Janet blinked, trying to clear up the fog from her eyes. Glancing about, she saw absolutely nothing familiar.
The room was completely bare other than a full-length mirror against one wall. She didn't even see a door. She walked toward the mirror and looked, finding not her own reflection, but that of her great-aunt Beatrice, who had died two years previous. Flames surrounded the reflection. Looking into Beatrice's eyes, Janet had never seen her aunt look so enraged or in such agony.
"How could you do this to me, Janet? I thought you loved me. I thought I was your favorite aunt."
Janet lowered her head. "I figured you were too old, too set in your ways. And I thought the news would break your heart."
"No." Beatrice's eyes were afire, like her surroundings in the mirror. "You were being selfish and self-centered. You were afraid of confrontation - so afraid of my being mad at you that you condemned me to this awful place. And now it's too late."
"But, I couldn't have been the only Christian you knew."
Beatrice shook her head. "No, you weren't, but you were the one I loved the most, the one I would have listened to most closely. And you didn't even tell me you were a Christian, much less how I could avoid this place. For four years, you kept it from me."
Janet's expression was pained. She reached out to touch the mirror, but its surface scalded her fingers. She breathed in deeply and stared into the reflection before her.
"Oh, Aunt Bea, I am so sorry. I love you so much, and you have every right to be mad. My selfishness and insecurities have cost you heaven."
"You bet I'm angry. I've got an eternity of suffering ahead of me and you are a big reason for it. How am I supposed to feel?"
Tears cascaded down Janet's face. "I know this is a silly question, but is there anything I can do to make this up to you? I know I can't get you out of hell, but is there anything at all I can do?"
There was a pause, and Bea's tone and volume moderated some. "Actually, there is."
Janet stopped frowning for the first time since the encounter began. A small glimmer of hope peeked into her eyes and the corners of her mouth turned up into an almost smile.
"What is it, Aunt Bea? Anything. Just tell me, and it's done."
Bea's anguished eyes pierced Janet's soul. "Don't be responsible for sending my nieces or nephews, or anyone else I love, to this God-forsaken place. Tell them, before it's too late."
Janet dropped her eyes in shame, and when she glanced up again, the only reflection in the mirror was her own. Her head rang with an incessant beeping noise.
Janet reached over and slammed her hand on her alarm clock's snooze button. Rising slowly, she knelt beside her bed and prayed silently, intensity overtaking her countenance.
Janet rose and noted the time. She grabbed the telephone on her nightstand, dialing a number she clearly knew by heart.
"Hi, Uncle Larry. I need to talk to you about something important. Are you free?"
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