The Paranormal Investigator Book 6
In 1970, Angus Marlowe disappeared along with a strange occult artifact held in his family’s possession for centuries—a black mirror. After entering a desolate Cedar Manor a few years ago, the investigators discovered a tome that revealed part of the Black Mirror’s mystery—beyond its glass lay a gateway to another realm—but whatever happened to the mirror?
Now, a young woman’s disappearance has led Susan Logan to discover its whereabouts. After investigating on her own, Susan becomes enraptured by the mirror’s dark allure. Soon, the investigators encounter a woman who is not the Susan they know. Who is she? The baffling answer leads them to the Black Mirror’s terrifying secret.
~ Angus ~
Cedar Manor 1970
Angus Marlowe had gotten away with murder—quite a few murders to be exact. He’d committed his violent crimes right here in the underground basement of this dark, malignant house. Mother and Father were gone now, both of them passing within a few years of each other. The safety net they’d so perfectly provided had been ripped away. Now, he was alone. The authorities couldn’t prove he’d killed any of those girls, but one day they might. One day when he least expected it, the pursuit and the extent of his evils might be unveiled.
However, the black tome described an exit that would ensure his freedom and would send him on his way to the darkened path he so fervently served. It would be his richly reward, his pathway to the dark kingdom, where all of the treasures he’d been promised would be spilled out before him. The Black Mirror would open its gateway to him, just as the tome described, and through it he would venture toward his dark salvation.
He stood in front of it, gazing into its opaque glass and marveling at the rich, silvered frame that surrounded the dark Victorian masterpiece. This large, rectangular mirror was a counterpart to a gold-gilded masterpiece that framed regular glass. His grandparents had acquired both mirrors from England.
His fascination with the Black Mirror began in his childhood. He would gaze into the glass for hours in hopes of breaching its mysteries and satisfying his curiosity. His quest had been unsuccessful.
The breakthrough came when he was a teenager. It was the first time he’d seen the glass change. For a fleeting moment, the glass was no longer there; it vanished from the silvered frame that surrounded it. In its place a thick swirling mist moved within the frame. Then, the mist disappeared. Instantly, the glass froze back into place. He’d blinked his eyes, and then rapped the glass with his knuckles. It was solid, just like always.
Later, in his late twenties, he’d been rummaging through this very basement, examining the history his family had stowed here. He found artifacts, antiques, small statues, paintings, all from different eras of his family’s history. Many of the relics and antiques dated all the way back to the Revolutionary War. All of it had been stashed away, allowing the past to die.
The mirrors originated from the Victorian era, two ornately framed masterpieces, one a dark cousin of the other. He never understood why his parents had displayed the gold-gilded mirror in one of the upper parlors and stored the black mirror here, hidden away in this endless labyrinth. As he rummaged, he soon discovered why.
He’d found an old, antique cabinet that hadn’t been opened in years. The rusty lock on the cabinet was ancient in his estimation. He attempted to open it, but the lock was impervious, fastened in a solid grasp by its own rust and corrosion. Angrily, he grabbed an axe and swung it high above his head, busting the lock with a single swing. The cabinet doors creaked when he flung them open.
His hands swept through a thick mass of cobwebs, brushing away age-old nets that blanketed the cabinet’s contents in mystery. Once he cleared away the cobwebs, he stared at his discovery. It was a large black book by the looks of it. Something lay atop it. He reached inside and retrieved the object.
It was a handheld mirror with black, opaque glass, just like the larger one. He’d held it up to his face, glaring into its darkness. It showed no reflection of him, only the shimmering of the electrical sconces lining the walls behind him. He gently removed the large black book from the cabinet, blew the dust from its cover, and opened it. The book appeared old, almost two-hundred years at a guess. Carefully, he turned the yellow tinged pages. Their edges were browned by the assault of time.
Beneath the light of one of the electrical sconces, he saw the book contained large handwritten portions in fine penmanship. He recognized the handwritten words as Latin. He’d been familiar with Latin, having studied it at one of the private schools he’d attended, and later continued with a private tutor. Within a year, he deciphered most of the large, black tome, word for word.
Soon, he realized what he uncovered from the cabinet were two missing, key components in the Black Mirror’s mystery. In its own obscure, yet fascinating way, the tome detailed how the two mirrors were gateways, portals to a destination or realm otherwise unknown. He suddenly realized something important. He thought back to that quick moment when he was a teenager. The black glass had mysteriously vanished, and a strange mist moved thickly and slowly within the frame. The gateway had briefly opened for him, though he hadn’t known it at the time.
Now, it would open for him again. He had waited for years, and this time, he had the key. Angus gripped the handheld mirror in his hand, now fully understanding its purpose. Like all doorways and gateways, there had to be a key. The black handheld mirror would open the gateway and allow him to enter into its welcoming darkness.
His pounding heart made his blood race faster and faster at the thought of what was about to occur. His booming, thunderous voice bellowed out in Latin, echoing from the basement walls. He begged for acceptance, allowance, and the chance to serve within the gateway’s shadowy confines. He called out for the acknowledgement of his presence, a faithful servant in desperate need of passage.
“Black Mirror, open to me!”
The upward rise of his arms and the whiplash movement of his head signified his wicked exaltation. His knees hit the hardened floor as he dropped and bowed before the Black Mirror. In its stillness, the dark glass almost seemed to watch him, as if hidden somewhere behind its hardness evil pairs of eyes stared. He resumed his sinister incantations, loudly and rapidly spewing Latin phrases. Unholy words formed an ominous spell, an ancient ritual meant to call forth a perpetual darkness into the light.
He continued to maneuver the handheld mirror in front of the silver-framed masterpiece, casting one dark reflection upon the other. Abruptly, he stopped. His words ceased. Something was happening. Something about the mirror was changing.
