Prologue

One two! One two! And through and throughout

The vorpal blade when snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with it's head

When galumping back!

Lewis Carrol's The Jabberwocky

The only thing that Rix was distinctly aware of was that the mirror was ringing and that someone had disturbed him from a nice dream involving a very nice carrot cake. The rabbit wiped away the last vestiges of sleep from his eyes and , groggily, got up from his warm bed, which creaked at the departure of his weight. Outside the sounds of nocturnal creatures had grown dim and the sky was a light blue instead of the dark navy of night. Rix mused it must have been about one or two o clock in the morning. He hoped that whoever was calling him at such an ungodly hour had a good reason to or else he'd give them a piece of his mind. He turned his attention back to his room and the mirror.

After each little ring, the sides of mirror would alight with a small green glow. It would also fizzle slightly, sending small green fireworks shooting out of one of the corner cracks and startle poor Rix out of his mind, even though he knew that the sparks wouldn't cause harm to his home. He tapped the sides of the mirror, starting at a lopsided reflection of himself for a few seconds before the main screen of the mirror appeared.

Two small glowing lights appeared on the mirror pane, one green and the other red. Accept call? A small female voice sounded in his head, sounding astute and secretarial, and Rix angrily jabbed at the mirror, pressing the green orb. Rix didn't know what to expect. He didn't get many house calls, especially calls in the small hours and he wondered who would want to contact a hypnotherapist at 2 in the morning .

"He-hello?" the voice on the other end sounds small, petite and a long wrinkled face appeared on the screen, gray wiry hair peaking our from a small kerchief tied around her head. She rubbed her hands in a worried fashion and looked from side to side, as if she'd be beaten or killed if she was caught talking with someone.

Some of Rix's anger faded, replaced with the familiar gnawing sensation of worry. He'd seen that look on people's faces before.

So it was going to be one of those nights.

"Ma'am. What can I do for you." It wasn't a question and the woman seemed a little revealed when she saw the look in Rix's eye.

"It's my grandson..." the old woman paused and took a short breath. "He's...he's...." There was a crash from the left of her and she flinched at the harsh sound of plates and glasses crashing onto the wooden floor. "Please..." she gripped the mirror tightly. "Please help him...I have a friend who told me you deal in....the unnatural..."

Rix nodded. "This is correct, ma'am." He turned away for a second, and fumbled in the darkness of his room for a moment. A sharp pain climbed its way up Rix's leg, and he bit tongue, drawing a bit of blood in the process. He grabbed what he needed, a quill and a bit of paper, and turned back to the mirror. "What is the status on your grandson?"

The woman bit her lip to stop herself from crying. Rix could see tears starting for form in her eyes. "His eyes....are bloodshot...and his behavior has been increasingly disturbing over the past few weeks...it's like he can't sleep...I'd hear him crying in his bedroom, pleading with something, talking with something that wasn't there."

Rix sighed and pressed a hand to his temple. He looked at the woman, eyes tight and voice straight. "Now, ma'am, I want you answer this next question very carefully and precisely. Do you understand?"

The woman nodded. "Anything." she whispered, as if she'd giver her very soul to save her grandson. Rix hoped that it wouldn't come to that.

"Has he cut himself with a shard of a mirror? Does he have any wounds or a broken mirror in his room that would lead you to believe that he did?" The woman stepped back a little like she'd been shot. She opened her mouth to speak, but Rix was quicker. He had to be.

"Ma'am, I know it's an odd statement, but please. I need the answer from you right away. Your grandson's life hangs in the balance." The woman put her hand to her chin, her eyes frantically darting to and fro searching her memories. Her face lit up suddenly.

"Y-yes...yes, I think he did! I remember one evening he'd brutally attacked a mirror, but there were just small scratches across his fist. After that, I had him restrained and put on a few herbal medicines....does that help?"

Rix nodded, his mind racing to figure out his next course of action. If the cuts weren't across any major veins, then he might still have a chance, more importantly, her grandson might make it out of the ordeal alive and intact.

"Ma'am, your address if you will."

The woman complied, and after than Rix bid his farewells and touched the sides of the mirror once again, cutting the call. He walked over to his office desk, reaching to the side and pulled a thick metal suitcase, setting it down on the desk. He opened the desk, surveyed the contents, checked to see if he was sufficiency armed and then promptly shut the case. He didn't bother getting dressed, as he knew missions like these, the serious life-threatening ones that made one's soul ache, didn't call for one to be properly dressed. Rix grabbed the case, grabbed his robe and shuffled out the door. As he hustled down the stairs, out the door and into the cool morning air, Rix mused how being a Nightmare Inspector had changed him over the years.


The train screeched to a halt, jarring Rix from his dreams about that carrot cake that was just out of reach. He looked out the window, his ears perking at the sounds of construction and the whining of mechanical tools. The buildings were only slightly visible, as it was still dark outside, but Rix could make out the small box-like houses and apartments that made up the industrial district. Good, he was in the right area. He reached down and picked up his suitcase and stepped out of the train car. The air was filled with the slight stench of chemicals and coal being burned, and Rix felt his eyes water as soon as he stepped out. He opened the thin bit of paper, scanning the address and began to walk forward, looking left and right, searching.

There were no streetlights around, so Rix had to squint in the shrinking darkness to peer at the metal numbers on the sides of the buildings. It wasn't long before he found the house he was looking for. Several large crashing noises come from a small house at the end of the block and a small wooden chair as well as a few plates and tea cups was thrown through one of the nearby windows. Rix stopped for a moment and waited. He wanted to know if the creature wanted to feed more, or escape before he rushed into the thick of things.

