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“Magic Mirror... who is the fairest in that land...”

 

Napoleon Solo stiffened. The place was – looked like to be – deserted but his partner's voice sounded strange. His voice and his words.

It was as if they were in an echo chamber.

“Illya? What...?”

“”No! Stay where you are. Don't come!”

Napoleon bit his lips. Okay. Troubles. How surprising... He grabbed his gun and headed silently towards the next door. As he was passing the threshold, he froze. His partner was in the middle of a circular room. The walls... No, the wall was covered with mirrors, hundred and thousands mirrors which reflected the same silhouette, slender blond, in a black attire. Illya... ad infinitum.

“What...?”

“No! I told you...”

But as Napoleon Solo was entering the room, all hell broke loose. The door slammed shut behind him, causing him to pivot and duck in the same move... suddenly facing himself. No door. Just... mirrors.

“For once, could you have been a good boy and listened to me?”

He got back on his feet and pointed an accusing finger at the Russian. “YOU talk nonsense about “magic mirror” and I should listen to you?” He swayed for a few seconds, feeling slightly dizzy. There were hundred and thousands Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo all around, hundred and thousands fingers pointing at hundred and thousands rolling eyes and pursing lips man.

“Don't move too fast and keep your eyes on me.”

Napoleon Solo cracked an ironical smile. “On you? Which one, tovarish?” He wiped his forehead. The room was amazingly warm. “Seriously, what hell is this? Thrush...”

“No...”, the Russian cut off, “Look around, slowly. The mirrors... They are all different. Size, period, shape, frames...”

Illya was right. It didn't fit with usual Thrush devices. It was rather a collection. He wiped again his forehead. The door didn't dematerialize. It was a trompe-l'oeil, a delusion. All they had to...

“It isn't a collection. We must leave, Napoleon. Now.”

The Russian's voice was calm, controlled, nevertheless urgent. The pale blue eyes were fixing something behind him.

“What...”

“Look...”

Bones. A heap of human bones...

“What...”

Suddenly, Illya raised his right arm, waved his hand and repeated with his left one.

“Look at the reflections, Napoleon.” He went on moving.

And Napoleon Solo froze. The reflections were reproducing Illya's moves as they were expected to, but there was a distortion, an impossible distortion. It reminded him of Huybridge's photographic studies of motion. Hundred and thousands images of Illya, more exactly a series of fragmented images, moving slower and slower. He felt dizzy, again. Dizzy and tired. He tottered towards his friend, swayed, suddenly unable to move. He couldn't even articulate a word. The mirrors around them were getting opaque, some bluish-green frosted glass mirrors.

Illya Kuryakin stopped moving impossibly short of breath and exhausted. Covered with sweat, slowly hi aimed his gun at the mirrors and shot... shot... shot again, relentlessly. Then, there was a hailstorm of crushed glass.

***

“... but Illya managed to shoot at a mirror which concealed a window. Fresh air dispersed the hallucinating gas..” Napoleon Solo paused and sighed sheepishly, “The place was deserted but they had left this as a gift...” A bushy eyebrow raised. “It didn't look like a Thrush thing, sir. The mirrors were...”

“Some of them were genuine masterpieces, sir. Authentic baroque mirrors...” Illya Kuryakin smiled sadly, “It's a pity they were shattered...”

Eventually, they walked silently towards their office.

“Magic Mirror... who is the fairest in that land... “ Napoleon Solo chuckled, “An extremely relevant quote, my friend... Trushies would have been amused...” He shook his head, “Two-way mirrors and hallucinating gas...”

“Two-way mirrors? No, Napoleon... Look.” The Russian got a small shard of glass. “Didn't you listen? They were real mirrors, old ones...”

***

There was a rustle. A jangling. Shards of glass suddenly fluttered around in a mad whirl. Clicking sounds, rattle, jingle...

There was a circular room. The wall was covered with mirrors, hundred and thousands mirrors.

One of them was cracked.

A chip was missing.

 

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