Author

Doors To Mirrors 160-179

Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 179) Predicting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 178) Remind Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 177) Laughter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 176) Youthful

As a round of laughter swirls between them, Nadja looks up at Viktor as he walks toward her. Something about him being here is soothing, she feels protected and safe even though he is a total stranger. She does not even know where he lives, what he does for a living and if he has a police record. Yet, somehow, she knows it is all okay. The muffled and distant sound of a horn echoes along the ridge of the mountain. It is barely audible from inside the cottage.

“Was that the train?” Nadja questions as she looks at Viktor.

“Sounds like it.” He replies as he takes a seat on the sofa. “It must not have snowed enough to shut it down, which is good.

“Why is that?” She asks.

“Well. . . I’ll have to head home sometime. Damn!” Viktor says. “That reminds me, I need to check my itinerary and it’s all on my phone.”

“You can use mine, here.” Nadja hands her cell phone to Viktor just as a call comes in from Carl. “Oops, I need to take that call.” She says quickly as she puts the phone to her ear.

“Hello Carl, looks like we did okay with the snow.” Nadja grins but then her expression changes. “Hello? Carl?” She asks again as she looks at Viktor. “Hello, Carl can you hear me?”

Looking down at the phone in her hands, she sees that the call has ended.

“Well, that is odd.” She mumbles.

“I’d say the cell towers are cluttered up by phone calls and possibly having signal problems.” Viktor says in a calm tone. “I’m sure he will try again later but if we do not hear from him, I will gladly walk to his cabin to check on him.”

“Yes, we should do that, or he will show up here.” Nadja grins. “That man is in the best shape for an older gentleman. My aunt was the same way, there must be something about mountain living that keeps you youthful.” She looks up at the darkened bedroom of her late aunt. “I think I’ve already aged well past where they are.”

“What? How on earth can you say that?” Viktor questions as he sits down on the section of the sofa closest to the fire.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 175) Lovable

It does bother Viktor to a certain degree that there really is no direction to run from the cottage but south, to Carl’s cabin, the train station and the elderly couple who run the little grocery store. After his odd dream with the menacing dark figure, he cannot help but think Nadja might still be in danger, even though his dream was not about her, at least not that he knows of. This is a nagging worry in his mind that is not allowing him to relax.

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Viktor quizzes.

“Oh, wow. . . I’ve never really thought about it, nor have I ever met one. Well not that I know of anyway.” Nadja looks at her hands. “You have seen my Aunt, but only in your dreams right? So does that count?”

“I think it depends on the dream. Sometimes we just miss someone so much that our sleeping mind brings them to us.” Viktor says in a calm manner. “Seeing your aunt, well she does not act like I dreamt her up, there are too many things I know about her, like the things she told me to tell Carl.”

“So you believe it is truly her?” Nadja asks as she looks up at Viktor with hopeful eyes.

“Well it has to be. I never met the woman until I followed you in my dreams, stumbled upon the doors that open to other doors and odd mirrors.” He replies. “Are you sure this Aaron guy is gone?”

“Carl says he is and if the authorities were involved, I cannot imagine Aaron sticking around. He just needs to let it go.” She says softly.

“You mean let you go, right?” Viktor says as he walks to the front window.

Nadja studies the back of Viktor’s head wondering why he is pointing out the obvious. She feels odd that he would even want to talk about it. She knows Aaron is the last person she wishes to direct her attention to.

“He is a mean, cold and hurtful person.” Nadja says as she continues to watch Viktor. “My aunt showed me I was worthy of better, Carl knew it too, but it took me a long time to figure that out for myself.”

“Well they are right.” Viktor says as he stuffs his hands in his pockets. “I could tell that from the very first time I saw you in my dreams. There was just something. . . something unique about you.” He continues to look out the window.

“Really? Like what?” She asks now almost embarrassed to be talking about herself.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.” Viktor says as he turns to face her but stands in his spot near the window. “I would see you here and there, and it is like I knew if I could just tap you on the shoulder you would turn around with a big smile and say something like, there you are.”

“Well here you are.” She grins and then looks at the fire. “It is odd how comfortable I am around you, even Carl seemed content. Don’t you think that’s weird?”

“Hey I’m a lovable guy and everybody knows it.” Viktor grins as he holds his arms out from his body.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 174) Vulnerability

Nadja had quickly placed the shovel back into the corner behind the kitchen door and was watching for Viktor to return. However, she heard a log shift in the fireplace in the next room causing her to rush into the living room. She wanted to make sure it had not fallen out of the fireplace. Thankfully, it did not but now she hears Viktor struggling at the back door. Grinning, she finds his presence here a delight. He is funny and has a very dry sense of humor, which she is completely aware of.

Rushing back to the door, she sees the handle jiggling and immediately grabs hold of it. Swinging the door open very wide, Nadja backs up quickly allowing Viktor inside.

“Oh good grief.” Nadja laughs, for she does not believe she has ever seen someone carry such a huge load, not even Carl. “You definitely take the cake with that one!” She says as she follows him into the living room.

