Author

.Doors To Mirrors 80-99

Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 99) Tonight

It takes only a matter of seconds for Nadja to drift off to sleep. Three hours deeper in time, Viktor is about to do the same. Once he conducted his research and found the location he feels certain is the village from his dreams, he scheduled himself a flight, which is leaving at six in the morning. With his bags packed and sitting just inside his apartment door, he is anxious to get going. In his heart, he knows exactly where he is heading and once there, feels he can find Nadja. That is if no one else beats him to her.

Viktor cannot explain it, but he has an overwhelming need to help Nadja. She has been an intricate part of his dreams for months now and to actually interact and have conversations with this mystery girl is so bizarre. Yet, there has to be something to it, for some reason there is a connection between them and he is not about to let anything happen to her.

“Can the night move any slower?” Viktor grumbles as he prepares to go to bed.

After walking and somewhat pacing through the few rooms of his apartment, he feels confident he has everything neatly put away and the proper items packed for his early morning trip.

“Okay, so once I get there I need to really visualize where her cabin or cottage is, or whatever I’m supposed to call it, so I can get there somewhat undetected.” He says aloud as he sets his shoes on the floor near his bags. “I haven’t had a good enough look at the big younger guy who I guess is Aaron.” He says almost in a question. “That is the dude I hope to avoid.” He looks up at the clock. “Maybe I will have enough time to fall into a deep dream state and manipulate my vision enough to give myself all the answers.”

With that said, Viktor crawls into bed, sets the alarm on his clock as well as his phone, and pulls the sheet and blanket up, nearly covering his head. The night air is cold and even though the apartment is encased top, bottom and on two sides by other living spaces, the outdoor temperature seems to be in control tonight. It appears a heavy frost is setting in as Viktor ignores the murmurs and sounds echoing through the thin walls of what he calls home. No, tonight he must concentrate on finding the way to the beautiful girl of his dreams and protecting her from harm.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 98) Conclusion

Nadja is not sure if it is the feeling of the hard cold floor that has stirred her from her fainting spell, or if something else has awakened her. Slowly pulling herself into a sitting position, she remains on the floor until her head clears. The soft glow from her partially closed laptop offers little light to the room, but through the doorway to the living room, she sees a soft glow coming from her bedroom.

“Did I turn that on?” She questions as she touches the side of her head that hit the floor. “What happened?” She mumbles as she holds onto the chair to assist her in standing up. “Did someone break in?”

Looking around she can see that the chair Carl placed under the handle of the kitchen door is still secure and the windows are closed. Leaning to look around at the front door, she sees that it too has not been disturbed. At this moment, she is still confused as to why she was laying on the floor but then she remembers the run of messages between her and Viktor.

“Oh that’s right, I remember what Viktor and I were discussing.” She slowly opens her laptop.

The light it emits is too bright for her and she holds her hand to her eyes to protect them. She is still connected to the dream blog but it appears Viktor has left. Once her eyes adjust, she reads the last lines he submitted to her.

“For some reason my dreams have been circling around you and I have no control over that. I’m so sorry I have upset you but please know I would never be a willing participant to the things you are accusing me of.”

She looks down at her hands as if the truth is written there but her confusion is still in control of her thinking. She just stares at her palms and fingers for several minutes and comes to a final conclusion; to her, there is no other explanation to the knowledge Viktor has of her life other than he is telling a lie.

“Please, talk to me.” She reads on. “I truly believe you are in danger and I want to help. Tell me where you are.”

“I think you know good and well where I am.” Nadja whispers as she pushes the lid of the laptop down, but again, not far enough for it to go into sleep mode. “I don’t feel well, I need lie down.” She mumbles as she staggers to her bedroom.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 97) Pack

“No, Sam. . . I mean Nadja. I do not know anyone named Aaron.” Viktor quickly responds. “For some reason my dreams have been circling around you and I have no control over that. I’m so sorry I have upset you but please know I would never be a part of the things you are accusing me of.” Viktor’s hands are shaking as he tries to respond to her as fast as he can. “Please, talk to me. I truly believe you are in danger and I want to help. Tell me where you are.”

After several minutes that add up to nearly an hour, Viktor finally steps away from his laptop but leaves the site up. He is hoping Nadja will respond because after sharing the frightening details, he now feels responsible for her safety. If only he knew where she lived, he would use the time he has away from work to find and help her.

“Why am I so drawn to a girl I’ve never met?” He quizzes of himself. “It seems like all the answers can be found in my dreams, but will I be too late?” He looks at the clock on the wall. “How can I find her location and keep that idiot Neanderthal of a man away from her?”

