Reed felt prepared. That was a good feeling to have amid the danger he was about to subject himself to along with Marley, so he held onto it — positive thoughts and all that everything would be okay. There was a shop dedicated to mirrors: old, new and used was their motto. Inside, Reed tried to come prepared to deal with the mirror-traveling ghost, Salty Susan, with the iron knife Hunter gave him and salt. Reilly said she wanted friends which, in some way, was sad but so did Salad Fingers. Taking and holding them hostage wasn’t exactly a very healthy way of acquiring friends. With a glance away from one of the mirrors to look at Marley, he asked, “You ready to get this thing on the road?” Because now that he was actually doing this for real unlike all the times before during Reilly’s disappearance, Reed’s nerves were really beginning to kick in.
Marley wasn’t decidedly excited for this venture, but she’d of been lying had she not admitted to having a little bit of eagerness about her. It wasn’t every day you got to chase a ghost through mirrors. Ghosts didn’t mean much to her– she wasn’t sure if she could curse them or take wishes from them, so they had no use to her. It wasn’t like she could really see them, anyway. They just happened to exist inside of her circle. But, of course, if one of her assets was going to try and pursue an evil, kidnapping one, she had to come along. She wasn’t going to let her hard work go to waste. It was highly likely Reed would get killed doing this himself. She was alright being the sacrificial pawn this round, since her sacrifice wouldn’t get her killed. Reed had brought a dagger and salt, good components for warding off ghosts– but Marley very specifically grabbed a cold iron sledge hammer and some iron bullets for the gun tucked into the back of her jeans. Reed didn’t know about that one, just the hamme, held loosely in her grip. “Ready when you are,” she said, gesturing towards the antique, new and used, mirror store.
With a nod, Reed squared his shoulders and gave the door handle a twist then a slight push. The mirrors were all of different sizes and shapes, stacked together and hung up on the walls. Plenty of opportunity to capture the attention of one sodium-enriched Sue. It was overwhelming. “Okay…” He gushed out. He stayed out late after work and stayed up all night, digging up as much information as he could about this traveling ghost. Pulling out a paper from his pocket, Reed began to recite in a singsong voice: “Susan with her black eyes—” And slowly began turning around while he looked at all of the mirrors, “Heart cold as ice—” One of the mirrors started to ripple at the bottom to his back. “Grabs you when you don’t look back— Doesn’t ask twice—”
Part of Marley had hope nothing would actually happen. Reed began reciting and she felt a soft ripple of magic pulse through the room, making the hairs on her arms stand on end. She hated being so attuned with magic, but her entire being was made up of it, now. Magic holding her together, magic tethering her here, magic making her a monster. A ripple caught her eye. “There!” she pointed, pushing Reed out of the way and raising her hammer, ready to strike should the ghost try and snag him. She wasn’t even thinking about whether or not it would go with her. Perhaps living in a mirror dimension until the end of her days wouldn’t be so bad.
As soon as Marley rushed forward and Reed turned to see it too, the mirror stopped rippling. Stunned, looking all around, he noticed that all of the mirrors were blank this time — which was unusual, for him. And just as unsettling. For a while, it was still and silent. Had Salty Susan decided to try her luck elsewhere? Unsure if he should read the strange nursery rhyme again, Reed’s shirt began to tighten and bunch up at the back. There was another mirror behind him, larger and taller. The impression of an entire arm wrapped around his midsection and the paper fell from his hands out of surprise. He looked down and saw the translucent form of her body taking shape as she tried to pull him closer to the mirror against his own resistance. Admittedly, he didn’t really know what to do now — how to break the barrier between dimensions. The salt and iron would only do so much, he figured. And Reed only knew what Rebecca told him in the past about ghosts. Struck by a last-minute idea, and an possibly awful one at that, Reed called out to Marley, pulling himself against the pressure holding him back, “We need to get her out of the mirror.” He hoped this would be successful.
Marley whipped around so fast her hair rustled about her shoulders, falling off to one side. The ghost was phasing out from the mirror and the hairs on her arms bristled again, a shiver running through her. She knew this ghost– or, at least, she thought she did. There were tales of her back in Ashford. Salty Susan, or something like that. The lonely ghost that pulled people into mirrors. Shit. And now she had Reed. Without another word, Marley charged forward, swung her hammer back, and smashed straight through the ghost into the mirror, shattering it. Susan wailed loudly and snapped back into the reflective shards scattering the ground now, before jumping away. The mirrors were nothing but black thanks to Marley and her dead counterpart, but that didn’t matter. She waited, waited, and as soon as she saw even the faintest outline of Susan, swung her hammer hard into another mirror again. Another wail. She nearly forgot Reed was there, as she swung one more time, cracking the ghost across the head through the mirror, shattering another of her portals. Marley wasn’t here to unsummon Salty Susan– she was there to destroy her.