“Now, to set it down without making a mess would be nice.” He grumbles as he bends his knees to a squatting position.

Running over to assist, Nadja begins to remove the logs from his hold and stack them in the reserve bin. With only four left, he rolls them off his arms and only one drops out of place onto the floor.

“That reminds me of the time, in my dream of course, where I accidentally bumped a log off the stack you had here.  The crazy thing was, when you entered the room, you saw it and picked it up.” He says with amazement.

“So you were actually interacting with the real world in your dream?” Nadja asks completely astonished.

“Yeah, I suppose.” He replies and then the images from his latest dream sequence replays in his mind.

From behind the glass, he peered into a cabin he has never seen, the dark figure in the corner, the distorted reflection of himself in the reflection of the window. What could this all mean? When the glass shattered, what was the message it was sending? What does this represent? Stepping over to warm his hands by the fire he poses this question.

“What do you know about seeing glass shatter in dreams? Have you ever needed to look that up?” Viktor asks in a nonchalant manner hoping his question will not raise concern.

“Hum, I don’t recall having that happen but you and I both know where to find the answer!” Nadja grins as she grabs her phone.

She plops down in the rocking chair in a relaxed manner with one leg hanging over the right arm. Frantically, she begins typing away as if in a race or heated competition as she begins searching the dream blog for the answer.

“Ha! I just remembered! Shattered glass means a state of vulnerability!” Viktor yells out pointing his finger at Nadja and then laughs at such a boisterous and obnoxious statement.

“I think the neighbors heard you on that one.” Nadja says as she too breaks into laughter.

“So where are the closest neighbors?” Viktor questions for he would like to know of another way to escape if the quaint little cottage becomes a target.

“Well, Carl’s cabin is the closest no matter the direction you travel.” She replies. “There are steep inclines on this mountain to the west and north of this cottage before another ridge, higher than this one is flat enough for building on.”

“And I already know the east side is a drop off to the lake, I gracefully fell in that direction yesterday.” He grins but his smile is a false one.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 173) Drifts

Viktor quickly changes into his clothes and heads to the back door. Upon opening it, he is astonished at the depth of the heavy wet snow. The railing around the wooden deck is barely visible due to the drifts that built up there. Stepping back, he looks behind the door.

“Ha, perfect!” He says to himself as he grabs hold of the snow shovel propped in the corner.

He takes a deep scoop of the snow at the back door and tosses it high over to his left. Repeating the process for quite some time, he finally has a clear path from the cottage to the neatly stacked woodpile. The further he gets from the drifts of snow at the back of the cottage and deck, the lower the snow level becomes.

“I hope the sun starts working on this stuff. I only have a few more days before I have to be back at work.” He mumbles as he takes a break to look out at the woods. “Wow.” He whispers. “It is really beautiful here.”

Each branch of every tree and the broad flocks of the evergreens are hanging heavy by the dense snow cover. The sky is still a pale color but more blue than the pink that drifted in with the sunrise. After standing still in the hushed silence of white drifts, Viktor turns and decides he better take the shovel back to the door before he gathers logs of wood in his arms. After all, he will need to clear a path out the front door of the little dwelling as well. But then again, maybe not, who would possibly come to visit in this thick layer of frozen landscape? Each step Viktor takes makes a crunching sound under his shoes. Now that he is on the back deck, he reaches for the doorknob.

“Oh you startled me! I was just about to go check on you.” Nadja says with a smile as she pulls the door open. “Here, let me have the shovel and I’ll grab my coat to help you with the wood.”

“Oh no you don’t. You can take the shovel inside but I can handle bringing in the wood.” Viktor says without waiting for her to respond. “Man the door for me, I’m going to have my hands full.”

Once he is back at the large stack of wood, he begins gathering various split logs in his arms. He loads up so many that they nearly hide his view making it rather hard to walk in a straight line. Slowly he heads to the back door but it is not yet open, so he begins to reach for the handle.

“Well this is awkward.” He mumbles as he tries to open the back door without dropping the stack of wood in his arms.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 172) Racing

“What?” Viktor questions as he opens his eyes.

He has awakened in the cottage, sitting in the same spot where he and Nadja fell asleep. In his slightly reclined position, he can see that the fire is almost out but he does not want to disturb Nadja. She is still asleep with his arm around her and her head resting on his chest. The quilt is wrapped around them both keeping them very warm, but the chill in the little dwelling is breathing upon his face.

His mind is racing in all directions about what his dream might be telling him. The dark figure in the room of a place Viktor has never been to, what does this represent? The glass breaking, could it simply be making a mockery of feeling safe behind such a product? To be truthful, a glass window offers no safety from an outside intruder, but this dark mass in human shape was inside, hiding.

“Oh, good morning.” Nadja whispers as she slowly sits up in a straighter position. “Did I fall asleep on you? Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“It is okay, Nadja. I drifted off as well so apparently we were both comfortable.” He grins and then looks back toward the fireplace. “Oh, I better get that stocked up again.”

