20,754 / 50,000
I included some actual historical stuff, and did a smidgen of research this time. Woohoo.
Charlie leaned in closer, ignoring as his shadowy reflection did the same. What he had believed to be fancy script along the edging, was no language he had seen. It hinted at an age for the mirror that Charlie could not even begin to imagine. The antiquity of the mirror had the potential of being worth as much as small fortune their grandparents had left Adrienne.
Once he was able to take a closer look, as his sister stood back and watched, he could see more detail to the work around the rim. Charlie couldn't place the metal bent around the edge of the volcanic glass. It looked like chrome, but the apparent age of the mirror belied that suspicion. The substanced was reflective in its own right, but everything was distorted by the curvature of it, and all the detail work.
Amidst the scrollwork and writing, Charlie could make out images as well. Nothing he could make out, or had significance to his life. It reminded him of heiroglyphic pictograms. There appeared to be humanoid symbols, and others that may have been any number of animals living or dead.
Adrienne echoed Charlie's thoughts while standing behind him, with her arms crossed, just watching as he pored over the mirror. "My life for a Rosetta Stone, eh, brother?"
Charlie only murmured, entranced by the ancient reflector. Having grown up amidst an old house, with a family that owned old things, in an old town, they both had a healthy appreciation of artifacts. They were by no means experts, but they knew their way around an artifact.
Adrienne had taken a few classes at college, and Charlie's additional experience came from doing some manual labour at an archaeological dig. He may have opted to keep people at arms length, but he could still make friends with ease. Showing interest in the dig, with a little alcoholic lubrication, loosened tongues without much effort. Once he showed some interest, the professor and students at the dig were quite eager to answer any questions he had. It may not have been a formal education, but Charlie preferred hands on experience over that any day.
The amount to which this specimen was preserved astounded Charlie. How long had it been stuck up in the attic? Where did it come from before then? It didn't look like it had been buried at any time during its history. While there were a few scratches along the surface, they were very few, and not what he would have expected to find if it had been covered in sand, gravel, and stone. He doubted it would even have been intact in such a case.
"It's amazing, isn't it? I asked some people I knew from my archaeology class about it, and they've never seen anything like it." Adrienne had moved closer. Charlie could see her head hovering over his shoulder, in the mirror's reflection. She pointed along the edge. "They said some of the symbols were similar to Mayan designs, but not Mayan. None of them recognised the script, either. The only thing it reminded them of was Dee's Speculum."
Charlie kept inspecting the mirror while they spoke, "Dr. John Dee? Consultant to Queen Elizabeth, and known occultist?"
"Yeah, I remember reading about his magic scrying mirror." Charlie spent a lot of time in the library at school, and had found a book about the occult in 16th Century England. John Dee was a prominent figure in those days, with studies in all sorts of fields, from regular science, to scrying, astrology, astronomy, and many other pursuits. Charlie also rememebred the historical figure being mentioned in some of Lovecraft's stories. The latter being the main reason the name stuck in his adolescent self's head, and kept the other information with it.
"His mirror was much smaller, more like a hand mirror. It was far from being this reflective, too. I saw some images too, and remember it reminding me of a hot plate. It didn't have any sort of edging around it like this one, either."
With that, Charlie reached out and touched the chrome-like metal around the edge. Before his fingers could meet the intricately worked surface, a blue spark arced through the air when his fingertips drew near enough to it. The sensation felt like someone had hooked a battery straight to the edge, and Charlie had completed the circuit.
He yanked his hand away with a sharp yelp, and even stumbled back a few steps. Charlie was surprised to see there wasn't a singe mark on his fingertip when he looked at it. Adrienne had been close enough to be bumped out of the way, and was grateful her mug was empty except for the barest drops.
His sister looked ashamed, "Sorry, I should have mentioned that. It does that."
Charlie shook his hand in the air, almost expecting to see smoke rising from it. The shock was one of the worst he had ever felt. "All the time?"