In Viktor’s mind, he begins to go over the look of the village that he has visited so many times while asleep. Going back to his laptop, he reviews images of mountains, landmarks, the lake he has viewed near the cottage, but nothing looks familiar. He then pulls up maps and pictures of various mountainous areas in North America and there it is, he recognizes the main road of the village! The next photo is a perfect match to the reddish-brown and gray cobblestone road that leads through the village. There on the right is the row of buildings where the first hidden door appeared to him! He knows exactly where to go now and begins to pack his bags.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 96) Faint

A bit shocked by the question asked by Nadja, Viktor writes a quick note back.

“My name is Viktor, we’ve already done our introductions, or so I thought. Are you okay? What did I say for you to ask me that? I’m very sorry if I offended you, Sam.” Viktor states honestly.

“How is it you know my real name is Nadja? How could you possibly know about my aunt’s cottage if you aren’t standing outside spying on me?” Nadja replies as tears begin to roll down her cheeks. “If you are working with Aaron then I hate everything about you and never want to speak to you again!” She continues. “Only a sneaky deceptive person would know all the details you have described!” Without hesitation, she pulls the screen of her laptop down but not far enough to shut it off.

The night air suddenly seems to have dropped several degrees for Nadja is now shivering and cold. Sitting alone in the kitchen, she covers her face with her hands as she weeps. Not only is she upset by this run of messages but she fears that Aaron and possibly Viktor are camping out in the woods. She believes they are somewhere close so they can keep an eye on her but also hiding and undetected, for Carl found nothing when he searched.

“That’s it.” She says to herself as she sits in the dark kitchen. “Viktor had to have been the first man on the path, the one that walked past the ranger’s hut before Aaron and Carl. I knew I saw another man.” She sits up straight. “I know they are out there and now Viktor is probably reporting back to Aaron telling him I am aware of what they are doing.”

The adrenaline rushing through her veins is more than she can handle and as soon as she stands up, she begins to faint and then stumbles, collapsing onto the cold hard floor.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 95) Who

Immediately, Nadja pushes her laptop away from her a few inches. She is trembling with fear at how the details Viktor is sharing are so very familiar to her. His description of the path and an angry man on his phone following, along with the woman giving him directions are all relative to her life. She has not replied to any of Viktor’s current messages and there is a long pause before he reaches out to her.

“Sam? Are you there?” Viktor types. “Did I say something that upset you? Oh! I just remembered, there is a hidden room or tunnel or something in this place, an older man was there at first and that is how he left. I just think it was an awesome dream until the guy on the cell phone started snooping around the cabin. He went around back and I tossed a pebble at the large window at the front to try to get the girls attention. I felt like I needed to get her out of there before this guy broke in, but he came back to the front and that’s when I woke up.”

“Sam?” Viktor questions again as he waits for this new-found friend to reply, or comment, but he does not receive either. “I wonder if the site is down again or something, she just stopped responding.” He mumbles to himself as he pulls up the name of one of his friends. “Let’s see, I’ll message Phil and see if he gets my note.”

Within seconds of Viktor sending a message to his friend Phil, a reply comes back with a sarcastic message that causes Viktor to laugh.

“Well that is proof the site is still working.” Viktor says in a lighthearted way. “I wish I knew what Sam was thinking, I must have scared her. Maybe this all hit too close to home for her or something.” He says aloud.

In the little kitchen of the cottage, Nadja is sitting with her knees pulled up to her chin as she huddles on the chair. The thoughts in her mind are jumbled and racing from one incident to the next. She is frantic, worried, and scared out of her mind. Everything Viktor spoke of is true. It is as if he was standing in the same room with her and Carl. The popping sound that caused her to look out the front window, that had to be Viktor. It is at this moment Nadja truly begins to lose control.

“Is Viktor Aaron? Or are they working together to frighten me?” Nadja questions as she reaches up and flips the switch that turns all of the kitchen lights off. “Is this all a trick? Am I being watched by Aaron or Viktor right now?” At this moment, anger sets in.

“Who the hell are you?” She replies to Viktor.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 94) Name

“Hi Viktor, yes I’m fine.” Nadja writes back. “Why do you ask? Have you been dreaming again?” She replies almost in a joking manner yet a bit concerned as well.

“I just woke from one and I did not like it one bit.” Viktor replies a little apprehensive in telling her about the experience, yet with the names not matching he wonders if the visions pertain to her at all. “I’m not so sure now that I am seeing your place in my wanderings. The girl in my dream is named Nadja, not Sam.”

In reading Viktor’s note, Nadja’s heart skips a beat and chills run up her spin so swiftly she immediately turns around in her chair believing she will see Aaron or someone else standing behind her. She reads the words again and there is no mistake in what he said. He knows her real name.

“Is this a trick?” She asks herself as she presses her back up against the kitchen wall. “How in the world could he know my name?” Panic floods her mind as she sits there in disbelief.

