The Mirror Edge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 26, 2018

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Submitted: February 26, 2018

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The Mirror’s Edge.

 

1.

Strange how I came to meet up with Rulz. The invitation, though, was one too hard to resist – a challenge. But not just any challenge; a maze one. It wasn’t until I signed my name on that dotted line that I learned of the threats....the monsters. That was a bit of a cheap shot but would it have put me off? Probably not, but it might have made me think just a bit before inking down my signature.

I’ve thought long and hard about what to wear. I’ve gone for the more practical look. Red leather pants, a red t-shirt topped by my ultra-favorite, ultra-thick, black leather jacket. No hat, they can slip down too easily, but I’ve scraped back my spiky hair, pulled it tight into a messy ponytail. The last and most important choice is in my footwear. Calf-height, flat, black leather lace up boots. Their soles are thick, have good grip, and they do provide my feet a bit of protection.

I almost forgot my gloves! Fingerless, always fingerless. Gives that freedom to the fingers while protecting the hands. Black, of course. I look like a Goth, especially with my pale face, but without any of the more delicate touches like lace, plunging necklines. I’m all work and no play as Rulz hands me a backpack and my adventure begins.

 

2.

The trap door opens beneath me, so suddenly I momentarily curse Rulz for not giving me the head’s up. One minute I’m standing there and the next I am plunging, tumbling down to land with a jarring force on my feet.

I take a moment to assess myself – I’m okay, so it couldn’t have been too big a drop – and my surroundings. There’s nowhere behind me, the trapdoor is shut above me. I have the simple choice of going left or going right.

There was some mention of this in the rules Rulz showed me. If only I could remember which way went where. I know this is important, where I get any weapons...I’m going to have to go with my instincts and my instincts say ‘Go right’.

As soon as I make that decision the other option disappears. I’ve made my choice so I’m just hoping that it is going to prove to be the right one. Not many steps in my thick soled boots and I find myself in a small room, dimly lit, and ringed with a selection of weapons.

So much choice! But it’s a mirror maze; I have to remember that. I don’t want a gun or a bow or any long range weapon. I’m going to keep the combat up close and personal, and now I’ve decided that I know just what I’ll pick. Two daggers, one with a blade of silver, the other with a blade of iron. Both look sharp.

I reach out to pick one up and this skeletal hand grips on to it, stops me from removing it. I try the other and another hand grips on to it, this one with a few bits of flesh and muscle remaining. Okay, some kind of trickery, so I’m going to have to employ some of my own.

I reach out for the revolver next to the silver bladed dagger and only at the very last minute change direction and clasp that dagger, draw it away to leave those skeletal fingers opening and closing on nothing. One down, one to go, but somehow I think it won’t be so easy now.

Think, I tell myself, I’m wasting time and need to get going. I head off across the room towards the far side, then spin and dive, clutching the iron dagger but falling as I do. Somehow I’ve managed to end up on the floor without actually stabbing myself. There is an outraged squeaking noise from my backpack. Most be the Kritterbug! I’m going to leave it, let it get over it.

I get to my feet, brush myself down and, dagger in each hand, head towards the one and only exit.

 

3.

The corridor that I am walking along gets narrower. There are tall concrete walls to my side, grey and very solid. I can’t really see where they end because the ceiling seems to be made of the same unforgiving substance. It’s kind of claustrophobic and makes me feel a bit like I’m making my way further inside my very own tomb.

And then suddenly I’m surrounded by glass. Not flat glass but reflective. There’s not one of me now but four; one to my right, my left, one above and below. That’s how I thought it would work but I didn’t take in to account the reflections of reflections and there are many more than four of me now. Disorientating to the extreme, for a while I just stand there, no longer sure which is me and where I’m going.

One step at a time, slow and steady, until I can get to grips with the dizziness, the nausea. I find that if I look straight ahead it’s better; the other ‘me’s are restricted to my peripheral vision and I can almost shut them out. A bit further on, and there is more concrete panels, interspersed with the mirrors. I find that helps a bit, to get my bearings but I must have lingered more than I thought for I can hear a bell. Is it real or just an illusion in my head?

Then I see it somewhere in front of me, a spider. No big deal, I don’t suffer from arachnophobia. I can just walk past it, leave it be. But that was not taking in to account the mirrors. It now seems like there are hundreds of them, swarming towards me form every direction. I take to my heels and run, following along the maze, going this way and that way.

