The image of Rosie playing baseball was a beautiful one, but there was one inherent problem with it.
“It’s not real,” I said and looked behind me to see how my friend was doing.
That wasn’t my brightest idea ever since I almost fell out of the saddle thanks to what I saw. Rosie was still behind me, but she was covered in a strange, thin film. There was a far away look in her eyes, but it was obscured by a transient shimmer that washed over the film, painting it more opaque and reflective with each moment.
“The reflection caught her eye too long, it’s pulling her in,” the wolf said. “Call her back or she’ll be lost to the mirrorland forever.”
Before I could reach out for her though or call her name, Rosie shook her head, sending sparkling bits of film flying everywhere.
“That’s not playing fair at all,” she said, shivering as she spoke. I thought about how hard it was to wake up from a nice dream and then considered how much worse it would be if you knew you could have stayed there forever.
“There’s nothing fair here,” the wolf said, “And be grateful for that. You don’t want what places that are fair have set aside for you.”
That sounded backwards but, rather than straighten it out, I ignored it. This wasn’t the time or place to get into long discussions. I just needed to know one thing.
“How much farther do we have to go?”
“The Lost Moon Bridge is near, once we’re over that we can be free of this wretched realm,” the wolf said.
And with that we were back to running.
It wasn’t easy to avoid looking too long at the phantasms that were reflected around us. The deeper we went, the more they melded together elements from the past, the present and the might-be future to show vistas that were as unreal and unbelievable as they were personal and undeniable.
I saw images of myself graduating college on a spaceship. I saw images of being at the prom and dancing, hand in hand with a boy who changed in a flowing waves to each boy I’d ever had a crush on. And I saw images of myself all alone.
Those were the hardest to look away from.
I might have gotten a little mirrored film on me a few times as went. Rosie pulled me back each time I started to get drawn in though, and I did the same for her. In the end we made it through the mirror lands, but I can’t say it was all that much fun or that it didn’t take something out of us.
The Lost Moon Bridge though almost made up for it.
We crested one last hill in the mirrorlands and saw a vast expanse of sky before us. The “hallway” we’d been running through fell behind as an indiscriminate mass of shadowed quicksilver. I barely noticed that though, my eyes caught instead by the enormous moon which hung over head. It filled at least a third of the sky and looked so close that I almost thought I could reach it with a ladder. With its features so clear, I could tell that what I saw was the moon I was used to seeing, the familiar features were all there, but more work had been done to it.
Bolts and beams, massive beyond anything I could compare them too if their apparent size was real, joined together the pieces of the moon like it was a giant jigsaw puzzle. From what I could see it looked like someone had smashed the moon into country-sized pieces of rubble and then clumsily bolted it back together when they hung it back in the sky.
It was hard not to stare at that too long, but I’d had a lot of practice not staring at things on the trip through the mirrorland so I looked away and sought out something more normal to let my gaze rest on.
The land around us was lit in silver and blue hues with the brilliance of a newly fallen twilight. A path wound through the rocky crags before us, eventually arriving at the base of a vast stone bridge over a river that was at least a mile wide.
“What’s on the other side of the river?” I asked.
“On the other side and across the bridge are the Goblin Deeps,” the wolf said.
“Should we be able to see them from here?” Rosie asked.
All that waited on the other side of the river was a vast, empty plain from what I could make out.
“Not from here,” the wolf said and began to walk forward again.
“How do you know where we are?” I asked.
“I can feel the reflection of the elemental winds on my whiskers and can hear the rushing of the great Under Flood,” the wolf said. “There is only one place where both of those would be found.”
“The reflection of the wind?” I asked.
“All things have reflections,” the wolf said. “Even the unseen.”
“That means we’re still in the mirrorland though doesn’t it?” I asked.
“Yes,” the wolf said, “Though this is a reflection like no other.”
“How are we going to get back to the regular world then?” I asked.
“That is not my problem,” the wolf said.
“You can’t leave us here,” I said. “That was part of the deal.”
“I will convey you to the Goblin Deeps as we have agreed,” the wolf said. “Getting you back from there was not in the bargain.”
“I know,” I said. “I just want to make sure we can get out of this world and I don’t see any mirrors here.”
“As I said, this reflection is like no other. The Under Flood will be our mirror, so long as it’s calm.”
“So, wait, the river is reflecting all of this?” I asked.
“All except the moon. It has no place in the Deeps and it’s light is only visible there because once upon a time someone brought it here,” the wolf said.
I looked at the giant luminous orb above us. We were venturing into the territory of people who could rebuild a moon. I had no idea what I was getting us into anymore!