Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 207) Numb

Nadja feels responsible for what has happened. Due to his twisted thinking, she knows Aaron murdered Carl simply because he got the better of him. Carl stopped him on the trail, had the police escort him out of town, and this no doubt triggered extreme anger within Aaron’s sickened mind.

“Here sweetie, I made fresh cinnamon rolls. You need to get something in your stomach.” Martha says softly as she hands a small plate and napkin to Nadja.

Nadja sits at a small table and looks down at her plate. She feels numb, disconnected, and she even begins to wonder if this is simply a nightmare that she can wake herself up from.

“How would I know if I was dreaming?” Nadja questions in her mind. “What if I simply need to wake up?” She pulls a small piece from the roll and places it I her mouth just as Viktor sits down across from her. “Where does the active and sleeping mind wander once we die?” She quizzes to him.

“I’m not sure.” Viktor replies honestly. “I’ve often wondered if we are just that, dreamlike, not really existing at all.” He has a questioning look on his face. “I know in most cases, my dreams are far more interesting than what I experience when awake. The events of today though, I would rather wake up from.”

“Me too.” Nadja mumbles as she glances out the window.

Many hours pass before Nadja and Viktor are notified by local authorities that they can return to the cottage, with a police officer, to gather their things.

“It will take us some time to recover the body you believe is in the collapsed tunnel.” The officer states to Nadja and Viktor as they walk the path along the ridge of the mountain.

“I have to leave for home tomorrow.” Viktor explains. “I don’t know that you should stay up here alone, at least not until they find. . . well you know what I mean.”

Nadja shakes her head yes. She knows exactly what Viktor is saying. Until Aaron’s body is recovered, and there is proof of his demise, she should not be alone.

“We will be staying at the soap factory, in the small apartment.” She explains to the officer.

“Good, I believe that is a wise choice.” The officer responds. “Now, let’s see what took place here.” He says in a low tone as he slowly pushes the unlatched door of the cottage open with his hand.

The living room chairs are overturned, blankets from the sofa thrown onto the floor and many delicate items in Josephine’s bedroom have been destroyed. Debris clutters the floors of both rooms and the doorway to the hidden room is wide open.

“I assume this is the entrance to the tunnel?” The officer questions as he steps over to look down the ladder.

“Yes, it is.” Nadja replies.

“And you both left the crumbling tunnel at the other end?” The officer asks.

“Yes.” Viktor replies.

“Then we have an intruder.” The officer says as he shines his flashlight at muddy footprints on the floor of the room below.

He then steps back and shines the light at the wooden flooring of Josephine’s room and very fine prints can be seen there as well.

“Stay here.” The officer commands.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 206) Removed

Walking past the front of Carl’s cabin, both Nadja and Viktor look in through the open door. The small wood stove is exactly what Viktor remembers seeing in his dream and his heart sinks.

“I could have saved him.” He mumbles and Nadja stops to look up at him.

“What did you say?” She asks.

“I could have saved him. I saw this in a dream, I saw a tall dark figure standing next to that exact wood stove and I just knew something was wrong.” Viktor says.

“No one could have predicted this, Viktor. So don’t say that.” Nadja slides her hand in his as they follow Martha to the shop next door.

He thinks in his mind about all the other visions he has witnessed. What has come true and what other hints has he brushed off? The burning of the soap factory, the authorities said there was a break in or something happened for the alarm to sound, but it is still standing. He hates the fact that he cannot differentiate between what is to be and what is simply the subconscious mind working its way through the events of the day.

Once inside the store, Martha retreats to the back room to find both Nadja and Viktor a change of warm clothes. Standing there in silence, Nadja walks over to the window and watches as the vehicle of the coroner’s office arrives. Two men step out and enter Carl’s cabin.

“They will be together again.” Nadja says in a low voice.

