Archive for January, 2017

Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 200) Her Elder

“I am proud of you.” Josephine’s voice is clear and soft.

“Aunt Josephine?” Nadja questions as she opens her eyes and finds herself sitting under a cherry tree as loose blossoms gently drift down to the ground.

She looks up at the beautiful pink canopy of spring flowers, the brilliance of the sky beyond them, and she smells the scent of sweetness in the air.

“You were very strong in standing up to Aaron.” Josephine says as she sits beside her niece on a soft bed of white and purple violets. “I always knew that one day you would recognize the power within yourself.”

Nadja is slightly confused as to where she is and why? She looks around at the landscape, which she does recognize as the mountain she now calls home, and not with the first taste of winter. Here now, with her aunt, it is spring.

“Wasn’t it snowing?” She quizzes to her aunt. “Why has so much time passed? What has happened?”

Nadja does not recall the last few moments before she began speaking with her aunt nor does she realize Viktor and Aaron are still at battle in the belly of the tunnel.

Bloodied and bruised by Aaron’s assault, Viktor turns at just the right moment, when Aaron’s footing is off-balance and kicks him in the stomach, causing him to fall backwards, nearly dropping into the spacious hole next to them. All Viktor can think about is Nadja and he hopes she kept running once she made it to the other side of the rubble from the cave-in.

“You are going to die today!” Aaron grumbles as he stands towering in the crumbling depths of the tunnel.

“No, not if I have anything to say about it.” Viktor responds but doubt is in his mind at this point.

Trying to see around the rapid increase of water spraying within this grotto, Viktor does not notice Nadja is still on the other side of the landslide. His hopes increase that she is safe and sound possibly trying to contact someone, Carl or the authorities, for help. This positive thought is soon destroyed as he attempts to climb over the path of debris. Just on the other side, lying in the wet mud he realizes Nadja is still there and unconscious. He does not have time to see if she is breathing before he is shoved, facedown into the cold wet collection of earth and stone.

“This is your end.” Aaron says with gritted teeth as he holds Viktor’s face firmly in the mud.

“You have more choices to make dearest girl.” Josephine says as she looks up at the branches of the tree. “Be wise in which direction you grow. Be sure to protect your heart but not to the point of losing yourself or missing out on someone wonderful.”

Nadja watches as her beautiful aunt tips her head down and looks at her. There it is, that understanding smile she knows so well of her elder. The sun glistening in her hair as tiny blossoms float by like feathers.

“Can I just stay here with you?” Nadja questions as she reaches for her aunt’s hand, but as the words leave her lips a blanket of fog separates her from this beautiful scene.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 199) Time

“This needs to end now, Aaron.” Nadja says in a strong tone. “Have you any idea how much strength it takes to stay calm? Do you know what it is like to love someone more than yourself? No! You do not and you never will!”

Viktor continues to toss the rocks from the path, but is intently listening to the conversation taking place several feet away. It is hard for him to hear above the rushing sound of the water, but he is catching the majority of it.

“Oh you are so naive to the world little one.” Aaron grins.

“Your selfishness and need to dominate everyone you are around overplays any compassionate qualities you may have. You thrive off the fear you place in others and have no conscious at all about it. Your father loved your mother and stayed quiet when he probably wanted to yell back at her. But he didn’t because he had great strength and compassion and somehow that is not in your cell structure.” Nadja states firmly. “You are so very weak and that is why you bully everyone you come into contact with. You know what? Not anymore, I’m not afraid of you anymore! I actually feel sorry for you now, but nothing more than that.”

“Okay, fine, we are through!” Aaron says in a sarcastic manner. “But I will not carry a scar because of you. I will not allow you to embarrass me.”

“You are so afraid of women, Aaron.” Nadja laughs. “I finally see through the façade you created for yourself. You are nothing but a little boy, curled up in the corner, afraid the female may frighten you with her strength.”

Viktor cannot believe this tactic of countering Aaron is actually working, but the man is staying very quiet as Nadja begins to walk away. She looks at Viktor and as she gets closer to him, she smiles.

“That felt good.” She grins as she glances back to see if Aaron is following. “This won’t last, I know he is just thinking about what I said, but it bought us some time.”

“It sure did, come on, we can get through now.” Viktor says as he climbs up onto the rocks still on the floor.

Looking down at the cavernous hole that is gobbling up rock and water in great amounts, Viktor does feel a bit nervous. The last thing they need is to slide into this bottomless pit. Firming up his stance and leaning back on the pile of debris, he feels this will hold things back, at least long enough for Nadja to pass through.

“Here, you go first.” He says as he takes hold of her wrist. “Grab my wrist so we have a better grip on each other and stay as close to this pile of rocks as possible.” He no sooner says this when she looks down at the gaping hole. “No, just focus forward, please.” Viktor says quickly.

It is now, during this conversation between Nadja and Viktor, that Aaron takes advantage of their distractions. Just as Nadja is safely past the cave-in area, Aaron rounds the corner and bolts directly into Viktor, knocking him onto the ground. Water is gushing out from the side of the wall and the impact of the two men breaks another section of concrete off. The large piece drops into the deep hole to the left as more water begins to flow across the tunnel from the right side bringing in more earth and stone. With rubble once again blocking the path, Nadja can only see through it near the top just as Viktor is slammed up against the loose wall between them.

“No Aaron! Leave him alone!” Nadja screams as she reaches over the stones and pushes at Aaron’s face.

Aaron’s movements do not change as she pushes and pokes at him. With rocks cutting at her skin and cold water biting at her hands, she pounds her fists at Aaron’s face and shoulders. It is as if she is not even there, she has no effect on him what so ever. Swiftly Aaron reaches up through the small opening, grabbing Nadja by the throat and soon she begins to realize the air her body needs is not coming. Warmth fills her skin and the sounds around her begin to muffle, as the pressure on her neck grows more intense. Shaking her as the muscles in his arms begin to quiver, Aaron applies even more pressure.  A dark shadow covers Nadja as she falls to the ground and she no longer feels the power in Aaron’s grasp.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 198) Stop

Up ahead in the dim lighting are large rocks mixed with mud blocking most of the tunnel. Water is rushing in from the large opening in the wall to the right, crossing the path, and plummeting down into a massive opening across from it. Beyond that point, visible along the top left side, the lights in the next section are flickering in a haphazard manner. A mirror of four squares, much like a window, is hanging sideways, shattered amongst the debris. This reminds Viktor of his latest dream and the meaning behind it. Vulnerability, he states in his mind.

“Now what?” Nadja questions nervously as she looks for a way to pass this obstacle.

“We may have to start digging.” Viktor says as he steps through the rushing water.

Pushing a large rock off to the side, it tumbles into the cavernous hole pulling with it several other large rocks as well as gravel and portions of concrete from the tunnel wall. He steps back quickly, fearing the entire section may give way. Wet and muddy, he passes back through the spray of water and wipes his hand on his pants.

“I’m worried that if we do too much we will collapse the entire wall.” Viktor states quietly as he watches the corner of the tunnel they just passed through. “Using that mirror, will we be able to see Aaron approaching?”

“I don’t know. I’ve only been down here one time before.” Nadja says in a shaky voice.

