Chandra Press
Great Science Fiction Starts Here
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Mirrors

The more their connection grows, the deeper the mystery goes.

 


If you enjoy reality bending sci-fi like Inception, The Matrix, and Waking Life, you'll love Mirrors!

All Sarah wants is to find her father. All Sam wants is a sense of purpose amidst her seemingly perfect life. What they find is much more than either of them bargained for.

Sarah has been searching for her missing father for the past four years. Sam has a seemingly perfect life, but something is missing. A set of strange circumstances and the onset of confusing visions sets them searching for answers. Individually they discover the answers the other needs: a secret formula, the answers to the disappearance of Sarah’s father, and a shadowy organization that seems to hold the key.

As the visions increase in intensity and frequency, and the women struggle to keep a grip on reality, they embark on a journey to understand what it all means. The connection that exists between them has larger implications than they can imagine, and they are not the only ones who know about it. They must work together, with a newly forged team of friends to evade capture and protect a mind-bending formula from getting into the wrong hands.

Sarah and Sam must become connected, truly connected, and discover their true purpose as the lives they once knew unravel before them.  With everything they cherish on the line, can Sarah and Sam solve the mystery of their connection before time runs out?

What Reviewers Are Saying about Mirrors

“Over 50 years enjoying sci-fi and author Williams manages to come up with a twist on alternate realities that I have never encountered before. Very well developed characters draw the reader into a tale that starts with a modest pace that accelerates throughout the book, making it hard to put down. An impressive and satisfying first publication.” - Fred B.

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Mirrors"  I could hardly put it down once I started reading it and then could not wait to get back to it to see what happens next!!!!  This was a great read by this new writer and I hope it is not my last. - Linda B.

“Two stories, that wrap around each other and squeeze you breathless. What ends up unfolding is a scifi mystery that I didn't see coming. This story has a lot of twists and turns and heart pounding moments where you think everything will unravel just to be drawn deeper into the story. Take your Super Pill and read this book. - Matthew W.

"Sonya Williams is a talented storyteller and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! What a fantastic debut novel from a new author. I am eager to read more and, fingers crossed, I am hoping that Sam and Sarah's journey is not over yet. Fans of science fiction should read this book." - Jennifer S.

“A secret hospital conspiracy, a missing persons mystery, a mind bending twist on reality and a good ole fashion bad guy with face scars. All this and more untangles itself before the reader in Sonya Deulina Williams’ “Mirrors”. This fast paced, world leaping novel will unfold a story you could never guess and leave you wondering what will happen next." - Jessie C.



1. Waking Life: The Usual Grind

The alarm blared its clamorous 6:35 a.m. in neon-blue. Sarah’s shift started in less than thirty minutes. She pushed the snooze button for the fourth time. There was something strenuous beyond belief about opening her eyes and climbing out of bed, no matter how many hours of sleep she got the night before. It didn’t help that her shift at NC Roasters Coffee Shop started at 7:00 a.m. Sarah pushed the covers aside, shoving her insistent terrier, Drano, onto the floor. He looked up at her questioningly, having no awareness of the irritation he was inducing.

“Why bother with this alarm clock when I have you?” Sarah shook the clock threateningly at the unaffected canine. “Okay. Okay... let’s go!” Sarah rolled over the side of the bed and opened the sliding glass door to the back yard. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes, as Drano bounded out, sniffed the grass, and then raised a curious ear at a rustling in the leaves.

Sarah remembered the day she got Drano. He was barely bigger than the palm of her hand and filled with inexhaustible amounts of energy. Six years later, he was still, equally neurotic.

