written by: Alisa Guttadauro
Ashley Primrose looked at her reflection in the ornate, antique, full-length mirror that she’d won at a recent auction and grinned, “It pays to buy the best,” she said aloud, to no one in particular, as she admired her new designer dress and shoes. Satisfied that she’d be the best-looking woman at the Halloween Bash that her small town held every year, she pressed a button with her manicured hand, on her night table that summoned the latest assistant her secretary Felicia had hired. She’d hoped this one was better than the last clumsy girl Felicia brought in. Being the founder of a cosmetics company had its ups and downs, mostly ups; One of the downs being it was hard to find good help these days, as the clique went. She turned as she heard a light knock on the bedroom door. “Come in, please,” She shouted, wondering what took so long. “Sorry about that Ms. Primrose,” Said a younger looking version of Ashley herself, “Shelly was chasing a bird and wasn’t ready to come in yet.” Shelly was the cosmetic company owner’s French poodle. Ashley regarded the younger woman and a flicker of jealousy jolted through her, but then she smiled demurely and replied, “That’s okay…What IS your name?” “It’s Jenna, Jenna Rose.” “Jenna Rose, what?” Ashley questioned. “Just Jenna Rose, Rose is my last name,” Jenna smiled. The younger girl noticed the antique mirror and exclaimed, “Oh wow, that’s a gorgeous mirror, wherever did you get it?” ‘Wherever did you get it? Who talks like that?’ Ashley thought to herself. Then she cleared her throat, “Well if I told you, I’d have to kill you,” Ashley grinned. Jenna looked horrified as she studied the old piece. Ashley blew out air, “I’m kidding, but you can’t say anything to anyone.” Jenna nodded as she felt the ornate gold roses with her pale fingers. “I got it at an auction,” Said Ashley as she admired her long, blood red nails. Then she winked when Jenna looked at her and continued, “But I pretty much stole it to be honest.” Jenna’s eyes widened, “Did you really?” She whispered. “Oh don’t look so shocked,” Ashley replied, “I DID pay something for it, it’s just the way I went about it. Some snooty old bat was trying to outbid me so I had a rich friend call up and make a ridiculous offer. I knew the old crone would never go that high…” A glimmer of anger flashed in Jenna’s eyes, but was gone as quick as it came. For a moment, Ashley felt a chill run up her back. Then she cleared her throat, “Anyway, anything I tell you has to stay in the strictest confidence, or you’ll be out of here faster than you can say lip gloss, get it?” Jenna smiled and replied, “Got it.” Ashley handed the younger woman a piece of paper, “These are the things I need you to get done today. Anything with an asterisk next to it means it’s a repeater, meaning it gets done every day, like picking up the mail, etcetera. If you have any questions, ask Felicia, my secretary. You’ll be HERE part time and at the company part time. There is a full-time housekeeper here, Edna, and it’ll be best if you stayed out of her way. The chauffeur, Rudy, drive you where you need to go, and you are to talk to no one about my personal or company business. Do your job, and we’ll get along fine. Cross me, and I can make things very difficult for you.”
That night, Ashley didn’t sleep very well, the thunder was so loud, the whole house shook. Poor Shelly was shaking like a leaf. Ashley went to scoop up the frightened poodle who was hovered in a corner by the antique mirror, when suddenly, a blinding bolt of lightning flashed. Ashely almost dropped Shelly as she screamed, there in the mirror stood a woman, a badly disfigured, horrifying creature with long matted black hair. The apparition seemed to be pointing at her, but then disappeared a moment later. Then the power went out as Ashley felt for the light switch and she wailed even louder. There were frantic footsteps in the hall as Rudy yelled, “Miss Primrose, are you okay? I’ve got flashlights!” Ashley flung the door open and fell into Rudy’s arms, “It’s okay miss, the storm must have knocked the power out…” By now the whole house was up, including Jenna, whom Ashley noticed was wearing an almost see-through Lacey pink nightgown. It looked like something out of the Victorian era. With her long shiny black hair and porcelain skin, she almost looked like a doll. Noticing the way Ashley was staring at her, Jenna looked down at herself and gasped, “Oh, excuse me, when I heard the screaming I ran out of my room without my robe.” She dashed off, but not before glancing at Rudy and giving him a shy smile. Ashley felt a pang of jealousy. At thirty-five years old, she was still young, and looked fabulous, but she hated competition. Rudy was only three years older than her, and although nothing had ever happened between them, she’d always had a crush on him. Her father had hired him as a chauffeur/bodyguard when Ashley’s business took off and made him promise never to get involved with his daughter, unbeknownst to her. Ashley’s family was wealthy, but she had wanted to make her own money so she didn’t have to be dependent on a man, the way her mother was. “Miss Primrose are you okay?” Ashley looked up at Rudy. She hadn’t even realized he’d carried her to her bed. She coughed, “Yes, yes, I’m fine, thank you Rudy.” Shelly jumped up on the bed, but stood facing the mirror, growling.
