The best part of being asleep is the half and half just before you wake. My mind wakes up but my eyes don’t want to open, its cold outside of my many, many blankets, mostly knitted gifts from my mother who doesn’t understand why their only daughter doesn’t give up slumming it as she so delicately calls it and come home. It’s not pride as my father calls it, I am happy with who I am and where I am and currently so is Luna is in her favourite spot on my feet which suits me fine, I don’t have to crawl to the dreaded space called under the bed to find my hot water bottle. I turn over, find a comfy spot and pull the blankets, Luna grumbles slightly as I dislodge her and taking this as her queue she jumps down and wanders off. Something tells me it’s not so she can go for a walk, her dragging her blanket and hiding under the coffee table in the front room after our outing to the bus stop yesterday is giving me a hint and judging from the bright light trying to invade my dark little cocoon from the window tells me there is no let up from the Artic conditions outside so I don’t plan to get out of bed any time soon.
I really should have learned over the past two but eventful days that even lying in bed all day is too much to ask.
A shrill shriek of something I recognise but my brain is refusing to process splits the contented silence.
Then suddenly I realise that it is not the alarm clock but the fire alarm.
I disentangle myself from the bed, falling out in the process; grab my clothes off the back of the arm chair-another one of my little gifts from my mum. She hates waste and will gladly donate her useless crap to others knowing she has done her bit and now it falls on the luckless person to take it graciously and either dispose of it themselves or use it. Her conscious is clear.
Trying to pull on my clothes and fight my way to the living room is a gymnastic feet in its self and really I shouldn’t have to worry about cardio for the rest of the week.
Luna tries to hide as I grab her lead, something I hate and she is better off than on and as a rule if no one is around I don’t bother. But as she is a Staffy the other occupants feel safer. She is unceremoniously pulled out and the chain is slipped over her neck as I am still traveling to the door. Out of habit I grab my brolly, again something that I can do without but as the owners of the flats have forgotten how the heating works in the corridors I don’t fancy getting wet and cold just because some turnip tried to relieve the monotony by seeing if the fire system still works. Besides dredds take a lot of time and effort to dry properly.
As I step outside the sprinklers are dying off, must be frozen in the pipes and there is a slight crunch under my faithful old Docs telling me that the pitiful amount of water is icing up nicely on the industrial sized ceramic tiled floor.
My phone rings. Now usually this is a part of everyday modern life, nothing to write home about I hear you say but since the snow started to fall it signal has been nothing at best and in all honesty I actually stand there for a moment trying to work out what the noise is.
Pulling it out of my pocket I see that Catia is calling. She I have time for.
“Actually no.” Catia sounds flustered, but more so than usual, she had to drop out of nursing due to squeamishness and bless her it really doesn’t take much to make her flap.
What does she mean no? Come on woman your English even in the event of a bomb dropping on your home you say can’t complain or muss’nt grumble or the false safe yeah fine, what about you then gently ease into what is really bothering you.
She continues without pausing for me to respond or even breathe.
“there’s a riot at the pub, a kid got stuck in the middle, I got hit so set off the sprinklers to try to calm them down can you get hold of that guy, tall, dark hair, always wears a suit…”
“Yeah, Joe, I can try.”
Ok so I take back the bit about the turnip, seems that she just panicked and tried anything.
I go back into the flat, let Luna off her lead and while I am hanging up my coat and brolly I check the signal on my phone. One bar. I have to chance it, a lot of good things Catia is, her ability to keep a clear and level head is not one of them. I flick through my last call list and hit Joe’s number.
After what seems the longest five seconds of my life so far a broken ringing tone can be heard.
“Yep” Joe answers, always the conversationalist.
I have no idea how long I have until I loose signal so I try to keep it quick.
“Catia just rang; apparently there is a riot at the residents meeting.”
“Say again?” I can hear his confusion and to be fair I see his point, a few old ladies who usually come for a moan about the youth of today and all the free tea and biscuits they can eat rioting, it does seem a bit overkill.
“Riot at the residents meeting, Kid got stuck in the middle, Catia got hit…” I pause for effect, one of Joes rules is no women no kids so this should be sorted soon.
I hear a click as he hangs up. Well that’s my job done; Catia is now in the care of one of the people I trust so me going down as cavalry won’t do any good.
I flick the boiler on; with all the adventures we seem to be having I have missed a couple of showers. Having almost a floors worth of plants growing around me doesn’t mean that I have to smell like a gardener’s armpit.
