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I I I
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Melody’s apartment was on the top corner of three-story building, with sprawling windows looking out over the city. Her floor was the only one that directly overlooked the adjoining building, allowing her a unique rooftop access to the next-door warehouse. The building was near abandoned, which left her the freedom to scatter planters and mount hanging pots on the flat roof, a veritable jungle for her two cats.
Francis and Butterfly were outside, stalking something unseen through the ferns and creeping vines.
She chose the apartment in part because of the spectacular view, but also because it existed on a fault line, a cusp of raw power. The web surrounded her here, soaked her with emotion, and she loved the connection to other living things. The web brought her comfort, an easy connection to the White Corridor. She was a part of something greater here; she breathed in life as well as air.
In the center of the room was her meditation pillow, a blue throw with a golden Chinese dragon sewn into it. Ten minutes of meditation, she thought. A connection to the web and some simple reassurance. She would feel better.
She sat, closed her eyes, and tried to relax. She concentrated on her breathing, focused her mind. She let her conscious mind go, let go of her clients and her phone bill and the muck inside the fridge... all the things that would otherwise have her attention. Still, the shadow in the street haunted her. She struggled to dislodge him from her mind. It wasn’t easy. He had dug in deep, and was taking root. She expanded herself outward, let the web take her up – up and out. Her breathing slowed and she began to see –
Nothing at first, just a sea of white, but then the white became solid and she was looking down at the city, and then the city was all blue. Calm. Safe.
She floated down, nearly weightless, onto the empty street, and as her toes touched down her skin began to tingle, warm at first, then sharp and aggravating. She looked around, disoriented, as the feeling grew worse. She felt eyes on her and she spun around, but there was no one, nothing, but –
There was something in the air, a crack, a break in the calm. A streak of violent, fire engine red cut across the blue, like blood trickling through water, and Melody tried to step back but the red was filling the very air she breathed. The paranoia filled her again, not just a passing feeling as it was on the bus, but a tangible, physical sensation. It pressed against her chest, suffocating her, and she stumbled, afraid, gasping for air where there was none.
She tried to pull back, to return to herself sitting in the third story apartment, but the connection was slow, and she heard a voice in the distance, calling out a warning.
It took her a moment to remember that here there was no air; without her body she didn’t need to breathe, but the physical instincts were hard to break, and it was a few seconds before her pulse slowed and her head stopped pounding.
But the overwhelming sense of paranoia and fear was still there. Something was out there – something watched her from a distance, something she could not place.
Melody pushed herself to another place on the psychic plane. Uncomfortable with what tumbled downstream, she elevated herself to her private place, an isolated area for her extended consciousness to take a breather. Someone would have to consciously follow her there to give her more grief, rather than just send negative energy down the pipeline. No one did. She counted her breaths until she finally calmed down, and slowly let herself fall back into her own body.