Viktor stands up, stretches by lifting his arms above his head and back a bit. He then lets out a long silent yawn, except for the end when he shakes his head and practically growls. Nadja is watching and as expected, she catches his yawn. With her hand, she covers her mouth as it opens wide.

“Ha ha.” Nadja laughs. “Why is it that yawns are contagious?”

With a laugh, Viktor lowers his arms and lets out a breath of air.

“I don’t know.” He grins as he picks up two pieces of wood. “Even if an animal yawns it causes the same effect on us humans. We are just an oddball species.” He tosses the logs onto the fire. “And what is up with our belly buttons? Have you found a purpose for those yet? Mine just collects lint from my clothes.”

“Ha ha!” Nadja laughs aloud. “So it’s a lint trap!”

“Well, I suppose you are on to something there.” He lets out a hardy laugh as he turns to face her.

Wrapped up in her robe and the quilt from the sofa, Nadja watches Viktor as he tips his head to the side, as if he asked a question. Her hair is a mess and she has no makeup on her face but to Viktor, she is a beautiful sight to see. In turn, Nadja is amazed at how relaxed she feels with him here.

“What?” He asks.

“I could ask the same of you.” She quickly replies.

“Well, you just look really relaxed.” Viktor says in a serious tone.

“I suppose I am.” She replies as she stands up and tightens the robe around her waist. “I’m off to take a bath. Do you need to go first?”

“To get in the bath with you? Heck yes!” Viktor teases and they both grin. “No, I’m okay.” He says as if he is terribly disappointed.” I will grab more wood from the pile outside so you will have a toasty cottage to keep you warm.”

“Well thank you.” Nadja says in a shy manner as she leaves the room.

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Copyright © 2012-2016 All rights reserved
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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 171) Hesitant

Viktor has always hated it, eye contact. It makes him nervous and he always feels as if he has done something wrong, even though he knows he has not.

“Narcissists, they do not give love, nor do they feel love. Their actions are solely to please themselves and there is no concern in how the other person, or their partner, feels.” Josephine says as they turn to walk back in the direction they came. “They do great harm to the self-esteem of others and are proud to have such an effect. They find great joy in watching others wither.”

“Oh, so now we are talking about Aaron.” Viktor says quickly. “That guy seems to have major issues.”

“Yes, and he will not back down until he feels satisfied with the situation.” Josephine says as she looks down. “I do worry that things will not end as they should.”

She reaches out as if to shake Viktor’s hand and as he glances up to look into her eyes, he realizes his hand is on a doorknob. The beauty of the woods has faded to black and this door is casting a soft cream glow to the darkness around him.

“Now for some reason I am absolutely terrified to open this door.” He mumbles as he feels his heart rate increasing.

Standing there, holding onto the knob for what seems like several seconds, Viktor finally musters up enough courage to turn it. With a faint click, the door is now hanging on the hinges freely as he slowly pulls it open. There it is, the backside of a mirror, or is it a window? It is suspended in the air as if not attached to anything. It is merely floating in place and Viktor approaches it in a very hesitant manner.

“I am really having a hard time with this one.” Viktor says to himself.

Stepping up as close to the glass as allowed, he peers out at the room of a cabin he does not recognize. A wood burning stove is glowing with bright red coals and standing in the corner, like a dark menacing statue is a man. His face covered with some sort of mask and he almost blends into his surroundings perfectly. In fact, Viktor blinks several times to make sure his eyes are not playing tricks on him.

“Is there really a guy there or not?” He questions to himself.

Viktor tries to get closer to the glass to gain a better view, but he is as close as is allowed in this odd world behind doors that lead to reflective glass and isolated mirrors.

“My own reflection is distorting what I can see!” He grumbles and then pauses. “I can make this stop, it is a dream, I can make the images clearer.”

Viktor begins to concentrate on seeing past the glare of his own reflection when very unexpectedly, the glass shatters into thousands of pieces scattering like marbles in all directions.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 170) Richer

Viktor now realizes the walls of the soap shop are charred and ash covers the floor. Boxes and ribbons have melted to the antique furniture once used to display the sweetly scented items. Looking back at the front window, there is no view to the outside for thick gray soot covers the glass. Going back to the main door, he opens it to exit and finds himself outside, but not in the village. Instead, he is standing in the woods, on a trail and Nadja’s aunt is with him.

“Hello old soul.” Josephine says softly.

“Hello to you.” Viktor replies as he walks toward her. “How are you?”

“I am good, but I am troubled.” She says as they start walking together.

This path in the forest is not current with the actual season, for the trees are glistening with light green leaves and little blue flowers dapple the ground below them. The sun is bright and the air warm, which is in complete contrast to the snowstorm that came in overnight. Before Viktor can ask his question, Josephine answers him.

“It is my favorite time of the year, so I maintain as much time here as I can.” She grins as she watches Viktor’s face for a reaction.

“So you can control that?” He asks as he looks around.

He does not want to add to his question by asking if she realizes she is dead. Yet, he would like to know how much control one has after they depart the material world. Instead, he decides to question the condition of the soap shop he just came from.

