Doors To Mirrors 140-159

Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 159) Fall Down

“I have a feeling you found Aunt Josephine’s wine cellar.” Nadja grins as she comes back into the room with the bottle of wine and two classes.

“She showed it to me, kind of.” He replies.

“Oh yeah?” Nadja giggles. “And how did that come about?” She grins as she pours the red liquid into each wine glass.

“Okay, so I was at your front door, then fell against the door, which caused it to hit the wall.” He replies.

“You seem to fall down a lot.” Nadja laughs.

“I don’t get it either. Normally I’m a very well-balanced guy!” Viktor laughs. “But yes you are right, I have not been lucky in staying upright these past few days.”

“Okay, so you fell against the door making it hit the wall, then what?” Nadja is fixed on Viktor’s eyes.

“Well, I noticed this crack in the wood, and upon further investigation, I realized it was a hidden door.” He says in a mysterious storytelling type of manner. “So I pulled it open and your aunt was there, she had me go down the steps.”

Viktor does not see any reason to tell Nadja that the man he believes to be Aaron was kicking the front door in and that her aunt basically pulled him to safety. No, he would rather not have to discuss anything about the guy since Carl was so adamant on knowing if the two knew each other. Yet, he would like to know the connection Aaron has to Nadja. Now this thought enters his mind, is Nadja married to Aaron?

“My aunt was very worldly yet never physically left this area. Most of the time, she was here on the mountain and would frequent the village for her shopping needs, or to check in on Carl, he was and still is the backbone of her business.” Nadja smiles as she pauses. “However, most of the time, Aunt Josephine preferred to be alone. And when I say alone, Carl was usually with her.” Nadja laughs at her statement as she looks around at the firelight flickering on the ceiling.

“Aunt Josephine was a little paranoid as well, I suppose that is why she built the escape tunnel you described seeing in your dream.” Nadja says in a soft tone. “You found her wine cellar.” She grins as she holds up her nearly empty glass of wine. “That was the only odd little room I knew about. Now I wonder how many other secret places she has incorporated within these walls.”

They both laugh and drink down the last drop in their glasses and then split the remaining amount in the bottle between them. The glassware sparkles with reflections from the amber flames that are snapping and sparking from the timbers in the stone fireplace. Aside from that, there are no other sounds inside or outside of the small cozy cottage.

“You are probably wondering where Aaron fits in to all of this.” Nadja states in a blunt manner.

“No. . . well yes.” Says Viktor as he snips off a piece of the stick he has been using to poke at the fire. “I haven’t heard anything here or witnessed in my dreams a single nice thing about him. How is it someone like you could get caught up with someone like him?”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 158) Polietly

“What do you think about all of this?” Nadja asks.

“The fire?” Viktor laughs for he knows exactly what Nadja is referring too. “I don’t know what to think about the dreams. You just started showing up in them months ago. I would see this girl, you, off in the distance and I knew who you were but I could never get close enough to speak to you.”

“What do you mean, you knew who I was?” Nadja questions for she is now even more interested in what Viktor has to say.

“I don’t really know. It is hard to explain. You were just a familiar person but I have no idea why. Yet, I knew I had to somehow connect with you to solve the mystery.” He says as he pokes the stick once again at the embers on the burning log. “Then one day it all changed, the recurring dream was exactly the same but that crazy door appeared behind another door and boom! The next thing I know I am showing up at this cottage and you were in danger.” He winces for he wishes he had not just said that.

“Well, I’m glad you are here.” Nadja says softly. “I actually feel really relaxed around you.”

“I find it strange how the door led me to the mirror in your bedroom. I was behind it, trapped in this void where I could see the room but not touch anything and yelling did not grab your attention at all. Oddly enough, there were pebbles on the floor so I tossed a few at the glass to see if you could hear them.” He says as he watches a puzzled expression come across her face. “Oh trust me, I know. . . what in the world were pebbles doing on the ground if I was inside your cupboard. Hey, it’s a dream so nothing has to make sense, right?” They both laugh and then Nadja stands up.

“That is really odd.” Nadja says as she looks at Viktor. “For a while now, I think longer than when you have been seeing me in your dreams, I have been hearing popping or clicking sounds. They seem to come from the mirror of my wardrobe cabinet and the windows of my bedroom, but not just here at the cottage.”

“Maybe it was me all along and I just did not remember the dreams.” He laughs but it does seem strange.

“I just assumed it was a temperature change at night causing a slight shift or something.” She looks in the direction of her bedroom. “Would you like another glass of wine?” She asks politely.

“Yes actually, I think that would be great.” Viktor replies and he wonders if she questions where the bottle came from.

Viktor is very happy with the ease in which they are discussing this odd way of meeting. Plus, he cannot get Carl’s reaction to the phrase Nadja’s deceased aunt asked him to memorize. It was as if the older man had complete trust in Viktor from that moment forward. As much as Nadja intrigues him, Viktor also has many questions about her aunt. She is deceased and he seemed to know this from their first visit, but how is it that she is still interacting with the living?


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 157) Visits

“Oh wow, the snow is really piling up.” Nadja says softly as she turns to look at Viktor.

He walks over to stand next to her as they peer out at the silent storm. The snow is thick and with it being so full of moisture, every little thing has collected a band of white onto its leaves, branches and fence posts.

