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The Hall of Mirrors


by dan4884

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In a corner of the Deserted Fairground stands an expansive red and white striped tent; a staple to the fairground since its inception. Yet it is an afterthought when the Fairground is discussed, mainly because no one is interested in a Hall of Mirrors. Why journey through a tent filled with mirrors when stalls filled with exciting games are right next door? Naturally, the Hall only gets a visitor once in a blue moon.

     Tonight the moon is a lovely shade of blue.

     ***

     True to its name, the Deserted Fairground was empty. Only the shopkeepers populated the area, and they were huddled in their booths, hiding from the terrible weather that raged through the Haunted Woods. Snow and wind tore through the region, making for a miserable night.

     One visitor, a Gelert with a vivid golden coat and a small brown backpack, pushed past the swinging gates and entered the fairground, scarf wrapped tightly around his muzzle. The wind whipped past his eyes, causing them to water uncontrollably. He stopped suddenly and looked around, taking in the unnatural site. All around him were shining carnival attractions, covered in snow, creating an eerie effect of desolation. Carnivals were supposed to be happy. This one was depressing and spooky, to say the least.

     The snow increased, streaming towards the ground in torrents. The Gelert, named Charlie, shuddered. Why he was here, even he didn't know. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. The Fairground would be empty, and he'd be able to enjoy all of the attractions with no wait time. And Charlie hated to wait. But he needed a shelter soon, or he'd freeze to death. He glanced around to find an indoor safe haven, but found none.

     He hurried to the nearest booth, the Coconut Shy. The strange, bug-eyed Quiggle was half hidden under the counter. He scrambled up when he noticed Charlie hovering over him.

     "Welcome to the Coconut Shy. Try your luck," he said halfheartedly, pulling his cloak tighter.

     "Oh, I don't want to play, I was just wondering if there's a place I can go to warm up around here...?" Charlie replied, practically yelling over the wind.

     The Quiggle shook his head. "Do you think I'd be out here in this storm if there were shelter nearby?"

     Charlie sighed, but the sound was lost in the wind. "There's nothing? Nowhere I can wait out the storm?"

     The Quiggle thought for a moment, then lifted a hand and pointed to a tent across the fairground. "There is the Hall of Mirrors, but no one goes in there anymore," he said. "For good reason, too. It's a strange place."

     Charlie turned to where the Quiggle was pointing. The tent seemed like his best bet. It looked pretty blocked off from the biting wind, the worst part of the weather.

     "I'll try that, then," Charlie said, cracking a small smile. "Thanks." He turned to leave when the Quiggle said something.

     "I wouldn't do that if I were you, not even in this situation. The Hall's been known to do some weird things with reflections."

     "I can handle it," Charlie said. "No mirror's gonna scare me."

     "Famous last words," the Quiggle muttered, but the wind swept it away before it reached Charlie's ears.

     The Gelert made his way through the piling-up snow as fast as he could, beginning to become slightly worried, from both the Quiggle's warning and because he was losing the feeling in his paws. If he didn't get into the Hall soon, he'd be suffering from some serious frostbite. He pressed on, treading through the snow. So what if the Quiggle said it was weird? He couldn't worry about that right now. He had more pressing matters to attend to.

     The best part about the Hall was that it was free of snow. Sure, it was a bit drafty, but that was the least of his worries. He was safe from the snow, and already he could feel his toes again, which comforted him greatly.

     Turning away from the storm outside, he looked further into the Hall. Hundreds and hundreds of mirrors lined the walls and ceilings; even the ground Charlie walked on had a shiny material displaying his reflection. And this was just in his view. The Hall was so extensive, Charlie was sure there were tons of pathways of mirrors, all showing his reflection. It spooked him a little bit, to know that everywhere he turned, his image was watching him.

     He ventured further into the Hall, away from the storm, deeper into the tent. Subconsciously, his breathing shortened, his heart beat faster, and he tensed up. And it seemed like the Hall copied his body's changes. A slight breathing was audible over the wild winds outside. The tent's walls slowly rippled in and out, pulsating.

