Previous parts may be found here – quick references for those who’ve not been following up to now.
His pulse didn’t so much race as sprint; he felt it hammering, threatening to burst from his chest. It was all he could do to force a calmness and impress a smile upon his face for this woman – whoever she was. ‘Excuse me a second, I’m not feeling too well. Too much drink and excitement.’
He caught just a flicker of suspicion before she too forced a face – this one a clear look of feigned concern.
He stood up quickly and used the backs of his thighs to push the chair back. There, barely distinguishable – a slight delay to the sound of scraping. When he looked out of the window, it no longer looked real – more like the highly pixelated image of a video game or a flight simulator used in training.
But he couldn’t focus on that, he had to focus on getting out of the way of her, if she was a “her”. As casually as he could he lifted his leaden legs one by one, forcing them onto the ground towards the door. It might as well have been thirteen miles and not thirteen feet away. He hadn’t realised he’d been holding his breath until he passed through the door to the bedroom, hastening his step towards the bathroom – wanting, seeking, needing to get to the mirror. He had to know which of the two women (if either) was his friend and what the motive of the other actually was.
He closed the bathroom door quietly behind him, pressed his hands on the basin once again and spoke. ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall tell me who you are.’
The mirror shimmered. ‘Mirek, you’re back!’ a sharp inhalation of air followed the familiar voice.
‘We don’t have time,’ he whispered, ‘and I am fucking freaked out. You need to tell me what is going on and why I should trust you and not her and why I should trust you and not the other woman.’
‘Other woman? What other woman?!’
‘On the ship; she says it was attacked by the Chites.’ A pause, too long. ‘Are you there?’
‘Yes. Shit. Mirek, this is very bad. I never… Are you saying you’re experiencing another hallucination? No, no, it can’t be. It must be planned; it must be part of the interrogation. What did she say?’
‘She told me I should fight it. You’re telling me to play along. I don’t know who to trust.’ Another long pause. ‘Hurry up, I don’t have much time!’
‘We’re working on it, Mirek. All I can tell you is to remember your training – we know how their chemical weapons work and the guidance says you should NOT resist it. They will know you are fighting and intensify the interrogation-‘
BANG. The glass shattered.
He blinked as a light formed on the glass, grew and distorted. A hand reached out of the mirror, grabbed Mirek by the head and pulled him towards the glass. His last thought before he passed through was whether his body would actually fit.
He did so, and found himself back on the floor of the damaged ship. The same woman held him to the floor; the same fire burned in the rafters; the same man hovered in the background.
‘Mirek, we’ve managed to get you out again. Keep fighting it! Keep fighting!’
He tried to move again. His vision went black briefly; raising a hand to his face, he wiped at something wet – not sweat, not water, not blood – it was thicker, gooey almost. He brought his hand to down to his face but before he could see what the liquid was, the woman before him grabbed it and pushed it to the side out of the way of his vision.
‘No, don’t. They can’t use this against you. Remember the training! Fight the chemical or you’ll get sucked in and we won’t get you out again. MIREK!’
Everything went black.
Part 5 is right here.