150: The Parallel Puzzle


There is a large communications tower in the east of the city that is home to an enigma that has gone unsolved for thirty years.

Although the tower seems ordinary from the ground, climbing up the ladder to the uppermost point of the steel-and-wire construction will reveal a series of square-foot-sized concave mirrors haphazardly tied down to metal struts and hidden away behind the huge television and satellite dishes at the apex of the tower. There is some give in the ropes that tie them down, which allow them to be rotated to face the city around them, or the sky above.

Each of the mirrors seems to reflect a slightly different reality. The one reached first – also the largest – seems to reflect its surroundings accurately, but when angled towards the ground, it reveals a colossal, gaping pit in the ground below you. There’s no trace of this chasm in the real world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there – and it certainly won’t stop anything from climbing out of it.

The two mirrors above the hole-mirror are angled so that they only reflect the sky, or parts of each other. Oddly, they only ever show the night sky, and always as though there was no air or light pollution in the sky – however, the constellations that appear in the mirror are never visible in the sky. In fact, they’ve never been seen on Earth.

The final mirror, placed at the tip of the tower, can swivel to point immediately above to the ground below. It’s difficult to reach, as it requires stepping off of the secure metal struts of the tower and climbing up the smooth face of a satellite dish, which can easily mean falling to your death with a misplaced step or a mistimed jump. The last mirror is large enough for you to see all of yourself in it – and invariably, whenever you look into it, you will see yourself at the pinnacle of all you could have accomplished. This reflection looks like you would if you had strove to reach your potential, if you had done your utmost to succeed and took every opportunity before you. This is a false blessing – there is only so much pride you can share with this false reflection before you realise it will always be better than you in your current state, and with that acknowledgement comes frustration and anger.

Perhaps that is why the mirror now lies broken – someone simply did not like what they saw. In their anger, however, they have doomed us; in the 70s, before it was smashed, the light from the moon would filter down through the comm tower and into the large pit that is only visible as a reflection. This light would draw in all those things that hide in the shadowy parts of the city and force them down to the deeper consciousness of the city, keeping us safe; now, the light is split and fragmented, and acolytes have thus far been unable to realign the light from the mirrors without something from the pit rising up to claim a new prize.

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