through Lisobel. She could finally be warm again. She could finally be with her mother.

‘Lisobel? Where are you?’

She gasped, turning toward the door just as her father swept through. The two of them locked eyes He was a giant of a man, a respected lord who attended his estate and peers better than he ever had his wife or daughter. His dark eyes blazed when they landed on her ‘Quickly now, or all is lost,’ her mother said

‘Lisobel? What have you done?’ Her father’s voice overlapped, making Lisobel wonder if he could not hear his own wife. It was his decision to bury the duchess. His decision to move on as though she had never been there ‘Lisobel, come back at once!’


Shaking her head, Lisobel knew then she did not belong in this cold world. ‘Never.’

‘You don’t know where you are going. You don’t belong there!’

She stiffened. He knew about the glass. But what else did he know? Lisobel tried to read his face but with the light at his back, her father was only a dark shadow that threatened the only warmth she had known in months.

‘Lisobel!’ Her father shouted and lunged for her.

But even his long legs were not fast enough to catch Lisobel. She cried out as the cold pierced her soul. The moment passed before warmth bled through her. Before she opened her eyes, she heard a new and curious sound. To hear it better, she stopped breathing.

It was her heart It had begun to beat again





She had never seen a flower bloom. How could she upon the mountain top?

There had been a promise, once. A shattered memory from long ago of a lover who, upon walking down the snowy cliffs, claimed he would bring to her a flower untouched by ice.

‘It will bloom even on the most perilous of nights,’ he said, warm palms clasped around frost-bitten fingertips Eyes blackened by the night stared into his and, with a smile upon ruby lips, she nodded.

He would return, he had promised. He would find her a flower so that she could witness its bloom

He did not return

Years passed, or perhaps it was decades She did not count Her lover did not return, but other men did. They did not bring her flowers.

Instead, they sought help. They begged for warmth, plying her with false flattery while voicing their desire:

‘I wish to be saved!’


She supposed she would grant it.

Warmth came first.

It came when the first droplets of blood spilled from their neck, blooms of red pattering against heavenly snow.

Salvation followed suit; their mortality culled by her fingertips.

She had learned her lesson long ago: do not trust those that climb the mountain. They will only lead you to hurt.

Her next visitor was a boy.

She had never seen a boy.

‘I cannot save you,’she said.

‘I know,’ he replied, and held out his hand. ‘Can we walk?’

She took his hand, small and cold against her own. His mortal warmth had gone.

‘Why are you here?’ she asked. Children did not come up the mountain for fear of becoming lost For fear of being stolen by a woman ruled by snow

Yet this child held no fear in his eyes, now blackened by the midnight sky, his skin almost translucent. His lips, however, were red, a remnant of life upon his face.

He had already been taken by the snow.


Together they walked in silence, his hand firm in his. Leading her down the mountain's slope, the boy took her to a cavern's mouth.

‘Is this where you lay?’ she asked the boy. He shook his head.

‘There is something you must see,’ he told her, pulling her into the cavern behind him.

They passed frozen stalagmites and chilled bodies of wanderers from long ago. Silence echoed in the cavern’s darkness, their footsteps a whisper upon the solid ground. Then the boy stopped, and they came to the grotto’s end.

Against the wall lay a man, his skin now blue. Frost glittered against his cheeks, his beard covered in fragments of ice. It was another human, lost to the perils of the snow instead of her own hands; he was not unlike the men she had seen before.

Yet when she looked down at where the boy’s eyes seemed to stray, she saw the man’s hands.

Between frost-bitten palms he held a rose, and despite the frost, it bloomed.





I still recognize your last words, often I hum them

All it takes to create a ripple in this sallow pond, are words so frail You’re a love long lost or an unexpected guest on this breezeless night for a frozen soul forever between worlds, if that's what I so choose

And in this half-light you will stay beside me forever

A memory

An echo

I do not need any flesh to see I know your shape in darkness





The mirror encompassed every aspect of Henry’s life, to the point where Henry moved his bedroom downstairs into the living room instead of simply moving the mirror up to his quarters on the first floor.

But the mirror must never be touched. Never be handled. Not even looked at by another human being that wasn’t Henry Not even his parents were allowed to glance at the superiority of the glass.

