Author

Doors To Mirrors 120-139

Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 139) Rain

It is at this moment that Viktor sees the perfect circle that is cut into the glass of the window. At first, he thinks this is an illusion but then realizes this must be how Aaron managed to enter the dwelling.

“What a jerk.” Viktor says as he sticks his hand through the opening to unlatch the lock on the window, but it is in the open position. “Well he definitely knows what he is doing.” He says aloud as he enters the kitchen through the window. “He even knew to conceal it behind the curtain.”

Once inside, Viktor shuts the window and pulls a wooden spoon out of the second drawer he opens. He wedges it between the part of the window that slides up and the top of the frame.

“There ya go Aaron. It won’t be so easy to get in next time.” He mumbles angrily.

However, Viktor realizes if it was not for Aaron’s disgusting ways, he would not be standing inside a dry house and out of the rain that has begun to pour down outside.

“Yeah, sooooo. . . how am I going to explain this to Nadja without looking like a total liar?” Viktor says as he drops his bag onto the floor near the back door. “Damn I wish I had my phone, I cannot believe I lost it.”

He takes a glass from one of the cabinets and fills it with water from the tap. Until now, he did not realize how thirsty he was. In counting the time since he left the nice old couple after a delicious breakfast, he walked for thirty minutes but once he fell down the cliff, he knows he lost about four or five hours. Now that he is thinking about it, his neck and the back of his head are aching with pain.

“I must have really hit hard.” He says as he gulps down the last bit of water in the glass. “Well, now all I can do is wait, or better yet, see if what I dream really is real. I need to see if that hidden room that is in the big bedroom is really there.”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 138) Droplets

Even though she was not in immediate danger of Aaron approaching her, Nadja is still shaking violently to the point she sits on her hands in the seat.

“What on earth was that all about?” She hears one woman ask her husband from a few seats behind.

Embarrassment consumes Nadja, not only for herself but for Aaron as well. How is it that he cannot see how wrong his actions are? What is the missing component in his brain that allows him to step over the line time after time? There is fear in her for she cannot help but wonder if he will break free and now he knows for sure she is going back to the cottage.

“I think I’ve made a mistake.” She mumbles as she tries to call Carl. “Come on Carl, pick up.” She whispers.

There is no answer from Carl and as Nadja looks out the window of the train, she sees the sun disappearing behind storm clouds. The pull to the engine is now stronger as the hills become steep. Passing by the old mill, Nadja pays extra attention to it because it was the backdrop to Viktor’s photograph. On her phone, she pulls up his message and stares at his picture.

“He looks nice, just like he acts when I have talked with him.” She says in her mind as she saves the photo to her phone.

At this time, the train goes dark as it passes through the first long tunnel on its way up the mountain.

The storm moving in from the west is bringing with it the scent of rain. However, at this time no droplets of water have started to fall along the ridge of the mountain.

“I need to get inside before I become a drowned rat.” Viktor says to himself as he jiggles the handle of the front door and once again looks in through the living room window. “Maybe Nadja is napping.” He says to himself as he looks through the glass into her bedroom. “Nope, I guess I’m going to have to let myself in.”

Since the cottage and its belongings have been one hundred percent accurate to his dreams, Viktor hopes he can get into the back door without having to break any glass. Running around the side of the cottage the storm begins to pick up in intensity. Lightning strikes very close to where he is and thunder roars immediately after causing Viktor to truly worry about his own safety. Running up to the kitchen door at the back of the cottage, he tries to turn the handle, but it too is locked up tight.

“Oh this is great.” He says as he looks around for anything to use as a makeshift umbrella.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 137) Astonished

Viktor clears his throat and taps three times on the wooden door of the cottage. He can feel his hands getting sweaty and the wind is picking up causing the dry stems of flowers long gone to rustle where they stand. Knock, knock, knock he taps at the door again but still, there is no sound from inside. Stepping to the left, he peeks in through the living room window and is astonished. He has not just had dreams about similar things, but every single detail in this room is exactly as he sees it in his dreams. It is unbelievable to him how much everything matches up.

“Wow, you’ve got to be kidding.” He whispers as he turns around to look behind him.

The wind is beginning to howl through the trees as many leaves swirl and fall to the ground. With a large number of evergreen trees in the area, there is a static or white noise as the gusts rush down the ridge of the mountain. It is as if the air must follow the trail as well. With a heavy boom, another clap of thunder shakes the ground, and now the sun is beginning to fade. Looking up Viktor can now see the heavy black clouds rolling through the sky taking the world from a bright yellow glow to blue and gray in color.

The train sounds its whistle as a last warning for everyone to board and it is now that a small crowd is gathering on the landing. The yelling is catching Nadja’s attention and as she looks up, she sees Aaron sprinting in her direction, his scarf loose around his neck and his long coat unbuttoned catching the wind. Immediately he his stopped by two police officers who begin pulling him back toward the ticket area. Carl is off to the right and makes eye contact with Nadja just as the train begins to pull away.

“We are not done, Nadja!” She hears Aaron screaming at the top of his lungs. “We are not done here!”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 136) What If

Watching out the window of the train, Nadja glances at the people coming and going and decides now is a good time to reply to Viktor’s message.