“You know we are going to be stuck here for a while.” Nadja says as she continues to watch the snow falling.

“I’m okay with that if you are.” Viktor replies but then the images from his dreams of Aaron kicking in the door pop into his thoughts. “Deep snow probably deters people from making the walk here, right?”

“Are you referring to your dreams?” Nadja questions quietly.

“Well, yes.” Viktor replies without elaborating.

“He was here, Aaron I mean.” She looks at Viktor. “But Carl got the authorities involved and they escorted him out of the village. Supposedly, they took him all the way to the airport.” She turns and looks out the window again.

“Oh, well that is great!” Viktor says with relief. “Maybe I won’t have to beat the hell out of the guy after all.”

Nadja laughs at Viktor’s statement and does not continue with the topic for she is more intrigued with the visits he has had with her aunt.

“So tell me, what does she say to you?” Nadja questions softly and there is a slight pause before Viktor speaks.

“You mean your Aunt?” Viktor finally questions.

His body is feeling drained from this long day of travel and mishaps that happened along the way. The fact that he just ate, and is feeling rather full, has him wanting to grab a pillow and close his eyes. However, he is excited to finally be here, with the mystery girl from his dreams, and to hopefully keep both Nadja and himself safe.

“Yes. What has she told you and is this normal? Meaning, do you tend to see the deceased in your dreams?” Nadja quizzes as she walks over to the fireplace and sits down on the wooden rocking chair just to the right.

Viktor steps over to the sofa and sits down as he thinks of how to open up about his nighttime conversations and experiences. It is not that he is afraid to discuss his wanderings, but there are several points the he feels would upset Nadja. He plans to tell her as much as he can and hopefully avoid discussing Aaron at all costs.

“From the few times she and I spoke, I do know I really like her. She seems wise and now that you and I have met, she sounds just like you. Well, I suppose you sound just like her.” Viktor grins as he watches the flames of the fireplace dance along the thick logs.

“Has she mentioned Carl? Or me?” Nadja looks down at her fingers.

“She is watching out for both of you. I can assure you of that.” He glances at the large window of the room. “It was because of her that I knew the path to the cottage so well, she made me memorize it.” He laughs. “You know. . . I wonder if she knew I was going to lose my cell phone.” He rubs his fingers along his chin. “Wow, this thing feels unkempt.” He says about his beard.

“I think it looks nice.” Nadja comments quickly.

“Thank you.” Viktor grins as he slips down off the sofa to sit on the floor in front of the fire.

“Are you cold?” Nadja questions with concern.

“Not too bad, just wanted to get a little heat on my shoulders.” Viktor replies as he picks up a thin stem of wood and stabs it at the fire. “I suppose I wanted to play with the fire as well.” He laughs at his own actions as Nadja joins him on the floor.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 156) Flickering

After walking over to, and looking out the terminal windows for several seconds, the man Aaron bribed to do his bidding begins to interact with the officer. He points to the windows and Aaron can hear their voices but not make out what they are saying. Next, the officer gets up to see what the man is looking at outside and Aaron slips through the door and down the escalator that takes him to the coffee shop near the airport entrance doors. While standing there waiting, several individuals begin talking about the weather and how the communication towers and power lines are down the closer you get to the western mountain range.

“Perfect, they won’t be able to alert anyone that I have escaped.” Aaron grins with delight.

“Alright, I did it, where’s my other bill?” The man says in an out of breath manner.

“Right here buddy,” Aaron slaps the second bill into the man’s outreached hand.

“Wow, seems awful expensive for a test but I’ll take it.” The man says with a smile. “That’s a damn good income.” He grins.

“Hell, this is nothing. I make more than that every thirty minutes.” Aaron states in his arrogant and nasty manner. “Oh, and you should work out more, you’re sweating like a pig.” Aaron then walks out the airport entrance undetected.

With wine in the glasses and the small flame from the candle flickering light onto the wall, Nadja and Viktor sit down together at the small table.

“Well this is an assortment of strange things.” Nadja laughs nervously as she stirs her soup.

In the back of her mind, all she can think about is how Aaron would react to such a haphazard combination of food and drink for dinner. He would never have it and would demean Nadja for it, then either purchase food for delivery or leave and have dinner by himself in a restaurant. No, this would have been a disaster with him and even though Viktor said it sounded fine, she is not sure how he will truly react.

“God I’m starving!” Viktor says as he picks up his wineglass and nods for Nadja to do the same. “Here’s to a warm house, warm food, and good conversation.”

As they tap their wineglasses together, Viktor’s laidback demeanor shocks Nadja. She feels an instant sense of relief and it is now that she realizes how hungry she is. Viktor picks up his half of the sub sandwich and takes a large bite out of it while Nadja sips down a spoonful of soup.

“Mmmm, that is one good sandwich.” Viktor comments before taking another bite.

“I’m glad you like it.” Nadja grins and shakes her head slightly.

“What?” Viktor smiles as he says this. “I’m a single guy who fends for himself and this is a feast compared to some of the things I’ve slapped together for dinner. Hell, I’ll eat the cardboard box pizza is delivered in if it has a little cheese on it!”

“Okay.” Nadja laughs aloud as she continues to eat.

