There's no one around. I hold out the sword and step out of the elevator. I look left, right, then up. Nothing but the generic carpeting, furniture, and décor of an expensive office building. I walk slowly down the hallway, not sure what I'm looking for, bracing for surprises. I do know the portal is around here somewhere on this floor. I hear nothing but the low hum of the air conditioning.
I walk into an open space full of hundreds of cubicles. The huge floor and maze of putty colored cubicles seems to go on forever. Everything looks brand new. Still, I hear nothing. I glance into one of the cubicles and even the office supplies have been laid out neatly in each space. Each desk has exactly one black pen, one blue pen, one notepad, and a pad of small post-its. There's a generic looking red mouse pad too. Each station has a big flat screen monitor. I walk out of the cubicle, still looking around. The building feels eerie and wrong. Nothing is out of place and nothing looks used.
I keep walking down row after row of generic cubicles, glancing in front and behind me. When I almost reach the center. I glance into one of the cubicles and stop. The yellow note pad has what appears to be a rough drawn map. There's a path through the maze of and it appears to disappear down staircase to my left. I look up and see the staircase exit sign.
SCREEEECCHHH! I drop down to the carpet in the cubicle pathway at the loud sound. “That didn't take long,” I mutter out loud. I stay low and dragging my sword after me, run as fast as I can to the staircase. I don't know if this is the right way to go but I'm going to have to trust this story. There's a crash and I glance above me. It's a bit low for someone to be flying in here but I wouldn't put it past her to try. I'm coming out of the maze now and the door is right in front of me. I run straight for it without looking back and I can smell the rotting before it reaches me. Demons. Flying behind me. Without even looking I jump and turn, slicing off the head of the demon behind me. As my feet hit the floor, I see now there are scores of them coming at me. I swing again and again, slicing the nearest ones to me in half. Black rotten blood is splattering everywhere, their bodies are flying apart in halves. I manage to get to the door and reach for the door knob, and rush down a very narrow hallway. There are a bunch of white doors, and they all look the same. It reminds me of that long hallway in Matrix 2. I run and run but the demons are crowding the narrow hallway and I don't see how I'm going to get away from them. I try some of the doors but they're all locked then I have an idea, a really good one. I reach into my backpack, grab the bag of Sevens, all 14 of them, wait until the nearest demons get close enough and throw them into the air.
The demons stop in their tracks even as the Sevens, with their unmistakable shimmering, fall to the ground. A moment later, they're grabbing and shoving for them. The narrow hallway only makes the situation worse as they climb, fight each other for them. The grotesque sounds of wailing, snarling, and demonspeak fill the air, hurting my ears and making the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I look around the hallway, wiping black blood from my cheek and try to think of what to do next.
"Maybe it's like with the Archivist," I say out loud. I look up at the nearest door and say "Portal." Instantly, the words glow in white on the door and the door unlocks, slipping open. I glance back and see that the screaming and tearing of demon bodies has gotten worse. It will take Ravelle a little bit of time to get through them. I go inside the room, feeling for the lights, and close the door. I hear it lock behind me.
I'm in a closet. And I hear the high musical sound of Ravelle's scream outside. I look frantically around for a light but there is none. I'm literally standing in tiny janitorial closet. Maybe she won't know where I've gone, I think, then I laugh at that thought. There's a pounding going on outside now. I feel panic rising in my throat and I try to hold the sword out in front of me but it's too long. If she catches me in this small space, I'm done for. I tilt the sword down and back up to give myself more room. I run into a bucket at the back of the closet and hear a familiar “ding.”
There's an elevator behind me, like in that movie “I'm Not There.” The doors open, I walk in, and press the only button which has no number, just a sunburst pattern. As I move upwards smoothly I wonder where I'm going. This building is over 500 floors tall but I was at the top floor so who knows where I'm going now. I can hear a banging below me but it's starting to fade and the elevator continues its silent, steady ascent. There's a faint shudder from below but then nothing.
