Double Or Nothing by William Meikle

Double Or Nothing
By William Meikle

sci-fi magazine online

The day started like any other. I dressed, I had a smoke, and I sat in my empty office, waiting for a case.

The shutters rattled loudly against the window frame, and I heard rigging rattle and masts creak on the dock beyond. The wind was an autumn southerly, whistling in over the Sleeping God’s Pizzle, bringing with it the tang of salt spray and the faint but unmistakable stench of decaying whale meat. I lit another smoke, but the shutters kept rattling, and the tickle in my throat would last until the wind changed or I threw up.

Face wanted to talk, but my hangover wasn’t ready for her today. I wiped her away after her second admonishment on the perils of rum and put her in the desk drawer.

The day dragged on, and so did the hangover. The rum bottle had just started to call to me again when a knock came on the door.

I took Face out of the drawer and sat her on the desk facing me. She started in on me straight away.

“Your mother would never have—”

“Shush,” I said. “We’ve got company.”

She had the good sense to go quiet.

“Come in,” I called, with more enthusiasm than I felt.


I immediately had her pegged for a lost cat commission; most little old ladies who came straight in off the street were either looking for a cat or a husband, and this one didn’t look the type to lose a husband after she’d got hold of one.

“Gwynne Ericsdochtir?” she asked.

I nodded.

“I’m Freda Torsdochtir. I need your help,” she said.

“Come on in and sit down,” I said. “We’ll see what we can do.”

She was dressed all in black, her skirt so long that it almost trailed the floor. The clothes were heavy, like thick velvet, and when she crossed a patch of sunlight coming through the window, she seemed no more than an empty, black space. As she got closer, I saw she wasn’t quite as old as I’d first taken her for. When she’d been standing at the door, she’d looked frail, even weak. But her eyes held light and vitality, and although her face was wrinkled, she still showed plenty of signs of having been a beauty in her younger days. Her eyes were bright blue and piercing, but she looked like she had been crying recently; the skin under the eyes looked dark and puffy, and red rims were showing.

I motioned her to the chair across the desk from me. She stood no more than four foot eleven in her flat black shoes, and my old sagging leather armchair threatened to engulf her. In fact, she sank so far back into it that I had to give her a hand to sit forward when I offered her a smoke. Her hand felt smooth and cool, and it slid in my palm as if it had been slightly greased. There was a strong smell coming from her—mothballs and lavender. I guessed the black velvet wasn’t her usual daytime apparel.

“Thanks, lass,” she said, taking the smoke as if it was a pill that might save her life. “My man never liked me smoking. I’ve hardly touched the weed in near on forty years, but I used to love a smoke.”

She wasted no time getting back in practice. I had barely lit her up before she was puffing away like a blacksmith’s bellows. Only occasional wisps of smoke appeared when she breathed out; the rest, she somehow seemed to magically soak up.

I was so rapt that I almost didn’t notice when she started talking and dumped her trouble on me.

“It’s my son, Erik,” she began, and there was a brief pause as she took another prodigious draw from the smoke. A small snowfall of ash spread across the black velvet.

“Bugger,” she said, and it was as shocking as a fart in the temple.

She was smart enough not to wipe at it.

“I’ll never get that out. And I had it cleaned just last month. Three florins the cleaner took. I would have washed it in the bath if I’d known it would cost that much. When I was a girl—”

“Your son?” I said, butting in. Whenever an old lady used those five words, I had to act fast, otherwise I’d be waiting for hours to get back on track.

She looked at me as if I’d slapped her.

“It isn’t my son anymore,” she finally said.

“What do you mean? Someone is impersonating him?” I asked.

She gave me a pitying look, the kind Face reserves for drunks and gamblers.

“Oh no, it’s him all right. It’s just not him.

I stared at her blankly.

“In here,” she said, hitting her heart with her right fist. “Where it matters. It’s not him.”

There was silence in the room for a long moment.