“I suppose it is just coincidence that the cabin in my dream resembles your home. Anyhow, while I was stumbling around at this girl’s house, I tripped over the wood in her living room and she actually noticed it!” Viktor types in his note.

As Nadja reads this, she raises her hand to her mouth in shock. This happened, here in her cottage only minutes ago! She remembers nearly tripping over the log that had fallen from the stack and wondered how it got there!

“I thought for sure I was caught but thankfully one of those mystery doors formed next to me and I walked through it. The damn thing took me all the way down the trail that leads to her house and I had to walk the crazy thing all over again! It was dark as midnight outside too!” Viktor quickly types. “I was fortunate enough to run into the older woman earlier, when I was on the path to begin with, she basically told me to remember the way to the cabin, well she called it a cottage. Anyhow, she told me that and now I know why. It was because I had to navigate it at night with some six-foot half crazed dude ranting on his cell phone on my heels!”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 93) Sitting

With Carl now on his way home through the tunnel, Nadja feels better about his hour-long walk. At least half of it will be in the secure underground passage. In addition, she is hopeful he placed enough fear in Aaron to keep him from attempting another trip up the mountain. However, she knows how determined Aaron can be at times and that the possibility of him knocking on her door is probable. It may not be tonight or even tomorrow, but when he feels the time is right he will make an attempt. After all, he had to travel many hours to get to the village in the first place and Aaron is not the type to leave empty-handed.

“I hate myself so much for getting involved with him in the first place.” Nadja says to herself as she walks from her aunts’ room to the living room.

She turns a lamp on next to the sofa and proceeds to the kitchen to prepare something to eat. She no sooner gets to the refrigerator when she hears a loud pop on the window of the living room. It reminds her of the sounds she heard her first night here and at that time she deduced this was merely due to the temperature changes affecting the glass. Besides her thoughts on this, she decides to look out the window for no other reason but to ease her own mind. Walking up to the glass, she cups her hands around her eyes and looks out at the flower garden that is now draped in darkness.

“I can’t see a thing.” She says to herself as she backs away from the window and switches the light off.

Nadja walks to her bedroom and turns on the small lamp next to her bed. She tucks her laptop under her arm and now with the front of the house mostly dark, she walks back to the living room and looks out once more. However, just like before, she does not see anything that should concern her.

“I’m starving, I need to eat.” She mumbles as she heads to the kitchen and sets her laptop on the table.

While in town earlier, Nadja purchased a package of shaved turkey and fresh bread along with a few other items of necessity. Everything is still neatly packed in the bag she carries for trips into town and luckily, with the cool weather of the season, the items are still fresh and ready to eat. Quickly she makes a couple of small sandwiches and opens a bag of potato chips. Sitting at the kitchen table, she decides to visit the dream blog to see what everyone is discussing tonight. Mostly, she would like to see if VikT1000 has experienced any recent dreams for he has not blogged for the past few days.

“Oh my gosh! Sam. I just noticed you signed in!” Viktor writes as soon as he realizes Nadja’s web identifier popped onto the blog. “Are you okay?” He questions and before he realizes how this might frighten her, he hits send. “No you idiot!” Viktor says to himself.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 92) Observing

Viktor has made it to the curve and as he looks back, there is no longer a glowing light from the man’s cell phone, which means he must be back on track and is now following. Instantly, Viktor begins the fastest run he has every made and being that he can control some of the circumstances in this dream state, his run is easy and incredibly swift. Nearly out of breath though, he makes it around a final bend on the trail and can see the glow of lights from inside the cottage up ahead. He wants to run right up to the door and begin knocking but knows how odd this would be. Then he stops and almost laughs.

“This is not real.” He says to himself. “It’s a damn dream! I can do whatever I want.”

Just as he realizes this revelation and ducks behind the shrubs in the garden, the man steps into the glowing streaks of light coming from the main room of the cabin. He walks directly up to the glass and peers inside. Seemingly frustrated that no one is in sight, he begins to walk around to the back of the building. Moving in closer and ducking behind a flowering shrub, Viktor picks up a pebble and tosses it at the window hoping this will attract the woman inside so he can warn her of this possible intruder. Sure enough, the girl walks up to the glass, cups her hands around her eyes, and peers out into the night. Viktor is about to stand up when he hears the man coming back his way.

“Damn it.” He murmurs as he ducks back down out of sight.

Oddly, the man stands just off to the side and watches the woman as she peers out the window again. He is not attempting to hide himself and it appears to Viktor that he actually wants her to see him observing her. However, the woman merely backs away from the glass, turns out the light and a dimmer glow appears in the room Viktor knows to be the woman’s bedroom. The large man begins to move in the direction of the door when Viktor comes rushing out of the dream and finds himself face down on the floor of his apartment.