“So, what. . .” Viktor is unsure in how he should pose this question so he decides to simply blurt it out. “The soap shop, what happened?”

“You must remember, dreams are only interpretations of what you believe to be real.” She says as they stroll along the trail. “What usually comes from scorched land?” She does not allow Viktor to answer. “You see this building as rubble, destroyed by fire, but what could it possibly be telling you?”

Thinking on what she said, Viktor tries to come to some reasoning behind seeing the business, that Nadja and her aunt love so much, in a destroyed state. What can this possibly be a clue to? Why would it be something in his dreams when he has never even entered the place to begin with?

“Think about it like this.” Josephine stops and looks out at the beautiful forest. “If this forest was to burn, many wonderful living things would be lost.” She looks at him. “But new growth would soon sprout, beauty would return, wildlife would come back, and over time the land may be stronger and the soil richer.”

“So the shop is going to burn down?” Viktor asks with worry.

“You have a huge heart, don’t you.” Josephine states as fact. “You put others before you and she needs you.” She takes his hand in his as she looks up at him. “She may not realize it yet and may even deny needing anyone. Her path is to become strong and she already has made great strides.” She pauses as she continues to look Viktor in the eyes. “Out with the old in with the new, so to speak.”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 169) Episode

Nadja sets the glass of water on the table next to her and rests her head on Viktor’s shoulder. She cannot explain how Viktor calms her but this is exactly how she feels around him. He is not pushy or overbearing and there is compassion within him that she has never felt from a man before. She has a true sense of safety in his arms as she begins to drift in and out of sleep. Viktor pulls the quilt up around both of them for warmth and laying his head back on the pillows, he too finds his way into the mysterious world of the sleeping mind.

With a light pink glow, the sun is beginning to rise in the east. After the strange episode that terrified Nadja and the wretched chill that took hold of her room, Viktor sat with her on the sofa the rest of the night. Holding her in his arms, they both fell back to sleep. Neither one is awake to see the pastel color reflecting off the thick blanket of snow as this part of the world wakes up to a new day.

It is now, in this pale twilight glow that Viktor finds himself at the door of the Soap Shop. The lavender paint is worn and peeling from the wood. It appears the lock is broken, so he slowly pushes on the door, opening it just enough to slip inside the building. Not yet realizing where he is or that he is dreaming, he steps onto the wooden floor and it creaks under the pressure.

“Hello?” He questions.

The empty room echoes in deep tones like one would expect out of a cave. There are no neatly packaged soaps sitting on the shelves for sale and the emptiness of the structure feels eerie. It feels cold, desolate, and is quiet as a great sadness flows through Viktor causing him to take in a deep breath.

“What has happened here?” He asks of himself as he looks around.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 168) Water

Not only does Viktor think Nadja will benefit from a drink of water, he also wants to check for entry through the broken window and the backdoor. Moving the curtain that hangs over the kitchen sink, he finds the window untouched. Glancing at the back door, the latch appears to be secure as well. He is positive now that Nadja must have been dreaming while in sleep paralysis. This is the only explanation for such a terrified reaction to a dream. The feeling of being held down while something sinister is walking toward you is horrifying.

As these frightening thoughts run through his head, Viktor fills a glass with water and returns to Nadja’s side. He sits down next to her, gently handing her the glass. As she begins to take a sip, her hands are shaking so much that she has to use both in order to steady the glass. Together they sit quietly for several minutes and then Nadja take another drink. This time her hands are much more controlled and her demeanor calm.

“Are you feeling better?” Viktor questions and Nadja smiles as she nods her head yes. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Nadja replies by shaking her head no and again, they sit in complete silence. Viktor cannot take his eyes off the doorway to Nadja’s room. He is not sure what is causing it but the feeling in the cottage has completely changed.

“I’m going to load up the fireplace and then we will just sit here until sunrise, okay?” He asks as he looks into Nadja’s eyes.

She nods yes to his question but then looks down at the glass of water in her hands. Viktor steps over to the fireplace and strategically places two logs on the flames.

“Do you feel that chill in the air?” Nadja asks in a soft voice. “I’ve never felt like this here, I’m almost scared.”

“Come here, I’ll make sure nothing happens to you.” Viktor says as he pushes the pillows up to the arm of the sofa, sits down next to her, and puts his arm around her. “I would say the snow is the main culprit for the cold feeling.”

He thinks his explanation of this could very well be plausible and if nothing else, his words may ease her worries. Yet, with the drastic change to their surroundings, he feels something more is at play here, but what? Is it just because he heard her crying for help, which startled him out of his sleep, that is causing the fright? She feels it too though, which her dream must have been bad from the way she came out of it. Unfortunately, she will not share the details but in the back of Viktor’s mind, he knows it was about Aaron. He has dreamt of this man’s actions before and if the visions are anything like the real thing, he knows they could be in trouble.

Ex 168

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 167) Frigid

Standing up, Viktor slowly walks back to Nadja’s room. With the door standing wide open, it has the appearance of dropping off into a dark abyss. The air is frigid as if biting at Viktor’s hands and feet in an attempt to keep him away.

