When Dylan looked into the mirror as he brushed his teeth, it wasn’t his face looking back at him. Stumbling backwards, he reached for the doorknob and took a deep breath preparing to yell for help.
“Stop. I won’t hurt you. I’m you from the future.”
Dylan stopped and looked at the mirror. “You aren’t me. You’re old.”
The man in the mirror winced. “Ouch. I was a mean little kid. I’m not old.”
Shrugging, Dylan opened the medicine cabinet, swinging the mirror towards the wall. He tapped around the back looking for a power supply or some kind of electronics.
“Don’t you want to hear about the future?” The voice called out from the other side of the cabinet door.
Dylan closed the door again and faced the man in the mirror. “Like what?”
“Before we begin, I do want to point out that I’m not old.”
“You have a beard.”
The man rubbed at his beard and frowned. “Beards are cool in the future, you know.”
“It doesn’t look cool. It looks old.” Dylan was pretty sure after all that this was not him from the future. He wouldn’t ever have a beard, even if other people said it was cool. He opened the cabinet again to figure out how the trick was done. He knocked on the back of the mirror.
“Dylan, Dylan, Dylan,” the voice said. “Stop that. I can prove I’m you. I’ll tell you something no one else knows.”
Dylan swung the mirror back partway, still holding onto the edge of the door. “Like what?”
“Um. I don’t know. Oh, wait. You dream all the time that you can fly. You have nightmares about carnivorous flowers. You cheat when you play solitaire.”
“Whatever.” Dylan crossed his arms. “What do you want, anyways? It’s not like I’ll really become you anyways. Not now that I’ve seen how stupid I look with a beard.”
The man in the mirror stroked his beard again. “I told you, it’s cool. Wait and see.”
“So, why are you here? Do you need to warn me about something?”
“Hmmmm.” Old Dylan thought for a moment.
Dylan rolled his eyes. “Did you forget why you came here? Told you you’re old.”
Old Dylan pointed at him through the mirror. “That’s it. I’m not telling you anything. You get to suffer.”
“I thought I was you.”
“So you’ll suffer too.”
Old Dylan smiled. “Yeah, but I’ve already lived through it.”
“But maybe you could tell me some stocks to invest in or something and we’d both be rich.”
“You’d just waste all the money before I could spend it,” Old Dylan said.
“That’s what you think.”
“I’m you too, so you think it too. Hah!” Old Dylan crossed his arms across his chest.
Dylan swung the cabinet door open and knocked on the back of the mirror.
“Knock it off, that’s annoying and loud.”
“You’re old, old, old, old, old old, old.”
“That’s it, I’m leaving.”
Dylan knocked on the back of the mirror a few more times. When he didn’t hear anything, he swung the mirror back in place. Old Dylan was gone.
Years in the future, when beards were actually cool, Dylan didn’t grow a beard. But he was interested in time travel. He studied it extensively, with the firm belief it would someday be possible. When he joined a team inventing a way to visit the past through mirrors, Dylan volunteered to be the first test subject.
He convinced them to allow him to check in on his younger self so that they could see the effects of visiting a past self firsthand. After a bit of reflection, he decided to grow a beard just for the occasion. He thought it would be best to complete the loop. Plus it would be funny.
“You can’t tell your younger self anything about the future, you know,” the lead researcher reminded him. “You signed an ethics agreement.”
“Don’t worry,” Dylan said. “I won’t tell me anything.”