“Oh my neck hurts.” He mumbles as he rolls over and realizes he rolled off the sofa. “That guy is going to break in.” He says as he looks up at the ceiling still trying to recover from this mysterious twist in his dream. “I wonder if the site is finally back up.” He says as he quickly stands up and goes over to his laptop.

He clicks on the tab for the dream site and sure enough, it is up and running correctly. Signing in, he immediately scrolls through the list of active bloggers looking to see if Soapsuds1920s is online, but it does not appear that she is. Without losing the memories of his latest dream experience, Viktor starts drafting a note lining out all of the details.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 91) Coincidence

Viktor looks around at the dark woods and then remembers what the older woman said. “Keep your eyes open, remember the way, and no matter what, do not stop for anything. Do you understand?”

“I do remember the way.” Viktor says in his mind. “If I recall the twists and turns of the path correctly, I should have no problem finding my way back, but how do I get ahead of this goon?”

At that moment, the sound of a cell phone ringing echoes eerily out into the night. After three rings, the man on the path answers his phone and begins conversing with the person on the line. The stress and rage from this man seems to be intensifying as he paces back and forth across the path.

“I don’t care what your opinion is about Nadja, I am going to find her, bring her home, and straighten everything out.” He hears the man say. “No! I am certain she is here and I will not be leaving alone, you can count on that!” He yells. “She is mine and I will not stop until this childish incident of hers is put to rest, one way or the other!” He is practically screaming at this point. “No one gets the upper hand on me and I don’t care what I have to do, or who I have to take out to clear this ridiculous blemish she has imposed on me!”

The man is so engrossed in the phone conversation that he even passes back by where Viktor is hiding, heading in the wrong direction on the path. It is at this tense moment that Viktor decides to try to start moving toward the cottage. Slowly and with precise steps, he inches out of the grove of trees.

The light from the man’s cell phone is an excellent guide, for Viktor can tell he is still walking back down the path in the opposite direction. Staying just off to the side of the gravel trail, Viktor’s steps are soft and almost undetectable and just as the older woman told him, he remembers almost every inch of the path to come. Just a few feet away will be a curve and he plans to start sprinting as soon as he gets there.

“So who is Nadja?” Viktor thinks to himself. “I know this is the name of the girl in the cottage for the older man kept calling her Nadja. So, if this guy is after Sam, then he is definitely heading to the wrong house.” He thinks to himself as he tries to piece all of the details together. “Maybe it is not Sam I am seeing in the dream after all. Maybe my description of this place is pure coincidence.”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 90) Force

Viktor continues to watch through the gap between the door and wall and can hear their voices, but in no way can he make out exactly what they are saying. He hears the word passageway and sees them open a portion of the bookshelf and step inside, as if going under the building. After several seconds of quietness from the other room, Viktor begins to think of how he is going to leave the house without being noticed, but he also wonders if he should simply step out and say hello.

“No, that would scare the living daylights out of her.” He mumbles as he looks toward the wall. “Oh you have got to be kidding me.” He says happily after noticing what has appeared next to him.

There, on the wall, with the living room on the other side, is a door. Just like the other mystery doors that have appeared and it too does not match up with the decor of this little place. Besides that, if it was just a regular entrance, it would simply open up to the living room. He can hear the young woman coming back across the room so he gently pops the mystery door open and steps inside. Instantly, as soon as the door pulls shut, he finds himself outside and on the path where this entire dream started, except now it is incredibly dark outside.

“What the? Why?” Viktor questions with disappointment as he turns to see if he can simply step back through the opening.

Standing here on this long dark path, Viktor sees no other option available but to walk the length of it all over again. The doorway from the cottage that he just stepped through is nowhere to be found and all around him is darkness full of nocturnal nature. To his left is a small structure with a dim light on it and he does not recall seeing this before.

“I was preoccupied with the older woman on my first go.” He explains to himself.

Just as Viktor begins to take his first step in the direction of the little rangers hut, he hears footsteps behind him and they are coming his way.

The air around him has changed and he feels very nervous and somewhat intimidated by the figure he sees down the path. Quietly slipping into the small grove of trees, he kneels down to allow the person to pass without them noticing him. Anger is encroaching on Viktor and it is not because of himself. No, this feeling is like a force field around the man on the path and with it, he emits a fierce determination.

“Oh no, I think that is the man I saw when I was behind the mirror of the cabinet.” Viktor says in his mind. “He is the guy who was standing at the window, pounding on the glass. The same guy who was at the front door, breaking it down and causing that poor girl to scream like I’ve never heard in my life.” He thinks to himself as he watches this tall man pass by. “I have to get to the little cabin before him, but how?”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 89) Real Life

“So I’ve made it here,” Viktor says to himself in his dream. “It definitely took me longer this time, that path was gruesome!” He laughs. “Not sure what that was all about but I bet I’ll find out soon enough.”