As soon as I flick off the shower the phone rings again. Twice in twenty minutes, must be my lucky day.
Drying off as quick as I can I see Joe wants a word.
“All sorted. Bring shovels.” As I hear the click of him hanging up telling me that is all. I stand in the bathroom bring shovels, what the fuck has he done and why do I have to bring the disposal gear? I dig out some clean clothes out of my laundry bag and quickly look round the growing rooms believing I will find at least one shovel I damn know I don’t have and after grabbing a couple of trowels and the entire spoon section of my cutlery draw and stuffing them into a embroidered draw string rucksack that already has my emergency stash of papers, green and other rolling stuff I may not be a clairvoyant but I can see a lot more stress that I can deal with sober in the not so distant future. I check Luna is ok for food, water and comfort I drop the latch and pull the door shut behind me.
Bugger, bugger, buggeration. Ok the pitifully small amount of water spat out of the sprinkler system has now frozen. I believe I need say no more than Bambie on ice. Got the picture? Good, let’s move on then.
I pull out my phone to ring Catia when I walk into her.
“Strange question, do you own a shovel?”
I can see the swelling and violent colours of a black eye appearing whether they meant to hit her or not they caught her a good one.
“Come on then I shall explain on the way.”
“Where are we going?”
“To the pub.” I call over my shoulder.
Queue duet of Bambi on Ice. No its ok I can wait a minute.
Stepping through the remains of the double doors of the Red Lion we meet an obliterated room of kayos.
There is not a complete piece of bar room furniture left in the place. Glass is everywhere, pool cues snapped into matchstick sized shards, bits of cushion litter the floor. Oh no not even stuffed not so funny mascot survived.
Ron the ever fateful landlord is pushing the debris around with a broom. He looks done in. The way he occasionally jabs at the pile with the broom but doesn’t actually move it any wear shows just how defeated he is.
Reg looks up, terrified. He seems to relax when he sees me and Catia and leans on his brush.
“Sorry ladies can’t serve you right at this moment.” He points to the rubbish with a haunted look that only a man watching his livelihood going down the swanny can achieve.
“No worries love, it’s Joe we came to see and I was a bar maid once.” I try to sound cheerful.
“Oh well just serve yourselves and leave the money on the, on the…” he sighs and carries on.
Over to one side, at the end of the bar is Joe. Standing in his once immaculate suit, his not so highly polished shoes and the forever faithful Dell boy sheep skin coat. In his hand is a lit cigar, the first one stubbed out in a lonely ashtray that amazingly survived. On the remains of the bar are an empty bottle of scotch and half a bottle of Bourbon with a glass tumbler two thirds full and a pint of dark beer. Joe’s idea of a relaxing drink.
I ignore the large heavy set and above all unconscious man laid out near to Joes feet and as I move round to perch myself on the pool table I also fail to mention the bean pole like figure of another who obviously choose to fight the wrong man today.
“I have trowels and spoons.”
Joe looks at me with a distinct lack of patients over the glass of bourbon.
“We don’t own shovels.” I explain as I pull out my emergency rolling kit and begin to build. Catia and Joe have a conversation that I will be honest, was not listening too until I hear Joe say “we can steal the digger.”
“Do you fancy that” Catia says
“What?” hoping that I would get a bit more of an explanation.
“Fancy stealing a digger.” Well that was stupid of me wasn’t it?”
Fuck it why not “Well I don’t have anything else planned today.”
Sweet baby Jesus on roller skates it is cold. I am sure I mentioned in earlier musings that I thought the Arctic was trying to broaden its horizons, we I know now that it has succeeded.
After I really don’t know how long we almost hypodermic three break through the wall of snow and begin to walk westwards.
I have no idea where our destination is so I follow Catia and Joe as the look as if they know where they are going. This cannot be the case however, after a few minutes we turn the corner and low and behold in front of us is the glamorous entrance of Spectro Vale.
Catia is convinced that we got somehow lost in the snow, it is a fair point, visibility is practically zero. But Joe doesn’t seem to have the same unshakeable belief.
“Where’s that bus stop.” His voice is almost lost to the moan of the wind.
I shout out instructions and we trudge on.
Hahaha! Yes one to the stoner! We struggle through to the sign poking out just above the snow line into a void of snow.
“SEE, SEE TOLD YOU!” I couldn’t help doing a little happy dance but stopped when I met Joes stare.
He seemed thoughtful for a second then spoke.
