The Horror Zine
Paul Edwards

The September Second Selected Writer is Paul Edwards

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Paul Edwards

by Paul Edwards

The deeper I go into myself the more I realize that I am my own enemy. — Floriano Martins

Closing the bathroom door, Carey unfolds her brother’s letter and re-reads it. She found it this morning, on the mat in front of the door to Jude’s apartment. She has no idea how Zach had found her, or when he had dropped it through, but he had made it clear to her that he missed her, and that he thought about her all the time.

Raking a hand through her hair, she closes her eyes for a moment. Deep inside her chest her heart pounds like a distant drum. She thinks about Jude; about how lifeless and vacant he has become. When she presses her ear to his chest, why can’t she hear his heart anymore?

She stuffs the letter into her pocket just as the bathroom door squeaks open. Jude scuffles in, long hair hanging in greasy ribbons around his shoulders, his expression empty, lost, pale. Heavy-lidded eyes shine at her, then he moves toward the mirror on the bathroom wall.

Carey thinks about how different he is from her brother Zach, and stares at her hands as Jude glares into his own sallow face. Then he gives a derisive snort, snatches open the mirror and reaches for something.

Moments later he’s standing over her, proffering her his pearl handled razorblade. His face is stoic, blank: it gives nothing away. Nodding, she rolls up the sleeve to her shirt and takes the razor. The flesh on her arm is criss-crossed with scars. She closes her eyes, whispers something, a black prayer perhaps, and then cuts herself.

For a moment there’s nothing. Then a droplet of blood surfaces and Jude turns away in disgust. And that’s when Carey knows they are going to the house.


The house on Blackhart Hill watches over the other tenements in the street like a hooded sentinel. No one has lived there since the seventies. The windows are boarded up, most of the roof tiles are missing, and enormous cracks snake the walls.

Jude knows a way in: round the back of the property, behind a tangle of wild nettles and creepers, is a shattered window. Hesitantly Carey follows, dropping down on to the rickety floor of a basement. Everything is black; her nostrils flare with the scents of rot and damp, dust and decay.

“Jude?” she calls.

He grabs her arm. “This way,” he breathes, leading her through the darkness. Slowly, very slowly, her eyes discern vague shapes in the cloying shadows: a wooden chest, barrels, coils of thick rope, stripped copper wire. She sees an old rocking chair, a framed picture covered in a patina of dust, the metal skeleton of a bed.

Carefully, Jude wrenches open a door, which reveals a narrower, smaller chamber. The half-moon glows faintly through a dust veiled window, high up in a crumbling wall. Cobwebs swathe the corners; pieces of broken tile lie scattered across the floor. Carey’s eyes alight on something at the back of the room, and as she steps forward she realises she is staring into her own petrified reflection.

“I wanted to show you this place,” Jude whispers, splaying his hands out on to the mirror’s cobwebbed pane. “I’ve been here before. Quite a few times now.” Sucking in a breath, he tries his very best to smile. “Never on a full moon, though.”

She edges around an overturned armchair. “W-what do you mean?”

They only come on a full moon.”

Carey narrows her eyes. “They?”

Shoulders sagging, Jude’s eyes drift from their brittle white reflections to glare at her. “Them,” he says. “The wraiths.”

The first time she’d stared into his eyes was in the squalor of The Cellar Bar in the city centre. “You’re one of us,” he’d told her, peeling back the sleeve of her jacket to reveal the self-afflicted scars on her arm. “I knew it as soon as I saw you.” He’d licked his lips; smiled a vague, broken smile. Staring into his eyes, she’d discerned a darkness more intense than any she’d ever seen before.

“Let’s get out of here,” Carey whispers, turning, snapping out of her reverie.

Jude steps away from the mirror. “We’ll come back, yeah?” he says. He looks frightened and disorientated; on the verge of panic. “I…don’t want to step over alone.”

She nods once. “Next full moon,” she says. “I promise, Jude; promise I’ll be ready.”

That broken smile flashes across his face, and in that terrible room she knows that her fate is sealed. And so they leave the house and Carey winds up back at Jude’s apartment.

Jude is squatting in the corner of his bed-sit, pitch black eyes staring into space, mouth open, stagnant. There’s no furniture in the room; he’s thrown everything away. The bathroom’s equally as bare. Silent, Carey drifts toward the mirrored cabinet and for a moment doesn’t even recognise herself: her eyes are black-ringed, her hair lank, her skin too thin and pale, almost translucent. She presses a finger to her face, pulls back the skin from her right eye.


She snatches open the cabinet. The shelves are empty, except for the pearl handled razorblade on the middle shelf. She picks it up, turns it over in her hands, stares at it. Then, perching on the lip of the bathtub, she applies the razor to her flesh.

Don’t think, she tells herself; don’t feel. Disassociate yourself from everything. As the wound opens up, she waits for the blood to come.

It doesn’t.

Moments later she’s back in the main room standing over Jude. His expression is unchanged – the blank, vacant stare of a mannequin. “Jude,” she says, shaking him. “Jude, look.”

She shows him her arm.

As his narrow eyes clear and blink and focus upon her raw, damaged flesh, he frowns and tilts his head slowly to one side. “I-I’m like you,” she whispers, tracing the cut with her fingers. “I don’t bleed.”

