During the production of the Sinking City, Frogwares commissioned six art pieces from Astor Alexander in which the illustrator should mix Edward Hopper’s style art but with a Lovecraftian twist. Mirror is a short story inspired by this artwork.

Mirror — Astor Alexander

He’d never noticed it. It’d just happened.

This was the lie, Howard served others, served himself sometimes. It was like, the sea level rising, his weight gain or the slow coming about of wrinkles at the corner of your eyes, of your mouth. The simple fact of slowly decaying, he thought while shaving.

He’d become so used to it, Howard could shave himself without even having to look at his body, at his goddamn self. A part of him knew it was all the boy’s fault. The boy, Jonas, he was so much more beautiful than he’d ever been. Howard couldn’t stand to look at him without seeing everything he’d missed in his life.

Katie Bates and her braids and her glistening dental machinery. He’d been mean to her when he was the boy’s age, slapped and punched her a few times, for good measure, just to be sure, nobody would dare to think he’d belittle his little self by falling in love.

Katie Bates, she fucking hated him, he thought while he grinned, scratching himself. The blood, it dropped oh-so-slowly into the porcelain bowl. Howard looked at himself, or to be precise, he looked at the blood.

Howard always thought he was too fat, or too ugly. He was a rude boy for sure, but he knew deep inside his guts that women were fucking repelled by him. The teenager he’d become, and the man after that would make this a rule. That’s why he was so amazed when Lauren walked into his life.

She could have made things better, he thought, slowly pulling on the scale which appeared to be stuck in his wound. His finger not really able to get a good grasp, slipping into the cold blood, slipping onto the chitinous matter buried beneath his flesh.

At least, she accepted to marry him. But sex was never great. Howard, Howard would not have talked to you about this. He would never admit it publicly. When he was twelve, one of his sixteen years old friend, in his small village, helped him break into the house of an adult acquaintance. This friend wanted to show Howard some stuff he said. Nasty stuff, with girls and women, bare naked he said.

They spend four hours inside the dirty house which smelled of tobacco and sweat and piss and for those four hours, all Howard could remember were the ropes. The ropes all tight around the body of female model. The ropes which prevented them from escaping. Ropes inside of dirty magazines where some pages were glued together. Ropes which would prevent oneself to escape his fate.

He’d never admit it in front of Lauren, those stupid desire, and there were times, for the last thirty years when he’d woke with a hard-on so full of blood, he’d had to punch himself. Cause he knew, Howard knew that the ropes were dirty.

He’d heard his parents talk about it at night. And he remembered distinctly the night his father went out really late. And the house Howard had visited a few months beforehand, it just went in flames. Just like that, in the damp cold of the night.

The scale had finally given away and for just a moment he thought of yelling for Lauren’s help, swallowed that thought, this scream. Howard took a bunch of cotton, tried to patch himself up.

Lauren had been beautiful once, even without the ropes. And, to be quite honest she still was, but since she’d gave him the boy, some fat had begun to appear, first on her belly, and then under boobs, all across her thighs. He didn’t hate her for that, though, a part of him understood. It was the boy’s fault. That was all there was about it.

Jonas had come, made his mother fat and his dad sad. And that was all there was to it, Howard thought, finishing his shaving with the hair right next to his right ears.

Thanks to the boy, he could see all the little girls, and all the teenagers and all the women companions he never had, never would have, never. Howard could see them, laying naked, in wait, in the future of his son. And so it came that secretly he despised the boy. I mean, he may never even touch Lauren again don’t you understand?

Of course, he’d grown fat too, but he was in charge of the family, he had an office job while Lauren. Lauren just had a hobby, let’s be real. Sometimes, he’d lock himself up in the bathroom, masturbating furiously while dreaming of beating her for being fat. He’d get back to himself sticky, and empty, and breathing with difficulty. This, this reminded him of his getting old, of all the dark things he’d missed.

Howard, Howard looked up at his own reflection as he’d looked up to his father, but now, he was mostly trying to unsee his fat belt. The plaster he’d made seemed good. Howard grinned, got dressed, existed the bathroom.

In the open kitchen, he could see his wife, with her buoy belt, feeding the boy. Not even looking at him. Howard left.

It’d been fourteen days since he’d spoke to any of them.

If you like this third short story written with Astor Alexander’s art as an inspiration for Frogwares’ videogame the Sinking City ; please clap (’cause that’s what we do here) comment, follow, IDK.

With this entry, the idea of several Lauren and Howard coexisting in paralells dimensions really started to take form in my head. In the first version, they had different names but it seemed more interesting to me, if the reader thought of them as being the same person every time.

You can find the first entry Docks HERE. And Sailboat the second one HERE.

And if you want to learn more on how this whole series came to be, you can check it out in this article.

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