She is angry, fearful, and worried about Aaron’s mental state. The last thing she wanted was for anyone to be hurt, mentally or physically by the man she once thought she loved. Just as she has done in the past, she questions herself, her own judgment on how she could have been fooled by someone like Aaron. When at anytime did she think the relationship was normal? Why did she continue to go back to him time and time again? Viktor is warm, funny, caring and intelligent. He is a complete opposite of the man following behind them in the tunnel. Most of all, she does not want Viktor to be hurt in any way.

“You go.” Nadja says as she takes Viktor’s hand.

“Excuse me?” Viktor responds as he looks into her eyes.

“Keep going, I need to put an end to this.” Nadja says as she turns to look behind her.

“Oh no you don’t. I didn’t come all this way to let you stand here alone.” Viktor says in a strong tone. “Just let me get some of this moved and we can get out of here.”

As Viktor begins to remove the rubble before them, there is a sound that catches his attention. Nadja has walked back up the tunnel toward the next turn and it is Aaron’s voice that causes Viktor to pause.

“Fine then, let’s talk this through!” Aaron says loudly.

“Just stay where you are, we can see you in the mirror!” Nadja says in a more commanding voice than Viktor has heard from her.

In using the reflection of the mirror, Viktor can see that Aaron is nearing. Nadja is standing still as she holds her hand motioning that Aaron should stop where he is.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 197) Darkness

Breaking through the door to Josephine’s room, splinters of wood fly in all directions and Aaron stops in his tracks. The room is empty and the window securely locked with the screen still attached. Because of this, he knows they did not escape in that manner.

“Come on, I know you are in here.” Aaron says in an angry tone as his rage continues to build.

He turns the light switch to brighten the area and begins to check the large wardrobes on each side of the room, but he finds himself alone. Extreme frustration grows as he swipes his arm across the dresser knocking items to the floor shattering delicate trinkets that have set there for years.

“What is the trick?” He quizzes to himself surprised that Nadja could have made such detailed choices. “Looks like somebody thought this through, I have to give her credit for that.” He smirks.

Just as he turns out the light and begins to exit the room, a sliver of a glow from under one of the bookcases catches his eye.

“Well well well, not so smart after all.” He says as he turns the light back on.

Making his way to the bookcase, he topples even more items to the floor hoping this will aggravate Nadja. That is if she is listening and he is sure she must be. Quickly, he begins to work on opening the doorway to the secret passage.

With water dripping in though the crevices of stone, the inner mountainside tunnel is wet with mud. The heavy snowfall packed high on the ground above, but with the warming of the day, has the melting process was well under way. Underground streams have filled to capacity causing this flooding effect in the tunneled route to the south.

“Watch out, there is a huge crack in the wall up ahead.” Viktor points out as they make their way along.

“There on the wall is the next switch to light our way.” Nadja says as she points to the right.

Viktor flips the top one up but it works the lights that are already on and this casts them into complete darkness.

“I can hear you!” A voice yells from the black abyss behind them.

“Oh god, it’s Aaron.” Nadja whispers as she begins to tremble. “The lock didn’t hold on the bookcase.”

With his hand now on the bottom switch, Viktor flips it on and the tunnel ahead brightens. It also reveals a mirror hanging on the wall at the next curve, which causes both he and Nadja to jump.

“I thought that was a person, it’s only our reflections, keep moving.” Viktor states as he gently pushes Nadja along.

He wishes he had thought to bring a flashlight. This way if the lights in the tunnel go out, or they want to keep Aaron in the dark, they could have. He is angry at himself for not thinking this through, after all, his dreams have been filled with this intrusion aspect. He should have created an escape bag.

Looking back from where they came, Viktor imagines Aaron catching up to them. He can almost envision the huge man sprinting their way. Thankfully, he does not become visible and that portion of the tunnel is still dark. He is hopeful this means Aaron has not made it that far yet, meaning they still have a good distance between them. Pressing forward and nearly running, they come to the next turn in the tunnel.

“Oh no, it’s a cave-in.” Nadja whispers


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 196) Hurry

“You claim that all of your personality issues stem from your parents, but it is not their fault, you have a twisted line of thinking. Your father loved your Mother, who by the way knew she was slowly dying. Have you any idea how afraid she probably was? How frightened your father was for her? Would that make you angry? Wouldn’t the thought of losing your future leave you depressed?” Nadja questions of Aaron.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that question?” Aaron says as if she should be afraid of losing her life.

During this conversation, Viktor continues to tinker with the lock that up until now has never been stuck like this. Finally, the latch opens, exposing the room below. He looks over at Nadja, who is standing with her back to him. She pulls her night slip off and takes a sweater from the stack of items inside her aunt’s wardrobe, and quickly puts it on.

“I know what you are trying to do Aaron, but you’re not going to twist this around on me.” Nadja replies without giving Aaron a chance to interject. “Your mother couldn’t help herself for being who she was. Her anger was stronger than her soft side but your father knew that. If anyone in this world is weak it is you, Aaron. You made me change my hair so it suited you, I had to memorize things to say to you, did you think I could not say loving things on my own? No, you had to make sure I was brainwashed into thinking only of you, to do things only for you, to be on this planet only for you!” The tone of Nadja’s voice is confident and sound. “I’m done, Aaron! We are over and I need you to leave now.”

“Hurry Nadja, we have to go.” Viktor says in a whisper as he tries to keep his composure.

“I know, I know.” She replies by mouthing the words as she pulls on a pair of pants.

Finally, after several minutes of silence from the other side of the door, Nadja is dressed and slips on a pair of shoes.

“Does he know about this?” Viktor questions as Nadja joins him at the secret doorway.

“I don’t know.” She replies.

Bang! Heavy kicks begin to hit the door followed by what sounds like a piece of furniture being thrown around the living room.

“Hurry!” Nadja whispers as she rushes down the ladder.

She flips the switch to light the secret room that leads to the tunnel and the sound of water can be heard flowing from somewhere deeper in the system. This worries them both but they realize this is their only hope for escape. Viktor barely touches the rungs of the ladder as he drops to the concrete floor and immediately begins pushing the secret door shut.

“How do we lock it?” He questions as he looks around the area.

“I don’t know, maybe this lever?” Nadja states as she reaches up and pulls the metal handle down, but it stops midway. “Viktor, help.”

Pulling down hard, the lock slides into the casing but not all the way. It feels jammed or warped and even pulling himself up, using all the weight of his body, the bar does not press down into its resting place correctly.

“It’s caught on something, we need to leave it and get moving. Maybe with just this little section in it will still hold him back.” Viktor says as he grabs Nadja’s hand and they dash into the tunnel.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 195) Express

Picking up a heavy iron vase from Nadja’s dresser, Viktor charges at Aaron. Slamming it down on his arm, which releases Aaron’s hold on Nadja’s wrist and she dashes toward her aunt’s bedroom.

Full of anger as he holds his hand over his arm, Aaron charges at Viktor who swings once again. This time it connects with Aaron’s head and the man begins to stagger around, falling onto the sofa as he reaches for Nadja.

“Go, go, go, go!” Viktor yells as he grabs his shoes and shirt then runs to where Nadja is, slamming the bedroom door shut.“Get that thing open!” He orders Nadja to work on the entrance to the secret room. “We can lock it behind us, right?” He questions as he bolts and locks the bedroom door.

“I think so, I don’t know.” She says in a terrified voice.

With shaking hands, Nadja is fumbling with the latch to the tunnel and is taking longer than either expected. Bang! There is a kick to the bedroom door as Aaron continues his wrath upon them.

