The flickering thought in my mind flares. “Everard,” I whisper so afraid to speak, so afraid to break the spell, but needing to before something terrible happens.
She doesn’t answer me but her fingers dig into my shirt, leaving red fingerprints to crown my shoulder like droplets of blood. But it’s not blood. It is the dye that grounds the scryer to this realm.
“Everard, I haven’t been cleansed.”
The images fly by so fast that I can’t take them all in. They’re confused, like they’re for me, but not for me. Garett didn’t clear his thoughts before we entered. They're clouding my intentions. Spoiling my one chance to find Aurelia. In the glass I see myself naked and dripping in red dye. And then my sister drenched in blood. I don’t know what’s truth anymore.
The images set my teeth on edge. Anxiety is not supposed to be in the chamber but I can’t shut it off. I’m failing. I have failed. My body starts to tremble. I grip Garett’s shoulders and try to stay focused on the vision. He’s whispering to me but I ignore him. I can’t hear his words over the hum in my brain, anyway.
My eyes burn from staring without blinking but I can’t afford to miss anything. Suddenly I tip forward and then just as I thrust my hands out to catch myself, I’m yanked backwards.
“Everard!” Garett shouts at me as he pulls me away from the mirror. He shakes as I try to wrestle away from him, back to the mirror, and I realize the mirror is shaking too. The truth about what happened to my sister is too much for even the mirror to bear.
“No,” I shout, and claw at the ground. The truth is in there and I want it out. I kick back and Garett’s grip loosens. I scramble to the mirror on my hands and knees. I am face to face with what should be my reflection, but it’s Aurelia’s face I see looking back at me. She puts her hand to the glass and I reach up to place my palm against hers.
“Everard, don’t!” Garett’s voice is piercing but I can’t stop. I have to know.
I press my hand to the glass. My sister’s face contorts into something less than human. A grin splits cracked black lips as the thing that’s not my sister laughs. The noise is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. High and keening. The whole room vibrates with the sound. My palm is on fire. It feels like it’s melded to the mirror. Heat, dark and stinging, spreads up my arm and through my veins. I feel Garett’s grip on my shoulders just as the glass starts to quiver.
The crash of dozens of mirrors all fracturing at once fills my ears and then I’m wrenched away, onto the ground. Garett throws his body over mine and the world explodes into a thousand shards of glass.
For a moment there is only silence and the sharp pain of the tiny glass knives stuck in my body. I hear my own ragged breaths, but no others. “Garett?” He makes no sound.
The room is much darker without the moonlight reflecting from the walls. I twist myself out from under Garett. He lies motionless. In the faint light I can see one large piece of the seeing mirror sticking out of Garett’s back. It takes me a moment to recognize my own bloody reflection in the glass.
I want to scream, but the sound won’t come. It’s trapped inside me with the horror that I created. Garett is dead because of me. Just like my sister.
The door to the chamber slams open and the room sparkles with the light from the hall.
The Master takes one look at the glass and stops in the doorway. “Everard?” His eyes catch on the bloody heap of his son. “What have you done?”
“I just wanted to find my sister,” I say. My voice is barely a whisper.
I’m not sure that the Master heard me. He’s looking at Garett, his usually emotionless face full of pain.
I can feel blood running out of my wounds in streams but I don’t ask for help.
The Master’s footsteps crunch as he makes his way to his son. He places fingers to Garett’s neck and goes still. An eternity passes before he speaks again. His voice is soft. “Everard, please go to my office and bring me the grimoire and the small box I keep in the cabinet there.”
“I’m sorry, sir.”
His shoulders slump in reply. He leans forward and pulls the shard of glass from Garett’s back. “There’s not time. Go!”
Standing is nearly impossible. I take a deep breath and begin to yank the largest pieces of glass from the backs of my legs. All the while, the Master mumbles words over Garett’s dead body. He doesn’t turn to look at me even when I cry out in pain.
I tread carefully, the combination of my bare feet, slick with blood, and the glass strewn floor makes the trip a slow one. I tell myself I’ll be able to run when I reach the hall. I let myself hope that the Master knows how to save Garett.
I am two steps from the door when the laughter starts. It’s the sound the thing in the mirror made, only much more horrible because it’s not coming from the other side of the glass. It’s right here in this room. I am too afraid to turn around.
The Master shouts, “No!” He starts to say something else but he’s cut short by a sickening thud. The Master makes a gurgling noise and I know without looking that his death is in my hands too.
“Don’t bother, Aveline,” says a voice behind me that is Garett’s, but not. “Garett is gone, but thanks to you, I’m free.”
Next week is individual shorts week! Come back Monday for a full short story by Natalie!
Photo by photomaker66 via Flickr Creative Commons
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