's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" A Reflection on the Nature of Mirrors "

Submitted by Max Peabody

I type this with quivering hands - not from fear, no, but from excitement, pure excitement! Proof at last of the existence of other universes!

Miraculously, the first one I found seems to be an exact duplicate of ours, complete with another me on the opposite end of the transdimensional communicator. On the one hand, this seems incredibly unlikely; of all the possible existences, I - we, rather - find one(s?) that is/are an exact duplicate of our own! On the other hand, one could argue it stands to reason, as we succeeded in opening up communications at exactly the same time and in exactly the same way.

My double, to be certain, seems as excited as I, and we have joined - more or less - as research partners. We intend to learn more about both differences and similarities between our universes, starting with dialogue and moving on to proper experimentation.


Observation and discussion has led the two of us to a bizarre, yet incontrovertible, conclusion: though our universes are identical in many respects, in others they appear to be almost inverted. Prominently, twentieth-century Russia and China in the "mirrored" world developed into explicitly capitalist superpowers, whereas many Western powers underwent Communist revolution (later undergoing pro-capitalist reforms). The manner in which this takes place is haphazard and bizarre, yet cannot be denied; presumably, there is an underlying structure which we have yet to puzzle out. It's hard to even say what the implications of this are. The two of us have been delving into both our histories to see if there was ever a time before our realities "joined" - with no results supporting that, as of yet.

One conclusion seems obvious - that we cannot hope to trust each other, suspecting our ideals might be at odds - but thankfully, we have discussed the matter, and determined that mutual cooperation is the only sensible path. Without each other's help, it would be nearly impossible to do further research, and neither of us wants that. Though slightly worried, I see little choice but to put my faith in my double.


It doesn't make sense.

Ninety percent of the same historical figures in each universe, with exactly inverted values. Yet the same geopolitical structure prevails, and in many ways, the same biases and class system. One would expect an inverted world to lead to, for example, a historically matriarchal society; yet this is not the case, and neither of us can come up with a satisfying reason why.

The timelines are all but identical. There are some divergences, of course - the influence of their (considerably less pacifistic) Gandhi bringing about a full-on revolutionary war, for instance, and our good Dr. Salk being more charitable than the one on the other side - yet they always rejoin before long. They eventually eradicated polio; we have an independent India; the fractures all heal in time, if that can be called healing, almost before they form.

We have hypothesized that natural (or semi-natural) events, to some extent, are a major force in keeping our universes matched - a suggestion supported by the freak storms in our timeline that halted the burning of Washington, D.C. and repelled Kublai Khan's invasion of Japan, which in his did not exist; Similar storms, however, evidently prevented a Southern victory during his universe's Civil War and played a crucial role in the Norman takeover of England. But mere weather cannot be the sole factor involved, and even if it were, the greater question remains unanswered:



Looking to other universes to answers, we instead happened upon a strange new discovery - all of them appear to be "pair-bonded" in a similar way to ours. In most cases, however, only one timeline thrives; on the other, all planets that "should" be inhabited are totally desolate.

It would seem that the "properly" paired universes are an outlier, something which baffles us both. This is, of course, only those that we can properly observe. There are many that appear to be "out of range," too alien for our instruments to interface with, or dead zones, likely because they have yet to develop the communication technology we now have.

I am curious how the development of interdimensional communications proceeded in those realities without a thriving pair - and my doppelganger has raised another salient question: if we can normally only take in what we can communicate with, why are we able to view these lifeless worlds? The mechanics of this pair-bonding are likely the greatest mystery we'll face for a while - but that only means it's all the more important to puzzle it out.

Decided to start recording information on observed realities, not counting our own. Current figures: eighteen able to support life, sixteen unable, at least three impossible to contact.


Breakthrough today: we have successfully transferred matter between worlds. The practical applications of this are likely minimal - seeing as our populations and resources are exact mirrors of each other, a mutually beneficial exchange would be challenging to devise, at best - but it is, nonetheless, a significant leap in our understanding.

Thus far, we have only succeeded in moving inorganic or dead matter between our realities; living organic samples have all died. We are recalibrating and testing as often as we can, both of us spurred on by the urge to remove what may be the last true barrier between our universes. Imagine, being able to truly visit a place so alien and yet so familiar!

We have concerns, as well - interdimensional warfare chief among them - and so plan to keep the device a secret for now. God willing, our worlds will never walk the terrible paths we worry about.


Continued analysis of our shared history only baffles my doppelganger and me even more. As far back as we go, and as specific as we get, we can find almost no material differences - except for the ethical codes involved.

Lately, we've taken to examining modern history and recent events in close detail - the findings not pleasant. People who are clearly murdered in one universe simply disappearing without a trace in the other. Gang warfare and border conflicts always brewing in the same space, yet never coming about from the same roots. And wherever a major conflict or a massacre isn't mirrored, plagues or disasters crop up, wiping the slate clean.

Next to nobody escaping the course set by the people in the mirror.

So many beliefs and actions inverted, yet the results are always the same. And we've come no closer to understanding it - indeed, natural disasters as corrective events are clearly not the only factor involved. Either some entity we cannot perceive, or some cosmic force, is pushing our universes together no matter how hard we struggle to tear ourselves apart, and it seems that there's little to nothing we can do to figure out how it works.

