Steel was not amused. This situation in which he found himself, along with his partner, held within its grasp the stoic Elemental as well as the shimmering blue Sapphire. A Fun House was the site of their latest assignment, something Steel noted with disdain as a misnomer of epic proportions, given the severity of consequences should the two agents fail.
The two stood now in front of a mirror that cast a distorted image of them back for consideration. Their bodies appeared in waves rather than the perfect forms they inhabited. Steel's somber grey suit was a contrast to his partner's vivid blue jumpsuit, neither of which retained their subtle beauty in the mirror's skewed reflection.
This is it, then?
Sapphire glanced at the man and then back at his warped image in the duplicitous mirror. Time was attempting to break through into this Fun House by jumping along the incongruous lines created in the mirror. What passed for entertainment to these humans was like a slide on which Time was entering in small increments, each time the subject turned to walk away.
The Anomaly had been discovered as tiny bits of sand like particles began to accumulate at the base of the mirror. Sand, like that from which glass is made. Coming from another era, invading this century in the substance from which these mirror had been made a century before.
This Fun House was a relic, recently re-opened by an enterprising businessman who saw the profit in recreating an era that held the romance of days gone by. What he could not have known was that the elements of his business held a door to the past that was now seeping in, one grain at a time.
Steel, do you see anything? Can we stop the influx of Time through this corridor?
Their silent communication was accomplished as a family pushed through, laughing at their silly reflections. As the last child turned to continue on into the next room of the House, Steel saw it.
There! A small drizzle of Time… quite literally the Sands of Time. It escapes every time an image diminishes. As people turn to go, the sands fall out of the mirror and …'
Steel knealt down to examine the small mound of grains. As he reached out his hand, the grains scattered as though they were being repelled from one another.
''They are separate from one another. There is an independence in the activity, as though each grain has a different destination to which it must travel."
Sapphire stepped closer, trying to see the grains of Time as they skittered away from the two Elementals.
"Do you suppose they are running from us? Where would they go from here?"
Steel didn't know, could not fathom the purpose of Time separating its particles and trying to reassemble elsewhere.
"That's it, I suppose. Time separates from itself until it can assemble for a greater impact elsewhere. We have only one recourse to stop this particular entry point. It may be enough to stop the rest from continuing whatever it is that has been purposed.'
Steel didn't look at Sapphire as he posed the question.
Where did this begin?"
Sapphire's eyes began to glow, her intuitive nature guiding her before Steel had need of instructing her. The mirror became a window into the past as scenes of an era long gone began to appear; a girl in a yellow cotton dress appeared, a picture of youth from a hundred years ago. As Sapphire and Steel observed her she made funny faces, laughing at the distorted image of herself, motioning to someone just outside of the mirror's reflection. As the girl beckoned to her companion, slowly a young man appeared. His image, however, was not marred by the mirror's unique properties, but was perfectly reflected.
"He's the one! He doesn't belong there… perhaps he doesn't belong on Earth at all."
Steel stepped closer to the mirror, not observing the slight motion of the young man's hand as it reached towards him. Sapphire saw it, and grabbed her partner's arm just as the man in the mirror was ready to pull Steel into the mirror.
The reflection in the mirror disappeared from view, leaving the girl alone and seemingly unaware of his departure. It was as though he had never been.
"He is gone. He won't be back, at least not here."
Sapphire spoke without doubt, but Steel could not be satisfied with that alone.
"We should destroy the mirror. We can't leave an open portal for him."
Sapphire agreed. There was no point in disagreeing.
Steel touched the mirror, its surface now reflecting the two agents as it began to frost and then freeze. Slowly the cracks appeared as the mirror succumbed to Steel's touch, finally breaking apart completely just as he was stepping away from it. The shards fell to the ground, a heap of icy pricks of glass, no longer a conduit for Time.
Steel stood still as Sapphire wrapped her arms around him, generating as much warmth as she was able. Slowly his skin began to warm, his awareness of Sapphire's body next to him a welcome sensory experience after the trauma of freezing.
I am fine. Tired, perhaps…
Sapphire took his arm to help support him as they headed towards the exit of the Fun House, his steps gaining strength as they walked.