My friend Joanne Matthew asked me to put all four parts of this serial flash into one post. Done and done … enjoy!
The man pulled his coat closer around him – perhaps this had not been such a good idea, this walk out on the commons. However, it was what he did every night, and he was, if anything, a creature of habit. The fog was so thick that he could barely see in front of him. Every so often he could hear the clip clop of horses hooves two streets over, as they pulled their carriages, passengers shrouded behind closed windows, drivers with mufflers up to their ears.
Was it all that long ago that he would have been in one of those carriages? Not more that three months, surely. Three months since the night of that fatal visit. He had been approached to join a society of fellow philosophers, primarily for his expertise in foreign languages. Ancient languages, to be exact. Right after joining the society, he had received a visit from Dr. Piers D’ Angelo, who brought with him a short manuscript … well, a part of a manuscript, to be exact. He had deciphered the manuscript over a period of days, and notified Dr. D’Angelo, who came that night to pick it up.
Second thoughts are never good things, but he was having them. Whatever that manuscript was, deciphering it had unleashed some kind of unearthly power on him. He was always cold, and he felt like he was being watched, even when no one was in the room. Lighting every single gas light in the house didn’t help – he felt there was a presence there that he couldn’t see, and that it wanted something from him. Each day he looked in the mirror, and saw himself looking older and older. Was it his imagination, or was he aging rapidly?
He had finally covered all of the mirrors in the house, but that didn’t help. He seldom left the house, except to conduct business. He walked at night, in the fog, listening for footsteps that never came. He would hear a faint sound of movement, but he never saw anything or anyone. He felt that he was losing his mind. He turned the corner, and headed back home.
The Presence smiled – This One did not have much longer in the physical world. Oh, but he would have a much longer existence, in the world of Lost Souls.
He walked quickly towards his house, his coat collar pulled up around his neck in the chill of the fog. The only sounds were the occasional clopping of horses feet as they drew their carriages slowly through the mist. He strode up the front steps to his house with determination. Once inside, he made sure that all of the locks were bolted before he hung up his hat and coat.
He moved quickly down the hallway to the rear of the house, and his study. He made a mental note that all of the mirrors were shrouded in black … not that it made any difference. He knew inside that the Presence was still there, but he also knew that to look into the mirror gave the Presence swift access to his soul. he didn’t know how he knew that, but he did. He needed to act swiftly, but with caution.
Entering his study, he lit the gas lamps, then started the fire that he had laid out in the fireplace before he left. He lit his pipe, then paced the room, deep in thought. His eyes went to his bookshelves, drawn to a small book covered in dark leather. It could very well be that it contained the answers he needed.
The Presence watched and listened. He could not stop what he had placed into play, but he began to wonder if perhaps this being was going to be the one to stand up to The Council. A meeting was in order. it was not acceptable to lose this being … the One Who Had The Answers.
Taking the book down from the shelf, he poured himself a drink, then sat down in his chair by the fire. He watched the flames for a long time, sipping from his drink. Towards dawn he added more coal to the fire, and sat down to study the book. It was exactly as he thought – there was a way. Not an easy way, but there was a way.
It was a good thing that he had covered the mirrors. This limited their access to him, while allowing Them to feel that they were gaining power over him because he was afraid of them. Allow them to think what they will – the battle that had been going on for time immemorial was about to take a sudden and drastic turn! One of them would not be surviving – all he could do was limit ancillary casualties.
Shortly after dawn the man took himself up to bed. It was perfectly safe to sleep during the day – he had known that for a long time now. He also knew the exact minute that the Presence had left. He had, of course, been very careful to keep his shield up so that the energy did not realize this. The man was, for very good reason, called The One Who Had The Answers.
It was time. The front door opened, and a figure in a dark coat walked out. He hurried down the steps, then began to walk through the gathering mist, as he did every night. The gas lamps were lit, throwing an erie cast into the mist. He pulled his collar up around his neck, and stuck his hands in his pockets. He walked without purpose – at least, he seemed to have no purpose. In no time he felt the Presence behind him. He hurried on, heading down to the wharfs.
It was coming onto midnight – the witching hour. The cold was seeping into him – this was not the kind of cold that a warm coat was going to keep away. Was his plan going to work? According to the book, it was. According tot he book, he had the answer. But was the answer he found the answer that he needed. Was it possible that the Council had progressed further than he and his kind thought?
The Presence was gathering its power behind him. It knew that this night of nights was the one chance that it had with The One Who Had The Answers. The moon rose high in the sky, and the bells began to toll the midnight hour. The Presence split, and then split again, and again. Per the Council’s instructions, it was replicating itself a thousand fold, and surrounding the figure in the dark coat – the One Who Had The Answers.
Just as the Thousand Presences were inexorably moving in on the dark figure, ready to take him with them back to the Council, the figure began to change shape. It became a giant revolving crystal globe, reflecting the light of the moon, and capturing the Thousand Presences within it. There was a flash of light, and it was gone.
Back in the study the man sat in front of the fire, satisfied with his work. He would be moving on now, the menace here had been averted. Oh, it would show up again, somewhere, sometime. And he would be there, to do what he could. The Council would not give up – but then neither would his people. This time the book had been right – use the power of his enemy against themselves. Where they could capture his soul through a mirror, he could also capture theirs. Which is exactly what he had done, with the thought form he had sent out.
And what do you see in your mirror?
© November 2011 Bonnie Cehovet
And what do you see in your mirror?
© November 2011 Bonnie Cehovet