Jack looked into the mirror after spitting out the foam. Toothbrush still in hand
he continued his attack, determined to observe the minimum period of two minutes
vigorous brushing, as recommended by his dentist and the pretty lady on the toothpaste
box. As he brushed he noticed in the reflection a large hair protruding from his
nose, and with little thought, save perhaps a degree of stoicism, he proceeded to
pull it out.
“Ouch.” he heard himself shout, as a small stab of pain shot up his nostril.
Applying himself again to the job in hand he recommenced brushing, and after
a brief rinse he looked again into the mirror.
“What's your game then?” the face facing him said.
Jack looked again at the reflection, expecting nothing more than to see his
own tired features staring back. But no; before him was a person of obvious maturity,
distinguished in looks and demeanour, and looking at least ten years younger than
himself. Also, judging by his face (much else he could not see) a couple of stones
lighter. It was a handsome face he saw, square looking and unblinking, eyeball to
eyeball, and Jack was, to say the least, curious. He was about to reply to his
somewhat unlikely visitor, but was beaten to it.
“Well?” the face asked “What's the idea?”
“What do you mean?” Asked Jack, uncomprehending, and yet unable to resist his
“You know perfectly well.” said the reflection, as he patted down his grey,
but perfectly coffered hair. “How would you like it If I stuck a pair of pliers
up your nose and pulled all the hair out, eh.?” He lifted his chin indignantly. ”
Just tell me that.”
“It was a pair of tweezers, and it was only one hair,” Jack responded somewhat
annoyed; “and anyway, what has it got to do with you?”
“Everything,” replied the reflection. “Just because I seem to be on the other
side of the glass doesn't mean that I cant feel what you are doing.”
“If you will put your face in someone else’s mirror, you’ll have to put up
“That doesn’t give you the right to ...”
Jack cut him off mid speech. “And who are you anyway?” asked Jack, a little
tetchily, “and who gave you the right to look through my mirror? Have you never heard
of something called privacy?”
“Questions, questions, nothing but questions; Can't you work it out?” The reflection
started to laugh, but it didn't sound to Jack like a joyful laugh; rather it was
a trifle more sinister.
“No I can't, so would you kindly leave me to my ablutions.” he retorted, for
he was getting irritated, while his new 'self' seemed to be enjoying the encounter.
“Well now, you are a crabby one, but I'll forgive you. I guess it does come
a bit of a shock to have your mirror invaded.”
“But who are you. are you me? You don’t look like me.”
“Is that what you think?” asked the mirror, with a tone of voice very close
a sneer, “When did you ever look as magnificent as this?”
“Well I only wondered that's all; there’s no need to be rude. I thought perhaps
it might be me in say, ten years time, or something.”
With that the reflection roared with laughter “Ten years, it sputtered. You'll
be a pretty sight in ten years if you don't make some serious changes. No dear boy;
this is how you might have looked ten years ago, if you'd taken a bit more care of
“So you are me then; er; I mean now; oh' I don't know what I mean. Are you
me or not?” Jack finally managed to say.
“No no no. I'm your uncle Nick; don't you recognise me?”
“Uncle Nick - Uncle Nicholas? But he died years ago.”
“Quite so dear boy. I think you are beginning to catch on.”
Jack stared, eye to eye. “I don’t believe this. I must be having a bad dream.
Please go away whoever you are.”
“But I am your uncle Nick.”
“Bloody ridiculous. I've had enough of this”. Jack said, as he opened the
bathroom cabinet door to its widest capacity so that the mirror was almost flush
to the wall. “I must be cracking up. Fancy talking to myself in the mirror.”
“Oi, who do you think you are? If you don't turn me right back again it will
the worse for you.”
Jack heard the voice clearly, though it was slightly muffled now. Slowly he
turned the mirror back to it's proper position, half hoping that the ancestral reflection
would be gone; but it was still there smiling.
“That's better.” said Uncle Nick “Now let's not have any more of that.”
“I'm sorry, but you got me a bit scared. After all I’ve often spoken to myself
the mirror, but this is the first time anyone has answered back.”
“Yes yes; well that's as may be, but we have some important things to
“But you don't look like the Uncle Nick I remember. He was small and fat,
and he had no hair at all as I remember.” Jack said, trying to recall his long departed
uncle, who he hadn't seen for about twenty years. “and you sure as hell don't look
like me.” he added for good measure.
“ I can look as I please, and as a gesture to you I chose to look like you.
“But you don’t look like me.”
“This is how you might have looked if you hadn't made such a mess of yourself.”
“Look here.” Jack shouted. “This is my house and my bathroom and my
mirror, and I will not stand here to be insulted. Will you please put back my proper
“As you wish.”
In a flash Jack was looking at himself again. Thin wispy hair, decidedly grey
but of the dirty scruffy variety; not the pristine silver grey of his dearly departed
visitor. His teeth, that is, those that remained, were stained; unable to produce
a smile that would compare to the one so recently before him. And his face, adorned
at the moment with a three day growth, was as drawn as his cheeks were sallow. The
comparison with what he saw now, and what had so recently gone before could hardly
have been more extreme.
