I really should start expecting story inflation, shouldn't I? It just keeps happening to me. Welcome, O readers, to the seventh blog post installment of "The Most Incredible Thing", which should be the second to last piece of the story. The main conflict is over, which means the only remaining pieces are the revelations and the wrap-up.
May 1 will see the Fiction Friday posting of the final segment of this story, and then on May 8 we'll have a creepy little tale which also features mirror magic. After that, your guess is as good as mine. Stories don't tend to give me a lot of notice before they move into my brain. Witness my current fanfic project, For Your Own Good, which was started on March 1 and will probably be 100,000 words long by the time I've posted those next two Fiction Friday pieces.
Today was a bit of a frustrating day, as I was stuck in one of Glass Bathroom Bank's "all-hands calls" for two hours. I couldn't even get a decent nap out of it, since I had to take the microphone around the room for questions after each segment. Fortunately our executives love to hear themselves talk so much that we didn't have time for our second or third Q&A session.
Honestly, what do they think those calls accomplish? Everybody gets bored and tunes out after 15-20 minutes of that stuff, tops. But you know what? That's not my decision to make. I just live through it, and categorize each call or meeting by the number of times I want to jump up and shout something very unprofessional. This meeting rated a 7 on that scale.
So after a 7-BS meeting, what's the perfect way to decompress? Write fairy tales, of course! And you reap the benefits, O readers. If you would care to support my fictional habits, please do go over to Patreon and pledge, or purchase one of my originals from the links on the Useful Links page, or leave a comment or review here or on one of my fan fiction sites -- all types of support are very much welcomed!
Thanks, as always, and please enjoy this beginning of the happy ending of my retelling of "The Most Incredible Thing"!
The crowd shrieked in terror, shrinking back from the terrible ogre who had stepped forth from the shattered mirror into reality, but the great cathedral was so crowded that they could not readily flee. Between the milling bodies, Rune caught a flash of waving white, and forced his way to the Princess Alvida's side. "Can you do anything?" he asked her when they stood together in the aisle.
"I think so, but I have never tried it before." Alvida bit her lip. "Will you help me?"
"With all my heart." Rune held out his hand, and Alvida took it. Together they faced the mirrors, where the figures of the hours from their wonderful clock still lay, limp and lifeless.
"Children, arise!" Alvida called out in her most commanding voice. "Though your bodies were broken, your spirits live on, in the minds and hearts of all who saw and loved you!"
"A work of art can never truly die, and works of art you were without a doubt," Rune added as Alvida's plan became clear to him. "Come forth and help us now, for we sorely need you!"
For one instant, he thought they had failed. Jan Larsen hung still in the grip of the ogre he had loosed, his struggles becoming more feeble by the second; the King's soldiers were beginning to take aim with their bows, but their faces showed their doubt that a mirror-monster could be harmed by ordinary arrows; the pushing and shoving at the doors as people fought for freedom would surely turn to trampling any second, and panic would turn a crowd into a mob—
Movement within the mirror caught his eye, and Alvida breathed a sigh of joyous satisfaction.
Moses, the giver of the law, pushed aside his shattered tablets and rose slowly to his feet. Beyond him, Adam and Eve helped one another up. Two of the three Kings were lifting Old Man Winter upright, while his tame crow croaked encouragement to Lord Autumn and Lady Summer. All throughout the world of the mirrors, the wooden figures which had danced for the hours of the day were waking from their shattered sleep, and even the ogrous form of Jan Larsen turned to see what had cast the sudden hush over the cathedral, releasing his battered, purple-faced human self as he did so.
"Come," Alvida whispered, raising her free hand, and with a rush the figures did so, pouring forth from the mirrors as though they had been nothing more solid than mist or fog.
"Monks, Muses, dancers, to me!" Rune shouted, taking a step back from Alvida and releasing her hand (not without reluctance). "Stand guard over these people, and do not let them come to harm!"
"Attack this thing, and drive it back from whence it came," Alvida ordered the clock's other figures, as the three groups Rune had named formed a barrier between the ogre and the silent, staring crowd which filled the cathedral. "It has nothing in its heart but hatred and destruction, and thus it has no place in this world!"
The Seasons moved first, taking up a four-square guard around the groaning figure of Jan Larsen where he lay curled into a ball on the carpet. Then the five senses attacked the ogre, the flower girl pelting him with her violets, the cook wielding his ladle and the coppersmith his hammer. The mourner wound his lengths of crepe about the ogre's head to blind him, and the spectacle maker jabbed his arms with broken glass. The three Kings stood back, lighting a brazier which held some of their frankincense, with Adam and Eve using their fig leaves to fan the smoke towards the ogre.
"Bad luck to you," cried the gambler from the hour of six, casting his dice at the ogre's feet, where they came up double ones instead of the double sixes they had always shown on the clock. "May you pay the penalties for your sins every day of the week, and twice on Sundays!"
The ogre tried to roar and bellow, but the noise caught in his throat and turned to a cough. He tried to strike down the figures which plagued and bedeviled him, but they moved so swiftly and smoothly that his every strike fell on empty air. At last he stumbled backwards, towards the frame of the mirror which had been smashed to release him into the world.
Moses and the night watchman stood one on each side of that mirror, and as the ogre came within their reach, they caught hold of him and threw him bodily through that frame. Then the night watchman took his spiked morning star and struck the frame three times, and shattered it into pieces, so that the doorway into the mirror world was no more.
All the people breathed a great sigh of relief, but the silence was in no other way broken as the figures from the clock advanced towards the Princess Alvida and knelt down at her feet. "Mother," said Moses, raising his eyes to her. "You called us, and we have come. Do you have other work for us to do?" He turned to regard Jan Larsen, who had covered his face and lay very still. "This man, who destroyed all the beauty which you and our father created, who would have tried his best to destroy you as well, do you wish us now to destroy him?"
"I do not." Alvida's voice rang firmly throughout the cathedral. "It was not for destruction that I called you forth, but for salvation, the saving of my people and my land from a terrible danger. You have done that nobly and well, and for that I thank you, my children." She smiled, lifting her hands. "You are free to go."
"As our mother commands," said Moses, bowing his head once more, and "Mother," echoed all the other hours, bowing low.
In the next breath, they were gone, leaving nothing behind but a memory.