That faint, broken smile passes briefly across his face, and he reaches for her with trembling hands. Together they wait for the right moment, the right night.


The full moon rises like a death’s-head.

Without a sound, they leave Jude’s apartment and step out on to the silent, moonlit street. Jude reaches for Carey; grips her hand. As they cross the road, Carey hears a car door slam. She glances over her shoulder and sees a person silhouetted against the bone-white moon. For a moment she thinks he looks a lot like… No, she thinks, shaking her head, it can’t be.

He steps forward, a streetlamp shattering his face with light.

It is.

Jude’s grip tightens around her hand. “Come on,” he urges, pulling her toward the house, away from the street, the figure. “We have to go.”

Suddenly Zach breaks into a run, leather coat flapping around him. “Carey!” he shouts, and she stops and turns; stares into his wide, blue, desperate eyes. “I-I saw you the other day,” he gasps, breathing hard, face greased with sweat, hands splayed out on his knees. “I-I followed you here. That’s how I found out where you lived. Mum and Dad and me…we miss you, Carey.” His voice cracks at her name.

Jude mutters, swears, and Zach looks at him. “I’m Carey’s brother,” he says, straightening, extending a hand.

“Carey hasn’t got a brother,” Jude spits, spinning violently away. Faltering, hesitant, Zach looks helplessly at Carey, but Jude is already pulling her toward the house, toward her destiny.

“Carey!” Zach cries. “Please…just listen to me.”

The house looms over them, drenched in shadow and streetlight. She leaves her brother helpless and alone on the dark street, rejecting his pleading; following Jude because he is her destiny.

As soon as Carey drops down on to the basement floor, she searches and gropes with her hands. She stumbles a couple of times, but Jude grabs her and steadies her and leads her to the door at the back of the room. Slowly, it creaks open to reveal the mirror and the window framing the bright full moon. Jude shuffles, zombie-like, through the chamber, eyes like jagged slivers of flint.

“What now?” Carey asks, voice quivering, and for a moment she fears he senses it; he hears that quiver too.

Before he can speak, the mirror ripples and shimmers and Carey steps back, hands clasped to her face. Their reflections are alive; stepping up to the glass, they spill through the frame and crawl out into the room on all fours. Then they straighten, faces like cracked sheets of ice, and unlike their human counterparts their skin is grey and their open eyes and mouths are empty and black and choked full of dust.

Carey squats on the rubbish-strewn floor. A shadow falls upon her, and as she peeks through her fingers she sees her reflection loom inexorably over her.

Show us, they say in slow, stuttering voices, you’re ready.

Carey drops her hands, nods, and rises. Then, silent, expressionless, the reflections stoop to gather up pieces of glass.

Tentatively, Jude takes a piece from the palm of his reflection’s outstretched hand. Then, biting his lip, he presses it to his arm and cuts. The flesh opens: bloodless. Empty.

Carey takes the sliver of glass from her own reflection’s hand. Presses it for a moment against her flesh.

We…miss you, Carey.

Carey chokes back a sob. Bites the inside of her mouth.

Her reflection stares into her. Cut.

And Carey cuts.

For a moment there’s a line, a stripe; then comes the blood, trickling in a rivulet down the inside of her arm, and her reflection laughs bitterly.

Face creased, Jude’s eyes flash with something – hurt? anger? betrayal? She doesn’t know; can’t read him any more. With a godless stare, Jude’s reflection grips his upper lip and, as if pulling back the hood of a coat, wrenches his face clean off. Carefully it scrunches up the flesh and presses it into its mouth. It tears away Jude’s clothes, proceeds to strip the rest of the flesh, unwinding it, revealing the nothingness beneath. Then, once it’s devoured the rest of him, it turns back toward the mirror.

Carey shrieks. Whirling, shaking, she flees from the room and her own dead-eyed reflection, racing for the window at the back of the basement, leaping now, hands scrabbling, grabbing, levering herself up. Then she’s up on her feet and sprinting from the house and she doesn’t even realise she’s screaming until she runs straight into Zach, who grabs her by the shoulders and steadies her and holds her against him as she shrieks and sobs into his scuffed leather coat. “It’s okay,” he shouts, “It’s okay, Carey! You’re safe! You’re with me now, safe…” 

He drags her away from the house. Just as they are approaching the car, she throws one last look over her shoulder and sees a piece of rotting wood come away from one of the bottom floor windows. There, framed between the remaining slats, is her doppelgänger – staring out at her with screaming eyes. With a grey hand pressed against the glass it mouths something; four words: A matter of time.

With a loud, choked sob, Carey turns away from the house, away from that thing and allows herself to be guided into the sanctuary of her brother’s waiting car...


The thing watches Carey collapse into the car. Watches as it speeds off into the night. Then it comes away from the window and perches upon a broken chair in the corner of the room.

With grey hands scrunched together in its lap, it waits.

She’ll be back, it thinks, assuredly.

Her kind always come back.

Paul Edwards has had around 40 publications in a wide range of magazines, anthologies and web-zines. He’s had two honourable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and one of his stories, ‘A Place the Night Can’t Touch’, was made into a short film by students at The Surrey Institute of Art and Design. A collection of his stories, ‘Now That I’ve Lost You’, has been accepted by Screaming Dreams, and he’s currently hard at work on a second, ‘Black Mirrors.’

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