After my stupefying encounter with the mirror, I encountered an overpowering sense of regret and self-loathing. It had not dawned on me that my brain – so used to plumbing matters of human knowledge with ease – could not wrap its feeble and diminutive power around what had just transpired. The incomprehensible whispers which had subsided to a dull timbre around the edges of my consciousness seemed to jeer at my frailty, and I could not summon the most basic form of defiance to quiet them.
I did, however, manage to procure a piece of the artifact for geological analysis. Perhaps it was a mistake to send it to colleagues at the university, but I desperately needed to ferret out some idea of what I had awoken down in the basement. Scientific discipline required that I refrain from any premature conclusions, but my superstitious ape’s brain already had conjured up the most hideous explanations for otherworldly sources of torment.
While waiting for word back on the artifact, I busied myself in my upstairs study with renewed fervor. I had cancelled lectures, classes, and everything else on my calendar to devote precious time with translations and plumbing this new well of information. My earlier trepidation became a dull ache somewhere beyond my immediate concern, and this devotion paid me in profane secrets and horrifying enlightenment.
It should not have been a surprise that it first manifested itself in my dreams. On the third day after my encounter, I woke in my basement, knife in hand, my flesh a newly carved jumble of occult diagrams and unintelligible writing. The wound in my free hand ached, and I saw I had opened it further with my sharpened blade. Perhaps a week or two before I could have summoned an understandable modicum of revulsion at what I had done. But the only thing I could feel was pure excitement at how it all looked in that damned mirror.
For what I had written should not have been of any significance to a rational person, but there I stood in complete understanding of what I had drawn. It was a map of a place which no cartographer could fathom, bearing an obscene geography of impossible shapes which no mathematician could describe. In the mirror, the shapes had distorted and twisted themselves until even the inadequacy of my intellect could grasp the basic fundamentals of what I beheld. I knew without words that it was a place where I wanted to go, where I could be a cockroach eating crumbs falling from the table of greater beings who held greater knowledge than I.
And I did not care.
My cellular phone buzzed, letting me know that I had received a text and an email from the geologists. The text was predictable; those so-called scientists grew excited at the morsel of new knowledge I had given them. I opened the email, which confirmed my more enlightened suspicions. The mirror was made out of a heavy element which had not been discovered until now. Its existence was a secular miracle, as such an atom should have decayed eons ago into lower elements. Already they shared puerile conjectures as to how it had to have been formed. Their only useful conclusion was that it could not have been of this world.
With a sense of unjustified elation I put my phone down and found a robe to cover my nakedness. I thought about washing the knife, but I had to giggle at such a mundane concern on the eve of enlightenment from the stars. Something had reached out to this pitiable planet, and I was going to be the one to answer the call.
Outside, I heard something hit the ground with a familiar thud. Through my basement window I saw that something had landed in my garden in between the sunflowers and corn. Out of curiosity I ascended the stairs and went out my back door to the vegetables. There, laying just as I had seen in the mirror a few weeks before, was a body lying perfectly still. This time, I could get close enough to see exactly who the person was, her small limbs posed in impossible angles for her to be conscious and silent at the same time. Blood cascaded in spurts out of an opened neck, and the head was twisted to look up at me.
It was my housekeeper’s daughter.
I looked up from where she must have fallen to my balcony, and there I saw my housekeeper standing stock still with a meat cleaver in her hand. Her uniform painted with her child’s blood, she stood there in mute terror at what she had wrought. “I…what have I done,” she gasped, her statement not so much a question as an effort at avoiding blame. The whispers in my mind jeered her weakness, and I could tell from the change in her countenance that she could hear them too.
We both looked into each other’s eyes, and in that recognition of mutual suffering we both acted as the cowards we were. Even as recent as a few days earlier, I would have acted in accordance with my humanity and phoned the authorities for help. Having lost that battle, I succumbed to the chorus of whispers and what they desired.
I buried my housekeeper’s crime in the garden.