CRYSTAL BOXES AND MIRRORS

Khamet dreamt of the Roadscholar, the Bandersnatch, the Jubjub and a quiet eternal darkness that held him complete and continually suffocating. In the dream the Roadscholar thanked him for being so polite and told him not to worry about getting him out anytime soon, he would wait patiently for a rescue.

The next morning Khamet found the fire snuffed and his brother gone. Rather than wait around to find out where he was, Khamet began wandering through the forest. The ground seemed to have an odd texture he hadn’t noticed the night before. It was mushy, with an organic feel like the skin of overripe fruit. The further he went the spongier it seemed to become and the sound of a stream somewhere ahead drew him forward.

The noise of the stream echoed all around him and as it grew, he began to get confused as to which direction the sound was coming from. He continued on in the direction he believed it was and still the sound grew. It sounded as if it was all around and he suddenly felt very tired and confused. The ground was particularly mushy now and every so often he would shake out his paws. He didn’t like the watery damp feeling very much.

Khamet’s head began to throb and he wasn’t certain from which direction he had approached. There was no road and all the trees looked the same. The sound seemed to be emanating from everywhere in the forest. It moved all around and through him filling his head completely. The spongy wet ground he didn’t like the feeling of was beginning to look welcoming. He leaned against the base of a tree and slowly allowed his body to slip to the ground as the sound of water continued to fill has head. It was all consuming and he felt himself relax with it. He released a long purr and allowed his eyes to close for a nap.

Khamet awoke to the light jostling of being carried. Furry arms held him securely and he shifted a bit to look down. The forest was moving fast with the sound of the stream growing faint in his ears. He turned and saw a giant version of himself looking straight ahead and running through the forest. “Hello,” he called to his brother who was six times his normal size and had what looked like leaves stuffed in his ears.

Khamet squirmed and the giant cat looked down, “Oh thank rublick you’re awake,” he said. He stopped and set Khamet on the ground. His brother took a small bit of a cookie and instantly shrunk to his normal size.

“What happened?” Khamet asked looking around.

“What do you mean what happened? I went to find some breakfast and I find you laid out in the Delirium.”

“The what?”

“The Delirium. Let me guess, you were listening to or following the sound of a river or waterfall?”

“Yes and it got loud and confusing and I… think I passed out.”

“Oh that’s what did it? People don’t often pass out. That’s probably what saved you.”

“Saved me from what?”

“The Delirium. The forest amplifies whatever your ear can pick up until you are so overcome with confusion that you wander aimlessly until you end up in a sinkpit and…”

“And?”

“And nothing, the ground consumes you. You passed out so you couldn’t fall into a trap. It isn’t the trees that are dangerous, at least not in the Delirium. Come on I am taking you to a mirror before anything else happens, I can’t afford to lose you. If you die here I’ll be stuck. You need to get back so you can die some more.”

Khamet looked at his brother.

“We are connected. I have not seen this very much. I haven’t seen it at all actually. Honestly once you get back through you can do what you wish. I’m trying to figure it out, but I know I can’t go back because I have no body there.”

“Well I might have that problem as well.” Khamet said.

“Why?” Khamet’s brother looked worried.

“I had a dream last night I was locked in a place I couldn’t get out of, like a hole or something. I was suffocating.”

“We’ll soon find out.”

They reached the edge of the forest. Khamet could see a simple looking peach colored house across a wide expanse of purple grass. The house looked new. Khamet had never seen anything like it. The walls were different colors and solid with round curves that bulged like fruit. It was very different from the walls and structures where he came from.

“Wait here for a moment. I need to see who’s about,” His brother said.

Khamet watched his brother approach the house. He knocked on the door then opened it and went inside. After a moment he reappeared and motioned him forward.

“The rabbit is not home,” he said.

Khamet moved into the house that was covered from top to bottom with the most curious objects he had ever seen. Miniature figures of people like the people in Yonderland, but they were so lifelike and they had such amazing colors. Statues, bowls, countless trinkets and he had no idea what they were. The entire floor was covered with animal skin, or perhaps it was not skin, but some sort of woven thing that looked like skin.

Khamet was still strolling around looking in amazement at everything, when a head poked out of one of the passages, “Will you come on.”

Khamet moved through the massive room too an enormous hall that stretched so far away that both of which were far too large for the house itself. He turned in the first door where he saw his brother. There were two large beds in the room and Khamet saw another cat that looked just like his brother. Just as he entered, another cat that looked just like him entered on the opposite end. Khamet froze and instinctively hissed at the other cat that hissed back at him. His hairs went up and he froze just as the other cat did. It was a challenge.

