|The Taylight Zone - Anthology One
02 - Mirror Image - Dreamtied
"What about that?!"
Zac's boundless energy was beginning to irk his two older brothers. They eyed him, dubiously, as he ran toward yet another attraction.
"Zac," Taylors voice was weary. "It's not even open, see the sign? Come on...."
Zac laughed, and continued his headlong flight, veering off toward an attraction bustling with people, Isaac and Taylor trudging behind. They'd been here all day, and while it had been a lot of fun, they were tired.
Isaac grinned, shaking his head, and stopped at a vendors booth. "We're not even slowing him down. Want a coke?"
Taylor nodded, smiling politely as the man behind the counter greeted him by name, and welcomed him to Fryeburg. That was one good thing. There had been a lot of people here who recognized them, but for the most part, no ridiculous antics. Most had simply remarked that they liked the music, and welcomed the boys to the biggest fair in Maine.
It was a welcome breather from all the hysteria, and the calm atmosphere had prompted Mr. Hanson to be lenient, and let the boys take some time on their own. Now, sipping his coke, and watching Zac join yet another mile long line, he sank down onto a bench. Down time was great, but it sure tired you out.
"Look at that line, he'll be there all day."
Isaac yawned. "I know. There's six million rides, and he picks the one with the line that reaches back to Tulsa. Figures."
They groused good naturedly for a few minutes more, watching as their brother vascilated. In line...out of line...in line....out of line.....he seemed to be having trouble making up his mind. His eyes were set solidly on something behind them.
"Ike, what's he looking at?"
"Damned if I know." Isaac twisted around, seeing nothing but more rides, more vendors, more games, more fun houses, and freak shows. "I have no clue. But I'm not waiting around. Lets go get him..."
A moment later, they retrieved their prize,laughing, kicking and squirming as he hung firmly suspended between them.
"Come on you guys, put me down!" He tried hard to sound mad.
"No. If we put you down you'll just go get in another line. It's like a sickness with you. You can't walk past a line without getting in it."
Taylors logic eluded Zac.
"But we're at the fair! You're supposed to stand in line! C'mon, put me down"
"No lines here, boys." The voice, soft yet somehow breaking through the crowded din, caught their attention. "No lines here, and the best show at the fair."
Isaac and Taylor set Zac down. There was no line. Just a solitary man, sitting on the steps of a rather small and seedy looking fun house.
"There, see?" Zac's voice held the hint of a whine. "No line. Can I at least go in this one?"
"What for, Zac, look at it!" Isaac snorted. "Nobody's even interested, it probably sucks...no offense."
He grinned at the carnie, who only shrugged, looking bored. "No problem for me, man. I get paid to sit here. But I'm telling you, it's the best show in the fair. You shouldn't judge...." His gaze turned sharp. "on appearances."
Zac looked pleadingly at his older brothers. "Come on guys, it's small. It won't take long."
Shaking his head in defeat, Isaac nodded. "Go ahead. I'm not going, I hate fun houses. So do you, I don't know what this thing you have is...."
Taylor snickered at him. "He just has to say he did everything at the fair. Hurry up, Zac. It's almost time to meet mom and dad."
Smiling brightly, he handed the carnie his ticket, and tripped up the stairs. Waving once, he disappeared inside.
Dropping down onto the steps, next to the bored ticket taker, Taylor nodded in his brothers direction. "He really never had any use for these things before. I don't know why it was so important."
The carnie shrugged. "You never know. But he'll like this one. It's....like nothing you've ever seen. You guys should try it."
Isaac shook his head. "No, I spent half a day once, lost in a house of mirrors. Not my idea of fun. I'll pass."
The carnie nodded then, remarking shortly. "Only one mirror in there. But you do what you like. Your brother should come out over there. If he comes out at all."
Taylors brows knit. "Why wouldn't he come out?"
The carnie shrugged. "Lots to do in there. People get...distracted."
Taylor scowled at the entrance. "Great. No line, but a zillion things for him to get all wound up in. Good trade."
"This is so cool!"Zac was charmed. At first the funhouse had been a dissapointment. Cheap and shoddy, typical of most similar attractions he'd been in. Bored, he'd almost turned around and gone out, when he'd caught site of his reflection in a mirror. Unlike most funhouse mirrors, that distort the reflection for amusements sake, this one reflected true.
Zac caught a reflection that looked almost....mean. Stepping closer, he squinted. Yep. It was his reflection, but it looked angry.
"How'ed they do that?" His giggle drifted, unheard in the empty room, reflected as a sneer, menacing, creepy.
"Whoa. This just rocks." He raised a hand, waving, and watched his reflection shake a fist. He frowned, and watched the reflection give an amused smile.
"It's exactly the opposite, this is so weird!!" He kept his expression and gestures neutral, and watched the reflection show true. No changes. Still the eyes looked nasty. Mean eyes.
"Me, with mean eyes....what a trip." Laughing, he reached to touch the glass, his hand touching the reflected hand. Giggling, he tipped the pad of his index finger, rocking it against the reflected finger.
He'd done that for hours, as a small child, watching the "two" fingers, feeling the illusion become stronger as his finger warmed the glass. A soft, giving sensation in the glass suddenly caused him to yank his hand back. That had been weird.
What was that?
He walked around to the back of the mirror. Nothing, just a mirror. No controls he could see. How strange. Now, the mirror seemed slightly less intriguing, and a little creepy. It had felt almost as if his hand had sunk into the glass. Edging around it, he headed for the exit.
He froze. He'd thought he was alone in here.
"Scared of the mirror? It's a fun house. You can't be scared."
The voice sounded familiar, but he couldn't place it. Turning, he saw no one. A tape? Walking back over to the mirror, sure that was what he was supposed to do, his grin returned. There was a show here. Smiling at the scowling reflection in the mirror, he spoke clearly.