“Hello Viktor, I received your photograph. As strange as it all seems, you are correct. I do know you, I recognize you from my dream as the man sitting next to my aunt in front of her fireplace.” Nadja reads over her words carefully. “Where are you right now?” She questions and then sends the message hoping for a quick reply.

With the loss of his phone, Viktor is unaware of Nadja’s reply and question as he dusts off his pants from climbing up the cliff and adjusts his backpack for a more comfortable fit.

“Well, at least I know the way to the cottage but my trip back home will be a little interesting since EVERYTHING was on my phone!” Viktor grumbles at himself. “You just had to get a picture of the lake, didn’t you?” He says in a disgusted manner. “Well, ready or not, here I come!” He yells.

Not only will his lack of a phone make his trip back difficult, Viktor’s biggest fear is that without knowing Nadja’s response to his message and photograph, he is afraid she will be angry at him for showing up unannounced. After all, it is very odd for a complete stranger to go to such lengths to meet a person they think is in their dreams. Now as he starts to analyze his actions, he is not sure he would let himself in the door either! Laughing at his thoughts, he continues up the path and rounds the last corner, which brings the quaint little cottage into view.

It is just as his dreams have portrayed. Moss on the stonework, ivy coating the tree trunks and thick green shrubs surround the dwelling. The gurgling sounds from a nearby brook are gentle and soothing as birds flutter by and land on the pointed pickets of the fence. With the sun beating down from high above, it is rather hard to believe that thunder would be echoing through the sky, but that is exactly what rumbles along the ridge.

“What the heck?” Viktor questions as he stops and looks around. “Was that thunder I just heard?”

Holding his hand over his eyes to shield them from the sun, he sees a few puffy clouds, but nothing that could produce such a pounding sound. Yet here again, another clap of thunder rumbles in the air. Viktor is nearing the cottage and he begins to get nervous about meeting Nadja. It is easy to talk to people on the internet but in person, he wonders if it will be just as good.

“What if she hates me? What if she still thinks I’m working alongside that delusional idiot I’ve been warned about?” He questions in his mind as he steps past the little gate and fence of the yard.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 135) Threat

In the photograph, through the window where Viktor was sitting on the train, is the old mill. Its position is near the tracks just before the first tunnel that passes through the edge of the mountain. It is now obvious to both Nadja and Carl that Viktor has indeed arrived at his destination.

“Sorry to interrupt.” Regina says as she taps at the frame around the open door. “Some guy just dropped this off for you, Nadja.” She says in a worried tone. “He wasn’t very nice about it either.”

“Thank you, Regina and I’m sorry if you were treated poorly.” Says Nadja for she suspects this encounter involves Aaron. “What happened?”

“He just stomped into the store, tossed this on the counter, and said to give it to you.” Regina states firmly. “He then told me I should start looking for a new job. Is there something I should know?”

“Oh good god.” Carl says in a disgusted tone. “Regina you have a very secure job, this jerk is just mad because Nadja here stood up to him. You have nothing to worry about.”

“Well, okay.” Regina states as she looks at Carl for a few seconds before walking away from the door.

“What have you got there, what stunt is this arrogant bastard pulling now?” Carl grumbles as he looks at the envelope.

Nadja slides the envelope from the table and slowly opens it. Inside is a wooden matchstick with the words, Soap Suds written on it.

“It is a threat to burn the shop.” Nadja says in a defeated manner. “Oh Carl, I cannot let anything happen to the shop. It is all we have! But even more importantly, it is Aunt Josephine’s legacy.”

“Nothing is going to happen to the factory. I’m going to alert the mayor and police now.” Carl says firmly as he rolls his uneaten sandwich back into its paper sleeve and stands up. “We will get him tossed out of town faster than you can hiccup!” He slides Nadja’s sandwich closer to her. “While I’m working on this, you need to go back up the mountain before the rain and snow hits, just in case anything does take place here.”

“I don’t want you to get hurt, Carl!” Nadja says firmly.

“I’m not going to get hurt, here is the extra key to my cabin, stay there until I join you and we will both go to your cottage and see if this Viktor guy is there.” Carl’s expression is very serious. “The shop will be closed due to bad weather anyhow, so there is no need for you to stick around to see if Aaron acts on his threats.”

“But I. . .” Nadja’s starts to say but is interrupted by Carl.

“But nothing! Josie would want you safe and I will see to it that you are.” Carl takes Nadja’s hand in his. “I am going to get you safely to the station and then you stay put at my place until I get there, okay? It will be alright.”

With that being said, Carl grabs Nadja’s backpack, places both sandwiches inside and they both leave out the back door of the shop. Within five minutes, she is on the train waiting for it to pull away from the station.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 134) Rethink

“Nadja, we have to rethink your plan to stay here.” Carl announces as he enters the small office of the soap factory. “I just came from the sandwich shop, heavy rain and snow is heading our way which will close down the train for several days. With that goon Aaron here in town, you would be safer up on the mountain.” He sits down on the chair across the desk from her.

“What’s got you grinning from ear to ear?” Carl asks.

“Oh, I follow a few people on a blog that discusses your dreams and try to interpret what they mean.” She replies and then continues. “There is this guy named Viktor who actually helped me out once and has been writing me lately.”

