Chapter 16

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Dyson hadn't used the mirrors to travel in a while and it hadn't even crossed his mind that his new ability might also affect the way he saw the Inbetween. Usually he was holding his breath, keeping his eyes shut tightly. But just this once he blinked for the briefest of seconds after walking through and it changed everything.

He still remembered the first time Alaya had dragged him through as if it had been yesterday. She had bound his hand to hers with a tight rope, knowing that if he were to try and bolt or get lost, she could always pull him with her since she was the stronger of the two of them. It felt impossible to picture a world of gateways within a mirror. Even after everything he had experienced and seen to this point, he wasn't so foolish as to think that his human brain could comprehend what he was about to face.

Alaya had given him instructions before they stepped through and he followed them to the t, but that didn't stop him from noticing the warm brightness targeting him even through closed eyes. It felt exactly like one of those rare sunny days that were neither too hot nor too cold. Next, a fresh ocean breeze hit him while he could have sworn he was walking on sand. That's when he made the mistake of letting his curiosity win just to get a single glimpse of what was out there.

When he noticed his body drifting towards the scene in front of him, he knew he couldn't trust what he saw. He knew with a certainty that it couldn't possibly exist, but he still wanted it to be real with every fibre of his being. Because right there was Kasia on the porch of their house next to a beach. The same house he had known he couldn't afford but had still hired a realtor for, to show to Kasia what he envisioned for their future. And right then, she looked so lovely and happy in the evening sun. She had set a table outside, not just for them but also two squirming kids that couldn't have been a more perfect mix of himself and Kasia. His heart was about ready to burst with love for the two creatures he only just got a glance of and still felt like they had been part of him forever. He wanted to stay there, be with them and just live.

While a small voice at the back of his head screamed for him to run the other way, that it was all a trap, his body was more than willing to ignorantly run straight into his blissful demise. Yet, that was the moment he felt a hard tug and was shaken out of his trance just to see Kasia's face turn to an unnatural snare. He landed hard on the floor of Alaya's very own mirror room the next moment, having escaped thanks to the rope. There were tears in his eyes that he didn't care to hide, but no one ever asked him what he had seen in the Inbetween. It wasn't something people talked about. Instead, they cherished it and kept it close to their hearts, knowing it was their most private wishes and dreams come true, or in some cases their nightmares confirmed.

Dyson hadn't dared look again ever since, afraid the Inbetween would not let him go so easily a second time. But now, seeing it again after such a long time, it couldn't have ensnared him no matter what it threw at him. Contrary to his first encounter, there were no lovely images or sweet smells to distract him, all he could see were pathways of glorious light in colours he had never seen before and wouldn't ever be able to describe. Other than with Velcrys, he noticed that there wasn't a single power at play, but several interwoven mechanisms that had their own task but first and foremost to keep anyone from reaching their intended destination. Despite seeing different doorways to what he could only imagine were a multitude of different worlds, the light crowded in front of the door that he knew was his. He was worried that even though he could now see what was happening, he still wouldn't be immune to the touch of it, but nothing happened when he got closer. Maybe it could only swallow up the people caught in their own trance?

The Inbetween was a strange world. You always ended up exactly where you wanted to if you made it through, but Dyson had never before realised that he could also go searching for specific doors, probably because he could never see them before. It was all a trick of the mind, you walked straight forward with your eyes closed and came out exactly where you were supposed to. Still, the thought that he could escape to Earth through something as simple as a mirror seemed almost too easy now. There were of course more factors to consider, especially if mirrors at his home planet were even susceptible to the magic of the Inbetween, but the idea didn't let go of him. Before stepping through to the familiar room at the City Hall, he took one last glance at the Inbetween, noticing that the light had slightly dispersed and occupied a second doorway and a plan formed in his head.

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