His eyes sparkled when he spotted it at an auction for charity at his school. He couldn’t remember what the charity was even for, just that he needed that mirror Something instead of him pulled him closer, the way the frame was tattooed on his brain, the way the glass penetrated into his heart, leaving it to bleed into him

‘Why on earth did he buy that thing?’ his younger sister, Sophie, muttered to a few other classmates as Henry circled around the mirror that now legally belonged to him. Others turned their noses up at the worn frame The wood was chipped and peeling, the glass was warped and had a weird sheen across the surface that resembled the rainbow effect of the inside of a bubble But it didn’t bother him In his eyes, it was perfect Nothing could ruin his treasure, not even the sound of one thousand pounds leaving his parents’ bank account after successfully bidding on it

He blanked out the cries of despair from his parents when they found out the price tag that Henry had put on it.


‘How much?!’ Henry’s mother had cried.

‘It was for charity. I wanted it. I need it.’

The mirror arrived at his home the next day with a white sheet over it, shielding it from the outside world. Henry ripped it off and immediately fell down in front of it, his eyes glazed over with pure infatuation for the frame.

Over the next week, Henry’s parents struggled to move him from the mirror, as if it had hypnotised him into doing anything other than stare wistfully into his own reflection. He screamed and cried, threw fits whenever they tried to remove him from the room where the mirror was. But Henry always found his way back to it.

They noticed his skin begin to wither away, it became saggy and pale, unlike any other sixteen year old boy that they knew. He remained cross-legged in front of the mirror, his chin resting upon his hands and his hair unkempt Unfinished plates of food sat around him. Full glasses of water began to evaporate and accumulate bubbles.

‘You’re stunning,’ Henry whispered to the mirror one night, his finger tracing down the glass that encompassed his reflection He pulled his hand away, but his reflection stayed still. He blinked his red and crusty eyes. A pause. Henry shook his head, unable to comprehend the sight in front of him He scrunched his eyes closed and opened them, and what he saw sent a jolt up his spine and through his heart.

His reflection sat grinning back at him, with its smile stretching up the entirety of its cheeks

‘What what is this?’ Henry quivered, shuffling backwards across the hardwood floor

‘Who, me?’ replied the reflection


Henry squeaked and gawked panicked around the deserted and dark living room.

‘I’m talking to you...Henry Jones.’

Henry gasped, sucking in his breath. ‘This can’t be real. You’re not real. You’re my reflection.’

The reflection chuckled. ‘I was, until you spent all your days and nights sitting in front of me, entranced by my outer-shell’s beauty.’ It gestured to the frame of the mirror.

‘What are you?’

‘I’m you, but better. No younger sister that is favoured by the parents. No school. Living in a perfect world. Do you want that Henry?’

All the memories of his parents laughing and loving his sister sprang to the front of his mind. How he sat back and watched as she got the biggest Christmas presents, how she was never scolded for misbehaving at school

‘Do you not have a sister?’ Henry asked

The reflection laughed and shook its head ‘Nope Everyone bows down to me in here ’

Henry raised his eyebrows and licked his dry lips ‘Really?’

It nodded, its eyes wide

‘And you said no school?’

It nodded again ‘Step through if you want to take a peak ’


Henry chewed down on his dry lips and glanced towards the living room door through the darkness. A peak wouldn’t be too bad, would it?

‘I can just step in?’

‘Yes. It’s that easy.’

With his head twisting from side to side, examining the entrances to the room and making sure no one was watching, Henry pressed his hand against the glass of the mirror and felt the coolness encompass his body. Everything moved like it was inside a bubble, the world slowed down and the sounds of his previous life filtered into the distance, like residue on a window.

He opened his eyes and what he faced on the other side of the mirror wasn’t a perfect world, nor was it a world he knew he belonged. The empty darkness surrounded his soul, collapsing in on him. Unable to move or scream from the abyss of night, Henry turned back to the glass mirror he had just stepped through and gasped at the reflection on the other side. On Henry’s side.

‘You lied! You said it was better here. Let me out!’ Henry hammered on the glass of the mirror, his fists curled and his cheeks puffing up, filling up with angered blood. His reflection stood in Henry’s living room, a smirk rolling up one side of his face. The attempts at kicking the mirror down were feeble, either the mirror was too strong or Henry was too weak. He had allowed this being, this creature to him.

‘Why did you do this?’ Henry pleaded.

The reflection shuffled towards its old home, narrowing its eyes at Henry. ‘I spent years watching people outside of this glass have a great time, whilst I was stuck here. For centuries. Then you came along, and I knew I could penetrate your mind, make you think I was superior.’


‘You lied to me.’