“Stay here, it’s safe and warm. Stay here until I come back.”
He builds a ramp to get over the wall and aft about ten steps he disappears into the blizzard like Scott of the Antarctic.
After about ten minutes the sound of snow being crushed underfoot is heard and Joe reappears with a perplexed bordering on angry look on his face.
Getting back to the cold but snow free shelter of the block we seem to be steered there by Joe to flat number thirteen on the first floor. It is easy to get into as the door is still missing and inside is completely unchanged. Off white paint all flats start with, the oval mirror draped in a dust sheet the sparse furniture also covered, hold on; there is something different. It is the flat we walked into yesterday. All furniture is in the proper place, not moved around as we left it. It seems strange that the janitor feels the need to tidy up but leave the door. Maybe they didn’t have one spare, what with no deliveries getting in and all.
As I am pondering the future of self-re-arranging furniture Catia has pulled off the sheet covering the mirror. She stairs into it, trying to find her own refection.
Deciding it will not appear; no matter how hard she looks Catia replaces the dust sheet and mutters “How is it connected?”
“Dunno, the snows not normal though.”
“Where were you going?” Catia asks
“To the building site but came back to the flats then same thing happened at the bus stop. Like it was making me double back.”
Joe explains that although he was tracing his steps so’s as not to cross his own path he seems to have been looped back regardless and cannot leave the safety of the block or the bus stop.
Ok so we seem to have some form of tampering only so far known in fairy tales so that the huntsman gets lost in his own forest for all time. Oh joy.
“Like a mirror reflection” Catia replies looking at the huge oval outline.
“Yeah.” Joe answers following her gaze.
This is getting far too scary for me so while they are having this conversation I wander into the bedroom to look for more mirrors.
There is a familiar theme to the decor. Bare room and a space where a bed should be. There is one piece of furniture not covered by a sheet. A dressing table.
Possibly no need for it being on its own in a sentience but don’t forget that a very humble wardrobe contained a whole other world.
On the dressing table was a small old hand mirror. Its mottled surface noticeably dull compared to its much bigger brother in the other room.
I pick it up as if it is about to explode and very carefully peer into the glass.
Nope no white rabbit, just me.
I sigh and with a small amount of confidence I brush the surface with my thumb. No ripple.
I walk out of the room with it still in my hand and look at Catia.
“Is that one?”
“No, normal, well my hand doesn’t disappear.” I say slightly manically
“Does it reflect?” She asks
“Yeah, look.” I reply holding it up to her.
I go over to the mirror and I cave to the strange compulsion to put up the hand mirror to the other to see infinity.
While we are trying this little experiment Joe is repeatedly picking up the mirror moving it several feet, pushing his hand through and beginning again.
Catia positions it to show Joe. As he puts his hand into the mercury surface he disappears from the hand held mirror. We look at Joe, half expecting him not to be there and watching the actual him pull out his hand he reappears in the looking glass.
“I say we smash it.” He says biting his thumb and indicating to the domineering oval.
“It wouldn’t smash” I reply.
“What about smashing the frame?” He replies.
“I want to put Miles in front of it.”
“What? Go into his house and hold it in front of him like Nosferatu?”
Before I have time to reply to Joe he takes the mirror out of my hand and pushes it through the silvery doorway followed by his head.
“This doesn’t reflect in the mirror world, it goes black.”
“How many mirrors are there?” Catia asks with a look of quiet desperation.
“That we know of, four ish.” Joe replies calmly.
“I want to put them into each other.” Catia whispers.
“Welcome to the end of the world.” Joe mutters.
The shrill sound of a ring tone cuts through the silence. Joe pulls out his phone and looks at the screen. He swipes over the answer key.
“Morning Brian”. Believe it or not it is only half past nine in the morning.
“Err yeah, downstairs.”
“Mirrors. Hold on.”
With the phone still to his ear Joe sticks his head through the portal. Pulls his head back out and for a moment the cool, calm, murderous exterior slips. He looks extremely flustered.
“Morning.” Brian’s northern tone comes from behind us.
“Come in I’ve got a job for you.”
Brian looks us up and down. For saying it is still early we are all looking a little worse for wear.
“What’s been going on?
“Tried to leave and came back on ourselves.”
Brian, with a slight look of confusion waits for an explanation that makes sense.
“Try walking to the bus stop.” I add.