With only a few things to wash up after the meal, Nadja tends to the kitchen while Viktor brings the fire in the fireplace back to a roaring flame. As Nadja walks into the living room, she goes directly to the front door, flips the outside light on and looks out the window.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 155) Excused

“May I be excused?” Aaron asks the airport security officer who has direct orders to stay by his side.

“Why?” The officer questions in an indifferent manner.

“I need to use the restroom.” Aaron replies as he stares into the eyes of the officer in a power play.

“Sorry, I have to stay with you. Let’s go.” The officer states as he stands up.

“This is ridiculous.” Aaron says in a mumble. “Look, the entrance to the restroom is straight ahead. How in the world would I slip out without you seeing me?” He says in a belittling manner. “Besides, I may be awhile.”

“Oh, okay then. But one false move and I’m going to cuff you.” The security guard says with a firm tone.

“Fine, whatever.” Aaron says as he walks to the restroom and enters through the heavy door. “We’ll see how long it takes this goofball to get distracted.” He mumbles as he stands just inside the door listing to the interactions of the other travelers outside.

“Excuse me.” A man says as he tries to exit the restroom.

Aaron turns around and looks the man in the eye.

“How would you like to make two hundred dollars?” Aaron questions as he blocks the man’s way. “Cash.” He says as he pulls two one hundred-dollar bills from his jacket pocket.

“It depends.” The man says.

“See that guard over there?” Aaron cracks the door just enough for this man to see the officer. “He’s not even paying attention.” Aaron snickers.

“What about him, he is airport security.” The man says nervously.

“Yes, but I’m with him, he is in my training program.” Aaron says as he pulls his business card from his pocket and allows the man to review it. “I am the senior vice president of the company and I want to see how easy it might be for me to get past him.”

“And you’re willing to pay me that much money for a test?” The man questions as if he does not believe Aaron’s story.

“I’ll give you one hundred now and the other if you are successful. Deal?” Aaron says quickly as he grabs the right hand of the man, pulling his fingers open as he drops one bill into it.

“Alright, yeah, I can pull this off.” The man says with a smile. “Where are you going to meet me for the final payoff?”

“Meet me outside the coffee shop, but you have to be fast, understand?” Aaron states in a very determined and serious tone.

This nearly frightens the man into backing out but with Aaron’s intense glare, he agrees.

“Okay, yes. I’ll do it, geez.” The man then walks out.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 154) Safe Haven

“I need to bring in more wood so it will be dry. The fireplace is the only way to heat the cottage.” Nadja says as she begins to pull her jacket on.

“No, let me get it. I meant to do that before the sun set, but it was pouring like crazy! See, my jacket is already trying to get out the door.” Viktor says in a light way as he takes his jacket from the handle of the back door.

This makes Nadja laugh for she adores sarcasm when used in a playful manner.

“Okay then, I will fix us something to eat. Oh, I forgot, I have a large sandwich from the local sub shop. Carl bought it for me for lunch, but I didn’t have time to eat it. How about we split that and pair it with two bowls of soup?” Nadja suggests.

“Sounds fantastic to me!” Viktor grins as he opens the door and steps out into the night.

“Hey, this will help!” Nadja yells as she flips the outdoor light switch on.

“Ah, yes much better, thank you!” Viktor yells back.

Out in this dark night, with heavy snow falling and the wind still, Viktor is amazed at how quickly the wintery precipitation is gathering on every little thing. The twigs of the low shrubs are holding bands of snowflakes and the steps he took to get to the woodpile are already beginning to fill in as if he never walked outside. The quietness of the woods seems almost eerie to him for he has never been to a place where the modern world was not humming with sound.

Smoke from the fireplace is falling with the snow for the air is thick with moisture. It smells good to him, this smoldering air, and he fills his arms with logs that have been kept dry by a thick tarp. Looking out at the blackness of the woods, he cannot imagine anyone stubborn enough to be hiding in a tent. He feels confident that this little cottage will be a safe haven for Nadja and him, at least for now.

Stepping back into the kitchen, the smell of soup has filled the room and the small table near the wall has been set for two. Nadja rushes over to the back door so Viktor will not have to shut it while his hands are full. A towel on the floor is an indication to him that he should tap the snow from his shoes before taking another step.

“What did you do, snap your fingers and everything jumped into place?” Viktor laughs. “You are fast, the food smells amazing.” He notices the bottle of wine he brought up from the cellar is on the table as well.

“Well thank you and no, I have wished for years the finger snap would work for multiple things, but I’ve yet to master it.” Nadja grins as Viktor walks past her and begins to stack the wood in the living room near the fireplace.

During this same span of time, the two officers escorting Aaron to the airport receive a call to return to the village for emergency assistance due to the storm. Just as they enter the airport terminal and hand Aaron off to airport security, the two officers leave without staying to confirm if he boards the plane or not. Walking Aaron to the flight gate, the security officer motions for him to take a seat in the waiting area near the windows but within seconds, Aaron becomes agitated.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 153) Quiet

Pulling on the lever to open the shelf and expose the ladder to the hidden room, Carl waves at Nadja as he places his feet on the first wooden rung. Soon the glow from the light below shines up through the opening and within seconds, the hatch begins to close. Slowly the lights fade into a slight sliver near the bottom of the shelving unit. After several seconds, which is enough time for Carl to walk over to the next switch as he enters the tunnel, the thin line of light under the door goes out completely. Taking in a deep breath, Nadja turns and walks back into the kitchen where Viktor is reading the cooking instructions on a package of Japanese noodles.