“What exactly is it you want me to do?” I finally asked.

She sat up in the chair, suddenly all prim, proper, and businesslike. I noticed for the first time that she had a small bag on her lap, jet-black like her clothes.

“Find my boy. My real boy. And I don’t care what it costs. I have ten gold coins with me and more where that came from.”

“Just tell me your story, and we’ll go from there,” I replied.

She started talking, almost to herself. I let her ramble. Hell, for ten pieces of gold, she could stay for a week.

“It all started when he bought that mirror…”

###

Ten minutes later, she left, giving me five gold pieces and the promise of the rest when I got her boy back. She’d also left me with a story I didn’t quite believe of an enchanted son somehow stolen by a mirror.

Luckily, I had a friend who knew more than a bit about mirror magic.

“It’s about time,” Face said as I wiped my hand over the glass.

“Sorry. I’ve been busy.”

“I noticed.”

“Did you get all of that?”

“Straight to business again. You know, sometimes a girl needs a little attention.”

“And sometimes, a girl needs to know when to focus. We have a customer. A paying customer.”

She sighed.

“Business it is, then,” she said and fell into an almost perfect impression of the old woman. “My boy isn`t my boy. So what do you think?”

“I was going to ask you the same question. Anything on the grapevine?”

“Nothing new. But we looking-glasses are tricksy things; everybody knows that.”

She had that gleam in her eye again, trying to goad me into conversation. I wasn’t in the mood. I wiped her away, strapped on my sword, and headed for the one place I knew information would be available—at a price.

###

I’d been going to the Two Hounds since I was not long out of school, some twenty years before. The décor hadn’t changed much; the urinals still smelt of stale beer and piss, the floor still needed cleaning, and old Cameron still had a smoke dangling from his lower lip.

A long mahogany bar ran the length of the far side of the room, high stools spaced along its length. On the main floor sat an array of tables of different shapes, sizes, and ages, some burnished copper tops, some scratched and stained wood. The chairs stacked on the tables were the same mish-mash of wood, iron, and padded leather. Along the three walls ran a leather bench, ticking escaping in places, other rips badly patched with black cloth. The walls were stained yellow with dream-weed residue, and the windows hadn’t been cleaned in living memory.

“The usual, Gwynne?” he said.

I nodded.

“But just the one. I’m working.”

He raised an eyebrow. “So what is it today? Buying or selling?”

I’d done business with Cameron many times before. He knew everything that passed in and out of the city and was willing to tell all—for a price.

I passed him a gold piece.

“Erik Torsson, the Janax trader’s son. I need all you know.”

He made the gold piece disappear into a pocket without me seeing which one.

“Which version, old or new?”

“There are versions?”

Cameron chewed the smoke around in his mouth before replying.

“As of last month, yes. Before that, he was a quiet clerk in his father’s
tea warehouse and living with his mam in the big house down at the foot of Castle Wynd. Then his old man died. Since then, he’s been taking over the tea supply chain. There’s talk of getting the High Council involved to prevent a monopoly. Four of his competitors have met mysteriousdeaths, and the lad has bought himself a big new house up on the hill.”

“These competitors. Murdered?”

“Aye. Bloody dark magic murder, they say. Tal Mohot and Jorg Johansson are getting worried. Of the big six traders in Janax, they’re the only ones left. I hear they’ve asked the Castle for increased security.”

“And this is all down to Torrson?” I asked.

“That’s the word on the street.”

“Anything about a mirror in any of those words?”

Cameron shook his head.

“Should there be?”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

###

The dock was bustling. Two large schooners had come in from Djanto, and crates of Janax tea sat by the hundred on the quayside. The sweet aroma of the dried weed almost overpowered the stench coming across from the Pizzle.

Almost.

Glaisc sits in the eastern, U-bend of a horseshoe-shaped harbor on the southeast corner of the island of Aer, a northern outpost affiliated with the Jontan Empire. This morning, a fine mist hung over the tall cliffs on the north arm of the horseshoe, almost obscuring the high boggy plateau above.

