Dangerous Reflections Beginning 1

Chapter One

London, 1910

“Who are you?” a tiny voice asked. “You’re not Doctor Uncle.”

The words coaxed Martie back from the edge of darkness. The last thing she remembered was being surrounded by mist. With a groan, she lifted her head and opened her eyes. She lay in a huddle on the floor, her gaze drawn to a doll with yellow hair. Her temples throbbed like the devil. Bringing her hand to her face, she saw her hand clutching something.

Martie dropped the wand like it was on fire. It thudded to the wooden floor and rolled away.

That wand. She remembered now. The lawyer had given it to her at the hospital with a strange letter from her grandmother.

And then she found the magic spell.

“Are you all right?” the small voice asked. It was decidedly British. Martie turned her head. A girl about seven years old stared at her from beside the canopy bed. “You’re not hurt, are you?”

Martie shook her head and tried to give the child a reassuring smile. All she managed was a grimace. “Who are you?” Her voice squeaked.

“If you please, I asked first!” said the girl.

The child wore a frilly white dress that fell just below her knees, her hair tumbling down in a mop of golden curls around her shoulders. She looked just like her doll. In her hand she held a wand.

Oh, my.

“My name…” Martie’s vocal cords did not want to work. She cleared her throat and tried again. “…is Martie.” She glanced at the tall mirror towering over her. “I guess I fell through the looking glass.”

“You guess?” The child giggled and landed on her knees beside Martie. “Look, you dropped your wand.”

Martie hadn’t really expected the spell to work when she said it out loud. After reading her grandmother’s letter, she scrounged through Gran’s things at the house. Someone named “Doctor Uncle, A.F.” had inscribed the spell in an old book, “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

“I was expecting Doctor Uncle.”

Doctor Uncle.

Reluctantly, Martie retrieved the wand. Comparing it to the one in the girl’s hand, she saw they looked the same.

The child laughed again. “You’re in your nightclothes!”

“Er, yes...”

“It’s very late, but here we both are, wide awake. Are you lonely, too, Martie?” asked the girl.

The words rang true. Martie forgot about the ache in her head. “You’re right, I am all alone. My Gran and my father are sick and the doctors can’t get them awake – they’re my only family. Something weird happened to them, and I can’t figure out what. I couldn’t sleep, so I…”

Martie shut up. “Investigated” was the word she wanted to use. In her heart, though, it felt like snooping. Gran had never let anyone go near that old cedar chest in the closet. “You haven’t told me your name yet.”

“Judith,” the child answered primly.

Martie stared. “Judith” was Gran’s first name. Suddenly things made a strange kind of sense. “What year is this?” she blurted.

The girl giggled. “It’s nineteen hundred and ten, silly.”

“Are you Judith Morley?

Judith clapped enthusiastically. “Have we met before?”

Martie could not speak. Gran as a little girl? This must be a dream. Or a hallucination.

But that wasn’t it, was it? The impossible had happened. The incantation actually worked. By waving a wand and speaking a magic word, Martie stepped back in time.

She caught Judith’s inquisitive gaze. An answer was expected of her.

In her “snooping,” she had found a newspaper clipping – the obituary of Gran’s bio-mom, Violet Morley Before she was murdered, she had been an actress. And a practitioner of magic.

Martie said the first thing that came to mind. “Maybe we met at the theater?”

This had an immediate effect on the girl. Her expression collapsed and she sat on the bed, looking as if she might cry.

Not the right thing to say, evidently. Martie struggled to her feet. Her skin prickled, like a million needles were sticking in it. At the same time, she felt displaced from her body, watching herself from a few steps away, out of sync. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” She stumbled to the bed like a sleepwalker and sat beside the child.

The girl’s voice trembled. “It...it’s Mum. She is...was...a dramatist. We used to be at the theater all the time.” A tear slid down her cheek. “But she’s in heaven with the angels now. Doctor Uncle said…”

Doctor Uncle, again.

Martie put her arm around the girl’s shoulders. She knew exactly how Judith felt. “I’m sorry your mother died.”

Judith sniffled. “I want Doctor Uncle. I... I called him, not you. Why are you here?”

Not quite sure how to explain herself, Martie fibbed. “I didn’t mean to come here. It was an accident. I was looking into the mirror and…” She stopped, uncertain how much to reveal. “Maybe two people can’t come through at the same time?”

Judith’s brow furrowed – just like Gran’s – and she shook off Martie’s arm. “Then you must have got in his way.”

“I’m sorry!”

Go back to where you came from so Doctor Uncle can come!”

Martie stood up and glanced uncertainly into the mirror. Her wide-eyed reflection stared back. With that hair and robe, she looked a fright. This was definitely not how you wanted to look when waltzing back in time. That thought stopped her cold, goose bumps popping up on her arms. Would she even be able to get back home?  “I don’t have a clue how to do that.”

Judith looked surprised. “You don’t know how to work the glass? That’s the first thing I learned.”

Martie shook her head. “It was an accident, like I said. I picked up this wand and looked in the mirror and then I was just... here.

Judith raised an eyebrow skeptically. “If that’s all you had to do, anyone could do it. Didn’t you say the word?

“Um, well…” 

The girl crossed her arms. “Yes, you had to. Doctor Uncle taught me. You have to say a special word. It’s Latin.”

Carefully, Martie asked, “Who is Doctor Uncle? Is he your uncle?”

“No!”

“A friend of the family?”

Judith snorted. “He’s just Doctor Uncle.”

“Is he…?”

The girl glared at her.

Not wanting to push it, Martie sighed. “If you want me to go, I’ll go. What is it that I’m supposed to say?”

Judith’s mouth fell open. “You really don’t know?”

Martie shook her head. The incantation had contained several Latin words. Her mind was so befuddled, she could not remember which one it was.

Haughtily, Judith said, “Oh, it’s easy. Stand in front of the glass.” She shooed Martie over with a wave of her hand. Martie approached the mirror.

“Now look in and concentrate on where you want to go.”

Martie stared at her reflection, thinking randomly how her wacked-out hair did not look like anyone else in her family. Repressing the thought, she forced herself to focus by picturing Gran’s bedroom in twenty-first century Pennsylvania.

Judith took her teaching role seriously. “What you say isn’t always the same. For instance, to see into the future, you say ‘Acclaratis.’ But for what you want to do, to go back to your house…”

Before Judith got any further, Martie waved the wand and said, “Acclaratis!"

The girl cried, “That’s not it at all! You’ve said the wrong word!” Her voice echoed across what seemed a great distance. The world dissolved into blackness and Martie with it.