"Through the Looking Glass"
There are many stories we think we know by heart.
Stories that can change in many ways, creating a new universe of tales.
Tales from a marvelous world…that requires the aid of a storyteller and his dog.
This tale is about a girl named Sarah Williams who once traversed a dangerous, otherworldly labyrinth to rescue her baby brother, stolen by a vicious trickster – a self-proclaimed “Goblin King” known as Jareth.
“They’ve already heard that one,” my dog reminds me.
Ah! But they haven’t heard of what happened to Sarah afterwards – at least, not in that world. In this world – this marvelous world – Sarah grows to be a chosen member of the Masters of the Mystic Arts, an order of sorcerers committed to protecting the Earth from mystical threats.
Sarah learned from the greatest of magic wielders – the Ancient One.
But she was not all-powerful herself. In fact, she will soon need the help of two doctors.
“Doctors? Is she sick?”
She is…or, one of her is.
“You’re speaking in riddles again,” the frustrated dog growls.
It’s no riddle. This tale involves not only two doctors, but two Sarahs as well.
Our story begins one late winter’s night in Central Park where the 48-year-old Sarah fights gallantly against a hooded adversary, another magic user who possesses as much skill and determination as Sarah herself. Unfortunately, this hooded sorcerer is more powerful and easily overwhelms Sarah within a few short sparks of energy too quick for the naked eye to follow.
Her back buried deep in snow and her body wracked with pain, Sarah looks on her opponent, suspecting that her end is about to come. But, instead of killing her there and then, he issues her a warning: “Enjoy the little time you have left, Sarah…because you won’t have much left as a sorceress.”
Although she can’t see his face, Sarah knows for certain she heard his voice somewhere before. And she certainly recognizes the portal he uses to escape through – a portal that can be opened only by the power of a Sling Ring, a small two-finger mystical ring with the ability to create a gateway to another location or even another dimension.
Sarah catches a fleeting glimpse of the hood’s destination through the sparkling gateway. Her eyes, blue as the sky, flares with fear and recognition. It can’t be the same place, she thinks with dread.
Soon after her hooded opponent disappears through the portal, Sarah knows of only one place to go – only one man to turn to at such a dire time: Doctor Strange.
“One of the doctors you mentioned?”
Yes. He resides at the New York Sanctum – one of three across the world.
“Where are the other two?”
London and Hong Kong.
But only the New York Sanctum serves any purpose in this story.
While Sarah battled in Central Park, Strange had already received a visit from the other doctor – the one who goes just by the very title. A Time Lord from another realm, the Doctor every now and then visits the marvelous world either by accident or when necessary.
This visit falls on the latter.
He converses with Doctor Strange on his latest dilemma: meeting an “impossible girl” who is the same person across multiple points in time – his time, specifically. “Maybe she’s just like you – a Time Lord,” Strange hypothesizes.
“No,” the Doctor respectfully disagrees with a headshake. “I’ve had the TARDIS run a bio-scan on her. She’s as human as you are.”
Strange doesn’t know where to start with helping the Doctor. His world is as chaotic and mad as his own. Thankfully, he wouldn’t have to deliberate much longer, with the arrival of Sarah through her own Sling Ring portal. She wastes no time in informing the two doctors of her recent skirmish in Central Park.
“…and after he handed my ass to me, he escaped through a Sling Ring portal,” she concludes.
“Another Zealot like Kaecilius, maybe?” Strange speculates.
“I dunno,” Sarah says, “but what really got me worried was where he escaped to through the Sling Ring portal: Jareth’s Labyrinth.”
“The same Labyrinth you went to when you were 16?” Strange inquires.
Sarah verifies with a shaky nod. “I think whoever this guy is, he’s using time travel to take away my magic…or worse – erase me from history!”
On this suspicion, Strange turns to the Doctor and says, “This sounds like your department. Any chance we can use your time machine to take us back to 1986 at the time Sarah was forced into Jareth’s Labyrinth?”
The Doctor is more than willing to assist the sorcerers, but he’s at liberty to caution them, “My TARDIS can go anywhere and anytime in the universe, but the multiverse is a whole can of worms entirely. It doesn’t quite have the capabilities it usually has within my dimension as it should in others.”
“Then we’ll give you a boost,” Strange presents him with the Time Stone – the Infinity Stone stored within the Eye of Agamotto that hung around Strange’s neck. He entrusts this powerful gem to the Doctor, knowing it will grant his TARDIS machine with the pick-me-up it requires to travel beyond the boundaries of space and time.
“What does ‘TARDIS’ stand for anyway?”
Time And Relative Dimension In Space.
“And you know that how?”
Another story for another time.
The transference of power between the Time Stone and the Doctor’s TARDIS works to marvelous succession, bringing the Time Lord and the two sorcerers to the very Labyrinth Sarah thought to have long put behind her for 32 years. Even as she steps out of the TARDIS to take in the all-too-familiar territory, she is haunted by the memories: the hedonistic Fireys, that horrid Bog of Eternal Stench, the goblins, and the Goblin King himself.
“Uh…excuse me?” a timid voice addresses the three visitors.
Sarah recognizes it instantly, slowly turning to face the teenage girl staring back at her with eyes, blue as the sky, amassed with confusion and apprehension.
For this teenage girl was Sarah herself.