All Done With Mirrors: a short story by: GF Willmetts.

The sun broke through my curtains waking me with an accompaniment of the bird chorus outside. Realising I was late, I rushed to the bathroom. If I had to choose between breakfast and scrubbing my teeth, then I would choose my teeth. Hell, I would put that above shaving when I was old enough to do it. I can always eat later.

I squeezed toothpaste onto the brush-head, turned on the power and watched myself in the mirror. Except, the mirror or rather someone in the mirror was looking back at me. My own fault. I should have been using a smaller mirror.

Before I could react, a hand reached out of the mirror, grabbed my throat and brought me up close. I was starring at two fierce eyes and didn’t I want to pee.

‘Don’t forget to wash behind your ears’, my father growled before dropping me. I dropped the mirror on the ground face down and looked for a smaller mirror. He had done the switch just so he could exert some authority again.

I really wish Dad had a better way of telling me Mom was visiting. Looks like I would have to eat first. I can’t meet her on an empty stomach. I needed something there in case I threw up later. Bile alone isn’t very nice. It would have to be done when I’m on the run. I’d see her when I got back. School first.

I could have reached back and told my Dad I knew but, he is, after all, my father and had to show due respect or he’d give me a whack the next time I used a big enough mirror.

You would think keeping mirrors small would be a lesson well learnt by now. The days of full-length mirrors certainly, except for travelling. But then, if you wanted to get anywhere quickly, you needed to have something to step through so they didn’t go out of fashion. When you didn’t then you kept it facing the wall to stop people walking through. Some of them even had locking mechanisms to ensure they stayed that way. You quickly learn not to walk through a mirror into a darkened room. Who wants to be sliced and diced if there was something other than wallpaper?

A lot of people took mirror venting as a nuisance on their lives. Others, like me, found it handy. Taking a portable prism mirror with you means you never get hungry. Too many people still had mirrors in their kitchens. Not big enough to walk through but you could look and poke your arm through. You just reach through and grab something to eat from anyone who’s left a wide enough mirror in their kitchens who wanted their food delivered quickly. Who cares who it belongs to. Everyone must be doing it. Not like we never have a stocked up larder or had food taken from it. Not always me I hasten to add. Some of us just took advantage of other people’s carelessness.

What makes my family different to other families is we can be a little more…shall we say, selective, in where we put our hands or even walk through. As long as there’s a mirror at the other end in a straight line, we can see and reach through. You would think people would obey the order not to have big mirrors to stop people like me. A mirror jump to another part of the city saves transport fares. They have to leave the mirror exposed to get home. A lot of people choose not to use the mirrors in the street. Oddly, when crime is too easy for everyone, big crime backs off. At least until they find an angle they can exploit.

Easy pickings and, better for us, we can get away with it. Who’s going to admit that they left an exposed mirror in their house? It’s easy theft. No insurance firm would pay out. Since when do people obey what governments tell them to do when it used to be so innocent? You can’t make it law because its so hard to enforce. Since when were mirrors dangerous until people’s hands reached through them and just grabbed things like…well, like people like me.

A lot of people applied the old theory that things like that wouldn’t happen to them. It was other people’s problems, not theirs. ‘Course, insurance companies took it off their protection. No one could predict when someone like me which reach in and take something. Property could be tracked but food is untraceable. I grabbed a couple fruit bars and devoured them as I went along. Too many people went from mirror to mirror without thinking of walking in the gaps between. No one to watch me.

Also, a lot of people either ignored it or became voyeurs and just looked through to see what was happening in someone else’s homes. Yeah, I know. They should have more sense but its amazing how quickly people become complacent and think it will never happen to them. More interesting than soap operas but just plain nosy. Some people even made money by letting people watch. Something like that old-fashioned computer net system. Offered money to turn the mirror around. The porn trade did well out of it so I hear, although with a grid there to stop people walking into it and things get out of hand so to speak.

The logic was pretty straight forward. Most of the mirrors were in straight lines and you walked through to the next one. With a prism mirror, you could jump into other lines making it easy for people like me to do petty crimes. If anything, I’m surprised more people don’t do it. A lot of the time, it was teens wanting to avoid their parents looking in and seeing what they were doing. Hence all the small mirrors or none at all. It wasn’t hard maths but, like a lot of things, most people generally put their heads in the sand when it comes to science and maths. Privacy was only a closed mirror and people just got careless.

Now, take that house over there. Still surrounded by a barbed fence. I knew for a fact that they had mirrors inside. Rotating my prism mirror I found the kitchen and dipped my hand through. It was close enough to the larder for me to open the door and grab a pack of biscuits. I slipped them into my other hand and reached back into close the door. Hey, I’m not stupid y’know. Don’t make it look like theft and they’ll think someone else in their household had eaten it.

All Done With Mirrors: a short story by: GF Willmetts.

I dropped the packet into my bag and checking the next house, where I knew they left a mirror near their fridge, dipped in and got a pint of milk. No sense getting thirsty. I’d sort out lunch later as I reached the next window portal and stepped through to go to school. No excuses to avoid going. Something like a bus, whatever that was, doesn’t exist anymore. I folded my prism mirror and hid it in my locker. I’m not totally stupid. No mirrors in the school meant no one could avoid lessons. Outside of lessons. Well, that was different.

Between lessons, I got my prism mirror and popped off for a bit of light larceny. I mean, I’ve got the perfect alibi. I’m at school. I even had the perfect place to hide my haul. I already picked a few targets. I never took anything too big. Just things most likely to be missed. No one keeps track of all their shit.

I poked my head through, looked around and then wiggled through my prism mirror, checking behind to make sure it still stood. No sense doing this and my mirror falls over and I can’t get back. That’s the way other petty thieves get caught. Well, unless they can find another mirror in the house and get out that way. That only happened the once. Believe me, you don’t make that mistake more than once.

This was a new place on my house rota. New folk to the area. Their place was still a bit of a mess. Happens when people push the majority of their stuff through a large mirror vent. No sense looking through the boxes. People won’t consciously be aware of something being shifted but some do remember the look. I wondered upstairs and checked the bedrooms. A jewellery box. Something like that. Sometimes the mirror gods are nice to me. Nothing from the top as those were things that were used the most. I used a pen to move them aside and found a blue gem pendant at the bottom, That will do nicely. I pocketed that. A ring, too. I put the top stuff back. Didn’t look too disturbed. Not much. People moving in or out made good targets. Always losing something or other and just thinking they were misplaced.

Not all the homes I visited were that way. Opportunity depended on who was careless with their mirrors or having them big enough for someone like me to wriggle through. Just as I wriggled back through to my prism mirror and sat down for a snack. Those biscuits and milk I grabbed earlier.

I moved my prism mirror over the floor, directly to the hidden basement room. I could hardly leave the gear at home. Dad was too much of a snoop.

I reached through my prism mirror and then found myself being pulled through as well. A policus uniform. Starring down at me was someone I recognised.

‘Aw Mum!’

Didn’t I say my Mum was a policus?



© GF Willmetts 2023

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