‘You were a foolish and weak child. It didn’t take long to mould myself to fit your frame.’

‘Good luck trying to take my life. My mum will know it’s not me.’

The reflection sniggered and slipped on Henry’s coat that sat crumpled up on the floor. ‘We’ll see about that. Goodbye, Henry.’

‘No, wait!’ Henry screamed, his breath fogging up the window into his own world. The black nothingness was enough to drive anyone crazy. He cried and smacked his head against the glass, wishing for his mother to come and help him. Wishing for his sister to miss him and realise he was gone.

The reflection paused and grinned, before yanking down the mirror and slamming it onto the floor. The glass shattered and scattered across the ground, skidding over the wooden floorboards.

Henry watched from the other side as the window into his life vanished without a trace, and he was left in a dark hole, forever and eternity.





The first time Tara noticed it was in a friend’s house. It wasn’t much, just a shadow that wasn’t there when she turned toward it Before she left, she excused herself and stood in the tiny bathroom before the mirror again, staring into it. Giving up, she focused on herself, ran her fingers through her hair, and turned away

She saw it flash in her periphery This time, it was an image of herself that lingered, like the imprint of the sun on the back of your eyelids on a sunny day. That stopped her in her tracks, and she looked directly into the mirror again at everything around her and finally at herself. Seeing nothing amiss, she shook her head, fatigued by it all.

A knock at the door startled her so badly that she let out a small scream. Another knock. ‘Tara, are you ok? You’ve been in the bathroom for twenty minutes, and I’m getting a little worried. Is everything ok?’ Karen timidly asked.

‘Sure, I was just feeling nauseous. But I’m ok now.’

‘Ok, take your time. I’ve got some stomach medicine downstairs.’

‘Thanks.’ Tara splashed water on her face, and when she felt steady, she placed one hand on the doorknob, closed her eyes so she couldn’t see the mirror, and she exited the bathroom.

‘Here’s the medicine…’ Karen started.


‘I’m ok, in fact I feel fine now. Thank you, but I honestly don’t think I need it. I just need some rest. I slept poorly last night, so I should be going.’

‘Call me when you want to get together.’ Karen could see that Tara didn’t feel better but didn’t want to push.

Tara walked up and hugged her in an effort to put the girl at ease. Then she let herself out and left on foot. Leaving her bicycle propped against the house.

Definitely not ok, Karen thought as she watched her friend take off down the street.


Four days had passed since she saw the strange shadows in the mirror at her friend’s house, and things were only becoming worse. Each time she encountered a mirror now, she would see her afterimage becoming more solid And today, it was there before the mirror had the chance to collect her image and reflect it back to her. Her own image now indelibly frozen into the substance of the mirror

She brushed the idea of a haunting away and instead questioned her sanity At least it wasn’t other-worldly. She would simply avoid mirrors by removing them from her apartment

Having no mirrors to check her looks was freeing, she realised And her mood improved with the omission of the mirrors.

Until she was playing with Tigre one day. She had a stick with feathers dangling from the end of it Sweeping it back and forth for Tigre to grab at, she swept her hand in front of her face, and a mirror appeared before her.


Completely freaked out, she threw the cat toy down and spun around to put her back to the mirror.

Tigre stood and walked around to face her; she wasn’t finished playing. Tara absently reached out, stroked the feline’s fur, and watched the mirror slide into view. It had encircled her and thrust her hand back inside. She was trapped in a virtual mirror box.

Tigre hissed and backed away. Could the cat see the mirror, too? She tried to put her hand through the mirror but could not. And the strange afterimage of herself she’d seen in the other mirrors now was fully imagined. She sat looking at herself, and what she saw looking back terrified her.

She could see her real self now as the afterimage. She looked down at her hands, and they were becoming less cohesive, less her. She waved her hand again, trying to wipe the circular mirror away, but it only served to loosen more of the solid bits that made her real She was dissolving into the mirror itself She was no longer the girl She was merely the old image that ceased to exist when the new image left the surface of the mirror

Before the new girl left her, she tried to speak but could only watch her, a puppet now to the movements of the new Tara. Old Tara was now the frozen afterimage.

The new girl’s eyes grew dark, and she gave old Tara a flick of her wrist, erasing the mirror and the afterimage from reality





falling, gathering, drifting the more I touch them, the more they melt away. rivers of wasted moments, ruined notions; words I should have said when the temperature was low enough to let them stick.





Em hated sleepovers. She was only at this one to please her mother. Her mother was admittedly rarely pleased.

