Tag Archives: Terrible Fish

“Terrible Fish” – Fiction by Dora Badger


From our Summer 2015 issue, Dora Badger‘s “Terrible Fish” is a dark yet empowering tale of vengeance, as well as a handy guide to scrying and other kinds of mirror magic.

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In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

 -Sylvia Plath, “Mirror”


If you say “Bloody Mary” into the mirror three times, or five, or thirteen, or maybe spin around when you do it, she’ll appear behind you wielding a knife. She’ll show you your death. She will kill a member of your family.

She isn’t obsessed or anything. They’re just fun to think about, even if most of them are utter horseshit.

Paint one side of a clear circle of glass with black paint. You’ll want four or five coats, until you can’t see through the glass. When it’s dry, write your words of power in white paint around the outer circumference of your black mirror. Now you can use it to see the future. Now the mirror has to answer your questions truthfully. Now you can see the face of your one true love.

Many of the stories and superstitions conflict with one another. Natalie loves how they stretch down the centuries and scatter across cultures. She collects and sorts the contradictory stories, thrilling to each sharp edge, sifting the shit to find the silver. 

You’ll need good reflexes for this one: face a mirror in a darkened room. Say “Blue Baby Blue” three times. The baby’s weight will fill your arms. He’ll scratch you once, he’ll scratch you twice, growing heavier each time. Chuck him in the toilet and flush — fast! — or his mother will appear on the third scratch. You’ll try to run, but by then Blue Baby Blue’s weight will pin you to the floor. Oh! I forgot to say, you’d better do this one in the bathroom.

The crowds are larger with each dead child. The parking for this one is a real pain in the ass. Natalie knows it’s selfish and hateful to think that way, but she just can’t help it. That’s okay. She’s been working very hard to accept unpleasant truths about herself.

If she had fought him from the start, maybe none of this would have happened. At the very least, she wouldn’t have felt responsible for so much of it, felt the weight of that responsibility crushing her even as fresh terrors stalked innocents in the dark.

Cover mirrors after a death so no one has to worry about Ugly Mourning Face. Cover mirrors after a death, or the deceased’s soul will be distracted from Heaven by its own reflection. Cover mirrors after a death so the spirits living within won’t turn your misery to their advantage.

Grief makes everyone hard to look at; any dead who are so easily diverted from the afterlife deserve to be trapped in mirrors; and Natalie’s been through so much horror in her life, she’d almost welcome mirror demons.

Natalie stares into her rearview and thinks: Come on, then. I dare you.

Nothing happens, of course. Continue reading “Terrible Fish” – Fiction by Dora Badger