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Lockwood Towers

June 1st, 2013

"t hr u m"

Blue eyes blink hard as they adjust to the light.

Was it all a bad dream?

And with a start, Cyrus sits up on his yoga mat. After all of that— his adventures out of body— he's back in his own apartment. Ragged breaths prompt him to leap to his feet as fingers trail through his increasingly touseled hair. Every muscle in his body complains. They ache, telling him he's exerted them too hard, yet his clammy, pale skin reports a different story. Goosebumps have long-since formed along his arms, legs, and neck, yielding some secret anxiety. Or, not so secret, as the case may be. His heart pounds in his chest, sending reverberations through his throat, back, and head. The sound of his own heartbeat echoes through his ears.

The movement reminds him of a lingering, although fainter, pain in his head. Right. The headache. In many respects, to onlookers, he might look mad. At least no one is present. His chin lifts to inspect the ceiling of his apartment. The black mark is back. His nose wrinkles irritably. Somehow he is the blackness. Maybe. If it happened.

His chin drops and his eyes scan the area, finally catching sight of his cell phone. The camera is aimed up at the white ceiling and a photo is taken and saved for later. At least he'll have evidence to remember it by. The phone is returned to his pocket as he runs to the window to look down.

Was it real??

Maybe he can catch sight of Mrs. Dee…


It's night. And the earth beneath is entirely still. Eerily still.

Cyrus moves away from his window, eyes flitting about the room in silent contemplation. A glance is given to his yoga gear— black yoga pants, and a white tank. Fitting enough to be seen in public. He reaches for his keys, turns them over once in his hand before making a decision. Flip flops are dawned on his feet— inspiring a whole new set of shivers.

Flip flops. Sarah was wearing flip flops.

He swallows hard and opts for a pair of loafers instead.

He turns for the door, exits, and locks his apartment behind him. All normal activities.

Aside from the way he looks. He's never quite seemed so frazzled. Even with his stressful job, he's never been this on edge at home. The goosebumps continue, prompting him to shiver once. Not that he feels cold. But his skin is cold to the touch. The clammy texture of someone who has just experience a heart attack. Moist. Deadened.

He tries to walk casually to the stairs, but as he ends the corridor, his paces have turned to a sprint— desperate to see if anything even happened, or if somehow he'd dreamt it all. He runs up the stairs and opens the door to the roof.

Reality comes crashing into Cyrus at full-force in the form of tangled brown hair, a shock-white tanktop and a solid body covered in the same clammy sweat, running at the same desperate sprint.

Wet flashing, unfocused eyes, a shock-white tanktop and— red— blood. Sarah.

Behind her, the long expanse of the roof looks utterly empty, but his sights are filled almost entirely with her: she barely seems to register that he's more than a door, pushing and shoving, a craze of wild elbows and scuffing flip-flops.

The sprint stops at the sight of her, and he mutters under his breath, "Fuck," before treading a little further onto the rooftop to look down for Mrs. Dee. Nothing had been amiss from his window. Had it happened when he was going for the stairs?

Those same blue eyes track across the scene. A smear of blood on the ledge indicate something has happened, but there's no body. Prompting a single questions, "Where is Mrs. Dee? Sarah, you have to answer me— "

She's practically at his heels, having whirled around after the vague realization that there's someone new on the roof with her. She grabs and clings to him without thought, but it's not the desperate clutch of someone in need; she pushes him, trying to get him out of her way, out of her sight, stop confusing her. But— then— the shock of memory— pushing, grabbing. C R A C K.

She jolts back, pushing her hair from her face up over her head. The soft inner side of her wrist bleeds in two reddened, diagonal lines, claw-marks. Half-moons of digging nails are red and bruising on her her bare arms.

She's left a narrow swathe of blood on Cyrus's arm.

She's trembling with trauma, adrenaline. Whimpers unbecoming of the mouthy security guard's usual character form and choke in her throat as she backs up, blinking hard as if she can barely see Cyrus. "What?" comes out garbled and distant, but only by distress, not out-of-body experience, not black shadows.

