Mirror of the Nine Halls

It has been a very long time since my last post, but I’m looking to get back into writing on a regular basis once again. So here it is: My first foray in some time back into the world of Fantasy I created in previous posts. With a few differences. There will be more. This is but the beginning of something much larger. A story that is only beginning to force its way through my mind and onto the page. Enjoy!

Mirror of the Nine Halls

Kalgan rubbed his eyes in frustration as he prepared to tell the same story over for what felt like at least the tenth time in as many days.
“I told you before. It all started when I looked in that strange mirror.”
The psychiatrist nodded and wrote a short note on his pad.
“And then?” he said.
“I saw my own reflection, but it was wrong. Different. The me in the mirror was wearing a resplendent set of Gold and Silver armor. He carried a matching helmet under his arm. The helmet was stylized like a dragon’s head. The other me also wore a cape. It was red. He… No I looked like a prince. Instead of being terrified, I was… intrigued.”
“And you see this every time you look in a mirror?”
“No!” Kalgan retorted, slightly annoyed. “Just the mirror I found in the old antique shop on Ninth Street.”
“Just trying to get the facts right, Kalgan.”
“Facts you should have got straight the first time I told you this story!” he replied, slightly angry. He didn’t like repeating himself over and over.
“Right. Continue with your story, then.”
“Whatever,” Kalgan said, and sighed. The sooner he finished his tale, the sooner he could get out of here, and back to his life. “At first, I didn’t even know it was a mirror. The surface was pitch black, as if it were a window into a room closed off from the world. No windows and no doors to let in even the slightest bit of light into whatever was on the other side. There was something about the quality of that pure-black polished surface that drew me to it instantly. I had gone reluctantly on this trip with my mother and sister so they could window-shop, but it was I who decided I needed this silly thing. I begged my mother for it. She raised an eyebrow when she looked at it, but shrugged her shoulders and gave me the money.”
“How much did it cost?”
Kalgan rolled his eyes. “I don’t remember. Less than a hundred bucks.”
“Quite a bit of money to spend on a glorified blackboard, don’t you think?”
“If you’d have seen this thing, you would have understood. It was special.”
“Very well. Please continue.”
“I see this is going to take a while. Again.”
“It’s going to take as long as it must. You’re the one who asked for these therapy sessions, Kalgan.”
“And now I really wish I hadn’t. It’s been a total waste of time.”
“That’s yet to be seen.”
Kalgan shifted slightly in the chair. “Anyway… There was something else weird about this thing that I noticed almost right away when we rolled it out to my mom’s car. It was heavy. I mean… All mirrors that big are pretty heavy, but this… It took all three of us to roll it out, and we barely got it up into her car.”
“And how big was it, exactly?”
Kalgan sighed, but decided it couldn’t hurt to answer this one. “Six feet tall from its base to the top. Maybe three feet wide. It was oval, and its surface was flawless. Not a scratch. Not a blemish. Not even a warping anywhere on it. The quality of the workmanship was astounding, but the wooden frame was crap. It looked almost like an old painter’s easel. I decided right away when I took it home that I would liberate it of that shit and find a way to simply mount it on my wall. Something about that pure black fit my mood at the time. I simply needed this thing in my life.”
Kalgan waited for an interruption, but one did not come, so he continued. “When we finally went home after my mother and sister window-shopped a few more stores, we laboriously rolled it into my room. Both of them thought I was either insane or stupid for wanting this thing, and left me with the monstrosity without another word. Then I set to work. I removed all the screws from the back that held the mounting to the crappy wheels, then started ripping the newspaper off the back.”
Kalgan closed his eyes and sat back in the chair. “I wish I hadn’t done that.”
“Oh?”
He was getting into his story again, and ignored the shrink’s interruption. “There were two layers of old newspaper protecting the back. When the first came off, it revealed a much older layer of newspaper, and on it was written ‘GET RID OF THIS MIRROR NOW!’ in great big letters. All caps. It looked like it was written in red marker, or maybe paint. I wasn’t sure. It could even have been blood, for all I know.
“That kinda freaked me out. I almost decided to shatter the thing right then and there, but even the idea of doing that to this remarkable piece of art was unthinkable. I grasped the last layer of protective newspaper and ripped it off with a single, fluid motion.”
There was silence for a moment. Kalgan debated within himself whether to tell the man what he really saw on the other side. instead, he decided, once again, to tell the lie he had told every other time he had told this story.
“And?”
Kalgan shook his head in sadness… Faked, of course. “Turns out what I thought was the front of the mirror was the back, and the back… was the front. It was just a regular mirror. I saw myself as I normally was. I was deeply disappointed, but I tore off the rest of the wooden frame. This thing was mine, now. Might as well pretend I was proud of it. I didn’t want my mother thinking the wrong thing.”
“What about what you said earlier, about seeing a prince-like version of you in the mirror?”
Kalgan sighed. “That only happens when I fall asleep. Every time I sleep, it’s nothing but the mirror, and that strange reflection. But in the morning, after waking up, it’s just a regular mirror again.”
“And so we get back to the root of your particular issue, Kalgan.”
“Oh yeah?”
“This recurring dream of yours, in my opinion, is due to a lack of excitement and adventure in your life. You desire a life different from the one you currently lead, so your subconscious has latched onto this mirror as a plot device to escape this world, and your boring life.”
Kalgan nodded. It did make sense, but only in the context of the lie he had told.
If only the man knew the truth.
He smiled. The truth was not for this man, or any of the other mortals of this world.