He had his answer only a few short seconds later.

The old woman stumbled backwards through the threshold of her home, jerking around slightly as if she was covered in insects and was trying to swat them off, which wasn't that far off from the truth. Small little black gobs clung to the woman's clothing, crawling up her arms to her mouth, like a living ink. Rix dropped the suitcase, its latches unhinging. Scrambling, he kneeled, looking up to the twitching woman, now on the porch. Rix lowered a hand to the suitcase contents and gestured to the woman with a flick of the wrist. A paper thin rectangular rope snaked out, wrapping around the woman's forearm.

If she was in pain or surprised, the woman didn't show it. The black mass shifted, and it made a sound like a teakettle, a shrill whine that carried through the air as the ink-like substance began to disperse from the woman. Rix kept a firm grip on the rope, and another on a playing card as he neared the woman, who collapsed as the last of the substance disappeared in a puff of jet black smoke.

"Ma'am? Are you alright?" Rix gently shook the woman, trying to wake her. Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked at the rabbit before she noticed something behind him and thrust a hand outward, pointing with a small bony finger.

"It comes!" She cried.

A gray fireball appeared out of nowhere, striking from the safety of darkened house and Rix barley hand time to duck down and cover himself and the woman with a shield. Playing cards surrounded them, covering them in a dome just as the fireball hit. Rix gritted his teeth, feeling the heat and power of the attack as it struck. The smell of singed paper filled the air, and Rix turned his head to see a huge indent in his protective dome, like the cards had been fashioned from solid steel. He was thankful for those defensive training drills his mentor had given him as his shield sagged and the remaining cards that hadn't been burned to a crisp blew away in a passing breeze.

When he made sure that the woman was safe, Rix turned back to the house, where a low growl from the broken threshold made his fur stand on end. He knew that sound and it made his stomach twist. Part of him felt sad for the poor fellow, who he noticed was just beginning to stumble out the door in a spider-like fashion. Another part of him felt disappointed in himself, that he didn't get here in time to save the poor soul's body from being absorbed and twisted by the black mass.

Half of the grandson looked at him a sunken yellow eye, while the other half of the boy's body was jagged, sharp and covered in a thick tar like substance. He stood up from his position on the floor, swaying slightly. He held a long thin piece of glass in its talons, shimmering with a deadly silver glow. Rix breathed deeply, calming his pounding heart.

The shadowy creature struck. It cocked a limb back and threw the mirror shard like a knife. It's sailed through the air, and Rix turned slightly, angling his body out of the way, and tried to right himself, but the creature was already a few steps ahead of him. Rix's felt his breath leave him in a rush as a knee found its way into his gut. A kick sent him sailing a few feet away. The rabbit landed hard on the grass, coughing out a bit of blood.

Rix struggled to clear his vision and reached into his robe and gripped the deck of cards tightly as the creature let out a screech and leaped in the air, ready to maim him. Rix let out a cry and pulled the deck free, tossing it at the incoming creature. It unraveled much like a toilet paper roll would, spinning and unraveling into a chain that wrapped around the creature's face. Rix grunted and spun, pulling the creature along and slamming it into the side of the house. A few brick shards and pieces of stone fell from the house. The only sound remaining was the sound of Rix's heavy breathing. The creature stayed there, defeated for now. It lay in the indent that its impact had made, unmoving. Rix knew that there was more to this as the chain slithered back into his sleeve. Quickly, he went over to his suitcase and retrieved another deck of cards, these ones a cool blue color that seemed to radiate a frosty chill. He tucked them away into his other sleeve and turned back to his opponent.

The grandson stumbled, bleeding more black ooze from several wounds. It looked like it wanted to continue to fight, but Rix judged by the limp in it's walk that it was tired and needed to feed soon. He needed to finish this quickly. When the creature launched itself at him once more, Rix quickly ejected the ice deck from his sleeve. He watched as the package containing the cards was shredded to bits as the cards exploded from it, folding and connecting into a blanket that wrapped around the creature and sent it plummeting to the ground. The creature struggled, but found its movements hampered by a thick sheet spreading its way across its body. It let out a yell that was sure to wake all within a two mile radius before its head was encased.

Now came the hard part. Rix stood over the block of ice that held what remained of the woman's grandson. "I wish it didn't have to come to this. Sleep peacefully." the rabbit whispered and swept his hand out, the chain of cards now slicing a neat line through the ice and severing the head from the body of the creature. Rix took a last look at the block of ice before gathering up the scattered cards in his sleeves and preparing to leave. He looked to the woman, who stared at the block of ice and then at him.

"Wh-what...are...you?" she asked.

Rix tilted his head and considered the question. "I'm a Nightmare Inspector. Those creatures," he pointed to what remained of her grandson, "They prey upon people, and we've the power to stop them." he stepped over to her, five cards in his hand. "I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but it's for the good of all." He placed the small deck on front of the woman's face and with a wave of the finger, held the cards suspended in the air. As they circled her head, the woman noticed that all the cards held a smiling face.

They were all Fools. As they spun, the rabbit chanted something the woman couldn't quite understand. Her head felt fuzzy...what was she doing outside? Wasn't she asleep a moment ago?

The rabbit felt silent and looked over to the now melting ice block. The woman began to sob slightly, tears running tiny rivers down her cheeks as she saw the face of her grandson emerge from the ice.

"I'm sorry for your loss." Rix said quietly, then headed in the direction of the train, leaving the woman to grieve.


Criticisim as well as feedback greatly appreciated.