“Hello?” Viktor says from his place in the living room. “If anyone is in there, you better come out now!” He says in a forceful manner.

With a quick glance, he checks to make sure Nadja is still seated and alone, and she is. She is wrapped in her robe, knees pulled up and her arms around her legs as if trying to mimic a ball. Even at this distance, he can see she is shaking uncontrollably. With a deep breath, he enters the room, turns the light on, and steps out of Nadja’s sight.

Walking over to the side of the bed nearest the window, he looks around for any evidence of entry. Nothing is out of place and as he turns to look at the other side of the bed, he catches his own reflection in the mirror of the wardrobe.

“Oh shit!” He says under his breath as he jumps at his own image. “Ya stupid idiot.” He mumbles

Stepping over to the other side of the bed, everything looks to be in its proper place but the air is ice cold, which seems very strange to him. Yes, Nadja’s door was ajar so the heat could find its way in, so the room is cooler than the living room as expected. However, the way Viktor is feeling, the chill in the air tonight is far different from just a cold room. He wonders if there is a presence in the cottage other than Josephine’s.

“I believe we are alone.” Viktor says as he steps back into the living room and heads for the switch to the porch light. “I don’t see any tracks or disturbances in the snow.” He turns back to look at Nadja.

“Are you sure?” Nadja questions with a weak voice.

“Yes, we are buried in this stuff. Come look.” Viktor says as he reaches out to take her hand.

Nadja slowly stands up and the entire time it takes her to walk across the room she is staring at the entrance of her bedroom. With the last few steps, she quickly runs to Viktor and wraps her arms around his waist as he holds her in his arms.

“It’s okay, Nadja. I promise.” Viktor says softly as they stand at the window. “It has stopped snowing too.”

He can feel her trembling so he walks with her back to the fireplace and covers her with the quilt on the sofa.

“I’ll get you a glass of water.” Viktor says as he walks to the kitchen.

ex-167

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 166) Paralyzed

“Come on sweetheart, it’s time to get up.” A voice whispers in Nadja’s ear.

“What?” She questions as she opens her eyes.

She is lying in bed, on her right side, and the room is dark. Trying to let her eyes adjust to the low lighting, she blinks them several times but the heaviness of them cause this simple feat to be exhausting.

“Come on, let’s go.” The voice says in a louder and more demanding tone.

It is now that she recognizes the voice to be Aaron’s. The persistent manner, the lack of expression, there is no doubt in her mind it is him. As she tries to turn to look behind her, she feels paralyzed unable to move freely. Now with her mind and eyes fully awake, she feels the adrenaline in her body growing to a higher level. Glancing a few feet away into the mirror of her wardrobe, she can see a silhouette of him sitting on the bed behind her.

“No, this can’t be.” She murmurs to herself.

“Oh yes it can.” He whispers close to her ear, so close she can feel the breath from his words.

“No, I cannot go with you, this isn’t right!” She says loudly now wondering where Viktor is.

Trying with all her might to free herself from this paralyzed state, she wiggles her fingers and toes and attempts to roll over. To her amazement, nothing is working, she cannot move a muscle in her body and she begins to wonder if Aaron has drugged her with something and she begins to yell out!

“Viktor! Carl! Someone help me!” She screams as tears begin to run down her cheeks. “Please! I need help!”

“Nadja?” She hears from somewhere in the room but she does not see anyone.

“Please, help me!” She cries out with great fear.

“I’ve got you, you’re okay.” Viktor says as he holds Nadja in his arms.

“What?” She questions as she looks up at him.

She then quickly jumps out of bed pressing her back up against the wall of her bedroom as Viktor stands but keeps his distance.

“What is going on?” Nadja questions in a confused way.

“I don’t know, you were yelling out in your sleep, you sounded desperate and when I came in to check on you, I could hardly wake you up.” Viktor says as he stands still.

“Oh my god.” Nadja says as she begins to cry.

Viktor immediately rushes to her and takes her in his arms. Holing her tightly to him, he looks around the shadowy room for he feels very uncomfortable, as if someone is there.

“Let’s go to the fireplace.” He says as he holds her with one arm and grabs her soft robe with the other. “It is freezing in here.” He says as he kicks the door open a little more than it was, and rushes her to the sofa.

“What happened? How did he get in?” Nadja questions as if she is half-asleep.

“There is no one here.” Viktor answers but his senses tell him this is not entirely true. “I don’t see anyone, Nadja.”

“It was Aaron, he was here, on my bed.” She whispers and for some reason the way she is speaking frightens Viktor.

“Stay here, I’ll go check.” Viktor says in a low tone.

ex-166

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 165) Sparks

Walking to the sofa, Viktor straightens the covers and takes a seat near his pillows. Nadja walks to the fireplace and tightens the belt on her robe before sitting on the rocking chair across from him. The fire snaps several times sending tiny embers and sparks into the air.

“I love it when it does that.” Nadja says of the burning wood. “Why do you suppose that is?”

“Maybe it reminds us of fireworks or of roasting marshmallows at a campfire under a star filled sky.” Viktor replies poetically.