“We tried to walk from the block to the building site across the road and ended walking back to the front doors. Then we tried to go from the bus stop to the building site and the same thing happened again.” Joe explains further.
“You’re pulling me leg!” Brian says raising his voice.
“Yeah Brian, its all fun and games.” Joe answers dripping with sarcasm.
I have had enough of this. Why would we be making all this shit up as the boys continue I grab my bag and start rolling?
Catia flops down onto the sofa. She sighs loudly; it appears that all this is getting too much for the poor girl.
I finish rolling something Bob Marley would be proud of, plonk myself next to Catia and offer her first dibs.
“Go back into the mirror; go up to Miles’s flat.” I hear Joe say to Brian.
“Ooh, phone, take it with him.” I say exhaling while I speak.
“No, doesn’t work, when I stuck my head through I got a well-spoken voice saying “what has risen may fall and what has fallen will rise again.” Oh so now I know why he looked shaken after pulling his head back out.
“What do you mean, like a PA?” I ask
“No, through the phone as in speaking to you.” Joe explains.
Brian makes some sort of Star Trek reference, I can’t really remember what it was, I am a Dr Who girl meself and steps through.
It took about fifteen minutes for Brian to go his work and as I was stubbing the nub out on the sole of my boot he re-appears.
“Well that’s a bit of a bugger.” He remarks.
“What did you find?” Joe asks.
“Miles room has been swopped over.”
“What?” Joe questions
“Well, you know I said before that in the reflection everything was like props on a set? All cardboard and no substance yeah? Well Miles flat wasn’t like that. It was all real, tins were proper tins and the sofa was well a sofa. And it was the shit tip that we left two nights ago, complete with blueprints. But all the writing was in reverse, like when you hold writing up to a mirror,” Brian pauses for us to speak, or take a breath, he was getting quite flustered over the next bit of information.
“I remembered what you said about your phone not working properly so I tried ringing you. But what I actually got was the sound of static and a faint voice saying:
“Go back and find a mirror. Take this, it will turn black.” instructs Joe, handing him the seemingly innocent hand mirror.
“Aint the strangest thing that’s happened.” Brian replies. As he reached out to take the mirror, it must have brushed over where he had been bitten because he began to poke at his hand.
“Doesn’t feel right.”
Catia, with her nurses’ instinct reaches out to Brian and pulls his hand towards her.
“Where the bloody thing bit me.” He continues looking at Joe.
“What bit you?” Catia asks in the calm, careful tone of nurses training.
“Yesterday, clockwork things.” I think Brian has possibly lost a small amount of his power of speech. I noticed that where two puncture wounds should have been but was now just a patch of dry flaky skin but I didn’t say anything, we had enough to worry about.
“Something creepy.” Catia shudders.
“Check your room too.” Joe orders.
“Sacrificial lamb here.” Brian replies before vanishing again.
Joe pulled out a map and began to cross reference the numbers. 1 13 corresponded with the flat we were currently standing in but as that was the only match it was put down to coincidence.
As we had nothing else to do until Brian came back we began to come up with ideas for the numbers. Some of the less elaborate were for how many were either in control or not on each floor. How many mirrors were on each floor? How many people were in the building?
While we were discussing the infinite number of possibilities a horrible feeling began to creep up on me. The kind of feeling that starts as a shock in your stomach and falls down your legs making you cold as it goes.
“Has anyone checked their own mirrors?” I hesitate, I am not totally sure I want to know the answer.
“I don’t have any.” Joe shrugs.
“I am just going home for a moment.” I say as I back out of the door.
As I turn the corner onto my floor I see a hooded figure at my door. I hang back for a moment; I think they may have come to get me.
The hood moves, indicating that the figure has just checked to see if anyone is around, then begins to knock frantically. Personally I don’t see the clockwork men knocking.
“Can I help you luv?” I step out of the shadow of the stair well I can see one of the local ASBO crew.
He pulls down his hood to reveal a sweating, pasty looking, shaking mess of a lad not too much younger than me. I sigh inwardly I really don’t like seeing a body beginning cold turkey; it just shows how sad people let their lives get.
“Yeah. Erm me mate said.” He can hardly get his words out he’s got the shakes so bad. He thrusts his hand into his pocket and pulls out a handful of notes. He would gladly give me everything he owns at this point for a fix.
“Look, can we go inside. I don’t really want to do this out here.” I am surprised, most would gladly swop cash in a police station the state he’s in. I am hesitant though, the last couple of days have made me question everything.