“Oh yeah? Are you blushing?” Carl teases.

“No, I’m not blushing.” Nadja replies but she knows she probably is. “It is odd, we have only been talking for a short while, not even a month, but he has been dreaming about the cottage and the village. Everything down to where the fire logs are placed to the layout of the rooms, you searching the grounds the other night and even the secret passageway.”

“Wait a minute.” Carl interrupts. “Are you sure this isn’t Aaron playing a trick? How could anyone have those details unless they were spying on you? You didn’t even know about the passage until the other day when I showed it to you!” Carl’s voice is raised with concern as it well should be.

“I know, to be honest I felt the same way and I would never have believed it if I didn’t witness it myself.” Nadja replies but Carl looks puzzled. “What I mean is, I actually saw him with Aunt Josephine in a dream I had this morning.” She replies quickly and Carl’s expression changes completely.

“Josie lived by what her dreams showed her.” Carl says softly as he looks down at the sandwiches he bought for lunch. “So where does this guy live?”

“I’m not sure. I know his time zone is ahead of us by three hours.” She replies but then adds, “He says he is coming to help me, that his dreams told him where I live and he is worried that I am in danger, which I suppose is accurate.” She pauses. “I highly doubt he is going to show up on my doorstep anytime soon though.” She laughs.

“Got a photo of him? Do you know what he looks like?” Carl asks in a fatherly tone.

“Actually, yes.” Nadja laughs. “He sent me one earlier today, but with all the activity, I just forgot about it.” She turns her phone so Carl can see the photograph.

“Good looking lad.” Carl says as he inspects the photograph. “So, you said he is coming here, to help protect you from Aaron?” He pulls Nadja’s phone closer for a better look.

“Yes,” Nadja laughs. “I don’t really expect him to find me, he has no idea where I live, I never told him.”

“Well, you might want to rethink that, this picture was taken from the train.” Carl says as he turns the phone around for Nadja to see.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 133) Smile

“I find your ability fascinating, young man. Tell me what you see.” The older woman whispers in a calm tone.

“Am I dead?” Viktor questions as he turns to look at her.

“Tell me what you see in the mirror, please.” She states again avoiding his question.

“I see Aaron, or who I assume is Aaron.” He whispers.

“Yes, that would make sense. What else, what is he doing?” She asks as she taps his shoulder lightly.

“He appears to be searching for something, or just trying to destroy things. He is right above us in Nadja’s room.” He says as he watches Aaron leave for the kitchen. “Now he is in the kitchen, pulling items from the shelves and cupboard.”

“For a man his age he is such a selfish child.” The woman says with a hint of anger. “We can avoid this.” She says as she stands next to Viktor. “You need to wake up now, you have some distance to cover.”

With a loud popping sound and a flood of air pressing through his ears, Viktor wakes up from his resting place on the boulder of the cliff. The sun is shining brightly in his eyes and as he glances around, his phone is nowhere in sight. To him, this is like losing his lifeline.

“Damn it.” He says to himself as he carefully stands up. “How long was I out?”

The sun is very high in the sky, and to Viktor, it appears to be two or three in the afternoon. This means he laid here on this ledge for nearly four hours. Looking up from where he is, the climb to get back on the path seems nearly impossible. A steep wall of rock, tumbling gravel and roots from trees that span twice his height are the obstacles.

“How in the hell am I suppose to get up there without falling to my death.” He says to himself as he glances back at the sheer drop off behind him. “Well that’s where my phone went for sure.” He mumbles as he looks down at the trees and the bank of the lake.

Holding onto a tree root, he places his foot on the rough surface and pulls himself upward. Gravel begins to roll again as he places his other foot on the wall. Grabbing for the next lump of roots, Viktor slowly makes his way up the wall only slipping twice, but that was enough for him as he finally reaches the path and safety.

Sitting down for a break after a very busy morning in the factory, Nadja remembers she asked Viktor for a photograph. Pulling her phone from her pocket, she logs into the dream blog and opens his message. Her first reaction is shock, for she does recognize Viktor as the man in her dream. He was sitting with Aunt Josephine in front of the fireplace at the cottage and this makes her smile. His eyes are dark and hair disheveled from traveling but it is definitely the same person.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 132) Reflection

To the left of the entrance, on the wall, Viktor sees a crack in the wood paneling. It is not damage from the door hitting it earlier, this looks like a panel or opening of some sort. The kicking to the front door is loud and it sounds as if the wood is beginning to splinter. Quickly, Viktor leans down, slips his fingers into the crack and pulls the panel open.

Darting up at him is the older woman who has visited him numerous times in his dreams here. She grabs him by the collar of his jacket and pulls him inside with such force that he tumbles down several steps before landing on a dirt floor, the poker from the fireplace still in his hand. Standing over him the woman puts her finger to her mouth indicating he needs to stay quiet.

Her hair is in a tidy braid that wraps along the backside of her head. Inserted within are small yellow flowers that appear to have been dusted in glitter. She has not said a single word as she watches the floorboards above them.

The dark damp room is tiny in size and as Viktor’s eyes adjust, he notices it is full of wine bottles. Rack after rack stacked against each other taking in the majority of the space. Overhead, in Nadja’s bedroom, heavy footsteps are stomping through the cottage and items are being dropped to the floor as if the place is being ransacked.

