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 The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]

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PostSubject: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:36 pm

Her breath materialized in a whisper.

The room had always been silent. Nothing in it seemed to make a noise, not to say nothing moved. The drapery often fluttered, the girl's chest moving up and down. But when she breathed, not an ant could hear it. It was deathly shallow, like she was hardly exhaling at all, each lulling wave her lungs made lasting what seemed to be minutes. Not even the clock ticked. It had been broken long before her arrival, but its mechanical tribulations had never seemed to fit in the room until she came. Now, it seemed a part of her. A clock whose power yielded no tick, and a girl whose breath yielded no stir.

But soon, weeks later, that clock began to tick once more. It materialized in a whisper, its motors giving rise again, powering itself with a spark from seemingly nowhere. Maybe it was just time. Clocks operated on time, everything operated on time.

She shot her way up the bed, pressing her back firmly against the post. Her eyes relayed a twisted horror, her fingernails splinting with coils of thin wood as she dug them further into the bed's structure. She was looking at nothing, listening to nothing but the metronomic tap, tap tap. But her face, it seemed to mirror a villain in front of her so foul. It was daytime, but in the shadow the cast itself over the corners of the room, and all through the light in faint, golden murmurs, figures marched two by two, hundred by a thousand, to the wall. And the wall disappeared, and so did they, and nothing remained of them but those behind them, and those behind them, and her, behind them all, taking up her weight, it was so heavy.

The girl screamed.

The shift calendar in the front room plastered clear, bold ink: No personell, 12-5pm Sunday.

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:25 pm

Someone screamed.

No, not someone. She supposed she knew better than 'someone.' They'd never met while they'd been alive, but here, they'd gotten acquainted. Jane had never heard her speak, never seen her talk, she didn't even know the color of her eyes, but she knew her. Madison Morse. The both of them had died together. Her scream rung in her ears, but she didn't even look up from the pages, the cot blankets tangled around her legs.

This was their prison.

Back home, back in a Portland hospital, she'd had nothing but time on her hands. Time to read. Nothing to do but read for the rest of her life. Life was all about wasting time. That was her escape, her outlet, her only way back into the outside world and out of those four white walls, just slipping into the pages of... anything. It didn't matter. Textbooks, poems, the back of her prescriptions, the band around her wrist. She had a clock ticking her life away. A deadline. An expiration date. Once that'd internalized in her head, that seed in her chest, she'd started to resent the books in her hands, little by little. Distractions. Then she stopped reading.

She wanted to make the most of her time.

The scream hadn't stopped.

Jane folded the corner of the page and shut the book close. Now what were you supposed to say in a situation like this? Shouldn't she have known? She stood out of bed, glancing to the landline at the vacant nurse's desk. Logan. Someone. Nurses could wait, she supposed. Madison would live. Jane pulled back the curtain.

Welcome back to the world of the living.

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:35 pm

A light flooded the dark hallway outside of Madison's room, assisting the square windowlight in piercing through the shadows' horrors, the creatures that marched themselves to the imagery of her fears. The screaming girl calmed down as the figures dulled, pressed hard against the backboard of the bed. She blinked. Sight was so bright. The air was so present on her skin. Yes, yes, it was too bright to be real. And she could scream, she could hear herself scream.

The sharp taste of bile rotted at her teeth and tongue with a metallic rust. The girl breathed rapidly but silently, and began to look. Still, figures danced and mingled in dark niches, but they faded into a commonplace Madison had learned to know on instinct. She looked at the ground, the cold, shiny, bright bright ground, pearlescent white tiles spotting spits of shiny polish across criss-cross patterns and squares, splotches of auburn and beige and olive, and she saw them beckon her further. Cautiously, the girl placed a bare foot on the ground, the cold, new ground, and pressed her weight to it.

Immediate and lopsided, she fell with a thud.

The hardness of the floor popped against her chest, the cold ceramic tile hitting her ribs. The blanket rapped around her ankle and fell along with her. Worms with seven eyes hissed from beneath the bed in revelation of her presence, parting mouths wide as mice. Quickly, with a moan of surprise, Madison recoiled to her knees.

Her legs wobbled with just the inclination of a burden. Madison scaled the bed, gripping the sheets as she shakily made her way around its perimeter. A few steps later, her toes didn't catch the forward lurch of her body, and again she met the floor, the sheets providing no aid. The girl landed on her stomach, like a penguin that had tobogganed down a slippery hill.