I look him up and down, if the clockwork men can do such a bang up job of copying this wreck then we’re all doomed, we just don’t know it yet.
“Come on in.” I unlock the door and walk in. Luna goes crazy at my return but she quickly goes to her bed after a bit of fuss.
The lad sits down but he can’t sit still. I pull out a shoe box from under the table and look for my medical strength, this lad needs calming down. I roll a blunt and offer it to him. He takes it great fully and after a few drags it seems to help a little.
“What can you get?”
“Just weed luv.” I reply taking the smoke.
“Don’t you do owt harder?” He looks crestfallen.
“No I just do weed.”
“Look, please, can’t you ask someone. Because of the snow no one has anything. We are getting really desperate. Please.”
“There is someone I can try. Do ya want a brew?”
I go to the kitchen and check my phone. Well will wonders never cease? Still one bar but it keeps disappearing. Ah well you never know.
“Yeah.” I hear Joe say.
“Don’t suppose you have anything stronger than weed on you?” There is no point saying hi its Maggie to this man, he really doesn’t do phone calls and the last time I said it his reply was yeah I know, the display screen told me. I took the hint after that.
“Not much, few sample bags; why?”
“I’ve got a lad here with the shakes so bad I think he would give anyone with a fix everything he owned right now.”
“I’ll take it.” Joe replies without skipping a beat, a business man to the end.
“Well knowing where you are I can’t really send him to you.”
“Find out his address and I’ll drop by later.”
“Ok cool, listen, he says there are a few of his mates looking around too, there is almost nothing left because of the snow.”
“Yeah, yeah I’ll sort it.” And Joe hangs up.
“What’s your flat number luv? The lad I just spoke to is a bit busy right now but he can come round later.” I shout through to the front room as I finish making the tea.
“Second floor flat eighty one.” He answers relief dripping off his words like syrup.
I grab my phone and quickly text the address to Joe. My memory is worse than a rusty sieve.
“Thank you, thanks. Nice one, thanks.”
I look up and he is closing the door behind him, well the state he was in at least he said thank you before he left. I pause; I know I came here to do something. I look round Oh yeah, mirrors.
It doesn’t take me long to dig out all the mirrors I own I am not the kind of gall that when asked if she is ready shouts back I said I would be ready in five minutes, stop asking every half hour! And it’s not like you need one to wash your face or brush your teeth.
I fight to push the window open. Eventually after I managed to shift enough snow and ice to home a penguin from around the frame I have a gap large enough to throw through and waste no time in doing so. On the last mirror though I something horrible. As it spun end over end I saw a pair of eyes that were most defiantly not mine staring back at me. No I agree it is not as horrible as some of us have seen (Brian) but when that happens to someone when they are not expecting it, it can throw you off.
It was only a brief glimpse, but to be honest that was enough before it was lost to the fog. I heard the smash then quickly shut the window, just in case. That and I was rapidly losing heat.
I grab the medical strength off the table and role another blunt. It is a bloody good job I am harvesting soon; with all the drama of the last few days I am going to be smoking my profit soon.
Slightly unsteadily I go back down the first floor, fault thirteen; I am not staying on my own for the foreseeable future.
“Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck!” Is just about all I can manage about now.
As I explain what happened to Joe, Catia is checking around behind me through her mirror compact. An action which is defiantly not helping my mood right now.
“Was it your reflection?” Joe askes without a trace of humour. Second straw braking.
“Look, I may grow strong shit but apart from today I have never touched it. And that was not me.” I say quietly through gritted teeth.
“I hate this building!” Joe says throwing his arms out wide.
“I want to burn it down? Why don’t we burn it down? In fact fuck it! Let’s burn it down.” Joe’s crusty exterior slips slightly again as he has a conversation all on his own, then suddenly, as if he realised what was going on it was back up.
“It isn’t snowing outside.” He said to me.
Ooookay it isn’t back up it has totally cracked.
“Yes it is I got a face full of it when I was generating around.” I pause and do some rough maths work with the aid of my fingers. “Twenty eight years bad luck.” Shit, really that much?
“No, I rang the boys up earlier and outside this building as in the streets around the area are all clear. It is not snowing.
“Yes it is.” I say slowly and carefully, as not to excite him.
“Yes, here it is but not everywhere else it is not.”
“Well why not? What with everything else happing around here.” I concede.
“Now I don’t know what usually happens, I’m not a Sy fi fan.”
Ah ha just my field.