As he steps up to the door of the cottage, he slowly reaches out to turn the handle to enter when there is a loud rustling in the woods to his left. As he stops and turns to see what or who is making all the noise, he sees a man who is very large in size, swiftly walking toward him. The only logical thing to do is enter the dwelling as quickly as possible and lock the door, which is exactly what Viktor does.

Once inside, Viktor continues to back up until he nearly falls over several logs that have been neatly stacked on the floor near the fireplace. One is loose and topples onto the hardwood flooring but he does not attempt to fix it. He is very unsure about what is happening and is trying to think of what he will do if the man comes crashing in. He stands frozen in place but nothing happens. All is quiet until he hears voices reverberating from the kitchen.

Peering around the corner, he sees the young woman he continues to run into during his nighttime travels. He truly believes this to be the girl named Sam from the dream blog yet this big older man keeps calling her Nadja. The conversation between she and the man is very cordial and she allows this visitor to come inside the cottage.

Viktor runs to the bedroom that is to the left of the front entrance to the cabin. As he slips around the corner of the door, he pulls it away from the wall just enough for him to hide behind and view this interaction. Peeking out through the space between the door hinges, he watches as the two individuals walk across the main room, only pausing as the older man takes a chair from the fireplace and places the back of it under the doorknob of the front door.

“Lucky they didn’t do that before I forced my way in.” Viktor thinks to himself.

After a few words, they proceed to the bedroom on the other side of the cottage. Oddly, the young woman stops at the stack of logs and picks up the one Viktor disturbed on his frantic arrival.

“What? It’s as if I’m really here interacting with them, but it’s a dream right?” Viktor murmurs to himself. “So are we sharing the same dream or am I actually interacting with real life?”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 88) Bright

Nadja steps down into the concrete room with its bright white painted walls. From here, there is a tunnel large enough to stand up in and wide enough for two people to walk side by side through. The floor is dirt but the walls are part stone and dirt with wood and metal posts supporting the top and sides.

“I do need to warn you though, with the heavy rains these past few years, veins of tunnels from the underground cave system have opened up, so you have to be careful not to find yourself going the wrong way or falling.” Carl says with sincerity. “Just keep the lights on and you should not have any problems.”

“If you only told me about this, I would have never believed you.” She smiles as she flips the next switch, which lights the next long section of the tunnel.

“I still find it odd that Aunt Josephine went through so much trouble in order to have a secret way out of the cottage.” Nadja looks at Carl in a questioning manner.

“Josie was a unique woman.” Carl starts and then pauses to collect his emotions. “If the woman had a flaw, and I don’t think she did, it would be a strong desire for safety. She had dreams about something happening in the cottage, an attack or break-in of some sort. She said it was never really clear to her.” He states as he looks toward the first section of the tunnel. “As you go through, she even has mirrors placed to allow a view of what might be behind the next turn. In the dim light you can darn well scare yourself to death seeing your own reflection!” Carl laughs loudly as he holds his hand over his heart. “Damn well gave myself a heart attack the first time I walked through!”

“I will try to remember that.” Nadja laughs but then backs the conversation up. “I never knew she had dreams about being attacked in the cottage.” Nadja says in a worried tone.

“No no, don’t you worry about it. Nothing like that ever came to be, thankfully. I just think when you live alone and you’re not a big burly man,” Carl points to himself and grins, “you cannot help but think of the what-ifs.”

“Yes, that is definitely true.” Nadja agrees softly and then she smiles. “This will make for an interesting side note as I write in my journal tonight.”

“Ha! Yes indeed it will!” Carl laughs.

“Alright young lady, I am taking the tunnel home, it’s getting too darn cold out there and the sun has set.” Carl says as he looks around the room one last time. “I’ll hit the switches as I pass through the sections so you won’t have a huge electric bill.” He grins. “That aunt of yours, she was something else wasn’t she?”

“Yes, Carl. That she was.” Nadja says as she gives him a hug. “You be careful.”

“You do the same and you know you can call me anytime, in case you need me. Okay?” He says firmly as he looks her directly in the eyes as she nods yes. “Alright then, I’m off. Just swing the cabinet back and latch that hook and you’ll be safe and sound. Oh, do not hesitate to use this tunnel if needed. It will at least get you to the halfway point of my cabin and the train station. Goodnight Nadja, sleep well.”

“Goodnight Carl and thank you again.” Nadja grins.

She can hear Carl whistling happily as he begins his walk home and she climbs back up the ladder. Latching the secret door shut, Nadja shivers. The farther Carl gets from the cottage, the more abnormal the echoing tune becomes.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 87) Snug

This intrigues Nadja for she never knew, even after all these years, that some underground tunnel was here. It almost bothers her a bit that aunt Josephine never shared this secret with her, but then again there was no reason to. Following Carl around the corner of the kitchen to cross through the living room, he stops and takes a wooden chair from its place next to the fireplace and jams the back of it under the handle of the front door.

