Art by Norman E. Masters
shimmering... radiating out
from where the third eye would be..."
Despite the thickness of the glass, it shattered quite easily.
I had not even *touched* it! That was the really strange thing about the circumstance. Was my visage *that* ugly that just reflecting it back upon me could *shatter* a door-sized mirror that was at least an inch thick?!
The shards of thick glass fell in slow motion at but a fraction the speed of normal gravitational pull. My startled visage reflected back at me, simultaneously, in more than a hundred triangular falling mirrors, my gaping mouth, my widening eyes... The dull dark grayness of the backsides of the fragments rotated around at different rates, almost like in freefall, alternating with my changing-to-puzzled face winkling into view again, views shifting from shard to shard -- from front to right to left profiles.
They tinkled like glass chimes as they slowly *tink*-*tink*-*tink*-*tink*ed against the solid glass floor -- rebounding up a bit to *tink* again -- a different vibrato with the varying size of the shards, finally clittering to stillness.
Behind the first mirror of what I had thought to be the entrance to this gigantic transparent dome -- enclosing what appeared to be a fairy-like city that seemed to be shaped entirely of intricate filigrees of translucent glass -- or some similar material -- was a second door-sized mirror.
Then I wondered if it was a mirror at all, for the reflection in it was subtly different than my own. But when I extended my right hand to touch it, the reflection mirrored that movement back at me. The face was a caricature of my own, more elongated, rather droll looking. But -- there were only three fingers on that hand -- and a thumb on each side!
The face in the mirror registered the same puzzled frown I suspected was on my own.
A kind of funhouse mirror, then, I decided. But how did they manage to turn my little finger into a *thumb*?!
I reached further, intent on touching it, with a notion towards running my palm over its surface to see if I could discern any concavity or convexity to it.
I was still a good inch away from it when I heard a sharp *ping*! I jerked my hand back and retreated a couple quick steps when I saw the cracks radiating through the mirror as it, too, began falling in slow motion before me.
And about two feet further was a third. But the face staring back at me from that one was utterly unlike my own.
I jumped back another couple feet -- the alienness of the face being so unexpected, and so *very* different; it jumped back, too!
"Hey! How'd you get there so suddenly?"
Its mouth lip-synched with my words.
This one must be clear glass, I thought, and not a mirror. Obviously it was mimicing me. But *how* -- so utterly simultaneously?!
It had very large eyes -- cat-like. Almost a silvery sheen to its skin. Smooth, no hair, a far more elongated face than my own.
I raised my right hand in a palm outward sign of peaceful greeting. The mirror hand raised similarly -- except it had an extra finger and the thumb was on the opposite side to my own.
"I don't suppose you speak English?" I ventured, tentatively. Its lips syncced the words, still mimicing me.
"I come in peace... I didn't mean to break your mirror -- *if* I'm the one who broke it..." Still -- the mimicing lip-synch. I was beginning to feel kind of foolish, now. Was it mocking me? Had *it* broken the mirror -- from behind?
Then I noticed, around its feet, the mirror-image shards of the two shattered mirrors -- reflecting my *own* body & visage -- indicating that it was another mirror I was standing before, afterall! I reached down and picked up the largest -- just ahead of my left foot and turned it towards its face. *Both* shards -- that in my own right hand and that in the alien's left hand -- reflected *my* face.
Hmmmm... How could that be? I should be getting a reflection of *it's* face, once I turned the shard far enough...
In the fourth mirror the fourth face had eyes twice the size of my own -- and more to the side of the head, just above where cheekbones normally are. The lids closed more like the spiraling of a camera shutter. And the eyes could protrude further from or retract into their orbits -- perhaps with an ability to magnify or reduce the visual image. The ears were more like a convoluted shell in shape and there were tiny worm-like tentacles around the mouth. Hairless, still -- but the top of the head crested up the middle with a six-inch comb. I saw a kind of wave of some kind of energy exchange shimmering between the nodes at the top of the comb, starting near the back, moving to the front then radiating out from where the third eye would be -- zapping the mirror into shattering shards.
Remember? This is the Mirror of Time, came the thought, unbidden, to my mind.
The mirrors kept breaking; the faces reflected in them kept changing. I whirled around, more than once, sensing a Presence behind me, peering over my shoulder -- thinking maybe *that* was the face I was seeing. But no one was ever there.
The shards of the first mirror were disappearing, much like dry ice.
The images in the mirrors were getting more and more bizarre -- utterly unrelated to my own. And yet -- there was still an ongoing (increasingly grotesque) mimicry of my own movements...
A flattened pancake with eyestalks and hundreds of centipede-like legs and four arms with octopoid suckers on them.
A brain -- with dozens of eyes and pseudopods.
With the shattering of *that* mirror I was able to see a rainbow beam of light flashing from my own third eye locus that was begetting the shattering.
In the next mirror was a whirling radiant globe of light trailing streamers that somehow inversely reflected my own disbelief. Then -- strange transferance! -- I was the whirling globe of light seeing with senses I have no words to describe -- this utterly alien & humanly-monstrous primitive form before me on the other side of the Mirror of Time. Then -- the bizarre realization that *once* I had incarnated into *that* restrictive flesh -- before the fullness of the becoming had progressed thru the eons of metamorphosis!
Then I was back into the body I was familiar with, reaching out in wonderment towards that whirling star, and this time I was actually able to *touch* the Mirror of Time, cold as ice, and it rippled -- like water, melting... Hundreds of images reflected each other in the ripples, morphing the mysteries of time and incarnation...
Art by Norman E. Masters