The Bridge Below

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Margo ran across the Bridge and returned to the world Above.

It was the same as when she’d left it.

She’d expected an apocalyptic scene: demons perched on the streetlamps, a sea of blood flowing down the street, meteors streaking across the sky.

It was ordinary.

The house was just as untidy as she’d left it. Her schoolbags lay in the hall, the mug of coffee she’d left on the counter hadn’t moved; although it was now cold. The house was empty. Her parents weren’t home.

She began pacing up and down the kitchen, reviewing the things she knew; and the things she didn’t.

Bale’s Below.

So is Quint.

Bale’s got some sort of weapon.

The Brides are down there. But a part of Margo knew the Light Bride wasn’t, not anymore.

I’m up here.

She was wasting time, and each of those wasted seconds was rushing toward Quint’s destruction and Bale’s victory.

She had to act fast.

But in what way could she act? She was powerless, a mortal girl facing immortal enemies. Enemies who’d slain spirit hunters, stolen from Liches, and crushed ghosts. Enemies who seemed all but indestructible.

Margo, on the other hand, felt very, very destructible.

She continue to pace, because pacing was Margo’s way of thinking – and she saw her parents’ note on the fridge. Her dad’s loopy handwriting, like the footprints of spiders, with her mother’s footnoting about the food in the freezer. Her parents! Margo Comeau’s fifth raison d’etre: the greatest annoyance in her life. The thing she desired most right then, with the kind of desire that dragged stars across the sky, turned copper into gold, launched fleets across the Mediterranean. She thought of the arguments, the slamming doors, the move. She thought of the first day, watching men carry boxes over threshold, and one of them turning out to be a ghost who loved pirates and Lego and wit, who’d died too young, and who was now trapped in a dark place

She felt powerless, yes, but she had to try.

But how?

Her parents, no matter how much she missed them, couldn’t turn back time, nor could they seal Bridges or rescue ghosts. They didn’t have special training or a Vapoursteel crossbow.

And then Margo remembered the thing in her hand.

She opened her fingers. The knife shimmered in her palm, but seemed to grow shy under her gaze and turned back into smoke.

It almost vibrated with danger.

Margo resumed pacing.

The Vapoursteel knife was something: it surely ranked up there with Zeus’s thunderbolt and the sword of Damocles. But Margo feared it. She may have been its master, but she didn’t feel like it. The knife felt very much in control of itself, as if one small slip would see it plunge through her own heart.

She couldn’t just use the knife. She needed a plan. Bale’s Below was a fortress. It was surely swarming now with undead; skeletons patrolling the house, spectres waiting in the shadows. She couldn’t just walk in, knife or no knife.

And that was when she thought of the mirror.

She found it by the bushes where she’d first spoken to the Light Bride, all those months ago.

She didn’t know why she thought of it. She’d almost forgotten about it. She knew she needed it the way she knew the Light Bride was gone.

Margo picked the mirror, wiped dust off it and looked at her reflection. But it wasn’t her reflection.

Thin, barely there, was the face of the Light Bride.

“I can’t stay long,” the Light Bride said. Her voice was little more than a whisper.

Margo understood. “You’ve almost fully Faded.”

The ghost in the glass nodded. “In a few moments, I’m going to be gone, Margo.”
Don’t cry.

Margo tried to look strong, but didn’t succeed. Margo may have been more exceptional than most people in some ways, but not in all.

“I know.”

“I haunted this mirror just in case I’d need a way to communicate one day,” said the Light Bride. “but I didn’t think I’d really need to. These really are strange times to be a ghost.”

“Tell me what I have to do.”

The image of the Light Bride was already getting fainter. “Margo,” she said, “you have to take the mirror. You’ll understand.”

“Take it where?”

“To the Bridge Below,” said the Light Bride. She was gone.

Margo walked back to the house. She didn’t know what had to do. She felt more lost than ever. She wanted to forget everything. She wished she could be the Margo from before, the one who didn’t know about ghosts or Liches or Bale. She wanted desperately for things to be as they had before the move. This had turned into a terrible day, a day which had unlocked a whole new level of heartbreak that Margo was not equipped for. Worse even than the Worst Day. She collapsed onto the kitchen floor, and cried. Through the tears she saw Quint and the Light Bride, Charlie and her parents. All the lost things, present, past and future. The great tragedy of Margo Comeau, unwatched, critically panned, a story the universe didn’t even care enough to feel bad about.

She cried.

After a long time (an hour? Three? Time moves differently when you’re crying) Margo thought of Dr Schaum, and of his weapon against Bad Days.

Margo Comeau’s Raisons d’Etre

1) Music

2) Peanut butter

3) Great Moments of Infinite Depth

4) Painting

5) My parents Bagels My parents

6) Cats

7) Trying to be brave

Music seemed laughable now. Peanut butter made her think of her failed plan. Her parents were far away and

Trying to be brave.

A small thought.

Trying to be brave.

Not being brave, Margo couldn’t do that. But trying. Trying was different. Trying was possible.

Quint and the Light Bride and Charlie and her parents moved through her tears again, but she realized only half of them were lost things. Quint was still Below, her parents still alive. She didn’t know if she could save them, but she could try.

She owed it to them to try.

Feeling more afraid now, hands trembling, she picked up the mirror and the knife and started tiptoeing out the front steps, into the garden. Night was falling.

Trying to be brave.

Each step was walking through fire. She wanted to turn back. She recognized her terror, didn’t try to deny it.

But she walked anyway.

The Bridge came into view.

She knelt beside the rock, tears getting cold on her cheeks, her ponytail wobbling as she shivered, she the master of the knife. And she cut, feeling scared and unhappy, because she didn’t want to do this. But she was going to.

The green light appeared. The Bridge Below was open again.

Armed with only a little mirror and a weapon she didn’t know how to use, Margo Comeau walked once more into the world Below.

8) Quint

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