“I bet you are hungry.” Nadja says as she walks up to him. “Hey, why didn’t you answer the last message I sent to you, no service in this part of the country?”

“None at all.” Viktor replies. “I lost my phone on the way up here from the train station.”

“Oh no! Really?” Nadja questions a bit surprised.

“See, I fell into the trap of becoming a tourist when I should have stayed focused.” Viktor says in a joking manner. “But no, I just had to get a photograph of that awesome lake.”

“Well it is hard to pass up such an opportunity.” Nadja grins. “What happened to cause you to lose your phone? Did a rogue eagle snatch it out of your hand?” She laughs.

“Well damn, that would have been really cool but no, I slipped and fell. . . several feet.” He shakes his head as if disgusted with himself.

“Are you serious?” Nadja quickly asks. “Are you okay?”

“It was quite a drop. Luckily, I landed on a ledge and from what I can tell, I lost about four hours of time. It knocked me completely out!” Viktor says with an animated expression. “I had to climb up by hanging onto roots of the trees. Good think I’m a master contortionist or I might still be huddling down there like a little kid.”

It is now that the cottage grows very quiet. The rain has completely turned over to thick wet fluffy snowflakes and it is falling at a rapid rate. It is as if neither Nadja nor Viktor can think of anything to say which makes them both feel awkward, but not exactly uneasy either.

“I’m going to check the fire.” Nadja says as she walks out of the room.

Viktor goes back to reading the cooking instructions but he is not retaining the process. He cannot stop thinking of how nice it is to finally meet the girl from his dreams. She seems very sweet and is as beautiful as he knew she would be. On the same note, Nadja is intrigued by this man who traveled very far, just to meet her and protect her from harm. They both wonder if this is some sort of conglomeration of fate.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 152) My Word

“While we have a quick discussion,” Carl says in a firm tone, would you mind taking these two bags to the kitchen and put the items away? A few things need to go in the freezer and refrigerator.” Carl states as he looks at Viktor.

“Oh yeah, absolutely.” Viktor replies as he picks both packs up and takes them into the kitchen.

“Are you okay staying here?” Carl questions to Nadja.

“I am, after what just happened here, I know for a fact he is who he claims to be.” Nadja states in a whisper. “Are you planning on going back to the cabin? You should just stay here.”

“If you feel comfortable here, then I would rather sleep in my own bed tonight. I can use the tunnel again for at least the first half of the walk back.” Carl says as he starts to button up his jacket.

“I think what you and Aunt Josephine created was wonderful.” Nadja says without looking at the big yet softhearted man. “She loved you more than life itself, she always told me that.”

“Oh damn, you had to say that, I just got myself together.” Carl says as he wipes his tear filled eyes.

“I’m sorry.” Nadja says as she kisses his cheek. “You go ahead and head home and I’m sorry you’ve had to do so much walking in this horrible weather.”

“When you live on this mountain, it is just the normal way of life. No worries.” Carl says as he pats her on the shoulder and walks toward the kitchen. “Well young man, I’m heading back to my cabin and I’m trusting you to keep Nadja safe.” He is very stern with this statement.

“I understand and I will.” Viktor replies as he extends his hand again for a handshake.

“You seem like a nice fellow, don’t disappoint me.” Carl says as he squeezes Viktor’s hand a little tighter than would be considered normal.

“You have my word.” Viktor smiles for both men seem to understand each other perfectly.

While Viktor continues to put the supply of food away, Carl walks to Josephine’s bedroom with Nadja and they say their goodbyes at the bookcase.

“You call me if you need me, okay? For any reason and at anytime, be it day or night.” Carl says in a serious low voice.

“I will Carl, I promise.” Nadja says as she leans up on her tiptoes and kisses his cheek.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 151) Snow

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you, that’s just what she told me to say.” Viktor states in a calm tone.

“No son, I’m not upset, I’m just surprised and I guess I shouldn’t be.” Carl states quickly. “I always knew she was special, more in tune than the rest of us.” He sniffles again. “For you to know that phrase, I am confident Josie likes you and believes you to be a good person.” Carl releases his hug with Nadja. “It is nice to meet you, Viktor.” Carl says as he walks over to Viktor and shakes his hand.

“It is nice to meet you too.” Viktor says still a little on guard. “So I take it Josie is your aunt?” He looks to Nadja for the answer.

“Yes, to me she was and always will be Aunt Josephine. Carl is the only one who could get away with shortening her name.” Nadja laughs. “They were, and in actuality still are, soul mates.” She loops her arm though Carl’s arm and he once again clears his throat.

“She passed in her sleep two months ago.” Carl says as he looks in the direction of Josephine’s bedroom. “I woke up early, had a supply shipment coming in and I needed to catch the first train down the mountain.” Carl runs his finger along the corner of his right eye as he continues to look toward the bedroom. “Before I slipped out of bed Josie touched my face with her hand. She looked at me and smiled, then we shared our final kiss.” He looks down. “If I had any idea that was going to be the end,” Carl pauses and clears his throat.