The elevator has mirrors lining the walls, there's an handrail around the walls and it keeps going up and up. There's no little computer screen showing latest news or the weather. It just keeps moving. I lean against the mirrored wall and wait. I think about Mr. Gryphon and wish he was here with me. In fact, I really wish he was here in real life. I look at myself. I'm a little trimmer than I am now, I still have my long hair, I'm wearing boots, a black t-shirt, and green fatigues. I have no jewelry on, not even a watch. I don't even have my cell phone. No reception here.
I sigh and look around wondering when the elevator is going to stop. It keeps moving and then see a flash out of the corner of my eye. I look again and there's another flash to my right. I examine the mirror. The flash is actually a flicker, and it seems to be coming from the mirror itself, at fairly regular intervals now. There's nothing opposite of the mirror that could be causing the flash. I walk up to the mirror and look at it more closely. Meanwhile the elevator keeps moving upwards. There it is again. The flicker. I can see it if I stand to the right of where it seems to be coming from. It flashes again and I press my hand to the glass. There's a gentle yielding and I pull back in surprise. I pick up sword which was leaning on the mirrored wall and adjust my backpack, then I press carefully at the space again. It yields gently again. The mirrored wall is hard and cool but the pliable. I push my hand slowly through until it's inside the mirror above my elbow but I don't feel an other side. I pull my arm back. The elevator has still not stopped. Not knowing what else to do, I take my sword and swing at the mirror. The blade slices through as easily as butter but doesn't not shatter or break. When I pull the sword back, the mirror slips back together without a crack or mark.
I stare at the mirror for a moment more looking for seams then sheathe the sword. I push myself through the mirror and slip easily into it. There's some resistance but the hard metal is as pliant and yielding as thick well kneaded dough. I glance behind me as I pull my foot through and the mirror closes behind my foot. Now it looks like I'm standing in a mirrored bubble. It's very strange. I have plenty of room above my head and on my sides. I can breathe just fine and my breathe isn't fogging up the glass. I can see my reflection everywhere and I have no idea why there's still light or where it's coming from. It doesn't seem to be coming from anywhere.
I hear a slightly muffled “dink” behind me and the sounds of someone entering the elevator. I turn and keep moving towards the flickering light which I can see quite clearly now. The floor of the mirrored bubbled is straight and flat. I'm moving easily enough though I think it would be better if it was a tunnel. I know I'm making progress because the sounds in the elevator are fading behind me. I keep walking, wishing I had a camera. I don't know why I never bring cameras into these stories. I resolve then to throw one into my backpack for next time.
The lights flicker and I stop walking, looking around, then the light fades slowly. A fear grabs me and I start running. The thought of getting stuck here in the dark seems like a terrible fate. I run and the cold smooth metal yields easily to me, the bubble staying intact around me. The lights fade to barest light, flicker again, and then I'm in the pitch dark. I stop and try to calm down but I can't. I have thoughts that I'll be stuck here forever, clawing at the smooth walls. I force myself to stop panicking and listen to the only sound I can hear. I tilt my head and realized the sound is my own heartbeat. I hadn't realized how quiet this place is. The sound is reassuring even it's beating fast. I reach out to the sides, feeling the walls so cool and smooth. I pull off my backpack and rummage around for the green stone in the front the pocket. The reassuring green glow lights my space. I'm glad I still have it.
The gentle glow is beautiful in this bubble of mirrors. I pull on my backpack and keep walking. There's no breeze but I keep walking anyway. I walk for a while, not hurrying, the panic now gone. I think about Nick, I think about Mr. Gryphon. I wonder how this story is going to turn out and why I had to write it down. My thoughts whirl around. I think about Mr. Gryphon and how much he loves me even if he is an imaginary friend. I suppose real love is unconditional even among fictional characters. Even with them it never fails.
I stop looking at my darkened reflection in the bubble of mirrors, a tear running down my cheek. I hope. I hope I can get everything back. And I hope I'm strong enough for what's coming next.
I wipe away the tear, then I hear a faint sound in front of me.