“Come on, go already.” Sarah looked at her phone impatiently. She was going to be late again. Drano looked over at her and stuck his tongue out tauntingly, displaying his innocent canine grin. Sarah smiled back in a way that let Drano know that he would be meeting his maker if he didn’t move along. Drano then, by pure coincidence, found a choice spot to do his business and trotted back into the apartment. Sarah walked to her chaise lounge and began pulling on her uniform, which lay in a crinkled pile.

~~~

She pushed open the glass door of the coffee shop, smudging the clean glass, brushing the sweaty strands of hair from her forehead with her other hand.  She was drenched from the overly brisk walk she had not planned on taking that morning. She checked her phone again. “Shit, I’m really late.” With swiftly moving fingers, she clocked in and began the morning brews.Only three more hours till my break with Bri.

It was safe to say that Sarah didn’t like her job. Plus, she hated coffee so the free brew was not an added incentive to her like it was for the perpetually hungover college students she worked with. Unfortunately, her journalism career with local paper, Resonance Weekly,wasn’t paying the bills.  

The coffee shop had a fifties diner vibe. Each table displayed a yellow and red carnation. The floors had a red and white checkerboard pattern and the register was old-fashioned and popped open with a loud ring. There were various pastries and fresh baked pies in the glass case near the front counter.  The walls were covered in re-purposed sculptures, made by a local artist, consisting of old tin plates, forks, spoons and knives. They were shaped into portraits of old movie stars. There was even one formed around a working clock, which resembled Elvis Presley. An old jukebox sat near the front door that had been broken for years. According to the manager, it was there for decoration.

“Hi Rollo,” Sarah said to the middle-aged man fiddling with three bags of colorful balloons in the front booth. 

“Hiya, Sarah! How are you this morning? Would you like a balloon?”

“Sure!”

Rollo grinned and reached into one of the opened bags.

“What color would you like?”

“I’ll take a green one today.”

“Okay, here you go! You enjoy that Sarah,” Rollo said enthusiastically as he fished out the balloon. 

Rollo was a simply-dressed, middle-aged white man, with curly gray hair and a mustache. He came in when the coffee shop opened every morning with his balloons, greeting and striking up conversations with every customer who would walk in. He would offer up his balloons and derive great pleasure when they were accepted and blown up in front of him. He especially loved kids, as they were the most genuinely thrilled to receive one. 

Sarah wasn’t exactly sure if he had a special quirk or if there was something wrong with him. All she knew was that he was kind to everyone he met, and he loved people. Sarah never refused him. Her house had amassed quite a number of balloons over the years, and on Rollo’s birthday, the staff would blow them up and put them around the restaurant for him, which made him so excited, you would think he just won a Ferrari. 

The hours went by quickly. Sarah remained largely behind the counter making coffee and handing out pastries, wiping down the counter and brewing more coffee. She liked this part of the morning, it was busy, and she didn’t notice the time passing. After a while, the parade of customers stopped, and Sarah went to the back to restock and then zipped back to the front of the restaurant to wipe down the tables.

 Sarah heard the bell ring as Brianne (Bri) confidently walked in, her four-inch heels clacking on the linoleum.  

“Anne, I’m going to take my break now,” Sarah yelled back into the kitchen to her manager.

“Okay, but did you wipe down the counters?” came the muffled reply, subdued by the clanging of dishes.

“Yes ma’am!” she yelled back, rolling her eyes.

Bri was always the punctual sister, never feeling the need to rush around to get places, because she was simply always ahead of schedule. The two were pretty close and Bri would come to visit Sarah at work at least once a month, just to chat with her. Bri smiled and smoothed back her sleek, platinum blonde hair behind her diamond studded ears. Although Sarah and her sister looked somewhat alike, no one would take them for siblings. Brianne was tall and confident, always dressed in designer labels. Today it was a sleek, mid-length red dress, with a plunging neckline that revealed a flashy, gold Chanel necklace. She was not plump, but had a full, curvaceous figure, unlike Sarah, who was thin and petite. 

Her sister’s hair was always perfectly straightened or curled, and her makeup flawlessly and expertly refined. Sarah, on the other hand, would wear the same ripped jeans four days in a row. They were usually accompanied by some arbitrary graphic-T she’d owned since middle school. Needless to say, she did not buy herself clothes often. Her nails were short and uneven, because she bit them, out of nervous habit or boredom, and makeup was definitely not on the daily agenda.