“Hurry Nadja, we have to go!” Viktor says as he tries to keep his composure while getting dressed and keeping pressure on the door.

“I know, I know!” She cries out in fear but then after a few seconds, she stops and looks up at Viktor.

“What?” Viktor whispers.

Nadja gets up from her position on the floor and walks over to the closed door of her aunt’s bedroom.

“Go work on the lock.” She says barely audible.

“Whatever you do, do not open this door.” Viktor says quietly as he looks into her pooling eyes.

“I won’t.” She replies and then she begins to speak in a clear loud voice. “Aaron! Listen to me!”

“What is it Nadja?” He questions from the other side of the door in a sarcastic manner.

“I’ve had enough with sitting here, letting you make the decisions and directing the situation. You and your controlling personality, somehow you think that makes you a big man but what I see is a shallow man.” Nadja says firmly. “You despise your father for being kind to your mother, but in reality, he has to be one of the bravest and strongest men I’ve ever met. Yet, you see him as weak. You are the weak one, you’re a coward Aaron, an oppressor with no concern for others.” She says as fact as she quietly opens the wardrobe closet of her aunt’s room.

“Well now Nadja, I am glad you feel the need to express your opinion of my parents and myself but I don’t care what you think.” Aaron replies as he punches at the door.

It is obvious this conversation is irritating to him and even though Nadja does not want to make matters worse, she cannot help but feel now is her time to be honest. Now, behind the protection of this door, is the time to express what it is that needs to be said to end this toxic relationship.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 194) Wake Up

“Oh god, Aaron is here.” Nadja whispers as she steps closer to the glass. “Viktor?”

“Yes?” Viktor responds.

“I am still in bed aren’t I?” She questions in a mellow tone.

“Yes.” Viktor replies as he holds her hands tighter. “We need for you to wake up Nadja.”

The early morning light filtering in the window makes it easy to make out the details of the room. Both Nadja and Viktor stand in silence as Aaron slides his hand down the post of the bed and gently takes hold of the blanket and sheet. He crumples it in his hand as he slowly begins to pull it down toward Nadja’s feet.

“What is he doing?” She asks as tears begin to form in her eyes.

Pushing his fists up, Viktor again tries to pound at the glass but just as before, he is blocked by a thick invisible layer of silence. No matter how hard he tries, his movements do not create a sound or a response nor does he feel the pressure point that stops him.

“Damn dreams!” He yells. “Nadja, you have to think hard, you have to get yourself out of there!”

“I don’t know how!” She responds as tears begin to roll down her cheeks as she watches Aaron pulling the blankets from around her.

This menacing man gently sits down on the bed near Nadja’s exposed legs and as if outlining her position, he drifts his hand up along her thigh to where her nightdress covers her. His hand hovers above her body as he glides it along the curve of her back and then follows her legs back down to her toes.

“What is he doing?” Nadja’s says, now physically shaking.

“Wake up, wake up, wake up!” She screams as she lunges at the glass, her fists up in the air and her voice loud and powerful.

The sound of glass breaking and wood splintering causes Nadja to leap out of bed just as Viktor comes crashing through the wardrobe closet into the room. Aaron grabs Nadja’s arm as she attempts to run for the bedroom door and pulls her back behind him like a rag doll.

“Let go of her!” Viktor yells as he gains his footing.

“She belongs to me.” Aaron states in a grumble as he twists Nadja’s arm causing her to yell out in pain.

Viktor cannot see Nadja’s face as she is held captive behind Aaron’s stature. However, he did hear her painful cry and knows he must get her free before she is victimized any further. Oddly enough, Aaron remains calm as if nothing can touch him, as if he is able to control everyone in the room. This is intimidating to Viktor for he knows firsthand the power this man can wield with his hands but he cannot stand by and let this situation mature.

“Aaron, let her go.” Viktor says calmly.

“Don’t tell me what to do.” Aaron responds as if Viktor is beneath him.

“Aaron, we are through, you know this. You have to stop.” Nadja speaks out just before she winces and cries out again as her arm is twisted by Aaron.

“Stop hurting her!” Viktor says as he watches Aaron closely.

“You can go to hell.” Aaron says in a calm tone as he pulls Nadja along with him toward to the door to the living room.

“No Aaron!” Nadja yells as she fights back but a slap across her face from Aaron causes her to stop completely.

“You can’t do that!” Viktor yells as he starts looking for anything in the room he can use as a weapon.

“I can do anything I want.” Aaron replies as he kicks the front door open hard enough to break the handle off into the wood panel on the wall.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 193) Witness

Feeling around in the dark for something to throw at the glass, Viktor finds there are pebbles at his feet just like before. Picking up a round white stone, he tosses it at the glass with force. It makes a clicking sound, but there is no response from Nadja, who remains curled up and sound asleep in her bed.

Movement to his right catches Viktor’s attention. The door is opening, very slowly and upon the handle is a large hand. A hint of a glow washes into the room and the silhouette of a man appears in the doorway.

“No, this cannot be happening.” Viktor mumbles. “Nadja!” He yells at the top of his lungs. “Nadja, you have to wake up!” He hears the frantic nature of his own voice.

Slowly, one step at a time, Aaron makes his way to the foot of Nadja’s bed and then around the corner of the bedpost. His stature is massive, blocking out most of the window, and Viktor feels this is a dream exaggeration. Yet, he just went one round with him and he proved to be more powerful than Viktor expected.

Reaching down, Viktor grabs a handful of stones and leaning back, he builds up momentum and pummels the stones at the mirror! The sound is expansive but only to his ears for neither Aaron nor Nadja stir from the loud noise.

“Nadja!” Viktor screams. “How can I make her hear me?” he questions to himself. “There has to be something here I am missing, I need to break the glass.”

Bending down and searching in the dark with his outreached hands, he feels around for anything large, like a rock or piece of furniture. Suddenly there is a tap on his right hip, which causes him to twirl around quickly.

“Nadja?” He says as he sees her smiling face behind him. “What? How?” He fumbles with his words.

“Is this what you have been talking about all this time?” She questions as she takes his hand. “I was dreaming and heard you calling my name.” She steps up closer to him. “I was sitting atop a hill, looking at the stars and when I closed my eyes, I found myself here.”

It is at this moment Viktor is pulled back into reality. Not in a physical manner, but with the reality of knowledge, he knows Aaron is here. Not only here, on the mountain, but in the room with Nadja’s sleeping body.

“We have to wake you up.” Viktor says as he holds both of Nadja’s hands in his.

“Why? I find this fascinating.” She grins as she leans in for a kiss but Viktor backs away.

“No, Nadja. This is not just a dream.” Viktor says. “I need you to understand this.” He says forcefully.

“Oh stop teasing me.” Nadja laughs as she looks to her right.

It is now that she can see the backside of the mirror in her wardrobe closet. Stepping up closer, she is witness to the events playing out in the room. Aaron’s massive presence is the first catch of her eye and she quickly covers her mouth with her hand.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 192) Impact

A spark pops loudly from the fireplace causing Viktor to jump and look in that direction. He sees a red ember has landed on the wooden floor so he swiftly jumps up to push it back onto the bricks of the fireplace hearth.

“Glad you woke me up, that could have caught the floor on fire, or at least burnt a spot onto it.” Viktor grins as he turns back toward Josephine, but she is no longer there. “Josephine?” He whispers and then realizes he must have been dreaming and continues to concentrate on the fire.

