Silas awakens, startled by a loud noise.
Vision slightly blurred, he looks around as his eyes adjust to the dimly lit room.
Where am I? He thinks to himself. The air is cold, and his breath appears before him in pale puffs as he attempts to calm down.
Nothing looks familiar. There are no people in sight.
He looks out the window and realizes he is aboard a moving train. The scenery outside of the window to his left is barely visible for the train’s fast pace.
Silas quickly jumps to his feet, wobbling slightly as his black sneakers adjust to the old, loose floorboards.
His heart pounds in his chest and beads of sweat form on his upper lip. He feels for his phone in his back pocket and sighs in relief. But when he pulls it out to check the time, the numbers appear blurred beyond comprehension.
Frantically, he proceeds to open his phone and call someone for help only to find the screen is frozen.
This can’t be good, he thinks, as he begins pacing around the room in search of answers.
The air has a distinct aroma. It smells like a new car, bought in the middle of Christmas week when the entire town smells of snow and cinnamon.
After roaming through three empty cabins, Silas comes upon a library.
An entire cabin, lined with wooden shelves that reach the ceiling…completely filled with books. One small window fills the room with a soft, white light. Dust floats through the sun’s rays, swirling in a gentle descent.
Despite the jerky movements of the locomotive, the books seem to remain perfectly in place.
Silas regards this observation with little importance and begins looking around the room, hoping to find some answers.
“Let’s see,” he says aloud, “Where am I?”
Right as he says this, his eyes wander to a white book. The spine reads, “Where Am I?” in black calligraphy.
Hands trembling with anxiety, he slides the thin book off of the dusty shelf to examine the cover. It slips out of his shaky grasp and falls to the red, carpeted floor with a loud thud.
Silas picks up the book and slowly wipes off the cover. There is no title. He looks at the spine again to see if there is an author listed and is shocked to find the words have vanished entirely.
Cautiously, he flips to the first page. The familiar scent of old books fills his nostrils, bringing him a small sense of comfort. He closes his eyes, relishing in the moment of peace, and then looks down at the page.
But before he can read a word, the sound of footsteps calls his attention.
Chills run up his spine.
He holds his breath in fear and tries to find the courage to say something or to run, but he cannot do either.
The footsteps grow louder and are obviously headed in his direction.
He fervently scans the room, thinking of his next move.
The footsteps are now outside of the rooms, to which there is no door.
Suddenly, a man peaks his head around the corner and makes direct eye contact with Silas.
Tension fills the air. Then, after a few moments, Silas realizes that the man is scared of him too.
Between the shelves of books, neither can see if the other is armed.
Silas makes the first move.
“Hello…..I’m Silas. Do you know where we are?”
The man slowly steps forward and replies, “No…I’ve been trying to figure that out. I don’t remember much of anything.” He looks around the room with caution, hesitant to close the distance between them.
He continues, “I’m Lorien. I was about to start searching around when I heard noises coming from in here….you really scared me.”
“Same here,” replies Silas, laughing lightly, “Should we look around together?”
Lorien nods firmly and leads them out of the stuffy library. His sandy blonde hair is long, past his shoulders, and filled with tousled curls. His gait is strong and agile. Silas sets down the white book and follows after him, admiring his confident energy.
“Do you have the time?” the strange man asks.
“No,” replies Silas, “My phone is totally glitching out.”
Lorien gives him a worried look and begins to walk faster, “Mine too. I think our best bet is to find the conductor’s cabin. He will have the time for sure.”
At this point, they had crossed through at least four cabins, but it was hard to keep track. Abruptly, a loud bell rings from the cabin in front of them.
They run through the door to investigate and come face to face with a giant grandfather clock.
The numbers are not numbers at all but are letters of the alphabet.
It appears to be unattached to the wall, and just like the library, it seems unaffected by the train's sudden movements.
The passengers exchange a look of curiosity mixed with terror.
To the right of the clock stands a mirror, even larger in size, and framed in what looks like the vines of an ancient tree. Just by its appearance, the mirror appears to be thousands of years old.
The clock chimes again. This time, they jump back, startled as ever.
Silas glances into the mysterious mirror, his dark eyes staring back at him with a strange intensity.
“This reflection is so odd,” he murmurs, and slowly reaches out to touch the silver glass.
“Hey!” shouts Lorien, and grabs Silas’s hand, “I have a weird feeling about all of this. Let’s go find the conductor before the clock goes off again.”
Silas snaps out of his trance and nods in agreement, following him out of the room.
As they sprint through the cabins, opening and closing the doors, they come across a kitchen.
They slow their pace, and as if on cue, both of their stomachs growl loudly.
Lorien looks around the dark room with a suspicious look, “Should we even trust what we might find?”
Silas says nothing, but makes his way to the fridge and opens it up to find it filled with fresh fruit.
They shrug their shoulders and each begins eating an apple. As they look around in wonder, Lorien notices a backpack, made of plain canvas, sitting next to the sink. He grabs it and fills it with fruit.
“For later,” he says and continues his task.
Silas laughs lightly and sets his apple core on the counter. “Good idea. Let’s go.”
To their pleasant surprise, the conductor’s cabin is the next room over. They smile in relief as the small door swings open. Together, they step onto the small porch and make their way to the door of the conductor’s cabin.
Lorien reaches for the metal handle and turns it firmly.