Bri always donned a bronze, summer tan, mostly from her weekly trips to the tanning bed and her monthly rendezvous to exotic beaches, accompanied by equally exotic and affluent lovers. She would have torrid and short-lived affairs with them, and then move on to the next eligible bachelor. Sarah was pale, from spending too much time reading in her basement. 

“Hey Bri! Just wait just one second. I just need to finish wiping down the tables.” Sarah leaned over the white table, scrubbing the crumbs off the surface in circular motions with her rag. 

 “Okay, sounds good.” Bri sat down at one of the window booths, carefully crossing her legs and gold strappy wedge heals under the table. She clacked her cherry red nails down on the table a few times, impatiently, then picked them up, inspecting them for stickiness.

“So how was that wine and painting class last week?” Sarah asked sitting down, slinging the rag over her shoulder.

“Great, actually. My painting was pretty terrible, though. I think I might have done more winethan painting.” Bri laughed and threw her arms up in the air. “Oh, and I wanted to show you something.” She rummaged through her large Coach purse for a few seconds.  “So… I was going through the attic trying to find the old family photo albums and I came across this.” Bri pulled out a golden pocket watch and dangled it in front of Sarah, flashing her a childish grin. 

“Oh, wow. Dad’s old pocket watch,” Sarah said in surprise. A trace of pain passed across her face.

“Yeah, and I wanted to give it to you. Here, look at the picture inside.” Bri popped open the watch. 

“Dad and I on a fishing trip,” Sarah replied in a monotone voice.

She remembered that trip so clearly. It was one of the few they had taken together. She could see it now: her father scribbling in his notebook and neglecting his fishing rod, her seven-year-old self, yelling out as the bob started going under; her father throwing his notebook down in a frazzled heap; watching him reel that fish in with so much finesse; screeching in delight as the fish squirmed in her hands.

“Yeah, I know how you always loved those trips. I thought you should have it.”

Bri was a city girl, and the rugged outdoors had no appeal for her. Her finely manicured hands would scarcely touch a dirty dish, let alone a slimy river trout. 

“Thanks.”

The image of the caught fish dangling from the line was gone and replacing it was the splayed bloody carcass on a wooden table, Dad removing the guts using a pocketknife and his bare hands. 

“Hey, I thought you’d be happy,” said Bri in confusion, when she noticed Sarah’s crestfallen face. 

“I am, it’s just, I don’t know, seeing him— hurts. You know that’s why I keep his stuff at your house.” 

“Sarah, it’s been four years, I just thought…” Bri stammered and dropped her hands down on the table in exasperation.

     “You just thought— I would have gotten over it by now. He’s only been gone for four years Bri. Four years is not that long in the grand scheme of things.”

“No, I just thought—”

“No, I get it. Thanks. Really, thanks.” Sarah grabbed the watch and got up quickly, turning her back to Bri and squeezing her eyes shut. She remembered her father, sitting in the living room, popping open the golden pocket watch and exclaiming, “It’s half past noon, let’s have some tea, Sarah!” That pocket watch was given to him by his father and he carried it wherever he went. Sometimes he would rub his thumb over it while he worked or was lost in thought. Bri should have remembered how much this watch meant. God, how could Bri be so nonchalant about all this?! 

“Sarah I’m sorry… I know it still hurts, but I just thought you might want to have this…”

Sarah turned around slowly, steadying her shaking voice. “Bri, Dad is not just a memory. He’s still out there somewhere. I know it.”

“Sarah, you’re not still looking, are you?” 

“Well, can you blame me? He’s our father and I don’t understand how you and Mom just forgot about him, when there’s no evidence he’s dead.” 

“Sarah,” Bri looked at Sarah blankly before continuing. “We've been over this. We've done all we can and it's time to move on now. I'm really concerned that you're stuck on this again. Have you been seeing your therapist?”

 Sarah's mouth moved inaudibly for a moment, before she finally spoke. “Look Bri, I have to get back to work. I’ll see you later.”

There were no words left in her to continue the conversation. This wound was as raw as it had always been. The day her father disappeared, or rather the day she had last seen him, was etched into her mind with cinematographic precision, even though she had not suspected anything was wrong then. She remembered her pain and confusion when she realized weeks later, that he was truly missing. The pain that followed had torn her heart and very existence asunder, as did the weeks that dragged on and nothing turned up, as did every time something or someone reminded her of that time. To deal with this life bending pain, she had developed a skill of repressing those emotions, and had honed it to a point of near mastery. She still had to live her life, after all.  

