2:22

She opened her eyes to darkness and groaned. The digital clock emitted a faint glow but she didn’t need to look to know the time. It was 2:22. It was always 2:22 when she woke up in the middle of the night.

She could already hear the crying and whispering from down the hall. Dread kept her under the covers, denying the inevitable. Their voices were pleading, like small children begging an adult to help them. Her empathy eventually outweighed her terror, however, just as it did every night. She was a sucker for crying children.

Staggering down the hallway, wiping sleep from her eyes, Candice shivered at her

They needed her help.

When she turned on the bathroom lights, they were already there. Pleading faces and voices blending together in the mirror above the sink in a cacophony of tearful begging. Different languages, different ages, some didn’t even sound human. She didn’t need to understand their language to know what they were saying.

“Help us.”

She stood there powerless just as she did every night. One desperate night, she tried to break the mirror with a hammer to release them but the spectres recoiled in horror and cried out with one voice, one clear word.

“No.” It seemed to her that there was nothing she could do.

Candice ran her hands through her sleep-tangled hair.

“What should I do? I’ll gladly help you if you would please just tell me what you need me to do.” She saw herself in the mirror and she looked every bit as haggard as the trapped spectres.

The moaning only continued. Help us. Ayúdanos. lagundu iezaguzu. Some chittering and clicking which somehow managed to sound pathetic as well.

“Tell me.” Her eyes were tearing up. Night after night, powerless to help. “Tell me!”

When screaming at the mirror didn’t work, she sobbed openly, letting her exhausted body slide down the wall. She put her head between her knees and listened, crying all the while. She could not help. All she could do was listen.