I’ve noticed a pattern among some of my short stories where they’re villain-origin stories more than anything else. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always found it a fascinating study to determine what makes someone decide to throw their moral compass away.
For this story, I also took the superstition I’ve learned since living in Japan about how mirrors can be evil. The only magical concept I had about mirrors prior to living here came from Alice in Wonderland, and The Matrix. However, I noticed one day while visiting my friend’s apartment that she kept a cloth over her full-length mirror tucked in the corner of her bedroom. When I asked why she covered it, she said something along the lines of how the cloth helped keep out evil spirits at night. Until that point, I’d never thought of mirrors in such a dark light before.
I thought it was an intriguing idea, and I wanted to do something with it in a story. Hence, “The Remaining Ashes.”
This is also my second interpretation of an “oni,” or demon, in a short story (the other was in “The Chains“). For this story, I thought of this particular oni as one who had lost its physical form and needed someone with the potential to do dark magic to help it.
After writing this story, I toyed with the idea of making it Chapter One of a longer book, but I’ve since gotten distracted writing other books. Maybe someday I’ll revisit it, but until then, I hope you enjoy it!