The spiders are getting bigger as I go. Most would now put a tarantula to shame. My boots squash mercilessly as I run, but they walk all over me; up my legs, down my arms, I’m sure I can feel one making its way inside the collar of my jacket. I round a cement corner, run past a wall of mirrors, looking out for a passage to open up anywhere -- I don’t care where.

And then it does, I take the turning and the corridor closes behind me. I’d give anything to be able to back-track but that’s not going to happen.

 

4.

She’s huge! She’d easily put Shelob to shame....yes, I know my ‘Lord of the Rings’. She doesn’t do anything – yet – but just sits there, all of her eyes turned in my direction. I know there is only one of her but the mirrors show so many more. I’m not going to be able to look away or I’ll never figure out which is really her again.

Damn that wall! Wait, the Kritterbug! If I step on it’s tail it will spit out a pearl; one that will open any wall to give me temporary safety. I keep my eyes on the spider and reach round to my back-pack. The fluffy creature is kind of ugly and not too friendly, nipping my finger as I pull him from the bag and put him on the ground.

The tail! I have to stamp on it’s tail! “Sorry,” I mutter, and tread down. It lets out an appalled yelp and there goes the pearl, rolling straight towards that giant eight-legged freak. I’ve lost it, my chance to think, to plan a course of action. But it as taken it’s concentration away from me, the pearl and the Kritterbug that making it’s way towards it.

No!” I yell, as the spider grabs the little creature and with one bite parallelises it and begins to spin.

It’s now or never. Fight or die. I leap forward, knife in each hand, and I stab and stab, over and over, what must be it’s blood spurting and burning wherever it makes contact with skin. It’s like liquid is flowing up everywhere, reflected in curious streams from the mirrors. She screams and her hairy, spindly legs reach up to grab hold.

One of them catches me. This is so not what I do, I hate cruelty of any sort, but I slash at it, detach it and the grip loosens. It’s looking straight at me now, one eye so close. I know what I have to do and I do it, stabbing straight into it’s eye. There is a keening sound, shrill and painful and that monstrous spider collapses to the ground.

From all around, Kritterbugs descend. I turn away in disgust as they start to feast on the spider corpse but not before I reach out, grab one, and stuff it inside my backpack, quickly fastening up the zip.

And just in time, for with a slight grating noise, one of the wall panels moves aside. One maze down, four to go.

 

5.

Before moving off in this maze I stop for a snack. Water and fruit, that’s what Rulz has provided. I’d rather it have been chocolate, and lots of it too. I’m in definite need of a sugar-rush and fruit is a bit too slow.

I look at my hands, a few burns here and there from the spider blood, but my fingers are working, I’ll be fine. Feeling slightly more refreshed I begin to make my way along the corridor.

There’s something weird going on. It’s disconcerting to the extreme. One moment I’m standing next to a mirror and then the panel becomes stone. A few seconds after and it’s back to being a mirror.

This seems to be happening everywhere I turn. Under my feet, above my head and on both sides, panels are swapping and changing and the whole thing is making a strobing effect. One second it’s bright, the next it is dark. I really have no chance of seeing my way. I’m going to have to reach out, walk blind and hope I find the turns when they comeup because there’s no way I’m going to see them.

But these panels, they’re hot, burning under my fingertips as they flicker through those changes. I’m almost sure the soles of my boots are going to melt. I’ll have to keep moving so that they don’t stick, can’t afford to pause.

Each time I turn a corner I hear the way behind me close. I’m wondering if there is a faster way to get through these things and just while I’m having that thought, I trip, land face against a changing panel. I howl at the pain, can’t help it.

I need the Kritterbug and this time I’ve got to get it right. It doesn’t seem to be bothered by the heat on the floor which makes me wonder if maybe I’m imagining it. But I’m not imagining that big burn. I step on the Kritter’s tail, not so hard this time and scoop up the pearl it spits out. I press it to the panel on my left and it opens, lets me into a safe place, not much bigger than a cupboard.

Here I can rest, replenish my water. And the burns, on my face, my hands, they’re healing. I can’t stay long but I spy a bar of chocolate, munch it up and hey, I’m ready to go. I step back into the maze and although it is still disorientating I am finding it that bit easier.