Placing another log on the glowing stack of wood, he holds his hands out to warm them and at this quiet moment, something causes every hair on his neck to stand out. He has that feeling, the frightening one where he knows someone is in the room, coming up behind him about to pounce. Before he can turnaround, there is a loud squeak from the floorboards behind him and he feels the impact of a fist near the back of his head. Taking the blow nearly knocks him down but he turns to face this foe with an impact of his own.

Staggering backwards, it is obvious Aaron was not expecting a counter attack but he quickly regains his composure. Coming at Viktor once again, Aaron’s fist pounds into Viktor’s cheek with a loud pop.

“I’ll kill you!” Aaron says in a low tone with gritted teeth as he grabs Viktor by the throat.

“Not if I kill you first.” Viktor counters.

Barely able to breathe out his words, Viktor’s fist makes contact with Aaron’s ribcage causing this tall broad man to release his hold and back up.

Again, Viktor presses forward adding another blow to his score as he connects with Aaron’s jaw and then his abdomen. As Aaron stumbles back, Viktor glances at the door to Nadja’s room and it proves to be a mistake. Suddenly, he feels a pain on the right side of his neck and as if in slow motion, he tumbles to the floor losing consciousness before he hits the thick wooden planks.

There, standing amongst dark blue mist in the foggy air, Viktor finds himself at the gate to the cottage. The ground is warm and moist, void of any snow or ice and bright green moss is soft on his bare feet. There are no lights on in the small house but he can tell the fire is flickering in the fireplace. As he approaches the building, he sees the damage to the lock on the front door. It is obvious someone has tampered with it and the door is slightly ajar. A large looming shadow crosses in front of the glass window and this causes Viktor to pause, but only for a second.

“Nadja.” He says quickly in a soft tone.

Pushing the door open, he steps into the room but it is pitch black. There is no light from any source and no room full of flickering shadows dancing on the walls.

“I’m in the wardrobe closet, I just know it.” He whispers as he holds his hands out trying to find his way around. “Nadja, you need to wake up.” He says in a low tone as he tries to get his bearings on exactly where he is. “Where the hell is Aaron?”

A very low light begins to appear up ahead and just as he suspected, he is on the backside of the mirror. Stepping up as close to the glass as possible, he can see Nadja asleep in her bed. He raises his fist to pound on the mirror, but just like all the other times before, he cannot touch it.

“Nadja!” He yells loudly hoping this will raise her from her sleep. “Nadja get up!” He says as he watches the door to her room slowly open. “Damn it!” He says with urgency. “Aaron, don’t you touch her!”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 191) To Be Happy

After slipping into bed, Nadja takes her journal from the small night table and begins to make her entry. It is a positive one, stating the snowstorm was not as bad as expected, that Viktor creates smiles in her eyes and heart, and that she feels safe for the first time in years. She then closes the book but pauses slightly before opening it again.

“I really like Viktor, but I do not want to rush into anything before I am healed from the damage of the past few years. Aunt Josephine? I am afraid I will lose his friendship if I remain distant, but I cannot start anew as long as Aaron continues to be in my thoughts.” A tear runs down Nadja’s cheek before dropping onto the page where she is writing. “Guide me please. Tell me what it is I am supposed to do. I am confused.”

With her last written word, Nadja sets the pen in the crack of the journal and closes the book. Placing it on the nightstand, she reaches up and turns the switch on the dim light causing the room to go completely dark. Rolling over onto her side, she looks out the window at the twinkling lights of the stars in the sky. No clouds are drifting about in this cold night air as the crystal-clear sky dazzles in all its glory. She wonders; is anyone truly looking out for her, or is she alone in this universe and simply holding onto a thin thread of hope.

“I’ve been watching you.” A voice says in the fire lit room where Viktor is sleeping. “I like what I see.”

Viktor hears the last part of this statement and it causes him to open his eyes. Warm and still half-asleep, he rolls over to check the wood in the fireplace.

“Still full and strong.” He mumbles to himself not yet realizing what is was that pulled him out of his slumber.

Rolling over on his side and into a ball, he closes his eyes again and this is when he feels it. Something or someone is sitting on the sofa next to his feel. A rush of adrenalin hurries across his skin as he leans up to slowly look in that direction.

“Hello there Viktor. I’m sorry to wake you.” Josephine says with a sympathetic grin. “I do not know why it is easier for me to visit you in the night. Perhaps the energy in the air is stronger when most creatures are resting.”

“That is an interesting concept.” Viktor says as he sits up. “Is everything okay?”

“I don’t know, I feel uneasy and nervous.” She replies as if she is slightly confused about her visit.

“Any idea why?” Viktor questions as he yawns.

“No, nothing has come to me.” Josephine says softly as she straightens the folds of the long flowing gown she is wearing.

“Have you felt like this before?” Viktor asks now more awake than before.

“No, I cannot say that I have.” She replies and then a hush comes over the room for several seconds.

“I know you will physically protect her.” She nods in the direction of Nadja’s bedroom. “But what do we do about her heart?”

“Her heart?” Viktor is now more awake but is still having a hard time deciphering what it is Josephine is trying to say.

“Her sadness and worry.” She says as she folds her hands on her lap. “None of this is her fault, she just wants to love and be loved so badly that she sometimes forgets that she too needs to be happy.”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 190) Night And Day

“You must think I’m nuts.” Viktor says as he continues to look into Nadja’s soft eyes.

“Yes, I can tag that label on you.” She laughs.

“No seriously.” Viktor replies. “I come into your world out of the blue, tell you I dream about your village, you, your house and your deceased aunt, and then I come here to meet you. How crazy is that?” He watches Nadja’s eyes for a reaction but she stands there quietly thinking.

“Aunt Josephine always said the world is a massive place, so what makes you think your soul mate is living in your town?” Nadja looks down. “She was born in Europe and when she was about my age, after her parents’ passed away, she moved here. She did not know anyone in this area, she just knew where she wanted to be and ended up in this cottage.” Nadja laughs and points toward the front of the quaint little dwelling. “Her soul mate lives down the path.”

Viktor listens intently and understands what she is trying to convey.

“Do you understand? I truly do not find it odd, I just think we have a connection and it was time for us to meet.” She steps up close to him. “I’m sorry it is under such strange circumstances, with Aaron and all. If I could go back and never begin a relationship with him I would be happy, but would I be me?” She pauses. “And would you have known to come find me?”

“Then that would mean there was no reason for us to meet.” He says in a calm tone as he watches the amber glow sparkling on her cheeks. “I really want to kiss you right now.” He thinks in his mind as they continue to look into each other’s eyes.

“Well I think you should.” Nadja grins.

“Huh?” Viktor replies quickly. “Did she read my mind?” He questions to himself as he tries to read her expression.

“Aunt Josephine’s bed,” Nadja taps him on the arm. “I still think you should sleep there.” She explains.

Completely crushed by Nadja’s statement of not agreeing to a kiss but merely referring to an earlier part of the conversation, Viktor shakes his head no.

“No, I am actually quite comfortable on the sofa.” He replies as he looks toward the front door. “I think we should finish locking up and call it a night.”

Viktor continues to be worried and on edge fearing something is going to happen tonight, but he is unsure as to what that will be. However, his thoughts are beginning to focus on Aaron more and more. The images from his dreams are clearer now than when he first had them. The colors of each vision are more vibrant than what he remembers, the sound of each episode echoing through his ears as if amplified.

