Sunday April 8th, 2018

The exercise:

It's time for the April installment of Empires.

Might take me a day or two to get to this, so feel free to start without me.


Greg said...

Ok, I'm caught up on all the reading (thanks for adding, Morganna!) and I've got some ideas for my bit now :) If you're curious, I'm writing this at the airport, starting my day of nothing-but-travelling.

Ana halted suddenly at the end of the corridor. The feeling that Stacey was in trouble was still strong, an itch in the back of her head, inside her skull where she couldn't scratch, but suddenly it was coherent. The bond between them was weaker the further apart they were, but sometimes it seemed to peak, and they'd found out they could break it completely around strong electric fields. That hadn't been pleasant -- Ana had had migraines for a week.
Anna Miller came through strongly, followed by Safe-ish. Don't worry yet.
Ana allowed herself a smile. Typical Stacey. Still, it was an excuse not to go to the hospital just yet.
She turned round and went back to her desk, opened up her browser and started searching. Who was Anna Miller, and where did Stacey get the name from?
There was the usual twenty minutes of stripping out LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages and some pages of seemingly random chinese or korean characters, but then she started getting traces of information. As she pulled them together and refined her search queries the results returned became fewer and fewer, and in some cases she got nothing back at all. Finally she sighed, rubber her forehead, and checked her notes. There had been an Anna Miller here in Crimson Falls, and she would be about 4 years older than Stacey. Something had happened, but it looked like someone had been hunting down the records of it and deleting them. So....
Ana opened up a Tor browser and reached in her handbag for a tiny notebook. The page she turned to looked like a cryptic shopping list, but she quickly turned the symbols and letters into longer words in her head, and inside three minutes she was accessing the archives of the local newspaper. Shortly after that she had the article that had been deleted online.
Local woman strangled by doppelganger.
Three weeks ago, according to the paper, and done in Mayflower park. There had been two witnesses and a single police officer called to the scene. A tingle of worry ran down her spine, and she searched the names. Sure enough: both witnesses had died a week later, in what looked like unrelated incidents. No mention of the officer, but she had access to the police department computers as well, so--
Pain slammed into her head like the time she'd not been paying attention and walked into the edge of an open cupboard door. She gasped, her heart hammering in her chest, and through the pain she realised that she could no longer feel Stacey's presence.

Marc said...

Stacey began to follow Ben but then stopped short when she reached the morgue's double doors. She hadn't even looked in the cabinet yet. And besides...

"What do you mean there are no secrets down here?" she asked Ben, who already had one foot on the first step. He paused then turned, slowly, to look at her. "How do you know that? And what kind of secrets? And how lo-"

"Too many questions," he said with a shake of his head. "Not enough space here for me to think right. Let's get back outside first."

"Well I'm not done here yet," she said firmly. It was difficult to say for sure in the light of their two flashlights but she saw his expression change to... disappointment? "Give me two minutes and then I'll come with you. Okay?"

Ben sighed heavily, looked to the top of the stairs, then nodded his agreement. Stacey almost thanked him but stopped herself when she realized that would be silly. So what if he hadn't agreed? He had no authority here.

Instead she returned to the wall of cabinets. Anna Miller's was partially open, a sliver of darkness glowering up at her with her flashlight still aimed at the floor. She sniffed, tentatively, but didn't detect any new odours. That's good, she thought. Probably.

She pulled the cabinet out as far as the sliders would allow. Before she could talk herself out of it she shone her flashlight inside.

"Anything?" Ben asked, having arrived silently at her shoulder. Stacey swallowed another scream and glared at him before returning her attention to the cabinet.

"Looks like some paperwork... medical records? Not all of them though. And what's that back there? A scarf or..."

"What are you doing?" David demanded as he stumbled into the room.

"I am getting very tired of having the wits scared..." Stacey clutched her head as the morgue doors closed behind David. Ben grunted and did the same. David's eyes went wide.

"Our connection," the brothers said in unison. "It's amplified here. Too much. Too strong. Need to get out."

"Ana..." Stacey mumbled, then collapsed to the floor in an unconscious heap.