run

The lights flickered, the woman looked up at the foggy mirror in her bathroom and it just said one word, "RUN"


Her looks belied her age.

The young woman looked somewhere in her mid twenties and but she was a lot older on the inside. She'd moved to the city a few years back from a far away place and had picked up a job at a call centre as an insurance salesperson. She had always been good at talking and making people feel good about themselves, she figured she might as well put that skill to good use. Pretty soon she’d become one of the top grossers of the company. Her skills at talking had also helped her make a fair few friends. Something she’d never had before.

Some of those friends were the partying sort and they'd helped her get acquainted with the joys of the night life including alcohol. It was on one such night that she returned home late and slightly tipsy. It was well past midnight and her apartment was on the fifteenth floor of a high rise. It wasn't a large apartment. It was the best she could afford on her salary and it was definitely bigger than her previous accommodations. She exited the elevator and got till her door. The plaque outside said,  

“15-H Mirani Olsen”

The key slot had quite a few scratches around it from the numerous times she'd returned home in a similar state and the short distance between the key and the slot had proven to be too tricky to travel. That night was no different. It took her nearly five attempts to nail the target. Her brain gave a triumphant hurrah when she finally succeeded in accomplishing that mundane task.

Her small apartment welcomed her. It had a small dining and living room with an attached bedroom and a bath. It wasn't much to look at but it had a great view of the city from her balcony. At night the entire city glittered like jewels at display in a Cartier showroom and she liked the view from the height. It reminded her of home, not the glittering skyline but the height.

She put her keys on the dining table and headed for the loo. She really needed to relieve herself. The pub she had visited with her friends was great but she couldn't say the same about their facilities.

Once she'd answered the call of nature she figured it was time to turn in for the night. She picked up her toothbrush, applied some toothpaste and was about to brush her teeth when the lights in bathroom flickered. When they steadied, her mirror had turned foggy. The mirror in her bathroom was surprisingly large. It looked like it belonged in a Victorian mansion. It was her most prized possession. As she stared at the fogged up mirror she could read three letters written on it by an invisible hand.

“RUN”

Her heart began to race. All thoughts exited her mind and all she was left with was an unimaginable sense of terror. She held onto the basin and took a few deep breaths to calm herself down. She hadn’t expected to be found this soon but it had happened. Mirani remembered the gun she carried in her handbag for her personal safety which was lying on the table in her living room. She ran out to get to it but she was a few seconds too late. Just as she was about to reach the table she heard the outer door creak. It sounded like the hull of a submarine buckling under the weight of the entire ocean and then it gave way. The entire door came off its hinges and fell to the ground with a loud thud.

A tall woman stepped into the partially lit apartment. Mirani was just a few feet away from her purse but she stood in her place rooted by fear.

The tall slender woman stepped into the light. Mirani could see her a lot better now. The intruder was dressed in sleek black dress with a black coat on top and hat that slightly obscured her features but Mirani could see that the intruder had a grace and poise as if she had been raised in an aristocratic family. The tall woman was stunningly beautiful and she seemed aware of it. She had features so sharp that they almost cut through the air as she walked up to her. As she approached Mirani she spoke,

“Where is it, thief?”

“Where's what?” Mirani asked as she slowly backed away from the tall woman.

“The mirror, where is it?” The tall intruder demanded.

“Mirror? Look, lady I've no idea what you're talking about. I think you've got the wrong house. I didn't steal anyone's mirror.” Mirani stammered in fear.

“Don't lie to me. It took me a long time to track it down. I know it's here. I can sense it.”

The tall woman stepped closer and stared at Mirani.

“Wait a second, I know you. I've seen you before.”

“What?”

“Yes, I do know you. You were part of the moving crew when I moved to the city. I saw you lurking around the mansion. Now I’m certain you've taken it.”

Saying that she grabbed the young woman by her throat and lifted her right off her feet.

“Tell me where it is.”

Mirani was trying to breathe. Knowing there was no other way out she pointed towards the bathroom with her eyes. The tall woman dropped her to the floor and made her way to where Mirani had pointed. As the tall intruder entered the bathroom, the young woman quickly picked herself up and ran to the table to get the gun from her purse. She also got her cellphone to call the police.

She checked to make sure that the gun was loaded and cautiously made her way towards the washroom. As she reached there she saw the tall woman mumbling something lovingly to the large mirror standing in the bathroom next to the bathtub.

“I see it was trying to warn you.” The tall woman said as she wiped the letters off the mirror.

“Look lady, you better leave,” Mirani said as she shakingly pointed the gun at the intruder, “I’ve already called the police and they’re going to be here any time now.”

The tall woman scoffed at her.

“I’m not leaving without what’s mine.”

“What’s yours? That mirror doesn’t belong to you. You took it from your teacher after you killed him in his sleep. There’s no way I’m letting you take that.”

The tall woman’s face darkened.

“Who told you that?”

“Who do you think?”

“So you did steal it from my house.” The tall woman said triumphantly.

“Actually no. I bought it from an antique store. But that mirror of yours really likes to gossip, Lucille.” Mirani replied snarkily.

“How dare you call me by my name. I’m Queen Grimhilde. You’ll address me as your highness.”

“You’re no one's highness anymore, not in this world.” Mirani said as she raised the gun.

Queen Grimhilde removed an ornate dagger from inside her coat.

“You really think you’re going to scare me with a knife. I have a gun and I will use it.” The young woman was trying to look brave but her voice betrayed her.

“You won’t use that. You’ve never used that. I know a killer when I see one. After all it takes one to know one.” Lucille stepped towards the young woman menacingly.

