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My Bedroom Mirror

A word of warning: Use caution when stepping through bedroom mirrors in spooky old houses.

1 Stevenson Lane, Saranac Lake, NY
(Artist’s sketch by Jane B. Gillis)
The spooky old house I grew up in.

I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains, in a big stone house on One Stevenson Lane, on the outskirts of the village of Saranac Lake. My bedroom windows looked out towards Mount Baker. My bedroom door had a full-length mirror mounted to it. I spent many hours in that room, lost in my own world of thoughts and dreams, staring either out through those windows towards the mountains, or through that mirror towards myself.


“Richard T. Monroe, SLHS Class of 1981”

I was browsing through some of my archival folders recently on one of my many private nostalgia trips. I stumbled across a full sized “pamphlet”, for lack of a better term, apparently published by someone named William Luvaas. I do not recall his affiliation. I had long ago forgotten it existed.

“My First Time In Print”

I vaguely recall submitting a story sometime during my junior year at Saranac Lake High School, to a writer’s workshop of some sort. I want to say it was connected with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise somehow, but my memory may be inaccurate on that count.

The pamphlet contains 11 short stories written by high school classmates of mine, juniors and seniors. I recognize their names. One of them was mine: “Richard Monroe”. I had submitted a short story, “The Mirror”, which appears in Mr. Luvaas’ pamphlet.

I have long counted the poem “Yesteryear”, which appears in my 1981 Senior Class Yearbook, as my first officially “published” piece. However, the date on the pamphlet containing “The Mirror” actually predates that by a year. That makes “The Mirror” my new first “officially published” piece.

I do now recall writing it, upstairs, in my bedroom, in our family’s big stone house on the corner of Stevenson Lane. I don’t remember the circumstance that led me to submit it.

One Stevenson Lane sits on the corner of the dead-end road below the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage, where he lived and wrote one winter. It is an imposing stone house, built by Italian Stone Masons. It overlooks the Pine Street Bridge and the Saranac River.

The house has three stories, the upper most being an attic, and a full basement. It’s a scary place at times, especially that attic, and the basement, which when we moved in had numerous compartments, like stalls, with doorbells and dirt floors, like some sort of macabre servant chambers.

It is built in the style of 19th century tuberculosis cure cottages, with many windows and porches. Many Saranac Lake village homes of that era served as cure cottages. However, my family has no records that ours ever actually served such purpose.

The house had a front and back staircase, a formal dining room, kitchen, downstairs bedroom that served as my father’s office, and two living rooms, one with a fireplace, both with big bay windows.

It also had a stone pillared wrap around porch, an impressive stone arched carport, three Glass windowed “sun porches”, and the fireplace and foundation remnants of another house out back, perhaps yet another servants’ quarters. We also had two front doors, one on Stevenson Lane, which we used as our front entrance, and one facing Pine Street.

The house had its own unique set of creaks, groans, and noises. Hot water radiators, the old-fashioned upright kind, would gurgle and hiss. The windows rattled with the wind. The stairs creaked.

A thick morning mist swirled up off the swamp down by the river. That house could be a scary place for a young boy growing up, especially the attic or basement, when I was alone, or at night.

When we moved in, the upstairs bathroom had a full-sized poster of a Nun hanging on the wall directly across from the toilet. She had piercing blue eyes that stared through me any time I sat on the toilet. Thankfully, my parents did not leave that poster up very long. I have no idea as to the back story behind it.

“Staring Nun by the Toilet” was disconcerting for a nine-year-old boy. That’s putting it mildly. More like traumatic. Whatever internal issues I have to this day, some of them most likely stem from sitting alone on that toilet, under the watchful glare of that Nun.

My brother and I each had our own bedrooms in that house. They were connected by a “Secret Passageway” between the closets. We used that secret passageway quite a lot.

My two-bedroom windows overlooked Stevenson Lane. The roof outside them was flat. I discovered at an early age that I could open my window, scoot outside, scale down the stone pillar, and escape. I came and went that way often, especially as I got older. My parents went to bed early. They never knew.