     As Charlie moved along, his reflection did too, both on the left, on the right, above, and below him. Ahead and behind him, his reflections were at strange angles, distorting his body. There was little light, only candles flickering from the entrance, adding to the eerie displays. Charlie shivered involuntarily, and the tent's walls flapped slightly in the wind. This was spooky.

     A faint male voice suddenly rang through the Hall, causing Charlie to freeze, ears perking up. He listened closer, trying to determine where the voice was coming from.

     "If... foolish Elephante hadn't... me wouldn't..." the voice said, fading in and out of earshot. He began to delve even further into the Hall, the light evaporating until it was as dark inside as it was outside. Charlie listened carefully and hurried through the corridors towards the voice, which was still muttering incoherently. He rounded a corner and there it was.

     It was an image, a reflection of a Nimmo, pacing back and forth between a few mirrors, his image passing through each mirror as if they weren't there at all. He was a pale, sickly green color, and he wore a ratty cape of pure black with a top hat to match. He looked like a ring master of a failed circus.

     "Um... hello?" Charlie said timidly.

     The Nimmo paused in his pacing, whipping around to face Charlie.

     "Who you?" he asked, eying the Gelert.

     "Charlie," he responded. "Who are you?"

     "I Lucius. Me Creator Hall," the Nimmo said. Charlie noticed his left eye sagged downwards, creating an odd expression on his face.

     "You're the Creator of the Hall of Mirrors?"

     Lucius nodded. "Me Creator," he said, pointing a bony finger at his chest. "Me trapped. No get out. You help?"

     "Sure, I'll help. But what do you mean trapped?"

     "Me work on Hall. One day Hollis trap me in mirror. Me no get out no more. Many years trapped." Lucius sighed, his jaw drooping slightly.

     "Who's Hollis?" Charlie asked, becoming more confused and bewildered by the second.

     "Hollis my son. No very nice though. You help?"

     "Yes, I'll help you. How?"

     "Break mirror. Broken mirror free me."

     Charlie hesitated. He wasn't extremely superstitious, but seven years of bad luck did seem like an awfully long time. Dare he break a mirror to free this Nimmo he didn't even know?

     "Isn't there some other way...?" Charlie began.

     "No. Must break mirror," Lucius said firmly, his lazy eye rolling rapidly.

     Charlie weighed his options. His first urge was to help the Nimmo, but he was beginning to lean the other way. The more he thought about it, the less he liked the idea. Yet as he looked at the Nimmo, he took pity on the poor soul. He nodded.

     "Alright, I'll do it. You're sure this will free you?"

     Lucius brightened up. "Yes, me sure. Thank you!"

     Charlie scrounged through his pack for something hard to break the glass. He procured a small, hardbound book. Setting his backpack down, he leafed through the pages, trying to decide whether or not he should use it.

     "What that?" Lucius asked, eying the book.

     "My journal. It's got Faerie's magic in it so it never runs out of pages. I've had it my whole life and it's got my whole life in it. It's also the only thing I've got that would be hard enough to break the glass. But something's telling me not to. I don't know why."

     He fell silent again and considered the book he held in his hands. A few moments later he looked up, jaw set.

     "Forget the feeling. I should get you out of there. Here goes nothing." He closed his eyes and tossed the book at the mirror, waiting for the shatter of glass. It came a split second later, and Charlie heard a sigh as well. Opening his eyes, he found a very strange sight in front of him. He saw Lucius in front of him, smiling happily, lazy eye swiveling, and he noticed the shards of glass littering the frozen ground of the Hall.

     But Charlie couldn't see much more. His sight was limited strangely, as if he had no peripheral vision. He could only see what was directly in front of him. He tried to turn his head, but it was impossible. His head wouldn't budge.

     "What happened?" he asked Lucius. The Nimmo was staring excitedly into the journal that had freed him.

     But the Nimmo either didn't hear him or ignored him. "Hey!" Charlie shouted as Lucius turned to leave, pocketing the journal. "Hey, come back!" Charlie moved after him, and as he did, he finally realized what happened. He could see his reflection in the mirror across the aisle. He gasped.

     He was in the mirror. Trapped.

The End

 
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