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You know the concept of an angel and a devil on each shoulder? Cartoons used it a lot when I was a kid, so I guess the idea just got imprinted in my brain.

Anyway, in my room, I have a wall mirror to my immediate left and a window to my right. At night, the light in the room makes the window a sort of dusky, blurry mirror which is what made me first think of the cartoon cliché.

I have two copies of myself, one on each shoulder. Since the window-copy is shaded and murky, I decided that was the devil and the mirror was the angel. From time to time, and always in a joking manner, I’d ask them what they thought I should do before I’d make a decision of no real consequence.

One night, a friend called me up, telling me that he had too much to drink at a party and wanted me to go help him home. This guy was something of a pain and this sort of call was nothing new. It was late and I was tired, but I try to be a Good Samaritan, so I was hesitant to just abandon him to the subway at that ungodly hour. I glanced over my left shoulder to the mirror and raised an eyebrow as if to ask what to do. My reflection was unhelpfully mute.

I turned to my right and opened my mouth to ask the rhetorical when I noticed something strange. The reflection, sparse and vague as it was, seemed to have its lips frozen in a silent “No.” I moved about and it mimicked me perfectly but for that unchanging expression. I checked the mirror, but saw nothing strange in the faithful reflection.

I was reasonably intrigued and more than a little freaked out. Slowly, I told my friend that, no, I would not be able to make it and he should try someone else. He hung up and I turned back to the window. The abnormality was gone.

The next day, a Saturday, I slept in and due to a series of strange dreams and the shorter daylight hours of winter, I didn’t wake up until it was dark out. After a groggy “morning” ritual, I took my usual seat and thought of my friend. I gave him a call, to make sure he made it back alright, feeling bad about not going to help him due to some slight visual hallucination. The phone rang for nearly a minute and as I was about to hang up, a stranger’s voice answered it.

The stranger identified himself as a police officer and asked me why I was calling. When I explained, he told me that, regretfully, my friend had not made it home. He’d been savaged by some creature, possibly a rabid dog of some huge size. He said they were working with animal control to track down the beast but, he confided, he’d never seen wounds like those before.

Nervously, I thanked him and hung up. I looked at the window reflection for a long time, trying to see…hell, I don’t know. Something. Eventually, I gave up, but something in my peripheral caught my attention and I turned to the mirror.

For a split second I saw myself, torn apart, gory and drenched in blood, just as the officer had described my late friend. Written on the mirror’s surface, above my corpse were the words: “the one time you take HIS advice…” My corpse seemed to be grinning at me.

I don’t use mirrors anymore.