“Oh, okay.” Nadja studies Viktor’s face as he moves around the room. “Have I upset you?” She quizzes for she can see a nervous look in his eyes.

Her temperament in life this past year has developed and been creatively crafted by the man she thought she loved. Most importantly, by the man she thought loved her. In watching Viktor as he locks the front door, she realizes the differences between the two. It is night and day.

“What was that?” Viktor questions as he looks in her direction to her quizzical glance. “Didn’t you just say something?”

“Well, I did not realize I was thinking out loud.” Nadja laughs.

“No worries, when you live alone like us, you tend to carry on both sides of the conversation.” He grins as he looks into Nadja’s room. “Want me to check the window in your room?”

“No, I have checked it so many times these past few days there is no way it could be unlocked.

“Well then, I suppose this is goodnight.” Viktor says as he stands facing Nadja.

“I suppose it is.” She replies, not moving from her place in front of him but after a few seconds, she glances into her room. “I’ll see you in the morning, Viktor.” She then steps into her room and waves goodnight before pushing the door so it is slightly ajar.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 189) On Edge

At this point in the evening, Nadja and Viktor each have a glass of wine in their hands and the conversation stays light and upbeat. The discussion travels from one topic to another in easy form as their relationship deepens. It is with the second glass of wine that Viktor realizes he should have his wits about him tonight. Wine can sometimes cause him to sleep deeper than normal and he wants to be as alert as possible.

“I know it is not horribly late, but I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes open.” Nadja says softly.

“We both had a hard time sleeping last night, I think it is catching up with us.” Viktor says as he stands up. “I’ll put another log on the fire and make sure the place is locked up tight.”

“Well thank you.” Nadja grins and she takes the wine glasses with her to the kitchen.

Viktor glances over at Josephine’s bedroom, the dark opening makes it looks menacing but knowing what he does of this woman, nothing could be further from the truth.

“I am on edge tonight. Who the hell made the footprints in the snow?” He mumbles as he walks into the dark room. “If it wasn’t that crazed maniac Nadja is trying to escape from, then who else would have been here?” He pauses as he turns the lamp on. “Josephine, I may need your help tonight.” He crouches down next to the shelf where the little lock is that opens the secret passage. “I’m beginning to think you made this for your niece, did you get a glimpse into the future?”

“What are you doing?” Nadja asks from the doorway.

She does not appear mad, for she has a smile on her face. Viktor nearly jumps though when he hears her voice and this embarrasses him slightly.

“I’m just inspecting the entrance to the tunnel. It’s on my lockup list.” He smiles as he turns the lamp off and walks toward her.

“You can sleep in here if you would like. It would definitely be more comfortable than the sofa.” She says as he stops in front of her.

The flames of the flickering fireplace casts long shadows throughout the room and places a warm glow on Viktor’s skin as he stands in the doorway. Looking into Nadja’s eyes he recalls the first time she appeared to him in his dream. He never saw her face, just glimpses of her walking along the street, but somehow he knew her. He had an urgency to make himself known so she would acknowledge him. From his perspective, this seemed normal but he can see how odd it might appear to her. How disturbing would it be for someone you have never met to suddenly tell you they have been following you for months, not in the waking world, but in a dream?


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 188) Challenging

Looking at the window, Viktor gently pulls the curtain back to see if the hole, cut in such a precise manner in the glass, is still there. Just as he expected, it is. However, the stick that he placed to keep the window closed is crooked, as if someone tried to move it out of the way. Pushing it back in place, he is startled.

“What’s out there?” Nadja asks as she steps up behind him.

“Oh, nothing.” Viktor replies quickly as he pulls the curtain back over the hole to keep it hidden.

He does not want her to feel uncomfortable and up to this point, he believes she is not privy to the mysterious opening. His intricate mind is trying to find any rational reason why the stick could have moved, did someone reach inside and try to lift it? This concerns him for now there are two mysteries to solve, the prints in the snow and the possible attempt of entry of an intruder.

“Here, the glasses are in this cabinet.” Nadja states as she reaches over to the right.

This gives Viktor time to push the stick back into the window rail to secure it in the closed position. He glances outside but without lights to illuminate the surrounding area, he cannot see a thing, except his own reflection. This makes him think of his last dream, he was doing this very thing, looking through a window or a mirror and then it shattered. Stepping back quickly, he bumps into Nadja causing the glasses in her hands to tap together making a ringing sound.

“Oh I am so sorry.” He says as he helps steady her by placing his arm around her.

“Are you flirting with me?” Nadja quizzes in a sarcastic manner.

“Well now that you mention it, yes. . . I suppose I am.” Viktor grins.

“Come on, let’s go back to the living room where it is warm. It seems awfully cold in here.” She says softly then realizes how this sounds. “Oh, I didn’t mean because of our hug, or you. . . it is just noticeably colder in this room for some reason. I didn’t mean to be offensive.” She looks him in the eyes.

“No offence taken.” He assures her and in Viktor’s mind, he agrees with her statement about the temperature, but he also knows why.

The chill is due to a rather large circle of glass missing in the window allowing cold air in and heat to escape. Now feeling somewhat cautious, he looks around the dark room then slowly follows Nadja to the living room.

“If you had one place in the world to go that would rejuvenate your soul, where would it be?” Nadja questions as she hands Viktor the bottle of wine.

Without thinking for very long and while preparing the corkscrew for pulling the cork out of the wine bottle, he begins to smile.

“I know you’ll think I’m just saying this because of the current situation, but a cabin in the mountains, where everything is stocked nice and full.” He smiles. “I would have a big porch, with a swing and several chairs and it would face south.”

“Why south?” Nadja says in a serious tone.

“That way, no matter the season, we could see the sun rise and set from the porch.” He looks her in the eyes.

“We?” She asks sarcastically. “It does seem suspicious that you have the same dream I do, but I am living mine. How come you are not?”

“Oh, so now you’re going to challenge me.” Viktor smirks and Nadja begins to laugh.

“No no, not at all. I’m not a challenging kind of person.” She continues laughing.

“I don’t know about that, it was definitely challenging for me to get here.” Viktor replies and they both laugh at the thought of his long trip and near death experience. “It almost killed me!”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 187) Laughter

“Hey, would you like to try another wine from Aunt Josephine’s collection?” Nadja questions as she stands up.

“I’m always up for taste testing, absolutely!” Viktor grins as he follows her to the skinny door articulately hidden in the wood panel.

Pulling the door open with a popping sound, Nadja reaches forward and with the flip of the switch, a soft glow emits from the bottom of the narrow staircase. Glancing back at the room, Viktor then turns and follows her down to the wine cellar.

“Doesn’t this feel like you’ve stepped back in time?” Nadja grins as she stands in the middle of the space below her bedroom. “The shelves glide, did you know that?”

Ever so gently, she moves an entire rack toward the front of the room exposing rows of wooden shelves behind it. Each layer is angled perfectly for the wine bottles to be nestled comfortably and in the proper manner for long-term storage.

“We never touch the ones back here, unless we are hurting for money.” She laughs. “That is what she always told me so I’m sticking to the rule.” Nadja steps across the way and moves another rack toward her, then she steps in behind it.

“What is back there?” Viktor questions as he begins to walk in that direction.

“The sweet wines.” Nadja’s muffled voice says. “Sound okay to you?”