Viktor hears what Nadja says and walks over to her. He recalls a statement Josephine said during one of her visits to his dream. It was the one where he feared the factory was gutted by fire. What he got from her statement was that once something is destroyed, like a forest in a fire, new growth will sprout and the forest may grow even stronger than before. He wonders if all the events happening now are for Nadja’s rebirth into a world of better things. He wraps his arms around her as they both watch the events outside.

“I went through our latest shipment and found clothes that should fit you well.” Martha smiles as she enters the room. “I tossed them in the clothes dryer so they are nice and warm.

“Thank you, Martha.” Nadja smiles as she takes what Martha has offered and walks to the restrooms at the back of the building.

“I cannot believe this has happened.” Viktor says to the older woman.

“Carl really liked you, he told us all about you coming here to find Nadja, very romantic.” Martha grins. “We knew you were a good man when we met you.”

“Thank you.” Viktor replies in a shy manner.

He is still unsure of how to respond, even at his age to such a compliment. He meets Nadja halfway through the store as she returns in warm dry clothing. As they pass, and without pausing in their steps, they touch fingers in a mutual reassuring way. It is a small gesture of support for one another they both felt was necessary.

“He was like an uncle to you, I know.” Martha says to Nadja as she walks back to the window.

“Yes, that is exactly how I felt about him.” Nadja replies as she watches his body being removed from the cabin across the way.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 205) Tears

“I want to talk to him.” Nadja says as she starts to release her hug with Martha but the older woman does not let her go.

“No honey, he didn’t make it.” Martha says as tears form in her eyes.

“When Carl didn’t show up for breakfast we popped over thinking maybe he overslept but. . . we found him face down on the floor.” Sam shares with Viktor as he pulls him to the side. “Looked like someone hit him on the back of the head with a heavy object, they haven’t figured out exactly what yet.” Sam Points to the police officers who are taping the area off to keep everyone out of the crime scene. “Police said the alarms went off at the soap factory last night but they didn’t find anything when they checked it out, well except for a few things that were knocked onto the floor.”

Viktor looks over at Nadja and he is sure she heard every word Sam spoke. His voice is loud and with his hearing gone due to age, his whispers are that of a normal speaking tone.

“Nadja?” Viktor questions as she turns to look at him. “I’m so sorry.” He says and she immediately runs into his arms burying her head in his chest.

“It was Aaron, there is no doubt in my mind it was him.” She says as tears begin to flow freely.

Is that the fellow who showed up here the other day, the big guy with the smug attitude?” Sam questions of Viktor.

“Yes.” Viktor replies. “He came to the cottage, chased us through the tunnel.”

“Tunnel? What tunnel?” Sam seems confused. “Well, where the hell is he now? Officer!” Sam yells to gain the police officers attention.

“The tunnel collapsed, we think he is still in there.” Nadja states and then pauses as she looks up at Viktor. “I hope he is dead,” she says with pain in her eyes, “and I want him off this mountain.”

“The man responsible is trapped up the way, in a tunnel that leads to Josephine’s house.” Sam says as the officials step up to the group.

“Who is this?” One officer questions as he looks at Viktor in a suspicious manner.

“This is Viktor, a good friend of mine. He has been with me the past few days.” Nadja states in a direct manner.

“Did you know about the tunnel?” Viktor questions of Sam.

“No, never heard of it.” Sam replies and then the officer speaks up.

“We are aware of it. I’ll call in that we may have a man trapped.” The officer states as he walks away while speaking into his radio.

“Come along to the shop, we need to get you both into dry clothes.” Martha states as her motherly instincts kick in. “I still have breakfast on the warmer as well.”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 204) Someone

Wet and cold, Nadja and Viktor begin the thirty-minute walk from the now condemned entrance of the tunnel to Carl’s cabin and the train station. With the sun rising, the sky turns a shade of yellow and the birds begin to flutter along the treetops. Nadja shivers and leans toward Viktor who puts his arm around her. There is no conversation, no laughter or questions, just the crunching of the snow under their shoes and the occasional clearing of the throat.

