• Published 19th Mar 2016
  • 5,445 Views, 186 Comments

Carousel - Thornquill

There is a part of Ponyville’s past its citizens forgot, a part that was left to rot... until Rarity encounters a dark power in Old Town Hall.

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Chapter 10 - Patterns

The tiered roof of her home towered over Rarity as she trotted towards it in the deepening twilight. The windows stood like thin sheets of brittle ice, pressed on one side by the bitter chill of the night air, and on the other by absolute darkness. The tenebrous void looked so thick, Rarity could imagine it breaking through the fragile panes and pouring out into the street to engulf and drown her before she even set hoof on the doorstep.

She paused with her hoof on the latch, her breath coming in fast little shivers as she tried not to think about the things she had seen and learned. Despite her best efforts, she had been unable to find anything on obscure magic in the library. Either she didn’t know where to look for it, or the small town library had never needed to stock anything so esoteric.

Ms. Dog-Ear would have known. Now, Rarity was returning to her home—where everything had begun to fall apart—almost as unarmed and uninformed as she had been when she first entered it.

She was afraid that when she opened the door, she would see that the mirrors had somehow been uncovered and would be staring out at her like the bright, empty eyes Toola Roola had filled her paintings with. She was afraid her ponnequins would have moved again, lined up to face her like a fiendish, macabre jury. But most of all, she was afraid something would happen to her that she hadn’t yet imagined while she was alone in the darkness of what had once been the Roola Art Gallery.

I could go to my parents, she thought, standing there in the soft winter air. I don’t have to stay here. It’s not safe. It’s not healthy.

But the thought of running away to her parents’ home—the place she had returned to when she failed to find work after graduation, and again when she failed to impress anyone in Manehatten—felt like the most unthinkable form of surrender.

How long am I going to keep running someplace safe and comfortable? She knew it was absurd, but she felt obligated to treat the strange powers that had awoken in her new home like nothing more than another trial that she needed to overcome. It was the only way she had ever known to prove that she had what it took to bring her visions—her dreams—to reality.

A lady has to have strength, she thought grimly. A proper lady doesn’t just take whatever gets thrown at her. I’m going to turn this around and make it into something extraordinary. Just you wait and see what I can do.

The latch rattled and the hinges gave their characteristic groan as she pushed her front door open. The waning, gray light from outside spread across the floor in front of her, then vanished as she shut the clear air out. She stood there, breathing steadily through her slightly parted lips. All of the mirrors were covered, and her dress forms were precisely where she had left them—even the one that still wore the black dress she had made the previous day. She approached it and scrutinized the dress with a skeptical eye. There was still something not quite perfect about it. She sniffed, removed it from the ponnequin, and hung it up on one of the empty racks along the wall.

Perhaps I’ll make another one tomorrow, she thought. See if that doesn’t turn out better.

She turned around and took a long, sweeping look at the showroom. It felt strangely empty, even emptier than when Minny had first showed it to her.

“What happened to you here?” she said softly. Her voiced diffused and fell silent in the still air. Not even the faintest whisper of an echo came back to her in answer. Warily, she crossed the room and went upstairs to get ready for bed.

As she prepared herself to sleep that night, the silence was so clean and total that it almost seemed sacred. She stepped lightly and shut drawers gently, and even the soft sounds betrayed by those actions felt like a sacrilege. From the first moment she had entered the house, she had been intruding in a sanctuary forgotten by time, a place where something had sealed itself up to be forgotten by the world.

As she locked her bedroom door and tucked herself into her bed, she looked around the dark room with wide, staring eyes. She felt for the first time since moving in that she had been presumptuous to break the spell that had lain over the gallery for decades. It hadn’t been hers to remake; it couldn’t have ever been anypony else’s. And now, she was daring to sleep one more night in a stranger’s home, unwanted and uninvited.

“That’s not right, though,” she whispered to the emptiness. “This is mine now. It shouldn’t be left to rot. Whatever went wrong, that’s in the past. I can’t change that. And it shouldn’t matter anymore.”

Her words felt small and feeble. As sleep finally claimed her, she knew she didn’t even believe them herself.

* * *

A thin hiss filled the air as Rarity trotted over to the gramophone. With a deft flicker of power, she turned the record over and set it back on the turntable. She bent down, watching the glinting spike of the needle intently as she lowered it and set it carefully into the thin lip of the vinyl. The static played for a few moments more, then the hollow strains of the Hebridlean Symphony started to scratch their way out of the black and gold horn.