~~~

With the idea of a nice visit with her sister shattered, the rest of the afternoon crept by slowly. Still, she did not have time to mope. Sarah left the shop that afternoon feeling despondent and queasy from the conversation that morning and from her stomach growling. She had almost forgotten to text her mom to check on Drano, almost. It was one of her longer days and she had no time to stop by her house in the interim. She had forgotten her lunch that day and frankly had forgotten to eat altogether. She checked her reflection in the huge, reflective glass sides of a financial investments building in downtown Raleigh, for visible signs of distress, and after straightening out her skirt and tucking her hair behind her ears neatly, she picked up her pace. 

The walk to her second job was short; she didn’t even need a bike. The temperature outside that afternoon was rising quickly, and Sarah wrapped her jacket around her waist. She didn’t drive much, only when she went out on assignments, which was usually a couple of times a week. 

The sidewalk was narrow where she walked and to either side grew petite magnolia trees and beds of fuchsia, purple and yellow pansies, and geraniums.  Downtown Raleigh was beautiful; the perfect combination of industrial and natural. The air was crisp and clean. 

Forrester Care Psychiatric Hospital was just a block away from Resonance Weekly. It towered above her, large and gray, nestled in the middle of downtown, with a good-sized enclosed green space around it. It was a modern building and reminded her more of some corporate high rise than a psychiatric hospital. The rectangular building was six stories of reflective glass windows and steel frame. The entrance had an elaborate glass canopy that gave it an artistic touch. The gardens around the building were also at a sharp contrast to the sleek industrial design of the building. Rows of multicolored blooms lined the walkway and entrance to the building.

The construction crew was back again. Two men standing near the entrance, wearing yellow hard hats, wiped the sweat off their faces and took large gulps of blue Gatorade. One of them, a short, bald man in his mid-twenties, began to speak. Sarah slowed her pace. As a journalist and a naturally curious person, she was prone to eavesdropping. 

“Mike, there’s nothing wrong with your back, that thing was just really heavy. You’re in your early forties, come on man...”

“Yeah, I don’t know why they need all that damn heavy equipment. What the hell are they building in there anyway?”

 “I don’t know, but that last machine we installed was weird. Have you ever seen anything like it?”

“No way, and I’ve worked inside a lot of hospitals. And what about all those glass roomswe built last month?”

The two men turned to look in Sarah’s direction. She looked straight ahead and increased her pace. What in the world are they building in there, some kind of research lab? 

