Treacle and Ink

April 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 1:51 pm

Dorcas eventually woke up early on Sunday morning. She started shouting “help! Help!” and woke me up.
In the kitchen, I found she’d worked herself upright and was using a coffee jar to bang on the radiator, presumably in the hope of attracting attention. I snatched it away from her.
“Who are you?” I asked.
She frowned at me. For a woman who’d just spent the night asleep on my kitchen floor, she looked remarkably formidable.
“You’ve looked in it, haven’t you? Come on, out with it. Where is it?”
I raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t you think, as the person tied to my radiator, you’re not really in a position to be asking questions? Frankly, I’ve got half a mind to call the police. What are you doing here?”
She huffed a bit, and gave me an appraising stare.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Miss Klein.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because you’re addicted to using that mirror, aren’t you? The black mirror? The one that gives you all those wonderful dreams? I’ve seen it before. I know what happens. And I’m the only one who can help you get free of it.”
Clearly this was going to be a long conversation. I made a coffee, gave her a drink of water – I still wasn’t going to untie her – and let her tell me her story.

Her first claim was that she was the mysterious third woman, the friend of Thomas Marsh-Ayre and Hattie Loon. This was easy enough to verify. I called Jacques. It’s thanks to you all that we’re back in touch – he left me a message on Friday to say that you’d given him wonderful gifts to pass on to Bella, and he was “willing to talk again, despite the grave insult.”

I can’t say I’m impressed with his thieving ways, so it didn’t much bother me that I woke him up. Well, it was 7.45am on a Sunday.
“What do you want?” he spat into the phone.
I explained that I needed him to identify a woman.
“Can you come down to the shop?”
“No I cannot,” he whispered. “It is Bella my love, she ‘as come back to me. Zis weekend we celebrate ze love.”
“Fine.”
I thought for a moment, then took a picture of Dorcas and sent it to him via text message.
He messaged back: “Yes, zis is her. Can I return to my love now?”
Honestly. He should be grateful I haven’t called the police on him.

Dorcas, who’d been listening to the call, and posed grumpily for her picture, continued with her story.

She was the third of the group of three who found the mirror. In fact, she was the one who identified it. They were: Hattie Loon, an antiques dealer who discovered the mirror in a house clearance in the North of England, Thomas Marsh-Ayre, a rare-books dealer who had been interested in the occult for years, and her, Dorcas Muse, a librarian at the British Library whose knowledge of ancient legends allowed her to work out that the mirror they found, the mirror that gave Hattie all those marvellous ideas for art works, was (and she did pause for effect at this point) the mirror of Dr Dee.

“Hang on a minute,” I said. “I know about that mirror. It’s on display in the British Museum.”
“It’s one of a pair,” said Dorcas, “rather like its owner. Or, I should say, owners.”

I let that one slide for the time being. Apparently, Hattie quickly became addicted to using the mirror. She’d stare into it for hours, eventually being able to fall into a trance just from looking at any black reflective surface.

I must have started at that. Dorcas looked at me shrewdly, then carried on.

At last, not long after that, Hattie fell into a coma from which she couldn’t be woken. Thomas was distraught. Dorcas thinks he might have had feelings for Hattie, although he was too wrapped up in the project to notice. He worked feverishly to find a way to recover her. Eventually he decided to “play the game of Dr Dee”, although Dorcas advised against it. This is a card game played with a tarot deck – Thomas had had one for years which it was claimed had magical properties. He thought that if he looked into the mirror while holding the correct hand of cards he’d be able to enter the mirror, and somehow play a game which would give him control over its world.

“But something must have gone wrong,” she said. “He said if it worked he’d be able to send word to me, or to you, the keeper of the mirror, but I haven’t heard anything – have you?”

It was then that I showed her your letters, your emails, the links you’ve sent me. I untied her hands. We made more coffee and had lunch. We talked more. We tried to work out what has gone on.

As close as we can understand it, it’s this: Thomas has been playing his game but he’s miscalculated somehow. He doesn’t have enough cards, and there’s an opponent in the game he didn’t anticipate. Dorcas says she has an idea about who that might be, but she wants to ponder on it some more. Dorcas says the only solution is for Thomas to cheat at cards. And for that we need your help. You’ve found him before, you’ve sent me his messages even if I didn’t believe you. Can you find him again? We have to help him.

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