By Scott Nicholson
Copyright ©2010 Scott Nicholson
Published by Haunted Computer Books at Smashwords
Jacob Wells smelled smoke seventeen seconds before hell opened its door.
The Appalachian night was just cool enough to require a quilt on top of the bedspread, and he’d sought Renee’s body heat beneath the sheet. One of his wife’s legs was tangled in his, the nail of her big toe digging into his ankle. The weight of her head pressed into that familiar space above his armpit and her hair spilled across his shoulder. Drowsy, he tried to remember where he was, then saw the red glaring numbers. 1:14.
The alarm was set for six a.m., an ugly hour that always came too soon. Jacob rarely slept before reaching the long side of midnight. Every night his sleep shrank, his dreams crammed into tighter and darker crevices, his thoughts spiraling like dirty water down a drain. He had failed, and the knowledge had dull teeth that ground him from the guts up.
Tonight, the dream had been of a mirror that he had somehow fallen into, as if it were a silvery, sunlight sea. He tried to drag himself out, because he couldn’t breathe. When he reached out of the mirror, though, his reflection was on the other side, pushing him back down. Desperate, he grabbed his reflection and pulled it into the mirror with him, and they wrestled in that bottomless, soundless void, joining into one writhing mass that sank and sank ever further from the light.