The falling stopped, like someone had flipped the switch on physics. An unseen force tipped Bert and his companion upright and he floated onto his feet. He looked down and stars glinted harmlessly back at him. He was standing on air.
The girl tittered, stepping out in front of him and slipping her hand in his, tugging him along. “Not much farther now. The fall’s the worst of it,” she babbled in a bubbly girly pitch, smiling as they walked; the dim light from the stars reflected off her bluish teeth, the same glow that matched her outline.
They walked a few yards until she stopped suddenly, Bert smacking into her from behind. He muttered his apology, but she made no motion that she had heard him. She simply reached out, grabbed a silver doorknob that wasn’t there before, turned and kept going. Something emitted a creaking sound like an aged door, although there was no outline of a frame in front of them.
“I can’t wait for you to meet everybody,” the girl said, throwing a glance over her shoulder as if making sure he was keeping up. “We haven’t had a guest in so long! The mirrors have rejected everyone else. But you’re the one, and today’s the day! I knew I had a good feeling about you. Hooray!”
“You make it sound like this has happened before. Or maybe there’s a prophecy about people falling through mirrors on this… side…?” The words felt foreign on his tongue as he spoke them. Bert couldn’t shake the feeling that he was in a video game, or some high-budget reality television show that’s oh-so popular these days.
“If I start explaining things now, you’re just gonna get lost and it’s gonna sound like I’m telling a story,” the girl replied matter-of-factly, reaching out again and turning a golden doorknob out of nowhere in the opposite direction as the one previous, “so I’ll wait until we get there, until you take it all in, before we start unraveling the events which lead up to me holding your hand. It’s all rather complicated.”
“Well, while we’re in transit, can I ask questions?”
The girl shrugged. “Sure, just basic ones though.”
“Better than nothing. How far off is this place? What’s the place called? What’s your name? Do you know who I am?”
“Wow. You’ve been holding those in, huh?” She chuckled softly, covering her mouth with her hand before reaching out, gripping a copper doorknob and turning it about-face. “Okay. The place is only a few feet off now, it’s called Shadowton, my name’s Skia, and of course I know who you are. I’ve been watching you since you were little! You’ve had that mirror for quite a long time, you know.”
“Can you only see through my bathroom mirror? Do you watch me when I pee? That’d be borderline voyeurism. Gross.”
Skia laughed, a sound like wind chimes. “No, I can see through all the mirrors in your house. And no, I don’t watch that. Humans are so weird, with their bodily functions.”
“Did you fall through a mirror too? Were you a human before you fell through? Were you like me once?”
This time Skia wasn’t so quick to explain. She fell silent and stopped in her tracks, taking a step back so that she and Bert were shoulder-to-shoulder and gestured in front of them. Bert’s eyes widened.
He watched as the whole city unfurled in front of them. Buildings shot up from nothing, the area above was painted a breathtaking sky blue, hover cars honked and vroomed on the street that was rolled out like the red carpet. Pieces of interstate loomed and jutted outward and upward, looping around glass skyscrapers like roller coaster track. Sidewalk popped up underneath their feet, as well as an inverted blue stop sign off to their left.
Skia turned to him, wide grin breaking across her face, dimples bracketing her mouth. “Welcome to Shadowton, Inverse Capital of the World.”