by Urmilla Kannuswamy
He saved the last piece of code, typed in a command to run the program and hit Enter. The screen beside him came to life. The screen was divided into five rectangles to show the weather forecast, headlines from the breaking news, controls for the smart home, his favorite playlist and a voice assistant. He had built the voice assistant from scratch and he hadn’t used it for any previous project. Adding it to the mirror seemed to be a perfect idea to control lighting, climate, security and entertainment systems.
He had moved into the house a month ago and as soon as he had found a mirror lying in the walk-in closet, an idea had popped into his brain.
The smart mirror was his latest hobby.
He hung the mirror in the living room and connected it to a power outlet. As it turned on, he looked at his own reflection and smiled. He was proud of himself and that he had built it in record time. Four of the components worked as it should.
Deciding to check the fifth component, he used the wake word he had programmed for the voice assistant and said, “Hey Mirror!”
“Hello Tom!” a male voice greeted him.
His eye brows narrowed. The male voice, instead of the generic female voice he had used, made him double check his code to see if there was a mistake.
A pair of eyes watched his every move from the other side of the mirror.
Tom heard someone knock and he looked around. When he didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, he turned his attention back to the laptop screen.
After a minute of silence, another pair of loud knocks followed.
“Hello Tom!” the same male voice said. “I am in here.”
Tom turned around to look at the mirror in shock. “Who are you?”
“This house belongs to me.”
An image formed on the mirror and for a few seconds, his own reflection disappeared.
Tom staggered back and in the process knocked down the laptop from the table.
“You shouldn’t have come here, Tom,” the mirror spoke. “This house is mine.”
Tom remembered what his real estate agent had told him about the house being haunted. He hadn’t been concerned and had smiled dismissing it as rumors spread by people in the neighborhood. As he stared at the dim image on the mirror, fear hit him and stole his breath. Without overthinking his decision, he turned around and ran to the door. He turned the knob and pulled the handle.
The door didn’t budge.
The mirror laughed. “In case you forgot, Tom, this is a smart home and I control everything.”
Tom made up his mind. All he had to do was turn off the smart mirror and the raspberry pi that powered it. It would remove the control the haunted house’s owner had over it.
The mirror and the soul it hosted realized Tom’s intentions.
When Tom was ten steps away from the power socket, the mirror shattered and the broken shards flew towards Tom and pierced him. A couple caught him on his chest, another one on his cheek and a larger fragment pierced the side of his neck.
He winced at the sudden pain and placed his palm on the injured spot on his neck. His fingers felt sticky and when he looked down, his shirt was drenched in blood letting him know that the broken piece had hit his carotid artery.
“You should have left this house alone, Tom,” the mirror told him.
Tom wondered how much time he had left as he looked at his own reflection in the mirror and at the blood pouring out of his neck. Before he could gather his thoughts, all the broken shards flew back to the mirror and rebuilt itself without any indication of a crack or a break.
Tom saw the image of a man, who smirked at him for a second, before he saw his own reflection. He continued watching as his own reflection vanished until there was nothing but the five sections he had programmed the smart mirror to show.
Tom had ignored the beauty of the old architecture and had made a lot of changes that the owner of the house abhorred. The owner, an old soul hidden in the mirror, relished simpler times and appreciated the beauty of his home that had remained untouched by any technological advancements for decades.
His anger faded as the victim’s blood flowed from his body and dripped through the wooden floorboards quenching his thirst. He watched until Tom breathed his last and then turned off all the lights in the house. The old soul let out a happy sigh as the house plunged into darkness again.
About the author
Urmilla Kannuswamy is a software engineer who writes flash fiction and poems on online platforms like Medium and Reddit. Her hobbies are reading, cycling and painting, when inspiration strikes. Her flash fiction has been published in Written Tales Magazine Volume 2: Night Terrors.