Jon Morris called it disco-balling. Everyone else wouldn’t call it anything because from their point of view nothing happened. One moment the members of Spell Squadron sat tied to a tractor in the basement of a cult leader’s farm. The next moment nothing in the scene had changed. Except everything had changed. Because between the two moments, Jon Morris blinked. In that amount of time, he disco-balled.
The world went dark and Jon appeared in a void. The space had no visible light sources but he could see. The sort of thing that could only happen in a magic pocket dimension. Points of light glinted in the distance all around him. These were the mirrors. Jon could never tell if these mirrors started out far away and flew towards him or if they started out microscopic and grew. Space was hard to judge here. Spinning and turning, they reflected the light that shouldn’t exist around until images of himself were all he could see.
The mirrors gave him countless windows into this other world, but despite the many windows, it was only the one other world with the one other Jon. The Jon who was right-handed instead of left-handed. The Jon who was missing the pinky toe on his left foot instead of his right.
They first met when they were twelve. They put their hands on the full-length mirrors in their bedrooms and fell into it. Or did it pull them in? The void appeared and then the mirrors.
“What is this place?” The question echoed. Except it wasn’t an echo. His mirror image was speaking slightly off sync from him. “Are you . . .” his question trailed off because his mirror image wasn’t asking the question with him.
“Are you me?” The Jon in the mirror asked him.
The boy in the mirror nodded. “Me too.”
“How do you spell it? Is it with an h?”
Mirror Jon leaned toward the barrier between them and exhaled, turning the mirror into a writing surface. He started on the right and wrote to the left and wrote the same three letters Jon would have, but backward.
“No, it’s Jon.”
“Not to me.”
“How do you spell yours then?”
Jon mirrored the actions performed just a bit ago by the other boy.
“Now that looks like Noj to me.”
The kids argued for most of their first visit over what to call each other.
The present-day Jon in the mirrors shook his head. “Quite a pickle we’re in, Leftie.”
Both Jons sighed. “What do we know about this guy?”
“He’s supposed to be dead.”
“Yeah, I don’t see how he could have survived our previous encounter.”
Jon had encountered the man that had them imprisoned once five years ago at the end of the previous iteration of Spell Squadron. Wherewolf, the ultimate tracker found the man. They hadn’t learned his name but he was the leader of the Order of Hecatate, an occult operation working on a spell to destroy the world because the one they worshiped needed a snack. Apparently, Hecatate needed the globe to be broken down before consuming it. The leader used the analogy of an orange needing to be peeled and divided into pieces before being enjoyed.
Spell Squadron managed to stop them, but not without major losses. Specter didn’t die as he was already a ghost, but his anchor to the physical world, a dog at the time, didn’t make it. Lady Luck survived, but her husband, Captain Havoc, wasn’t so lucky. Ms. Mist is presumed dead, but her body or any traces of it were never found. With most of the team dead or gone Lady and Jon went their separate ways until recently she started the team up again.
“You would expect him to at least be disfigured or something with how the last time ended.”
“We should have helped more with the cleanup.”
“We were in no state to help any more than we did.”
“But we should have known Aegis wouldn’t get it right. Their mystical guy. What was his name?”
“I think it was just Magic.”
“So dumb. He didn’t know the first thing about magic.”
Jon sighed. This time just the left-handed one. “What are we going to do about this though?”
Both Jons turned one hundred and eighty degrees. One of the many mirrors now showed the scene of the basement. The image showed the outside world in real time, but since disco-balling existed in an infinitesimally small fraction of a second, it was essentially a still picture.
“He’s certainly in the know about how we all get our powers.”
“He broke Lady’s wands.” He had discarded the remains of the wands to the side of the room. The debris looked like a small bit of kindling someone had tried to start a fire on and failed. The broken ends of the sticks burnt from the release of the magic they contained.
“He tore Spellbinder’s Arcane Lens out of their body.” The robot on their team didn’t need to be tied up to the tractor with everyone else. The crude removal of the arcane lens took with it enough essential parts that Spellbinder was left a twitchy mess. Jon hoped it wasn’t anything beyond fixing once they got out of this. If they got out of this.
“He’s got some sort of spirit clamp on Talon’s leg.”
“You mean Talon. Talon’s Talon.”
Right-handed Jon sighed.
Talon likewise wasn’t tied up. Jon assumed it was too hard to properly tie up a bird. Their captor shoved Talon in a cage and the clamp on her leg seemed to be keeping Specter inside as he hadn’t made contact since.
