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Alone and quietly lying crumpled shivering waking up in a familiar cage. Certainly alive but scarcely more than skin and bones, ribs rising and falling unevenly with every breath awkwardly visible under wrinkled metallic fabric. Behind limp fibre-optic hair eyelids part, pupils contract; skeletal fingers push it away. Through the widescreen window a long look from dark eyes, and deep in those eyes reflects a vision of the Planet Earth.

Static flushes into her brain: a burst of noise at a painful volume confirming consciousness. Pushes the static into the background. Eyes reaccustom themselves to burning fluorescent light.

When she stands it's all cracks and pops jumping from her joints - a sound like outdated components of an obsolete machine grinding against each other. A phonograph or mechanical clock. Something analog, anyway.

Staring through glareless glass, internally flipping across the spectrum in search of something interesting. Static parting down the middle; waveforms collapsing into pictures and sounds. There's cartoons. There's something with children. Something with police officers. Tits. There's lots of news. There's commercials, lots and lots of commercials. Reception less than stellar.

Something out there on the periphery of awareness. Only now she's beginning to notice it. It's subtle. Something missing. Then she knows: a rare absence of surveillance. She really is alone. First time. Now's her chance.

Walking across the floor, same sterile white as the walls, same as her skin almost. Reaching the window she lays her palms and forehead against it. As she's watching a fuzzy field of static electricity jolts off the glass, buzzes right through her.

Now blurrily gazing across frozen space she observes that thing, that sphere out there carefully. From this distance it looks no bigger than she is, with the North Pole at the top of her head and the South Pole at the soles of her feet. All blue and wet like some kind of enormous fruit. It looks sweet and she wants to taste it.

Checking quickly again to make sure she won't miss anything good she presses her body right into the window; and now she's beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist.

✩✩✩

As Alisen Eden woke from uneasy dreams she found herself on her living room couch watching a dead signal on the small television set in front of her. It took a minute for her to deduce that this was because the cable company had cut off her service due to non-payment. All around her it was dark and her head hurt. The pain was somehow related to the empty wine bottle sitting on the table between her and the TV but it wasn't immediately apparent to her exactly what the connection was. She was sure she'd figure it out eventually. The darkness was because it was nighttime, obviously.

Glowing through the bottle, the LCD screen of her VHS player declared to her the time to be precisely midnight. It always did. Her cheap plastic wristwatch, when subsequently consulted, surprised her by agreeing: 12:00 a.m. She blinked, and it did too: 12:01. Alisen shrugged. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Unless the batteries run out. Or the screen gets smashed. Or whatever.

Eyes. There had been eyes in her dream, big black insect eyes. Looking down at her. And a great bright light. Shining into her.

Creepy.

For a while she watched TV's static, warped and mutated through the medium of empty bottle on the table. That made it a little more interesting visually but also more disorienting. If the cable were connected maybe something good would be on. When she was little, Alisen used to watch the static on TV and pretend it was Road Runner cartoons, the Road Runner having finally achieved lightspeed and thus existing at all points on the screen simultaneously. She squinted and looked again, scrutinizing the chaos, but couldn't make any sense of it now. Couldn't remember how she'd ever found meaning there. Too bad. It meant she only had her headache to entertain her.

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