"No, I'm not scared of the mirror, so there, too!" He pressed the palm of his hand, flat, against the mirror. "Just a mirror."
"Are you sure?" The voice came again, and dizziness suddenly overcame him, causing him to stumble a little, into the glass.
He leaned there for a few moments, waiting for his head to clear. What was this? Too much sun, probably. He'd had enough anyway. As soon as the room stopped spinning, he turned toward the exit, his heart giving a leap as he gazed into a totally unfamiliar room.
"Man, you were sure right about this. What's he doing in there?"Taylor was exasperated. They'd been out here for half an hour.
The carnie shrugged. "You might want to go get him. Be time to close, real soon. I'll have to cash in."
Sighing, wishing for the umpteenth time that Zac had stayed home, Taylor climbed to his feet, and reached down to Ike. "Come on, you know we'll have to drag him out. Let's go...."
Zac wandered the room, charm and engagement fast becoming panic. This wasn't funny anymore. He wanted to leave. He didn't know how they'd done it, he didn't care. He wanted the show over.
His call fell flat. Sound didn't seem to carry.
"Hey! Come on you guys, I've had enough. Just let me out now!" Nothing. Sighing, feeling his heart begin to race, he began walking the wall, hands searching for unseen doors. It was all a show, he just had to keep that in mind. It was all for fun.
"Zac?!" Isaac was baffled. The little room was empty. "Zac come on, this isn't funny! We have to go!"
"He's not in here, Ike.." Taylors voice was nervous. Something about this didn't feel right to him. They'd been all the way to the end of the trailer and back again, and there was just no sign of Zac.
"Of course he is, we were sitting right there. He'd have had to come right by us."
"Maybe he snuck out the back way....hey!" His eye caught the mirror. "Look. That's wild."
Isaac turned, eyes going wide. He and Tay reflected back, faces ugly and sneering. "Whoa. Creepy, innit? That what we'd look like if we were real jerks?" He laughed. "That's the one worthwhile thing I've seen in here, but I really don't care. I want to know where Zac is. ZAC!!!"
His voice echoed. Nothing. Not even a hiding giggle.
He started back toward the exit, when Taylor reached out and grabbed his arm. "Sshhh. Look...." His voice held a smile. Reflected in the mirror, behind their scowling and sneering reflections, stood Zac, his face relieved and hopefull. "He's sneaking up behind us. Keep quiet."
Grinning, Isaac ignored his own distorted image, and watched Zac come closer. Finally, tiring of the game, he turned around to intecept him, and felt his heart lurch in his chest. Nobody was there. No Zac. "Tay???" His nervous tone drew his brothers attention.
"What is it? He....where is he?" Puzzled, Taylor turned back to the mirror. Zac stood, reflected with them. His face was worried, and his lips moved, as if he were speaking. Knitting his brow, ignoring the open expectant expression on his reflected face, he spun around again. "Where in hell is he?! Zac, where are you? Ike...."
Ike was baffled. Obviously Zacs image was reflecting from some other mirror. Was this like that crazy funhouse he'd been in in Hershey? You think you're in the right room, but it's all illusion? God he hated funhouses. "I don't know, this is stupid. Hey!!!" He called out the exit, to the carnie. "Hey, just come on and help us find him! This isn't funny anymore."
The carnie stuck his head in. "Can't find him? It's just a little place. Thing is, I'm not s'posed to go in, not till we close. You take your time. I'll wait cash out for you." He resumed his spot on the steps, leaving Isaac staring after him in frustration.
Turning back to the mirror, he was alarmed to see tears streaming down Zac's face. He looked scared. Still, this freaky mirror reflected things in opposites, so Zac was probably laughing his butt off at them. "Tay, what do you think?"
Taylor didn't answer.
"Tay?" He looked around. No Tay. "Where in hell did you go?! Damn it all!"
He was ready to just leave, go tell his parents that the two of them were hiding in the fun house, and the hell with them, when he caught motion in the mirror. Turning, he saw his own altered image, and behind it, the reflection of a very normal looking Tay, hugging a very normal looking Zac, who appeared to be scared to death. "What the hell........".
He stepped closer to the mirror, wondering what on earth was going on. Dizziness hit a moment later.
"Hey." The carnie looked up, his bored face replaced with a cunning smirk. "Hey. Took long enough. Damn kids."
The boy who had spoken looked a great deal like Taylor.
A Taylor with another attitude. A Taylor who would think nothing of kicking a crying child on a playground.
Behind him, his brothers, Isaac and Zachary, identical expressions of contemptuous disgust played out against fair features. Menace in these faces, kindness an unheard of concept. "How much time do we have?" The image of Isaac spoke, soft sweetness replaced with scorn. "They took forever."
The carnie nodded. "Schedule has them playing out at the track, it's over that way. They said something about meeting "mom" and "dad", you better get moving. Don't stand around here all day, I gotta cash out."
Isaac sat with his brothers, as the room got colder. There was no question now. This was not a show, and there was no way out. He didn't understand what had happened. Glancing at Taylor, who sat with Zac curled up against him, he tapped his shoulder. "Tay, is he asleep?"
"Someone's gonna find us Tay, don't worry. It's just a funhouse."
Taylor gazed up at him. He was sleepy. He didn't even care. "Yeah Ike, whatever....." His voice drifted, and the room got colder.
Diana and Walker, brood in tow, sighed with relief as they saw the familiar forms of their older three boys, walking toward them.
"It's about time." Walkers voice sounded tired. "Come on you guys, hurry up. We still have a show to get ready for."
Taylor waved him off, his expression disgusted.
"Uh oh, he looks cranky. This should make the rest of the evening, a whole lot of fun...."