“There, now we have both the front and the back locked up snug.” He grins.

Nadja notices the stack of wood that she brought in for the fireplace has been disturbed which she finds odd. It causes her to give it a second glance but she just assumes the logs shifted and fell. She picks up the rogue log and places it back on the top of the stack, then continues to follow Carl into her aunt’s bedroom.

It is funny to her how this big man dwarfs the tiny rooms of the cottage, yet he fits in so perfectly as well. Nadja observes him as he goes over to the right side of her aunt’s bedroom to the wall that backs up against the kitchen. The many bookshelves and inset units of cabinets in this quaint dwelling are a bit deceiving for Carl unhooks what looks like a simple lock on a cabinet door and the bottom half quietly swings open. He steps down onto a ladder and pushes a switch on the wall, which brightens the room below.

“No way, you have got to be kidding me.” Nadja says as she steps closer to the opening and looks down at Carl.

“Come on down here Nadja. You should see it for what it is, never know when you may want to use it.” He laughs. “It is definitely a great way to travel when there is a deep snowfall on the ground up above.” Carl says happily. “In fact, I’ve used it for that very reason many times. It stays rather cozy too with an average year round temperature, much like a cave.”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 86) Comforting

“Alright, let’s give this place a thorough check so I won’t be up all night worried sick about you.” Carl says as he opens the door and steps inside the cottage.

Turning all of the lights on, everything appears to be in its proper place and all doors and windows are sealed tight. Carl heads toward the back of the house to the door that leads outside from the kitchen.

“Before it starts to get completely dark, I want to check the outside perimeter. I’ll be back in a minute or two.” He says just before he pulls the door shut behind him.

With the chilly air moving in from the north, the cottage feels cool and damp so Nadja works on getting a fire started in the fireplace. By the time Carl comes back inside, the little house feels toasty and comforting. He stands near the fireplace holding his hands out to warm them.

“Well Nadja dear, I do not see anything that would tell me someone has been snooping around. There are no tracks, footprints, or broken twigs that would indicate you have a peeping tom.” Carl laughs. “I’m wondering if maybe you were so upset that possibly you saw Aaron walk past and then he turned around and walked by again to respond to me.”

“Well, maybe.” Nadja replies, but she does not fully believe this to be the case. “I have been very tired lately. Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me.”

As if reading her like a book, Carl looks at her with squinting eyes knowing good and well she is not being completely honest. It is obvious to him she is worried.

“The offer still stands, if I need to take you into town or if you’d rather stay at my place, I can fix up a pretty comfortable sofa for you.” Carl says as he turns to warm his hands a bit longer.

“No, I think I will be okay, you have made me feel much better.” She replies.

“Just to be safe, let’s prop chairs under the door handles to create another lock of sorts. It will just be another barrier to break down if anyone does try to get inside.” Carl takes one of the chairs from the kitchen table and props it under the back door of the cottage. “Before you go to bed tonight, put the other chair under the handle of the front door.” Carl pauses with a scowl as if he is confused. “Oh! I almost forgot.” He says with urgency. “The passageway! I need to show you where it is!”

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 85) Agreed

“Your aunt had it dug out many years ago. With her wealth and all, she wanted to know she could escape unharmed if anyone ever broke into her home.” Carl continues to speak as they walk along the path. “I told her she was nuts, which she agreed to.” Carl laughs at the humor they shared. “She had it done, contracted out, the thing is long as hell but well-lit and comes out right back there at the forest rangers hut, which as you know is halfway to my cabin.” He laughs but then looks around once again in a paranoid fashion. “I’m sorry young lady, but I don’t feel right about leaving you up here alone.”

“Carl, I have to learn to be brave and take care of myself, I have to follow in my aunts shoes.” Nadja states as she tucks loose strands of hair behind her right ear. “But then I called you at the first thought of being followed.” She looks down.

“You don’t have to prove anything to me.” Carl replies.

“No, but I have to prove it to myself.” Nadja says as she fiddles in her pocket for the key. “I know I saw a man walk up the path before Aaron, I’m hoping he is not connected somehow and has continued to move on.”

“Well, if he was ahead of Aaron he was way up there because I never saw him.” Carl says as they round the last bend in the path, enter the fenced in garden, and approach the front door of the cottage.

All of this confuses Nadja for the other man walked past the hut just seconds before Aaron. It was almost as if they were traveling together. How could he have been on the path unnoticed? In her mind, she is telling herself that he was simply looking around or hiking, but the path ends here at the cottage. So where did he go? He would have had to double back which meant they would have run into him at some point, or he is following animal paths that branch out into the woods in all directions.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 84) Check

Carl stands on the path in view of the rangers hut for several minutes until he sees Aaron follow the curve of the trail and walk out of sight. Only now does he acknowledge Nadja as she stands up behind the woodpiles to greet him. Placing his finger to his lips, Carl motions for her to be quiet and to stay put. Several more minutes pass before he walks in her direction.

