I was in the restroom at the Euston British Rail station, needing to primp after all the train-hopping from Canary Wharf.

I dropped my bag on the counter and then dug around for a hairbrush, vaguely aware of a mirrored row of sinks behind the bag. I found the brush, looked up, and saw — nothing.

Well, I saw stalls, and sinks, but my reflection was missing.

That’s how I processed what I saw: I don’t have a reflection.

Which was, of course, ludicrous. I’m not a vampire.

So my brain immediately corrected: This surface isn’t reflecting me. Which seems the same, but is entirely different from a problem solving point of view.

We’re talking about less than a second of time here, and inside that second I started to reach for what I knew about light waves and specular interfaces and I wondered what kind of material could behave so oddly…maybe the surface was just projecting a manipulated digital image…but it’s so clear and why would anyone bother —

— and that’s when the obvious leapt in, and I realized that the restroom was designed with such unbroken bilateral symmetry that I assumed there was a mirror between the two rows of sinks in the middle of the room.

Now here’s the interesting bit, the thing that didn’t occur to me until I wrote this out: the fantasy-oriented explanation for what I took to be weird phenomena was dismissed out of hand in favor of a science fictional explanation. And for a while I thought that revealed something about my unconscious loyalties on the F & SF spectrum.

Then again, the fantasy explanation was the first through the door…so what does that tell me?

One thought on “Notferatu

  1. Karen

    When something startles me and triggers my lizard brain, I always jump straight to e.g. “oh shit I’m a vampire” without pausing for logic or reason. The science catches up a moment later, performing its usual function: breaking down the scary unknown into manageable parts and processes.

    As far as your loyalties are concerned, I’ll just point out that you’ve managed to work a full range of the spectrum into this post quite harmoniously!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *