Through the portal

by Hannah E. Phinney

Sam went through the portal. It had beckoned vaguely from within the mirror, its matter briefly shivering, his reflection there a granulated facsimile. He stuck his finger into the soupy dimensional plane – it felt like nothing. So he climbed onto the mantel and tumbled head-first across the divide. As he picked himself up from the floor, he couldn’t be sure that he hadn’t simply fallen backwards instead. Parlor room still, everything in its place. There was the scalloped sofa, the hanging birdcage, the grated fireplace…the red-brown-blue chinoiserie papering every inch of wall.

Sam wandered out to the enclosed patio, where his mother kept a lush but disorderly greenhouse that also included flowers (some freshly cut, some dying, others long gone and dried) in glass vases. Here he gasped. Dracaenas and crotons still rose into their habitual shapes from potters, and two-toned spider plants draped their curvilinear spears from twine baskets as before. But in the vases! In the vases, replacing cut blossoms, sprung a morbid assortment of human fingers. Tiny children’s fingers…thick and calloused workman’s fingers…slender piano-playing fingers topped with pearl-pink nails…shriveled arthritic fingers on their way to death. Sam could not see the severed ends, as each arrangement was plunged into several inches of viscous, wine-colored liquid. He began to back up slowly.

It was then, from the garden door opposite, that they waltzed in – giant blooms balancing their tall stalks on networks of roots that scuttled over the floor. Where pistils and stamens should have been: faces. Homicidal faces. Sam did not want to learn how they would separate his fingers from the rest of him. He turned and ran back to the parlor mirror, clambering up the mantel. Shit, he thought, as the botanic butchers approached him, their jagged leaves outstretched. The portal had disappeared.


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