“Oh thank you so much, I knew something was wrong and it is the worst thing possible.” Nadja says softly as she walks around the woodpile and gives Carl a hug.

“So he is the jerk you are trying to stay away from.” Carl says as fact while they walk toward the opening to the path. “I could see right through his ploy to be nice. I need to contact the authorities so we can keep an eye on him.”

“Who was the other man though, the one who walked down the path before him?” Nadja questions as she leans out around the thick plant growth and looks in the direction of the cottage.

“What other man? I didn’t see anyone but him.” Carl states a bit puzzled. “Would you feel more comfortable staying in town? You are more than welcomed at my place as well but it’s a man’s house, not all neat and tidy like Josie’s.” Carl looks down at his hands to avoid eye contact.

Nadja knows how difficult it must be to have the memories of her aunt flooding back into Carl’s mind every time he walks the path. No matter the time of day, there is going to be something that will trigger his thoughts. He works in the factory they both delved their lives into. He rides the train into town alone, eats alone, and watches the sunset alone. Nadja can see the tears in his tired eyes as the sun begins to settle deeper and the night sky approaches.

“I will walk you to the cottage if that is what you wish to do. We can check things out and make sure you are barricaded inside.” Carl looks around to make sure they are alone. “I need to show you the passageway as well.” He grins as they start walking up the path.

“Passageway, what passageway? Nadja questions as she rattles her own thoughts for knowledge of this.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 83) Directing

Both men are of the same height. Carl may actually be a slight bit taller than Aaron and in no manner does Carl seem intimidated by Aaron’s equally strong and much younger presence.

“Is it such a crime for a man to walk along this path? What do you have hidden up there, gold?” Aaron asks in a charming way as he follows this question with a laugh. “I just want to take a few pictures of this amazing view, maybe pitch a tent and spend one night in this peaceful place.”

Nadja knows Aaron is plotting his moves to befriend Carl so he can continue up the mountain to the cottage. She has witnessed it time and time again where he manages to sweeten his demeanor until the individual he is talking to gives in. She knows this first hand, for he would do this with her, in one form or another, almost every single day.

“I have to agree with you, the view is magnificent, but it belongs to me.” Carl states firmly. “Plus, I cannot buy into a story about pitching a tent to a man dressed in suit pants, a wool overcoat, and is not carrying a backpack or even a bottle of water with him.” Carl replies as he steps to the side and holds his hand out directing Aaron to return in the direction in which he came from.

Silently, Nadja grins for she has never witnessed someone actually getting the upper hand on Aaron in such a way. Carl has noticed everything wrong with this situation and pointed it out quite clearly. No wonder Aunt Josephine was so smitten by him. He is very kind yet handles business and confrontations in a sharp and controlled manner. It is with amazement that she watches Aaron nod his head in understanding. Yet, he grins with the typical arrogance she has come to recognize so well.

“I can’t pull the wool over your eyes now can I?” Aaron states as he holds out his hand for a handshake.

“I’ve been around a long time and I’ve seen just about all there is to see so no, it takes a lot to get past me.” Carl replies as he quickly shakes Aaron’s hand and again gestures for Aaron to leave.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 82) Property

Nadja has been watching the time on her silenced cell phone as she waits for Carl to arrive. The wind has become much colder than it was when she first took shelter from the path. She has been peeking through the stacks of logs this entire time and has yet to see Aaron or Carl pass by. She just knew it had to be Aaron she heard on the path behind her but if that were true, she wonders where he could be now. Does he know she is hiding? Did he see her step off the path?

“I hear something.” She whispers to herself as she peers through the neatly stacked wood.

Looking down at her phone she realizes whomever is making the sound cannot be Carl, it will be another ten minutes before he will have had time to get here. Clear and distinct steps are getting closer and closer as her heart begins to beat faster. The sound of shoes hitting the gravel echoes off the silence in the air and then he appears. It is a brief two seconds as she watches the man pass from right to left.

“That is not Aaron.” Nadja says with much relief.

She smiles as she relaxes and leans her back up against the wall of the hut. Closing her eyes for several, seconds she gathers her emotions and calms herself down with full deep breaths.

“Maybe the man who walked past is just a hiker.” She deduces as she stands up and brushes dirt and leaves from her pants. “I hope Carl will not be too angry with me for calling him, I feel silly now.” She mumbles to herself as she begins to step around the woodpile.

At this moment, she hears Carl yell something as he comes up the trail and then her worst fear appears as Aaron steps into view. She rushes back behind the stacks of wood just as Aaron turns his back to the little hut and her in order to respond to Carl’s request.