Large arms reach out to embrace Sarah rathr than push her away. She may not know what he'd experienced, but in an odd way, he feels a kinship at having seen Mrs. Dees die. Or not die. "Take some deep breaths," Cyrus instructs, only to realize he needs to take his own advice. His breath remains ragged. His lips press together uncomfortably as his eyes peek about the empty rooftop aside from the blood.


So much evidence of something happening. But what?

"Where did Mrs. Dees go?" he asks again. Somewhat calmer this time. He'd been privvy to it all. Weirdly privvy to it all.

There's an instant in which Sarah tries to rebuke his arms, but then she simply goes still aside from the nervous trembling of her entire body and her own ragged, jumping breaths. She blinks through faintness and burning terror-tears to look just past Cyrus— at the smear of blood, and nothing more. "Wh— what," she sounds almost angry. "No— " A sudden surge of violence has her squirming, determined to throw herself toward the edge to look.

Cyrus tries to cling to her, but her wiryness has his grasp relaxing as he treads after her towards the edge. "She's not there!" he calls back. "She's— she's not there," as if trying to provide some sort of comfort. "Did— " He takes a deep breath as he stares down again, eyes focusing on the world below.

Sarah drops in a shakily executed fall to her knees, grabbing the edge while avoiding the blood. She's searching for something that isn't there. "N— " she chokes, "No— !" Apparent memory collides with apparent reality. Her face a mess of conflicting lines, she whirls her head around to Cyrus, looking up with confusion so intense she can barely speak. "What are you doing here?!"

Now that's a question he's not prepared to answer. Not really. "I don't— " Cyrus starts and stops. He doesn't know. "I saw it," he finally admits. He hadn't been here physically but he saw it. "It's… it's not— " he reaches up and rubs his hands over his face, his headache ever present. "I saw it. Okay? I saw what happened. I saw all of it."

Sarah has one thing to say about that: "Fuck." She brings her hands to her face, burying her palms in her eye sockets, pushing at her own headache to no avail. Horror is entrenched on her face, raw and fearful and angry all at once when her hands fall and she tries to climb to her feet only to sit down, smack, on the ledge, a courageous or utterly unthinking move in her current state.

He saw.

"I didn't mean to, you've gotta believe me— "

"I believe you," Cyrus holds up his hands in acceptance before sliding down to sit next to her on the ledge. This might not be the safest position— next to someone who just sort of pushed someone off this very roof. "I saw that she almost— " he sighs, "she almost did the same to you." In a weird way, it's sort of self defence. He saw all of it.

Did she? Sarah scrubs her hands over her face. When her eyes are free again, they're staring at Cyrus, trying to claw the truth out of him, needing what he said to be true, that it was self-defense.

Bits and pieces aren't adding up.

"Where the hell were you?! What were you doing up here?" She didn't see him up here, but the near-accusatory question holds little water; she could barely see what was in front of her, let alone anywhere else. "Didn't I just fucking run into you coming up?!"

Cyrus' lips part to speak only to close again. "It's a long story," he finally settles on before deciding to stand from the ledge. He takes a single step back. "I'm not sure I could explain it if— " If he wanted to. There's no body anyways, so is there any reason? He releases a quiet breath as he steps back again. "Look. I have the details, don't I? How else would I have known? Of course I saw."

Sarah launches right off the ledge — on the safe side, blessedly, marching across the roof unable to keep still. She spins on her unsupported heels, flip-flops crunching on minuscule gravel, flinging her hands up. Her expression couldn't be more incredulous — it also couldn't be more angry, or bewildered, or distraught— she's a mess. She doesn't know what to think. Presently, she takes it out on Cyrus. Her fingertips curled toward the dark heavens, she claws into the air and shouts. "Then where the fuck is she?!"

