Chapter 8

Written by: Linda Alley

Oliver Seton was standing on her doorstep. He wore jeans and an azure singlet, but he was undoubtedly Emma’s captain. As he bowed formally, his broad shoulder muscles rippled. Unburdened by his Victorian shirt sleeves, his arms were tanned golden and when he doffed his baseball cap she could smell the salt in his hair.


“Forgive my attire, Miss Smith. I took employment on a fishing vessel to pay my passage here.”


As they passed down her hallway, he caught sight of the mirror and gave a violent start.


“So it’s true! There is another!” Oliver’s jaw twitched. “It was you who called to me to take down the sails, was it not?”


Alice nodded eagerly. “I was so relieved that you made it to Gansbaai.”


“But we didn’t.”


As he spoke, their mirror reflections began to swirl and in their place appeared a rough, mountainous island smothered in dense jungle. 


“It can’t have been more than five miles wide and was completely devoid of human habitation – or so we thought.”


The image changed, zooming in on a cliff. Oliver himself was kneeling there, only in the reflection he was wearing a torn shirt and shielding his eyes as he peered at a dark-sailed ship anchored in the bay below. A coarse, drunken ditty punctured the silence. Oliver’s double darted into a cave as five heavily-armed pirates crashed through the mirror and continued down Alice’s hallway, fading as they reached the kitchen. 


The present day Oliver pressed himself against Alice’s coat stand, mouth open, oggling at the mirage of himself now standing in a cave. His doppelgänger brushed away cobwebs that crept across a bowlegged, driftwood table, frowning over words that had been scratched on its surface. Dutch, Alice wondered? 


A framed mirror, identical to Alice’s, was leaning against the cave wall. The apparition of Oliver stood before it, transfixed. Cold beads of sweat started on the back of Alice’s neck as further apparitions of herself and Emma drifted out of this second mirror.


“Well,” Emma remarked, “this is quite interesting. My name is Mrs Oliver Seton and who would you be?” 


“I’m Alice, um, Alice Smith.”


Then the raucous singing started up again, too close. Oliver’s double reached out to Emma, but she melted away. There was a loud tinkling of glass. The images vanished and Alice and Oliver were left alone in the semi-darkness of her hallway. 


“What happened next?” Alice whispered.


“I found myself standing in a fishing village.” Oliver stared at Alice’s mirror warily. “The island had long since been civilised and its future inhabitants were dressed in the same fashion I’d seen you wearing in the mirror. I came to my own conclusions and was determined to seek you out.” 


“And the mirror?” 


“The pirates shattered it when they tried to seize me in the cave.” 


Oliver thrust a hand deep into his pocket. Emma’s ring gleamed in his palm. “Help me, Miss Smith. Please. I must return to her. She’s carrying our child.”


Gosh Linda you are so clever at bringing threads together and making each one easy to follow. This is a terrific chapter. It flowed, it had imagery and it had personality