Still, some effort was required on Em’s part, if not to foster a loving relationship, then to maintain peace within the household. This was why she was now staring down the female members of her eighth-grade class as they played yet another round of Kiss, Marry, Kill.

As thrilling as Jessica Wilson’s desire to kiss their science teacher, marry Chris Evans, and kill the boy who sat behind her in maths class was, Em could not bring herself to feign interest. Her energy was better used in the continuous, straining effort to avoid rolling her eyes everytime her peers descended into another giggling paroxysm. These fits, Em noted, appeared to be exclusively pitched at the kind of frequencies which brought on deafness in the elderly.

There was, however, a certain level of participation at these events that was nonetheless inescapable, and so the eyes of their pyjama-clad circle inevitably turned to her. ‘What about you, Em?’ Jessica Wilson asked. Em did not sigh, though she would have liked to. ‘Who would you kiss, marry, and kill?’


‘Out of the same options as Anna!’ someone else interjected.

Em did not remember whatever tantalising options Anna had been presented with. She was sure her answer would not have changed if she did. ‘Maybe I would just kill all of them.’

Silence fell over the circle immediately, with all the precise steel of a guillotine blade. The other girls exchanged glances. Em shifted uncomfortably. She was not usually selfconscious, especially over something as banal as the approval of her peers, but the heavy stillness brought with it a painful awareness that she had just committed the kind of social faux pas that would preclude her from any further sleepover invitations.

Her mother would not be pleased.

Em had already resigned herself to making the inevitable phone call home for her mother to come pick her up when Jessica Wilson unexpectedly cut back in ‘Oooh!’ she imitated a ghostly wail, wiggling her fingers at the rest of the circle. She gave Em a playful shove, and it occurred to Em, suddenly, that all the other girls had, for the entirety of the night, been conspicuously avoiding even the possibility of touching her. Their hands flinched away from hers at the popcorn bowl They hesitated to give her their paper fortune tellers, instead ineffectually tossing them to her from across the room They arranged their blankets and pillows almost on top of each other, leaving her sleeping bag rumpled and alone amidst an island of empty floor.

And yet, there was Jessica’s right hand, still resting languidly atop Em’s shoulder. ‘Stop trying to spook us, Em ’ With Jessica’s permission, the entire room released the collective breath they’d been holding. The tension dissolved, and the other girls laughed. Em laughed as well, after Jessica gave her a pointed look Perhaps she was not entirely the idiot Em had taken her for.


‘Ooh! That gives me an idea!’ Jessica gazed at the sleepover-goers conspiratorially. ‘Let’s play Bloody Mary!’ The girls made noises of frightened agreement. They each raced to get up and be the first to scramble to the bathroom while Jessica stayed behind to ready the requisite candle.

One of them had taken it upon herself to turn off the lights, even in their rush to leave the room. Jessica fumbled with the lighter in the newly-formed darkness. Eventually, there was a soft click, and the lighter’s miniscule flame spluttered to life. It cast strange shadows over the discarded snacks and games strewn like entrails across the living room floor. It illuminated Em’s face as well, outlining it in a reddish glow where she had remained on the floor in perfect stillness. Em watched the vein in Jessica’s neck jump as she realised Em had not left the room along with the other girls. That she had, in fact, been there the entire time. Jessica huffed an uneasy laugh and pressed the lighter to the candle’s wick. ‘Ha. Good one.’

Em did not find it funny She did not laugh She only stared Through the black and red cast over the room, she stared at Jessica’s neck, still twitching and jumping. It betrayed a racing heartbeat, like that of a startled rabbit

Many of those heartbeats passed before the wick finally caught Jessica reached out immediately to cup the flame, as though she thought Em’s mere gaze might be enough to extinguish it The heat had to be uncomfortable on her palm Em wondered how long Jessica could hold it there before it would scar.

‘Well,’ Jessica asked. ‘Aren’t you coming?’

‘No. I’m not.’

‘Never took you for a scaredy-cat.’ Jessica’s eyes were already glancing toward the bathroom where the other girls were waiting


‘I’m not scared,’ Em replied. She pulled her gaze up from Jessica’s pulse point to meet her frightened eyes. She watched the sense of foreboding creep in, watched the desperate, irrational need to escape Em’s presence grow more and more insistent with every passing second until–

Jessica pulled her hand back with a startled hiss to observe the crimson blister that had blossomed in the centre of her palm. Her eyes flicked over to Em, then darted back down to her scorched right hand. The same hand that had, only a few moments before, been resting on Em’s left shoulder.

