I watched Michael take a deep breath as if trying to convince himself that what he was seeing was real. Then he put his hand in mine and closed his eyes. I pulled him through, to my side of the mirror just as the door cracked and the ugly demon exploded into the bedroom.
Michael instinctively raised his gun again, but I stepped up to the mirror, moving my hand, closing the portal and suddenly we were in a dark nothingness. He turned to me, fear clouding his eyes. “What is this? Where are we?”
“We’re in between”, I said and he frowned.
“In between what?”
“The mirrors.” I moved my hand, causing one of those ripples, and a square of light appeared in front of us. Michael stepped up to it, staring out into the dressing room at the House of Mirrors.
“That’s Georgie! What the hell is he doing?”
The owner of the strip club was going through the laundry basket. He picked up the purple and gold G-string Choco had been wearing on the stage earlier that evening. As we watched from the mirror above the vanity, Georgie pressed the crotch-area to his nose, inhaling deeply.
I wrinkled my nose in disgust while Michael shook his head.
“That man is deeply disturbed.” He took a step closer to the mirror. “Can he see us?”
“No. Not unless I want him to.”
He gave me a look over his shoulder. “This is crazy. A part of me is hoping that this is just some kind of hallucination, some weird ass nightmare that I’ll wake up from.”
“And the rest of you?” I asked softly.
Michael bowed his head, pressing his hand against his heart, against the scar. “The rest of me knows that this is real. That this was meant to happen.” He looked up and gave me one of those small crooked smiles. “Did I really say that? Fuck… Maybe I’ve lost my mind after all.” Our eyes met and the smile widened a little, and grew warmer. “So, what happens now?”
My heart skipped a beat and I felt myself smile back. “We find a safe place, and we try to figure out what is going on.”
RELUCTANTLY I BROUGHT MICHAEL TO my apartment. I watched as he let his gaze slide over the worn couch, the boarded up window and its broken twin.
“Are you sure we’ll be safe here?”
“We should be for a couple of hours at least.” My apartment might not be Fort Knox, but I had picked up a couple of tricks over the years to ensure that I wouldn’t be bothered by unwelcomed visitors of the supernatural kind.
I tried to tidy up without it being obvious about it, pushing the T-shirt I had slept in behind one of the couch cushion, and Michael pretended not to notice. “Can I get you anything?” I asked, hoping I didn’t sound as nervous that I felt. Other than Lou, Michael was the only visitor I had ever had. “I have ice cream.”
The absurdity of sitting in a dump after having been attacked by demons being offered ice cream by a ghost must have struck him because he grinned. “I’m good, thanks.”
“I’ll get us some water.” I fled into the kitchen. Through the sound of running the tap I could hear Michael’s cellphone go off and him taking the call. Just from the tone of his voice I knew it was bad. Very bad.
They had found another of the Angel’s angelical victims.
Michael came out into the kitchen. “I have to head to the station.”
I pulled out one of the drawers and after having roamed through the miscellaneous junk that has a tendency to gather in kitchen drawers, and pulled out a small leather pouch, holding it out for the man. “Keep this in your pocket. It will keep most demons and hellspawn from noticing you.”
Michael took the pouch and shook it a little, making it rattle. “What is it?”
“Just some blessed rock salt, dried Key of Solomon and ground up Amityville beetle.” For a moment I thought he would come with a comment or a joke about superstition and witches, but he didn’t say anything. He simply put the small pouch in his pocket then followed me into the bathroom.
A thud went through the mirror as I used my power to open it. Michael took a deep breath, then took my hand as we changed plane and moved through the portal.
WE STOOD AWKWARDLY IN A depressing-looking restroom. Michael reached out and touched my hand. “Thank you. The last couple of months has been hell. Seeing and experiencing things I couldn’t explain…” He shook his head. “I can’t even begin to-”
The door to the restroom opened and Michael fell silent. But from how he looked at me, I could at least guess what he had tried to say. Relief of not being alone, of being once again anchored in a reality, no matter how weird, that could be dealt with. He cleared his throat, glancing at the woman who was checking her hair and makeup. “So, I’ll see you later?”
I nodded and noticed the woman looking at us. No doubt she thought she had walked in on a tête à tête between lovers. I shot her a glare and she turned back to applying lipstick to her pumped up lips. “Be careful.”
Michael gave me one of those charming smiles that made me feel like I had a swarm of butterflies in my stomach. “I always am.” Then he stepped out of the restroom and the door fell close behind him.
“He’s a hottie.” I turned to find Plump Lips watching me in the mirror. From the way her eyes slid over me I could tell that she was wondering what the hell a guy like Michael was doing with a flat-chested thing like me. “Did he arrest you for prostitution and you offered him some tight teenage pussy to keep him from charging you?” She pressed her lips together a couple of times before coating them in lip gloss, never taking her eyes off me. “What do you say, little sister? You think you can hook me up?”
I leaned into my hip. “Maybe, but I doubt he would go for you. You don’t have what I have.”
The woman turned and slid her gaze over me again, scoffing. “And that is?”
I dropped my human guise and revealed my true nature: the blood-soaked specter with eyes as black as oil. “Personality”, I hissed, towering over her as all color drained from her face. She whimpered, the tube with gloss falling from her fingers. Then a warm, wet and sour smell reached my nostrils. I tilted my head to the side. “Aww…” I drawled. “You’ve peed yourself.”
“W-who a-are…” The woman started, her voice a breathless whisper.
I smiled and turned towards the mirror. A ripple went through the glass and then I was inside, looking out at the terror stricken woman. “You know who I am”, I said, my voice soft.
She shut her eyes tightly, sinking down to the floor to sit in the urine that had puddled around her feet. “No-no-no… You’re not real. You’re not real…”
No doubt she had sat just like this as a little girl, scared I would come to claw her eyes out or drag her into the mirror with me. I could have stolen her life and her sanity in that moment, but instead I stepped back and let the portal close.
I was pretty proud of myself for having shown restraint.