“What is going on?” Viktor questions.

Once again, the older woman mimics a shhh with her fingers to her lips and does so without moving her watchful eyes from the floor above. Lifting her long skirt to avoid tripping on it, she walks over to a darker spot in the room. Upon her return, she is carrying a large oval mirror in her hands and before another crashing sound from above hits the floor, she hangs it from a wine rack.

“Look into it, tell me what you see.” She whispers to Viktor.

Standing up, but due to the low ceiling, not all the way, he walks over to be directly in front of the antique item. All that he sees is his reflection just like any other person would but suddenly a swirl of mist seems to pass through it and now as clear as day, he can see Aaron in Nadja’s bedroom. He has pulled back the covers on the bed and knocked over her end table and a set of stacked travel trunks. Several small porcelain trinkets have been shattered upon the floor, and with each step of this violent rampage, they are crushed into smaller pieces and dust.

Directly behind Viktor, the older woman has her hands on his shoulders and is peering at the glass but is not able to see what Viktor is witness to. In fact, Viktor cannot see his or her reflection at all and this concerns him.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 131) Nervous

Falling in slow motion, as if in dark water so deep there is no end, Viktor finds himself holding his breath waiting for an impact. There is nothing around him in this void of light and sound and he cannot hold his breath any longer. Gasping for air, he opens his mouth and suddenly finds himself standing in the main room of Nadja’s little cottage.

“What?” He says to himself.

He was sure he was underwater and drowning. He was certain the air he so desperately wanted would not come as his body forced him to open his mouth and inhale. Now, here he is, standing inside his destination.

“Is this a dream or am I dead?” He looks at his arm almost afraid to try and touch it thinking he will not feel it.

He runs his fingers along his forearm and it feels solid, like it always has. Puzzled as to what has happened, he now remembers slipping on gravel as he took pictures of the lake.

“My cell phone, where is it?” He begins to pat the pockets of his pants and jacket. “Oh great.” He says with much disappointment.

Stepping over to the front door of the cottage, Viktor opens it slowly and looks out at the gravel path. He was hoping to find his phone lying there on the ground, but the only things scattered about are seeds from the dormant flowers and leaves from the trees.

“Maybe if I walk down the path to where I fell, my phone might be there.” Viktor says as he begins to step outside.

At this moment, when Viktor is pulling the door shut, he sees a man rounding the distant corner heading his way. Immediately, he recognizes the posture and attitude as the man he saw on the trail in a recent dream. He is the man Viktor observed fleeing the cottage, leaving the kitchen door standing open for any nocturnal animal to enter. Yes, this is Aaron and he is coming this way.

“Damn it.” Viktor says under his breath as he pushes back against the door to open it.

He does not realize how easily the door swings open and with his aggressive push, he falls back pushing it all the way to the wall. This was with such force, he is sure the wall will have damage on it from the handle hitting it so hard. Without looking, he quickly turns closing the door shut and engaging the lock. Not even a second passes before there is loud excessive banging on the wooden entry.

“How did he get here so fast?” Viktor says as he steps back from the door.

Looking around for anything he can use as a weapon, he reaches for the poker that is leaning against the fireplace. The banging on the door is relentless and it is obvious to Viktor that Aaron is now kicking at it with his foot.

“He is going to break through.” Viktor says in a nervous whisper as he moves toward the door.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 130) True

“Nadja! Oh good god, Nadja!” Carl yells as he enters the factory.

“Well good grief, Carl. What has you so worked up?” Nadja grins as she comes out of the back room to see what the commotion is all about.

“He is here, I saw his smug self at the restaurant and worse. . . Oh dear.” Carl says before he hesitates. “I. . . ” he pauses, “I let it slip you are staying here.”

Nothing could dishearten Nadja’s security as much as this statement from Carl. The one place where she thought she could hide is now well-known. She cannot be angry with this loveable man though. He has done nothing but be compassionate and helpful. She knows this is her fault. She is the one who has not stood up to Aaron to put an end to this ridiculous game.

“Oh please forgive me my dear.” Carl says as he pulls Nadja into a tight hug. “Josie would be so angry with me right now for blabbing your whereabouts out in the open like that.”

“Carl, it is alright. I know I must stop this mess between Aaron and myself.” She looks up at this big loveable man. “Aaron has been texting me, calling me, and I do believe he has been to the cottage.” She looks down at her phone. “I’m going to tell him this is over.”

Her tone is almost sad and melancholy as she turns away from Carl and walks up the spiral staircase to the small apartment. Tugging at her are the same mixed emotions that have taunted her since she walked away from Aaron. To have him chasing her feels exciting, but with all the soul-searching she has been doing since the night she left him, points her in a different direction.

Time and time again this game has been played, he is sweet and kind, loving and almost doting. Just when she begins to think Aaron has softened, his nasty behavior and demeaning words return. She knows this is his way to control her, to ruin her self-esteem and to cause her to believe she is not worthy of anyone better.

“I know his tricks, but my heart keeps pushing for another chance.” Nadja says to herself as she begins to type a reply to Aaron’s last message.

