The city seems to have risen long before her, with cars honking and people shouting already. Groaning, Penn rolls over, refusing to confront the reality of her life just yet. It’s been almost three years since the day she wasn’t supposed to wake up, two and half since she got her new life put together, found a way to hide in plain sight. And yet, with all the survival, she hasn’t been able to find an answer. That’s what haunts her every morning she wakes, the truth that she sleeps in to avoid.
Penn peals a single eye open, glancing around her flat, caving to the insidious thoughts. H Birgitta is sprawled across the floor, lounging in a sun-spot. As Penn sits up, the cat chirps at her, oblivious to her human’s confusion and sense of loss.
“Gitta, I was supposed to be dead by now. Long dead. But you’re a cat, so you don’t get that.” Indeed, the patchy tabby blinks at Penn. “It’s not like I’ve got anyone else to tell, though. Everyone I know will report me.”
They stare at one another for a moment before Birgitta hops up and demands breakfast. After feeding the cat, Penn wanders to the bathroom, contemplating her day as she steps under the warm spray. Before getting too far into the structure of her daily writing, she hears Birgitta come skittering in as the front door opens.
“Is anyone home?” An unfamiliar voice floats down the hall, brushing up against the bathroom door. Penn curses, shutting off the water and grappling for anything to cover the black numbers on her chest. If her uninvited guest, whoever they are, saw her death-date, she’s toast.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. The word repeats itself in her mind as she wraps a pair of towels around her torso and shoulders. How did they get in? What do they want? Who is it?
As the thought speed through her mind, a knock comes on the bathroom door. The voice that follows is wholly unfamiliar and startlingly masculine. “Are you in there? Helena? I heard the shower. We need to talk.”