Nadja laughs while nodding her head that she agrees with his statement.

“You have an interesting way of looking at things, VikT1000.” Nadja says with a smile.

“Well soapsuds1920s, guess which building I found the door behind the door in?” Viktor quizzes.

“There is no way that was my Aunts soap shop.” Nadja replies with wide eyes.

“Yep, it was. I recognized it as soon as I got off the bus, lavender door and all.” Viktor says as he tosses his hands up in a questioning manner. “I really wanted to walk in and see if a door would appear on the wall, but it was still closed.”

“That is funny because I was there. I took the first train of the morning off the mountain. I was running from here like a scared rabbit left alone in the woods.” Nadja states quickly.

“Well. . . I took the first train of the day up the mountain.” Viktor replies.

“How did we miss each other?” They both question in unison, which causes an outbreak of laughter.

“Okay now we are just getting punchy.” Nadja giggles. “I haven’t laughed like this in years.”

“Well that is depressing but I can agree with you, I have been in a rut myself.” Viktor looks toward the front window.

“Maybe it just wasn’t time to laugh yet.” She states in a serious manner.

“Suppressing laughter is a crime. Someone must be punished.” Viktor grins but he realizes Nadja is sitting quietly staring into the fire. “You okay?” He questions.

“Oh, yes. Sorry.” She replies as she looks in his direction. “Maybe you were right, we should probably get a little more rest.” She grins as she stands up and starts walking to her room. “I’ll see you in a few hours, goodnight again.” She says without looking in his direction.

“You mean good morning, don’t you?” Viktor questions in a joking manner and he hears her laugh once again.

“Yes, good morning it is.” Nadja says with a grin and then pushes her bedroom door closed.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 164) Two

Viktor looks over at the sofa wondering if he will see his sleeping self there but it is empty with the bedding pulled back and pillows disheveled as if he jumped out from under the covers.

“So I’m awake?” He questions as the thin timber starts to pop and crackle as flames return.

Stacking two logs across each other on the fireplace grate, warmth returns to the room as the flames become steady again. He sits there, in the flickering light wondering if what he just witnessed was a ghost, or was he simply sleepwalking and tending to things while dreaming.

“Either way it’s cool.” He grins as he quietly brushes his hands together to remove sawdust.

He recalls the last words Josephine said before she left. Be sharp and on your toes, do not let your guard down. With this fresh in his mind, he walks over to the large window and looks out at the depth of the snow.

“Good grief that’s a lot of snow.” He whispers to himself as he looks left and right. “I sure hope Nadja has a snow shovel.”

“I have two.” Nadja says in a soft tone.

Startled, Viktor quickly turns around and sees his friend standing near her bedroom door. She yawns and runs her fingers through her hair before smiling at him.

“You okay?” She asks.

“Yeah, I. . .” Viktor is not sure if he should share his experience. “It was time to check the fire and I’m having a hard time falling back to sleep. Did I wake you?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’m a light sleeper so if a snowflake hit my window in just the right way, it would bring me out of a good night’s rest anyhow.” She laughs at how exaggerated her statement is. “How bad is it out there?”

Nadja starts walking his way and Viktor turns the porch light on so they can have a better view. The snow is incredibly deep for its depth covers half way up the picket fence. With the snow sticking to everything, even the top points of the wooden pieces are highlighted and noticeable.

“Wow.” Nadja says just under her breath. “I’ve never seen it this bad. No wonder Carl wanted to bring supplies up.”

“The deepest snow I’ve ever experienced was about mid-calf, but this. . . this is lower chest!” Viktor says with astonishment, complete exaggeration and a loud laugh. “And it’s still coming down!”

“Oh wow is right. By the way, what time is it?” Nadja questions as she turns to look at the clock.

“It’s around three thirty. We should probably get some sleep since we are going to have our work cut out for us tomorrow.” Viktor says as he nods his head toward the window and then turns the porch light off.

“No, I don’t really plan on worrying about it too much. Who would we be clearing a path for?” Nadja laughs.

After taking a moment to think that through, Viktor grins.

“You do have a point there.” He says in the tone of a snobbish professor.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 163) Interact

Lying on her side, Nadja logs a quick note in her journal:

“Found today, a good friend from far away. You know him my dear Aunt and I think you for bringing him here.”

Placing the book near her lamp, she turns the switch and the light goes dark. Nadja rolls over so she is facing the window and she finds herself in much the same drifting state as Viktor. The occasional popping of the fire sounds so much louder while in this stage of sleep and she too cannot bear to open her eyes any longer. The cottage has fallen into a deep and silent hush as snow continues to fall outside, creating insulation from the sounds of the quiescent forest.

“You are very good at building fires.” A woman says softly next to Viktor’s right ear.

Quickly he opens his eyes but does not see anyone. Thinking he must be mistaken and that his tired mind is playing tricks on him, he rolls over turning his back to the room.

“However, if you do not tend to them properly, the flames will soon die out.” The voice says again and this time Viktor sits up.