Sarah hated that building. It was where they held her father all those years. For such a large building, you would think the hospital would be out in the country somewhere with some real acreage around it. Last time her father was in there, he stayed for three months. They called it a psychotic break. Sarah knew he was sick, but it wasn’t so cut and dried. He did his best work when he had his so-called psychotic breaks. In fact, he kept busy even while in the hospital, gumming his medication when he could, to remain clear-minded. Sarah remembered her father complaining about the hospital.  It was hard to take him seriously during one of his episodes, but he was emphatic that the doctors prescribed medication despite repeated patient complaints and said his pleas to the psychiatrist to switch medications due to “brain fog” went unanswered. Her father also talked about hushed conversations between staff, and the strange looks they exchanged when the director of the hospital left the room. He swore that there was something amiss about that place.  Sarah wondered if her father might have been on to something. Maybe there was a way to find out.

~~~

Sarah continued at a brisk pace to the front doors of the eleven story, black steel and glass downtown high-rise, where Resonance Weeklywas housed. She rehearsed her pitch silently as she made her way up the elevator to the fifth floor. The elevator opened and she walked slowly across the black linoleum hallway past the bathrooms and breakroom where he could smell hot coffee brewing. Resonance Weeklywas a modern office with bright slate gray walls adorned with large abstract paintings and contrasting black floors. There were always fresh cut flowers stationed around the elevators, usually white lilies, tulips or orchids, that one of the interns would set up. She could hear the murmur of voices down the hall. Teams of writers and editors were busy pitching stories, writing, and discussing new ideas. She heard Jerry, one of the senior staff writers, erupt in laughter. 

Sarah paused for a minute to inhale deeply before walking up to her boss’ desk. Mr. Chesterfield was a well-intentioned man, but meticulous to a fault.  She thought he had a case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, as nothing was ever out of place on his desk, ever. And if you moved anything, he would become very disturbed and come after you like one of those Roomba vacuum robots, cleaning up after your every step. He was also very finicky about deadlines, understandably so, being the Editor-in-Chief. The newspaper business had to be run like a tight ship. He also had a weakness for controversial stories, and Sarah hoped her pitch would work on him.

“Good morning, Mr. Chesterfield, how was your weekend?” 

“Good, good…” Mr. Chesterfield took a gulp of coffee from his mug and carefully smoothed his thick walrus-like mustache neatly into place with a napkin. “Veronica and I caught the game last night at Mitch’s. How about you?”

“Oh, you know, not too much going on… but I think I may have come across an interesting story.” Sarah squeezed her hands together nervously, then rubbed the sweat off on the sides of her pants.

“Really? Well, let’s hear it then.”

She paused for a moment and stared at him, getting focused, the way she always did before an important moment.

Chesterfield raised his eyebrows at her to say, "Well get on with it, then." 

“Okay. Well, I was on the way in, actually, when I walked by the construction site at Forrester Care Psychiatric Hospital and overheard the strangest conversation,” Sarah paused for a moment, thinking of the angle she wanted to take.

Mr. Chesterfield rested his chin on his hand, like the pensive Rodin statue.  “Mhmm… well, go on.”

“We still don’t know what exactly they’re adding onto the building. It’s been under wraps for months… it’s so secretive, even they don’t know what they’re building. I know we didn't get much information from our last reporter. I think we can go deeper.”

“That’s been going on for months now, Sarah. We've already had a reporter down there.”

“I know, but I overheard two construction workers talking about the glass rooms and some large piece of hospital equipment they were installing. They had no idea what it was, even though they had apparently done these kinds of jobs before. I’m telling you, boss, something doesn’t add up.” Sarah continued, praying this would clinch it. “No one’s talking about it or paying any attention to it anymore. The residents don’t know what's going on, the workers don’t know, and more importantly the public doesn’t know. It seems like there could be a story under there somewhere. There could be a classified research project, like testing a new therapy or medication or maybe there's going to be some big reveal coming and I could get ahead of it.

“Okay. But ‘could be’ is not good enough for this business… if you can find a story there, I’ll give you a chance. I’ll give you one week to scope it out. Gather as much information as you can and present it to me on Monday with an original angle. If there’s a good story there, then I’ll pay you to write it.”

“Deal!” Sarah turned and walked out of the office, feeling giddy. This was exactly the type of story that got her blood pumping, a mystery. Investigative journalism was her favorite style of writing and what she pictured herself doing on a full-time basis. In that moment, she felt just like Nellie Bly, her idol. She would get to do some real detective work.