This is the second installment in my “Doc Patient” series of short stories, if you’d like to the first (NOT REQUIRED to read this story) then you can HERE at your liesure. Enjoy!
“And there I was! Trapped by the Flibbertybartfast in a cave within a cave! With no other choice and a small town depending on me stopping that oncoming tidal wave of Purple-Prose-Proto-Mucous, I leapt into action!” said I, invigorated by the opportunity to recount one of my most engaging adventures as I danced about the tables to recreate my lithe heroics, “I shot out as it drew in a breath before spitting out more of it’s freezing flame – I twisted and slid and dashed around its dozen legs and just barely managed to leap into a crevasse as it angrily belched out blue-flame at me! I stuck my looking glass out and was tickled pink with laughter, the bloody thing had tried to blow the flame between its legs and under it’s belly and frozen itself solidly to the ground and now sat there with the most annoyed expression you can imagine and moaning like a sulky teen!”
At that and my most excellent impression of the best, I was rewarded with bursts of laughter from all quarters.
“Its own flame couldn’t hurt it.” I went on as I grabbed my long-suffering and unfinished flaggon of beer, “but having found itself frozen and with all bodily orifices not on it’s face frozen shut, I daresay it learnt never to mess with a Mathemagician that day!”
“HERE HERE!” “HOORAY!” “DAMN RIGHT!”
Such were the cheers that arose then
“But what about the Mucous?!” shouted Kaseeo, waving his drink in the air for emphasis.
“Ah yes, that, I was getting to that.” I said as more voices chimed in for the rest of the story. So I continued, “The beast on ice and my adrenaline up, I charged out of the cave, my arithemedic bag in hand and…”
“DOC! PHONE CALL!” came an interrupting bellow from our friendly barman Manjeet.
“WHICH ONE!?” went the shouted chorus from my entire company to startle and knock dear Manjeet back a step – a minor repercussion for shouting out ‘Doc’ to a whole party of Mathemagical experts having a long-overdue reunion.
“Um…” he said, gathering himself as snickers wafted around me, “Patient, it’s for Doc Patient.”
“Oh bilgewhiffle!” I said as I walked over and took the receiver, “This is Patient, what is it?”
I sighed and said, “Leela, what is it. Spit it out girl.”
“How did you…” she squeaked.
“Know it was you? Because I’m me and anyone else would have piped up when spoken to – now! What is so tearingly urgent you needed to interrupt story-time, you know I hate anything that interrupts story-time!”
“I know sir, it’s just… there’s… well…”
“Oh come on, what did you do. You didn’t enchant a bunch of brooms that are ruining my lab did you?”
“Brooms sir? No I mean, why would I…” I could almost hear her fumbling with her glasses on the other end.
“Never mind dear girl, just take a breath and tell me what’s going on.”
“Well sir, I was cleaning up Storage Room 6 as you asked and there was this tarp covering a mirror that had slid off and…”
“And you took it off to put it back properly.” I said with a sigh and a partial face-palm. “Did you get out and lock the room?”
“Are the seals around the house in place?”
After a moments silence, “Yes sir! All in order!”
“And you’re unharmed?”
“I am, yes sir.”
“Yes sir! I don’t know what happened after that, there was something…”
“It’s going to be fine, I’ll explain when I get there, for now just stay in my study, find my lens-crafters kit and wait till I get home.”
So much for a night of carefree carousing and cameraderie! After a quick farewell to my peers and hastily clearing my dues, I headed straight for the mens room – bless Manjeet for installing that full-length mirror in there! A few scribbled equations strategically placed on the mirror, a deep breath to gird myself and a heaving leap later I plopped right into the mirror and thanks to the mirror dimension bridge theorem, a second later had plopped right back out through my study mirror. I landed with a resounding ‘thud!’ on the carpet and Leela did the same as my entrance more than surprised her.
“My dear young apprentice! We are really going to have to work harder on your nerves, you’ll have a vexxing time doing this job otherwise.” I said, adjusting my hat and sport-jacket.
“Now, enough tom-foolery, to work! Did you find it?”
