This is my third response to the amazing PTWyant’s prompt! To see it, go to ptwyant.com.
This one is a little different. It picks up right where I left off at inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com. I couldn’t post too much, though, because this contains spoilers. 🙂
“Idiot!” Gabrielle growled, right before she pulled the girl out of the doorway. That way, the fool was no longer between shadows, just waiting for any monster that decided to crawl out of a nightmare and eat her.
‘Brie gave the sinister arches of the doorway an angry glare.
“Nothing good ever comes out of this place!” she grumbled, while waiting for the girl, or what was left of her to recover. All right, that wasn’t true. Some good did come out, but so did a lot of bad. Why wouldn’t people just leave Doors alone? It was far better to look for what you wanted in the world you lived in than to go searching for it in a dream.
Not that those who opened Doors ever understood this. Or cared.
Like this girl.
She was fluttering golden eyelashes, which were disconcertingly like Gabrielle’s own. Her eyes were completely different; a deep violet blue, spangled with silver specks. Hardly human looking.
“Did you just call me an idiot?” the girl asked. She attempted a flirty smile, despite blue and trembling lips. “That’s no way to treat one of your regulars, ‘Brie.”
“You’re a customer at the Navel?” Gabrielle asked. She shouldn’t be surprised. Many of the ‘items’ she offered at the Navel came from the Shadow Forest. Many of the former ‘owners’ of those items ended up at the Navel. They never knew why they entered the shop, let alone why they were drawn to that particular doll, crystal, or tarot deck. Most of them never figured out they were attracted to a former part of themselves, which had taken the shape of that particular item. Customers seldom remembered discarding that part in the first place.
Gabrielle prided herself on remembering each and every person who visited the Navel. She certainly would have recalled this one.
“I’ll wager you’re thinking, ‘If I’d met such a beautiful woman in my shop, I would have remembered’,” Ashleigh said. She did her best to wink, although it was more of a wince. “I was quite different, when we met. Utterly unremarkable.”
“No one is unremarkable,” Gabrielle retorted. “Certainly not any of my customers.” This was very uncomfortable, not recalling a visitor to the Navel. It was a blow to ‘Brie’s pride, as the proprietor. “I take it you’ve changed, since your last visit to the Navel. Particularly after opening a few doors.”
“More than a few,” the girl said. “I’m known as Ashleigh Beyond the Door. I wrote a book about my adventures.” She blinked hopefully at Gabrielle. “Perhaps you’ve read it.”
Gabrielle hesitated. She tried to recall every story she’d ever read. Now, remembering those was hard. She had a tendency to bunch the ones that were similar together, recalling them in an entirely new form.
“Sorry, no,” she said.
“So much for my vanity,” Ashleigh said. Her smile drooped a little at the corners.