When your bestfriend is floating outside your window, what other choice do you have but to let them in?
Without stopping to think, or care what the ramifications might be, I ran to the window and opened it and the screen fully. My window isn’t huge, but it was big enough for Rosie to haul herself through. I helped her into the room and watched as the flying broomstick floated and picked her up again.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“After we hung up last night, and I mean right after we hung up last, I heard a knocking at my window and, well, she was waiting there for me,” Rosie said, gesturing at the broomstick she was riding on.
“Sweepy?” I asked.
The broomstick bobbed in the closest approximation to a nod I think it could muster.
“Weren’t you supposed to go back to Grandma Apples?” I asked.
Sweepy bobbed up to the left, back down and then up to the right.
“She says ‘meh’,” Rosie said.
“You can talk to her?” I asked.
“Not exactly,” Rosie said. “I just kind of understand what she’s saying. I mean that was a shrug there, so I guess it’s basically the same as ‘meh’.”
“How did you get here?” September asked.
“It was Sweepy’s idea. She wanted to come back to make sure you were ok.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be going to school now?” I asked.
“Sick day,” Rosie said. “Well, Mental Health Day, really. I had to plead for one so that I could get out of school without someone staying home to take care of me.”
“You are the best!” I said. “But, I don’t know. If you can help I mean.”
“What happened?” she asked. “What are you doing?”
I filled her in on meeting my Seeming and the mix up that had resulted in her going to school with my Mom instead of me. Then I directed her attention to the mirror.
“Penny, there’s a wolf in your mirror,” Rosie said, noticing our other guest at last.
“Will this one be joining our endeavor?” the wolf asked.
“Can she?” I asked in general and then turned to September, “Can she move into the mirror like we did?”
“Maybe if we hold her hand?” September said.
“What about Sweepy?” Rosie asked.
“Maybe we should all be riding on her,” September said.
“Is that acceptable?” I asked the wolf. “Will you include Rosie and Sweepy in our deal?”
“If they will swear to its restrictions then yes,” the wolf said. “Otherwise I’ll know that you’re trying to trick me and intend to use them to do me harm indirectly.”
“What’s this deal?” Rosie asked.
I filled her in on the whole “three times worse” bargain the wolf and I had struck for either betraying the other.
“I’m in,” she said. “Sweepy too.”
“This might be crazy,” I said. “And it might be dangerous.”
“Not might,” the wolf said. “It will be dangerous.”
“I’m definitely in then,” Rosie said.
“Your Mom is going to kill me if she finds out about this,” I said.
“Then we better get going sooner than later,” Rosie said and patted the spot on the broom in front of her.
I wasn’t clear exactly how she was holding on to the broom. I’d clung to it with my hands and legs, but Rosie wasn’t holding on with her hands and her legs weren’t an option. That question was answered as I settled onto the broom handle and felt anchored again. We weren’t sitting on the broom, so much as Sweepy was holding onto us.
“Let see if this works,” I said as September hopped up onto the broom in front of me.
Sweepy floated sedately towards the mirror and I reached ahead to touch it before she bumped into it. Once again there was the sensations of a tremendous vacuum force that pulled us in. I blinked and a moment later I was face to face with the wolf.
“Perhaps you’re not too small of a morsel after all,” the wolf said, sniffing at me. He was bigger than I’d understood. Somehow the mirror had made him seem manageably sized but up close and in person I could see that wasn’t the case at all. He was still blind, but in a room the size of my bedroom that wasn’t going to a problem for him if he decided to eat us.
“We have a deal,” September said in a high voice as he shrunk back into me.
“Indeed we do.”
The wolf lingered too close for too long of a moment, before backing off.
“We will need to climb if we wish to reach the Deeps,” he said. “And I will need you to act as my eyes.”
“Why are we climbing?” Rosie asked.
“Because this is the mirror world,” the wolf said.
“What do you need me to do?” I asked.
“Come forward and tell me what you see outside this room,” the wolf said as he walked over to the door. I slid off of Sweepy and crept up beside him.
Outside my room, where the mirror didn’t reflect, I saw a hallway but in place of carpet and painted walls, there was shiny, liquid metal. The hallways stretched out far beyond the limits of my house and grew twisting and strange the farther it went.
“It’s like a tunnel of mercury,” I said. “It doesn’t look very safe.”
“Good,” the wolf said.
“How is that good?” I asked.
“It means the mirror lands are being honest here,” the wolf said. “Put your hand on my shoulder, follow me and tell me if anything changes.”
I did as I was told, and September, Rosie, and Sweepy followed behind us.
“How did you get here?” I asked the wolf.
“Telling you that was not part of our deal,” he said.
“Do we have to deal over everything we say?” I asked.
“Yes,” the wolf said. “Anything important is a tool for understanding someone, and tools can always be turned into weapons.”
“That’s a pretty horrible philosophy,” I said.
“It fits this world then,” the wolf said.
“But the world’s not that bad,” I said. “Not everywhere.”
“If you believe that, then you haven’t seen enough of it yet,” the wolf said.
“Our reflections are starting to move kind of weird,” Rosie said. “And should we even have reflections since we’re already in a mirror?”
“Those aren’t our reflections,” the wolf said. “What are they doing?”
“They’re starting to reach out of the walls,” I said moving away from the slowly extending grasp of a very distorted version of myself.
“Those are mirror spirits,” the wolf said. “They’re hungry to consume your form, to take your solidity for themselves.”
“What do we do?” September asked.
“We run!” the wolf said and bolted forward, blindly leading us deeper into the mirror land.