Sitting on the arm of the sofa, near his feet, is the older woman he has come to recognize as Nadja’s aunt Josephine. She is wearing a flowing cream-colored dress and her hair is pulled back from her face, but hanging long down her back. Small white daisies adorn her hair like a halo and she has a soft glow about her.

“It is time to put another log on the fire.” She nods in the direction of the fireplace.

Viktor turns to look and she is correct, the flames have eaten through all of the wood leaving red-hot embers in the ash below the grate.

“Oh no. The fire is about out.” Viktor whispers as he looks up at the clock on the mantel, it reads three o’clock. “I’m glad you got my attention, I must have been in a deep sleep.”

“Well you did have a very busy day.” Josephine says as she walks over to look in on her niece. “She likes you, Carl does as well.” She says softly as she watches Viktor tend to the fire.

“That is good to know.” Viktor says as he places fresh sticks onto the coals hoping they will catch fire. “Am I sleeping now or do I need to wake up and really work on the fire?” He questions as he look at Josephine. “I only see you in my dreams, right?”

“You will have time.” She says in a riddle kind of manner.

“So I am asleep.” Viktor says with disappointment. “No offence, but if the fire is really going out I need to get myself up.”

“Had you noticed how some of your dreams have slowly begun to interact with reality?” Josephine questions as she walks back across the room. “I never met anyone who could do that, even as hard as I tried, my worlds stayed separate.” She looks toward the front window and speaks in a gentle calm voice. “Be sharp and on your toes young man, do not let your guard down.” She whispers as she turns to look toward him once again and with a smile, she fades away.

“Josephine?” Viktor whispers.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 162) Heat

After tossing two thick pillows onto one side of the sofa, Nadja stands back to admire her handy work.

“You know, that’s not half bad.” She says to Viktor.

“Looks cozy and inviting, I appreciate the extra steps to help me be more comfortable.” Viktor says as he yawns. “I think I’m going to call this day done.”

“Yes, I agree.” Nadja looks at the fire. “I think you’ve got us taken care of for a few hours. Get some rest, I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Sounds great, goodnight soapsuds1920s.” Viktor says in a teasing manner as he sits down on the sofa.

“Sweet dreams to you, VikT1000.” Nadja grins as she walks to her room but pauses at the doorway and turns slightly. “I’m glad we finally met.”

“Me too.” Viktor replies from his seated position as he watches her.

“I’m glad you’re here.” She continues without looking at him directly.

“Me too.” Viktor chuckles for his answers seem to be lacking in diversity.

Laughing with Viktor due to his handicapped imagination at this late hour, Nadja gently swings the door shut just enough to offer privacy, but open enough for the heat of the fireplace to seep into her room. Sitting on the sofa and in deep thought, Viktor looks at the dancing flames.

He is still upset about his phone but he finds it amazing to be here, with the young woman he has been following in his dreams for months. Most of all, he is thinking of the visions that plague him. Aaron has been a menacing and negative force in his latest dreams and he cannot help but wonder if they are truly safe up here isolated from the world. Who could possibly come to help if your voice cannot travel the distance to the closest neighbor. Would their need for assistance be nothing more than a silent plea?

“I’ve got to get some rest.” Viktor mumbles to himself as he walks to the bathroom to brush his teeth and change into his pajama bottoms.

Once back in the living room, he tosses the sheet and quilt back on the sofa then slides onto the makeshift bed Nadja was so gracious to make. He pulls the sheet and quilt up to his neck and looks at the front door. As if taking inventory, he scans the room looking at the furnishings so if someone does attempt to break in, he will have a clear path to run up and counter attack. Or, so he hopes anyway.

Closing his eyes, a warm feeling comes over Viktor. Sleep has been calling to him for a few hours now and as he snuggles in, his mind begins to drift in and out of that strange void. It is an odd place, where sounds seem to be amplified and the eyelids are too heavy to move. A slight dizziness sets in and little dots appear to his closed eyes. They soon transform into black and white squares or lines of light and he knows this means sleep has finally arrived.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 161) A Scene

“It is getting late VikT1000.” Nadja teases as she stands up. “You have to be completely worn out. It’s been a very long day for you.”

“I am feeling a bit dense at the moment.” Viktor laughs.

Nadja walks over to the light switch near the front door and once again turns it on to view the wintry conditions outside.

“Oh my, look at that!” She says in a shocked manner.

Viktor immediately stands up and joins her at the window. The wintry precipitation is still falling at an extremely heavy rate covering everything in its path. The smaller shrubs and plantings are no longer in sight for they are under a thick blanket of heavy moist snow.

“Don’t you find it amazing to think that billions of tiny little flakes are creating such a scene?” Nadja looks out with amazement.

“I guess we will be building a snowman tomorrow!” Viktor grins.

“Maybe, if we can even get the door open to go outside. Wow, I never imagined it would get this deep and more is falling.” Nadja turns the light off and looks over at the fire. “We better keep that fire going all night.” She looks at Viktor. “I will set my alarm to check on it in a couple of hours.”

“No need to do that, I’ll sleep here on the sofa and make sure it stays strong.” Viktor replies.