It’s the noise that warns me that I’m coming to the end. The growling, the spitting...what am I going to be confronted with this time?

It’s only small, this thing I’m shut inside with. Small and very ugly. It’s like one of those things they put on walls to scare away the demons....a gargoyle of sorts. Like the panels I’ve been passing, it switches from skin to stone and back again. No wings but it’s very swift on it’s little short legs.

I’ve got to evade its touch or I’m going to be turned to stone – that’s the idea that is forming in my head. So I dodge and I dive, colliding into mirrors, banging off the concrete. I’ve got to time it right, stab when it’s flesh not stone. The first time I miss, the second I strike and once I do it stops changing and I go in with that fatal stab.

A couple of Kritterbugs make their way to the still warm body. I grab one quickly, put it into my backpack and wait for the next doorway to open.

 

6.

The door slides open, I step through into maze number three, and instantly I sense something very different. There’s a smell of damp, of plants, but somehow I don’t think I’m going to be walking through a rose garden. Again there’s mirrors, mirrors everywhere. I’m not sure if I’m beginning to become immune to their disorientating effects or not, but at least I can tell which way is forward with a bit more ease.

I think the first glimpse I have is from above me, but then it could just be reflected from beneath me, beside me. Vines, apparently growing and spreading out from the wall itself. Is it even possible for something to grow so quickly? Of course it’s not, but here in this maze possibilities seem to have become limitless.

Run!’ my mind screams. ‘Don’t let it grab you, entangle you!’ And that’s what I do, my feet dodging the grasping pieces of greenery that reach out for my ankles. But I can’t pick up speed. I need to be able to take the turnings when they appear, and instead I am crashing in to walls.

The vines are quite low to the ground. I can slash at them with the knives I’ve still managed to hold on to but I’ll have to run in a crouch, knees bent low and hands constantly stabbing downwards. I try it for a while but my thigh muscles rebel, my knees cry out in pain. I’ve got to stretch up, ease out the cramp.

It grabs me, this vine, and swiftly starts to wind it’s way around my ankle. Another one is approaching from the other side of me, or is it above me? I don’t know! In my panic I’ve lost track of up and down and I’m pulled to my knees. ‘Hack at it, you fool.’ And I do.

The silver knife is sharper, slices straight through, but the iron blade makes the vine shrivel. I’ll use both, in a left, right slashing motion and it lets go. I’m up and running or down, I don’t know, frantically looking for the next turning and trying to keep out of reach of the increasingly dense wall of greenery.

Round the corner and the narrow corridor closes. There’s no more scent of plants. Have I done it? Made my way out of the third maze? Something is telling me it has been too easy. Carefully, I walk forward. All seems quiet, peaceful, almost too much so as I find myself beginning to relax. Can’t do that, no, I need to be able to react instantly. Something is trying to hypnotise me.

There, one the ground, it looks like a coiled rope. But which is the real one and what is it doing here? When it begins to undulate, to lift, I can see that it is not a rope at all but a snake. One head, two heads, three heads four!

Are there four snakes there, or one snake with four heads attached. It’s hard to tell, and I’m not sure which I’d prefer. The mirrored walls make it hard to tell which heads are real, where they are coming from. One after the other they uncoil to face me, their eyes emotionless, tongues flickering out of their mouths.

They are undulating gently, trying to mesmerize me. It’s so hard to resist the effect of it when it is all around me. I can feel myself starting to sway in time....

Angrily I stamp my foot, then realise that I’m standing on glass. Have I broken it, cracked it? Seven years bad luck for breaking a mirror so they say. I look down, I think, but maybe it’s up. No cracks, but those heads have reared back, they’re getting ready to strike. I can’t defeat them. Even if I got two of the heads that would still leave two more; but maybe I can trick them. I’ve nothing to lose.

I remove the Kritterbug from my backpack, place it beside my foot, and then with a great feeling of guilt, stomp hard on it’s tail. The pearl shoots straight from it’s mouth, heading forward rapidly. Each of the four heads turns to watch it. Each wants it and they are going to put up a fight to acquire it.

Don’t think, run! And I do, just making it passed that coiled body before they realize that I have gone. The door springs open and I pass through it. I’ve made it, tricked my way through maze number 3.