The next morning, Edna brought Ashley her morning latte and plain toasted bagel. Ashley eyed the older woman and said, “Have you gained a little weight, Edna?” Edna bristled at the remark and said sarcastically, “Thank you for noticing, it’s not easy when you get to be my age, you’ll see.” Ashley giggled, “Well, you DO have to watch what you eat Edna dear, and stuffing croissants down your throat can’t be good for you.” Edna’s face reddened as she said through clenched teeth, “Will that be all?” Ashley waved her hand and then looked up as Edna yelped in surprise, she hadn’t seen Jenna standing behind her. “Oh, excuse me,” Said Jenna. Edna smiled and nodded. “Edna, you have the most lovely complexion, I can only hope my skin looks that good!” Chimed the younger woman. “Well, thank you miss,” brightened the housekeeper. After she left, Jenna narrowed her eyes, “You know that was awfully mean of you, speaking to her that way, I mean really, if mother or father ever heard me speak that way to an elder person, I would have received a good thrashing.” Ashley’s mouth hung open for a moment and then she laughed, “Are you rehearsing for a play or something? You sound like an old lady from the eighteen hundreds. You know, that’s what the auctioneer said the mirror was from, come to think of it.” Just then, Shelly came bounding into the room, took one look at Jenna, and started growling. Jenna’s face had reddened, but she said in a cool voice, “Ha, you caught me, I’m actually taking acting lessons. That’s why I needed this job, to help pay for them. Anyway, I’d still be nicer to Edna, everyone gets older you know, if they’re lucky.”
Ashley handed the younger woman the list for the day and noticed hair fingernails, “Hmm, you like jungle red too huh?” Jenna smiled, “Yes, the manicurist at the nail salon told be it was the latest thing, and would go perfect with my costume for the Halloween party.” Ashley stiffened as she changed out of her pajamas to gym clothes, “YOU’RE going to the party?” Jenna flipped her hair and said, “Of course, isn’t everyone? I thought it was a town tradition.” Ashley, felt that pang of jealousy again and said, “There’s a lot on the list today, you better get going.” Jenna nodded and said, “Okay, see you later.” After the gym, Ashley went straight to the office, and stormed up to Felicia’s desk, “Where did you get that girl Jenna from?” “From Walmart, where else?” Felicia chuckled, “Really Ashley, your consideration of people is truly lacking. She came highly recommended from Jasper Smith, I think she’s some relative of his, niece or something like that.” Ashley’s blood ran cold, “Jasper Smith, the auction house manager?” “Yeah, why? why do you look like you’ve seen a ghost?”