Reed collapsed onto the floor with a loud oomph and felt gutted of breath. Marley had gone onto a rampage, smashing every mirror within her reach and all Reed could do at first was cover himself from the pieces of glass that flew across the room above him. “Marley! Focus!” He shouted over the quick successions of breaking glass, “That’s not going to stop her!” Lifting his head and peaking up from where he lie on the ground still, Reed tried to reason with her. It was like she had lost track of why they were here. It was…weird. What happened to her? Slow and careful to get up, not wanting to slice his hands and knees, Reed’s ankle was grabbed. With a quick, panicked glimpse at Marley, Reed was swallowed by growing fear and became worried he might really be pulled away into another dimension. Rolling over onto his back and grabbing the salt out of his pocket with shaking hands, Reed felt half of himself be yanked through the mirror. Unable to use his salt or iron blade in time, too afraid that doing so now would give her more of a firm hold onto him, Reed grabbed onto one side of the mirror, holding onto it with all of his strength while Salty Susan tugged viciously at him now. He could hear her. Weakly. “Won’t you be my friend?”
“Don’t tell me what to–!” Marley started, whipping around again, but when she stopped turning, her eyes met Reed’s and an enormous sense of dread filled her up– tried to drown her. Choke her. She froze, only for a minute– and Reed was being yanked into the mirror, his hands, the top of his head, the only parts still peaking out from inside of it, the rest of him being devoured by the reflective surface. If she broke that mirror, she’d break him. Her senses returned in a flash as her empathy ebbed away, and an anger settled back in. She was a demon, after all. Her senses reached out for anything– any sense of anger, rage, vengeance– seeping from Reed. And locked on like a target sighted. Marley rushed over, snatching the salt back and dumping a quick line of it across the bottom of the mirror. She didn’t know if this was going to work, but it was her only chance. “Tell me how much you hate this ghost!” she growled at Reed. “It kidnapped your friend. Terrorized your town. Made your girlfriend lose her mind for a few days,” she goaded, “it’s trying to take you. Tell me how much you hate this ghost!” she was shouting now, banging on the mirror, cursing at Susan inside. “Tell me how much you wish this ghost could feel pain, too!”
He was terrified at this point and alarmed, confused too while he stared up at Marley. What was she getting at? Why was she demanding this? It was unlike her. She didn’t behave like this when they were ambushed then attacked a few months ago. Or— Maybe she had and he just didn’t notice before. Reed’s heart was racing for many reasons. He didn’t have much time to think or to ask questions like he wanted, he accepted that as he felt his own grip around the mirror’s border weaken and slip an inch. An inch too much. “Okay, okay—” He stammered quickly and winced, heavy breathed, then squeezed his eyes closed, “I hate this ghost!” He struggled between breaths. Salty Susan didn’t like that and yanked against him harder, as if trying to rip his body apart. He let out a cry and shouted, “I— I wish— Ah!” His mind was racing, “I wish Salty Susan would let me go and disappear forever!” In response, Sodium Sue let out an angry sound but again, it sounded distant and muffled.
His terror and fear were filling Marley up like a well. She needed his anger. His hate. Reed rarely felt those things, she knew this thanks to the pin she’d given him– but she needed them now. She was done dealing with this ghost. If it was just going to keep nabbing people, left and right, it was going to be a problem. And now it had gone after someone she considered valuable, and she couldn’t let that happen again. Gods, she didn’t even know if cursing a ghost would work. But it was worth a shot. “Promise me you won’t overreact?” she shouted back at him, as he began to sputter. “Promise me!” It was a deal, after all, an exchange, and his nod, his desperate plea, was all she needed as a yes. Marley planted her hands on the mirror, palms flat, and a rippled burst from them, shoving Salty Susan back. The let go part. She yanked Reed out of the mirror and threw him back, drawing the gun in her belt all in one go, and pointing it at the mirror. “As you wish,” she said, her voice nothing more than a low growl. And then she pulled the trigger. A bang. The mirror shattered. Susan screamed and wailed and cried out. In the blink of an eye, Marley’s magic tore through the ghost and she disappeared from the mirror. Words echoed around them. The unsummoning spell? She couldn’t be sure. She didn’t care. As long as Salty Susan was gone, and Reed was still alive, she didn’t care. She turned back to him, tucked her gun back in her pants. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
“I promise! I promise!” Reed cried out as he reached and grabbed for something more to hold onto, very aware of his body slipping into the otherworldly dimension. Anything to get to Salty Susan to let go. As soon as he nodded rapidly and agreed, the need to analyze Marley’s actions dissolved after he was pulled free from Salty Susan’s clutches; he gasped for breath and held his chest. Then the gun went off. Rather than flinch and cower, Reed was calm. Even after he stood and brushed specs of glass and dust off of his body, Reed looked to Marley and smiled complacently. “Nope, wasn’t hard at all!” Nothing unusual happened.