“What can I help you with?” Aaron questions as if Carl is the one in the wrong.

“This is private property, my property, and I want to know what you are up to.” Carl states as he now enters the clearing where Aaron is standing.

“I was just going for a little hike, sorry but I did not see any signs posted that said I could not enter this beautiful area.” Aaron states in a calm tone as he tugs at the plaid scarf wrapped around his neck.

“Well I will be sure to get more signs out immediately so there will not be another misunderstanding.” Replies Carl. “In the meantime I will have to ask you to leave.” He states firmly.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 81) Wisdom

“Hello, young man.” The older woman says as Viktor approaches.

Here in the daylight her features are more defined and even though he somehow knows she is beyond the age of fifty or sixty years, she looks as if she is only forty. Her skin is smooth and her eyes all-knowing and full of wisdom.

“Hello again.” Viktor replies as he stops in front of her.

“I like the way you hold yourself young man, very confident yet compassionate.” She says to him as she smiles.

“Well thank you.” Viktor replies.

He has worked very hard to become the confident person she recognizes in him. The fact that she picked up on this part of his demeanor makes him feel proud of who he is, but it also embarrasses him for some reason.

“Am I heading the right way? To the cabin I mean.” He questions.

“To me, it is a cottage.” She corrects him. “And yes, you are heading the right direction.” She tips her head slightly as she glances at the long path behind her. “Keep your eyes open, remember the way, and no matter what, do not stop for anything. Do you understand?”

A bit suspicious of her directions, Viktor looks up and down the path expecting something to happen. Another cold blast of air circles around them causing him to shiver yet the woman does not seem to notice and oddly, not one hair on her head moves with the wind. He knows this is a dream but it is very strange to see the trees and dust responding to the elements yet this woman seems to be immune to it all.

“Why didn’t. . .” Viktor starts to say but the woman places her cold hand over his lips as she looks behind him.

“You need to go, right now.” She whispers to Viktor as she looks him in the eyes.

“Okay, but. . .” He starts to say and again is put in his place by this woman.

“Do not hesitate and do not stop.” She says again. “And no matter what, remember the way.”

The woman then walks toward the side of the path and steps into the woods, disappearing before his eyes. He looks back at the place he walked from but does not see anyone or anything that would be cause for him to hurry. However, he feels it is necessary to follow the command of this mysterious woman. He turns and continues to walk the twisting path and as directed, begins moving at a rather quick pace.

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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 80) Steadfast

The cold rain and stormy weather that eased Viktor into a nap has transferred itself into his dream as he steps out onto the cobblestone street. The stones look shiny and slick with rain and as he begins walking, he can see his breath on the wind.

“Damn it’s cold.” He states to himself in his dream world. “Well at least I’m back!” He grins as he recognizes this village as his home away from home. “Why am I asleep?” He ponders.

He then remembers his need to reach out to his friend Sam. He wants to get in touch with her to discuss how strange it is for him to be visiting her, apparently in his sleep.

“The site was down. Now I remember.” He says as he walks directly to the building where the first odd door appeared. “I’m coming in!” He yells as he pushes the door all the way open to a dark and empty room.

Sure enough, as soon as he swings the door shut, the other door is exposed. Without any hesitation or doubt, he turns the knob and enters the darkness within. Viktor loves the fact that he can manipulate this world. He knows now, without a doubt that stepping through the newly exposed doorway will take him to the right place. He no longer fears falling or being hurt for he has been through this process enough to know better. Walking through the empty darkness he only thinks of one thing.

“Take me to the cabin.” He says aloud.

Without any pause between the words leaving his lips, he finds himself on a thin gravel path that curves along the side of a mountain. The position of the sun indicates to him it is late afternoon and there is tension in the air. It seems to encompass Viktor, causing him to feel slightly agitated.

“I recognize the landscape but wow, I would rather not have this creepy feeling biting at the back of my neck.” Viktor says with a shiver as he stops to look both ways on the path. “I guess I’m going in the right direction,” he pauses, “it feels like I’m moving uphill anyway.”

The air is cool and it is nipping at his fingers, which causes him to utilize the pockets of his jacket. The warmth of the thick lining feels soft and cozy against his hands allowing him to shift his focus back to the path he is walking on.

“Okay, I have to remember this part when I wake up. To my right I am catching a glimpse of a large lake, which matches up to my first visit here.” Viktor says to himself. “So, I am not too far off, just walking in from another direction than the first two times.”

A cool blast of wind rushes at him from around the corner and he tucks his chin down to keep it from blowing into his jacket. Suddenly, the older woman from his last trip to this mysterious place appears up ahead. Standing firm as if she may not let him pass, her eyes are steadfast and fixed upon him.

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