“Ummm, I prefer something a little dry.” He says hoping this does not hurt her feelings.

“Oh, well then this is perfect!” She smiles as she steps back into the glow of the single bulb. “I think there are five bottles of this left and you will love it.”

“I completely believe you.” Viktor replies in a serious yet teasing manner.

“You make me laugh.” Nadja grins. “A lot!”

“And that is exactly how we want to keep it. Laughter is good for the soul, if you have one.” He states sarcastically and Nadja laughs aloud.

“See, you cannot be tamed.” She says with a smile as she starts her way up the staircase but then pauses and turns to look at him. “And you have a wonderful soul, I can see it.”

“Okay now you’re just buttering me up because you want me to get the wine glasses. I can see where this is going.”

Viktor grins and Nadja’s laughs rather loudly as she turns and continues to walk up the staircase. This comfortable moment has them both feeling relaxed and happy. As soon as they are once again in the living room, Viktor heads directly to the kitchen to get the wine glasses but he pauses at the sink.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 186) Lost You

“Are you okay, Viktor?” Nadja questions as she touches the side of his face with her hand.

“What?” He asks almost as if he is dazed.

“I think I lost you there for a minute, you looked a million miles away from here.” She says softly.

“I was just thinking.” He pauses because he knows he cannot tell her what it was that popped into his mind.”

“About anything in particular?” She asks as she sits on the arm of the sofa.

“I’m just surprised at how quickly it became dark here. It seems like only a few minutes ago it was bright and beautiful.” Viktor sits down on the seat of the sofa. “It makes you realize how time flies, doesn’t it?” He grins trying to lighten the mood but all he can think about is how the footprints came to be.

“Well I say we watch a movie and forget about how dark and cold it is outside.” Nadja says as she reaches for her laptop that is sitting on the end table. “What are you in the mood for?”

“Something funny, a good comedy.” Viktor says as he looks over at the fireplace and decides he needs to add another log to the flames. “Well, only if that is okay with you. I would just rather laugh than be serious.”

“A comedy it is.” Nadja says quickly.

As she begins searching for options on the movie site, Viktor takes the bucket back to the kitchen and places it on the floor. Immediately, a drop of water falls into it. Reaching to his left, he grabs a hand towel from the drawer to mop up what had fallen on the floor while the bucket was in use. Quickly he joins Nadja in the living room and after several minutes of searching, neither of them can decide on what to watch. Giving up on their quest, Nadja closes her laptop and they sit quietly on the floor near the fire.

“So tell me, where does the tunnel go? What direction are you walking when you leave here?” Viktor quizzes.

“That tunnel is odd, I never knew it was there and I spent my summers here with Aunt Josephine.” Nadja grins. “It takes you halfway to the train station. Well actually, it opens up right behind the forest rangers hut. You probably saw it on your walk here.”

“Yes, it was one of the landmarks I was watching for as I made my way here to find you. I know the exact spot on the trail you are referring to.”

Viktor recalls seeing this tiny structure in one of his dreams as well as passing by it before stopping to take a picture of the lake. Shortly after, he found himself slipping off the trail.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 185) Observer

Viktor does not want to alarm Nadja, but he cannot explain where those footprints in the snow came from. In his mind, he once again quickly retraces his steps for the day and knows without a doubt that he did not venture in that direction at all. Still avoiding answering Nadja’s question, he stacks the logs next to the others and unloads the bucket. It then comes to him. It was Carl. Being that he is so caring and helpful, he must have walked around the cottage to look for any issues the snow may have created.

“So?” Nadja laughs.

“So what?” Viktor replies, as if puzzled by her question as he stands up with the empty bucket in his hand.

“So why did you want to know if I was out in the back yard today?” She questions.

“Oh yeah, that. It’s no big deal, I saw footprints in the snow and knew I did not walk out there but I just realized it must have been Carl.” Viktor replies a little out of breath. “He probably walked around before coming inside.”

“But, he came here through the tunnel.” Nadja says as she glances at the front window with a concerned look. “He never stepped outside.”

“Are you sure?” Viktor questions.

He can see the worry on Nadja’s face and even though he is positive he did not create the tracks, he wants to make sure she feels safe.

“You know, I think I do remember walking that way, to look at the brook to see if it was frozen.” Viktor hopes this lie will ease the stress he just created.

“Oh good.” Nadja says as she places her hand across her chest as if her heart was fluttering with nervousness. “I was beginning to worry that. . . well you know.”

He does know exactly what she was going to say for he is worried about it too. If Aaron has come back, after escorts forcefully took him out of the city and all the way to the airport, he must be beyond angry at this point. He can imagine the embarrassment this would cause for anyone to feel and to mix that with the mind of an enraged lunatic cannot be good.

If Aaron is indeed here, Viktor worries the images from his dreams may be played out in true life and the end result from a few of his night wanderings were not at all positive. He vividly remembers the dream, where he watched Nadja leave her room, only to begin screaming in terror when the front door is broken down. Or, at least that is what he believes happened, for he could not see into the room. To think something like this was happening to Nadja, even though it was a dream, causes his heart rate to elevate. He wonders why he was trapped as an observer only. Why was he not able to jump out from behind the mirror and help her?


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 184) Following

Stepping outside the small dwelling, Viktor carries the bucket that has been collecting water, drip by drip, from the ceiling of the kitchen. The air is much colder tonight and the melting snow has turned hard and crunchy. His steps are loud to him against the silence of the woods. The wind is still and there is a cautious feeling growing inside him.

As he steps to the right of the woodpile, and tosses the bucket up causing the water inside to splash out onto the ground, he notices an odd pattern in the snow. With the sky darkening, he has to squint to determine exactly what it is he is looking at. Upon closer inspection, he realizes there is a trail of footprints in the snow. They appear to step to the corner of the cottage and then lead back to the edge of the woods.

Carefully, he tries to be as quiet as possible as he places his feet in each print as to not disturb the snow around them. He is also trying to avoid the crunching sound the once soft snow has now turned in to. His mind is racing. He does not remember walking around the cottage, he knows he only shoveled a path to the woodpile, which he turns and looks at and it is now several feet away.

“I did not walk out here.” He mumbles to himself. “Did Nadja?” He wonders.

Once he makes it to the corner of the cottage, it is hard for him to tell where the prints originated and with the biting cold air nipping fiercely at his nose and fingertips, he quickly returns to the stack of wood. Grabbing several pieces, he sets them into the bucket gently and loads his left arm with six more logs. Carrying the bucket and the logs, he quickly heads to the backdoor of the cottage. Just as he steps up onto the wooden deck, Nadja opens the door.

“I thought you got lost. You didn’t bundle up in your jacket and I was worried.” She says as she opens the door all the way so he can easily step inside the warm room.

“Did you go out back for any reason today?” He questions as he makes his way to the living room, Nadja is following closely behind him.

“No, the only time I walk out was when you threw a snowball at me.” She laughs but Viktor remains serious and this catches her attention. “Why do you ask?”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 183) Rare

“Well you are easy to please.” Nadja smiles as she prepares a slice of the warm bread for herself.

“Honestly, I really am. I do not see the point in getting bogged down with things. If there is a problem, you fix it. If bored, find something interesting to do.” Viktor begins to grin as he speaks. “If hungry, grab a slice of bread.”

“You are a philosopher.” Nadja laughs as she looks out at the melting snow but a sound inside the cottage catches her attention.