She spins again, striding away, the back of her hand going to her mouth. Cyrus is given the view of her rangy shoulderblades settling into two stiff boards.

Quieter, she admits, " — I didn't see her go down. I …" She hesitates.

"She went down," Cyrus states. Although it's not matter-of-factly, it is certainly honest. "There was someone over her— " his eyes squint. "A man. Dark glasses." He pauses as he shoves his hands into his pocket. He releases a slow, even breath. "He could— he might— what if he moved her?" Of course, shouldn't there be more blood. There was blood. He's sure there was…

There's a sound seemingly too soft to come out of Sarah's mouth: an airy "wh— " of confusion that ends in a whine, muffled by her hand. She turns around to face Cyrus, distracted by looking at the blood on her wrist like she's never seen it before. It takes her a second to focus on him enough to respond, her dark, easily perturbed eyebrows wedged into perpetual distress. "A man?" She sniffs and jogs to the edge, staring at the ledge where a smear of blood jives jarringly with her memory, and beyond, where all is lost. "Where?"

The warm night is getting colder, sending a stark chill over their skin as if aware they're looking into its darkness.

The question bids Cyrus back towards the edge. A single hand extends beyond the ledge, pointing downwards to approximately where the body had fallen. "There," he says quietly. "He was over her, fingers laced through hair. He looked…. strange. I mean his expression. It was somewhere between angry and… vengeful, maybe?" His lips twitch to the side.

Looking down ten storeys and imagining a body at the bottom is a fast track to nausea. Sarah's world spins more than it already is spinning and she quells the urge, barely, by turning around. "Okay…" she breathes out, barely quelling the urge, then, to swear, only abstaining because she's trying very hard to think in a single straight line that doesn't echo the words 'fingers laced through hair'.

…grabs the curls in her fist…

"Well I gotta l— " she starts off strong and swallows uncomfortably, impatient about her own delay, " — look for 'er," she demands of the world at large, rather than Cyrus this time. A violent combination of odds — trembly and swaying on her feet but fiercely, solidly determined — she blinks at the Lockwood resident before racing toward the roof door.

Determination, raw and fixed creates knots in the pit of Cyrus' stomach. Sarah's path to the door is met in kind. Cyrus' steps speed up to a jog to catch up to the woman. It's moments like these that give him reason to do cardio. "Hey! Look! I'm coming with you— two sets of eyes are better than one— "

He nearly gets hair whipped in his face as his reply. She strikes her head around fast to look at him, stopping at the door long enough to give him a stiff, troubled nod. The door is whipped open just as sharply.

Inside the stairwell, under the dull, artificial light, the atmosphere changes.

Outside was chaos, raw and open.

Inside the building, it's as if ill will has been cloistered by the walls, trapped like dead air. It was quiet outside; it's quieter inside. It's unpleasantly hot and charged; a chilled draft sneaks in after them, snaking along the backs of necks in unsettling contrast.

The adjustment slows Sarah's step — her momentum such that it's only halfway down the first set of stairs that it takes effect — she clutches the rail and looks around, a thought nagging her during her visible pause. She puts it on the back-burner and takes the rest of the steps two at a time, in blatant disregard of the bleary vision and vertigo and nausea she's currently taxed with.

In the running leap from the bottom of the stairs, her shoulder collides with the corner, around which the tenth floor elevator door awaits. She doubles over slightly, trying to push her way past, more focused than her eyes are.

It's hard to keep up to Sarah, particularly with her momentum. Desperate hands constantly reach for the railing to rebalance the steps, he nearly stumbles on the last step. Cyrus trails close behind, but manages not to catch the elevator. The intensity in his own eyes still tries to understand everything that's happened and how any of it is possible.

He saw. He had the details. He saw.

But how is that possible? He was in his apartment the whole time.

His jaw tightens and he leans a little closer to the elevator door, head thrumming still. This all seems strangely tied together. Absently, his fingers pinch the bridge of his nose. Staving off the pain that still lingers. "Headache," he mutters.

