Merry, Mara wanders deeper into the night by herself. The rain slows and seems to hang in the air, warm and soft and damp and clean. She spreads her arms and pretends to float, almost dancing. Occasional people pass by on the street, blurry faceless groups, and she smiles to them all. A car appears, a pair of lights outshining the streetlamps, and she follows it for a little while, until it disappears in the distance.
She finds a river, wide and quiet as the sky, and follows it until the smeared sedate lights of the city grow dim. It looks like dark clouds rolling in, covering the tops of the tallest buildings and sinking lower. A low groan vibrates Mara's body, coming from far away and reverberating through everything, just a hair above infrasonic. An engine, laboring. Large. The clouds reach the ground and Mara smells the gasoline before she sees the sign announcing "Motortown".
It feels amazing, as unhealthy and filthy as it must be. Inimical to carbon-based life, even. But it's invigorating. Filling her with steely, fuming life. She walks past a gas station, where a cadre of cars roam the parking lot, flashing their lights, honking their horns and gunning their engines in jovival, aimless fun, and she can feel the impact of the noise in her heart. It's like a metal concert, she thinks, except nobody is trampling her.
Although the air is at least as dangerous. Mara starts coughing and walks back the way she came, briskly. As the fog lifts she sees a figure in a white coat standing by the water, and her first thought is the girl must be a ghost.
Nothing about her seems to make sense, and Mara looks at the strange girl as she walks closer, nothing many strange things. On the back of the spotless white longcoat is a large red cross, a little crooked. She stands still, shoulders slumped, unlike anyone she's seen in the city so far.
And she's alone.
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