Jessica left the room without another word.

Without the candle, the room subsided once more into a darkness from which Em listened to the hushed tones beyond the bathroom door. The girls were trading horror stories. Each was the story of Bloody Mary Worth, who was a murder victim, no, she died in a car accident, no she had a miscarriage, no, she was any hundred other horrible things, and how she appeared and showed you how you would die, no, she clawed your eyes out, no, she ate your soul, no she did any hundred other horrible things

Maybe she was not any of those things, Em did not say Maybe she was all of them Maybe she was every woman–every girl–who’d died young and bloody and clawed her way back through the mirror to ask what had become of the world in her absence

The chanting started

‘Bloody Mary Bloody Mary ’

It was almost a song Almost a melody Em almost knew by heart

She closed her eyes


‘Bloody Mary.’

Em’s eyes opened. Behind the bathroom door, her classmates were screaming. Something thick and hot dribbled from Em’s nose. She wiped at it absently with one hand. It came away red.

Maybe she does not like what she sees.




Cover Artist - Winter Reflections

Erika Lynet Salvador, born and raised a Filipina, is a student at Amherst College. Her essays, mostly her musings on sociopolitical events, are featured in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Transit Dialog. Meanwhile, her visual art, usually using oil, watercolour, and ink, are featured or will soon be featured in the *82Review and the Quibble Lit. She also explores film and phone photography from time to time and is an avid reader of free-verse poetry. See her art at @bodeganierika or


The Weeping Woman

Jasmine De La Paz wrote her first story about a ghost haunting a playground at the age of seven. Although the content of her work has matured since then, at the heart of her stories is the Gothic, macabre, and bittersweetness of horror that she first fell in love with as a little girl. Many anthologies and magazines feature her stories, including Love Letters To Poe Vol. 3, Tenebrous Antiquities, HorrorScope Vol. 2, and more. She spends her spare time teaching yoga and spinning tales to her son, who, like his mother, loves the tradition of sharing spooky stories. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter/X @jazz delapaz.


I Am Her

Vicki Flippance has been fascinated by everything weird and wonderful for as long as she can remember By day she works as a researcher in London, but by night she puts her unearthly obsessions to good use by creating fun and spooky middle-grade stories. She loves the idea that hidden worlds could exist alongside our own (or even within it).

In her spare time Vicki can often be found in cemeteries, hoping that one day the residents will finally want to make friends… You can find her on Twitter/X @vickiflippance and Instagram @cunningwomanwrites



Mirror Maze

Stephanie lives with her family in West Chester, Pennsylvania, but is originally from Central, New Jersey, where she has a degree in Communications and a Publishing and Professional Writing Certificate from Rider University. She is also a member of SCBWI (Eastern PA Chapter) & is a 2024 SCBWI Virtual Conference Scholarship winner. Her first Children's Poetry book was released in affiliation with Experiments in Fiction, is a Book Excellence Award Finalist, and also reached Number One New Release in Children's Poetry on Amazon (ebook). She recently announced her next project, a Picture Book on school refusal to be published with Tielmour Press August 2024. She also has an MG Contemporary coming June 2024 to be published with Oh MG Press. You can find her on Twitter/X @Stepha henson, and on Instagram @stephahenson


The Mirror People

C. Dan Castro enjoys writing fantasy, mystery, and thriller stories. He has stories accepted or published by Bards and Sages Quarterly; Dragon Gems; Sherlock Holmes Magazine (UK); Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine (U.S.); Thrill Ride the Magazine; Black Cat Mystery Magazine; and more! When not composing stories, Dan tweets writing tips (@CDanCastro43), dreams of travelling again, or studies languages to imbue his stories with je ne sais quoi. Whatever that means. He lives in Connecticut, where he’s making a final polish on his first novel, a middle-grade fantasy. Rupashi and Feng, the heroines of “The Mirror People,” feature in that novel.


The Foxing

Hana Gammon is a young South African writer with an interest in exploring the Gothic, the uncanny, and the liminal through storytelling. Her short story, "The Undertaker's Apprentice", won the Africa region of the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and her work has been published in several other anthologies. She is currently studying English Honours at the University of Stellenbosch. You can find her on Twitter/X @HanaGammon




Magaly Garcia (she/her) lives in south-south Texas and is currently working on a YA hybrid series. She received an MFA in Writing & Publishing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has been published in Running Wild Anthology of Stories Volume 3 (2020), Fantasy Magazine Issue #63 (2021), Ink: Queer Sci Fi’s Eighth Annual Flash Fiction Contest (2021), Wicked Shadow Press’ Halloweenthology: Día de Muertos (2023), and other works. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok under the username @ofcatandcacti.