At first, Sarah assumes he's talking about her, as the throb of pain in her head tries to sabotage her vision, the artificial light feeling five times as powerful as it is. When she glances up with bleary eyes to catch Cyrus pinching the bridge of his nose, however, she squints. "Tell me about it," she complains knowingly, pushing off the corner to stand up straight. The elevator remains out of their reach, the empty space behind the gate determined to waylay their momentum. "Walk me the fuck through this," she decides, her voice sounding as bleary as her eyes look. "'Cause it was way too hazy from where I was standing." And yelling, and grabbing, and … pushing…

Cyrus' eyes narrow. Perhaps headaches are contagious? At Sarah's request, however, his jaw tightens. It's hard to explain what he saw. Or didn't see. "Well," he begins as he clears his throat. His gaze turns up to the ceiling and he tries to recall every detail that he can, "You and Mrs. Dees came to the rooftop. You were arguing. Something about her husband and a younger woman. You had given her important information about her husbands… activities. She wanted you to do something about it though. She pushed you towards the edge. She was… wild eyed." His gaze finally turns back to Sarah.

Sarah's eyes narrow in turn, dark and untrusting by nature, and besides, she'd rather not believe any of this happened, that she had anything to do with it, but she remembers— "I remember her eyes," she admits, "more'n anything. I was workin' a case— part-time— "

The shrill but slightly distant noise of emergency rings out somewhere beneath them. Not a fire alarm — no, something rarer than that, echoing up from the elevator shaft, some of its sharpness pillowed by several floors.

Cyrus shifts is weight from one foot to the other as Sarah's eyes narrow. A frown tugs at the edges of his lips as Sarah is interrupted. Reaction and adrenaline take over as he glances at Sarah and then to the eleator shaft. Quick sharp-footed paces drive him to the stairs. Which he then takes two at a time downwards… but how far?

With a harsh, if reluctant, push off the wall, Sarah starts after Cyrus. The emergency alarm feels like it reverberates in her skull like a jackhammer, and the first two leaps down the stairs tell her equilibrium this is a bad idea, but she doesn’t have a better one: waiting alone beside a screaming elevator shaft after she’s next to certain she just killed someone isn’t an option.

She’s out of breath two floors down. She keeps following. The alarm seems to rise closer and closer to them. “It’s not—supposed—to keep goin’ like that—“

As they reach the sixth floor, the assaulting alarm stops; they’re in a race to catch the elevator and it’s always one step ahead, but now it seems to slow; 6 glows encouragingly, but the sound of the old lift rising and stopping is not followed by the opening of the doors. The entire corridor feels alive in the worst of ways; a pulsing, invisibly encroaching energy that crawls on their skin, under their skin, buzzes around in their minds. Sarah, drenched in sickly sweat after only four sets of stairs down, slams a hand onto the wall, prompting a harsh, irate shout from the resident of 606 behind it. She mumbles, but the I don’t feel so good on her tongue transforms into a wordless holler at the elevator.

Pounding the buttons does nothing.

The words What the hell?! are eaten by the heaviness of Cyrus's throat, lungs, and eyes. Everything feels heavy. Even a little drowsy as he fights against the beast that seems to cling to the walls. Heaviness is familiar. Like floating over the apartment building. He pounds a single time with a closed fist against the elevator doors as he releases another quiet breath. His foot kicks it once. Open, he argues with the door, trying to bid the elevator into compliance through will alone. His brain, weirdly tired from the run down, fights to reason. Why haven't any of the residents complained about the noise? Does it exist? Is any of this happening or is it some nightmare he dreamt up with his out of body experience?

"HELP PLEASE!!!" A woman's hoarse voice cries from within the metal cage as it plummets back down.

It sounds real.

"Jesus!" Sarah slurs, blinking hard. No matter how she feels, the cry for help is enough to light a fire under her all over again. She practically collides with Cyrus as she rushes to resume the hurried descent down to the ground floor.




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