To her right, due to the rapid melting of the snow, the roof has begun leaking once again as water starts dripping into the bucket on the floor.

“Oh no, we are leaking again.” Nadja says as she looks up at the ceiling.

“It was coming in much faster last night.” Viktor says as he walks over to adjust where the bucket is sitting. “That heavy pack of snow has to go somewhere. If it all melts off before the time I have to leave, I will climb up there and fix it.”

“So you know a few things about roofing?” Nadja asks with concern.

“Nope, not a thing.” Viktor replies in a serious way. “But I’m sure we can figure it out.”

“For some odd reason, I believe you.” Nadja says jokingly.

“Hey!” Viktor teases as if offended as he steps back over to the loaf of bread and begins to butter another slice.

The afternoon is pleasant and they spend their time talking about childhood moments, first loves and where they find themselves now in this current stage of life. The mutual respect they have for one another makes for a very calm and easy conversation as they relax near the fire.

By early evening, as the sun passes to the west and the mountain blocks the golden rays, the melting of the snow begins to slow. Even with the fireplace full of dancing flames, the air inside the little cottage feels damp. Sitting in the living room, sipping soup and dipping bread, Nadja and Viktor continue with their lively conversation.

“I have learned so much about you today.” Nadja says as she holds her empty bowl in her hands.

“We have definitely covered a lot of ground for sure.” Viktor replies. “We actually have many common interests and I have to admit, it is rare for people to have much in common with me.” He laughs. “I’ve always had an odd sense of humor.”

“You? No way!” Nadja says playfully. “I like you humor and your serious side, the one you try to hide.”

“Did you mean for that to rhyme?” He grins.

“Not at all.” Nadja breaks into a giggle. “See, its stuff like that, you picked up on it so fast!” She smiles up at him.

“I should probably empty the drip bucket in the kitchen and while I’m out there, I will bring in more wood.” Viktor says as he stands up from his sitting position on the sofa.

“That would be great.” Nadja says with a smile as she sits on the floor with her arm resting on the stone hearth near the fire. “I’ll grab our bowls and wash things up.”

“We make a good team.” Viktor says as he extends his hand to help her stand up.

“I agree. . .  and thank you.” She replies softly.

In the light of the flickering flames, they stand in place for several seconds looking into one another’s eyes. Slowly Nadja leans forward and kisses Viktor on the cheek.

“I’m glad you are here.” She says softly before stepping to the side as she walks toward the kitchen.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 182) Heaven

Nadja’s smile is genuine and she again thinks of how positive she feels as well as relaxed with Viktor here. It truly is as if they have known one another for many years. Aside from her aunt, Nadja has never connected so well or quickly with anyone, not even her closest friends. Aaron’s face crosses her thoughts for just a split second, but then she forces him out to avoid ruining her current state of mind. As she turns to enter the cottage, over her right shoulder, a snowball blasts onto the door frame pelting her with soft wet snow.

“Oh!” She yells as she turns and scrapes up a handful of snow from the shrubs near the door and packs it into a ball with her hands.

She quickly throws the snowball at Viktor who bats it away with the shovel. With both of them laughing loudly, he dips the shovel into a pile of snow and holds it up, ready to toss the load in her direction.

“No no no!” Nadja yells as she laughs and runs inside slamming the door shut behind her causing sections of snow to slip from the roof.

“What?” Viktor laughs innocently as he tips the shovel up dropping the snow off to the side of the newly cleared path.

Once inside the cottage, with his shoes and jacket setting near the fire to dry out, Viktor follows the scent of the bread to the counter next to the oven. Nadja is slicing off thick pieces and then she gently turns handing him a butter knife.

“So you like homemade bread?” She grins in a teasing manner.

“Who doesn’t?” He questions as he takes the knife from her hand and dips it into the tub of butter. “Care if I do a taste test?”

“Be my guest. . . because you are.” Nadja laughs.

“Yeah, that is kind of rude of me isn’t it?” He replies as he spreads the butter on the warm slice and Nadja looks at him in a questioning manner. “I did just barge into your life, didn’t I?”

“I have no complaints.” She says softly.

“Good, because I don’t either.” Viktor says just before he takes a large bite of warm bread. “Ummm, now this. . . this is what heaven is made of.”

“Bread?” Nadja giggles.

“Not just bread, warm bread and melted butter with a friend.” He says right after he swallows the tasty combination.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 181) Symphony

Carl starts stomping his feet on a towel he left near the door. Once the snow has fallen from his boots, he pulls his stocking cap from his head, folds it neatly in half and places it on the shelf near the door. The fire in the wood stove is burning low which is how he likes it if he is away for more than an hour or two. Carefully he opens the little door to the stove and places two large logs inside.

“Ah that’s better, you’ll be heating up nicely in a minute or two.” He says with a laugh as if talking to a person but then he pauses and quietly whispers, “I miss you Josie.”

The little cabin, with its red and brown decor, is quiet until the whistle from the train blows loudly from the station. This is a welcomed sound for it means the trains may be running on schedule in no time.

“Glad to hear that sound.” Carl says as he walks over to the window and then glances at the clock to his left. “Right on schedule and up the mountain you go old girl!”

As the cheerful words leave his lips, there is a muffled step close by, as if someone has come up behind him in the room. Holding still, he listens intently and slowly begins to turn around, but in a swift and unexpected blow, darkness shields his eyes from sight as he falls to the floor.

A thick stream of smoke is swirling up through the chimney of Nadja’s cottage as icicles gently break away from the eves of the dwelling and fall into the snow with a heavy thump. This sound is duplicated by falling clumps of snow in the woods as birds land on small branches dropping the white fluffy puffs onto the undergrowth below. A slight wind begins to blow and with the movement of the trees, Viktor hears various sounds all around the area. Branches hanging low are rubbing against each other making slight groaning sounds and there is a constant dripping of snow from all around. Alongside the cottage, he hears the gurgling sounds from the brook and songs from the birds, which all seem to create a symphony in the woods.

“This place is amazing. I forgot what nature really sounds like.” Viktor says to himself as he sees the front door of the cottage open.

“Have you had enough?” Nadja says as she steps out onto the small concrete slab near the door.

Within seconds of her opening the door, the smell of fresh-baked bread tickles at Viktor’s cold red nose. He hopes his senses are not playing tricks on him for it has been at least fifteen years since he melted butter on bread fresh from the oven.

“Tell me you did!” He yells as he walks in Nadja’s direction.

“Oh I did for sure!” She says back as she grins.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 180) Replication

“No, not really anything.” Viktor replies to Carl’s question, but he can tell by the older man’s expression that he is suspicious of this answer.

“Okay, well. . . I suppose that is not a bad thing then.” Carl replies without much emotion but an awkward silence fills the room.

Nadja walks over to the small table and sets the plates of pancakes and bacon in the center.

“Are you sure you won’t stay?” She quizzes to Carl.

“Do you need me to stay?” Carl mumbles to her in case she feels uncomfortable being alone with Viktor another night.

“No, everything is great.” She says softly as she grins up at this tall yet gentle man.

“Nah, I better get on my way. Damn Sam and Martha will be after me for lunch by the time I get back.” Carl laughs. “Those two get bored pretty quick when there aren’t any passengers jumping off the train.” He laughs. “By the way, it appears the trains are running on limited schedules, so no need to try to get to the shop. I’ll slip down there this afternoon to make sure all is well, after all, almost everyone closed due to the weather so it should be nice and quiet in town.” He says but then pauses. “So, have you heard from anyone?” He looks intently at Nadja.

