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Official website of Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Carol Hightshoe
Life in the Shadows
The sorceress paused as she passed through the mirrored hallway. Strange, she thought, glancing at her reflection. I’ve never noticed this before. On the wall behind her was a polished silver plate. With the mirror in front of her reflecting not only her image but also the one in the plate, the illusion of several versions of herself standing there was created.
As she watched, one of those images changed. Instead of her normal long black hair, this version had short red hair framing her heart shaped face. The clear violet eyes were the same and the silver shadowsilk gown still flowed over the same curves.
Desana blinked her eyes several times to clear the vision from her head. A flash of light reflecting from the mirror caused her to shut her eyes tightly.
Desana opened her eyes to find herself surrounded by a white wall covered with black runes. A loud tapping, like a thousand woodpeckers hitting the wall at the exact same time, filled her ears. The loudness of the tapping assaulted her senses and she fell to the ground. As the sound continued, she felt pressure building in her head, until it threatened to burst. A scream tore from her throat as she found herself sitting up in her bed.
“A dream? It was all just a dream?” she asked herself. Getting up she walked to her mirror to brush her hair, and stopped. The image that faced her had short red hair.
Desana dressed and hurried to her workroom. Her familiar, a small silver dragon, greeted her at the door. :Good morning, Misstresss. You sseem disstresssed thiss morning. What iss amisss? The dragon watched her closely; his blue eyes wide with concern as he sent his thoughts.
“Good morning, Shesssian. Surely, you can see what is wrong. Look at my hair.”
:Your hair lookss jusst ass it alwayss hass.
Desana looked down at Shesssian and frowned. “Really, and what color is it?”
:It iss the color of fire. It framess your face in the flamess of passsion.
“Prior to this morning, my hair has always been long and black. You once described it as a strand of midnight.” Desana began pacing the room.
:Honesstly, Misstresss, I do not remember that. Shesssian hopped up onto the worktable with a soft flutter of his wings.
“By the Lords of Chaos, the very fabric of reality has been altered. But, why didn’t it alter my memories? Why do I still remember my hair being black? More importantly, what else has been changed that I don’t know about?”
Desana walked over to one of her cluttered shelves and passed her hands over a large crystal ball. The sphere rose several inches off the shelf and hovered in front of the sorceress. Placing one hand an inch under the ball and the other an inch over, she guided the globe over to a silver stand on the worktable.
The globe settled gently onto the stand and flashed brightly. Desana passed her hands over the scrying crystal and spoke in a low murmuring voice. Inside the sphere, a rainbow of colors swirled. The colors slowly merged into a white paper, which floated in the globe. As she watched, Desana saw black marks appearing on the paper accompanied by the tapping from her dream.
:What doess it mean? Shesssian asked.
“I don’t know. I saw something similar to this in a dream last night.” As she spoke, the tapping became louder. Desana began a series of complex gestures, and a shimmering surrounded her and Shesssian.
The sphere of protection created a reflective surface inside its walls and Desana again found herself studying an illusion created by reflections within reflections. After several minutes, the tapping stopped and she dismissed the shimmering ball.
Desana watched the reflected images fade, and frowned.
“Shesssian, you’ve walked on other planes of reality. Are there any that are like ours, but different?”
:Yess, each time we make a decission that hass multiple optionss, ssomewhere another verssion of uss takess one of thosse other optionss. In ssome wayss each iss only a sshadow of the otherss.
“This is starting to make sense. In my dreaming last night, I must have stepped onto a crossroad of those realities. Somehow, details from this reality were transposed with those from another.” Desana picked up the scrying crystal and carried it back to the shelf. Before she could return it to its normal place, the tapping began again, and she dropped the globe, shattering it.
Turning, she watched as Shesssian faded from view, to be replaced by a black unicorn standing next to the table.
The unicorn nodded his head, dipping a silver horn in acknowledgment.
~ * ~
“Karlie, did you get those changes I requested done?”
“Yes, Brian. Desana is now a redhead and instead of a miniature dragon for a familiar, she has a unicorn. I don’t understand why you wanted the changes though.”
“Oh, come on. All your heroines lately have had long black hair and all your sorcerers and sorceress’s have had some kind of dragon as a familiar. It was long past time for a change.”
“All right. Here you go.” Karlie picked up the manuscript for her latest novel, Life in the Shadows, and handed it to her editor.
As Brian left the room, Karlie glanced at the dragon picture hanging next to the door, and saw herself reflected in its mirrored surface. This imagine also reflected the one from the mirror behind her, creating an infinite number of Karlies staring at her. Outside, a woodpecker began his rhythmic tapping.