Rarity had maintained a tense alertness for two days. She worked at a fast pace, trying to get back to a place where she felt she might have a chance of a grand opening in spring. She had managed to work out six design concepts and even patterned four of them out, but she was reluctant to move any of them to the mock-up phase. Instead, she kept taking out the black dress, only to put it away with the same amount of confusion and discouragement as when she had first looked at it. She tried putting it on different ponnequins and even tried modeling it herself, but the only thing she could feel when looking at it was a strange, detached sort of melancholy.

She would have been content to give it up as a bad design, but she couldn’t shake the apprehension that if she tried to make another, it would suffer from the same mysterious flaw, and so would the next, and so on until she burned through all the materials she had purchased to bring her shop to full stock by opening day.

That was how she found herself with her hooves laid idly on her table, staring at the motionless sewing machine. She was unwilling to proceed and driven nearly mad by the necessity to do so.

Come on Rarity, she thought. You’ve got to create. You’re never going to figure out what’s blocking you until you do.

But all she did was stand and stare, her hind hoof placed well away from the machine’s pedal. Finally, she stepped down and sighed with disappointment. She still hadn’t uncovered the mirrors. Their shrouds hung all around the room, clashing against the uniform colors of the showroom.

How am I ever supposed to create any stock like this? she wondered, walking to one of the front windows and looking out. There’s only a few months left. Worse still, there were only a few weeks left until the Canterlot Historical Society would start to wonder when they were going to get their money. They would probably send Fine Line back down to explain in murderously laborious detail how their stipulations were outlined and how Rarity was failing to meet them. She hadn’t heard from Minny about other options to get her out of the financial mess, either. The brief ray of hope she had found two days ago was fading fast, swallowed by the unbroken winter clouds.

Two ponies walked down the street into Rarity’s view, and she was surprised to recognize her parents as they approached the shop. Her father was pointing and saying something, to which her mother only shrugged in response. As they turned and started towards the front door, Rarity left the window and opened the door to greet them.

“Well hello, sweetheart,” her mother said, and Rarity noted she was speaking a little softer than usual. “Are you feeling a bit better today? You certainly look more rested.”

“Yes, thank you,” Rarity said, hugging her father. “I’m a little creatively blocked at the moment, but other than that...”

“I’m sure you’ll get through it,” her father said. “Good to see you, kiddo.”

“We’re just on our way to the sale,” her mother explained, smiling excitedly. “Poor Mrs. Cake told me they’re a little behind for some reason, so I offered to head over early and pitch in with the baking. Are you still ok to watch Sweetie Belle today?”

“Watch Sweetie Belle?” Rarity asked, puzzled and slightly alarmed as her mother turned and started unbuckling her foal carrier. Rarity noticed Sweetie Belle inside for the first time, wrapped snugly in a pink blanket and sound asleep.

“You remember, don’t you?” her mother said, pushing the sleeping bundle and a bulky bag into Rarity’s fumbling hooves. “I came by last week, and you told me you would watch her for me.”

“I... did? I mean, of... of course, of course,” Rarity said, sifting through her jumbled memories confusedly. Now that it was mentioned, she did faintly remember her mother asking about it the day Fluttershy made her disastrous visit. “Er... for how long, did you say?”

“Oh, just till the Cakes close up shop at the end of the day,” her mother said happily, stepping back. “And I really need to get over there, so you two have fun today, ok?”

“Uh... sure,” Rarity said, looking down at her sleeping sister and grimacing slightly. Perhaps if I’m lucky, she won’t wake up while she’s here.

“Take care, Marshmallow,” her father said, mussing her mane a little and smiling. They turned to leave, and another thought struck Rarity.

“Wait, mother?” she called, and Cookie turned and looked at her quizzically. “Since you’re heading over there, you probably ought to know... I had a bit of an altercation with a good friend of theirs who was staying with them recently. If the matter comes up, would you... please give my apologies to the Cakes?”

“I suppose,” her mother said, looking at Rarity with fresh concern. “Is everything alright, sweetheart?”

“It’ll be fine,” Rarity promised. “Just a few unresolved things I need to tie up soon, that’s all.”