“I saw my aunt down there.” Nadja says out of the blue.

“In the tunnel?” Viktor questions and he thinks of what he witnessed with her peering out at Aaron from the broken mirror.

“I think I was knocked out, it was while you were still on the other side of the blockage.” She says as she watches her feet. “Honestly, I thought I had died.”

“Oh, well thank goodness you didn’t.” He squeezes her hand.

“It was spring, the trees and flowers were in bloom.” She says as she looks up at the canopy of branches overhead.

“Do you remember what you talked about?” Viktor questions as a cold gust of air blasts at them as they round the corner.

Up ahead, parked near Carl’s cabin is a police vehicle with its light still flashing red and blue. Sam and Martha are standing outside the small dwelling talking to an officer when they look up and see Nadja and Viktor walking in their direction. Both of them respond in an odd way by ending their conversation and slowly walking toward them.

“Is something wrong?” Nadja questions with a quiver to the older couple.

“Oh dear girl, its Carl.” Sam states as he and his wife meet them on the path.

“What do you mean?” Nadja questions, as she looks Sam in the eyes.

“Someone hurt him sweetie.” Martha says as she opens her arms and gives Nadja a hug.

“Is he okay?” Viktor asks but he fears he already knows the answer to this question.

The dream he had, the one with a cabin and the shattered glass, the dark figure in the corner near a wood stove. It had to be Aaron. He got revenge on Carl no doubt.

“No son, he is not.” Sam says as he runs his hand across the back of his neck in a nervous way.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 203) Toppling

Snow is still in the melting phase as the first hint of twilight glows in the sky. Stepping to the side of the south opening of the tunnel, Nadja and Viktor can hear crashing sounds as the tunnel continues to fall apart. Turning back to look behind them, the heavily wooded area above is shifting as the quake rocks the tall trees in all directions. Fearing a collapse under their feet, they decide to step away from the immediate area and run toward the gravel path.

From the main path along the side of the mountain, Nadja and Viktor hold each other tight. Neither is speaking and it is obvious they are both wondering about Aaron. Is he now buried forever inside this once safe and useful tunnel?

“I’m Sorry, Nadja.” Viktor says as he holds her closer not sure how she feels about the possibility that Aaron has lost his life.

“You did all you could, even more than you should have.” Nadja replies as she rests her head on Viktor’s shoulder. “I don’t know what to say.” She looks into his eyes but neither one speaks a single word.

A low rumble continues from underground as trees begin to slant to the side with some toppling over from their once upright positions as the roots easily slip out of the soft soil. It is obvious now, in looking through the woods, to know exactly where the tunnel once stood. The morning light reflects off the branches of the trees as snow shakes from them as if snowing once again. During this time, Nadja and Viktor stand in silence until the grumbling ground goes quiet.

“Stay here, I’ll go look at the opening.” Viktor says softly.

Very slowly, he walks from where Nadja stands back to the opening to the tunnel. The door frame, bent and twisted, stands in an odd manner. Dirt, rocks and roots are the only visible items where the opening to the tunnel once stood. As much as he grew to despise Aaron, he cannot agree that this is a good ending to the mystery of his dreams. Yes, Aaron would have killed both he and Nadja if he could, but Viktor cannot fathom having behavior like this. Even at the end, he wanted to help Aaron out, and is now kicking himself for not being successful.

“Viktor, we should go.” Nadja says just loud enough for him to hear her.

“I know.” He replies as he starts walking in her direction. “We need to get to Carl’s cabin so we can report this.”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 202) Collapsing

Just as Aaron once again turns back to view the mirror, the face of the woman appears closer. As if reaching out, extending beyond the frame of broken glass she is reflected in, Josephine’s eyes are focused on Aaron’s. There is fear there within him and she grins in a sly manner.

“Boo!” Says Josephine as her image lunges from the mirror toward Aaron.