The Black Mirror altered itself, just as it had in that brief instance long ago. The glass appeared almost gelatinous and wobbled within the frame. Then, its texture seemed to liquefy and ripple in waves. His mouth hung open in awe; his anticipation mixed with beguilement.
Now, the glass disappeared, and he saw right through the mirror. Where the glass once stood, upward spirals of mist spun into strange dancing shapes and odd formations. The mist thickened into a fog, turning the blackness into an apocalyptic gray. The color beyond the frame looked like the end of all things. Fear suddenly struck him, but he had done it. He’d opened the gateway. Now, nothing was left to stop him.
He slowly rose to his feet, his eyes transfixed upon the gateway, cautious that it would instantly change back into the Black Mirror. Something flashed inside of it. A distant pulse of light flickered within the thick misty fog. Was it lightning? He traced it with his eyes as it penetrated more and more of the gray murkiness. Whatever it was drew nearer. Suddenly, he threw his forearms up in front of him in a blocking motion as flares of electrical light flashed outward, causing small flames to dance and sizzle around the frame.
A quiet ensued. Slowly, he lowered his arms. Fearful eyes gazed beyond the gateway for what came next. He stepped forward, but before he moved any closer, a ball of lightning burst through the gateway, knocking him to the floor and flooding the basement with light. It was as if the dark majestic house had been ripped apart by a powerful storm or a magnificent daylight.
Then, the lightning vanished. Yet, had it actually been lightning? Did it strike here in the house or in the realm just beyond the gateway? Either way, he had experienced it, full force. He felt the heat of it, though he’d not been burned in any way. When he fell, the handheld mirror flew from his hand, skipped across the floor, and came to rest beneath an old chest, but he couldn’t focus his thoughts on it now.
Angus lay on the ground, shaking, afraid to glance back at the gateway. He heard the rumble of thunder somewhere beyond the frame, somewhere in the strange realm he’d just unlocked. Again, he rose from the floor, but the need to continue prevailed. After all, it was his discovery, his dark world that dwelled beyond the Black Mirror. He must finish what he’d begun.
He stepped slowly toward the gateway, his eyes searching through the misty fog. The lightning continued to flash, yet something else was coming closer. The fog rolled and then parted, as whatever or whomever it was moved within the gateway. A figure walked toward him from the other side of the mirror.
His heart pounded. His knees shook. He heard no footsteps, yet the image of a figure came nearer and nearer. The unidentified figure embodied the art of all mystery, a subject come alive within an eerie painting.
At last the figure stood only feet from him, but still within the confines of the frame, trapped in the clutches of a netherworld he’d opened with the strangest of keys. The figure’s height equaled his, but the murky fog hid the face. Something about the figure was familiar. He continued to watch the motionless being that stood staring outward. Then the misty fog rolled away, unveiling the specter it had hidden so well from his mortal eyes.
His heart stopped. The figure in the gateway was him, down to the last detail. His mind reeled as he stared back at himself. He recognized slight differences, discrepancies so minute that only he would be able to identify them. The face appeared smoother and maybe slightly younger. The hair looked fuller, and the neat attire projected a less disheveled appearance, but it was unmistakably him. He smiled back at himself, as mere footsteps separated him and his doppelganger.
His double extended his hand, beckoning Angus to join him within the depths of the gateway. Together, they would revel in the mysteries of the Black Mirror. Angus looked into the figure’s eyes. The eyes were brighter, clearer, and it was with those eyes that the figure spoke. The eyes recognized him, seeming to applaud him for discovering the darkest of secrets.
The figure’s hand remained outstretched, an open link to another world that existed secretly within this one. Their eyes remained locked on each other, and without moving its lips, the figure spoke inside Angus’ mind.
“Walk through the gateway, Angus,” it said. “And we shall become one.”
Angus watched as the figure turned and began walking away.
“No, no, wait!” he shouted. “Wait for me... Wait!”
As Angus ran toward the gateway, another ball of light exploded through the silver-framed portal. Again, he was knocked to the ground, this time, with greater and stronger force. He rolled across the floor, and through his squinted eyes, he saw the entire basement was lit from the electrical force. It pulsated, flashed, and flickered, illuminating the limestone walls like a great projector. He wondered if this force of electrical current had ripped through the entire house.
However, he wasn’t going to fear it. He wasn’t going to let it deter him. He jumped to his feet, ran toward it, and then stopped just before the gateway. The electrical current still flashed through the frame where the black glass had been only moments ago, but when he reached his hand through to the other side, he touched coldness, like the frost of October. He could still see his own backside walking away, farther and farther into the shadowy vortex that awaited him.
He heard the voice again. The deep, hollow tone filled his mind.
“Come, Angus, before it’s too late.”
The murky fog enveloped the figure completely. He saw it no more. It was time. It was his chance to escape, a chance that could not be missed. Angus left all things behind and ran through the gateway before it could close on him. All thoughts of the handheld mirror, the key, were easily forgotten. He turned around, looked behind him, and watched as the open portal he’d just passed turned back into glass. It hardened, closing all things in and out. He was through to the other side of the Black Mirror.
He turned back around and walked slowly, soon realizing that the darkness was not one of pitch blackness. A strange blueness tinged the new world around him, one that cast deeper shadows, like the hour before dawn. He moved through the cold, eventually running in hopes of finding the figure. Then, it happened.
The pain was heavy, hard in his chest. He stopped and struggled for air, inhaling nothing except the coldness that surrounded him. He heaved and cried out. No one answered, except eerie faraway voices that echoed his own pain. His body was shutting down. The blueness began to blur and fade to black. His eyesight was fading. His heart was stopping, for real this time. He fell to the cold, rough ground. Angus felt himself die... and then come alive again.