“Alright... we’ll see you later then, sweetheart. Bye-bye, little Sweetie! You be good for Rarity!”

Her parents turned and trotted off, and Rarity took Sweetie Belle inside and out of the cold. In the background, the symphony continued to play uninterrupted. Sweetie Belle scrunched her little face in her sleep, mumbling something incoherent as she tried to pull herself farther into the blankets. Fortunately, however, she didn’t wake. Rarity looked down at her sleeping sister, realizing with some chagrin that, of course, she didn’t have a crib or pen to put her sister in while she worked.

“Well, that’s just wonderful,” she groused. “Just what am I going to do with you?” She glanced around, spotted the couch, and dragged it over near the sewing table with her magic. Settling her sister in the corner of it, she propped a few cushions around her and left the bag on the floor to the side. Sweetie hadn’t proven to be very ambulatory yet, and unlike her older sister, her magic was turning out to be very slow in developing—a real blessing for any parent of a Unicorn.

“You just nap there, and I’ll keep working over here, and we’ll have a nice, quiet day, how about that?” Rarity whispered, stepping quietly away and heading back to the table. There was no way in Tartarus she would dare to use her sewing machine now and risk waking up Sweetie Belle, but since she was hung up on that part anyway, she decided she might as well spend the day literally back at the drawing board.

The sound of cloth shifting froze Rarity in her tracks. Her right ear twitched frenetically, and behind the quiet strains of music, she heard the faintest sound of fabric rustling before falling silent. “...Sweetie Belle?” she whispered, glancing back. Her sister lay unmoving in her sleep. She probably just shifted to get more comfortable...

Behind her, Rarity heard it: the distinct, feathery rustle of heavy fabric moving. She whirled around and was just in time to see a single fold on the cloth covering the center dais mirror sway ever so slightly before falling still.

“Oh, don’t you start this game again today,” Rarity hissed.

Nothing answered her. Then, as if simply losing hold of its perch, the mirror’s covering began to slip, sliding with a faint, raspy keen off the frame and down to the floor. Rarity’s magic flared, and the light of her spell pinned the fabric in place just before it fell off completely. She dragged it back up, expecting to feel some force resisting her, but nothing hindered her as she tucked the cover back into place.

“We’re not doing this,” she said, feeling absurd as she addressed an empty room. “I will sew those in place if I have to.”

As if in answer, she heard a latch click loudly somewhere, followed the the slow groan of a door opening. Pulling in a long breath, she walked away from the dais and looked into the kitchen. On the far wall, the door to the basement was open, a few inches of pitch blackness showing around the edge of the cracked, thin wood of the panel.

A thin wail shattered the quiet as Sweetie Belle woke up and immediately began to cry. Rarity slumped, clenching her teeth against the loud, shrill pitch that filled the air. So much for a quiet afternoon...

She turned her back on the basement door and trotted over to the couch, picking up her sister and smiling nervously. “Come on now, Sweetie, what’s the matter? Shh, shh, it’s ok, I’m right here, no need to fuss.”

Sweetie Belle only screamed louder, her eyes screwed shut as she struggled and squirmed in her swaddling cloths.

“Oh come now, what’s wrong?” Rarity asked. “Are you hungry? I’m sure mommy left you something, just let me...” She levitated a lukewarm bottle out of the bag and brought it close to her sister, but Sweetie got a tiny hoof free and knocked it away.

“You’re not being very helpful,” Rarity said exasperatedly as she picked the bottle back up and trotted over to the sewing table. “Puh-lease tell me you don’t need changing...” She set her sister down next to the sewing machine and confirmed with a quick sniff that nothing needed changing. She frowned, reached for the bottle, but bumped her hoof against the sewing machine instead.

She looked up, then froze. Her pupils shrank and she drew in a sharp breath as she noticed the thin, silver point of the needle poised several inches from the table’s surface. Crimson thread wended its way from the spool in the back and down the side of the needle like a thin stream of blood. With a sickening lurch of her stomach, Rarity recoiled from the table.

“Maybe we should go into the kitchen,” Rarity said, chuckling shakily. But as she glanced back, she saw the basement door, still tilted open with that sliver of darkness peering out. Breathing through her clenched teeth, Rarity reached out carefully with her magic and felt for the door. It swung closed without resistance, but bounced back as the latch caught against the frame. Rarity fiddled with it, but she could barely see it from across the room.