Jack opened the door of the little cabinet a few inches revealing the assortment
of little boxes and little bottles with gather in such places. ”Uncle Nick;” he called
softly. ”Are you still there?”
“Of course I'm not you blithering idiot. What did you expect. To see me sitting
on a bar of soap next to the aftershave. Just close the door can't you?”
Jack closed the cabinet door closed, and somewhat to his surprise was relieved
to see Uncle Nick smiling at him again.
“Thought you'd want me back when you had another look at yourself.” he sneered.
“I don't know why you have to be so rude. I can't help how I look, and you
didn't look that good yourself when you were alive.”
“Yes; I'll give you that, but I did at least live a full and interesting life,
and I left a few quid in the bank when I toddled of.”
“It's news to me.” Jack retorted. “I never saw any of it.”
“Yes. Well that's one of the reasons I'm here now.”
Jack perked up. “Do you mean that you left me something?”
“You were a bit slow off the mark dear boy. Nothing left now. Not a been.
Some of your more avaricious cousins got there first. You didn't show so they carved
it up between them.”
“I didn't know.”
“Well it was your own fault.” Uncle Nick insisted, not quite angry but with
some firmness. “I never saw anything of you from one year to the next, and when I
clocked it I had no idea where you were. Anyway, I'm here to make amends. Not that
you deserve it.”
By now Jack was more at ease with his visitor, no longer overawed, but frankly
getting somewhat tired of being slagged off. “Ok uncle Nick; It was nice to see you,
now will you please go away.” With that he opened the cabinet door once again, threw
a hand towel over it and pushed it to the wall.
“If you do that one more time I will leave for good and you will never know
about the changes I can bring to your life.”
“Changes. What changes?” Jack removed the towel ans swung the mirrored door
back part way so that, he could see his ‘uncle’ again, albeit at a rather oblique
“Well, a new lifestyle to start with; and will you please close that dammed
cabinet door again so I can see you properly.?”
“Perhaps, if you try to be more agreeable. And what does that mean? What kind
of lifestyle? There's nothing wrong with my lifestyle.” Jack answered, but with unconvincing
“You're joking of course,” uncle Nick retorted rather sarcastically “From
where I stand there's nothing right with it.”
“Alright , maybe there's room for a little improvement here and there, but
what kind of changes?”
“Close the cabinet door.”
Jack closed the door a little further.
“Close the door please.”
Jack closed the door until he and Uncle Nick were face to face again. He,
straight faced and slightly anxious, whereas the venerable uncle had assumed a decidedly
“Ok, let's have it, what's it all about?”
“Money my friend, that's all. Money. I can arrange it so that you can have
all the money you want.”
“But why should you do that. And what's in it for you? This is getting a bit
scary.” Jack muttered.
“But you are family dear boy; why should there be anything in it for me?”
Jack was not convinced at the sincerity of his uncles dismissal of personal
gain. It was something in his eyes; something that just didn't seen right.
“Why now then? You've been dead for ten years, so why now, after all that
time do you want me to be rich?”
Uncle Nick stepped back as though in shock, and Jack was able to see his arms
lifted, palms facing outwards. A moment or two elapsed before he spoke again.
“OK, OK, I can see you are not interested. It's up to you of course, but I'll
bet your cousin Walter, four times removed, won't be as hasty. Yes I know you've
never heard of him, but he's next down the line. I think he might be a little more
welcoming than you. So farewell then Jack, I'll let you get on with your business,
and your life. I can see you are a busy man.Goodbye.”
At this point Jack could see the rather flamboyant image of his ancestor starting
to fade, while his own image was slowly replacing it.
“Wait wait wait.” he called. “Uncle Nick, don't go. It's been a bit of a shock
that's all. Please come back.”
“Thought you weren't interested.”
Jack heard the voice clear enough, but it seemed to be coming from his own
“It all takes some getting used to. Now will you please stop disappearing?”
“Certainly,” replied uncle Nick, his face miraculously and instantly reinstated.
“if you promise not to move this cabinet mirror again. Deal?”
“So, er, what do I do now?”
“Nothing dear boy. Just go about your business. I think you'll get the idea.”
“Is that it? And how do I know if it's working?” Jack was concerned to see
that once again the image of his uncle was fading.
He was fading fast, but the big smile, which, like the Cheshire cat, seemed
to last longer that the rest of the image, somehow indicated that the interview was
over, and for once, without rancour. Jack watched until all he could see was himself.
His scrubby, grubby, tooth stained, dirty haired self.
Some time later that day he went to buy his daily paper, and as was his usual
habit, he picked up a scratch card. “Don't know why I bother?” he said to the shop
keeper, “Never won anything with these in my life.”
He scratched away for a minute or two before he spoke again. “Well I'm blessed.”
