Chapter Twenty Three – Carbon Copy

1 Aug

We didn’t know where to look. If the man who hired me could cross over between this version of the town and the real world as well as being able to appear in people’s dreams, then he would probably be long gone by now. I almost froze with deep cringing awkwardness. Why didn’t I ask him how he did it? Dammit! I am so stupid! Rosie turned to me and was about to ask what was wrong before stopping suddenly.

Finally, she said: ‘We’ll find him, or whoever he’s working for’ before putting her hand on my shoulder.

I just nodded and kept cringing. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t think to ask him about it. But, that was it, I wasn’t even a real detective. I’d never really questioned anyone in my life. I just found out of print books and the occasional discontinued board game for people. Most of the time, it just involved looking round all the second-hand bookshops and trawling the internet. I suddenly realised that I really wasn’t cut out for any of this stuff. Still, Rosie obviously thought that I was a private investigator and, awkward as that was, it made me feel slightly better about the whole situation.

I got up and walked over to the table. The ink in the petri dish had settled and it showed a fairly clear reflection of the ceiling. Fumbling around in the cabinet next to the TV, I found an old hand mirror which had been in there ever since we’d all arrived at the house a year ago. Although it was hardly the strangest thing we’d found when we arrived. That honour had to go to the old magazine beneath the cabinet with an in-depth analysis of the politics of the USSR, following “the recent appointment of Mikhail Gorbachev”. I think that Jake had nicked it sometime between when we found it and about five minutes later. None of us had ever seen it again.

Opening the curtains, I looked out at the row of shops in the distance. Every roof was at a different angle and there was a man in what I can only describe as a clown costume dancing in front of one. Holding the mirror over the petri dish and angling it slightly, I was able to see the street’s reflection. It looked wonderfully regular, humdrum and ordinary.

Rosie walked over to me and took a look before shrugging and saying “Boring. It hasn’t changed a bit since I was there.’

I glared at her before rattling my way through one of the cupboards until I found one of my old bowls. Reaching for one of the bottles, I filled it with the ink and beckoned for Rosie to follow me. After stopping off in my room for a pen and paper, I scribbled a quick SOS message onto it before placing the bowl outside the front door and dropping the message into it.

It just floated there for a few seconds before I saw something flash across the bowl. For a second, I didn’t know what it was, but it looked a lot like a scrap of paper blowing away in the wind. Just to be sure, I crumpled up another piece of paper and dropped it into the bowl. Again, it just floated there whilst a white ball fluttered across the reflection in the ink. Rosie gasped.

An evil grin crossed my face and I said ‘ Ready to freak someone out?’

Rosie just raised an eyebrow as I picked the bowl up and walked into the middle of the empty street. Rosie stood behind me and leant over my shoulder. Tilting the bowl slightly slightly, I could see a bald guy in an England shirt walking towards us in the distance. I dipped my fingers into the bowl and left them there. It was slightly warm. The ink rippled for a few seconds, but when it settled, I could see the back of a football shirt and a pair of flailing arms receding quickly into the distance.

I nearly dropped the bowl as I shouted ‘Ha! I’ve found a way back!’

Rosie sighed and said ‘We’re going to need a lot more ink if you’re going to jump into it. And, just look at the paper. It’s still there even though it flew away in the other universe. If anything, the ink just makes a copy of something in the other universe. Just take a look in the mirror at the street where you were standing.’

Puzzled, I walked back into the house and got the hand mirror before joining Rosie again. Positioning it carefully, I could see the whole street. There was something small on the ground. Crouching down and angling the mirror steeply over the bowl, I was just about able to get a closer look.

There were five severed fingers lying on the pavement.

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