“Sounds caress my ear”

[Estimated reading time: 6 minutes]

[Note: this is a work in progress.]

The End

Samantha watches with eyes full of tears and rage as her killer looks through her handbag.
The bastard tosses aside the cell phone, the pack of pads, the little make-up mirror that Samantha's grandmother bought her first week in America, way back in the 19th century.
The flippant disregard of precious heirlooms is what really angers Samantha, even more than the theft and murder, somehow.

The cicadas are loud in the grove and their song makes for a strangely peaceful background sound.
Give me a babbling brook, and I can almost fall asleep, a thought flits through Samantha's mind, and then she is brought out of her reverie by the curses of her killer.

"Where is it?", the murderer mutters as he empties most of the bag.
The red hood of his sweatshirt is down and his bald head gleams in the afternoon sun.
His movements stop after a second and he slowly pulls a tiny wire contraption out of the lining of the bag.
"Wouldn't want anyone getting suspicious, would we, luv?
No, 'course not," he slips into what must be his native English accent, "wouldn't want anyone thinking this was anything but a muggin'."
He gets a handful of bills out of the wallet, then drops the wallet next to a large tree, onto a slowly accumulating pile of Samantha's belongings.

Samantha's lying on her side, following his movements with her eyes.
Her blood-covered right arm is stretched out, as if reaching for the murdering bastard, but she can't move it, can't move her body at all.
Her brown leather jacket is a stark contrast to the green grass and the red blood.
Some still-human part of Samantha regards this scene as beautiful, if only for a moment.

The murderer walks up and kicks Samantha in her stomach, forcing her to roll away from him, onto her back.
The handful of knife wounds in her back scream out in agony, and she joins in for a crescendo of pain.

This is how I die, she thinks, listens to the song of the cicadas, and dies.

The Beginning

The world is chaos.
Waves of energy pass through existence and shatter reality.

Concepts flit about and refuse to settle as reality is constantly flipped on its head.
Even the concept of time refuses to be pinned down.

After a while the waves calm down and simple thought becomes possible.
But for a while the thoughts are just unpronounceable grunts of anger.

Then the world seems to take on a rather bright tone.
Damn that's bright is a thought that bounces around for a while.

Where am I is a thought that finally appears, and is quickly followed by Who am I?

The chaotic and bright world is silent, however, and offers no answers, so the thoughts just kind of bounce around.

After an eternity, visuals start to come out of the chaos, like structures revealing themselves as floodwaters recede.

The first of these is a blood-soaked hand, stretched out on a bed of brown leaves.
Anger accompanies and tinges the imagery in bright red.

Samantha, a husky voice comes out of the chaos and shatters the calm.
The name acts as a key.
It pulls out the flimsy firmament of reality, unleashes a torrent of memories, and plunges the world back into a chaotic nonexistence for an eternity.

The chaos abates, once the memories and emotions have been integrated, and eventually Samantha herself surfaces to the foreground.

She looks around, her eyes focus, and Samantha finds herself lying in a white bed, a white sheet over her form, in a white hotel room.
She flings the sheet off and finds that she's wearing a jogging outfit under a leather jacket.
This is the same outfit that she wears when she is killed.
She remembers the murder.

Samantha gets up and reaches a hand to her back, touches the leather of her jacket gingerly, expecting her fingers to come away bloody, the wounds in her back to open up and wake her up from this strange dream.
But nothing of the sort happens.
Samantha feels no rips or tears on her back, and her fingers come back unbloodied.

The door is just two steps away.
Samantha glances briefly at the room, at the white desk and white closet, but for some reason the contents of the room hold no interest for her.

She yanks open the door to the room and faces a wall of perfect bright light.
Unblinking and without fear, Samantha Wells steps into the light.

The Grove

Samantha Wells steps into the cicada grove and looks around.

The sun is high in a clear blue sky, but most of its light is blocked by large green leaves.
A breeze rustles the leaves and brings with it the familiar smells.
The cicadas are singing.

It's early afternoon on a summer day, Samantha thinks.
Did I dream my death?
She looks around.
Is this world a dream?

She looks on the ground by the large tree, looks for her phone, purse, all that junk, but it's not there.
Samantha takes a closer look at the large tree and finally notices... this isn't the same tree.
It has changed, in some subtle but unmistakable ways.