“That leaves Clepsammia’s top hat.” The cult leader had taken Clepsammia’s top hat and tried to destroy it by ripping it apart and when that failed he had tried stomping on it. He had done enough research beforehand to know that the main component in her powers was her top hat, but not enough to know about its resiliency. Clep frequently popped inside her top hat to avoid danger with her hat surviving anything thrown at it. Whether he thought he was different than the bombs and spells the hat had previously endured or just didn’t take note of it, Jon didn’t know. After failing to destroy it, he placed the top on top of the metal cabinet next to the door before leaving. Perhaps he left to get something more likely to destroy the hat or perhaps he was about to start the next phase of his plan, but Jon knew this was their chance to do something and the hat was their best chance at doing something worthwhile.
“It’s got to be the hat.” They said simultaneously. They weren’t bound to synchronicity in the disco ball, but living most of their lives synced up outside of the void meant they sometimes they did the same things inside too.
“How are we going to get it to Clepsammia? He didn’t leave anything even slightly reflective in here.”
“Yeah. The tractor is too rusted to be of any use.”
“Remember,” Jon said in a voice deeper than his own. “There are reflections everywhere.”
They laughed. “As we get older and older I think more and more that he was as lost in the world of reflection magic as we are.”
“Did our baddie have a belt buckle or anything?”
The Jon in the mirrors closed his eyes in remembrance. “Not that I can recall.”
“Wait. I think I got it.”
Jon looked over at Lady and was ready to get her attention, but her attention was already on him.
“What do you got?”
“How do you always know when I’ve disco-balled?”
She sighed. “It was cute to call it that when you were a kid. Not so much anymore.”
“What do you got?”
“A longshot. Can you give me some good luck?”
Lady Luck frowned. “Without my foci, it’ll apply to everyone around here.”
“I know, but it’s the best shot we’ve got.”
“Just disclaiming. Say when.”
Jon shuffled his body so he could turn to the teen girl. “Cleps. Can you cry for me?”
“What?” She tried to give him a skeptical look, but in the current circumstances her face contorted to something closer to awkward discomfort.
“I need you to look at your hat and tear up if you can.”
Her face showed she still wanted to ask questions, but she nodded. “I’ll try.” She took her eyes from him and focused on the other side of the room. Her eyes started to water a bit.
“Now. Don’t look away from your hat and don’t close your eyes.”
“Okay . . .”
“Alright Lady, let’s go.”
Jon inhaled as much air as his lungs could fit. He pursed his lips, and then aimed at Clepsammia’s eyes and blew out a burst of breath. Eyes weren’t the most reflective surface. The tears boosted it a bit, but he would need some luck in order to get a wind spell to affect the hat. Luckily, they had Lady on their side. Clepsammia strained not to blink. Her face twitching in an effort to keep the eyelids from their involuntary response. Jon could see in the reflection of her eyes the hat start to wobble.
“Blink.” He said before reloading his lungs.
She blinked and then went back to staring at the hat. He blew into her eyes again and then he heard the hat fall to the floor on the other side of the room. Everyone watched as the hat fell down the front of the metal cabinet. The hat hit the handles which translated some if its vertical velocity to horizontal and landed on Lady’s broken wands. The slight hill of the broken sticks caused the hat to roll towards Clepsammia. She contorted her body away from the tractor to try to get a foot on the hat, but she couldn’t quite reach. Then the door opened and the man appeared. Jon has filled with dread that their plan was over until he saw the effects of the entrance. The force of the door being opened pushed the hat just into Clepsammia’s reach. She dipped a toe in the hat and that was all the hat needed to start its swallow. It rose up her body, contorting to deliver her to wherever it was her powers took her. Jon imagined it was similar to his void, but he had never been. Soon only her hands, still tied to the tractor, were outside of the hat.
The man stared in horror at the mistake he had made. Clepsammia’s hands started to glow and then the ropes holding her in place had no chance against her. Her hands disappeared into the hat and the hat flopped down with its opening toward the ground. Then the hat sprung into the air reversing the process that had just happened. There she stood hatted, caped, and free from bonds. In an instant, she was at the man and had him pinned up against the wall. With her unoccupied hand, she grabbed her hat and tossed it at the birdcage. “Sorry Talon,” she cried out as the hat collided with the cage and sent it crashing to the ground. The cage popped open with the impact and Talon flew from it. She flew to Jon’s hands and then Lady’s, a quick snip of the beak setting each of them free. Jon freed Talon from the spirit clamp and Specter’s ghostly form flew out of her. His arm in a position like a falconer for her to perch. She did.
Jon turned to the lady while rubbing his wrists “Looks like we turned this one around.”
She stood. “Lucky break.” Lady winked and then rushed over to help Clepsammia.
The End . . . FOR NOW