Suddenly, the walls of the tunnel begin to shift and more water pours through the crevice in the wall. Quickly, Viktor climbs down from the debris to be with Nadja but then he turns back.

“Aaron, get out of there, it’s going to collapse!” Viktor yells as he watches for Aaron to appear in the opening.

Struggling with the image he has seen in the glass, Aaron finally realizes everything is falling in around him. The tunnel begins to collapse and it starts near the house. The sound of splintering wood, rocks tumbling and concrete folding becomes louder as the mountain starts the process of reclaiming the area.

Aaron climbs up the side of the cave-in and as soon as Viktor sees his hand, he reaches for it to assist.

“Come on man! You have to move!” Viktor yells as he wraps his fingers around Aaron’s wrist to help pull him through.

At this moment, an enormous amount of water floods in from the wall collapsing the ceiling and blocking the path to Aaron completely as his hand slips out of Viktor’s.

“Oh my god!” Nadja yells.

Both shocked and frightened, Viktor and Nadja begin digging with their hands to save Aaron, but with the force of the water growing more intense, it pushes them back. The rumbling sound begins to increase once again and Viktor grabs Nadja by the hand.

“We have to go, now!” Viktor yells as he and Nadja begin to run south with the hope of reaching the southern opening.

The decision to leave was the correct one, for the walls are folding in as if chasing to gobble them up. Just as the lights flash for the last time and go out completely, they round the final corner and find themselves at the entrance. Practically crashing through the wooden door, they free themselves from the dark tomb that nearly swallowed them up.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 201) Comprehend

A loud hissing sound fills Nadja’s ears and the sensation of spinning in circles begins to make her ill. With heavy eyes, she tries to see what is happening and then with a loud pop, she feels the cold wet floor of the tunnel.

“Viktor?” She barely whispers.

Sitting up she can hear the water flowing heavily across the tunnel on the other side of the cave-in. Pulling herself along, she climbs just high enough to peek around it. To her dismay, she sees Aaron, his knee at the back of Viktor’s neck, pressing him further into the mud. It is obvious Viktor is struggling to break free and she takes hold of a large rock. With both hands, she forces it down on Aaron’s head and immediately he staggers back, tripping over Viktor’s feet.

With a heavy gasp of air, Viktor pulls himself out of the impression made in the mud as cold water sprays across his face and body.

“Give me your hand, hurry! Aaron is about to stand back up!” Nadja screams at Viktor who is still trying to regain his footing.

Watching from atop the rubble, Nadja begins to panic as Aaron once again stands up. Viktor, frantically climbing up the slippery mess of mud, stone and freezing water, finally slides through the opening and is safely on the other side.

“I will kill you both!” Aaron yells as he begins to climb through the debris

Viktor steps in front of Nadja ready for the next attack but Aaron slips and falls back down into the water.

“You are a real life monster, Aaron!” Nadja says loudly. “One day, you will fall victim to your own nasty deeds!”

Seconds after these words leave Nadja’s lips, the ground begins to shake and the flickering lights of the tunnel turn off and on as if shorting out. Top sections of the tunnel begin to fall in pieces around them, as the rumbling sound grows stronger.

“The tunnel is caving in on us!” Viktor yells above the deafening sound.

As Aaron stands to start the climb again, the mirror to his right begins to sway as more water forces its way through the underground stream. Something catches his eye and as he steps closer, he realizes a woman, standing directly behind him, is in the reflection.

“What the. . . ? He questions as he turns around to look behind him.

Aaron does not find anyone next to him in this murky wet place and he is unable to comprehend what is happening. Looking back at the glass this woman is walking closer to him and as his fear rises, Aaron turns again to find an empty tunnel.

Watching this odd behavior from the opening at the top of the rubble, Viktor leans up to regain his footing and then sees what it is Aaron is focused on. Reflecting in one small broken shard of the mirror, or perhaps from inside or behind this reflective glass, is Josephine.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 200) Her Elder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 199) Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 198) Stop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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