Out to the south, the wind whistled over the Sleeping God’s Pizzle, a shingle spit some three miles long that grows and shrinks with the vagaries of the weather. I couldn’t see any activity out on the spit, but there is a shanty-town there, built around a whaling station that has to be periodically rebuilt after storms. It gets busy when the whalers bring a catch ashore, and that’s where the smell comes from. Once the whales are butchered, the remains are left on the shingle to be cleaned by scavengers and tide. The prevailing wind is from the east off the ocean, coming over the top of the castle on the hill behind the town. But when it comes from the south, there is little to do but smoke weed and try not to breathe through your nose.

Mohot’s warehouse sits down on Dead Man’s Dock, a low slung rambling construct that has been on the verge of falling down for as long as anyone can remember. The rear end of the building opens out onto the dock itself, but the office is round the front on what passes for a street.

A thin mousy woman sat behind a desk that filled half the room.

“Can I speak to Master Mohot, please?”

“I’m afraid the master isn’t in his office.”

“Do you know where I can find him?”

“Sorry.”

“When will he be back?”

“I’m sure I don’t know,” she said.

“You are his secretary, aren’t you?”

“I’m his personal assistant,” she said haughtily.

“Well then, do some assisting. Please tell him I need to see him.”

“I can’t do that,” she said. “He has a very busy diary.”

“That’s all right,” I said. “It’s him I want to see, so his diary can be as busy as it likes.”

That one went over her head.

“As I said, that’s impossible, I’m afraid. His next free slot is on Wednesday morning.”

“You did say you were his assistant, didn’t you?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“And here I was thinking you were more like his mother. I need to know what he knows about Erik Torsson. There’s a gold piece in it for you if you can find out.”

“I’m afraid I couldn’t divulge that kind of information.”

“What if I made it two?”

“Not for twenty. I’ve been here for five years. The master’s business is confidential.”

“Five years? I’d have thought by now you’d know where he was during the day.”

“Are you trying to tell me my job?”

“No. Just having fun trying to guess what it is.”

She was wondering whether she’d been insulted, even as I pushed past her into the corridor beyond.

I heard her following behind me, but I was too fast for her. There were three doors off the hallway, but finding Mohot was easy; his name was on his door in big, gold lettering three inches high, and he was the dead man behind the desk.

###

I almost didn’t notice the body at first. I was too busy looking at the mirror that ran the length of the room.

A hooded figure stood in the corner behind the door. I drew my sword and turned, all in one movement.

There was nobody there.

I turned back to look in the mirror. The hooded figure raised a bloody hand, waved at me, and seemed to walk out of the room. But when I turned, all I saw was the trader’s assistant, mouth wide in shock. She took one look at my sword, one at the dead trader bleeding behind the desk and started to scream.

I took to my heels and ran. It was my only option. The Guard wouldn’t believe a locked room murder and certainly not my story of a phantom figure in the mirror.

I was on my own until I could sort this out.

###

Cameron let me back into the Hounds when I gave the sign in the window.

“Back so soon, Gwynne?” he said.

“I’m in trouble,” was all I had to say in reply.

“Guard trouble?”

“Probably. I can’t go home. They’ll be looking for me.”

“What do you need?”

“Somewhere to crash. That’s all. For now, anyway.”

“You can have the back room again. Come on through.”

He showed me to a roughly hewn chamber at the back. It had a chair and a table and little else.

“Stay as long as you need,” he said. “You can pay me later with a story.”

He left me there with a flagon of ale. I waited until I could hear him working in the bar before I took my looking glass from my tunic.

“It’s about time,” Face said, as I wiped my hand over the glass.

“What have you got for me?”

“Straight to business again. You know, a girl needs some attention. I’ve been alone for a long time and—”

“Later, Face. This is important.”

She sighed.