When she made it to her feet again, it was not until she had eked her way to the dresser across from her bed, against the room's doorway. Figures formed a wall in a velvet transparency, but bowed to her struggling form as she pushed herself to the wooden furniture piece, grabbed its side and bringing herself up. From there the girl endured, down the hallway, grabbing whatever she could, her legs feeling less gossamer with each anchoring step. As her feet slapped the tile, she felt like a giant, like a storybook antagonist from one of her old books. Her mom would read them at first, but with the free time Madison would soon possess, the burden would become hers soon enough. The gravity of her steps accompanied her mind with a loud Fee, fi, fo, fum. Her brain felt like soup, but in it sparked white-hot memory still.

The infirmary's common room, the back, dark lobby, was lit by the crisp corners of light that peeked around the curtain. Madison eagerly pushed her way there, once again stumbling but landing with a spring on one of the room's many beds. It didn't take her long to confidently step into the light, the forces of two dozen arms, tentacles, and mandibles pulling at her shoulders, the dull sounds of groans and roars being echoed on a platform of silence, with no more opaqueness than a window.

The light was blinding. When she passed the curtain, fifteen minutes after Jane had opened it, she shielded her eyes. A headache wheezed circles around her skull in a whiiiir, whiiiir, whiiiir, whuuuuurr, whooooo, wooooo. It grumbled as low as the sounds from behind the curtain, the light scratching.

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:18 am

She might have joked. She might have laughed. She might have launched into some long, rambling monologue, or she might have sat with her and crooned comforting words. Jane didn't know what she'd do until after she did it, that was her problem. When she thought about this day, and she'd thought about it a lot, watching Logan disappear to her bedside night after night, she'd relished in that small petty fantasy of control. Being the one to drag her back into the waking world, like she'd dragged herself out. Being her connection. Her outlet, her psychopomp. Whatever happened, she wanted to be her Chiron, her guide. There wasn't any reason behind it that she could think of, it was just a whim, a simple little desire that'd blossomed in her head while the days stretched on in the infirmary.

The screaming had stopped, like it should've stopped, but Jane wasn't sure what she expected out of her until she saw her. Fantasizing was different when there was a face to it, haggard and gaunt like she'd crossed through hell and back. For the second, the moment, all she could do was stare with one eye at the revenant come back to life. Had she looked like that, when she'd come back? She didn't waste another second or another moment to rush to her side, gripping her arm with whatever small strength she could offer. Reassuring. Her smile had long since evaporated. "Hey... shh, you're alright..." she said, the hushed words spilling out before she could put any thought into them. "You're awake. You're alive."

Those had been the words she'd wanted to hear, looking back on it. A strong grip on her arm. Some sweet whispers.

She eased herself away, cautious steps like she was backing off from a predator. "I'm going to call the nurse, okay?" After a suspended moment, locking her with her gaze, making sure she wouldn't collapse where she stood, Jane turned on her heel and rushed to the landline at Logan's desk.

How disappointing... She might've laughed under her breath, but it didn't come. Jane picked up the phone and punched in the number.

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:58 am

Madison let the stranger girl take her by the arm. She was awake. She was alive. What was being awake? After a certain time the word no longer had any meaning, no register in her brain. It had been so long since she was awake. She was having a hard time distinguishing what being awake and being asleep were. The concotion of colors and slurred time mixed through what could have only been her memories, swirling around her brain like a vat of oil. As soon as the girl parted from her, she sat down, rubbing her lap with her hands, over and over again, feeling the air run against the skin of her arms, air she hadn't noticed before but now could notice nothing but. She breathed silently, but her mouth was open nonetheless. Her forehead was cool from the evaporation of sweat that beaded down her eyelashes.

When she tried to speak, her voice seemed to curl up and die, once so adept to scream, now uncertain to form words. She cleared her throat, and proceeded to choke on the phlegm and bile that caught in her trachea. How long had it been since its disuse? Why did it hurt so much if it hadn't been used in so long? It seemed that each time she cleared it, it hazed up once more, suffocating her, silencing her. Everything she saw was just a slideshow, a collection of pictures. Her head was heavy. She felt sleepy.

But she swallowed and breathed, and the feelings of panic and uncertainty only swelled for moments at a time, like the rolling of the tide. Her wide, owly eyes stayed glued to her lap, the floor between her legs, as if its unchanging stability was the only thing keeping her calm. 'I'm going to call a nurse, okay?' She nodded weakly to eyes that weren't looking.

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:25 am

He had never known a deeper sleep. The darkness swirled around him in dizzying circles, a spiral that made him feel as though he were endlessly falling, dropping like a stone in a pond. It was pure black. There were no pictures, no faces, sounds, voices, or feelings to distract him from the rest, and somehow it made him uncomfortable. Yet he was already there and he couldn't fight his body.