He stopped, surprised, as the words escaped his lips. he had been idly scratching
on his way back home, and there to his utter astonishment, he saw that he had won
a hundred pounds. He hurried back to the newsagent to get the cash.
“It’s your lucky day.” said the shopkeeper, “perhaps you should try the lottery.”
“Do you know I think I will.” he said, handing over a one pound coin. “One
should be enough I think.”
Jack returned to his home with a strange feeling. He seldom did the lottery,
but he had never bought a single ticket before, and yet this time he was quite happy
with just the one. When he opened his door he was a little surprised to find an envelope
on the door mat, addressed to him in a very fluent hand.
The card inside; very elegant and stylish, was written in blood red. ‘Don’t
forget our deal’, it read, and a quick look to the bottom
of the page revealed the signature Nicholas.
Jack dashed to the bathroom and to the shaving cabinet, where he knew, he
just knew, that ‘Uncle Nick’ would be waiting for him.
“What’s this?” he asked without preambles or pleasantries.
“Our agreement.” smiled Uncle Nick.
“What agreement?” “
“We have an arrangement in which you have everything to gain; and nothing to
loose but your soul. You can everything you ever wanted. Live out you life in luxury,
and be the envy of everyone who you meet. All we want is your soul. Not much to ask.”
Uncle Nick had a contented smile on his face. “Of course you’ve had a little
win today. Call that a gesture of goodwill. Yours to keep old boy.” His smile became
a chuckle and then a laugh, and then a guffaw. “But if you sign that letter in your
own blood, by Saturday your life will be transformed.”
He was trying to talk as he laughed, his eyes streaming, but gradually he
regained control. “And that will be just the start. Come on man; what’s stopping
Jack was at a loss and many thoughts sent his mind into a whirl. He had won
a hundred and ten pounds it is true, but so what. “That’s not going to change my
life.” he said out loud. “And what if I don’t want to sell my soul.” he finally managed
“Well your life will remain just as it is, except that you will always remember
what it might have been.” Uncle Nick replied, “And there’s something else.”
“Come; come closer.” the avuncular relative beckoned, until Jack was half
a dozen inches from the glass. “What do you see?”
“You see what you are today. But now what do you see?”
Almost without him noticing the reflection in the glass had changed into that
of a wizened old man, infirm, dirty, and bound very shortly for a visit to a mortician.
“Well?” The face in the mirror had not changed, but it was the voice of his
uncle that jack could hear. “What do you see now dear boy. Never mind, I=ll tell
you. That is you in ten years time.”
Jack shivered, but the voice from behind the reflection continued, “But take
In a trice the familiar image of uncle Nick was back again, fat and affluent,
well dressed and groomed, smiling, and quite clearly enjoying the mental anguish
he was inflicting on his nephew. “Now what do you see?” he asked again.
Jack was most relieved to see his uncle once again, after the unexpected preview
of what life had in store for him.
“Well, it’s you Uncle Nick.”
“No no no. What you see is you, or what you could be in ten, twenty, thirty
“Really; are you sure?”
“Sure as the devil. All you have to do is sign that paper; any kind of scribble
will do; nothing to it.”
“But my soul?”
During these latest exchanges Jack had edged away from the mirror, and once
again his uncle gestured for him to come close again. “Look here,” he almost whispered,
“tell me when you last used it; and what are you going to do with it when you are
“Well I suppose it will be wanted,” jack stopped for a moment, uncertain about
what he was saying. “Up there.”
Uncle Nick roared with laughter. “Up there.” he repeated, amidst another outburst
of near hysterical glee. “Up there! not in a million years. You’d never get near
the place, never mind through the gates.”
“I’ve not been that bad.” Jack said, somewhat mortified at his uncles insulting
“Take my word, I know my way around on this side, and I know everything about
your life. You don’t stand a chance.”
Jack remained silent for a long time, until gradually a change come over him,
a different mood. He got up and left the bathroom. When he returned a few moments
later he had Uncle Nick’s letter with him. “Does it have to be blood?” he asked.
“Yes, as long as it’s yours. Just a pinprick in your thumb will do then smear
it on the paper. Dead easy.”
“In a trice the dead was done, a streak of red on the paper where normally
Jack would have signed his name. “What next?” he asked.
“That’s it my boy. Indeed I feel that you are my boy now. Sit down and wait.That’s
all you have to do now. Bye for now.”
Jack sat up.”Hang on Uncle Nick; I need to know...” But it was too late. All
he could see in the mirror was his own face. “Oh dear,” he said to himself, “I hope
I wont live to regret this.”
On the following Sunday the television reporters were breaking the news of
a record win on the lottery. There had, for reasons that no-one could explain, been
the biggest sales of tickets in any week since the lottery had started, and there
was only one winning ticket. A Thirty Nine Million pound Jackpot had been scooped
by one man, so far unnamed. He had, they said, bought just one ticket.
Jack smiled as he watched the programme, amused at the speculation. But his
notoriety was destined to be short lived, for on the Monday they were shouting a