“It always is with you. Your mother never—”

I wiped a hand across the glass. It went gray and, thankfully, quiet. I gave her two minutes then wiped her on again.

“Ready now?” I asked.

“You know, one of these days—”

I wiped her and gave her three minutes. I couldn’t really spare the time, but Face needed to be told who was boss every so often.

“Okay…I’ll play nice,” she said when I wiped her back again.

“So what have we got?”

“As we suspected, mirror magic,” she said, smiling sweetly. “The best kind.”

“Torsson?”

“Yes,” she said. “He’s got hold of a pair of Djontan mirrors.”

“And he’s using them to hide on your side,” I said.

She looked crestfallen.

“If you knew already, why did you ask?”

“Because I need to cut to the chase fast,” I replied. “How does this magic work? Is he actually travelling through the mirrors, or is it his twin image that’s doing the killings?” Another thought struck me. “Or has his evil twin come out of the mirror and replaced the real Torsson, as his mother suspects?”

Face shrugged.

“Could be any of those. Does it matter?”

“It does if I have to get him back to his mammy and get paid. Find out what else you can,” I said.

“Okay,” she said huffily. “I’ll get back on it.”

Cameron came back in before I could cheer her up. I wiped her away and put her in my inside pocket as he entered.

He had a little man with him. I couldn’t tell how old he might be—somewhere between fifty and eighty and so thin to be almost skeletal. His face looked gray, thick with grime, and he wore a tunic that might have been fashionable forty years ago but was now held together with frayed string.

“Tell the lady here what you told me,” Cameron said.

“You promised an ale,” the little man whined.

“After the story,” Cameron said.

The little man looked like he’d been kicked, but his eyes were full of flashing excitement as he started his tale.

“I only went in to get some tea for the wife; she likes the good stuff, and a boatload came in yesterday. I remember the time—”

“Jakie. Keep to the point,” Cameron said. “The longer it takes, the further away that ale will be.”

The little man now looked like he might burst into tears.

“Okay, okay. I’m getting to it.”

He looked me in the eye.

“The place was empty. Now, I thought that was funny—it being so early in the day. I just didn’t realize how funny it was.”

Cameron sighed heavily.

“Ale, Jakie. It’s going to go flat unless you hurry.”


“Okay, cutting to the chase, boss. I went through the back. There was a lot of gold on the table, but I never touched any of it, honest. I was too busy looking at the body. It was Jorg Johansson, lying there on the floor, face down in a pool of blood. He was exasperated.”

“What?” I asked.

Cameron laughed.

“He means eviscerated.”

The little man nodded.

“Yes…that as well.”

“What’s it got to do with me?”

“Tell her, Jakie,” Cameron said.

“It was just something I saw out of the corner of my eye,” the little man said. “It was Torsson. Erik Torsson. He was standing there, bold as brass, a long bloody knife in his hand. But when I looked round, there was nobody in the room.”

Jakie went for his reward, while I sat with my head in my hands. The body count continued to pile up, and I was no nearer to figuring out how.

“I can get you on a boat going north in the morning,” Cameron said when he came back.

“Thanks, but if I want to keep working in this city, I’m going to have to sort this one out. And first up, I need to visit Torsson.”

###

The trader’s house was a huge marble pile sitting up the hill near to the castle. The high wooden door hung open. That got the hairs at the back of my neck rising.

I drew my sword and crept quietly into the vast entrance area. High overhead, the ceiling curved in a vaulted roof of gravity defying stone and glass. I was still marveling at its wide, spacious emptiness as the main door closed with a bang behind me.

I finally looked around. The room was full of mirrors, crammed floor to ceiling. Tall ones, small ones, ornate, gilded ones, and simple functional ones. The only clear patch was at the door. There was no other furniture apart from the mirrors, and I was reflected in all of them.

Out in the hallway, the tall wall up a huge ornate staircase was also lined with mirrors. I caught a fleeting movement up there.