“Blasted Earth Pony doors,” she growled, rattling and twitching it with greater ferocity as she knocked the door against its frame again and again, trying to fit the latch into its small groove and get it to fall into place. Finally, she released it with a frustrated growl. The door drifted open again, a little wider than it had been before.

“On second thought, let’s stay out here.” She reached for the bottle again. She wrapped her hoof around the cool glass and felt a slick film of condensation that almost made her lose her grip. Turning it downward, she guided the soft rubber tip towards her sister’s mouth. A few inches away, however, Sweetie Belle swung out a hoof and knocked Rarity’s leg aside, continuing to scream and thrash.

“Oh come on,” Rarity pleaded. “I can’t imagine what else you’d want. Just try it, please?” She pushed the narrow tip of the bottle at her sister’s mouth again, but Sweetie turned her head aside and flailed her legs again.

“If you’d take it, you wouldn’t be able to cry anymore,” Rarity snapped, an edge of frustration in her voice. She caught a slight whiff of something fetid, and briefly wondered if she had been wrong about her sister needing changing. “Just a few more tries, that’s it...”

She angled the point of the bottle at her sister’s mouth and gently used her magic to enfold her sister’s squirming legs. She didn’t grip them, but pushed with just enough force to help Sweetie Belle stay still for just a few moments. Sweetie cried louder, almost drowning out the music that was being spun out into the room as the gramophone’s carousel swung evenly around and around. Rarity pushed the bottle down, the tip almost grazing Sweetie Belle’s open lips.

Sweetie Belle pushed through Rarity’s magic and swung at the bottle, punching it on the tip and knocking it out of Rarity’s grip again. It fell to the table with an incongruous, metallic clink, but Rarity barely noticed. Sweetie Belle’s crying had changed its tone and taken on an urgent, firm howling as she rolled lightly back and forth. For a moment, Rarity just stared in confusion, and then her mouth fell open as she saw a tiny speck of red on the white underside of Sweetie’s hoof. The droplet of blood bloomed and collapsed as a thin trickle started to run towards her ankle.

Rarity gaped and snapped her gaze to the bottle. It stood upright and untouched beside the sewing machine. What she noticed next made her stomach clench painfully in horror. The needle of the sewing machine had been detached and now lay on the table next to Sweetie Belle, a long, tangled line of red trailing away from it back to the machine.

Rarity’s mouth worked soundlessly for a moment. Her eyes flicked between the bottle, the needle, and Sweetie Belle several times. Then she grabbed Sweetie Belle and ran to the door of the shop.

“I don’t care what the hay you do to me,” she yelled, “but you are not going to hurt my sister!” She snatched up Minny’s coat from where it lay under the window, flung open the door, and bolted into the cold light of the winter morning.

* * *

Rarity’s mind was blank as she sat on her favorite bench in the park, holding Sweetie Belle tight and rocking her gently. She had cleaned the tiny hoof with a handkerchief she had found in one of the coat’s pockets, and all traces of the small wound were nearly gone. Sweetie Belle had fallen asleep again. She was smiling a little as she breathed softly.

“I’m so sorry, Sweetie,” Rarity said shakily. “I never meant to hurt you. I could never even think of hurting you. That... that wasn’t me.”

“...was it?” she asked herself a moment later, her eyes glazing over as she thought back through the past several weeks. Her feelings had become a jumble, like a colossal heap of discarded linens, and any attempt she made to understand the muddled mess only seemed to pull her in and entrap her further. A filmy haze was enveloping everything. As she sat there, looking at the frozen park and the empty trees—a landscape scraped raw and monochrome by winter—she questioned whether she could even be trusted to understand where she was or what she was doing.

Try as she might, she couldn’t persuade herself that she hadn’t been at fault for anything that had happened in the past weeks. She had felt angry at her parents for constantly checking up on her and at her friends for harmless transgressions. She had even harbored resentment towards Sweetie Belle long before she had set hoof in the Old Town Hall. Rarity was so much older than Sweetie Belle, how could she be expected to bond with and relate to her?

Mother always wanted us to be the perfect sisters... but I never seemed to have it in me. I just want... wanted... to do my work.

Every emotion, every action since she had moved into the old gallery had felt familiar, almost natural to her. In hindsight, however, they also seemed amplified and far easier to act on. Or perhaps it was just that she was losing control.

