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Scrying Glass by J. D. Stiver
Scrying Glass is a dark and humorous story about Brad Anderson, a 30-year-old writer who finds a portal in his basement on New Year's Day, 2005. Although he realizes that it could lead anywhere (possibly even the vacuum of space), Brad decides to venture through it because whatever life offers on the other side, it’s probably better than the life he’s got. Brad is a man who is haunted by the memory of Julia, a high school outcast that he could have helped, but didn't. And she died. The portal gives him a second chance because once he emerges on the other side, he finds himself back in his 15-year-old body as a freshman in high school in the year 1989. With this new opportunity to set things right, Brad unwittingly disrupts a very important Universal law. Because of it, the Universe itself is threatened. To stop him, a supernatural assassin is dispatched and Brad must find a way to survive, correct his mistake, and save the Universe with just the help of Julia; his trusted friend, Wesley; and a disgraced angel, Enoch. (Brad’s clever. He’ll be fine.) And, in saving the Universe, he learns of the value that every person holds, and of a remarkable power within himself.
Brad had finished catching up with Wesley when the pizza arrived. The pizza delivery guy brought their pizza, collected the check, then told Brad he was a big fan and he was wondering if he could have his autograph.
Brad autographed a slip of paper, told the pizza delivery guy to stay in school and say no to drugs because, despite the fact that he felt awkward as a role model, he still believed that’s the kind of thing role models should say to pizza delivery guys.
Then Brad and Wesley went inside.
“So,” Wesley said, “What have you got in your basement?”
“A portal,” Brad said.
“You know, a portal? A doorway to someplace else? A gateway to another dimension, alternate universe or some magical place that has elves, wizards and witches?”
Wesley began to avoid eye contact with Brad and to shift from one foot to the other as if he were slightly uncomfortable.
“Yes, Wesley, I know how that sounds.”
“Portals don’t really exist, Brad,” Wesley said, somewhat quietly, as if stating the obvious was all he could do, considering the shock.
“I’m inclined to agree with you, Wesley. Even still, there’s one in my basement.”
“How do you know it’s a portal?”
“Because I’ve been flicking cigarettes at it,” Brad said, offering this as Exhibit A. “And whiskey bottles too,” he presented as Exhibit B.
“Uh … and that makes it a portal?”
“It does when the things I flick at it don’t come out the other side.”
“What does it look like?”
“I’ll show you.”
They went downstairs into the basement. They peered beneath the stairway. It did indeed look like a portal, Wesley had to admit. It hung in the air, suspended by nothing, like a flat, circular, shimmering mirror made of liquid. The part that was reflective was encased by pure light, which was roughly five feet in diameter and also did not touch the ground.
It just hung there, humming and shining and defying the laws of both physics and gravity, waiting to be discovered so that it could change humanity’s view of the universe.
Brad flicked his cigarette at it.
The butt shot into the reflective part of the portal and the liquid rippled like he had just dropped a stone in a lake.
Wesley peered through the stairway to gaze at the other side. No cigarette.
“That’s … that’s amazing,” Wesley said. “Are you sure it’s … going somewhere? Maybe the cigarette disintegrated or something?"
“Nope,” Brad said. Then he stuck his hand through it and waved it around a bit. His hand, also, did not emerge on the other side. Then he pulled it out and showed his hand to Wesley. “See? Portal.”
“Where? Where did it come from?”
“I have no idea,” Brad said, as he picked up a box and tossed it through. The box was not empty. Something inside of it was clanking.
“What are you doing?” Wesley asked.
“Throwing these boxes through. This one’s heavy. Would you mind?”
Without thinking about it, Wesley grabbed the other end of the heavy box and helped Brad toss it through to parts unknown. “Uh … why are we throwing these boxes through?”
Then Brad tossed a suitcase through and Wesley suddenly understood what was going on here.
“Are you insane?” Wesley asked, somewhat rhetorically because he believed he already knew the answer. “You’re going through it?”
“Yes,” Brad said. “Yes I’m going through it, not yes I’m insane.”
“You … you can’t. You have no idea where it goes!”
“That’s why I’m going to explore it. Because I don’t know where it goes. I’ve thought this through. I packed everything I could think of that I might need — a change of clothes, some books, food, water, booze, a carton of cigarettes, and a winter coat, just in case it’s cold.”