“Aaron, I know you are here, I know you think I will go back to the city with you but the truth is, you are toxic to me.” She pauses, feeling bad about saying such a thing, but she leaves her words as they are. “Please leave here and do so without hurting anyone. You do not love me, I know this, and you will find someone else and when you do, let her love you.” Tears begin to form in her eyes. “Not every woman is your mother, who you despise so much. Please find your happiness and let me find mine. We just are not meant for each other but know, no matter what, I do care about you.”

Reading over what she just typed causes her tears to flow and trickle down her cheeks making her skin itch. It is a mixed up confused message but she has no other way of explaining her feelings, so she leaves the note as is. She feels as if she loves him and does not want him to go, but to be honest with herself in what she needs to do, she knows the words she typed are as true as the wind. Nadja taps send on her phone and the message processes.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 129) Adamant

After rounding a few corners, Viktor finds himself on a long straight section of this mountain trail. Nothing looks even close to what he saw in his dream. Just as he begins to think he somehow got off track, he sees the small ranger’s hut through the dense trees and shrubs to his left. As he approaches a clearing off to the side, he begins to recognize the area.

“Ok, ok. . . yes, this is bringing out the confidence in me.” Viktor says as he stops on the path to observe the hut for a moment. “That little thing is kind of eerie.” He says about the small structure as he glances around to see if anyone is nearby.

There is not a soul in sight, which is perfectly fine with Viktor. His only concern at the moment, is that Nadja has yet to reply to his message. He does not want to simply walk up to her private home and barge in, but he cannot stop and wait either. The closer he gets to his destination the more adamant he is to help her. As he continues to walk, the trees open up to a mountaintop view of the large lake he has been hoping to see.

“Oh wow.” Viktor says aloud. “The elderly couple said this was the main attraction and it is definitely showcasing itself now.”

He cannot help it, holding his phone up high enough to catch a photo without obstruction from the vegetation; Viktor takes several photographs of the beautiful scene. The blue color of the sky reflecting off the stillness and almost glass effect of the water is fascinating. It does not appear that anyone is fishing or boating at this mid-morning hour, at least not within view of the section Viktor can see. He steps closer to the edge where the ridge drops off to a rock ledge below and a few stones tumble over the side.

“Damn, I better watch what I’m doing.” Viktor says as he begins to step back. “Moving on!” He exclaims as if he is a wilderness explorer.

Just as he turns and steps back, loose gravel under his feet begins to fall away and there is nothing for him to grasp onto to keep from sliding with the momentum. The soil is very loose here and just as he feels he has found solid footing, over the edge he slides falling onto the massive rock below. With great force, the back of his head hits the thick gray bolder and everything around him goes dark immediately.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 128) To Go

“Minerva, I need some food in my belly quick and also a plate to go.” Carl says as he leans on the counter near an empty barstool.

“A plate to go?” Questions one of the men next to him. “You will lose that girlish figure if you start doing that my friend.” He laughs.

“Ah no, it’s not for me, it’s for Nadja. She is staying in the room at the factory and we haven’t had a chance to stock up on supplies.” Carl folds his hands in front of him on the counter where he stands.

“You might want to keep a close eye on the weather, Carl.” Minerva says as she pours him a cup of coffee. “They are calling for thunderstorms, heavy rain, and then a changeover to snow.”

“Oh great, well I suppose I need to get a list made and do some shopping before the day gets ahead of me. Thank you for the tip.” Carl replies now a bit concerned.

When the weather is calling for drastic change, this can sometimes mean the trains to the mountain and back may be delayed or stopped completely for a period of time. He not only worries about how he will come and go for work, but he has concern for Nadja’s travels as well.

Carl takes a seat at the bar and the man sitting next to him is an old friend he has known for as long as he has been alive. Carl and James went to school together and Carl was the best man in his wedding. They even owned a business together in the past but once Josephine came to live on the mountain, Carl turned all of his attention to her.

“Why is Nadja staying at the shop, Carl?” James asks with a questioning look. “She loves the cottage and actually, I thought you would probably never get her to leave.” He smiles in a thoughtful way.

“Well, it’s a long story but her ex-boyfriend is being a bit of a nuisance and has her on edge.” Carl replies. “She is going to hide out here in town just to be safe. He is a bit of a lunatic.” Carl says just before he takes a bite out of his toast and jelly.

“You know you can count on me if you need help, she is too sweet of a girl to be in danger. It actually makes me mad to think she is scared enough to flee the cottage she loves so much.” James taps his coffee cup with his finger, and Minerva fills it up promptly. “Maybe you should let the police know.”

“I hate to get the authorities involved. This guy is all bark and no bite and he just needs to accept that Nadja is happier without him.” Carl picks up a piece of bacon. “Randal! You’ve outdone yourself!” He yells to the cook and he then bites into the strip of bacon. “Best breakfast ever!”

The cook laughs at this statement and salutes Carl with the spatula he is holding. The restaurant is now nearly full to capacity as Minerva brings a bag of containers full of breakfast items over for Carl to take to Nadja. She sets it on the bar in front of him and begins to fill up his coffee cup once more.

“Oh no no. I have to get going. I do not want Nadja’s breakfast to get cold. Thank you though.” Carl says as he holds his hand over the coffee cup.

