I slowly opened my eyes, wincing as the lights hit them. My head was throbbing, and my mouth felt fuzzy. Groaning, I rolled to my side and slowly got to my feet. The room seemed to spin as I stood up, and I reached out to grab the nearest table to steady myself. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths before opening them again.
All over the room, members of my family were sprawled on the floor or slumped in their chairs. Champagne flutes were on their sides, their contents leaking over the lip of the glass. I went around the room, checking to make sure everyone was still breathing.
Mirrors lined the walls, black cloths on the floor beneath them. I saw names at the top of them: Eros, Clio, Artemis, Nike, Eris, Ate, etc. When I came to mine, the glass was shattered.
What the hell was going on? Memories flitted around the edges of my mind, nothing concrete. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad had happened, and it was all connected to the mirror. But at that moment, I had no clue. I grabbed a napkin, leaned over, and picked up one of the champagne flutes. Wrapping it gently, I placed it in my pocket and headed for the door.
I stumbled out of the building and noticed it was still nighttime. Pulling out my phone, I checked the time. It was 3 a.m., yet I believed that more time had passed than I realized. I rubbed my hand across my forehead, trying to massage the pain away as I walked home.
Once I made it to my building, I went to my office. Removing the glass from my pocket, I placed it on my desk before grabbing the aspirin from a drawer and a bottle of water from my mini-fridge. I took four of them and washed them down before collapsing on the couch and passing out.
My dreams were troubled. I was hugging a redheaded woman in a kitchen while two children ate at the table. Then we were at some kind of playing field, and the young girl was kicking a ball toward a goal. I watched her walk away, then heard a scream. I ran toward the sound and saw someone grabbing the girl. She called me Daddy.
The woman and I were in the kitchen again, my arms wrapped around her, trying to convince her to stay home from work. When she turned to face me, I was shocked at how much she looked like Kara. Her smile lit up her face, and my heart beat faster as I walked behind her to the front door. A few seconds later, it froze as a man jumped out of a white van with a Pegasus on the side, grabbed the woman, dragged her to the van, threw her inside, and drove away.
I jerked myself awake on the couch, suddenly flooded with memories of my life with that woman. I loved her as much as I loved Kara, and I was sure it was no coincidence that the two of them looked so similar to each other. The whole thing hadn’t been a dream. I had been sent to an alternate reality, forced to forget my life as an immortal. But why?
My office door flew open at that moment, and in walked Reginald. I flopped back down and threw my arm over my eyes. He was the one thing I didn’t need right now.
“Well, look what the cat threw up on the couch,” he said as he sat down on a nearby chair. “For someone who didn’t want to go to that party last night, you certainly look like you lived it up.”
“Unless you have a death wish this morning, you should leave now,” I warned him.
“Hungover, are you? Would you like some coffee?”
“That would be great.” I would have agreed to anything if it got him out of my hair.
“Great, pick up some for me while you’re at Dark Sparks.”
“I swear to the gods I am going to kill you as soon as I can stand up without the room spinning,” I groused.
“What exactly happened last night?”
I opened my mouth to reply, then closed it. How could I explain it to him? It didn’t even make sense to me, and I lived it. I had a wonderful life in another reality, with a wife and kids, and lost it all in the blink of an eye. “Reg, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s…fantastical.”
Reginald leaned forward, resting his elbow on his upper leg. “Tell me everything.”
“Not until you get me some coffee. I’m serious.”
“I’ll be right back,” he replied, jumping up and rushing out of the office. I got up and went into the bathroom, leaning on the sink and studying my face in the mirror. I saw a haunted man. Not a normal look for me, to be honest. Sighing, I stripped out of my clothes and stepped in the shower, letting the hot water cascade over my head to ease some of the tension.
It took fifteen minutes for me to feel any better. By the time I stepped out of the bathroom, my brain had slowed down and was trying to figure things out. Reginald was sitting in the chair again, patiently waiting. A large coffee cup and a paper bag sat on the coffee table. “I thought you might be hungry, so I got you a couple of breakfast sandwiches,” he explained as I sat down on the couch.
“Thank you,” I said gratefully, picking up the coffee and taking a long drink. I opened the bag, took out a sandwich, and unwrapped it.
Reginald waited until I finished the first sandwich before saying anything. “Okay, spill it. What happened last night?”
I took a deep breath. “I’m not sure,” I said.
“What do you mean you’re not sure? What kind of answer is that?”
“I don’t need the attitude right now.”
“Fine, fine. But you’re acting weird. What is going on?”
I took another drink before answering. “I’m going to explain everything to you as best I can, and I want you to sit there and listen without interrupting me after every sentence. Is that understood?”
“But how am I supposed to learn if I don’t ask?”
“Not one question until I’m through, Reginald, or you can just die from curiosity.”
“Pft,” he replied, looking at his nails. “I can just ask Nike. She’ll tell me.”
“She’s unavailable at the moment, at least as far as I know.”
Reginald stared at me for a moment. “As much as being quiet goes against my nature, I shall nonetheless refrain from commenting until you have told me every juicy detail.”
“I will give you $500 if you manage to keep your word.”
His eyes widened. “Wow, this must be really good for you to do that.” He leaned back in the chair, crossed his left leg over his right, folded his hands on his lap, and took a deep breath. “Okay, deal. Start talking.”
I took another drink, then started the story. It took thirty minutes, and by the time I was done, Reginald’s mouth was hanging open. “That is the craziest thing I have ever heard in my life,” he finally said.
“Try seeing it from my point of view,” I retorted.
“Well, you lost the girl twice,” he replied. “I mean, that’s got to suck pretty hard.”
“That’s what you took from this story?”
“It does stand out, but it does remind me of something. There have been some reported disappearances around Olympus in the past few weeks. None of them have been found, either. I know the reporter who has been covering the story for the local paper. I’ll call her. It might cost me a Prada purse or something, but it will be worth the sacrifice.” He got to his feet. “Ares, there is something positive you can take from this.”
“And what is that?”
“Well, in the alternate reality, you were married to a woman who looked just like Kara. That sounds to me like the two of you are meant to be together.”
I stared at the coffee cup in my hand before looking up at him. “But what if I lose her like I lost Cassie? I’m not sure I could go through that again, Reg. It would destroy me.”
“We aren’t going to lose her, Ares. This isn’t the same situation. She’s still alive; I feel it here,” he said, placing his hand over his heart. “We will find her, and you two will get married.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“I’m always right. Haven’t you figured that out yet?” He walked toward the door.
“One more thing,” I said.
I got up and walked over to my desk. Picking up the glass, I carried it over to him. “Take this and get it analyzed at the lab. Whatever is in it knocked everyone out. If we can figure it out, maybe we can find an antidote. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait for them to realize who they truly are in their own alternate realities. I also want to get some men over there to guard that building. No one goes in or out unless they’re family. In the state they are in right now, they’re vulnerable. We need to make sure they’re protected.”
“I’ll call Theo right now,” Reginald said, taking the glass from me. “I’ll have them put a rush on this as well. Give me a few hours to gather the information we need. Maybe you should go upstairs and get some sleep. There’s nothing pressing you need to concern yourself with right now.”
I started to argue with him but decided he was probably right. “That’s a good idea. Wake me up when you know something.”
He nodded and left. I walked over and looked out the windows behind my desk. The sky was cloudy, the tree branches swaying in the wind. I heard a roll of thunder, followed by a lightning flash, and then it started to rain. The weather seemed to match my mood. Sighing, I turned around and stopped when I saw someone standing in the doorway.
“I told you that you were in trouble,” the man in black said. “Do you believe me now?”