“Well what usually happens is Dr Who turns up and saves the day.” I answer confidently.
“I don’t know who the hell you’re talking about but he had better hurry the fuck up.”
As we study the mirror again, willing it to show us something we hear a cough behind us.
Brian is in the doorway.
“Not disturbing you am I? Have I been through some shit today?”
“Really?” I ask a little manically.
“Really, really.” Brian answers mockingly.
I open my mouth to rip him a new one when he pulls aside his coat to reveal a mass of blood and bandages.
I shut my mouth again.
“You have, he has. Maybe it will make sense if we…”
I shush Joe into silence, a risky manoeuvre I know but it is worth it.
Sqeeek, sqeeek. Slurp splat.
Shit it’s the only understands English when it suits him cleaner.
Without a word we all come to the conclusion to leave the flat in the opposite direction, handily which is towards the Red Lion.
Which now sadly looks like a bad day in Bosnia, Sat at the end of the bar is Reg. Very drunk with a shot glass and an almost empty bottle.
Reg slides the bottle over to us and after fishing out some un-unbroken glasses and join him in a drink to mourn the passing of his livelihood
“What a day.” Reg says to himself. He pours another drink for the group and in silence we drink our drinks.
Brian chooses this to be the perfect time to show is what he saw in mirror world.
Brian shows us all the picture of inside his flat, his own apartment; it seems, like almost every other reflection version of a place that I have heard him describe, as an imperfect reflection of his apartment. Brian explains he is about to leave when he hears a low snoring sound emanating from his room. Warily venturing in the sound appears to be coming from a pile of covers on the mirror-version of his bed, he pulled them back carefully he exposed a hessian sack made into a horrific likeness of a head with two large round button eyes and thick black stitching making a straight line for a mouth, the snoring appears to be coming from inside the sack and it looked like the scarecrow figure is wearing Brian’s pajamas. Drawing back in horror, he caught the the covers with his foot exposing the arm of the scarecrow, he nnoticed with terror, there was fear in his voice. That there is a small patch of perfect human skin on the right hand of the creature, corresponding with the number patch on his own hand.
There was the same scarecrow copy of Brartek sitting in Barteks flat which was disturbing enough but the video clip of the thing moving only its head when he says his name backwards was worse.
After he had managed to jimmie the door open and walk inside, he can just make out a barely visible figure sits with its back to him in Bartek’s high backed chair, as he circles round the chair warily he saw another scarecrow like figure, this one clad in the same charcoal grey suit that he last saw Bartek wearing; he attemps to talk to the figure but got no response until he tried speaking backwards. The head begins to move on the screen, following him around the room, soulless black button eyes staring blankly at him. Even though Brian is not in the picture it is easy to hear him trying to breathe slowly clearly uunnerved by it. He writes ‘who are you and what do you want?’ backwards on a piece of paper and tthrew it onto the lap of the scarecrow; it reachedd up slowly with its other arm to retrieve the note. There is a sharp intake of breath and the picture zooms on to its right arm. It is almost entirely human. Again Brian attempts to speak to it backwards saying “Who are you and what is this place?”
The screen goes blank.
“At this point my phone rings. When I answer it over the crackling staticy noise he hears a voice that sounds like Barteks but only speaking backwards. He says wwhat are you doing in my home? I thought that you would have bought you friends again. Realizing that I am speaking to the scarecrow and that it seems to have Bartek’s memories. I drag the downward facing mirror that was being used a table in the apartment upright and points it at the scarecrow, when he looks into it he sees the real world apartment and the real Bartek sat on his chair, he looks pale and very unwell, he is rubbing his right arm with a pain expression on his face. Which was a bloody shock; I say a bloody shock I can tell you. I then step into the large mirror, and emerges under the table in Barteks apartment, when I crawl out and attempts to speak to Bartek, the old man fires an antique pistol from beneath his blanket, hitting me square in the shoulder, the old gangster then shouts at me Which one are you? I’m the real one I reply, showing the blood from the hole in his shoulder, this seems to mollify Bartek somewhat who then directs me to some appropriate tools to remove the bullet and cauterize the wound, clean meself up like, in his bathroom cabinet. When I returns, having cleaned meself up, Bartek (after some small prompting) explains that he originally used to live on the tenth floor of the building, but after he noticed some strange goings on and that they seemed to focus around the thirteenth floor he bribed his way into possession of his current apartment; it was when he moved in he found the mirror and realized that it was potentially a gate to somewhere else, unwilling to go through but not wanting to dispose of it unless someone else was tempted by it Bartek pointed it at the floor and disguised it as a simple table. Bartek asks me whether he has seen the original blueprints of the Specto Vale block and, when I look at him blankly, he explains that there was no thirteenth floor listed on the original blueprints but there is one on the revised blueprints made available to the public; he also mentions to me that no-one in the flat seems to remember exactly when the storm began or how long they’ve been trapped here, most people don’t seem to want to know. Well you can imagine my surprise when I can’t remember the exact dates or times either; I then attempts to show Bartek some photos on his phone but Bartek tells me not to use a phone saying that people in the block only get a single when ‘they’ want to listen in on us.
