by Forrest Landry
The twin images were different, for all their sameness. And upside-down. He looked closer and saw they were coming from two pin-pricks in the wallpaper.
Intrigued, he stooped and stared, finally closing one eye and squinting. Through one tiny hole he saw into the next room. Two antique kerosene lamps burned on a sideboard.
Their light illuminated a severed head, eyes closed, mouth a painful rictus. A dark glint, probably blood, cascaded down the front of the piece of furniture.
There was nothing else to see, through the minute hole.
Then, because he was so close, he heard the sound of labored breathing and something dragging.
My God, he thought, what if someone’s hurt and trying to get help?
Then his instinct for self-preservation asserted itself. He disregarded the urge.
A woman in a Victorian-style dress with a lace bodice came into view as she passed one of the lamps. The white garment was bright red all down the front. Her hands and arms looked as though she’d plunged them into a vat of blood.
Suddenly she turned and stared directly at him, as though she somehow knew he was watching her. Startled, he pulled back sharply, frightened.
As he stood there shaking, wondering if she’d seen him somehow, he heard the TV playing the soundtrack to NYPD Blue, as the re-run came on.
The wall he was looking through faced a brightly-lit hallway – not a room.