The Reaper's Image

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"The Reaper's Image"
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror short stories
Published in Startling Mystery Stories (1st release),
Skeleton Crew
Publication type Magazine
Media type Print (Periodical & Paperback)
Publication date 1969

"The Reaper's Image" is a horror story by Stephen King, first published in Startling Mystery Stories in 1969 and collected in Skeleton Crew in 1985. The story is about an antique mirror haunted by the visage of the Grim Reaper, who appears to those who gaze into it.

Plot summary[edit]

The story concerns a visit by antique collector Johnson Spangler to the Samuel Claggert museum, a museum estate full of Claggert's assembled possessions and "blatant junk", in an attempt to buy the legendary Delver's mirror. The museum curator, Mr. Carlin, ushers Spangler through the building, recounting the storied history of the rare Elizabethan mirror, which has been plagued by incidents of attempted destruction. The museum curator also explains the infamous history of the mirror, recounting all the people who have looked into the mirror and mysteriously disappeared.

Carlin tells the skeptical Spangler the image of the Reaper is rumored to appear in the mirror, standing close to the viewer. Spangler scoffs, but feels unnamable horror when he looks into the mirror and claims to see some duct tape in the mirror's corner. He angrily confronts Carlin, who claimed the mirror was undamaged. Carlin claims however that there is no duct tape, and that Spangler is "seeing the reaper." When Spangler runs his hand over the "duct tape", he feels a smooth surface rather than the rough outside of the tape. When Spangler looks again, the duct tape is gone. As Carlin relates the history of a high school boy who saw the Reaper and disappeared without a trace, Spangler becomes ill and rushes out of the second floor. Mr. Carlin remains behind to wait.. and wait...

The final lines indicate that Spangler never returned and also disappeared.

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