The young woman tried stepping back but she didn’t have enough room to manoeuvre inside the washroom and she tripped on a towel lying on the floor and the gun went off with a deafening bang. Lucille ducked as the bullet ricochet around the bathroom and eventually hit something. The queen of a distant land got up, straightened her dress and smiled coldly at the young woman who was still on the floor trying to recover her senses.

“Huh, so much for your threat.” She said as she stepped towards Mirani with the dagger.

As she stepped closer, Lucille heard a cracking sound coming from behind her. She turned around to see where the sound was coming from and saw the final destination of that start bullet.

It was the mirror.

As she looked on, the crack on the glass, where the bullet had impacted, slowly began to spread and right before her eyes her prized possession shattered into a million pieces. A look of horror spread across her face. She fell to her knees trying to see if she could piece the mirror back together but it was in worse shape than the egg that had fallen off the wall.

“Noooooo.” Lucille screamed.

She got up and she turned around to face the thief. Mirani had by then gotten up and was trying to make her way out of the washroom. Lucille saw her trying to get away and she lunged at her. Mirani made a dash towards the door but Lucille was able to grab her ankle. The young woman fell. Her upper body was in the corridor while her lower half was trying to escape the evil queen. She kicked out blindly and felt her heel contact something. She heard a scream as Lucille let go of her legs. Mirani scrambled to her feet and in her scramble left the gun on the floor. She was in half a mind to bend down and grab it when she saw a tall figure rise in front of her. Queen Grimhilde looked mad with rage. A murderous look in her eyes and her nose bleeding from where Mirani’s heel had contacted it. She had the dagger in her hand and she rushed her. Mirani tried to avoid her but the corridor was too narrow to do that and the two women went down in a heap of flailing arms and legs. Mirani was on the bottom while Lucille was trying to pin her. Mirani grabbed the queen’s arms in a desperate bid to prevent her from ripping her insides out but the tall woman was freakishly strong as she’d already demonstrated when she’d picked up the young woman off her feet. Slowly and steadily Mirani could see herself losing. She summoned up all of her remaining strength and gave one last push and managed to throw her majesty off her.

She got up and ran into the living room and then she felt a sharp stabbing pain in her back. She looked down and see the tip of the dagger sticking out of her shirt. A red stain slowly began to spread outwards from that point. She stumbled and turned around and saw the evil queen smile back her. Apparently not only was she freakishly strong but she pretty good at throwing knives as well. The young woman began to stumble towards the open balcony door. She went up to the balcony railing and slumped over and was still.

Lucille looked at the dead body with some satisfaction. Happy to have gotten her vengeance. She walked into the balcony to make sure the young woman was dead, to ensure that no one was alive to talk to the police as and when they arrived. From up there she could see the street below and there were no cops in sight. As she got closer and touched the prone figure, the figure suddenly moved and grabbed her. Queen Grimhilde, horrified, tried to get free from the young woman’s grip but she was stunned by how strong the young woman was. The young woman hadn't displayed such strength before. Mirani stood up and stared at her smiling just as the police sirens began to wail in the background. Lucille began to struggle harder as the cop car turned into their street when suddenly Mirani let go. Lucille stumbled backwards. She couldn’t understand what was going on.

Mirani leaned backwards over the balcony railing into the empty sky. She looked at Queen Grimhilde and smiled.

“You’re in trouble now.”

Saying that she threw herself off the balcony. Lucille tried to catch her but only ended up grabbing empty air. She looked down as the young woman’s body flipped through the air and hit the concrete pavement with a sickening splat just as the police vehicle came to a stop in front of the building. The cops got out and looked up and could see a small figure disappear into the apartment from where the body had emerged.

This night had not gone as planned. Lucille hadn’t gotten her mirror back and now she had killed someone. In this world she also had no magic so she couldn’t disappear either.

Queen Lucille Grimhilde had no choice but to run.


 

***

 

It had been two days since the death of Mirani Olsen. The police were still looking for the woman named Lucille Grimhilde. Mirani Olsen had been an orphan. With no living relatives, she was going to be cremated by the local morgue as per the instructions found in her apartment. The forensics doctor, who had performed the autopsy on the young woman, had decided to show up to make sure the young woman wasn’t cremated alone. The man in charge of the furnace turned it on, gave the doctor a nod and left.

The doctor nodded back and waited till the man had left and then coughed. The door behind her, which led to the storage, opened and Mirani Olsen stepped out looking good as new.

“Who did you cremate?” She asked the doctor.

“Some Jane Doe” the doctor answered ,“How do you feel?”

“A little sore. It was a pain trying to put myself back together again. I can imagine how poor Humpty must have felt after his fall.” She replied with a chuckle.

“I never thought your plan would actually work. It was risky trying to draw her out like that.”

“I needed to. I couldn't live on the run forever.”

“I just have one question. I saw the video recording from the CCTV camera in your apartment. How did you get the mirror to write on itself. There no magic in this world.”

“Oh, that was me. I wrote on it as the lights flickered. I had to make it look like this was the real thing and she bought it.” Mirani replied with a sly smile.

“I still can’t understand how you’re, you know..... you.”

The young woman thought about it for a while.

“I don’t know either. One minute I was in my frame looking at this new world and the next I was standing in front of it with a body and everything. Maybe in this world all magical objects just become human, who knows. I just know that at last I’m free of her. Once they catch her she’s going to be in prison for a very long time. Now she'll know what it’s like to be kept in a really cramped space.”

Mirani turned around to leave. The doctor turned to look at her.

“Hey, you still think I’m the fairest of them all.” She asked.

Mirani stared at the doctor, taking in the doctor’s soft beauty.

“Nah, I just said that to screw around with Queen Grimhilde.”

The doctor laughed as the young woman, who once wasn’t even human, left the building.

The doctor made her way back to her desk to pick up some files before she left for the day. The files were next to her placard which read

 

“Dr. S. White”

***