After paying his bill and placing a few dollars under his cup as a tip for Minerva, Carl stands up to leave. When he turns around, he realizes the man he stopped on the trail, the one with the smug attitude, the one Nadja fears, is sitting right behind him near the window. Aaron does not say a word nor does he look at Carl, and it is now obvious to Carl the plan for Nadja’s safety has been leaked to the very individual she needs to be protected from. The beating of his own heart fills Carl’s ears as he realizes what he has done and he swiftly leaves the restaurant to make his way back to the soap factory.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 127) Entrance

Just after Carl steps out onto the street and Nadja locks the shop door behind him, she pulls her phone from her pocket and realizes she missed a message from Viktor. She is very hesitant to even read his words or view his photograph, that is if he sent one. However, her need to know what he looks like is far greater. She opens the message and is shocked.

“This is the man I saw in my dream, he was sitting near the fire with Aunt Josephine.” She whispers.

Just as she says this, the sound of a key being inserted into the lock on the door grabs her attention. Slowly the door swings open and in steps Regina, one of the lead workers here at the factory.

“Oh Nadja! You startled me!” Regina laughs nervously as she takes a step back.

“I am so sorry Regina, I got here early and probably should have let you know this in advance.” Nadja apologizes as she helps the woman with the boxes she picked up at the post office.

“Oh it actually worked out well.” Regina grins as she gladly lets Nadja take half the load.

At this point of the discussion, Nadja forgets about replying to Viktor and begins to help her friend with the items as the day begins at the soap factory.

It does not take very long at all for Carl to leave the factory and march his way into the restaurant. The place smells of eggs and biscuits, and the scent of bacon and coffee are almost overwhelming.

“Oh my I found heaven!” Carl says with a laugh as he opens the door of the restaurant just enough to poke his head inside.

Everyone in this village knows Carl and several individuals turn and wave to him as he makes his entrance. This is the typical daily routine for the majority of people seated. The exceptions, of course, are the handful of travelers who wish to partake at the local eatery. Carl is a native here, he has never ventured past the mountain ranges to the east or the west. This is his home, as it was for his parents, and he feels no desire or inkling to venture out. Despite his lack of adventure to the outside world, he is a very wise and smart man. He might be easily mistaken as a world traveler for his perceptions and demeanor emit authority, knowledge, friendliness and a mind for business.

“Carl what are you going on about.” Asks one of the men seated in the center of the room.

“Me? I have nothing to say.” Carl grins.

“Oh, yes. . . right.” Another man to Carl’s right comments.

“Hey now, you are going to upset our guests if you keep going on like that.” Carl says as he looks at the travelers sitting in the room. “I’m really a nice guy, don’t listen to them.” He says to a young couple as he leans in their direction as if telling a secret.

They laugh and look at each other with wide grins. It is obvious they are newlyweds. The hand holding on the table, a flashy diamond ring on her finger and a thick shiny band on his is proof this relationship is just getting started.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 126) Haste

It is the whistling, not the door closing, that wakes Nadja from her nap at the soap factory. The high-pitched song echoes throughout the large industrial portion of the shop and she recognizes it immediately.

“Good morning, Carl!” Nadja yells with a wide grin as she sits up on the small bed.

“Whoah, Nadja?” Carl says with a jump. “You scared the hell out of me! What are you doing up here?” He questions as he starts up the staircase to the small apartment.

“I just felt like I needed to be here, I think someone. . .” Nadja pauses. “I think Aaron is here and broke into the cottage last night.” She says with concern. “The kitchen door was open and the only way that could happen was if someone on the inside pulled the chair away from the handle.”

“You used to have a lot of episodes of sleepwalking, are you sure you didn’t move it?” Carl questions.

“But I haven’t done that in years.” She replies now questioning her haste. “No, it had to be Aaron because he replied to a message to someone I was talking to on a blog.” She points out rather quickly.

“Nadja.” Carl says in a calm tone. “That evil jerk is a security and systems specialists. Do you really think with his knowledge he could not break into your personal information and data?”

Nadja pauses and thinks this through. Carl is right, Aaron can do just about anything with the software and hidden systems he works with everyday and from all around the world. Yet, she found her laptop on the floor of the kitchen. Perhaps she pushed it off the table by accident. Now she feels very confused about the events that took place. Perhaps she did act in a hasty manner.

“I am starving and need something in my stomach before the day begins. Join me for breakfast.” Carl says with a gleam in his eyes.

“Oh. No, I’m sorry Carl but I just don’t think it’s a good idea for me to be out and about.” She looks down at her feet. “We know Aaron is around and I doubt he has gone home yet, so I’d rather avoid running into him.” She looks down at the factory tables below. “Besides, an extra hand around here will move production a little faster so I’ll stay put and work up a few invoices.”

“Then I will eat fast and bring you a plate. Sound good?” Carl grins.

“Absolutely, I would really like that, thank you Carl.” Nadja says as she gives him a kiss on the cheek.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 125) Quiet

“Well, I better get going then.” Viktor says as he stands up and pushes the chair up close to the table. “Again, thank you so much for the meal, how much do I owe you?”