“Um... Rarity?”

Rarity’s eyes refocused, and she blinked as she turned to face the reluctant, high-pitched voice that had addressed her.

“...Pinkie Pie?” she asked. Sure enough, Pinkie Pie stood a few paces away, wearing bright blue boots, scarf, and a knit hat. She was rubbing one forehoof with the other nervously as she looked sidelong at Rarity.

“Hi,” she said quietly. “I, um... I saw you here, and I just wanted to apologize for messing things up with your letter. I really didn’t mean to, it’s just that if I don’t put things into my organizational system, they get mixed up... and I should have done that with your letter instead of trying to remember to deliver it by myself. I’m really, really sorry. I can understand if you don’t want to forgive me, but I just wanted you to know.”

“Nonsense, Miss Pie,” Rarity said, assuming a slightly formal tone as she glanced away. “I’m the one who should apologize. It was an honest mistake, and I overreacted. Really, I’m not sure how much it would have changed things to have gotten that letter on time.” She looked up and met Pinkie’s clear, blue eyes. She really has a good sense for color, that one. Those accessories complement her eyes so perfectly. “I told Minny I didn’t want you to lose your job. If you want it back, I’ll make sure that she takes you on again.”

“Aw, thanks Rarity,” Pinkie said, smiling and stepping closer. “As much as I love being able to welcome new ponies to Ponyville, I was starting to feel like realty wasn’t the best place to use my talents.”

“Oh. Well, what brought you back to Ponyville then? Minny said you were visiting your family.”

“Just a short visit to catch up and rethink a few things. I wrote to the Cakes while I was gone, and they said they wanted me to come back to the bakery full time! Something about their productivity having grown exponentially or something fancy like that since I’ve been there.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” Rarity said, returning the smile. “Do you think you’ll enjoy working there more?”

Pinkie nodded with dizzying vigor. “Oh, definitely! I have this idea to make Sugarcube Corner into more than just a bakery—I want to make it Ponyville’s one-stop-shop for everypony’s celebratory confectionary needs! Only, I need to think of a word for ‘needs’ that starts with ‘c,’ because celebratory confectionery c-something would just sound so perfect! Got any ideas?”

“Er, not off the top of my head. But I’m glad things are working out for you.”

“Me too!” Pinkie chirped, then looked at Rarity with a shadow of her earlier nervousness. “So... are we friends again?”

“If you can forgive me for my outburst,” Rarity said, smiling. “I think I’d like that very much.”

“Woohoo!” Pinkie cheered. Sweetie Belle squirmed in her blankets, and Pinkie ducked down with a wide-eyed, apologetic smile. “Oops! Sorry! I won’t wake her, I promise!”

“That’s alright. I’m just watching her while my parents are out for the day.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to do that at home?”

“Well... I suppose, ordinarily, but...” Rarity glanced at Pinkie, then sighed. “It’s just complicated.”

“Oh, I love complicated things! This one time, my sister Maud was writing a paper about the geological implications of varying percentages of....” Pinkie froze, then glanced at Rarity with an alarmingly inspective expression. “Is something still bothering you, Rarity? Like on the day I remembered to give you your letter?”

“Well,” Rarity replied, shrinking back a little. “...Is it that obvious?”

“Sorta.” Pinkie’s intense expression faded until it was replaced with one of sincere concern. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Rarity opened her mouth, then closed it again and looked away. “Thank you, but it’s alright, really.”

“I’ve got time,” Pinkie pressed. “The Cakes aren’t actually expecting me back until tomorrow. I came back early to surprise them, but this sounds more important.”

“...I’m not even sure how I’d talk about it,” Rarity said, looking down at Sweetie Belle. “None of it makes sense to me.”

“Just talk. You let me worry about making sense.”

Rarity held back a comment about the absurdity of leaving it to Pinkie to make sense, and settled for a small laugh. She was about to tell Pinkie not to worry, that everything would be alright later, but her smile faded as Minny’s words came back to her.

“Don’t try to take everything on alone. You’ve got friends and family all around you. In a town like this, we’re all each other has. The least we can do is look out each other.”

