"M. Meets M."
(Excerpted from the novel Clair Obscured)

…M. Stone stands up abruptly, banging his head on something metal (a post?) and, slipping, falls forward, his arms flailing for a moment before he lands atop a slab of hard wood, perhaps a sideways table, whatever it is it has softened his fall and for this he is grateful, his head aches but he is glad not to have incurred any major injuries (his knees are a bit sore, but otherwise-), he notices that he is no longer holding the two extinguished lamps in his left hand, the fingers of which are now curled weakly around the edge of the cold, wooden slab atop which he has fallen, at any rate there hadn't been any sound when he had (presumably) dropped them, so where could they have gone so suddenly, so silently? he wonders as he pushes himself off of the slab with both arms, and, as if in response, he hears something rattle in the distance, the noise seems to be coming from the direction of the slab, as if emanating from inside it, and as he lifts his foot off the ground and moves it toward the slab his singular suspicion is soon confirmed, for indeed it appears not to be solid from top to bottom but, rather, vacuous, there is an opening in the center of it, a passageway of some sort, his booted foot soon finds what feels like the metal rung of a ladder, intuition tells him he has found the proper entrance, and also that he has traced this very route before in one of his dreams…M. turns around and begins to climb down into the heart of the wood slab, one foot following the other, he descends easily, assuredly, even gracefully, and in time comes to a desolate landscape saturated with opaque white light, the smell of burning pinewood lingers in his nose as he steps off the last rung of the ladder and turns around…Ah, so there you are M. Stone! a familiar voice says, We thought you'd taken a tumble up there and would never make it down to see us, but, alas, you've proven us both wrong…

…And as M. now approaches the speaking figure, it/he, in turn, approaches him at the same speed and with the same affected swagger as his own, the swagger of an investigator on the case, it is difficult for M. to make out all of the figure's features through the luminescent glare, though he has the uncanny sense that he is in possession of at least as much knowledge of its history as he is of his own, or, rather, that he knows this other figure's history better than he does his own, and now, taking another step toward the figure, which simultaneously takes a step in his direction, it/he speaks in a clear, unmistakably authoritative voice, Well, you're looking very detective-like today, I must say, I quite like the hat, though you do realize you have it on backwards, don't you?  M. raises his arm to adjust his hat and as he does the figure too, and at the same time, raises its own arm to place its hand upon its hat, Come closer, M. Stone, I want you to have a good look at yourself, Come…M. takes another step forward, and then another, and before long he realizes he is looking directly into an elongated mirror, his reflection, however, is blurred by the glint of light refracted off of it, it is as if he were attempting to focus on someone's face with the rays of a burning sun in his eyes, he squints and tries to make out the details of the visage staring back at him-the contours of its brow, nose, chin-but it is simply too difficult, M. Stone, just look at yourself! the reflection chides, And you consider yourself a gumshoe?  What facts, exactly, have you thus far gathered which are of any use to this case?  Do you even know why you are here?  M. feels a sudden twinge of hatred for this reflection he cannot see clearly, and has to stop himself from throwing his fist straight out in front of him to destroy it, Of course I know why I'm here, M. retorts, I read the letter…Oh, did you? his reflection says, smirking (though this M. does not see, obviously), So tell me, if you would be so kind, why then have you come to this place?  Aren't you just making a fool of yourself all dressed up like that with nowhere to go?  M. clenches his teeth and begins to reach into his coat pocket for a cigarette, but then remembers that he doesn't have a lighter and frustratedly withdraws his hand, I know why I'm here, but the question is, can you tell me what exactly you're doing here?  I quite expected to find the old bat, perhaps even her granddaughter, but instead here I am engaging you, my reflection, in conversation, like a fool…But you know all of this already (let's stop playing games), Who exactly do you think you're fooling anyway?  His reflection reaches into its coat pocket and procures a lighter, Here, why don't I light that for you, You're looking a bit pasty, Stone…
Marc Lowe