The Next Victim

I receive an unusual letter; I open it and the words are red as blood, "I believe that you are still living in fear from your wife’s death. Her death was caused by your unwise acts. This is your last chance. Follow what I say, or else what happened to her will happen to you next. Let's play a small game. The truth is with you at the moment you blink your eyes. To win the game, you need outstanding courage, extraordinary luck, and a little help. The name of the game is called ‘You in the Mirror’. At midnight, enter the bathroom on the first floor of the haunted house alone, lock the door and turn off the light, face the mirror, and light up a candle between you and the mirror. Then close your eyes, concentrate and slowly whisper your name. If you make it to twelve-thirty, you win. I will never come to you again.”

At midnight, the haunted house is dead silent. I enter the house with hesitation, holding a flashlight and a candle, and the door makes a creaking noise when I open it. Fear comes over me as I slowly walk through the corridor. The only sounds I hear are my own footsteps. Some doors on the side of the corridor are locked, others are open. I am afraid to look inside; I quickly walk past them. Suddenly, I stop walking. The corridor falls into silence. Even though there is only one pair of footsteps, I still feel that something is following me.

Without looking back, I start walking again. I can feel that thing is closer to me. I speed up my pace, but that thing is still coming closer and closer to me. When he’s about to catch up, I quickly open a door and enter a room.

I close the door, there are no more footsteps; the thing is outside! Helplessly, I look into the room and find out that I unexpectedly entered the bathroom. There is a smell of formalin in it. The confined dark environment again evokes my fear. The room does not appear any safer than the outside. "Eleven fifty-seven, three more minutes.” Waiting for death is more dreadful than death itself. As time drags on, my heart beats faster. When the hour hand on my watch reaches twelve, I turn off the flashlight and light up the candle.

The candle is placed between the mirror and myself. The swaying flame becomes the sole source of light in the darkness. I slowly lower my head, close my eyes, and start murmuring my name. Nothing strange happens in the first ten minutes. I keep repeating my name; a strange feeling comes to me. It seems like this name doesn’t belong to me anymore.

Things start to change after that. It might be that the windows are not fastened tightly, but the night wind blows into the house, like an invisible hand stroking through my face. The door of the toilet stalls is slightly shaking, making a squeaking sound. Drops of water on the roof fell to the ground along the water pipe, and there seemed to be bugs crawling in the sewer, rustling. In the silence, all the sounds were amplified.

About twenty minutes later, the temperature becomes lower, as if a few ice cubes were placed around the body, and I cannot help but shudder. Time goes on, the darkness is grinding. When there are only five minutes left, I feel that the flame is about to go out. There seems to be another person in the darkness who is also whispering my name. The whisper came with some sort of indescribable cold stiffness and attraction, coming from the depths of darkness.

I begin to tremble; my mind is unclear, and I am paralyzed. The whisper suddenly became low and frantic, like the sound sent out from a broken throat. The voice is queer, it is creepier than the most desperate screams and painful crying. It seems to have witnessed the most horrifying things in hell. I am devastated and scream with hysterical horror. The veins on my face stand out under my pale skin, like the withered wood that was destroyed by the frenzied storm. I fall into delirium; the illusion intertwines with reality.

The sounds gradually come to an end. It disappears, and everything returns to peace. The anxiety in my heart gradually recedes. The candle has already died out. My upper body is bent to seventy degrees, the tip of my nose nearly touching the mirror. The mirror is broken into pieces, from them I can faintly see a doll with a strange smile on its face. My eyes become glassy, then bright again after a blink, with the strange smile on the corners of my mouth which once belonged to the eerie doll.

Menglin Han is a junior in high school and has always been interested in reading novels. He likes reading fantasy and horror stories, and this is his first time writing a story. He would like to thank his school for providing him the opportunity to participate in this contest, and he can't wait to share his story with his fellow students.

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