 

7.

I rummage through my backpack. About half a bottle of water and a couple of bruised looking apples. I have just a sip of the water, then recap the bottle. I’ll carry on without a snack as those apples really don’t look very tempting.

It is when I am doing up the zip that I realize something’s missing. There is no Kritterbug. I’ve got no way of replenishing supplies, of getting myself a breathing space. And more importantly, I’ve got no way of healing should I get injured.

Should I try and go back for it? The way is blocked and anyway I’m sure Rulz said that they each could spit only one pearl. No, I’m well and truly on my own for maze number 4.

This is a strange one. There are still mirrors but they seem to hold some kind of swirling mist. It’s quite comforting really, easier for me to tell which way I’m going, where the turns are. It’s not smoke. No, there is not even the slightest hint of burning on the air. It’s just a haze of some kind.

There’s a scent, a nice scent, a seductive scent. It makes me want to take my time, indulge my senses, breathe it in. Why rush? After all there doesn’t seem to be any danger here, nothing to try and escape from. I’ll just lean a bit closer, get a bit nearer. I find myself pressing up against the glass and suddenly falling through it.

Green trees, lush green grass and the biggest brightest flowers you can possibly imagine. Where the hell am I now? Where are the walls, the corridors? How can I know which way to go when the whole landscape seems to be open to me.

Perhaps they’ve become invisible, the walls. If I spread my arms out perhaps I can touch them and find my way like that. I spread out my arms but there’s nothing. I reach as high as I can above my head and there’s nothing there either. Reaching down I find that it is indeed grass beneath my boots.

Now what? Where do I go? Am I going to be trapped here forever? As I stand there pondering a dart whizzes it’s way past my left ear, missing by less than an inch. Then there’s another, and another. Faeries, not pretty ones but ugly little monsters, are zooming my way. The darts are their weapons and they are all aimed at me. I can stand here and let them shoot me or I can take my chances on the direction and flee.

There wasn’t much choice really. I ran forward, and even as I was moving I felt the stings. My jacket and pants were protection enough, But my face, and especially the back of my neck were vulnerable and I felt like I was being stung by a thousand hornets.

I can hear them now, taunting, jeering. There is nothing the slightest bit pleasant about their high-pitched voices. They fly to the side of me now, controlling where I run. They are herding me, but herding me where?

And there she sits. I don’t need an introduction to know that she is their queen. She looks on me with milky white eyes but she does not seem to be blind. Her face is hideous, although her hair is quite spectacular in it’s red waves that cascade to her waist.

Now what? Should I stab her? That would mean instant death by the hands of all her little subjects. Hands! The queen’s hands are skeletal, blue, look like they are freezing. I look at my own hands, warm in my fingerless gloves. My adored fingerless gloves that are as much a part of me as my eyes, my ears.

A sharp stab to the back of my neck brings me to my senses. I take them off, so reluctantly, and hold them out towards her. I know she is looking at them. “For you in exchange for my freedom,” I say.

She reaches forward, takes them, and with a sweep of her arm I find myself tumbling and falling through that hazy mist back in to the maze and level 5.

 

8.

Level 5 and I don’t know what to expect. I do know it is the last of the mazes though, so I am expecting it to be bad. No, make that very bad!

And yet things seem relatively straight forward. There are mirrored panels of glass, interspersed with concrete ones, but nothing’s flashing, burning, I can’t see any insects or hear any buzzes.

I walk along, and the very fact that nothing seems to be happening unnerves me. I should be struggling by now. I’m about to take a turning to the left when it suddenly closes up. Is it a doorway that somehow got to sense that I had passed it. At least my way forward is clear – until a concrete panel suddenly appears before me and I have to take a sharp right turn. It happens again and again, that at the last minute I have to change direction.

Okay, it’s kind of annoying but not as bad as I was thinking it was going to be....until I hear the pittering, the pattering. Footsteps coming from what, from where? Could it be Kritterbugs? I could do with catching myself one of those. I stop walking and look around but I can see nothing apart from multiple reflections of me. The noise has stopped so I carry on.

It doesn’t stop for long though. Rats! That’s what it sounds like! But if there are rats in here with me, where are they? Or are they invisible?

