Hot Flash Fiction 6

Once Upon a Time in a Shaving Mirrordigital illustration from a photoMartin was a great gentleman. The man he saw in his dusty and slightly foxed mirror every morning was the man inside, and this was the same man he was to all others at all times. A gentleman, Martin, but his exactitude and propriety were also devoted to things quite other than mere manners. Behind his clear and guileless face was a world of fathomless seas and lacy cobwebs, untranslatable illuminated manuscripts full of spells, and the cries of birds never seen on this side of the stars.digital illustration from a photoMartin was punctilious, generous, carefully correct, guileless, and surprisingly simple, all things considered. Behind his shaving mirror, as behind the unruffled perfection of his face, lay surprising things. In the medicine cabinet, it was tinctures and potions, a collection of oddments that might please an old-time apothecary or perhaps, equally, a fine magister–a romantic necromancer, if you will. Martin, pure of heart and innocent as only a strangely experienced elder man of the world could be, had no inkling that mere proximity to this particular concatenation of goods made his inner being as wild and unpredictable as the outward man was clean and Ordinary.digital illustration from a photoThe truly remarkable thing in all of this is that anyone at all was even mildly taken aback when, one particular and strangely normal morning, the man behind emerged. No one will ever really know whether it was the workings of that alchemist’s secret-recipe hidden in the medicine cabinet upon him, or that the being in existence already right behind Martin’s mask of perfect humanity simply came into its own just as it was always going to do.digital illustration from a photoThen again, perhaps the most remarkable element of the case was really that what emerged, this inner Martin, was even better than the original. The true remaining problem was just how the rest of the world was supposed to handle the new man. Especially and particularly, how his physician Dr. Telemachrius, who had prescribed a uniquely heinous combination of the potions and tinctures expressly to turn the exceedingly unremarkable Martin into a bizarre and deadly living puppet for his own purposes, was supposed to respond. What an unfortunate turn of events for Telemachrius, after all. Health was such a precarious thing, even in those early days of rapidly improving modern medicine.

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