“Hey.” His brother said.

“Who are they?”

“They, are us you chumper.” Khamet’s brother rolled his eyes.

“What?”

“That’s the mirror.” he said pointing.

Khamet saw the reflection point as well and he jumped, then he jumped again as he saw his own reflection jump. “Wow!” he exclaimed dropping down and creeping ahead nervously as the reflection did the same. Never before had he seen so clear a reflection. Back in the palace polished brass gave everything a golden hue, but this was amazing. Khamet looked around the room. “What’s that?” he pointed to an odd shaped object on a high table.

“A Crystal Box, they are very rare. Oh, want to see how it works? It will only take a moment.” He leapt onto the high table and touched the face of it. “Delirium,” he said.

A light came on and a picture came up on the face. The picture was of the very forest they had just been in. Beneath it were several words.

“It tells about the place, everything I said to you, but I can’t read them.”

Khamet leapt up onto the high table and looked at the face. “The Delirium is a very dangerous area of Heere. One of the last areas to be named by the Roadscholar, the Delirium is rumored to be located near the Bandersnatch nest. There also have been speculations that the Bandersnatch nest resides in the Delirium, therefore, any loved ones lost will indeed remain that way. The Delirium causes disorientation by…”

“How can you read that!” his brother said with no little bit of jealousy.

Khamet looked at the screen, “I don’t know.”

Khamet’s brother looked suspicious, “Jubjub,” he commanded. A picture came up on the screen of a horrible looking creature that Khamet had only seen in a terrified flash. His brother smiled and motioned him to the screen.

Khamet looked and began, “The Jubjub is one of the most dangerous creatures in all of Heere. Second only to the caterwaul, its mobility is what makes it a true terror. The Jubjub eats virtually anything it can get in its beak…”

“Okay that’s enough. Let’s get you back.” He leapt down from the desk.

“caterwaul.” Khamet said, but nothing happened. “It’s not working.”

“Oh its working. It’s not working for you.”

“Why?”

His brother let out a frustrated sigh. “Because you aren’t really here. There’s proof for you. You have a body to go back to.”

Khamet looked down.

His brother smiled, “caterwaul!” he called out.

Khamet turned around. The picture on the screen was so terrifying he screamed and fell backwards, lost his footing and toppled off the desk. He landed on his feet beside his brother.

“Hey,” his brother called out. “OFF!!!” the screen went black.

“What was that?”

“That was a caterwaul brother. You don’t want to meet them.”

“What do you mean I’m not here?”

“Not everything is clear to you yet. When you are Heere, everything will be and don’t go asking me why because I don’t know. You should have asked your friend the Roadscholar before you abandoned him.”

Khamet had a feeling that the Roadscholar was fine and he didn’t have anything to worry about.

“Your body is through there,” he motioned to the mirror.

“Wait, I don’t want to go back.”

“You have to go back.”

“Why? Why can’t I stay for a little while?”

“Okay two reasons. The longer you stay, the more Heere will turn against you. Like the Delirium. I don’t know how you wandered so far without getting caught. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get to you.”

“I just got up and started looking around. How did I go so far?”

“It probably just drew you in. Over the next few days everything will be turning against you. And I can’t let you die here because I will be stuck here forever.”

“Are you here?”

“Yes and no. I am more here than you because I am waiting. I don’t have a body to go back to. It’s almost as if certain things don’t even see me. If I were standing in that field, the Bandersnatch wouldn’t even acknowledge me. This could be because I don’t have a name either. It’s all relative, but we can’t waste time. Until you die naturally in Yonderland, that’s what they call it where you come from.”

“I know, the Roadscholar told me.”

“Right. Anyway,” he moved towards the glass and waited.

Khamet moved towards the mirror. The room began to darken and fade as he approached, as well as his reflection. He stopped moving forward looking shocked. “I’m not there.”

“Of course you are not, because you already are there, not Heere for there is nothing of you to reflect as far as mirrors are concerned.” He stopped, “Or do I have that reversed? It’s not important…”

“Are you sure about this?” Khamet asked.

“Look I will be waiting for you. Besides if its anything like you said you will be right back and we can get going.”

Khamet was beginning to feel that his brother wasn’t telling him everything, but he would find a way back through on his own if need be. “What do I do now?”

“Just keep walking forward. Walk right into the glass.”

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