“No, not a word.” She says as she makes eye contact with Carl.

In her thoughts, she hopes this conversation is not offensive or causing Viktor to be uncomfortable.

“That is what I was hoping for.” Carl mumbles back. “You kids behave yourselves and let me know if you need anything.” Carl waves his hand in the air as he walks through the living room toward Josephine’s bedroom. “I’ll shut everything up tight Nadja, enjoy your day!”

“Bye Carl!” Both Nadja and Viktor say at the say time.

“I’m starving.” Nadja says with a grin as she and Viktor slide pancakes onto their plates and divide the slices of bacon between them.

After devouring their meal and cleaning up the kitchen, Viktor bundles up and heads out the front door with the snow shovel. The sun is bright and the melting process is moving along at a tremendous rate. The snow is easy to handle, as he scrapes along the ground careful not to disturb the pebble walkway that leads out to the garden gate. From there he pushes snow away along the trail for quite some distance and then returns to the beautiful little cottage. Its dark color against the white blanket of snow looks more like a photograph than a real place.

It is at this time that Carl arrives home to his cabin. He is still wearing a grin due to his visit with Nadja and Viktor for the resemblance of their actions remind him of Josephine.

“It’s like a replication of us.” He mumbles in reference to he and Josephine as he steps inside the cozy dwelling.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 179) Predicting

“You are always taking care of things aren’t you?” Nadja smiles at Carl. “Join us for breakfast.”

“Oh no, I already tackled a huge pile of food with Sam and Martha about two hours ago, won’t need to eat for days!” He laughs with a happy bellow. “Looks like you brought in enough wood for the day so now I can rest easy that all is well.”

“Well don’t leave, you just got here.” Nadja says as she stacks pancakes onto a plate.

“I like the walk, gives me time to think and since half of it is out of the weather, I can just head back the way I came. I will try the phones again when I get back to the cabin, hopefully they will be working by then.” Carl says in a calm tone. “Crazy weather, I’m glad it did not snow as much as predicted, we would be out of commission for days.”

“I think I should be a weatherman.” Viktor states happily.

“You good at predicting things?” Carl questions in a serious tone.

“No, not at all, that’s why I would be a great weatherman. You make up stuff as you go along, the grocery stores and shops love you because you cause panic for food supplies, and then it doesn’t happen like you predicted and everyone is thankful for it.” Viktor grins. “You get paid to be wrong, I could seriously do that!”

“And very well!” Nadja adds as laughter breaks out between all three.

“You’ve got that right, son! Ha ha!” Carl shakes his head as he looks down and laughs again. “I like your wit young man. Don’t ever let that leave you.” Carl says in a calm manner. “Okay, you seem to be in good shape here so I will be leaving. . . oh, I meant to ask.” Carl pauses as he quickly glances at Nadja but directs his question at Viktor. “Have you, well, have you had anymore dreams about my Josie? You know, since you’ve been here?”

Viktor does not want to answer this question for the last time he shared a dream with Nadja’s aunt, he was in the burned-out shell of a building. He believes it to be the soap factory and if this were to be a premonition, then it could mean the end of their longtime business. Not to mention, the odd shadow person he saw near a wood stove and his own reflection in the glass of the window that shattered. This was a far darker image than his most recent dreams and he is unsure of the true message.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 178) Remind Me

Viktor has a way with telling stories. Not only does he share the details he also has the gift of imitation. He can mimic voices of others. At this point in their preparation of cooking breakfast, Nadja has nearly doubled over with laughter several times. To Viktor, this is merely an indication to continue his assault on the odd and irritating people in his life.

“No seriously, you have to stop.” Nadja laughs as she listens to Viktor speaking as his arrogant boss. “My stomach hurts from laughing.” She grins.

“Okay, I’ll give you a break.” He smiles. “But don’t forget to remind me to tell you about the time an old roommate of mine tried to get to his car by climbing off the balcony.”

“Alright, I won’t forget.” She laughs for she knows from his past stories that this will be quite interesting.

“By the way, at the time, we lived on the third floor.” Viktor says in a serious manner.

This causes Nadja, who is trying desperately to compose herself, to blow air out between her lips and they both laugh at the rude sound it creates.

“I have a story about that stuff too.” Viktor grins for he simply cannot stop once he is on a comedic roll.

Suddenly, they hear three loud knocks on the door frame behind them causing them to turn around quickly.

“Well you two are having a great time, it’s nice to see.” States Carl as he walks into the kitchen from the living room.

“Oh Carl!” Nadja grins as she wipes pancake batter from her fingers and runs to give him a hug.

Carl glances at Viktor who is smiling and the old man gives him a wink.

“I tried to call earlier and never got connected, so naturally I was a bit worried.” He says as he and Nadja release their hug.

“Yes, the call came in but was silent.” Nadja replies. “We would have been down to check on you if you had not reached out again.”

“Well that tunnel sure is handy for days like this. It’s a bit rough right now though. The snow is beginning to melt already, it is warming up faster than the news predicted, so water is seeping in through a few cracks. It might be time to have someone check it for structure damage, just to be safe.” Carl states firmly. “I’ll get a hold of someone in the next week or two.”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 177) Laughter

“I cannot let things go like I should. For instance, I know all about Aaron, his demeanor, his anger issues, his ability to lie and control people and. . .” Nadja pauses slightly, “I just can’t help but feel sorry for him.”

“Now you’re just being nuts.” Viktor says as he tries to keep the conversation lighthearted.

“I know. . . see that is the problem, I do know this!” She says in a raised voice. “But I have this stupid place in my heart that pushes me to help him, to save him from himself, why the hell would I want to do that?”

“Because he broke you.” Viktor replies quickly without needing to think about the statement first. “You loved him with everything you had and he pushed you down by using the strength you gave him.” Viktor looks at the floor. “You need to retain your own power and not let him control you anymore, he has tricked you into feeling sorry for him.” Viktor looks Nadja in the eye. “You can’t save people from themselves, no matter how hard you try.”

“Do you feel like you are trying to save me?” She asks softly.

“No, you my dear friend have already done that for yourself.” Viktor smiles. “I am here to support and help if needed, but you are well on your way to a better way of life and you’re not looking back.” He pats his stomach as a growl erupts from it and they both laugh.

“Maybe we should both save ourselves from starvation.” Nadja laughs as she stands up.

“Now that would be awesome!” Viktor smiles as he immediately steps up behind Nadja and follows her to the kitchen.

The warmth from inside the small cottage radiates through the roof as the thick buildup of snow begins to melt. Delicate icicles start to develop along the edge of the roofline as water droplets drip from them, making a perfect line in the snow below. With the midmorning sun peaking through the dissipating layers of cloud cover, the birds have awakened and their gentle songs fill the air. Clumps of snow begin to drop from the tree branches they are clinging to making sporadic thumping sounds throughout the woods.

Inside, the fire is strong and snapping wildly as if excited by its own fury. Nadja and Viktor share the duties in the kitchen, along with teasing and fun conversations, as they prepare a late breakfast of pancakes and bacon. Viktor has shared his distaste for his current position at work, and because of his smart wit and imaginative narrative, Nadja has been struggling with tears of laughter.


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