I loved that room. I felt safe there, in that big scary stone house. It was my sanctuary, my solitude, my peace.

One entire wall of my bedroom was dark cork. I used it as a bulletin board. It held my heroes.

I had my stereo and my drum set there in my room. My friends would come over sometimes and we would sit, talk, play board games or cards and listen to music for hours, either vinyl records on the turntable, where I could stack three LPs, or on the radio. We had lots of sleepovers.

I had AM and FM antenna wires hooked up to my stereo receiver and strung strategically around my room. My stereo had two big wooden floor speakers. That stereo was often times my best friend. Sometimes I played music on the radio all night while I slept. That stereo went to college with me. We served together in the Army. It’s been with me nearly my whole life. I still have it.

Saranac Lake had its own AM radio station. We also frequently listened to SHOEM FM, out of Canada. On weekend mornings, I listened religiously to Casey Casem’s “American Top 40”. I would sit on my bed for hours, listening to music and reading. I had my own library card to The Saranac Lake Free Library. I even had a job there shoveling snow and cleaning up inside after hours. Growing up in that house on One Stevenson Lane, I read a lot.

My bedroom was across from the front stairs, which had a heavy wooden sliding door, that my brother and I kept shut. Those rollers were noisy when that staircase door opened, our early warning system for approaching parents.

My bedroom door had its own lock. On the inside. An old-fashioned turn bolt kind. It worked. I frequently used it. The door also had a key lock, the old skeleton key kind. I did not have a key though, so I did not use that.

There were four bedrooms on the main upstairs hall, as well as the doors accessing the aforementioned main upstairs bathroom and attic. Some rooms had doorbells. I do not recall whether mine did or not. I could never quite fathom those doorbells’ purpose. I do remember that no matter how many times my brother and I pressed those doorbell buttons, no sound ever resulted.

I read all sorts of books upstairs in my room, short fiction collections, mystery novels, The Hardy Boys Series, Nancy Drew Mysteries. I liked comic books too, and adventures, like Swiss Family Robinson, Pippi Longstocking, Tom Sawyer, The Phantom, Peter Pan, Treasure Island.

Later on, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot became regulars on my reading list too.

I also was fascinated with horror stories, Frankenstein, Dracula, ghost stories of any kind, The Invisible Man.

Satanic Horror became popular during my high school years. “Carrie”, “The Exorcist” and “The Omen” all found their way onto my bedroom sanctuary reading list. I read the books long before I ever saw the movies.

My favorite author though, by far, was Edgar Allen Poe. I read and re-read everything he wrote. I even wrote a twenty-page term paper about him for Mrs. Treska’s 12th grade English Class. Typed, complete with footnotes, quotes and citations, long before computers. I still have it. I guess I tend to hold onto stuff.

As I look back through that term paper, remembering who I was as my younger self, one paragraph stands out:

“Although Poe wrote many different types of literature, he is probably most renowned for his chilling tales of horror and death. These stories were invented by a man whose preoccupation with death rivaled that of Hamlet. The most famous of these tales are “The Telltale Heart”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, and “The Mask of the Red Death.”

So, with Robert Louis Stevenson looking down from above, and Edgar Allen Poe’s “chilling tales of horror and death” as my inspiration, I sat alone in my upstairs bedroom in that house on One Stevenson Lane in Saranac Lake, and penned this story:

“The Mirror”

Richard Monroe


The house had been sitting on the corner of Paradox Street for as long as anyone could remember. It had also been unoccupied for as long as anyone could remember. It sat on a lot that was strangely bare of the straggling underbrush that, considering the length of time the house had been vacant, should have been growing profusely everywhere.

The grass was tall, and there were a few shingles missing from the roof. Aside from this, there was little wrong with the house.

The unaccountable orderliness of the house may have been what attracted me to it in the first place. Or maybe…yes, as I think of it now…it must have been something deeper than that, something much deeper.

