It was not that simple. These worlds grow complicated, the more we find. The more angles there are, the more degrees of separation. It is like turning a corner in a corridor in you dreams to find more corridors, more corners, stretching off into the distance as far as the eye can see. It is a bit like putting two mirrors facing each other so a multiplicity of reflections in each one snake off far into the distance.
Ashlyn did call it the Hall Of Mirrors, back when we we together. Since then, since we lost each other that time, I’ve found more mirrors., Thousands upon thousands of them, and more halls too. Each time I step through, I have no idea if I am moving towards Ashlyn or away from her. Or – even – if she is doing the same some worlds away from me. It is quite possible that we are only one mirror or two away from each other. Both endless chasing each other only a step or two behind.
All I know is I want to find her. Ashlyn too, is probably searching for me. If she is still alive, that is. For there are many dangers behind each mirror. Many worlds hold dangers and it is impossible to tell what lies beyond the reflection staring back at you before you step through the mirror into the new world.
At first we would sit and watch the mirrors, Ashlyn and I, trying to divine what world lay beyond each flat reflecting surface. Would it be a world of horrors, or some paradise where we could be together and free? Safe at last.
I never expected, when Ashlyn contacted me, out of the blue, that the job would turn out like this. We hadn’t seen each other since school, when she went off to university and I joined the army. A long time ago now.
There she was, a scientist with a secret and I was an unemployed freelance bodyguard.
‘I need some protection. I was browsing the websites and when I saw your name… your company… I couldn’t believe it.’ She shook her head, looking down into her coffee as she stirred. I remembered that, the way she stared into things and saw beyond what us more mundane folk could see. I’d often thought, since we said goodbye, that she could have easily been a poet as much as a scientist, if those things are not the same. She always used to say equations were beautiful, lying there in my bed.
‘You? Protection? Why?’ I could never be eloquent, especially around her.
‘I… I’ve found something,’ she said, looking up at me at last. ‘And… it goes beyond everything we – humankind – have ever known.’ She was silent. ‘And there are people out there who will kill to own it.’ She reached for my hand. ‘Will you protect me?’
‘Of course,’ I said. But now I’ve lost her and I’m to blame.