The Box's Pandora part 24

The breakfast table was filled with an awkward silence, as neither Jake nor I would look at each other, much less speak. Dave, who was caught in the middle of the situation, kept looking back and forth between us, obviously wondering what was going on.

“All right,” Dave finally asked. “Did you two have a fight or something?”

“Or something,” Jake and I responded simultaneously. At any other time, we both would have laughed at that, but not this morning.

“It’s complicated,” I said, to which Jake grimly nodded.

Dave gave us both a curious look. “Does this have something to do with those guys who are after you two?”

Jake and I both hesitated to answer that one, though Jake finally did. “We just found out that one of the people we thought they’d killed…is still alive. They have her as a prisoner.”

Dave let out a loud gasp at that, looking surprised. “How the hell did you find that out?”

“Magic mirror,” I answered with a grimace.

Jake gave me a flat look, then told Dave, “She managed to get a message out, on a message board we frequent. Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell us where she was, only that she’s alive and a prisoner.”

I nodded along at that, thinking that it was a good story and wishing that I’d thought it up. It was certainly a lot more believable than the truth. Then again, our current situation was so weird, and so messed up, that almost anything would be more believable than the truth.

Once we were finished with breakfast, I went back down to the basement suite in order to shower and get dressed for the day. It was strange to realize, that I was actually starting to get used to a more feminine morning routine, which consisted of things like shaving my legs, doing my hair, and putting on makeup. Not long ago, I never would have imagined myself doing any of those things, but now, they were almost starting to become normal for me.

Just a minute after I’d returned to our suite, Jake came down after me. I was a bit surprised at that, since he’d been avoiding me since yesterday, or at least, ever since he’d learned that Theressa was my mom.

“Did you need something?” I asked Jake, seeing from the look on his face that he wanted to say something.

“Byron,” Jake started.

This was the first time Jake had said my old name, and it almost felt like he’d hit me. I’d spent a lot of time and effort trying to put Byron out of my mind, trying to forget that I used to be him. The only way that I’d been able to adapt to my new life and move on as much as I had, was the knowledge that I was no longer that boy, and that I could never go back.

“Don’t call me that,” I snapped at Jake, who seemed surprised at my vehemence. “Do I look like a Byron to you?”

“No,” Jake started to respond.

“Do I sound like a Byron to you?” I asked.

“No,” Jake repeated. “You don’t.”

Then, I held up my makeup kit and demanded, “And do I act like a Byron?”

“No,” he repeated again, obviously uncomfortable with the situation. “But you…”

“Byron is dead,” I stated firmly, looking Jake in the eyes. “Just as dead as Cliff or Dora. That was something I had to learn, if I didn’t want to go insane. I’m Pandora now, not anybody else.”

Jake took a step back, then paused to continue staring at me, this time with a look of pity in his eyes. He finally nodded. “I think I can understand.”

I turned away from Jake and went to the magic mirror, though I had to fight the urge to simply pick it up and put it into the box. The box wanted that mirror, which meant, that I had to fight the box itself. Unfortunately, at the moment, I couldn’t afford to give the box what it wanted. That mirror was the only way I had to find Theressa.

“Mirror mirror on the wall,” I started, though I was pretty sure that I didn’t need to say anything along those lines for the mirror to really work. Still, it had worked yesterday, so I saw no reason not to repeat the process.

I touched the frame of the mirror, thinking about Theressa, and the reflection began to shimmer and change. I let out a sigh of relief that it was working again.

Yesterday, the mirror had shown Theressa for only a couple minutes, then the image had faded, and no matter how hard Jake and I tried, it didn’t work again. It had just acted like an ordinary mirror. Now, since it was working again, I wondered if the mirror had simply needed time to rest and recharge.

“Where is Theressa?” I asked the mirror.

I saw an image of the same room as yesterday, with Theressa sitting on a chair, reading a book. She didn’t look any worse than she had yesterday, which was a relief, though she was obviously still a prisoner.

“Yes,” I said impatiently. “But WHERE is she?”

The image zoomed out, so instead of looking at the room, I was now looking at the outside of a house. It was a large house, almost a mansion, and one that was obviously very expensive. From that view, I could see several armed men walking around, acting as guards.

“I need to see more,” I told the mirror.

The image began rotating, giving me a better look at the house, including the driveway which had a couple cars parked there. Unfortunately, it didn’t do me any good, and after a minute, the image faded away, and I was looking at my own reflection.

“Damn,” I muttered, touching the frame and saying, “Show me Theressa again…” Nothing happened. “Mirror Mirror on the wall…” Again, nothing happened. It was just like yesterday, when Theressa’s image had vanished and the mirror stopped working.

“At least we know that the mirror isn’t a one-time thing,” Jake pointed out, looking vaguely pleased. “We’ll just have to wait until it recharges again, and see if we can zoom out further, or get some other clues about where this is.”

“But how long will that take?” I asked bitterly. “We still have no idea where to even start.”

“Oh, we know where to start,” Jake disagreed. “In a very general area, at least.”

I gave Jake a curious look. “What do you mean?”

“The cars in the driveway,” Jake pointed out, looking just a little smug. “They all had license plates with the same state. I think, we can guess at least which state Theressa is in.”

“Really?” I asked, feeling a surge of hope, until I remembered one small detail. “That still covers a LOT of area, and there’s no way we can find Theressa with just that…”

“No,” Jake agreed with thoughtful look. “But it is a start. And if we keep using the mirror, we might be able to narrow it down even further.”

I reluctantly nodded at that. “It is a start,” I said. “But we will need more…”

“Yes,” Jake responded with a sigh. “We’ll need a lot more than just a location. We’ll need firepower, resources, and probably a lot of help.”

“Well, I do have a whole box full of magic weapons,” I pointed out wryly. I glanced to the box, which was floating invisibly a short distance away. “Unfortunately, it isn’t going to let us borrow them.”

“Did it tell you that?” Jake asked, more curious than anything else.

“Not exactly,” I replied with a shake of my head. “But I’ve tried pulling something out of the box, just to see if I could, and it wouldn’t let me. I guess it wouldn’t make for a very good vault if I could just take anything out whenever I wanted to.”

Jake gave a sharp, bitter laugh at that. “So, even if Kraesse got his hands on the box, he wouldn’t be able to pull anything out of it anyway…”

I shrugged at that. “Probably not.”

Jake and I were silent for several seconds, as we both considered our current situation and our limited options. “I don’t like the idea of you risking yourself by going after Theressa.” Then, before I could argue, he quickly added, “But I understand why you need to. If they had my dad as prisoner, I’d have to go too…”

“I am sorry you lost your dad,” I told Jake quietly. I glanced towards the mirror, adding, “I know exactly how that feels…”

“I imagine you do,” Jake said. “I don’t know how, but we’ll find a way to get Theressa back. I promise.”

“Thank you,” I responded, throwing my arms around him in a hug. “Thank you.”



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