I wrote my first horror story before I read any. When I was about 10 or 11, my English teacher gave us a lesson on M R James. He told us the plot of “Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come To You”, and followed this with a reading of his own Jamesian tale. Then we all had to write our own ghost story. Here’s mine:
He never really knew why he bought the mirror. Perhaps it was the interesting design round the edge. It was of human faces, but one was missing, probably that’s why he had bought it cheaply. The man who sold it, a very strange man, was in a hurry to sell it, he even offered it to him for a ridiculous price, five pounds! and it had a gold-plated frame.
The man was very nervous, and he would never show his face and looked at the ground all the time.
Anyway he had bought it now and he would keep it. It was hung in the sitting room, next to the old grandfather clock, and it would stay there.
Then the clock struck eleven. It was time he was going to bed, but he decided to stay down for a while longer, only for fifteen minutes…
He was woken by the clock at quarter to twelve. But something was wrong. The clock only struck once. There was a grinding inside and it stopped.
He got up and examined the clock. Inside the pendulum was blocked by something. He took it out. It was his daughter’s doll. But it’s face had been torn up by the pendulum.
He sat down and put the doll to one side. Then he wondered why the doll hadn’t blocked the pendulum before. He shrugged his shoulders and decided to go to bed now, then went over to the fireplace and put out the fire.
He decided to have one, last look at the mirror.
The faces looked different, he thought. Probably because he was tired, but there seemed to be a slight smile on each of their faces. He rubbed his eyes and looked at it again.
He was tired, so he turned to go. Then he heard a faint sound – a faint humming…or was it laughter? He turned to look again at the mirror — each face had an evil grin and their eyes were gleaming malevolently in the dim light.
His heart missed a beat — it must be his eyes playing him up. The mirror glass had steamed up, but he could still see his reflection. His face seemed to laugh back at him.
He wiped the mirror with his sleeve, but as he touched it he felt strange, his face felt as if it was grabbed by a hand and twisted, then he felt dizzy and fell back in his chair.
He woke up an hour later. The clock was still ticking and the room was dark. He lit one of the lamps and stared into the mirror. He screamed in horror and hid his face, then ran out of the room.
His wife came down calling for him. The room was empty. She went to turn the lamp off but then saw the mirror. Where there was a space there was now a carving of a face, and it looked strangely like her husband…
Which just goes to show that all horror fiction, at heart, has a moral. The moral here being, “Never buy a mirror from a guy who won’t show you his face!”
It’s pretty bad, of course, but I like the image of the doll with its face mangled by the clock pendulum. Not exactly original, but it always makes me wonder what was going on in my strange little 11-year old head when I wrote it.