Chapter One: Through the Mirror
"I can't believe they're making us read this" Samantha grumbled under her breath. She stared at the cheesy image of the Cheshire cat on the front cover of the book she was holding. "Alice in Wonderland? Really?"
"I've heard that Lewis based that story off of a real event" my friend Brittany nodded at the book.
"Right, a real experience he had while on opium maybe" Samantha snickered. "The caterpillar wasn't the only one smoking something." The librarian shushed them from where she sat primly behind the large oak desk that dominated the front of the small library. Sam exchanged a knowing glance with Brittany. The librarian had had it out for them ever since they spent an afternoon 'reorganizing' the non-fiction section for her.
"Let's get our books and get out of here" Brittany sighed. "I've got a paper to write over the holiday and I'd like to get it done so I can spend some time having fun."
Samantha and Brittany were best friends and both seniors at Jefferson High. While Brittany was stuck writing a history paper on the French revolution Samantha would be forced to read Alice in Wonderland instead of cooking gingerbread cookies and making Calvin worthy snowmen in the front yard during the winter break.
Sam kept grumbling over the infantile reading assignment long after Brittany had said her goodbyes and they had each trudged in opposite directions toward home. The snow was up to her knees and Samantha was glad she didn't live far from the library.
"Give it back!"
"No! I had it first!"
"Give it back now or I'm going to tell mom!"
"You're such a winy baby."
Samantha huffed, jumped off her bed and shut her bedroom door. Her twin brother's voices were instantly muted as they continued to argue with each other in the hallway. Weren't twins supposed to be eerily connected at the hip she wondered? Her little brother's were like night and day even though they were identical. Well, almost identical. Rick had blonde hair while Ronnie had brown. It was creepy that everything else but their hair color was exactly the same. They both even had blue eyes.
She returned to the page she had left off at Alice falling down the rabbit hole. She tried to imagine what that would be like, slowly drifting down such a long, dark passage. Although she couldn't fault Alice's curiosity in seeing a rabbit wearing clothes and talking.
There was a short knock on her door before her mother stuck in her head. "Dinner time Samantha. You'll have plenty of time to read that book tomorrow."
"I don't need to read it." Sam grumbled as she headed downstairs to dinner. "I've seen all the movies." Rick and Ronnie kicked at each other beneath the table while she pushed her peas into her mashed potatoes, pretending they had some virulent disease that would make her mutate into some horrible creature.
"So your mother tells me you have to read Alice in Wonderland for a school assignment." Her father smiled at her over the rim of his glasses. He always did that when he was pleased about something.
"Yeah. Pretty lame, huh?"
"Oh no, I don't think so. Alice in Wonderland is a wonderful story. Lewis Carroll was a very fine writer. I personally liked Through the Looking Glass better, but I'm fond of chess as you know."
"Through the Looking Glass?" What was he talking about?
"Yes, Carroll wrote more than one story with Alice you know. In Through the Looking Glass she entered Wonderland through a mirror placed over the fireplace."
"A mirror instead of a rabbit hole. I guess either one is pretty silly." Samantha grinned.
"Was the mirror as big as aunt Alice's in the attic?" Ronnie asked.
"Or as ugly?" Rick chimed in.
"Great aunt Alice's mirror is a family heirloom and beautiful antique." Sam's mother sniffed, offended. Samantha swallowed the forkful of meatloaf she had been chewing. She had almost forgotten about the giant mirror they had agreed to store for aunt Alice last summer. It had taken three moving men to get it upstairs it was so large. It was, in fact, the largest mirror Samantha had ever seen. Her father had told them it was a custom piece that Alice had commissioned when she was fresh out of her first divorce.
After dinner Sam headed back up to her room. She flopped on the bed, not really wanting to read any more of the story for the night. Her mp3 player soon found its way to her ears and she lay there listening to music for awhile until she eventually closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
A noise startled Sam from her slumber. Her earbuds were on the bed next to her, undoubtedly because of her mother. She yawned, blinking into the darkness. What time was it? The house was silent while a strong breeze buffeted her bedroom window outside. She was just about to turn over and try to get back to sleep when she heard the sound again. It sounded like something solid falling onto the floor. The attic floor. She looked up at her bedroom ceiling with a frown.
Not one to shy away from creepy sounds in the dark Sam grabbed her small flashlight and slid out of bed. Once in the hallway she pulled down the ladder than led up to the attic. Now there was a rustling sound that made her nervous. What was up there? Rats? Raccoons? Bats? The attic would certainly seem nice and cozy compared to the snowy tundra that was outside. She climbed the ladder, poking her head through the opening in the ceiling with caution. It would not be good to get bitten by some wild animal during her winter break. Her mother would kill her, after they took her to the emergency room to make sure she was okay naturally.
The attic was surprisingly well lit by the moonlight streaming through the single window on the far side of the house. She decided to skip turning on the flashlight, letting her night vision work for her. Sam scooted her body up and onto the floor, sneezing as she upset a layer of dust that had taken up residence there. Her movements spurred another flurry of sounds that seemed to be coming from the area the mirror was stored in.
"This is kind of weird." She whispered to herself. What were the odds that right after talking about great aunt Alice's mirror she would be up in the attic investigating a strange noise? She stood up and gazed at the behemoth while she dusted her jeans off. It was resting against several tall stacks of boxes and made out of some kind of very dark wood polished to a high shine. Even covered in dust the wood was still glossy. Ornate scrollwork and creepy cherub heads were carved into every available surface of the wooden frame. Sightless eyes stared out at her with pouty expressions of sadness. What had possessed her great aunt to want a mirror like that made? She shuddered. It gave her the creeps.
Another sound snapped her back from her thoughts and she crouched down to look behind the mirror. A small, fuzzy animal was huddled in the narrow alcove of space that ran behind the mirror as it rested against the boxes. It looked to big to be a rat and it certainly wasn't a bat. Could it be a baby raccoon? She flipped the switch on her small flashlight and shined the light on the creature. It was a kitten, a very dirty white kitten by the looks of it.
"Oh, sweetie." Sam grinned. She liked cats. "How did you get in here? Where's your momma?" The kitten mewed at her, balling itself up into an even smaller size as it shivered. "You poor thing. Come here, I've got a cup of warm milk with your name all over it." She reached her arm through the small space and gently pulled the kitten out. He gazed up at her with big, round blue eyes and Samantha gave a small squeal of pleasure. "You are so cute!"
Just then the kitten yowled, scratching her in his attempt to get away. She dropped him, grimacing at the two long marks that cut across her inside wrist from where his tiny claws had made contact. The kitten landed on all fours and scurried toward the mirror. "What are you doing?" Sam hissed. The kitten was going to knock itself out cold. She watched as he leapt at the mirror…and vanished.