If you need to read the introduction to this story, go here.

She could hear a woman’s heartbeat on the wind. Far too loud, beating far too fast. Likewise, the melody of her laughter was a pitch too high. From her perch at the top of the buildings, Janiya groaned. There were only a few hours left until daybreak, and someone just had to wreck a nearly perfect shift. She turned her dark brown eyes to gaze down the rows and rows of houses, toward the gates; Pryor stood guard, looking in the opposite direction. He had just returned from walking a round west around the town.

Another flutter of heartbeats sounded on the wind. She frowned. From what it sounded, she could handle this alone, so she would. Hopefully, she wouldn’t need to do much.

She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. The lantern she held in her right hand jangled slightly, and she felt it an the will-o-wisps dissipate back into the wind. She pulled her goggles down over her eyes, then grasped at the heart-shaped pendant hanging from her necklace. She held her breath feeling it grow cold as she started to listen inward. The uncomfortable feeling of nothingness overtook her. The wind blew from the north; she could follow along it to get to where the heartbeats were coming from. She felt her body lighten, and she opened her eyes slowly.

<<Let’s roll.>>
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The prickles of goosebumps rising through my skin woke me from what felt like a long, deep sleep. My limbs felt heavy, weighted. I rolled over onto my side, clutching the pillow closer to my head. I was covered up to my shoulders in sheets and heavy blankets, with soft, downy pillows surrounding me. As I inhaled, the scent of lavender washed over me.

I opened my eyes, wide. Save for a lonely little nightlight plugged into the wall opposite my bed and a soft light peering from under the door, the room was shrouded in a cold, empty darkness. There was no sound — just darkness. I looked around my bed. The blankets were heavy, gray. There were far too many pillows, and the bed was somewhere between a twin and full size.

This was not my bed. This was not my room.Continue reading