First things first: figure out what's going on.

Samantha looks herself up and down, concludes that she doesn't look out of place in her jogging gear and windbreaker.
Certainly not like a walking corpse, so that's a plus!
She then makes her way out of the grove, back to the forest trail, then the park, and ultimately to the parking lot.
She passes a few people along the way, joggers, but ignores them and thankfully they aren't alarmed by her appearance.

Samantha looks through the parking lot but doesn't see her old Civic anywhere.
Long shot, anyway, she sighs, then notices something strange about the parking lot.

The cars look weird to Samantha's eyes.
Their color scheme is much louder than what she's used to, bright pinks and yellows and electric blues now instead of the drab white, black, and everything shade of gray in between.
The cars are also curvier, their bodies resemble jellyfish, just a hell of a lot bigger.
Finally Samantha notices the charging posts and figures out that all the cars are electric.

How long has it been since that bastard killed me?!

The park is thankfully in a semi-urban neighborhood, so Samantha walks along the paved pedestrian walkway.
She knows that her probably-former dorm is about two miles away, so she takes that time to ponder about what is going on, and settle on some plan.
The dorm is a good place to start, she tells herself.

As she walks, Samantha watches the passing cars and the other walkers.
Her outfit is slightly out of fashion, but no more than everyone else's.

Is this the new fashion?
Samantha stops to watch a passing couple.
All this neon, really?

The cars are similarly "loud", and most have 2035 tags.

Huh, so it's been 13 years? Samantha stops again, this time to dry-heave.
She sits down and breathes for a while.
A random runner asks if she needs water and offers a sealed bottle, one of half a dozen hanging from her belt.
Samantha thanks the runner and reassures her that she's fine, really, before the runner is off.
She takes a moment, then resumes the trek.

The dorm is too intimidating, though, so Samantha detours to the gas station across the way.
Gas and electric station, Samantha reminds herself.
She finds that she needs to correct herself often.

She goes in the back and finds a no-calorie soda, then remembers that she doesn't have her wallet and puts it back.
So she asks for the bathroom instead.
There's a line, so Samantha watches the store.

It doesn't take long to realize that something else is wrong here.

There are no check out counters!
People come in, pick out whatever they need, and walk out.

Samantha forgets about her spot in line, grabs the soda, and walks out.

A red strobe light goes off and an alarm beeps once, twice.
The speakers are turned up to astronomical levels and seem a surprise to everyone.
The entire store freezes and looks at Samantha.

"It's been ten seconds, no one's coming to chip you, why don't you go on, hon?"
The voice belongs to a short round woman who is standing outside the store.

Samantha nods and takes off, walks across the street toward the dorm.
The entrance is another block away.
Samantha opens the soda and drinks it.
Glances back a few times, but no one is following her.
The short round woman isn't outside anymore, probably went inside the store at some point, Samantha concludes.

Mike Fleisher is sitting on the curb, by the entrance to the dorm.
His hands are cuffed behind his back.
A police cruiser is nearby and two uniformed officers are speaking with some suits.
Samantha recognizes one as an RA, though a bit older now.

"Hey Fleish, what's the rap this time?"

"The usual: protesting, public disturbance, unregistered..."
Fleish finally realizes who he's speaking to, so his brain has a bit of a meltdown.
He starts to scream uncontrollably.

"Ma'am, is this man bothering you?"
One of the officers is instantly by Samantha's side, offering protection and putting herself between the insane arrested man and his victim.

The other officer gets a bit physical with Fleish and shoves him into the waiting cruiser.
Fleish continues to scream behind the bullet-proof glass, so the cops request a wellness check.
While it's coming, they're all over Samantha, making sure she is okay and unharmed.

Samantha is staying as far away as possible from the RA she recognized, and ultimately explains to the cops that she was on a run, and needs to get to class now.
The officers are mollified by a young woman who wants to go to class.
The jogging outfit probably helps corroborate the whole thing.
Either way, the cops ignore Fleish's ramblings and wait for the psych team.
Samantha takes off at a jog down the street and disappears down an alley-way between the physics and the math buildings.

She avoids the police from that point, and wanders around campus.

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