After seeing Madison breathing in the infirmary, he'd had to step away. It was almost too much, too much to hope for, too much to think was real. Despite having desperately hoped it would happen, seeing it in real life made him sick to his stomach with anxiety. The idea of facing her, of talking to her, wondering whether or not she remembered that he had been the one that did this to her, that he had done something wrong, it made him-- It made him feel worse. Which had been the opposite of what he'd hoped for. And so a small voice told him to get some sleep, who knew when she would really wake up anyhow? Unsure of whether it was his own conscious or a nurse or possibly even Logan that had told him to rest, he obeyed, trudging back to their dorm, ignoring the dark stain across the room, and found his bed. Owen had fully expected to lie awake without any hope of being able to close his eyes, and yet the moment he lay down, he felt his consciousness slip away into the black.

In the weeks that passed, Owen rarely visited the infirmary. He couldn't really bring himself to. The guilt of it all was too much to face. Would she remember what had happened? How did she feel about him now? If he thought there was no shot before, there certainly wasn't now. He threw himself into school work, focused on his grades and on his running, pushing himself harder than he ever had to learn how to be better. In some of their practical lessons, he was starting to learn how to use his ability offensively rather than defensively, and its defensive powers were getting stronger, something he was secretly grateful for but said nothing about. He hardly spoke to Nicola in their dorm and could feel a rift growing larger between them.

Once finals had passed and they were given a few days to breathe, most students buzzing about the formal, he found himself sitting around the dorm more often than usual, watching whatever was on the television and consuming a large portion of the food in their fridge, rarely changing out of his pajamas. He didn't consider how long he had been in the dorm until he caught a television show that showed the sunshine and daylight, something he'd seen through the windows but hadn't actively sought out. It was night when he saw it and he spent the night restlessly turning over and over, ready to breathe some fresh air again.

The next morning, he finally left the dorm. He dressed lightly but still covered, allowing him to run without freezing or overheating. It was a short-lived run, his lungs burning in the cold air, and he wasn't looking for something too challenging, soon slowing to a walking pace without paying much attention to where his feet carried him, merely enjoying the feeling of the sunlight on his face. It felt like a rejuvenation, like he was a small plant that was stretching its leaves to soak as much of it in as it could. He hardly paid any mind to where he was until he froze, the infirmary in his sights.

His heart started to race. He didn't want to be here, but something told him he should be, that he needed to be, and while he fought that feeling as hard as he could, his breath like tiny clouds in front of his face, he could already feel the anxiety of going to visit Madison setting in. He shook his head, hoping to clear it somehow, his golden hair bouncing, before he sucked in a deep breath and began walking again, this time in the direction of the infirmary. Owen shoved his hands deep in his jacket pockets both in an effort to keep them warm and to try to shrug off the nerves. At the door, he paused again, staring hard at the handle as though willing it to disappear and leave him with the only option of walking away. Unfortunately, he had light manipulation and couldn't make things disappear. So with more courage than he knew he possessed, he pulled it open, stepping in and letting the scene wash over him.

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:56 am

She'd picked off the first random number she'd seen off the list, barely reading the name. When a woman answered, somehow, she'd been caught off guard. Of course there were other people working here besides Logan, but in her mind, he'd started to come to represent this place. This sterile white room. "Huh? What is it?" the girl rasped from the other end, a scruffy voice that seemed to buzz through the speaker. Jane tapped on the spine of the phone, twirling the chord around her finger.

How did she put this?

"You're a nurse?"

It was the first thing that slipped out. Even with the urgency at hand, with the frail skeleton of a girl half-crumpled to the floor behind her, she couldn't bring herself to hurry.

"You're a fucking interviewer?" the voice on the other end snapped back, pops of static cutting into each word. "Yeah, I'm a volunteer." She could taste the bitterness through the phone line. "What's it this time?"

There wasn't any way to say it except just to say it. "She's awake. She needs a nurse." She needed Logan, not some stranger. Not whoever this was.

"What? Who—...?" It took a moment for her words to click. There was a pause and then a heavy sigh, hot with irritation. "Yeah. I'll be there. Right now, just lay her down and get her some water, and—..."

"Ayuh, yeah." Click. She slammed the receiver down before she could finish. This wasn't anything she hadn't been through once or twice already, right? Jane just stood there gripping the edge of the desk, hand still pressed over the landline when the door creaked open to snatch her out of her stupor, breaking up all her swirling thoughts. A boy with straw blond hair, no one she'd thought she'd ever seen before... Jane stared up at him, but it looked like his eyes were only for the girl on the floor, that same look Logan had when...