“Oh no you don’t.” The woman says as she shakes her head back and forth. “We were glad to share. Besides it kept Sam from overdoing it.” She laughs as she puts her hand on her husband’s belly then rests her head on his shoulder.

It is quite apparent to Viktor that this couple has been together a long time and they are still very much in love. This actually gives him hope that once in a while, when the stars are lined up just right, the best connections can be made.

“We are open until just after dark, so if you need anything, you know where to find us.” Sam says as he pats Viktor on the back, much like a grandfather would to his grandson.

Stepping out into the sunshine, Viktor takes in a deep breath of the clear fresh air. He turns and waves at the couple as they shut the door to the store and he begins walking toward the path that heads north up the slope. Looking at his phone, he notices the time, it is half past nine o’clock.

“Wow, I’ve been on the move since my flight left at four-thirty and haven’t stopped since, well except for just now.” Viktor says to himself.

He cannot get over how quiet it is here. There are no cars or pedestrians, no air conditioners or heating systems running, he has not even heard a dog barking. As the slope of the path increases Viktor leans forward to keep his balance. All of the items he packed are in the bag on his back and it is becoming heavy.

“Yeah Vik, ya should have thought that through.” He says to himself while mocking the voice and mannerisms of his boss at work. “What a moron, however this bag should have probably been left in a locker at the train station. Oh well, not going back now.” He mumbles as he readjusts the position of the straps across his shoulders.

“Come on Nadja, read your message and get my photo. I don’t really want to just walk up to the cottage without you knowing who I am.” Viktor says aloud as he once again checks the messages on his phone.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 124) Happier

“I truly appreciate you sharing your breakfast with me.” Viktor says to the fun couple at the country store.

“Oh it was great to meet you.” The older woman says as she removes the plates from the table.

“I have to agree with Martha.” The man says with a sparkle in his eye. “As much as you love someone sometimes you run out of things to talk about. It was interesting to hear about your trip here and we wish you good hunting.”

“Hunting?” Viktor questions a bit puzzled by the comment.

“For the lake.” The man says with a grin. “It is beautiful this time of year, calm water, trees starting to get their fall color. You should be able to get some great pictures.”

“Oh yes, Sam is telling you the truth.” The woman says carrying a pamphlet as she comes back to the table and sits down. “We were just up there yesterday and it was mesmerizing.”

“I’m not sure how long you plan to stick around, but today would be the day for photography. Rain and snow is in the forecast later tonight and I think they are expecting quite a pile of it.” The man states with a serious expression.

“Here, I brought you some reading material about the area, in case you are interested.” Martha says in a sweet tone.

“Thank you, this will be helpful.” Viktor replies as he unfolds the many pages of the pamphlet.

In this little book is a photograph of the main street of the village and on the right side of the road, about halfway down the hill, is a sign that reads, “Soap Suds Factory.”

With a rush of adrenaline, Viktor is thrilled to know more of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. It is more obvious now, after finding Soap Suds is a business and its door matches the first one he ever entered through in his recurring dreams, he knows without a doubt he is in the right place.

“Just remember, once you see the hut on your left, the lake will be in view on your right, well. . . after you get past a few more trees that is.” Sam smiles with a wide grin.

The small building he saw in his dream. The one with the little light on it must be what they are referring too! Meeting this couple has helped Viktor realize he is in the exact spot that he needs to be and he could not be happier. Well, to be honest with himself, he would be elated if Nadja would reply to him.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 123) A View

With a long slow draw off his cigarette, Aaron stands just outside the doors of the hotel. A few shop owners pass by on their way to work and say hello, but he only responds with a nod and a watchful eye. He can be very intimidating when standing silent. His ultimate goal is to prove to everyone that he is the better man, the person in control, and that he does not have to stoop to anyone’s level, even when it comes to being kind. Pulling his phone from his pocket, he types a message to Nadja; I know you think you’ve won this argument, but you are wrong. I know you are thinking of me and you expect me to chase after you. Well guess what? I am. He knows his words will intimidate Nadja and a sly grin of satisfaction crosses his lips.

Looking up one side of the street and then the other, he decides to walk down the hill to one of the local restaurants for breakfast. To his right he sees the sign for the soap factory as it sways in the breeze from its iron post above the door. He grins and shakes his head as if making a mockery of the business. To disgrace the place Nadja loves so much, he flips the cigarette butt from his fingers and it hits the main entrance door leaving a small bit of ash on the lavender paint next to the handle.

“Poor little Nadja has a tarnished door.” He mumbles as he walks up to the window, holding his hands around his eyes to peek inside. “A soap factory. . . and she calls this a career.” He snickers.

Little does he know how successful this simplistic looking arrangement truly is, for Nadja and her Aunt patented most of the fragrances, packaging supplies, as well as the names of the soaps and lotions. The quaintness of the soap factory itself is something they vowed they would never lose. Part of the charm is the fact that it looks so simple and does not intimidate the consumer. All of this means nothing to a man who has very little heart or passion. Aaron is cold and harsh and he simply cannot understand the softer side of things. To him it is silly and an unnecessary use of resources. Nadja was smart in never fully explaining what her aunt did for a living.

“Ridiculous.” He mumbles as he backs away from the building, that pouty lower lip of his making him look like a little boy about to cry.