"No, just most of it. I got a pretty bad one when I found it in the attic. And when I hung it up. I try to dust it from afar now. You know how this place can get in the winter."
Charlie did. The dry, cold air of the region turned every doorknob in the old home into a virtual death trap every winter. One year, he remembered it being so bad, Charlie didn't want to touch anything metal in the house at all. That was the only time he could think of any shocks being as bad as the one he just received.
"I'm surprised my heart didn't stop. Christ on a cracker," Charlie cursed.
"Big baby." Adrienne shoved her brother's shoulder. "It's getting late. I'm all cocoaed out, and I need to get into the office early."
"Oh, I was going to ask you to join me and the guy who drove me up here for breakfast. I guess that's a no?"
She nodded. "That is indeed a no. I'll have to meet him later. I was wondering how you got here so fast. Boxer luck?"
"Got it in one. You get to sleep. I think I'll turn in too. Midnight is my limit."
Adrienne smiled and turned, heading back to the front hallway and the stairway upstairs. "You remember where everything is, so feel free to help yourself. This is your house as much as mine!"
"You know," he called after his sister, "some people welcome change over twenty years. Would it kill you to move the furniture?"
Adrienne had escaped upstairs already, and called down from above. "I put up a new mirror, didn't you see!"
Charlie just shook his head and grabbed the blanket. After shutting off the lights and kicking off his shoes, he fell onto the couch and went right to sleep. The last thing he saw was the black mirror reflecting moonlight that had begun to creep out from behind the clouds.
Much to his surprise, Charlie had no dreams he could remember that night. Not a normal dream, a sort he had only grown accustommed to over the past decade, and not even one of his special nightmares. Whatever was behind them, if indeed there was anything behind them, must have deemed the massive upload of information he receieved earlier in the night to be enough for one day. Charlie was not about to look this particular gift horse in the mouth.
He awoke to sun streaming through the frosty bay window that his feet pointed towards. With a groan, he pulled the blanket over his head.
Charlie was still half asleep, and had fallen asleep enough times on his own couch, and others, that he was not aware of his surroundings right after awakening.
It took a mere few moments before Charlie threw the blanket off him and sat up, looking around. He at first suspected this was the dream, finding himself back in his old house, until he remembered the events of the previous day.
Charlie rubbed at his eyes, and looked around the room again, now bathed in the early glow of morning. It looked the same, but it was much warmer, and more peaceful at this time of day, than in the dark reaches of night.
"I can't believe I'm back in Kraftsbury," he said as he stood up, still wearing most of his clothes from the other day.
He padded barefoot from the living room towards the dark brown oaken doors on the wall opposite the bay window. They slid open and became recessed into the wall. He glanced around the den on the other side, still much the same, with couches on the far wall and left, a large round table low to the ground between the two, and a tv on the right wall. That was the only major difference. Adrienne had purchased a new tv recently, and gotten rid of the old 19 inch one that used to sit on a beareau. Both were gone now, and the tv hung on the wall beside the doorway into the dining room.
Making a sharp turn to the right, Charlie passed through the door and glanced to the right, down the hallway to the front hall where he started from.
The dining room was dominated by a large oak table that could seat eight, and had a few leaves that would expand the table to seat as many as 16. Charlie remembered how heavy the table was to add those leaves at Thanksgiving. The far wall had two large windows in it, and in each corner beside them were china cabinets. One filled with actual china, and the other with various bits of stuff their family had collected over the years. A blue glass goblet, a piece of amethyst, and even the first ashtray they had Charlie make in art class, on the bottom shelf.
Charlie smiled at that piece of his history still being preserved behind a glass door. Adrienne was keeping a kind of museum of the Boxer family.