“It is okay, Carl.” Nadja says softly as the big man steps into the shadows of the room and out of the light. “She is beautiful, isn’t she?” Nadja directs this question to Viktor as she steps closer to him.

“Your aunt? Yes.” Viktor says as fact. “You look just like her but younger.” Viktor then realizes how flirty that sounds and instantly feels embarrassed but Nadja laughs in understanding.

“It’s okay, I know what you meant. We were always mistaken as Mother and daughter and for those with bad eyesight, as sisters!” Nadja grins. “I would like to hear about your experiences with her and the things she has said to you. Aunt Josephine was one of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to know. You are lucky to have connected with her.”

“The rain is turning over to snow.” Carl says as he steps back into the conversation. “Nadja, may I have a word with you?”

“Um, yes.” Nadja looks at Carl as she answers. “Excuse me Viktor.” Nadja says politely.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 150) Truth

“No, I don’t know anything about this Aaron guy, except that in my dream. . .” Viktor pauses for he knows how odd this sounds. “All I can say is that I have very vivid and controllable dreams. I have been here several times and talked to the older woman with the long hair who I believe is Nadja’s aunt.”

Viktor is frustrated and afraid they do not believe a word he is saying. However, with this remark barely out of Viktor’s mouth, Carl swiftly turns his eyes to Nadja and does not say a word. Looking up at him as if trying to read his thoughts, Nadja seems puzzled.

“What is it Carl?” She questions and with a quick glance, she looks at Viktor then back to Carl.

“Nothing,” Carl states as he looks at the photographs resting on the fireplace mantel.

“Oh, I just remembered, she said if I need to prove my innocence, and it appears I do, I should recite the following phrase.” Viktor looks from Nadja to Carl.

Carl and Nadja look at each other for just a second and then turn their attention back to Viktor. He stands silent and then looks down at the floor as he tries to recall the exact saying.

“I don’t have a clue how this will make any difference but here goes.” Viktor says in a mumble as if embarrassed. “Through lifetimes of days asleep and awake, I’ll always find my way to the place near the lake.”

Immediately, Carl takes one step back and then turns around to face the front door. Without a word, he walks over to the wet glass and looks out at the dark world that surrounds the little cottage.

“Carl?” Nadja questions as she glances at Viktor with wide questioning eyes. “Are you alright?”

“He is telling you the truth, Nadja. He is being honest.” Carl states without moving, he then sniffles and clears his throat. “I was never able to be free at night like Josie, she was so connected to the mysteries of the world.” Carl rubs his nose and sniffles again. “The phrase was one she and I created so that if we ever became separated in death, we would always remember to come here and find each other again.”

Nadja begins to tear up as she walks over and puts her arms around Carl’s waist. The big man immediately pulls her into a bear hug as they stand there silently weeping. Viktor remains alone in the doorway of the kitchen feeling awkward with this situation.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 149) Stern

“Viktor?” Nadja says as she and Carl enter the room closing the door behind them.

“Yes. Nadja?” Viktor replies, his voice sounds funny to him.

Pushing the hoods of their rain jackets off their heads, both Nadja and Carl stand still just looking at him. There is tension in the small structure and Viktor feels very nervous, unsettled, as if he does not belong there and in a way, he doesn’t. Then it hits him, he is inside the cottage and in not owning a key, he had to have broken in.

“Oh, I can explain how I got in.” He quickly states as he wipes his wet hands on his pants.

“Well I think you should hop to it.” Carl says as he helps Nadja out of her raincoat.

Stepping toward them, Viktor stops in the entrance between the living room and kitchen. The layout of the tiny structure is in such a pattern that it seems bigger than it actually is. However, right now to Viktor, it feels incredibly small. He looks at Nadja, her hair wet along the edge of her face where the hood of the raincoat failed to cover her strands. She is silent and expressionless.

“So? Have you an explanation as to how you broke in?” Carl questions as he steps closer to Viktor.

“Yes, Sir. I do, but you may not believe me.” He replies and then looks again to Nadja for a reaction.

Quietly, Nadja walks over to the fireplace and holds her hands out to warm them closer to the flames. She remains quiet and does not look at Viktor as she lets Carl do his questioning. She has watched Carl control Aaron so she trusts what he is doing.

“I do not believe you know me well enough to grasp my belief system.” Carl states in a stern manner.

“You are correct, I don’t.” Viktor says as he looks down second-guessing the money and time he spent to get to this point. “It started to rain hard and I noticed the window over the sink,” he points in that direction, “it was unlocked so I pushed it up and came inside.” He says as he turns back to look at Carl. “I wedged a wooden spoon in it so someone will really have to work to get in that way again, you know, if it’s left unlocked again.” He does not wish to disclose the cut in the glass, but then wonders if once noticed, if he will be accused of doing it, but it is too late to backtrack now.

Viktor looks over at Nadja and she has a slight grin on her face. Actually, he is not sure if it is a grin or if she is disgusted with his story. Looking at Carl, he notices the older man’s face relaxes a bit.

