"Have I died? Have we died?"Alex Santiago had the very odd sensation of being like cheese, Swiss and full of holes. In erratic fashion light shown through his long tall body. A lot of light substituted for his hands, a similar but different effect opened a section of his chest and belly. He could not see his feet though he moved ... with less effort ... up the steep and narrow stairway.
Camilia appeared as she always did to Alex, nearly perfect. Except for the clothes she was wearing downstairs Camilia was unchanged. In place of her jeans and warm hooded coat a robe of blue settled comfortably over her shoulders. The robe was velvet with deep pockets and a generous hood. A pair of thick padded slippers the color of persimmons with embroidered symbols she didn't recognize cradled her toes and cushioned her feet.
"No, not dead. We, we're between my darling, that former student of yours is casting spells and setting a stage for something ... I vote for something delicious!" She nodded to the one door among the four in the hallway that was left ajar. The smell of hot banana pie and ginger tea was coming from the room beyond. A deep resonant woman's voice seduced them with song, in case the smell of pie and tea were not incentive enough.
Transitional places were everywhere if one was looking for them. When Earth was Wild and those on two feet lived with protocol and reciprocity asking permission, and giving back was common magic. "Is there too much distraction or perhaps you have become obsessed with embroidering those shrouds of insufficiency?" The very small voice was coming from the top of the stairway. From the edge of the landing Alex spotted Resident Mouse.
"For a mouse just barely born, you get around." Alex squinted, it would be four to six weeks before his new glasses arrived, to be sure it was indeed his mouse that was speaking in such esoteric language.
"I'm not all that familiar with this sort of travel, but it appears you and I are fused in a special bond and until further notice I am here to keep you on track. Where you go I go," explained the little mouse.
Camilia was used to picking up conversations her husband had with himself. That was not unusual. But the leaning over and speaking into the floor boards was a new activity. She asked, "Honey, is there someone you want to introduce me to?"
"You don't see him?" Alex asked.
Camilia shook her head. Alex was truly surprised. "Remember that pistachio shell I showed you the other day. I was telling you about how a mouse had eaten the meat but left the shell?"
"Sure, I remember that." Camilia said.
"Well, that mouse and I have developed a rather friendly relationship," Alex continued. Camilia decided it might be a good idea to sit down. Some of her husband's explanations could get windy. She pulled the long robe up and sat at the top of the steps, and leaned against the wall.
"Resident Mouse, that's what I've come to call him. He's a very young mouse and lives in our wash house. We have conversations almost every night. I've gotten into this habit of setting out food for him. Not trapping him, I gave that up after seeing there was no trap quick enough to contain him. Anyway, this mouse, Resident Mouse is something more than just a mouse. And though you can't see him he is waiting just outside the door left ajar."
And then what happened?