But it doesn’t budge.
The two young men stare at one another, the hope that was once present now fading from their eyes.
They begin knocking loudly, begging for help. Minutes go by and no one answers.
A wave of intuition takes over Silas and he grabs the canvas backpack from Lorien’s hands. After opening the front pocket, he reaches inside. His hand returns with a large, silver paper clip.
“How did you know that was in there?” asks Lorien.
Silas looks at him, his dark brown eyes wide with shock, “It was just a lucky guess.”
He continues, “But I was kind of hoping for a key.”
Lorien grabs the paperclip from his hands and smiles mischievously, “This should do just fine.”
He stoops down and begins wiggling the paperclip around the tiny lock, “This might take a minute.” he murmurs.
While Lorien fumbles with the door, Silas searches through the mysterious backpack, hoping to find another useful tool.
His hand hits something hard.
It feels smooth and cool to the touch.
He pulls it out and gasps at what he finds.
It was the white book he had been reading in the odd little library. What was even more strange, was the title reappeared on its spine.
“You grabbed this for me?” he asks his new friend.
Lorien looks up as the old, rusty door swings open and shakes his head, “What are you talking about? There was nothing in there when I grabbed it. And we came straight here after I filled it up.”
An eery silence fills the air as Silas tries to make sense of the current events.
“Hello?” Lorien shouts as he steps into the large conductor’s cabin. The room was filled with an unpleasant, musty smell and their faces scrunched up in response.
Lorien lunges forward to greet the conductor and screams in terror.
The chair swivels around.
It is empty.
Silas gulps and his hands fly to his face. The book drops to the floor, “What do we do?”
“Uhhh,” Lorien murmurs frantically, “I don’t- I don’t know!”
They look around the room and Silas sees a lever hanging on the wall.
Above it is written, EMERGENCY, in large, red letters.
He pulls down swiftly and the lever obliges with ease.
Silence ensues as the two distressed passengers wait for the train to stop.
The moments drag on, and they soon realize the train is going faster than before.
Lorien stares at the wall in a hopeless trance, oblivious to the loud slamming caused by the swinging door.
Silas is a little more lucid and he reaches forward, his dark hand shining brightly in the daylight as he closes the thin metal door.
He paces for a few moments, his leather loafers thudding quietly against the rickety floorboards.
Out of nowhere, the mystical book that Silas had dropped on the floor begins to move. Its pages flip with determination as if moved by some invisible force.
The pages land on a picture of a mirror.
This pulls Lorien out of his trance and he leans forward, moving his silky hair behind his ears as it falls into his face.
“Silas…” whispers Lorien, his breath shaking like an earthquake, “...this is the same mirror we saw by that weird clock. Like, exactly the same.”
His new friend looks into his emerald eyes, and the color drains from his face.
“Well,” he replies, doing his best to appear hopeful, “Let’s go check it out.”
The room where the grandfather clock and mirror stand is the same as before.
Silas silently reads the words below the image of the ancient mirror. He begins to read out loud, his voice slightly quavering, “Iter infinitum.”
As soon as he looks up from the yellowed page, he sees Lorien sprint out of the room, “Wait here!” he shouts.
In less than a minute, he returns to the room, panting and out of breath. A yellow book is in his hand. Thick and old. Its binding seems to be falling to pieces. On its spine, the words, “Ancient Latin” is printed.
Lorien flips through the worn pages gently, saying, “I saw it when I found you in the library. I didn’t know we would end up needing it.”
After a few moments of reading, he looks up and says, “The Path of the Infinite.”
They turn back to the mirror in awe. Almost immediately, the number 8 appears to them on the silver surface of the giant mirror. It appears to be written in swirling smoke that moves as if there were a fire burning beneath it.
In that same instance, the white book, laying on the dingy, pale floorboards, begins to move spontaneously. Its dusty pages flip again with no obvious force and land on a page with the number eight, drawn in a dark, elegant font.
Silas leans forward and reads the inscription beneath the familiar number.
“Portae universi…” he read aloud, shaking his head at the confusing Latin.
Lorien quickly scans the old yellow book that covers his hands, and looks up after he finds his answer, “The portal to the universe.”
At that moment, Silas begins to flip through his book, to find more answers about the number 8 and the mirror. But to his dismay, the rest of the pages appear blank.
He looks up at Lorien, then slowly shows him the empty contents of the mysterious object.
Lorien drops the Latin dictionary in horror and snatches the book from Silas to be sure that he is not seeing things. He examines the blank pages frantically.
“Silas,” he says, his voice quavering with fear, “We have to be dreaming. None of this is making sense. I don’t even remember where I was before I got here.”
Tears begin to fill his eyes as he spins himself into a vortex of anxiety.
His shoulders begin to shake as the tears roll down his face and into his dark beard.
Silas reached forward and embraces Lorien firmly, “It’s gonna be alright. We’re gonna be alright.”
After a few gentle pats on his back, Silas pulled away from Lorien and looked into his eyes. For a moment the world stops turning. With the sleeve of his green hoodie, Silas wipes away Lorien’s tears and gives him a nod of encouragement.
Lorien smiles at him and grabs his hand.
Together, they face the ancient mirror. The eight slowly vanishes before their eyes, trailing behind wisps of smoke.
Hand in hand, the two passengers step forward, in search of their next destination.
Look out for part two coming this week!