That night, the night of the town Halloween bash, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was a little windy, but not enough to be annoying, the colorful autumn leaves were spread on the ground as if guided there by a gifted painter. The temperature was a cool sixty degrees, but not too chilly. Depending on where you were in town, you could see the lit up old mansion of Mrs. Martha Ivers, who generously offered up her ballroom for the spooky gala. Mrs. Ivers was one of the oldest people in Skelton, New Jersey and had inherited the old Victorian mansion from her family before her. Some people say she’s involved in witchcraft, and some poo poo the idea and say she’s just a nice old lady who lives in an old house. Martha looked around her Victorian style living room, satisfied that everything looked ready for her guests. The beautiful crystal punch bowl was glimmering, and the hors d’oeuvres looked appetizing. She turned around as Jasper Smith came into the grand room, “Everything looks perfect Martha, just like it did all those years ago…” his voice cracked. “This was a nice town until that little hussy moved in!” she hissed. “She should have stayed with her rich folks in California, where she belongs. Imagine, turning our nice little town into a place of painted ladies, it’s a disgrace! And, to steal my grandmother’s priceless mirror out from under me. How did it ever get to the auction house anyhow?” Jasper frowned, “Remember the day the house painters were here? I think one of em’ was a friend of that Miss Primrose, and he got a hold of her and told her about it. I think he and those other fellas snuck it right out of the house, and brought it to the auction house so that young missy could get her claws on it.” Martha frowned, “It’s too bad you were off that day Jasper, or you would have spotted it.” “That’s the thing, I wasn’t. I received a phony call to go check out an old desk at some farm and the new auctioneer was there. They thought this out well, believe me. The gall…!” He banged his fist on the long dining table. Martha smiled evilly, “Not to worry Jasper, it’ll be back before we know it.” The doorbell rang then, and Martha said, “Ah, and so it begins.”
The guests started piling in, the blustery Mayor Fairbush, in a penguin costume, the town physician, Dr. Seth, who was boringly dressed as a doctor, quipped, “Just finished delivering a baby, you know!” Rita Jenkins, the bakery owner was dressed, to Edna’s chagrin, as a croissant. Then, making an obnoxiously loud entrance, Ashley Primrose waltzed in and the whole ballroom hushed. Mouths hung open and women smacked their husbands. Ashley was dressed as a sexy red devil in a sequined bustier and red leather leggings, complete with red Jimmy Choo stilettos. Her crimson lacquered lips was a lip gloss of her own design and her jungle red nails completed the saucy ensemble. Her long black hair was plaited in back, which she’d had done at the salon, of course. “Happy Halloween everyone!” She rang out. Martha Ivers clucked her tongue and Jasper Smith grunted in disgust, “Well, that costume fits her perfectly!” Martha glanced at him sideways, and he realized what he’d said and reddened, “You know what I mean!” Martha nodded and snorted. Then as people started whispering amongst themselves and the music began, another hush fell over the crowd as everyone turned to see Jenna Rose enter the room with Rudy on her arm. He was dressed as a fireman, and motioned for Jenna to walk ahead of him. Mouths hung open again as Jenna quietly sashayed into the ballroom. She too, much to the annoyance of Ashley, was dressed as a red devil except that her costume was a bit more elegant. She wore a long pinafore red lace dress, red Victorian heeled boots, and her shiny black tresses hung down her back, secured by a shiny red satin headband. It was more than Ashley could take, after all, she was always the bell of the ball, the most attractive woman in town, and she wasn’t going to let this little copycat show her up! She raced right over to the younger woman, pointed a talon like jungle red nail at her and shrilled, “You…You knew what my costume was going to be. You little witch, you’re fired, do you hear me F.I.R.E.D!!!” This time, Ashley saw the flash of rage in Jenna’s eyes and stepped back, but Jenna didn’t want to give herself away yet. She smiled sweetly, looked directly at Ashley and said, “Your loss.” And with that, she took Rudy’s hand and drew him onto the dance floor. She scanned the room and saw her Aunt Martha and Uncle Jasper who nodded at her approvingly. It was almost over, and all would be as it should, once again.