“I built the fire to warm up to and plan to gather more wood as soon as the rain lets up. I’m sorry, I know how this looks but I do not have any ill intent here.” Viktor says honestly. “I will leave if you want me to.”

“No, I believe you, VikT1000.” Nadja grins as she uses his blog name and then looks at Carl. “I do not want to send him out in this mess.” She glances at the front window.

“Are you working with Aaron? Do you know him?” Carl questions of Viktor and both stand perfectly still.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 148) Skill

In the cottage, next to the fire, Viktor sits on the floor patiently waiting. He has no way of communicating now that his phone is gone. He is a firm believer it is at the bottom of the lake, which is where he would have been had that small ledge not been there.

“So, the sun is setting and I’m here in a house I broke into.” Viktor says to himself. “But I have wine, now all I need is some company.” He looks at the fire and with a thin stick, pokes at the red embers on the side of the log.

He has not turned on any lights and with boredom setting into his normally over active brain, he finds himself becoming fidgety. Standing up, he glances around at the items in the room. The deep colored sofa with its wooden details and throw pillows looks inviting but he dare not sit down. With all the traveling and moving about that has taken place today, he feels tired and knows within minutes he could easily be asleep.

“Yeah, that would be great. Fall asleep and Nadja walks in thinking I’m some parasite looking for a place to be a slug.” Viktor shakes his head at the thought of making that first impression. “Now I’m kind of wondering if she is truly living here.” He comments to himself. “My luck she probably stays in town and only comes here once in a while to make sure the place is still standing.” Viktor looks at the photograph of Nadja and her aunt. “I’m pretty sure I’m getting nervous, it feels like something is getting ready to happen.”

Walking to the front window he stares out at the darkening landscape wondering how long this night will last if he ends up here alone.

“Damn, I can’t believe I lost my phone.” He mumbles as he turns away from the glass and walks over to the fireplace. “I better keep you full, you hungry flame.” He comments as he places another large log on the toasty fire.

Standing there in silence, he can hear the rushing water as it gurgles down from the roof through the downspouts. The rain is heavy which creates a static type of sound, like a television that cannot tune into channels. A steady tapping sound is coming from the kitchen which he is positive is a leak. He turns on the light as he enters the room, and sure enough, in the right hand corner near the bathroom, is a small puddle splashing water with each drip from the ceiling.

“Let’s see. . . if I were a bucket where would I be?” He questions as he reaches for the cabinet door that is under the sink. “Ah ha, perfect.” He states as he picks up a purple bucket and grabs the dish towel from the counter.

Tossing the towel down onto the floor, he rubs it around with his foot to soak up the water that has splattered there. Quickly he places the bucket in the area, catching the next drip that falls from the ceiling.

“Skill, I’ve definitely got skill.” He grins.

At the sink, he wrings water out of the towel, folds it over a few times until it forms a square, and leaves it near the faucet. Suddenly, he hears rattling at the front door and before he can turn around, the door opens and the scent of rain fills the cottage.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 147) Misty

“When he sent this photo today,” Nadja holds her phone up for Carl to see, “I recognized him. We have been chatting on a dream interpretation site for a few days but, I just don’t know what to think about it all. Is it possible that he is traveling here in his dreams?” She walks across the room and looks out the window. “He knew about the secret room, Carl. He described it perfectly and even referenced the conversation between you and me.”

“I think we need to head up to the cottage.” Carl says in a low tone. “We only have a couple hours of daylight left, and I know outside in this mess is not where we want to be, but we have to solve this mystery. We need to find and talk with Viktor. Why has he not reached out to you?”

“I don’t know. Maybe there is a connection between him and Aaron. Maybe they both left the village together. I just do not know for sure.” She says softly.

“Or it could be a simple cell tower problem.” Carl says with his typical stay-positive attitude. “Come on, let’s get some rain gear on and head up the trail.

The sky is gray with heavy clouds slowly moving east along the mountain range. Puddles of water have already formed in low areas of the trail as the rain continues to fall at a steady pace. The large evergreen trees stand tall against the gentle wind that blows against them in small bursts. Carl and Nadja know this is the calm-before-the-storm as the temperature continues to drop causing foggy misty patches to form low to the ground.

Wearing light green rain coats that have a thick internal lining of cotton fabric for warmth, they pull their hoods up over their heads. Almost in unison, they lift small backpacks of food onto their shoulders and begin to walk along the gravel trail in the direction of the cottage.

“I’m sorry Carl.” Nadja says in a loud voice so she can be heard over the rain.

“For what?” Carl questions as he gives her a quick glance.

“For being complicated.” She replies.

“Now Nadja, you are like a daughter to me. There is nothing you can do that would make me not want to be here for you and to help you.” Carl says as he tugs at the front of his hood. “I worry about you and want you safe, so if this guy Viktor is at the cottage or along this path, I want to know about it.” Carl laughs and then says, “And put him in his place if needed.”

Nadja laughs as they continue along the trail. She does not say anything else until they find themselves at the halfway point, near the ranger’s hut and the tunnel that leads to Aunt Josephine’s bedroom.

“Are we going to take the tunnel?” Nadja questions as she points in the direction of it.

“No, not this time.” Carl replies. “Your friend would not know about it.” He then pauses. “Well, then again maybe he does, but I doubt if he is in trouble or needs help, that he would be in there. No, more than likely, he will be along this path.”

