Ivanna

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My foot touches the ground and suddenly I'm on a pathway on a street. I hear Reese's voice from across the road, causing my senses to heighten.

"Ivanna! Help me! Please help me! Hurry!"

I look to the bitumen at my feet and to the path across the road. I've had a fear of crossing the road since when I was younger Reese and I were going for a walk with Tobias. He'd gotten off the leash and went to chase after a dog from across the road. I went to chase after him when a car came around the corner and hit me. It took 4 days in hospital before I was let out with a broken leg and arm and potential bruising to the ribs and spinal cord. I'm sure both Reese and I share the same fear... and the same horrific memory.

I suck in a breath.

What am I going to do?

I breath out.

How can I ensure it won't happen a second time?

But if I don't do it, I'll be stuck here. Well, you only live once.

I firm my face and try to forget about the memory. I take a step onto the bitumen, quickly moving across it. When I'm nearly across, a car comes racing around the corner rapidly; too fast for me to move out the way.

There's only one way to defeat a fear simulation.

I close my eyes and throw my arms out to my sides. The roaring engine catches up with my ears and suddenly I'm thrown backwards by the impact of the car. I land on something hard, like concrete.

"Ow."

I open my eyes and find I'm back in the room with the key. It's just out of arms length. One more feat to go.

I take the last step, confident it's not as bad as the last. But.... is it?

When my foot touches the ground I hear the tick of a clock. The hairs on the back of my neck rise. My eyes widen and I slowly turn to face where it came from.

A lone clock sits on a stall, ticking away greedily at the passing seconds. More ticking comes from my left, and I turn. Another ticking comes more from my left. And I turn again to find another clock. I spin in a full circle, revealing to my eyes a cage of clocks around me. The deafening tick-tocks ache my ears. I sink to my knees, screaming.

I hate clocks, because we used to have a grandfather clock which looked like it had a pair of staring eyes. I had nightmares about it as a child, and I still do.

But again, I'll stay here until I defeat the fear.

I slowly stand up, wishing for a rock. One appears in my clenched fist. I snarl at the first clock I saw which started this whole mess and ditch the rock at it. It's face shatters, and every other clock mirrors it. The wall breaks, revealing the key. I march towards it and grab it. The light above the table flickers off and then on again. I'm back in the simulation room.

I give a sigh of relief and walk out. Reese stands up and smiles at me. Before I can tell her what happened, Effie says it's her turn.

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