Her eyes opened to darkness as she sucked in a sharp breath, and began to cough from the sudden rush of air into her lungs. Her hands immediately went to the sides of the tube she was in. An eerie blue light turned on above her head and she had to blink. For a few moments she couldn’t make out anything. When her eyes adjusted she looked around frantically but whatever the contraption was, it was smooth and hopelessly flawless.
“Let me out!” She yelled and began to beat her arms and hands against the inside of the tube.
After a few panicked moments she felt herself calm, reason was overcoming mindless panic. She needed to remember, but who she was and where she was seemed beyond her reach. She began to focus on her breathing, start with something simple she told herself. She looked at her clothes and began to feel along her sides. She was wearing some sort of flowing dress, it was maroon. She lifted up one foot and could just make out a small shoe, which looked like a sock with padding on the bottom. The dress wasn’t actually a dress because it separated and ended in cuffs at her ankles.
She closed her eyes and concentrated, trying to force a memory to surface. A shadowed man reached out to her; there was water and something floating just beyond her vision. The image was fading as her head began to ache. Just as it was completely out of focus he turned back and reached for her, “Penelope.”
Her eyes shot open as there was a mechanical click and a slot in the perfectly smooth tube opened. Two metal bracelets clamped down on her wrists as a contraption came down and shoved a strange mask over her face. She tried to shake it off but it latched itself around her head. She sucked in a terrified breath and found that it was pumping regular air.
The metal shackles released but it was far too late, the slot had already closed. Before she could fully inspect her surroundings water began to be pumped into the cylinder. She tried to pull herself up but the water seemed to be rising faster and faster. As the last of it went over her head and it was entirely full she began to lose her focus. She tried to scream but the tube opened and she was dropped head first.
Her arms went out as she began to flail until she fell through a hole. Suddenly, she was falling but slowly, as though she were a feather that was floating gracefully. Her dress spread out from her like a daisy petals and she seemed to be making a graceful decent. She could see the floor of the great building, it was tiles arranged to look like waves. She touched down in the center where brown tiles spread out from her in a circle. The waves all went away from her, as though she were the center of the wheel and it was her spokes.
She was about to take a step when she paused. The breathing apparatus wasn’t on her anymore, and she realized it seemed to be gone. She touched her face but only felt her nose and lips free of any machine. For some reason all of it seemed familiar but she couldn’t remember from where. Somehow she expected it to be there and realized that nothing was as it seemed. Her fingers went to the back of her neck and she felt the two little metal circles.
She glanced over and there stood a great elk; its head had branches of cherry blossoms. It was familiar somehow. She began to run after it, calling for it to stop. It bound off with little effort and when she rounded the corner it glanced back. A great hall of mirrors gave her pause as it stood at the other end watching her. She ran after it as it disappeared around the corner.
“Wait!” She called running towards it without hesitation.
She was reflected in the mirrors as she ran. The mirrors reflected themselves back onto the opposite mirror over and over again. For some reason they almost seemed to be made of liquid but when her eyes focused on them they were solid. When she reached the other wall it was solid and there didn’t appear to be a way to go. It was black, an all absorbing darkness like a black hole and there were no mirrors within a few feet of the back wall.
She rested her head against the blank wall, she was losing it. She glanced to her left and saw an eyelid open. Grossed out by its sudden appearance she stumbled back only to have more appeared and all of them were focused on her. The entire black wall now consisted of eyes and all of them were focused on her. She continued to walk in reverse because she didn’t want to turn away from them. It creeped her out so she glanced back towards the door and found that it was gone and only a black wall remained. To her horror there were shadows moving along the light of the room. Her hand went out instinctively and it brushed across the surface of a mirror.
Her touch sent ripples along the full length of the mirrors as words jolted into her brain, “The mirrors are the doorways. Do not look, simply take a leap of faith.”
She turned to look at her own face, which was round and petite. Her short black hair was cut like a slanted horseshoe. Her bangs were long tips that sloped under her chin. At least her own face was familiar if nothing else was. She glanced at the shadows as another light dimmed and the room grew even darker. More eyes appeared in the darkness and she turned back to see them oozing off the wall. Bile rose up in her throat right along with fear. Taking a deep breath as they closed in round her she closed her eyes and jumped into a mirror.
She kept them closed for a moment or two but when nothing happened she decided to peak. Just a little to see where she was. She immediately closed them against when she saw a deep endless pit all around her.
She just had to look didn’t she? Penelope scolded herself. Penelope seemed as good a name as any.
Swallowing down her panic she resolved herself to remain calm. Opening her eyes fully she looked out into a great ravine. She stood on a single pole, just big enough for her feet. When she looked around she noticed there were many more like it all around. However, they were soon forgotten as strange little insects with great wings flew around her. Their beauty could tempt someone to forget their footing and step to their death. She glanced away from them and to her right, where there was nothing but darkness. When she looked to the left, however, there was a wall with four mirrors.
As more of the little butterflies circled around her, she began to forget. Penelope watched as they danced in the air, like self-propelled flower petals. As she watched them she glanced behind her. There was a single mirror that she had come through and the eyes were pressed up against the glass.
She sucked in a surprised breath and almost lost her footing, struck by the determination in their eyes. They promised that she would not escape them so easily. She swiped her hand to push the distracting insects out of her face as she jumped to the next pillar. Pausing she glanced back at the eyes as they almost seemed to be tapping on the glass, asking her to be let in.
Penelope jumped again, thinking to herself that it was no time to panic. She needed to find Raven. She hesitated as the name seemed to echo across her consciousness. That’s right, Raven.
A young woman’s face appeared in her mind, she had long brown hair with lovely waves. Her eyes danced with happiness as a playful smile was on her lips. She was younger than Penelope and very dear to her but that was all she could recall. She glanced down at her wrist, and for the first time saw a strange marking. She brought it up to her face to look at it as it almost seemed to pulsate; it looked like a compass.
Glancing back at the eyes, she shuttered before continuing to slowly make her way to the four mirrors. She jumped from pole to pole and it seemed to her they were getting smaller the closer she got. There were also more of them to where she could almost use them like stepping stones in a pond but just barely. She was just about to step off of the last one onto the platform when the pole began to crumble. She jumped wildly towards the platform and just narrowly caught the edge.
Pulling herself up and over the side her muscles flexed as she hoisted herself to safety. She lay on her back, panting for air, and feeling the cold stone against the back of her arms. She imagined that if hell were truly a place it would be much like this place. It constantly challenged you, things chased you and your life was always threatened. She put an arm across her eyes as she tried once more to recall who she was.
She turned her head to the side and looked at the mirrors as they towered over her. She could see her face reflected at the bottom of one and her legs and feet in the bottom of another. Strange as it was she lifted her arm, the one with the tattoo and faced towards the mirror. In the first mirror her arm was blank. Her eyebrows pressed together as she got to her feet and held it in front of the second middle mirror. It too had no reflection. She went to the last mirror and there on her arm the compass pulsated happily.
Without hesitation she closed her eyes and jumped through the last mirror.
Chapter Two: http://wp.me/P3LyhT-18