“Oh, I didn’t think of that.” Nadja says quickly. “You are right and we are going to be soaked by the time we get the last half of this walk done.”

“Yes, Ma’am. There is no doubt about that!” Carl says in an agreeable tone as a splash of water drips on his nose.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 146) Judging

“Have you heard from that jerk Aaron? Has he tried to contact you?” Carl asks as he opens the large pantry door where he stocks his dried and canned goods.

“Not a peep.” Nadja says quickly.

“How about that Viktor fella?” Carl questions without looking at Nadja.

“No, I haven’t.” She replies without elaborating as she grabs two cans of vegetables to hand to Carl.

“Well, he is here on the mountain.” Carl says and Nadja pauses in her movement to look up at him as he sorts items on the shelf. “I asked Martha and Sam if they noticed any travelers or tourists today, they pretty much described Viktor perfectly.”

“Really.” Nadja states. “It is odd, he has not replied to any of my messages since he sent me his photo.

“Sam said he was a nice young man, they actually invited him for breakfast.” He says in a calm tone.

“Ha ha! Really?” Nadja laughs.

“Well you know those two, they have usually had enough of each other by mid-morning.” Carl grins. “Not in a bad way.” He quickly clears up. “They just don’t have many new things to share with one another.”

“I suppose you’re right there.” Nadja agrees with a smile and Carl stops what he is doing to turn and look at her.

“With many years of customer service between them, they are very good at judging people the first time they meet.” He looks her in the eyes. “They ran into Aaron a day ago.” He pauses and he has all of Nadja’s attention at this point. “All I’m gonna say is, it is a good thing the authorities are escorting Aaron out of here. He is pure evil, they actually used the word evil.”

Nadja does not say anything as she nods her head up and down in agreement. She knows this is true about Aaron and there is no need to elaborate on why Sam and Martha would use such a word in describing him. The longer she is away from her ex-lover the more she can see how wrong he is for her.

“Are you sure he is gone? How do we know he will not simply turn around and head back this way?” Nadja asks.

“They have two officers escorting him all the way to the airport.” Carl says happily. “Once they drop him with airport security, they will return. Hell, by then half the roads may be starting to flood before the snow hits. I just hope they make it back safely and Aaron’s flight out to god knows where, actually leaves on time.”

“Yes, me too. I can see things so clearly now, I do not know how I lost so much of myself in him.” Nadja says without looking at Carl. “I’m actually really embarrassed that the locals know he was here because of me.”

“Nah, don’t worry about that. Everyone here loves you and they want you safe.” Carl reassures her as he puts his arm around her shoulders. “Now we just need to make a decision.”

“About what?” Nadja questions.

“Well, we’ve got that Viktor fella out there somewhere. I would like to say I’m not worried about him, but Sam said he was a city boy, so if he is lost, he’s probably not doing very well out it this storm.” Carl looks up to see out the window. “I don’t know why, but I feel a bit responsible for his safety.”

“Oh you’re right! I’ve been so wrapped up in this mess of a day that I didn’t think Viktor might actually have gone to the cottage.” Nadja says quickly.

“Wait, wait, wait.” Carl says as he lifts his hand in the air like someone trying to stop traffic. “How would he know where to go? Did you give him directions to the cottage?” There is a distrusting tone to this question.

“Oh no, absolutely not!” Nadja says as she looks at him. “You are going to think this is strange, but. . . he has been dreaming about the cottage and the village for weeks. It’s as if he has been watching some of the things that have taken place here. He actually has many details to my activities that no one could possibly know, yet somehow he does.” She pauses as she waits for Carl to respond, but he stays quiet. “He, well. . . remember earlier today, I told you I saw him in a dream this morning. He was sitting near the fireplace with Aunt Josephine.”

Carl still stands quiet and does not comment, he simply watches her and waits for her to continue.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 145) Relief

A distant rumble of thunder rolls for a long time as if slipping down the mountainside to the valley below. Tipping her head to the right, Nadja has a full view of the train station but the evening train has not arrived and it is half an hour late already.

“I hope Carl makes it here okay.” Nadja mumbles to herself. “They couldn’t have shut the line down already.” She says as she continues to look in the direction of the small station. “Maybe the rain washed away part of the track, I hope not.”

She checks her phone to make sure she has not missed a message from Carl, but nothing is there, not even a reply from Viktor. Opening her picture file, she looks at Viktor’s image once again. He appears calm and relaxed with his head tipped sideways slightly leaning on the window of the train. She is confused as to why he has not responded since up to this point, he was very quick to reply to messages. Doubt is beginning to creep back into her thoughts about him. It just seems odd that communication from Viktor stopped about the same time the authorities apprehended Aaron and sent him away.

The sound of the train whistle shakes Nadja from her deep thoughts as she leans closer to the glass to watch the activity at the depot. Sure enough, she sees Carl, that big loveable man, pulling a handcart loaded with boxes and he is heading toward his cabin.

“He stocked us up on supplies.” She grins as she rushes to the door.

The rain is falling heavy and Carl pulls his hood tighter around his face to avoid getting soaked. Not really paying attention to anything other than where he is placing his feet, he finally looks up and sees Nadja grinning at the open door.

