Chapter Twenty One – Wrong

30 Jul

With what could have been a smile on her face, Rosie turned the handle. A dark pool of ink started spreading across the pavement in front of the doors. She stopped pushing the door and stepped back before beckoning to me and saying: ‘come here’.

‘What the hell are you doing?’ I almost shouted.

‘Just come here! Quickly! Before it spreads!’

‘Ok’ I sighed as I stepped towards it, leaning back slightly. Rosie just pointed at the pool – it was spreading a couple of centimetres every few seconds. She kept pointing. When I looked into it, I realised why she had been pointing. The reflections were wrong.

Not “wrong” as in rippling water, but “wrong” as in there was something else in the reflection. Or rather, there wasn’t. For starters, the cathedral was missing. There was a Firestone’s Books shop in it’s place. Rosie just stared at it, the ink pooling around her shoes. I smiled and said: ‘Ha! It’s showing the real world! Maybe it’s a way back?’

I was practically dancing in the street. This was the best thing I’d seen in the past couple of days. I looked around me until I spotted a corner shop a short way down the street. I’d already started running for it before Rosie even noticed. She shouted after me: ‘Where are you going?’

‘ I’ll be back in a second.’ I fumbled through my jacket pockets for some coins as I opened the door. Thankfully, it looked fairly normal. I grabbed a two litre bottle of cola from the fridge in the back of the shop and dropped it on the counter, along with a few coins. It was only then that I noticed that the man behind the counter had two heads. Well, actually, he had one head and another one growing out of his chest. They both had curly ginger moustaches and rectangular glasses.

I didn’t have time to be surprised. I just picked up the cola, muttered ‘keep the change’ and ran back towards the cathedral. Rosie was standing in the middle of the ink pool by now and she just stared at me with blank incomprehension. I twisted the cap off of the bottle, it fizzed and sprayed everywhere. Grimacing, I poured the rest of it into a nearby drain and rushed over to the ink pool.

With a lot of effort, I used the lid to scoop as much ink into the bottle as possible. My jacket was soaked with cola and it looked like I’d just been fingerprinted a hundred times but, in a few minutes, the bottle was half full. I flashed a grin at Rosie and said: ‘Come on!’

‘These shoes are ruined.’ She sighed.

‘Oh shit, I’m sorry – I’ll buy you another pair. They weren’t designer were they?’ I facepalmed, what an idiot I’d been.

‘No, I mean, they’re old shoes. They aren’t waterproof. My feet are soaked!’ She muttered as she splashed her way through the ink pool. ‘Why did you take some of the ink anyway? We can’t really test it in a lab or anything. Unless you were a chemistry student?’

I shook my head and said: ‘If we saw a reflection of the real world in the ink. Then maybe we can use it to see other parts of the real world too? Maybe it’s even possible to send a message there?’

‘Why would you want to? This place is a lot more interesting than… there.’

‘Well, I want to get back. I mean, if the universe is bleeding out – maybe if we dropped a message into the ink, it might come out the other side?’

Rosie roared with laughter, it caught me totally by surprise. I nearly dropped the bottle. It sloshed around heavily and I almost dropped it again. Yes, dropping messages into the ink sounded absurd, but it was worth trying anything. Eventually, Rosie turned to me and said: ‘Ok, you’re serious? Where are we going to do this, we can’t go back into The Caffe Noire covered in ink again.’

‘Ok, my place then. It’s only a couple of minutes away.’ I said as Rosie took off her shoes again, although she still left an ink trail behind her.

When I saw my house, there was someone standing outside the door. It was the man who had hired me.

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