“Torsson?” I called out as I climbed. “Erik Torsson? Your mother sent me.”

The staircase opened out to an upstairs floor. I climbed the last stair and stood, open mouthed in amazement at the entrance to a maze of mirrors—mirrors running all the way from floor to ten-foot high ceiling. I was reflected in the nearest one, short and squat like a goblin. Behind me, in the reflection, a squat hooded figure moved.

“I see you,” I said.

I showed my sword to the mirror.

“Let’s see just how good your trick really is.”

The hooded shadow moved away, heading further into a corridor of distorted reflections. I followed, taking care to keep out of arms’ reach of the mirrors.

The corridor between the mirrors narrowed, so imperceptibly that it was a couple of seconds before I noticed, almost a couple of seconds too many.

A knife flashed out at ankle level, cutting through my leggings and immediately drawing blood.

I stumbled, almost fell, and hit a mirror. A hand came out of it and made a grab for me, but I pulled myself away just in time. The hooded figure moved in the reflection. I stabbed at it twice.

Glass shattered, the mirror crashing to the ground.

In mirrors further up the corridor, the hooded figure ran, heading further into the maze, out of sight.

The room fell quiet, the only sound coming from my labored breathing.

I was still too close to the mirrors. On instinct, I turned. The attack came at ground level, cutting me on the other leg just below the knee. I took another slash to the left shoulder as I stumbled and only just avoided a cut heading for my gut.

I stabbed at the nearest mirror, and the shards fell to the ground. I checked the cut on my shoulder, and my fingers came away bloody. I had to dodge quickly as the knife flashed just in front of my face.

I slashed again and again, shattering the mirrors on either side of where I stood. Finally, I had some breathing space.

“Now you’re getting the idea,” a voice said from somewhere near me. “But you still quite haven’t thought it through.”

A blade came up, seemingly through the floor, passing through my foot in a spray of blood. The knife retracted through a small shard of mirror, barely wider than the blade.

Torsson’s laughter echoed through the hall of mirrors as I headed at a stumbling run for the stairs, slashing wildly as I went. Glass shattered. Mirrors crashed and tumbled.

The knife flashed out from the mirror on the wall at the top of the stairs, leaving a gash under my ribs. Face got dislodged from my inside pocket and fell out. I grabbed for her, but only managed to push her further away, sending her bouncing down the stairs. I rolled forward over the lip of the stair and tumbled down after her in a bloodied heap.

I landed face down next to Face. My arm inadvertently wiped her on as I fell past her.

“Oh, sweetheart,” she said. “What’s happened?!”

Another voice answered.

“Well, that’s interesting,” Torsson said from somewhere.

Soon afterwards, Face started to scream. I reached out to touch her, just as a splash of blood covered the mirror—on the inside.

I picked up Face and headed for the door.

Face screamed.

“Over here! This one over here!”

I looked toward the sound. She stood in a full-length mirror, held tight in Torsson’s grasp, blood pouring from a wound on her cheek.

I shoulder-charged the mirror and fell through to the other side.

Torsson stood there, sword already drawn. He sent his blade out in a quicksilver flicker that I only just managed to parry as it was over my heart.

I stepped forward into a lunge and caught him off guard, but he managed to weave to one side, and the stroke sliced across his ribs instead of taking him through the heart. He let out a yell and stepped into the attack with renewed vigor so that I was hard-pressed to defend myself.

The sound of clashing steel echoed around us as we circled, each of us searching for an opening. I was painfully aware of my state weakening faster than my opponent and decided to try a risky feint, one I sometimes had success with on the training ground.

I stepped backwards, as if retreating before the attack, and let my right leg give under me, feigning a stumble and letting my sword hand go down towards the ground, looking as if I was going to use it to steady myself. As I hoped, he went for my suddenly exposed left-hand side. I ignored the descending blade, and with a straight arm, punched my sword upwards, catching him under the ribs with a deep thrust.