He followed his nose to his left and into the kitchen in the rear of the house. Another table, much smaller than the other in the dining room, was in the center, acting like the island in more modern kitchens. Paperwork piled high in one section, boxes and spices in others, and a few pots and pans as well. A counter ran along the entire wall, to his right, and the connecting wall, only broken up by the stove beside him, and the sink on the right wall, underneath another small window.
On the counter right next to the doorway was what he came searching for; a fresh, hot pot of coffee. He poured himself a mug, and drank it black. In front of the pot was a folded up piece of paper with his name on it, which he recognised was written in Adrienne's hand.
He held the note in one hand and flipped it open as he drank his coffee.
"Hey bro, enjoy the coffee. I'm already off to do the doctoring thing. I'll be back late, but I'll bring pizza. See you tonight, have fun with your new friend."
Charlie crumpled the note up, and tossed it into the trash can in the opposite corner of the room.
With his coffee finished, he headed into the small bathroom tucked away off the kitchen, which barely had enough room for the tub and sink. Once he had grabbed a shower, he wrapped a towel around his waist and went back to the living room and his suitcase.
He dug out a clean pair of jeans, a brown t-shirt, and a thick, heavy, green sweater, the colour of which reminded him of the pine trees all around him now.
Grabbing his coat off his father's chair, he dug out the number and called up Markus. He answered the phone before it had barely rung, having just picked up his phone to make the same call.
"I'm just finishing getting ready, you know where the Four Winds cafe is?"
Markus said he did, "I'll be there in about twenty minutes, once I finish unpacking and getting changed."
"Sounds good," replied Charlie. "It will take me about that long to walk there."
"I could always pick you up, you know."
"Nah, it's a fairly warm day, for Vermont, and I've not been here in awhile. It'll be nice to get reaquainted with the place."
"Suit yourself, see you soon."
Charlie pulled on his coat, tugged his hat back on, and left the house. He made sure the door was locked, and grabbed the hidden key before heading out.
He headed down the driveway and looked around the snow covered yard. There were a few missing trees, but a few new ones had been planted as well, he saw. Time moves onward, even for trees.
Once he was back on the road, it was a short walk from the side street that was still mostly trees, into a more populated area. Rural became urban quickly in Kraftsbury.
Charlie walked his way along the side of the road until a sidewalk decidd to appear. Buildings became more frequent, all residential so far, as far as he could tell. He passed by the corner store he would buy all his comics in when he was a kid, and candy, and saw it was closed now.
He continued past, and moved deeper and deeper into town, moving from sparse buildings on the outskirts, to a mixture of residential buildings, and small shops. Nothing larger than two stories, outside of a few larger businesses. Kraftsbury was a small town, and had no need for tall buildings. Everything was kept close to the ground. The sun wasn't obscured by skyscrapers, but instead by trees.
Eventually, Charlie reached Main Strret, or route 206 as it was listed on most maps. Even though it was a highway, he still could have crossed it as easily as any other street. The traffic was light in this corner of the globe. It would only become truly packed when the mountain closed at 5.
Polar Mountain itself was visible off to his left, towering over the city as a backdrop. It wasn't a large mountain by any means, but it was still a popular location for skiing, and easily seen from the next town over.
Charlie turned to his right, putting the mountain at his back, and walked a mere few feet to the small cafe nestled in amongst the packed storefronts. Out front, parked along the road, Charlie could see a car with Massachusetts license plates that he was pretty sure was Markus's car.
He entered the Four Winds Cafe, and a small chime clattered as the door hit the bell hanging above it. Markus waved from the seat he had picked in the back corner. He was already having a cup of coffee, from the looks of it, and had a muffin sitting in front of him, as well as the notebook Charlie remembered from last night.
A man moved past Charlie from behind. He hadn't even noticed anyone so close on his tail when he came into the cafe, but there he was. He seemed like just any other rude tourist, as he shoved Charlie out of the way, but he went straight for the professor.
Before either of them could realise what was going on, the stranger had produced a knife in his hand, and stabbed it into Markus's neck.