“Yes sir!” she said, indicating the intricately arranged box before her that contained a collection of lenses and mirrors that I’m pleased to believe would be the envy of any mathemagician or even most scientists anywhere. Each one hand-crafted by yours truly – because nothing teaches science like a hands-on approach!
“Right then, if I recall right, we should need the regular flat, one convex mirror, 2 degrees, and a wide-spectrum focus prism.”
“Got it sir.” she said, now trying to engage her professional side.
As she earnestly dove into the box to locate the items, old memories kicked on. Leela had come to me as a frightened, utterly alienated young lady. The daughter of a distant relative who passed away when she was very young, I had been all she had left – I don’t evern remember what I am to her geneologically speaking – but she was a sweet young child. I had cared for her for a time but my lifestyle was not the safest and I had tried to look for a more suitable home, but she would not have it, in fact she wanted nothing more than to learn everything I knew and become a Mathemagician herself. She definitely had all the gifts for it, now if I could just help her gain greater confidence in herself I imagine she could be truly great.
“All set sir! What else do we need?”
“Oh nothing, just my handy pen-light.” I said, twirling the torch between fingers.
“If I may sir, what exactly is it? All I saw was the mirror which had some strange kind of reverse english and other symbols on the frame, and I’d been looking only a second or two when a tiny light grew really big, really fast and just shot out from the mirror right into one of the overhead light fixtures. I just ran straight out and locked the door behind me.”
“Well that was the smartest thing to do my dear, you kept it from getting out into the world – good show!”
She smiled at the compliment and I couldn’t help but heartily smile right back.
“Anyway,” I continued, “Those letters you saw are Backwords, you see what came out of that mirror is a creature, an idea-beast of sorts. You know the mirror-realm through which I occassionally travel, well, that realm is essentially the shared world of all mirrors – a metaphysical realm that mirrors our own in strange twisted ways. It takes images and moments from our realm, things reflected from here – but there is no rhyme or reason or context and so while it all seems to be familiar, it’s mostly utterly chaotic. I lingered there once and by Tesla’s Coils, I swear it really is the strangest and possibly most pointless place I’ve ever witnessed.”
“So they take information from our world but are mere illusions and context-less entities, purposeless in an utterly chaotic plane of exisence.”
“Precisely dear child! You hit that spot-on!”
“But what is that thing that came through? Is it a idea-beast or something else?”
“I can’t be certain, but the fact that it actively came through, literally charging out as you describe, there’s a good chance it might be something more, something that should not be here anymore.”
We arrived at the storage room door and I took a deep breath before going into action.
“Leela, I need you to kindly stand by the lights and when I say so, turn them all off.”
“Yes sir. But sir, won’t that have us fighting blind?”
“To begin with, yes. The rooms internal lights are on still?”
“Yes, I never thought to turn them out.”
“No, no, that’s fine! It’s good, means it’s still probably in that central light fixture. Now! The moment I have the door unlocked, I want you to shut off all the lights out here and stay behind me!”
By now the hairs on my neck were all aquiver at the excitement yet to come! Nothing like a little adventure to get the blood flowing and the follicles fox-trotting!
“All the lights? You know I’m afraid of the dark sir!” she put forth sheepishly.
“Oh piffle-dosh!” I said, “It’s a small thing and you’ll get past it before you know it – besides, we’re dealing with a light-form here so you’d do better to be afraid of the light until we’ve squared this matter up!”
“But sir, what exactly is it we’re going to do? I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do with this lens?” she asked, I was glad she was speaking up and asking. She really did struggle with making herself heard, poor child.
“Ah! Well, that, well the basic plan is to get the thing out of the light and back into the mirror-realm, we can’t after all have a light-form idea-beast of questionable origin bouncing around out here now can we!”
“Wait sir…” she said, catching on fast, good girl! “Do you mean it’s not from the mirror realm or that we don’t know what it is?”
“Glad you asked my dear apprentice! It is most likely just a random light-form that happened to bungle through by some flick of chance – but my guess is that it’s a certain former acquaintance of mine.”
At this I saw her eyes widen to dinner plates – I could see the gears behind the eyes clicking and clacking and data streaming around as the implications of what I had just told her coalesced.