With a yell of pain, he gave up the fight and ran. I moved to follow him, but my legs gave way beneath me, and I fell to the ground.

The last thing I saw before everything went black was Face leaning over me, concerned and teary.

###

I awoke lying on a flat and featureless floor made of a matte-black material, slightly soft to the touch. Above me, the “sky” was flat, gray—also featureless.

In the near distance, maybe a hundred yards away, lights of many colors danced and flickered, but closer to hand, the only break in the monotony was a column of shimmering light off to my left.

I tried to rise and groaned loudly as sudden pains rose from several wounds. Face suddenly loomed over me.

“Good. You’re awake. For a while there, I thought I’d lost you.”

I tried to speak, but my mouth felt dry and dusty, and I only managed a croak until Face dripped water over my lips.

“How long?” I whispered.

“Three days,” she said. Her eyes were red-rimmed and puffy, and the long gash in her cheek showed shockingly red against her pale features.

She bent and hugged me close to her.

“I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m so happy to see you here,” she said.

I hugged her back, then groaned again as I felt the wound in my side tear slightly. I gently pushed her away and checked myself out. I’d been bandaged up tightly, and none of my wounds seeped. I felt stiff and sore, but I would live.

I forced myself to stand.

“Torsson?” I asked.

She shook her head.

“No sign of him since you cut him. He may well be dead.”

“If we’re lucky,” I replied. I walked over to the shimmering column of light, realizing as I did that this was the mirror of my entry. I looked out over a long hallway, the floor scattered with shattered shards.

I put my hand out, touched it. There was no give. I rapped it hard with the hilt of my sword. It rang, like steel on steel, but still there was no give.

Face stepped up to my side.

“Djontan mirrors come in pairs,” she said softly. “A way in and a way back out. While he’s in here, he can reach out from any mirror. But the only way he can get fullyout is through the second mirror. This one is no use. This one is the way in.”

I rapped it hard with my sword again. The impact sent lancing pain up my arm but had no other effect.

“So where’s the way out?”

Face shrugged.

“Only Torsson knows.”

“Then we’d better find him.”

I pointed towards the flickering lights.

“If my bearings are right, the hill is over that way. And unless I’m mistaken, what we’re looking at are mirrors?”

Face nodded.

“And Torsson could be anywhere by now.”

I nodded in return.

“But he was wounded badly. Unless you’ve got a hospital over here, he’ll be on the other side, resting up. And I know where to start, at least.”

I took Face by the hand, and we started to walk across the plain.

###

As we got closer to the dancing lights, my head started to spin. It was dizzying, confusing to the eyes, a towering maze of light coming in from every reflective surface in tens of homes.

“Can we see out any of those?” I asked.

“All of them. But there will be just the same old, same old—everyday people doing everyday things. Sometimes, I watch them for hours,” she said wistfully.

I looked back at the lights. From this close, I saw what I had been looking for, a corridor between them, the road down the hill.

My brain was starting to work.

“Does the geography in here mirror that outside?”

“Yes,” Face said. “Except for the river. For some reason, it is only ever a trickle over here.”

I saw what she meant five minutes later. We had been walking down the corridor of mirrors, occasionally catching glimpses of people but more often than not, just seeing empty rooms. Finally, we walked across a bridge over a babbling brook. Out there, it would be a raging torrent.

Face lifted a white fungus from the side of the bridge.

Just before she passed it to me, she looked back the way we had come.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said. “I thought I saw movement, but it’s stopped now.”

She passed me a chunk of the fungus. It was soft, spongy, and slightly slimy.

“Food and water,” she said. “Everything a girl needs.”

The fungus tasted of wet paper.

“And this is all you have had all these years?”

She nodded.

“You’ll get used to it,” she said.

“No,” I said. “I won’t. Come on. We’re nearly there.”

“Where?”

“Where every boy goes when he’s in trouble…to his mam.”