 

 

Two Years Ago:

 

 

Kalgan tore the newspaper off his new mirror. That stupid message written in fake blood wasn’t going to stop him! He didn’t believe in horror stories to scare small children.
Part of him was disappointed that he was met with the same pitch blackness on the back of the mirror as the front, but he still liked it, nonetheless. The darkness called to his soul, or at least some deep part of himself he couldn’t identify.
He started to pry off the wooden frame. It came apart in his hands bit-by-bit. It was weak as balsa wood. He was surprised that it had remained intact for all these years with such a crappy frame! He couldn’t understand why the previous owner would do such a thing, but whatever.
Kalgan frowned as the edges of the mirror were revealed. They tapered off to a razor-sharp thinness. The edge was not flat at all, like he had expected. He was going to have to be very careful not to cut himself on this thing.
Very carefully, he managed to tear off the last of the frame. He kept it propped up against his wall, and on top of a couple of old books. He stepped back and admired his mirror. It was like a vertical puddle of dark water at midnight. It was perfect.
Now what to do? He wanted to mount it on his wall, but the thing was really heavy, and would cut him terribly if he so much as slipped an inch carrying this thing.
He stared at the thing for a minute or so, but finally decided it would simply have to sit here for a while till he thought of a solution.
“Hey! Celine!” Kalgan yelled out his door to his sister. “Can you come in here for a second?”
His sister came into his room a few moments later. She stopped in front of his new mirror and stared at it. “What is it you want?” she said without looking at him.
“Any ideas on how I can get this thing mounted up on my wall?”
Celine remained silent.
“Celine. Celine. Earth to Celine. Earth to Celine, this is Houston. Over.”
Celine shook her head and tore her eyes away from his mirror. “Sorry. What was that you just said?”
Kalgan rolled his eyes. “Any ideas on how to get this thing up on my wall safely?”
Celine shook her head. “No. I don’t like this thing. I think you should get rid of it.”
Kalgan looked at his sister disdainfully. “I’m not going to do that. I like it.”
Celine shrugged. “It’s your funeral,” she said, then promptly stepped over the bits of wood on his floor and left his room.
“Some help you are!” he yelled back at her as she turned the corner to head to her own room.
“You’re lucky it’s almost our birthday, and mother was in the mood to buy you an early sixteenth birthday present, Kal,” she said just before he heard her door close behind her, followed a few seconds later by the distant reverberations of loud music.
Kalgan idly tapped the mirror once with his index-finger. He expected a sound, or at least the sensation of some kind of resonance, but he may as well have been tapping a granite boulder rooted to a mountain. There was nothing.
“Hmm…”
He tapped several more times. Nothing. This thing was seriously weird. For the first time, he wondered who made this thing, and what purpose it served. It obviously made a terrible mirror, but he had no idea what else to call it.
“Well, mirror. Let’s see about unveiling a few of your secrets.”
He grabbed a flashlight out of his closet, and shined it directly at the inky-black surface. There wasn’t even a hint of a reflection. Not a single glimmer of color-change either. This thing was strangely as black with light shining on it as when it wasn’t, like shining a light up into the sky at night.
The confounding thing was mysterious, he gave it that. He walked up to it and rapped it with a knuckle. Again, no reverberation, no sound.
He put his hand up to it and splayed his it onto its surface. It was cold. Just like a real mirror would be. He waited a few seconds, then removed his hand. He frowned as he realized that there was no condensation from his hand on it. No handprint. Nothing. It was as flawless and clean as before.
This thing was seriously beginning to weird him out.
He took a step back… and that’s when he saw it.
A slight shimmer… As if something were moving in the background of the darkness. And then it was gone.
Kalgan jumped a bit, and moved forward again, trying to look deep into the blackness. He kneeled before its surface, but did not see it again.
“The stupid thing is so dark that I’m starting to imagine things in it,” he concluded.
He sighed and got up to leave his room. It was nearly dinnertime, and he was getting hungry. Any further mysteries would have to wait until after he ate.
A few moments after he left his room, the mirror sank down through the pages of the books holding it up until it touched the ground. Then it tilted itself up to a perfectly vertical position. And there it sat. Implacable. Inscrutable.
And Dark.

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