“Alright, alright, but a let’s keep this as super-teeny story-time (I hate those!): There once was a mathemagician who thought himself above all rules and rigours and so on of our loose collective of Journeymen-of-knowledge. He started to push too far and in dangerous directions, using our skills for ends that did not justify his horrendous means and so we banished him to another place, another space – for all things are energy and so we just sent him to a place where his form became pure energy and he could not return to ours! There, all done.”
“Thank you sir.” Leela ventured, getting her bearings back now, “But why send him there”
“Because taking a life is not something we do lightly, even for selfish rogues like this one my dear. Though it may be sometimes necessary to do a great many distasteful things, this thing we call life is precious, mysterious and altogether wonderful and as you well know as an apprentice mathemagician, as such it is considered sacred and worth preserving. Only when all else has failed shall any step otherwise ever be even considered!”
She seemed to be chastened at my remark and I felt a twinge at her downcast eyes.
“Come now, I mean no reprimand against you for your query – you are young yet and have much to learn. But you have an open mind and a willingness to fill it and that is what is important. There were many even amongst us who thought then as you did just now but thankfully did not get their way.”
Though I admit, somewhere on the inside an itsy-bitsy voice grumbled that had they had their way, I might not be having to clean up this mess right now and instead would be enjoying story-time with my friends and fellows over many a flaggon of Manjeets finest! But my remark seemed to perk Leela up and it was time we were done with this whole endeavour.
“Now listen Leela, here’s what will happen: When you shut the lights, we will enter the storage room gently and quietly. We’ll put ourselves in position to create a prism trail from my torch, via these mirrors which will focus the beam and force it through the focussing lens you’re carrying right at the mirror.”
“I see!” she said, her face brightening as the ideas and the moment over-ride her natural timidness, “When it jumps into the torch, you are using it and the mirror and lens to create a focussed channel shooting straight back into the mirror-realm! Fantastic! But are you sure it’ll work?”
“As sure as one usually can be in such matters, but assuming that it cannot convert itself from light to electrical energy, there should be no problem – if it has then well, it’s already long gone and we have a whole other headache ahead of us. Anyhow then, let’s get to it!”
So we girded ourselves and I grabbed onto the handle as Leela shut the lights in the outer passageway. I opened the door and things brightened thanks to lights on inside – but the lack of any light in the passage kept the light-creature from trying to be tricksy and swoosh out, for I was tricksy too!
Very, very quietly we stepped through and made our way into the room and began to put the plan into action – albiet with some minor difficulty as we tried to stay in the shadows and stay silent and that led to much gesticulating and hissed whispers and under-breath-grumbles on both sides. I put my torch on with a very mild narrow beam and hoped it would not attract attention (it didn’t!) and we hurriedly placed the two mirrors to create a kind of horse-shoe shaped beam that led straight on into the mirror.
Now, all set to go, I stood at the torch and held a piece of card-board before it to hide the loop for now – turned it to it’s brightest straight-beam and nodded for Leela to turn off the rooms own lights. The moment the bulbs died down, a crazy little glow bounced around in the fixture and then popped right out, bobbing and weaving seemingly lost for a moment – clearly the poor fellow was disoriented – until it saw my torch and zoomed straight for safety. The moment I saw it zip in, I moved the piece of card-board and our lovely horse-shoe glowed to life!
I saw flickers and sizzles of light along the beam and then a flurry of activity at the mirrors surface as the creature was forced through the mathemagically framed mirror back into the mirror-realm. And then it was done. Immediately I moved the torch so the beam to the mirror was broken and tossing it to Leela, I leapt forward and grabbing up the fallen tarp at the floor, flung it over the mirror and tucked it into place all-around.
“WOOHOO! It worked! Did it work??! …ahem, I mean, was that it sir? Did you get it?” Leela had let her guard down and shown a rare burst of excitement there and predictably hurried to collect herself mere seconds later.
“Come now dear girl – WE got it. And yes, it’s back where it should be. Now! Even though I’ve missed out on a lot of this evenings revelries just now, what say you and I hop over to Manjeets and you can hear some tales of adventure and quick wit from those who hopefully soon shall be your own peers, shall we?” I said, offering forth my arm as we left the darkened room and followed the torchbeams lead out of the storage room.