“Oh, I thought you would sleep in my aunt’s bed. This sofa is not the most comfortable piece of furniture.” Nadja says as she walks over to her aunt’s bedroom and turns the light on.

“I appreciate the offer, but. . . I will be able to stay in control of the fire if I’m right here next to it.” Viktor says in a convincing way.

Sleeping in the bed of Nadja’s aunt makes Viktor uneasy. It is not because she passed away in the bed, but mostly out of respect. He has met the woman, or the ghost of the woman, and he cannot imagine how she would feel about him invading her space.

“Are you sure?” Nadja asks and with Viktor’s nod of the head yes, she looks back at the bed and then turns the light out. “Okay then, I am going to wash the wine glasses if you wouldn’t mind placing one of the bigger logs on the fire. They burn slower so hopefully you can get a bit of rest before you have to add more.”

“Sounds great to me.” Viktor replies.

He re-stacks some of the wood he brought in a few hours ago and then begins to rummage through his travel bag that he tossed onto the sofa shortly after arriving here. He pulls out pajama bottoms and begins to dig around for his toothbrush.

“Found.” He says with a low tone then looks up to make sure Nadja was not around. “Yes, I talk to myself.” He mumbles as he zips the bag up.

“Here I grabbed a few quilts.” Nadja says as she enters the room with an arm full of beautifully designed quilts.

Viktor jumps slightly for he was not expecting her to come into the room talking.

“Ha ha! Did I scare you?” She laughs.

“Nah, what in the world would give you that idea.” Viktor replies as he tries to hide his smile. “Okay yes, you got me.”

They both laugh at their conversation as Nadja tucks a fitted sheet over the cushions of the sofa. Next, she holds a top sheet and with a swift flick, it bellows over the back of the sofa and down the front.

“Are you a hot or cold sleeper?” Nadja quizzes.

“Hot, I’m always hot. My body temperature is slightly higher than the norm, so one quilt is enough for me.” Viktor replies.

“Really? So you’re a hot head?” Nadja asks as she holds onto her serious expression, she then giggles giving it away that she is playing.

“Well now that you mention it.” Viktor laughs for his thoughts have grown tired and he cannot think of a good comeback. “Wrecked. You win this round.”

ex-161

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 160) Inner Peace

“The longer I was with him, the more I asked myself that very question.” Nadja replies and then takes a sip of her wine, her hands are shaking.

Viktor notices that Nadja is visibly shaking but he does not know if this is from the dampness of the house or from the subject matter. Nadja stares at the fire and Viktor remains quiet. He feels if she wishes to pursue the subject, she will. Watching her deep in thought, he cannot help but want to reach out and hold her, but he realizes this is not the time, nor the place to console her. In fact, he believes it would probably frighten her more than anything, but he wants to help her feel safe. It is now that she begins to speak.

“He always wanted my full attention and I lost all of my friends because of his neediness.” She says as she looks down at her fingernails. “I know I allowed it to happen, somehow he made me believe he was the only important person in my life.” She laughs. “He wanted me to be infatuated with only him, and I very quickly was. He wanted me to miss him and sit waiting until I would see him again, but then when I became so attached, he accused me of being too needy and smothering!” Nadja tosses a piece of bark off the log next to her in the fire. “I could not do anything to make him happy, no one will ever be able to. Then, somehow my need to be with him as much as possible became an irritant to him.” She looks into Viktor’s eyes. “He travels a lot for business and he started getting upset if I would leave him messages or ask about his day.” She looks back at the fire. “Thank god we never got married.”

“I’m sorry he hurt you.” Viktor says honestly and he is thankful she cleared up his question on marriage.

“Oh, I look at it now and do not even understand who I was. I gave up everything, it’s my own fault.” She grins to keep from crying. “I don’t think he ever felt loved by his parents and I absolutely hate myself for feeling sorry for him. He had an odd upbringing but all of us have skeletons in our closets.” Nadja pauses for a few seconds. “Even now it bothered me that at first, he did not come after me to win my heart back. He simple discarded me. This proves how confusing and distorted his control of me had become.”

As Nadja wipes a tear from her eye, the conversation dies off for several minutes. The fire is warm and the smell of the burning wood reminds Viktor of Christmas and fun moments as a kid. He wonders if Nadja can ever find her inner peace and he knows one thing for sure, he would like to help her get there.

“Nadja?” Viktor questions.

“Yes?” She replies.

“Did you ever think that when you felt you were not good enough, you were actually over qualified? Better than perfect and he was so insecure he needed to tear you down for it?” Viktor states in a calming voice and again, there is a long span of silence between them.

“Being a perfectionist is a curse, did you know that?” Nadja quizzes and then begins to flush with embarrassment for her voice sounds loud after such a long quiet moment, then she continues is a softer tone.

“We perfectionists beat ourselves up constantly for things no one, other than us, even remembers or thinks about. So no, such a synopsis was never raised as a thought within me.” She pauses as she looks into Viktor’s eyes, almost making him feel nervous. “What you just said though. . . that was beautiful.”

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