More positive note: have successfully gotten organic matter - mostly plant life, some insects - across the barrier. I was encouraged by this; other self seemed strangely ambivalent.

I'm starting to become concerned he's planning something, which he quickly realized. He reassured me, reminded me that neither of us has anything to gain from the death of the other. Intellectually, I know he's right, but I'm worried nonetheless. Maybe I'm becoming paranoid.


I fear that, as we become more aware of our situation, it is driving my double to despair. He recently spoke to me about his concerns that free will (or rather, self-determination of universes) cannot exist when our timelines influence each other this way.

I attempted to console him, arguing that all things considered, it could be worse. He offered a rebuttal that, effectively, his world was living out the consequences of our indiscretion, and quite possibly vice versa.

According to him, rampant climate change in his timeline progresses despite its inhabitants pursuing more ecologically-sound choices for industry and energy. There is debate in the government over whether to implement fossil fuels and the like once more, since their choices evidently have little to no effect on the state of the world.

"But," he growled, "it might very well work. We'd never know because your people continue to ravage your environment, and we'll suffer the consequences just as much for it!"

I continued to try and calm him down, but he went on, ranting about how many may have died in his world for decisions they did not truly make, how many may have died in mine for the actions of his people. Eventually, he was too mentally exhausted to continue contemplating the matter, but he was clearly shaken by the thought.

Ultimately, we decided to postpone research for three days, for both of us to get some rest.

Most recent figures on observed universes: 27 support life, 24 do not, 7 or more cannot be contacted.


No sign of my double; presumably he is still coming to terms with the situation at hand. I don't begrudge him this; while I find it easier to take in stride, I can't deny that such concepts have brought about considerable existential anxiety for me, too, and the lack of his support only makes it harder to wrap my head around the reason some things are inverted between our realities while others remain the same.

For now, I will work on contacting the other universes we have observed, to see if I can learn anything about how other pairs work, or at least to confirm that our timelines are the only ones so closely tied.


Have contacted new universe after one week of calibrating and re-calibrating. Owner of device named Bolstad; friendly at first, happily shared history with me. Confirmed that his universe is considerably different from either of ours.

Asked him about pair-bonding of realities - why some mirrored, others not. He was evasive - told me he "didn't want me getting ideas." Said it was "better not to find out."

Suspicious, particularly given his pair-bonded universe is lifeless. He might have good reasons, but seems unlikely. Have cut off contact.

Current figures: 33, 30, 11+. Have barely scratched the surface on actually opening up communications.


Still no word from my double, and it's been nearly two weeks. I'm beginning to grow anxious. I hope he's alright.

I hope I'll be alright.

Have continued to contact other universes in the meantime. Some interesting information, but nothing satisfactory on pair-bonding of universes - everyone either goes silent or explains that they have no way of knowing when or why the split happened.

Nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something I'm missing, something big.

Haven't been able to sleep for the past couple of days. Nearing the point where, hopefully, I'll be too tired to stay conscious.


I fade in and out of consciousness based on the whims of my body. Unable to sleep when I want to rest, unable to stay awake when I want to work.

I think I've started hallucinating. I'll check on my double's lab and see that things have moved around - or at least, I'll convince myself they've moved around. The connection seems to be harder to maintain, as well, and I swear I see exposed wire and fallen scrap on his side. Every night, I grow more terrified of what he must be up to.

Sometimes, I wonder if we've managed to split off from one another, and how. I try to tell myself it's a temporary divergence, nothing to worry about. Mostly I just become convinced that what we're doing here is pointless, won't have any effect in the long term, so it won't matter either way. More reassuring than it should be.


For several days, I lost contact with his reality entirely.

I did my best to ignore it. Maybe he was planning something, maybe not. Nothing much for me to do about it, I told myself. I stuck to the research I could still manage, the conversations I could still have.

And then the connection to the reflected universe reopened. Clear as it ever was, if not clearer.

Yet still no sign of my double. Just an empty lab.

CF: 45, 40, 16+.


It's all clear now.

It came to me while I was lying in bed, desperately hoping (as I have for too long) to fall asleep in my room and not the lab. The pieces were all there, and I was a fool for not putting them together.

My doppelganger's disappearance, occurring not long after his despair on the subject of self-determination. The paired universes where one thrives and the other is desolate. Bolstad's evasiveness when I spoke with him, his fear of "giving me ideas," and the similar responses the others gave.

The fully mirrored universes are not a distinct class. If I am correct, all pairs begin as mirrors, until... someone separates them. Forcibly distinguishes them from one another.

Someone like my double. For a moment, I tried to convince myself that he'd never dream of doing such a thing, but then I realized - if I wouldn't, he likely would. And if he hadn't been willing to do it, I would have, just as soon as I came to the conclusion he did.

The nature of mirrors, I suppose.

I analyzed the portal, and my suspicions were confirmed. Fifty-eight kilograms of organic material crossed from his world to mine not long ago - shortly afterwards, 440 kilograms of inorganic material, broken up into several trips.

440 kilograms of parts, to build... whatever it is that destroyed so many worlds before. I don't know where he is, or how much time is left before he achieves his goal. I doubt I have any chance of stopping him. I don't know if it would even be right to do so.

It's only a matter of time.