Brian shakily tries to explain to Bartek about the scarecrows and that he believes both himself and Bartek are having their life drained away into their duplicates, as represented by the slowly spreading numbness in his hand and Bartek’s useless right arm. When I wait for him to reply I realise that Bartek has not moved or said anything for several minutes, I leans over to check his pulse and I finds that the old man has died quietly. He took a deep breath and drank from the glass in front of him. Then he dipped into his pocket and dropped the bullet onto the wooden surface with a final thump.
Brian, if you do ever read my diary then I am truly sorry. I was as high as a Hindu cow and obviously did not know what I was saying.
I am not one to blame the weed for people’s reactions. Usually I would say that whatever was said or done while high was what needed to be said or done anyway. However I may have to re label this particular stem of medical strength marijuana as I have absolutely no idea why I said what I said next.
“Well did you have someone elses reflection staring at you through your own mirror in your own home?”
Clearly Brian took a dim view on my attitude and we spent the next ten minutes arguing about how I could have been hallucinating and him not taking me seriously.
“Enough!” Joe shouts in his dad voice. We stop dead and Brian turns to Reg as if nothing has happened.
“When did it start snowing?”
“What?” Reg slurs.
“When did it start snowing lad?”
“Oh c’mon Reg, you must know.”
“I dunno why?”
“Well Reg, you have to keep the bar and cellar stocked. It must be running low as no deliveries can come in.”
“We’re pretty well stocked. Ha well we were.” Reg
“So if it’s pretty well stocked, as you say then you should have had a delivery quiet recently. So Reg, when did it start snowing?”
“Look I don’t see how this is going to help get my pub back to the way it was.” Reg starts getting very irritated about this line of questioning. Just like Brian said.
He storms off and possibly raids his personal stash of black label Vodka as he comes back with a full one in one hand and as he walks past the row of pint glasses he plucks one out and in one swift movement has filled it up four fingers from the rim. Skilfully done. As I am not much of a spirit drinker I feel it is time to roll another.
Brian is saying something about not wanting to go back to his flat, I don’t blood blame him.
“I’d rather sleep in the cab and freeze to death than go back there tonight.” He says to Joe.
“Crash on my sofa and shut up.” I reply licking the paper and running my finger over it.
He looks at his spaz hands as he called them and carried on the conversation with Joe.
I now give up.
However Joe does not.
“…there are none in her flat; she just chucked them all out the window. Brian that is not a good idea”
“I plan to take out my sack” I cannot help but to snigger slightly at this innocent remark “What was your plan to save my life?” Brian askes.
“Cut your arm off.” Joe says. Did I mention his people skills are epic?
I look to Catia f or a bit of female solidarity but the whole day plus a couple more smokes she is used to had all become too much for her because she is fast asleep curled up on the pool table. Letting the conversation roll over me my brain tries to grab my attention. What I have been hearing is a hissing sound coming from the speakers rigged up on the wall. Proper huge tatty 80’s jobs that probably fell off the back of the lorry but from the state of them weren’t caught in time.
“Are those speakers on?”
“Yeah, their plugged in but the mic’s off behind the bar.”
“Boys? The speakers just started hissing.”
“I am off to my bed” Brian announces, casually.
He then writes down on his note pad Bartek said that the more you notice them, the more they notice you.
“Well I aint going with you.” Joe answers nodding his head. “Let’s have a chat outside.”
Joe picks up sleeping beauty and slings her over his shoulder.
“Take her back to my flat for now.”
“Then I am going to smash the mirror” He calls over Catia.
Suddenly all four of our mobiles. Unknown number is flashing on the screens.
Joe sends it to answer phone while I and Brian press the answer button.
I try to ignore the feeling that I am about be sucked into the phone line.