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Jun 26, 2019 4:37 PM
fuchsias and palatinates in all night laundry
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Bina is out of clean clothes, because she has the time management abilities of a fruit fly, and she's now standing outside the 24-hour laundromat. At two in the morning in the middle of July, because work.

The lights are off, naturally. Which is weird, the sign's still on. There isn't another laundromat close by, and she really doesn't want to have to wear sweaty clothes tomorrow, so she peers through the window.

There's a flickering. Like a television, maybe. Otherwise, the place is dark and quiet.

She sighs, goes to get her laundry basket - ignoring the flickering streetlight - and walks in. It's dark, and she tries to recall the layout of the place. The customer-accessible part is kinda L-shaped, with cheap vertical-loading washing machines near the front and dryers crammed into the back corner, with the more expensive front-loading machines somewhere.

She doesn't remember where the light switch is, and as she thinks this she notices that the television's off.

She puts her laundry on a machine and starts heading in deeper, calling out, "Hello? Is anyone there? It's kind of dark, and I wanted to do some laundry, could you maybe turn on some lights?"

No response.

Not even any mechanical sounds. The air's still and hot - the air conditioning must have cut off at some point.

She walks deeper in, until she spots the row of light switches, barely visible in the dim light - between the bulletin board and the dryers.

She nearly trips over something in the dark, barely doesn't freak out, then finally manages to get the lights on.

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-And she's not alone. This girl is blinking a little owlishly at her at the sudden light. "What?" she snaps.

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Ah!

Bina startles at the person just standing there.

"...What the heck were you doing standing around in the dark?"

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"I was about to go out. Most people take 'no lights' as a sign."

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"...It's a 24 hour laundromat and your sign says you're open."

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Beat. The girl swears. "Just- Stay out of the employees area. Okay?"

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"Alright? I really just want to do my laundry."

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"Fine, good, have at."

And she stalks out, the door rattling on its hinges.

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...Weird.

Bina walks back to the vertical load washers near the front, and starts putting her clothes in one - noticing that one of the washers, the one nearest the door, has kicked on. Must have been between cycles or something, Bina doesn't really know how washers work.

She finishes loading (she has about three loads worth), fills the thing with coins, then sits down to take stock of how much change she has left.

Not much. Especially not if she wants to get her laundry properly dry, which'll probably take more loads since the dryers are smallish.

She stretches, yawns, thinks she sees something dark flickering out of the corner of her eye - when she turns it's gone.

Must be the late hour getting to her.

It's going to be nearly three by the time the washers finish and she has school tomorrow, this is extremely unlikely to be fun.

She goes over to the uncomfortable plastic bench thing near the front window, tries to lay down, can't get comfortable at all.

Bina sighs and gets up, wandering to the back where she vaguely remembers a vending machine, maybe she can get a canned coffee - 

And stops.

The television's on again.

She could've sworn it was off, but now it's showing flickering static.

She investigates, rapping it on the side - it remains staticy - then shrugs and turns it off.

Then to the snack machine!

The only thing she can really afford is some cookies, so she gets those and starts walking back to the front - 

 

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There's something on the ground.

Something white and small.

Is that a tooth?

It is. She picks it up, it's a tooth, and there's a bit of blood on one end, like it was knocked out -

The hairs on her arms stand on end.

Her roommate was asleep when she left.

No one knows where she is.

If she vanishes...

A wet, sloshing thud startles her, nearly giving her a heart attack, but -

It's just the washing machines. She's sleep deprived and scaring herself.

She sets the tooth down on a table - whoever lost it probably wants it back - and walks back to check on her laundry.

Except it's not hers making the racket. It's the one near the door.

It's shaking horribly, like it's off balance, and there's some kind of thick black liquid draining from the lid. Smells weird. Sharp and dry. Looks like dirt, maybe.

She checks the dials, to see when it'll stop - but it's broken. The dial says there's no time left, after all.

She considers leaving it be, but curiosity overcomes her. She opens the lid - and it's just clothes. Really, really dirty clothes, but clothes.

She closes the lid, feeling silly, and goes back over to the bench. At least the machine's stopped.

Bina sits down, yawning and stretching, and - 

THUD.

THUD THUD.

Bina jumps. The broken machine's jerking. It stops.

The wiring here must be faulty. Well, no way she'll be able to sleep with it doing that, so she gets up, hops over the growing puddle of icky black water, and starts to lever the machine aside so she can reach behind and unplug it.