If I could see them, keep any eye on where they were, it would not be quite so disturbing, but hearing them with not a sight – well, it’s kind of petrifying. I’m sure they are behind me, at least that’s where the sounds seem to be coming from. But they could be above me, below me, I can almost feel their breath, their teeth. I’ve got to run and I’ve no intention of stopping.

Well, that is until the maze, keeps blocking me off, making me turn one way then the other. It’s impossible to go at much more than a walk. Oh, Kritterbugs, where are you?

Now the gap seems to be getting narrower, and those footsteps are almost upon me. I run and it feels like I’m travelling straight down a funnel to land with a bump in a round chamber. Are the rats about to follow me in, make a living meal of me? No, there’s no sign, no sound. They’ve gone.

At first I think I’m here alone and then I see it, in one mirror, then two. It can’t be what it looks like, it’s not possible. A pterodactyl! They died out centuries ago. But not this one! It spreads it’s wings, opens it’s beak, and swoops. I dodge out of it’s way but only just. The mirrors are working to its advantage. I don’t know what is real and what is reflection.

I pull off my backpack, clutch the silver knife and roll. It’s body is impenetrable apart from it’s underside. I’m going to have to find the right one and stab it in the stomach. It’s screeches don’t help anything, seeming to go through my head like an electric drill. But somehow, I don’t know how, I stab into something and only just manage to roll away from the blood and bodily fluid. It crashes into one mirror, then another, and the glass begins to shatter. With no time even to grab my backpack I find myself falling once more.

 

9.

I don’t know quite where I am, but I am no longer inside a maze. There’s a thick mist all around and the landscape seems colourless; shades of black, white but mostly grey. It’s damp and drizzly. I’m glad of my jacket but I wish I still had my gloves.

I sit up, gingerly testing my ankles, my legs. Everything seems to be in working order so I stand up and start to wander. Which way to go? Left, right, or straight ahead?

I can hear the sea, the waves breaking on to a beach. It doesn’t sound too rough so I’ll make my way there. It’s ages since I’ve been to the sea. It’s a rocky beach, a stony one, no yellow sand but what did I expect.

What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go? These two questions roll around inside my mind as I stare out over those waves.

And then there is the most blood-curdling scream I’ve ever heard. There’s someone sitting on the top of the cliff and she’s pointing straight towards me, wailing like some air-raid siren or something. For a minute I’m scared that there are more just like her, but no, a quick scan around and she does seem to be alone. I breathe out a sigh of relief, too soon, for there she is now, right in front of me.

She’s, how can I put this, ugly! Her face is half eaten away, one eye looks almost ready to fall from it’s socket, but it’s her mouth that is really grotesque. Opening three times as wide as yours or mine would and when it opens she’s screaming and emitting some foul smelling mist.

Which ever way I turn, she is there in front of me, reaching towards me with her claw-like long black nails. She hisses, she spits and she swirls all around me. I’m cold! So very, very cold. All these mazes and I’m going to die at the end of hypothermia, with an old Harpie for company.

It’s her, she’s doing it, sucking the life from me. As I feel myself fading, I can see that she is growing stronger, is forming into something much more solid.

She keeps looking at my feet, my boots. She reaches out a scabby finger to touch them. My boots are an integral part of me and she wants to take them from me. Maybe I can bargain, come to an agreement. Her feet are bare, bloody, cut by the stones.

Do you want them? My boots?”

She doesn’t answer but pauses in her infernal screeching, reaches out, touches them again.

If I give them to you, will you let me go?”

A nod; I’m sure I saw a nod.

Do you promise, now? No trickery?”

A definite nod this time so I bend down and start to untie the laces. I can feel the tears starting to form in my eyes. These boots....well, they’re part of me and it hurts to give a part of myself away.

I pull one off and then the other. I hold them out and she reaches out, takes them and I am falling and falling...

 

10.

And I find myself back on the street, with Rulz by my side. I’m gloveless, bootless; I’ve lost the backpack, but I am alive! I’ve survived the maze and made it home.

Cheers, Rulz! That was some game. Sorry I lost the backpack...it just kind of happened somewhere along the way.”

I start to hobble my way back home, back to where I have more gloves, and more importantly, more boots.

I stop, turn back and wave. “Hey, Rulz! Who knows, maybe I’ll see you around!”

 

 

 

(4774 words)

 

 

 

 


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