There was more important things to focus on. "Visiting?" she asked, softly. He could've been anyone, a complete stranger or someone checking in for a band-aid, but that didn't matter. She wasn't about to babysit alone, whoever he was. "Help me get her back to a cot and then you can catch up, alright?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:26 pm

It wasn't as much of a joyous reunion for Madison, however. She was focused on her lap, on her thoughts that seemed to be streaming back into her mind, data recovered, rubbing her foot over the other anxiously as she remembered and thought and knew. Yes, remembered. She began to piece together what happened before everything went black, the pain, the numbing pain, the asphyxiation, how her body denied her breath, as he denied her breath. And then Jane started speaking, and no, it was not for her, as she found out when she looked up to her and found her eyes not staring back. No, it was to him. He was at the door. He was coming to finish the job.

She couldn't go back. She would never die, she would never go back.

Madison sprung up, staring at Owen as if he was a bear she encountered in the forest. Her heel rolled weakly out from under her, and she immediately collapsed to the floor, falling on her tailbone as fear overtook pain. She didn't react much, except to scurry backwards, desperately, pressing her back to Logan's desk. Without breaking eye contact, her terrified eye contact, she shot a hand to the surface of Logan's death, and, finding a pair of scissors, clutched them to her chest, wordlessly, the pointed side up.

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:02 pm

Owen was surprised to have this strange girl tell him to help her. He hadn't even noticed Madison on the floor until she had said so and his eyes were immediately drawn to her, staring hard at her lap, a wide-eyed look creeping onto her face. She remembers. He knew she did, it was the only explanation, the only reason she would look like that.

They made eye contact for just a brief moment. A surge of electricity ran through him, not like the first time they had met, no, this was painful, shocking, it made his chest burn and his breathing stop. It seemed to last forever, this look, and he could feel all the raw emotions again, the ones he thought he was just getting over, the fear, the agony, the grief, the loss, the anger, the emptiness, all of it came rushing back in a tidal wave that overtook him. Her move to scramble away from him did nothing to help and only served to make him feel worse.

"Madison, I--" His voice cut off when she grabbed the scissors. She may as well have already stabbed him with the blades, something he was sure she wouldn't hesitate to do if he attempted to get any closer to her. For a brief moment, he teetered on the edge of tears, bracing to turn and leave like he had done before. But he shut down. His emotions disappeared and he turned to the other girl, the one who had asked for his help. "She won't let me near her. I can't do anything."

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:41 pm

Maybe she should've figured something like this would happen, that it wouldn't be this easy. Jane could only jump, backing off as Madison went shuffling backwards across the floor, backing off when she should've dropped forward to help her and comfort her. She looked from Madison, to the blond, to Madison, to the scissors, another step back, chewing on her lip. He looked mortified. Jane knew she probably looked like an idiot.

For all she knew it could've just been some kind of episode, but the pain and bittersweet familiarity in his voice hinted enough at whatever kind of history they had... What could he have done that would turn her into something like this, a crazed animal driven into a corner? He didn't look like he could hurt a fly.

Should she have told him to leave? Jane turned, pressing herself forward, trying not to focus on the sharp glint in the girl's hands. She could worry about him in a second...

"Madison," she swallowed, "it's alright, alright? Calm down..." Her eyes flicked to the scissors, reaching out a comforting hand. "Just... don't do anything stupid... We're just trying to help. No one's going to hurt you..."

The words made her feel sick leaving her lips. She could hear every other doctor's voice recording in her head while she went through the motions, but... What else could you say? Jane knelt, reaching for the scissors.

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PostSubject: Re: The Clock Ticked [jay/sleepy/echo/rain?]   Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:17 pm

Jane's calm words didn't help the frazzled girl. Madison began to burrow further into the desk, as if shuffling into it would bring her further away, to a place far from Owen. Owen. The name made her eyes black with fear, her pupils wide, her mind flurrying through the weight he made her carry. To be immobile. She was still more used to that than the world she'd woken up in. "He killed me," she whispered. "He's a murderer, he killed me, he sent me there. Get away, get away!" The girl made a sudden slash with the scissors, at the hand Jane was reaching out. She had to be his partner, his lover! They were trying to kill her again, to finish the job!

The girl scrambled to her feet, almost slipping over the shiny tile and the nausea that bubbled in her throat. Nevertheless, she ran, or more so stumbled into the back, flipping past the curtain, into the dark of the room behind it. Empty clattering seemed to echo her path deeper into the infirmary corridor.

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