2:23 am

2:23 am

I wake up at 2:23 on my 18th birthday. The bright red from my digital clock blinds me. I've always slept through the night, never waking. I feel like I might have heard a sound... but I was still in the haze so it could have just been in a dream I was having. I look around my room anyway, just to be safe. My door is still closed. Window is latched shut. I'm just about to go back to sleep when I hear a rattle come from my closet. I look up and see nothing but my reflection in the mirrored closet door.

I get up and walk towards the closet slowly. My hand already formed to a fist. I stare at the closet, and my reflection stares right back at me. I slid the closet open slowly.

Nothing.

In my head I hear myself say, "What did you expect?" I slide the door shut and again in looking at my reflection. I don't know how to explain it but I look... different. I see myself, but my eyes seem a little wider and I don't remember my chin looking that way. I brush it off thinking I just am tired and I fall back into bed.

I wake up in the morning and my father walks in and wishes me a Happy Birthday. We go downstairs and my mom has made me a big country breakfast. The rest of the day was pretty normal for a birthday. Had a few friends over. Open gifts. Cake, candles, blah blah blah. Friends left in the evening and I helped clean up and went to bed.

My eyes open. 2:23 again. I hear the rattle from the closet again. My room is freezing. I decide to not even look. I pull my covers up and fall back asleep. In the morning I decide to tell my mom about what had happened.

"Huh?" she said once I finished, "That's a little weird." I ask her why, and she replies "Because you were born at 2:23 am." I didn't know how to take this news. Two nights in a row waking up at the exact same time that I was born. I'm not really one for superstition or anything like that, so I just tell myself it was a coincidence.

That night, just as a precaution, I take a sleeping pill right before I go to bed. No more waking up for me.

2:23. I jolt awake. God damn it, I thought. Why is this continuing to happen? The rattle from the closet again. I look at it quickly. All I see is myself sitting up in bed, no shirt on, looking confused. I lay back down. Close my eyes.

Wait. I have a t-shirt on. I remember putting this one on before bed because the one I had on was a little itchy. I look back at my reflection. No shirt. I look down. I'm wearing a damn shirt. I get up and walk to the mirrored door. My reflection is completely naked. What the hell is going on? And my face still seemed somewhat altered. Then something happened that I cannot explain....

It spoke.

My reflection spoke.

"She's hiding the truth."

I stumbled back from the shock and fell backwards on my bed. I look back to the closet. I see me on the edge of my bed.. fully clothed. I didn't go back to sleep that night. I started looking online for an explanation, but surprisingly, Google doesn't have an answer for naked Doppelganger-type reflections.
This happened three more god damned nights. 2:23 every time. I'd wake up and not even look at the closet. But I could hear the damned voice say each night. "She's hiding the truth". Now the last of those three nights, he added something else. "Ask her about the day you were born."

I was beyond freaked out at this point. I hadn't told anyone anything, but my parents were starting to notice how on edge I was. When I went downstairs the next morning, my dad had already left for work, but my mom was at the kitchen table drinking her coffee. I don't why I asked her, but my mouth opened up and the words "Was there anything... unusual... about my birth?"

My mom froze, mid-sip from her cup. She was looking down towards the table, but I could see that there was fear in her eyes. Slowly she placed her mug on the table, and pushed the chair next to out, wanting me to sit down. I walked over and sat down. She finally looked up at me.

"There was a complication during your birth," she said, with a very uneasy voice, "your father and I didn't know when we should tell you... but I think it's time you knew."

I thought of a million different things that she could have said next, but I would have never guessed...
"I was supposed to have twins."

My heart sank. The reflection. It was naked, and it looked like me. Not exactly like me, but like me. Was the figure I had been seeing every night... my twin brother?

"You were born first. And as you were, the movement of you leaving made your brother's umbilical cord get wrapped. The doctors weren't able to revive him."

My mind was racing. Because of me my twin brother died. And now, 18 years later, somehow, he was back. What did he want? Was he angry? What the hell am I going to do?

Since my mother told me about him, I haven't so much as gone near a mirror. I'm too afraid too. I sleep in living room now, and am still woken up every night at 2:23am.

- Brad Blackwell

Brad Blackwell is 19 years old and has been writing for 7 years. He wrote, directed and produced two plays while in high school, and in 2014, he published the first of his horror novel series, The Curtain Call Chronicles. When he is not writing horror stories, he is working on his web-comic strip, Before & After.