“How about the Twister?” April urged, staring at the lurching and spinning metal cars. The squeals of the riders punctured the soft night air.
Gabri shielded his eyes from the glare of the flashing colored lights that ran all along the top frame of the ride. “No thanks,” Gabri said, shaking his head and holding on to April. “I like some rides, but not the kind that make you dizzy.”
“Me too,” April agreed, gazing around the carnival grounds at the blaze of colored lights and the long row of game booths with their back walls covered with enormous stuffed animal prizes.
“Have you ever been on the Gravitron?” she asked.
“What’s that?” he asked warily, still shielding his eyes.
“I guess you haven’t,” she said, teasing him.
They walked for a bit, surveying the rides. Many of them were still and empty, awaiting riders. The carnival had opened only an hour earlier, and not many people had arrived.
The breeze off the ocean was warm and gentle. April was glad she had decided to come with Gabri. He was fun and charming in a sort of old-fashioned way. The complete opposite of Matt, she thought spitefully.
Her anger had passed, but she wondered if Matt would even care that she had gone out with another boy.
“Do you like the carousel?” Gabri asked as they came to it. “This one is kind of drab, isn’t it? Look—part of that horse’s head has come off.”
“It’s gross,” April agreed. “Carousels are too slow and babyish.” I’ll take the twins on it tomorrow night, she thought.
“You’re in a reckless mood tonight, aren’t you!” he asked, his eyes locked on hers.
“Maybe,” she replied coyly, feeling the pull of those dark, dark eyes.
They walked along the row of game booths. A little kid was standing up on the counter of one booth, about to throw darts at a wall of balloons. The girl working behind the counter was ducking out of the way, about ten feet away.
Suddenly April grabbed Gabri’s hand and tugged. “Come on. I know what will be cool.”
He pulled back, hesitating. “What is it?”
“I’ll show you,” she said. “Stop being such a chicken.” She tugged his arm hard, and he reluctantly allowed himself to be dragged across the grass, past the game booths to a tall structure at the back of the field.
“Come on—” April urged impatiently. “The House of Mirrors!”
“No!” Gabri protested.
But April had already bought two tickets from the old, bored attendant and was pulling her reluctant companion up the ramp to the entrance.
“Really! I hate these things!” Gabri cried, holding back.
April wouldn’t let go. “You really are a chicken,” she chided him. “Come on, Gabri. This isn’t even scary! You’ll see!”
She dragged him inside, a bit surprised by his fear.
Inside, a narrow maze of glass and mirrors twisted endlessly. Staring at six reflections of herself, April laughed. Where was the opening? “Hey, Gabri—”
But he was far behind her.
“Gabri—you okay?” she called.
“I think so!” she heard his voice somewhere behind a mirrored wall.
Are we all alone in here? she wondered. She didn’t hear any other voices or any feet clomping along the metal floor.
She leaned down as she made her way through a doorway, blinking at her several reflections, then turned a corner into an identical corridor of mirrors.
Was that him or just a reflection?
Pain throbbed across her forehead as she walked into a mirrored pane she had mistaken for an opening. She closed her eyes and rubbed the ache away, laughing at herself for being fooled.
When she opened her eyes, there were at least eight reflections staring back at her. In one mirror, her images seemed to repeat forever, growing smaller and smaller and less distinct as they receded to infinity.
“Hey, I think I’m lost!” she called. “Where are you?”
“Over here,” came a muffled reply. April spun around, thinking he was behind her, but saw only several surprised reflections of herself.
Feeling along the glass, she found the doorway, stepped into a darker chamber. The fluorescent light in there flickered, casting her reflections in eerie green shadows, as they stared back at her. Her expression grew troubled, exasperated.
This isn’t as much fun as I thought, she realized, mistaking a pane of clear glass for a doorway and bumping her knee. “Ow.”
Am I going in circles? she wondered.
Am I ever going to get out of here?
She decided to wait right there, not to move until he caught up.
Why hadn’t he answered her? Maybe he wasn’t heading in her direction.
She decided to make her way back, to retrace her steps. But that wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
Walking carefully, trailing her hands along the glass, she followed her reflections to the chamber with the flickering fluorescent bulb.
“Gabri? Where are you?”
And then she glimpsed him, crouched low, staring straight ahead.
Was that his reflection? Or was it him?
She moved closer, could see only one image.
That must be him. Where were his reflections?
It’s so hot in here, she thought, suddenly flushed and prickly all over.
So hot. So uncomfortable.
Her knee and forehead still throbbed, reminders of her collisions with the glass.
Gabri closed his eyes for a minute, then opened them to stare at the reflectionless mirrors, so blank, so empty, so . . . accusing.
It’s so hot in here, he thought. The ceilings are so low. It’s like—a coffin.
A glass coffin.
I’m so thirsty now. So hot and thirsty.
I need the nectar so badly now.
“Gabri!” He could hear her calling him, as if she knew that he needed her. “Gabri—over here! Can you see me?”
April and I are all alone in here, he realized.
All alone. And I’m so thirsty.
I can’t wait any longer.
I must have the nectar.
The empty mirrors glared back blank at him as he eased his way silently toward her.
There she is, he thought, gliding around a glass-walled corner, searching for me. Searching the mirrors for me.
Well, you won’t see me in the mirrors, April.
I’m alone tonight.
I come for you.
He reached for her—and hit glass.
Startled, he recoiled, momentarily dazed by the reflected light.
He spun around and saw reflected movement.
“Gabri!” she called to him.
He pounced, his arms outstretched, coming at her from behind. Once again, his hands hit glass.
These reflections are protecting her, he thought. They’re mocking me. Mocking me!
His anger grew to meet his thirst.
I must drink now! I must!
April saw him approach, his hands stretched in front of him, moving uncertainly, as if blinded by the lights. I shouldn’t have dragged him in here, she thought guiltily. He doesn’t look as if he’s having a very good time.
Surrounded by her reflections, she called to him. “Gabri—over here!”
He lowered his hands and turned to her, a strange smile on his face, a relieved smile, yet somehow—unpleasant. “There you are.” His voice seemed to float from far away.
As he moved toward her, sliding along the glass walls, his eyes burning into hers, the narrow chamber seemed to close in on her, and the mirrors all fogged up.
“Gabri—” she started, but the fog descended.
The only light now came from his eyes.
He moved closer still, until he appeared to hover over her.
“Gabri—where are your reflections?” April asked dreamily.
“It’s too dark for reflections,” he replied, sounding so far away, miles away, far across the fog.
“But I can’t see your reflections.”
“I’m right here,” he said, the cold gray light from his eyes penetrating hers.
April backed into her reflections. As Gabri moved nearer, she could feel herself slipping into the infinity of images, growing smaller and less distinct as she blurred into the mirror world, a world growing darker.
As she slipped back, Gabri leaned forward.
Then, uttering a moan of triumph from deep within his throat, he hungrily lowered his head for the kiss.