I had lived on Paradox Street for only a few weeks when I first ventured into this ancient abode. My first impression was one of comfort. I felt at home in the house, as if I belonged there. The rooms were all fully furnished and aside from a slight film of dust that covered everything, seemed pretty much in order, as if the house were waiting for someone.

As I ventured up the stairs, a feeling of fear ran through me quickly. I cannot now say just what it was that triggered this in me. Ah yes, now I remember! It was the clock in what must have been the master bedroom. The clock, a big grandfather clock made of fine-grained oak with a large gold colored pendulum, was ticking! Not only was it ticking, but it was keeping perfect time.

This struck me as rather strange, but I gave it little real thought, for in the corner, next to the clock, was a full-length mirror.

This mirror was so clear that it looked as if I might be able to step right through it.

“This is absolutely absurd.” I thought to myself at the time. But as I neared it, I thought I could see something, or someone, beckoning to me from the other side. At this sight, I immediately lost my head and fled the room.

As I descended the stairs, I gathered my wits about me, remounted the stairs with some determination, and entered the room again, going straight to the mirror.

Again, I caught a glimpse of something beckoning to me. Without the slightest hesitation, I plunged headlong into the mirror. To my surprise, I found myself in a room exactly the duplicate of the one that I had just left. The same, that is, except that I was now in the clothes of a medieval nobleman.

As I gazed across the room, I could see that it was well kept. I could also see a note tacked to the dresser in the opposite corner. Before I read the note, I looked back through the mirror, or rather into the mirror, for from the side I was on now, it was nothing more than an ordinary mirror!

I picked up the note. It read like this;

I have been the keeper of the beast for nigh on two years and am now nearing my death. This is a journal of the horror that I have lived through so that those who come after me will know what to expect.

I came through the mirror in the summer of 1890, and, as you probably already have, I found that there was no exit once I had entered.

My first few days were pure paradise; food was brought to me during the day (how, I never knew), and my bed was made ready at night for my slumber.

On the evening of the fifth day there came a knock at my door. As I went to answer the door, a feeling of fear caused me to hesitate. The being on the other side must have sensed my apprehension, for it said in a low guttural voice, “Let me in, so that I may meet my honored guest.”

Something about this voice sent chills through me so severely that I declined, saying that I was afraid to open the door. Upon hearing this, the entity on the other side cursed quietly, and left.

This went on for some weeks. Every evening, at the same hour, exact to the minute, the voice came to the door and again asked permission to enter. As this continued, the fear built up inside me day by day, week by week, until I could stand it no longer.

Finally, after weeks of existing in fear of what might lie on the other side of the door, I bid this eerie stranger to be gone, and never to bother me with his presence again.

Upon hearing my utterance, the stranger uttered a loud, vile oath, and departed. I thought I was rid of him for good, and as a year passed with no recurrence of these visits, my fear slowly subsided and I began to believe that my tormentor really would not return. My hopes, however, would soon enough be dashed.

On the evening of the six hundred sixty sixth day, I once again heard the voice which had become but a memory. This time however, the tone was one of command, and there was an accompanying raspy, whispering sort of sound that I did not recalled hearing before.

The voice said “This is the day at the end of your watch. I am no longer bound by your words. For this is The Day of the Beast, and I am the Beast.”

“You have been my keeper for nearly two years, consuming my food, sleeping in my bed, and it is now time for me to be repaid for my hospitality. I have not dined in many years. I shall now eat.”

The door then shattered. I went blank after this, awakening only to find my members badly eaten and mangled. One arm is gone, only the bone remains. My head, however, is surprisingly clear, though I am too weak to go on much longer. As I lie here dying in a pool of my own blood. I take this opportunity to write this note of warning to those who follow.

I am now at the end of my existence and can only wish the best of luck to those who follow in my footsteps of horror. You have six hundred and sixty-six days to find your way back through the mirror.

As I finished reading this letter, an unshakable fear came over me. I heard a knock upon the door, and a low, guttural voice spoke these words:

“For now, you are now my keeper. But my time will come. For I am the Beast. And I shall eat.”


Until Our Trails Cross Again:

Don’t step through the mirror.