###

Five minutes later, we were at the position which would be the foot of Castle Wynd on the other side.

“Right here,” I said.

Face nodded.

“I agree. Look.”

She pointed to her left. A large rectangle of light hung in the air. It was dimmer than the one I’d come through up the hill but the same size and shape.

I stepped closer and looked into a darkened room. There was no sign of movement beyond. I reached out to the mirror, and my hand went through. I felt a cool breeze.

“All clear,” I said. “Come on.”

I turned back to see Face take a step back. She shook her head.

“I can’t,” she whispered. “I’ve been here too long. I don’t know anybody out there.”

“Face,” I said softly. “You don’t know anybody in here. Come on. I’ll be there for you. And you might never get another chance.”

She shook her head again.

“My mother would never forgive me if I left you in here,” I said softly. “Do you want that on your conscience?”

I drew my sword then stretched out my free hand. She looked at it for a while, then came forward and took it.

Together we walked through to the other side.

The room sat dark and quiet. The breeze and the stink of whale came in through an open window.

I turned towards it.

Torsson stepped out from beside the mirror and swung a sword at me.

I threw Face to one side and barely had enough time to parry his blow. I caught it on the hilt of my sword; the weight of the stroke nearly knocked me backward. Torsson laughed a deep, dead, groaning noise, empty of all emotion.

I stepped forward and followed his next blow inside, ducking under the swing of his sword and thrusting the hilt of my weapon in his face. He was fast though, and the hilt merely grazed his cheek.

He shoved me away.

I was thrown across the room to stumble backwards into the wall. Then he was on me once more, and the clash of metal rang loud in the chamber and echoed in the rafters.

I was always on the defensive. He was too fast for me, and I tired rapidly as we fought in a wide circle around the room.

His sword suddenly cut through my defences, a parry and feint manoeuvre I had never before encountered. I threw myself to one side, and the blade slashed my left arm instead of taking me through the side. There was little pain, but blood started to pour from the wound.

This fight was going one way.

With the last of my strength, I forced him backward, until he was up hard against the mirror.

But I couldn’t sustain it. He flicked my sword away, disarming me.

He smiled.

“Nobody left to stop me now,” he said.

He stepped forward and raised his sword.

Behind him, a hand came out of the mirror. It held a large stick, which it brought down hard on top of his head.

Torsson fell in a heap on the floor, and his mother stepped out of the mirror. She dropped the club and bent to him.

“Oh, Torsson. What are we to do with you?”

Face smiled at her.

“I have an idea about that.”

###

The case finally came to an end a week later. Face and I were invited to Torsson’s house on the hill.

The old lady welcomed us inside, and I got paid.

“Did it go as planned?” Face asked.

The old lady smiled and showed us into a room. A tall mirror hung on the opposite wall.

In the mirror Torsson sat, chained in a tall chair. When he saw us, he started to scream and shout, fighting against his bonds.

We heard nothing.

The old lady smiled.

“He’s a good boy,” she said. “I don’t think he’ll ever leave his old mam.”

###END###

©William Meikle
sci-fi and fantasy magazine

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William Meikle
William Meikle is a Scottish writer now resident in Canada. He has fifteen novels published in the genre press and over 250 short story credits in thirteen countries. His work appears in many professional magazines and anthologies and he has recent short story sales to NATURE Futures, Penumbra and Daily Science Fiction among others.

He now lives in a remote corner of Newfoundland with icebergs, whales and bald eagles for company. In the winters he gets warm vicariously through the lives of others in cyberspace.
William Meikle

Latest posts by William Meikle (see all)

William Meikle
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  • Magic, taverns with real ale and a mystery with a noir style detective, all rolled into a delicious tale. Fantastic, William! I just loved it, and i hope there’ll be more tales to come from this universe.

  • Arthur Delorenzo

    Mirrors. Never liked them. Don’t really trust them. Enchanted mirrors are the worst. Enjoyed the story.