Ashley was so distraught at the turn of events at the party, between that little witch copying her costume, stealing Rudy away from her…not to mention she’d have to find another assistant, again…Ooh, she wanted to pull that little Vixen’s hair out! And where the heck was Edna? Probably keeping it off somewhere, which actually wasn’t a bad idea, she needed a drink herself. She had an important board meeting in the morning about a new product line and needed to get some rest. She poured herself a glass of sherry, with some ice, she hated anything warm, and padded back upstairs to the bedroom. She took a hot shower and changed into pajamas and then looked at herself in the antique mirror. “I still look good.” She said aloud, not sounding convinced. Then she screamed and jumped back as the apparition that had appeared the other night flashed in front of her. She started shaking and ran to the night table where she picked up the glass of sherry and chugged it down. She petted Shelly who was growling softly, and decided to put the radio on to the classical music station she loved. Music always calmed her down. Grabbing a folder from her nightstand, she began to review her notes for the meeting the next day and after a while her eyes grew heavy. Not realizing she had fallen asleep, Ashley woke abruptly to a loud whooshing sound. She groggily sat up wondering if the wind has picked up. Yawning, she glanced at the alarm clock. It was exactly midnight. “Happy Halloween,” she mumbled to herself. All of a sudden, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up and a shiver ran down her spine. She had an eerie feeling like she was being watched. The raw silence of the night suddenly erupted into noise as she watched in horror while the antique mirror started spinning around. A fierce wind blew open the expensive bamboo shutters she’d recently had put on the windows, and they were opening and closing at a rapid rate. The lights were flashing, and Shelly started howling and hid under the covers. Ashley put her hands over her ears and started screaming, “Stop! What do you want? Stop!” Suddenly, the mirror stopped at the foot of the bed, and everything went silent. Ashley was afraid to move and just sat frozen, staring at the mirror. The bedroom door creaked open and she yelped, hoping it was Rudy…but it wasn’t. It was Jenna, and she was grinning fiendishly, dressed in a white ruffly gown. Anger took over Ashley’s fear for the moment and she hissed, “You! What are you doing here? Oh, I get it, more acting? Magic tricks of some sort, you rigged this room, didn’t you, and you’re trying to steal Rudy away from me!” Jenna said calmly, “Oh you mean, my new husband, Rudy?” Ashley exploded, “Why you little…” She went to slap Jenna, but Jenna grabbed her arm with such a powerful strength that Ashley started whimpering, “I…I don’t understand, why are you doing this to me?” “There’s not enough time to tell you EVERYTHING,” Jenna glanced at the clock, so I’ll give you the condensed version. She tented her hands, “You see, this mirror here, that you stole, belongs to my great grandmother, my aunt inherited it, but, it’s been in our family for generations. And yes, it’s from the eighteen hundreds, probably even earlier than that. I come from a line of witches, so what you’ve called me is actually quite appropriate,” she smirked and continued, “To make a long story short, we have to keep our bloodline going. Now, we are not murderers, or unfair people, even though in the past people have been unfair to us, but, we abhor mean, nasty arrogant people who purposely hurt others for their own pleasure, such as yourself. So, every Halloween, at the stroke of midnight, inside of the hour, we extract a well deserving miserable wretch as yourself from this world, and plunge then into the mirror, after all, I have to stay young somehow. And now that I’ve married Rudy, we can have children and produce more heirs to the bloodline. Well, that’s the condensed version, you get the gist.” Jenna grinned. Ashley turned pale and screamed, “No, this can’t be true, it can’t be true, it’s a bad dream, a bad dream!” She put her hands over her ears as Jenna started chanting some strange words… and then all went black
Ashley woke up with a start, “Oh what a horrible nightmare!” She said aloud. She reached for her lamp and went to flip the switch, but it wasn’t her lamp, she felt around in the dark and finally had to open a window to let the light in. Her heart started racing, this wasn’t her room! She had an old-fashioned oil lamp on a small wooden nightstand. Where was her bed, and her lush comforter, and satin sheets? Was this a joke? The bedroom door opened and a woman in old-fashioned clothes came in. “Oh you’re finally up, eh? Well, get going the Missus will be wantin’ her breakfast.” Ashley just stared at the old woman. “I said get a move on, unless you don’t want supper tonight.” “Wh…Where am I?” Stammered Ashley. “What’d ya bump your head, miss? You’re at the Iver’s mansion, you’re a scullery maid…Now get dressed!” Ashley was too stunned to speak, and just nodded numbly as the woman left her alone. The only thing in the small bedroom that was familiar to her was the ornate antique mirror. She couldn’t help herself as she felt herself being drawn toward it. A clear scene came into view on the other side of the mirror, it was someone who looked like her, in her bed, with Rudy, snuggled in HER comforter. Suddenly the woman, Jenna, popped up as if just awoken and glided up to the mirror, she looked back at Ashley and grinned, “Happy Halloween as she tapped on the mirror with a jungle red polished nail..” Ashley put her shaking hands over her eyes as she screamed, “Nooooooo!”
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