Arlene and Jonas Frey gave up their search for Alexa after a week, leaving it to the police in exasperation.
One day, in the late afternoon when Alexa’s mother and father had both just got home from work and were hungry for supper, they felt a strange compulsion to go upstairs to their bedroom and close the door behind them. They sat side by side on the bed and stared at their reflection in the dresser mirror.
They just sat there and didn’t move, their stomachs growling.
It felt as if some outside force was controlling them.
After several minutes of doing nothing else, Arlene finally felt free to open her mouth.
“What…are we doing in here?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Jonas said. “We should be…cooking dinner.”
“It’s like…something is holding us here,” she said.
Something is holding you here, a hoarse voice said.
Arlene and Jonas yelped and jerked at the disembodied voice.
“What was that?” he said in a trembling voice.
Me, the voice said, revealing the speaker in the mirror reflection. It was a spectral version of Alexa, pale with disheveled hair and a menacing frown.
“Oh, my God!” Arlene said. “The stress of her disappearance is making me see things!”
“Alexa?” Jonas said.
“You see her, too?” Arlene asked.
You both see me because I’m really here, the ghostly apparition groaned. She wore a tattered black dress, and had dark rings around her eyes, the irises of which glowed red. Her parents no longer saw themselves or their bedroom in the mirror reflection: the background of Alexa’s ghost was a void of infinite black.
“What happened to you, honey?” her father asked.
“Did you kill yourself?” her mother sobbed, tears forming in her eyes.
I’m not your honey, the spirit said, scowling malevolently at both of them. You never gave me the love and support I needed when I was being tormented at school. Now, you two are receiving your punishment.
“Our punishment?” he asked, shaking.
You are to remain in your room without supper.
“What is this nonsense?” he said, then finally with all his freedom of movement returned to him, he got up and walked over to the bedroom door. “You don’t get to decide if we can–
On touching the doorknob, he got an electric shock so powerful it threw him across the room. He hit his head on the wall, just under the windowsill, so hard that it knocked him unconscious.
“Jonas!” Arlene screamed, shooting up on her feet like a rocket.
He isn’t dead, Alexa’s ghost said. But he will be.
“Alexa, you little bitch! You stop this now!“
You’ll be dead, too…’Mother.’
“Stop this nonsense, right now! I’m your mother!”
How will you make me stop it? You were never a real mother to me. He was never a real father to me. If you had been, if you’d shown me some compassion, I’d be with you at home now, eating supper together. Instead, you both will do without food…’til you die!
Arlene went over to Jonas, seeing the blood pouring from the wound on his head. She got an old T-shirt from his dresser, one he rarely, if ever, wore anymore, and wrapped it around his head to control the bleeding.
Then she looked up at the window above him.
When she reached up to open it, the whole room transformed into a surreal structure without windows or doors. She screamed and jumped at the sudden change.
“I am seeing things,” she whispered to herself. “I’m going out of my mind.”
Instead of the bedroom being a cubic rectangular shape, it was now ovoid. The furniture had all disappeared. No longer was there the room’s original light blue paint and blue-and-white striped wallpaper with flower motifs; now it was white with swirling light brown stripes everywhere…and the curved stripes were slithering like snakes!
“I’m going mad,” she whispered in sobs. “Jonas!”
She looked down at him and shook him. Her stomach was growling more and more, as if her hunger was being sped up to feel more like a few days’ hunger rather than that of a few hours. Jonas wouldn’t wake up…but his flesh was beginning to look…tasty.
“No!” she said, slapping herself. “I can’t let myself think that way. That bitch-ghost wants me to.”
You will want to think that way, Alexa’s ghost hissed.
“You little bitch!” Arlene shouted. “I wish I’d never given birth to you. My pregnancy was an accident, you know. I wish Jonas and I had decided to abort you! You’re lucky we’re Catholic!”
That unmotherly attitude is why you must die, the spirit said. If you’d loved me, the way parents are supposed to, we could have all been friends.
Her stomach growled even louder. “Oh, God!” she said. “I’ve got to eat something. I’m dying of hunger.”
There’s meat right next to you…Mother, Alexa said.
“You shut up, Alexa!” Arlene shouted. “How could Jonas and I have produced such a little beast?”
By being beasts yourselves, of course, the ghost growled.
Arlene looked down at still-unconscious Jonas, whose skin was looking sweeter and sweeter. Then she looked at her ever-growling stomach, which looked as if it were caving in from emptiness and malnutrition.
“What the–” she began in sobs. “I thought starvation causes a swollen belly…or is that just in kids? What’s happening to me? What…black magic…are you bringing on me, you bitch?”
You’ve done it to yourselves, Alexa said. You two are self-destructing. Now, enjoy your meal.
Arlene’s stomach was caving in even more. Soon, a huge empty black hole appeared where her stomach should have been. The pain and discomfort from having no food was overwhelming.
And Jonas’s body was looking delicious.
A large carving knife and carving fork appeared by her feet.
She picked them up.
She looked at her unconscious, scrumptious husband.
Her eyes widened, she salivated, and licked her lips.
“I’ve…gotta…eat,” she hissed, her energy beginning to be drained away.
His eyes opened a few millimetres.
“No,” she said hoarsely. “My dinner…must stay still.”
She stabbed the carving knife into his throat.
His lifeless body slumped on the floor, a red river flowing from his neck. Not that she, in her hallucinating state, noticed–she removed the shirt off his back, then stuck the fork in his right arm to hold it still. Then she used the knife to cut off thin slices of his flesh.
She looked at the slices as if they were Thanksgiving turkey. She put a piece in her mouth.
She moaned with pleasure as she chewed on it.
Alexa’s ghost grinned as she saw her mother continue slicing off her father’s arm flesh, stripping it right down to the bone, and eating it all…both arms, eventually.
Now fully sated, Arlene came out of her hallucination and back to her senses. Eyes agape, she gasped. Shaking, she screamed over and over again at the sight of all that blood, the gash in his throat, and his bare bones.
“Oh, my God!” she sobbed. “Oh, my God…What have I done?!” Now that the bedroom had returned to its original inner decor, she looked through teary eyes at the dresser mirror and saw her gloating ghost of a daughter.
Did you enjoy your meal…Mother?
“You!” her mother hissed at the mirror image. “You…little…b–no, ‘bitch’ is not nearly a strong enough word. You’re a demon. You’ve been ruining my life…and your father’s…ever since your misbegotten life began!”
If you hadn’t thought of it as ‘misbegotten,’ this would not have happened to you, Alexa’s ghost said. Good mothers are supposed to love their children, not despise them.
“So, I was a bad mother, is that it, Alexa? Fine! This should make you very happy!”
The knife was still there. Arlene plunged it into her guts and fell to the floor beside Jonas.
Alexa just kept on grinning.