We Mustn’t Go Ice Skating

Nico is a second-year at Falmouth University, studying English and Creative Writing. He loves to explore different genres and mediums, and while his feelings about some change over time, he's always found an incredible span of emotion in writing children's literature While he tends to be inspired by Italian, or more broadly Mediterranean culture and settings as it's where he is from, for this short story he has kept to a more typical English Gothic setting. You can find him on Instagram @nico.horton.


Midnight Reflections

Erin Braithwaite is a writer and illustrator from South Africa living in Bristol. When she's not watching horror films or reading spooky novels, she's usually hard at work writing bits and pieces that she hopes will send a shiver down the reader's spine. At the moment she's working on a children's horror novel about the dark corner under the stairs. You can find her on Twitter/X @EJBraithwaite28, on Instagram @ej braithwaite, and on BlueSky



Pure Cold

Noll Griffin is a visual artist residing in Berlin, Germany. His art is inspired by weird nature, vintage advertising, and wistful nightmares. Noll’s art has been featured in The Winnow, Polemical Zine, Moss Puppy Magazine, and Honeyguide Literary Magazine among others. You can find him on Instagram at @nollprints or on Tumblr/Twitter/Bluesky under @nollthere


Out of the Cold

An avid dreamer, Kaylee Petersen haunts the local library and bookshops for new stories and refreshing ideas. She regularly googles suspicious things while enjoying hot cocoa in the PNW where cryptids and ghosts keep her good––or mostly just entertaining––company You can find her on Instagram @kaylee the writer



Residing in Lincolnshire, England, Kelly-Mae is a recent graduate of Creative Writing and Publishing, short story writer and a lover of fairy tales and urban legends Acting as a bartender by day, Kelly-Mae looks forward to escaping the reality of life by taking pen to paper and crafting a world that is unlike our own. You can find their previous works in Thanatos Review, midsummer magazine and Whimsical Press. If you have yet to stumble upon their spirit flitting about a forgotten hollow, then you can find them on Twitter/X @KellyMaeWrites, or their website



Graveyard Snow

Rye Brayley is a poet originally from Queens, NY, currently residing in Ybor City, Tampa. He has had poems and flash fiction published with Resurrection Magazine, Mad Swirl, and Alien Buddha Zine, and can be found on Twitter/X @ryebrayley.


Henry’s Mirror

Lucy is a YA horror writer from Cardiff who works in the television industry as a Publicity Assistant. She has been writing horror for many years, and has so far written four YA horror novels, with the hopes of one getting an agent and becoming traditionally published. In 2023 Lucy became a mentee in the WriteMentor Summer Mentoring Programme and is currently querying her YA horror novel; ‘Another Day in Paradise’. You can find her on Twitter/X @lucyrdaniel, and on Instagram and TikTok @lucywriteshorror.



Maryanne Chappell dwells on the outskirts of the Jersey Pine Barrens, a space between reality and formidable horror. Her husband and four cats keep her from straying too far into the pines. She writes Magical Realism, Speculative Fiction, and Satirical Horror and occasionally wanders the path of dark horror when the spirit arises. She has been recently published in the Freedom Fiction Journal and will soon be published in The Dark Horse Magazine and The Horror Zine. You can find her on Facebook as Maryanne Pacheco Chappell.



Spirits Like Snowflakes

Marisca Pichette assembles charms from playing cards and bones Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Nightmare Magazine, and The Deadlands, among others. Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated poetry collection, Rivers in Your Skin, Sirens in Your Hair, is out now from Android Press. Find her on Twitter as @MariscaPichette and Instagram as @marisca write.


Any Hundred Horrible Things

Devin Reeves (she/her) is a product of every horror movie she’s ever seen and every bad pun she’s ever heard. She lives in Columbus Ohio, writing fiction and poetry and doing her best to soak in the magic and gore of everyday existence. Her work has been featured in Broken Antler and Deal Jam Magazine Find her on Twitter @devinreeves02 and Instagram @devin.reeve.s.

THANK YOU w w w . h a u n t e d w o r d s p r e s s . c o m
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