“...It’s my house,” Rarity finally said. She looked into the distance and tried to find something in her memories she could lay a firm hold on. “Or, something to do with it. I don’t think I can explain it without sounding... I don’t know. I mean, things haven’t gone according to plan for a long time, but when I bought the old gallery, everything seemed to take a real turn for the worse. It’s so dark in there Pinkie, and I don’t just mean because the windows don’t let enough light in. It just feels so oppressive inside, like I’m drowning in thin air. I’ve been having nightmares, and during the day, things keep... happening.”

“What kind of things?”

“Odd sounds, tricks of the light, that sort of thing,” Rarity said slowly. “But mostly it’s how I feel when I’m there. It’s so easy to get angry or frustrated or... or sad. At first I thought it was the stress, but...”

She was silent for awhile, trying to find a phrasing that might make some sense to someone else. “The artist who lived there thirty years ago died in there, did you know that? She killed herself.”

Pinkie’s eyes went wide and she shook her head.

“I know so little about her,” Rarity continued. “I know she had horrific taste in art, and that her gallery did poorly, and that she and... and poor Ms. Dog-Ear were friends, maybe more, a long time ago. I thought perhaps that some kind of old magic was lingering and causing these strange effects, but... Pinkie, I just... I can’t help but feel that something connected to what happened back then is still present here. Like an echo or something.”

“Rarity,” Pinkie gasped, “are you saying you think you have a—”

“Don’t say it,” Rarity snapped. “For Celestia’s sake, don’t say that. I’m not quite that paranoid. Not yet, anyway.”

“Well, what else do you think could be happening?”

“I’m not sure,” Rarity sighed. “I feel like if I could just find a few more answers about who Toola Roola was and what happened to her, I might be able to understand whatever’s happening a bit more. But the only pony who really knew her during that time is gone.”

Rarity looked down at Sweetie Belle again and felt a sudden chill as another idea occurred to her. “Or maybe that’s a dead end and something totally unrelated is happening to me. For all I know, I could just be repeating what Toola Roola herself did thirty years ago. What kind of sick joke would that be, huh? Like the Old Town Hall is some kind of trap and everypony who stumbles on it gets caught in the same kind of cycle.”

Pinkie was frowning and tapping her chin with her hoof, but her ears were angled attentively at Rarity. “...You know,” she said at length, “there might be another way to figure what happened back then. You said Toola Roola was an artist, right?”

Rarity nodded.

“And if she was an artist, that means she probably went to art shows and stuff to try to sell her work and get noticed, right?”

Rarity raised a puzzled eyebrow, but nodded again.

“So,” Pinkie continued, “it’s totally possible that somepony who studied or worked with art back then remembers her. Maybe one of them has some idea of what happened.”

“It seems like a bit of stretch,” Rarity replied skeptically. “From what I’ve gathered, she wasn’t very well known.”

“We won’t know unless we try!” Pinkie said.


“Of course! We’re friends again, and as your friend, I’m going to help you get to the bottom of this! If you need somepony to find a bunch of ponies with old and obscure art knowledge, then I’m your mare!”

“Pinkie, that’s really quite kind of you. I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t say anything. Just sit back and let Pinkie do her thing!”

* * *

Rarity spent the remainder of the day with Pinkie, who treated her to tea and scones at the cafe. She offered to take Rarity to Sugarcube Corner, but with the strong likelihood that Applejack or Fluttershy might attend the first day of the Cakes’ Hearth’s Warming sale, Rarity decided it would be safer for now to keep a low profile. She did, however, meet with her father as he made his way back from his bowling match and returned Sweetie Belle to his care.

“Thanks again for taking care of your sister, Marshmallow,” he said as he nuzzled the little foal, who squealed and batted at his mustache in response. “We can tell she misses you.”

“Well, she can certainly be a hoof-ful,” Rarity said honestly. “But I miss her too sometimes. I think things are going to settle down soon, and then we can see each other on a normal basis again.”

“Good to hear that, Rarity,” he replied, smiling. “You know your mother and I are so proud of you. Nopony could ask for a more determined, hard-working daughter.”

“I know, dad,” Rarity said quietly, her ears folding back a little as she smiled beneath a small blush. “I know.”

After that, all that was left was to go home. Her limbs trembled a little as she walked inside, but her heart felt strangely braced by the events of the day. She didn’t know what to expect, but whatever it was, she was growing confident that she could face it.

But when she entered, all she saw were covered mirrors and a basement door that had somehow managed to shut itself.