Exposure Level 1 - 9 | i

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"I need you to relax," Anabella said. She used her most soothing voice as she approached the man who was lying face down on the bed in the center of the room. "Don't fight the connection." Using a sedative to relax the man was not an option. It would cloud her connection as it would cloud his mind. "Deep breaths."

Anabella's nails lengthened. She positioned herself alongside the man. As her nails broke his skin, the man stiffened.

"Relax," she said again. "Let me in."

The connection started, and all of his memories flooded into her mind. Anabella had to focus on what she was looking for, minimizing the excess information. She was looking for everything that took place in the past forty-eight hours. The memories narrowed down. She saw the man walking into the kitchen kissing the top of his daughters' heads as they sat having breakfast. He poured himself a cup of coffee kissing his wife on the cheek before sitting down to his plate of pancakes that were drowning in syrup. They all looked so happy Anabella ached for what had become of the present.

She looked for tiny clues to help her answer the questions she had. She found nothing in that day. There was nothing out of place. Fast forward to the last twenty-four hours. The man and his family woke up at their usual times, did their usual weekday routine: breakfast, kids get ready for school, the man leaves for work, and his wife stays home. His day at work too was uneventful as it was the previous day. He stopped at the same coffee stand he did the day before on his way to work. Bought the same espresso; a double shot of cream, a bagel with cream cheese. He took the same route home as he did going to work making no stops along the way.

It was a Friday night and their kids, two girls, had sleepovers. The couple watched a movie, they laughed, talked. Still nothing was out of place. Anabella fast-forwarded through their intimate parts not wanting to invade too much of the man's privacy. She picked up again when the man woke up in the middle of the night. According to the bedside clock, it was 2 am in the morning. He went to the kitchen going to the refrigerator for a glass of water. In the flood of light from the fridge, he looked sick. Pale, clammy. He started to cough so violently he dropped the glass in his hand.

There was a blank space after that. A wide gap in his memory from the glass shattering to the man waking up to his daughter's terrified screams. Beside him, mutilated with her eyes open was his wife. He tried to revive her but already knew she was dead. That was when he made a call to Anabella's offices. Anabella broke the link, feeling for the man. There was no doubt that he loved his wife. That they were happy together. For him to turn on her like that...

"W-what did you see?" Disoriented from the connection the man slurred his words. It was a temporary side effect. Ina few seconds he would be back to normal.

"You were sick," Anabella said.

"We do not get sick."

"But you were. You were coughing, and it looked like you had a fever."

The man looked away as if searching for pieces of his memories for himself.

"I-I was thirsty. My throat—" His hand went to his throat, "was dry. I got some water from the fridge, and I started to cough but sick... H-how is that possible?"

Anabella knew a possible answer for that. The minute she heard about the case Anabella ordered a full work up. Blood tests, scans, everything. As soon as she was finished here, she was going to check in on the results. Based on the autopsies done on her men from Passerini's lab they had brain lesions. Lesions on their adrenaline glands.

"When you got in a full work up was done. As soon as I know the results I will update you."

"My daughters," the man said. "They think I killed their mother." Tears swam in his eyes. "They must think me a monster."

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