Pulling the green scarf tighter around his neck, Aaron dismisses the building as a waste of time and continues walking to the restaurant. With his head held high he enters the eatery and is seated at the booth he requested, the one by the window, the one with a view of the shop.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 122) Ready

“You alright there, son?” The old man questions as he looks at Viktor in a worried manner.

“Oh, yes I’m alright, sorry. I guess the aroma of the food was too intoxicating for me.” He grins and the old man laughs.

“Hurry up Martha, we’re about to lose him!” The older gentleman yells toward the door in a joking manner.

“Alright Sam, cool it down a bit.” The woman smiles as she taps the door open with her foot to enter the room.

“Sam!” Viktor thinks to himself as he realizes Sam is the name Nadja gave him when they first started writing each other.

“Hello there young man.” The woman says as she looks at Viktor and grins in a shy manner while wiping her hands on a dishcloth.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Viktor relies politely.

“Come on back, breakfast is ready!” The older man claps his hands and motions for Viktor to follow.

Viktor knows he must be at the right place because all the clues are coming together. There was mention of a lake and now the name Sam has been used. He finds this to be very exciting and he cannot wait to get started up the path. The images of the village, the white gravel trail, the lake and name send a rush of enthusiasm through him as he realizes his dreams are premonitions of things to come. Discretely pulling his phone from his pocket, he checks it once again, but there is still no reply from Nadja.

“It is okay.” He tells himself. “I will take a few minutes to enjoy this meal with two sweet people, which will help increase my energy level, and then I can focus on finding my way to Nadja.”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 121) Excitement

“Hi there!” An older man states as Viktor walks into the store causing a little bell to ring.

“Hello.” Viktor replies as he makes his way to the packaged jerky isle.

“You having a good morning?” The old man questions as he stacks small boxes in the corner near the cash register.

“Yeah, so far so good.” Viktor replies as he takes two bags of turkey jerky off the peg where they are hanging. “I’m starving though.” He continues as he looks for the use by date on the bags. “Are these fresh?” He questions.

“Yes, just got those in two days ago, but if you are hungry that won’t hold you over long.” The older man states with a smile. “You like sausage gravy and biscuits?” He questions as he stops and places his hands on the counter.

“Absolutely, yes! Do you carry that in a bag to go?” Viktor grins for he thinks this man is playing with him.

With a laugh but not another word, the old man steps to a doorway behind him and opens the wooden door. Instantly the room fills with a delicious smell.

“Martha! Add a few more biscuits to the tray and double up on that excellent gravy of yours, we have a guest.” He yells and without waiting for a reply, pulls the door but does not shut it all the way.

“Oh no, you don’t have to do that. I’m a guy who lives alone so I’ve adapted to going days without a good meal.” Viktor laughs as he steps up to the counter to pay for the turkey jerky and energy drink.

“Nonsense, Martha and I get tired of each other so a bit of company will do us good, plus you’ll get a hearty meal in before your hike.” The man states as he looks at the duffel bag Viktor is carrying on his back.

“My hike?” Viktor questions.

“Yes, that’s why you are here, right?” The man says as he points to the bag.

“Oh, yeah.” Viktor replies as he plays along hoping more questions do not arise. “I was hoping to get some great pictures.”

“I thought so.” the old man replies. “That’s about the only reason new folks get off at this stop. It’s the view of the lake that gets the most attention.”

“That is it!” Viktor says in his mind.

He knew he was remembering his dream correctly. There was a massive lake on the right side of the path and that is how he will know he is going the correct way. Viktor’s excitement level just rose to a much higher degree than it was a few minutes ago.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 120) Sparkles

The train has arrived at the third stop and Viktor exits the rail car per the instructions he received from Nadja’s aunt. Here on the mountain the sun is bright and warming compared to the shadows cast on the village below from the eastern mountain range.

“I bet the sun hasn’t even hit the rooftops of the village yet.” He mumbles as he takes a quick glance in that direction.

All he can see from atop this beautiful range are trees and rolling hills. As he looks back at the train tracks, light sparkles off the rails in a silver gleam. Looking at his phone, he still has not received a reply from Nadja about the photograph he sent.

“Yeah, your image must be appalling to her and she fainted.” Viktor says to himself in a mocking manner. “Oh well, ready or not, here I come.” He whispers as he exits the small station.

Even with the sun out in full force, there is still a chill in the air. Tucking his hands in his pockets, Viktor begins walking. He is not sure if he is at the right place as he glances around at the small cabins nestled amongst the trees near the station.

“What were my landmarks again?” He questions as he stops and turns around to look behind him. “The woman in my dream said to remember the way but for the life of me, none of this looks familiar at all.”

To his left is a gravel path that appears to lead north, one that leads to the west, and two cabins and a small supply store next to the train station.

“I remember a lake to my right when walking in that dream.” Viktor says softly as he looks in all directions. “Nope.” He says with finality and frustration.

Looking at his phone, it is still silent, yet his signal is strong. However, he is feeling a bit queasy from his early morning travels and lack of food. Glancing up from his phone, he decides to go into the small store to buy something to eat. He knows himself well and with a hike ahead of him, he cannot move on with depleted strength.

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