“Hey there!” Carl yells in a happy tone. “I thought I’d better go shopping so we won’t end up starving to death once this storm really gets cranking. Snow is coming, you know!”

“Yes, I am actually kind of excited for that!” Nadja yells back so he can hear her above the noise of the rain.

“You have a twisted sense of fun my dear.” Carl grins as he pulls the cart of boxes across the threshold of his home.

Laughing, Nadja closes the door and follows Carl to the kitchen area of his cabin. She feels such a relief of anxiety to have him here and she wonders if he has any news about Aaron. However, she hates to ask the question and ironically, Carl feels much the same, but his need to know is quite deep.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 144) Calm

“Aged wine, she must have been a connoisseur.” Viktor mumbles as he places the bottle back on the shelf. “What do we have over here?” He says as he steps across the room and slides another bottle from its resting place. “Ah, okay. This one is only a year old so you haven’t had time to be worth much more, you’re coming with me.” He laughs as he takes the bottle with him back upstairs to the main room.

The heavy pounding of thunder has moved off in the distance, but it left behind a steady rain that continues to fall. Looking out at the mountain path, Nadja sits quietly waiting for Carl to join her. From the large front window of his cabin, she can see the train station, the path to the cottage, and the old country store. She knows it will not be long before this little area and the dwellers who reside here will be nestled in, waiting for the snow to come.

Nadja has only been on the mountain twice in her entire life when a snowstorm has come through. Once when she was a young teenager and the other was only four years ago. She has fond memories of each event. Aunt Josephine always made the best sugar cookies and they would spend time baking and decorating the tasty treats. Of course, the staff members at the factory were thrilled as well because they were the happy recipients of such sugary delights.

Her favorite times of all were the nights of sitting near the fireplace, talking about their plans for the future, the factory, moments they held close to their hearts and the nightly wanderings of their bedtime dreams. The stories her aunt would tell mesmerized her because most of them came to her while in a sleep state. Nadja found this fascinating and it kept her on task with journaling every night before bed and after a dream.

Sitting here, watching out the window of Carl’s cabin, the memories come flooding into her mind as beautifully vivid expressions. The snow always capped the sounds of the forest with a hush. It always seemed to bring a peaceful silence to the mountains.

“That is what I need,” Nadja says as she rests her head on her hand, “a quiet calm.”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 143) 1970

The wood is inlaid in tongue and groove fashion from the floor to the ceiling in thin strips. Sliding his hand along the boards, he tries to feel if any of them are loose or have a gap in them, but they feel sturdy and straight. Next, he begins knocking on the wood with his knuckles and once he hits the very center of the wall, a hollow sound emits from the polished panel.

“Well what have we here?” He questions as he tries to place his fingernails in one of the grooves.

The wood will not budge and just as he is about to give up, a log shifts in the fireplace causing his already on edge nerves to jump and he falls against the wall. With a pop and a quick squeak, the thin panel opens just a crack.

“Ah seriously?” Viktor whispers.

Pulling the panel open, he finds exactly what he saw in his dream, a dark, extremely thin and very steep staircase leading down below the cottage. On the wall across from the first step is a light switch.

“You have got to be kidding me.” He grins as he flips the switch and looks down the staircase. “I always like my dreams better than reality so I sure hope I’m not still on the plane dreaming this entire day.” He laughs.

Nervous about Nadja walking in on his snooping adventures, he quickly runs to the window and looks out at the path. Just as before, it is barren, wet and growing darker by the minute. He glances at the fire to make sure it is secure and then proceeds to walk down the narrow steps. The floor is made of packed dirt, and wooden racks full of dusty bottles and old wooden shipping crates line the walls. Pulling one of the bottles from the shelf, he reads the label and date, which states 1970.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 142) Expelled

Seeing Aaron today, with the police controlling him, Nadja cannot deny it felt good. In fact, it almost made her laugh for as long as she has known him, he always gets his way. No one ever denies him anything for they know he will simply take what he wants anyhow. Yet today, for a few minutes, he was the one in the demeaning position, he was denied access to the train, and then expelled from the village.

“Wow. I have to admit that was great.” Nadja says as she turns away from the window. “I need to reach out to Viktor, I’m not sure where he is and he has not replied to my last message. I hope he is not lost out in this storm.”

She types a quick message, explaining she realizes from the photograph that he is here and was on the train. She then, once again, asks where he might be currently and goes on to warn him about the weather conditions.

With a toasty fire warming the cottage, Viktor looks out the window near the front door. The world around this little place is beautiful, even with the wind and rain pushing its way through. The low plants and evergreen shrubs seem to glisten from the rain soaking their foliage and branches. The sky is dark but with a strange pale yellow color to it as well. It is almost as if the sun is shining on the clouds from somewhere in the distance, which gives him hope the storm will pass before nightfall.

“Oh I just remembered!” Viktor says to himself about his latest dream as he turns to look at the wall to his left.

The short wall that the front door bumps into when opened all the way, is also the area where he found an access panel to a tight and steep staircase. He remembers dreaming this when he lost consciousness after his fall earlier in the afternoon.

“Okay, let’s see what we have here. This would be so cool if it turned out to be real.” Viktor says as he kneels down next to the wood paneling.


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