She's reaching back - 

And there's an arm at the edge of her vision.

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She jumps, screams, and falls back, her shoulder banging into the other washing machine.

But there's nothing there.

Bina takes a few deep breaths, chalks this up as something to talk to her therapist about...

The machine thuds. Rocks, at first away from her, then towards - 

And crashes to the ground.

Something comes out, and - it's like someone scribbled it into reality and forgot to color it in, pure white with harsh black lines defining edges. It's like a human but not, too big, dragging itself on its arms, its legs broken and twisted and malformed.

It doesn't move like a human. It moves in shutter-stop motion, like an old film reel with half the images taken out. Intent. Quiet.

Bina jumps away as it lunges out of the machine at her, grabbing an empty trash can as she rounds the bank of washing machines - which does nothing - then turning to run for the door - something latches onto her ankle, she goes down hard, banging her hip on the unforgiving floor -

She grabs the nearest thing to hand - a vacuum cleaner - tries to kick the thing off while hitting it in the head - it doesn't even notice -

It surges up her body -

And freezes.

Bina's heart rate starts to slow.

Heh. That. Was a thing. It's. Not doing anything now, just opening its mouth -

And.

Green.

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She falls. She doesn't know how long or how far.

But she lands, on a little plastic bench in the middle of a strange courtyard.

There's someone there.

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"-hello?"

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Ahhhh?

Wherever Bina is, it's daytime, the air thin and still.

At. Least there's no monsters here. (She takes a frantic look around, but no, she's in some kind of - maybe loading area, this place looks industrial - and all there is is a weird old television, two people on a couch apparently watching it while arguing, and the person talking to her.)

"Ah. Hello? What. Happened. Where am I -"

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"I'm- not sure. I'm...pretty sure I died? But this feels like a really shit afterlife. It's some kind of industrial loading area, and there's a load of gates, but they're either locked, or heavy enough that I can't move 'em." Pauses. "You falling from the sky is new though, those two just sort of...appeared on the couch."

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"...I. Was. Doing my laundry, then - being chased by this person-monster thing. It stopped, and opened its mouth, and there was - green - and then I was falling."

She stands, feeling only a bit woozy, and glances over at the couch people - who're focused on her now, and seem a bit surprised.

"Did. Everyone here die?"

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"I think so. They," ey gestures to the couch people, "don't really remember much. Just being brought to...well, this area? Or something similar? And looking at...something. And then being here."

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"...What's that thing they're looking at? It looks like the TV from the laundromat."

It squirms a bit out of the corner of her eye, but she hasn't slept in a while, so.

Bina walks around a bit, feeling - extremely jittery - and contemplates glancing at what they're watching.

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"Some kind of monster I think? I can't quite figure out what it's supposed to be. Who are you anyway?"

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"Bina Miryala, I'm a journalism student over at McGill? Who're you?"

She can see the screen now - it's flickering, static, like before, but... There's patterns in it.

Shapes.

They're...

Beautiful.

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"I'm Ant. You're a college student? That's cool. I want- wanted to go to college when I finished school, but I wasn't sure we could afford it..."

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"Yeah, it's - nice - "

She starts walking towards the TV, trying to get a sense of what it's showing her.

There's.

Little green lights.

Pretty things.

Almost like tendrils, reaching towards her.

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"-Bina?" Ant sounds almost concerned. "I- should you look at that? Perhaps you shouldn't-"

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"She's so - pretty - "

Bina stretches her hand out, the lights passing through her arm once and then twice. It's hot and cold and prickly all at once.

Funny.

She can't feel that arm anymore.

Ha, hahaha - 

But -

That's - 

Not that funny -

A tendril reaches for her eye, and she can't look away (why would she want to look away?).

But the tendrils aren't really tendrils, they're shapes. Special shapes, teeth coming into focus as she glimpses her arm, hazy red falling past the bright glowing green.

That's.

That's blood. Isn't it.

She. Doesn't think she should be seeing that.

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Ant tries to get between Bina and- and whatever is going on. Ey isn't sure. But Bina's the first person who's actually seemed...interesting.

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Her line of sight's disrupted.

That should be upsetting.

Isn't it?

(She can still see the green. The tendrils. They're - writhing around Ant, reaching for her - )

(If she can just - close - her - eyes - )

The green fades.

Feeling in her arm returns.

Bina grabs herself, the humming wire now embedded in her right arm scraping against bone, and passes out.

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