1- Memories Still Warm

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The stench of death saturates the street. It's a familiar smell by now, even if it still makes my eyes water and my throat burn. The memories are what bother me most though. They cling to the walls, to the floor, to the pool of blood slowly drying on the concrete. They reach out to me, wanting someone to see them- someone to understand.

Humans are so unbearably fragile. I see petty arguments, missed opportunities, failed relationships, regret regretregretregret- fear. The fear makes me pause. It's what I came here for after all. There's nothing stronger than the fear of death right as you experience it, and it calls to me.

I reach out to touch the wall, purposefully ignoring the dead body on the floor. There's no way I'm touching him. A lot of people may see me as a cold unfeeling bitch, but even I have limits. And touching a recently dead person is definitely one of them.

Still, it would be much quicker to see the memory if I touched him. As it is, it takes several minutes until I can reach the memory I want to watch. Some people's memories jump at the opportunity of being seen and experienced by someone else. Others, more reserved and shy, require a special kind of persuasion to come out.

When someone dies, their memories explode outwards and cling to everything they can find, whether that's a wall, a person or objects. Which makes it easier for me when I'm investigating a scene like this gory alleyway.

It's exactly what I expected though. A demon attack. It's been frighteningly common lately, and it makes my insides cold with fear.

Demons are unpredictable, ruthless, and uncaringly selfish. All they want, all they've ever wanted, is to take advantage of an unstable human and take their soul. But not until they've had their fun. Usually, it's nothing much- a few nasty words, some minor crimes at most. But sometimes, they take it to the next level. I've seen people do the most terrible things you can think of because of a voice in their soul. Not to say all those people are controlled by demons. Some of them are just pure, unadulterated evil.

Turning away from the scene, I begin my long walk back to Headquarters. Normally, they'd send someone with teleportation powers with me, but the Council is a mess, and I was the only one free. 

That said, I do remember to cast a quick spell around the alleyway where the murder happened in order to conceal it from prying eyes. At least until someone comes here to clean it up.

Being employed by the Paranormal Council should really have more perks than this. As it is, the only perk I can think of is the free food, and even that sucks ass, as most cafeteria food does. I work as a glorified errand girl, only without the glory or the pay. I'm basically a slave to their every whim.

Thinking about my "job" makes me moody so I take the walk as an opportunity to watch the people on the streets. It's quite late, so it's not like they're very full. But this is a major city, so there's bound to be some interesting people wandering around. If nothing else, I can take the time to work on some spells. 

My people-watching makes the trip worthwhile, and I arrive much quicker than I would've liked. I should've walked slower. I go through the massive front doors and stop in the middle of the empty reception.

"Maya Ward, Serial number 31032000."

A bright light shines in my eyes as they check my identity. After a thorough examination, a portal appears in front of me. A shimmering mass of air, as easy to miss as the wavering asphalt during a hot day. I hate using portals. They make me incredibly nauseous and most of the time, because of the nature of the portal, the undulating air in front of me gives me a headache.

Although I have an affinity towards air, this kind of magic is not my area, so it makes me uncomfortable seeing my element used like this. That said, I have no other choice, so I walk through the portal anyway.

The air in the portal is stiff, like it's being pulled in too many directions at once. The journey only takes a couple of seconds, but my temples are already throbbing. Finally, I walk out of it. I feel the change in temperature immediately, and I can already predict that my forehead will start sweating soon.

The real location of the Headquarters is unknown to almost all of us, which makes sense when you consider how many enemies they have. Instead, they have several posts, mostly in every big city- although I've found some in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere.

Instantly, I feel claustrophobic. There are way too many people, and not a single one is human. Creatures you've only ever dreamed of work for the Council and not all of them are friendly. Actually, most of them aren't. It's not like we're here by choice after all.

None of them spare me a second glance and thank god for that. If one of them tried to strike up a conversation, I would murder someone. Even though all I want is to go to my dorm and sleep the day away, I still have to report my findings to the Council. A useless procedure, as they have spies everywhere and probably know everything that comes out of my mouth before I even think it.

The pristine white of the walls hurt my eyes, even more so when I go up the stairs to the Council's office. I say office, but the only area we can access is the entryway. The rest of the room is covered by a thick velvet curtain, in order to "preserve their privacy". At least that's the excuse they give us. I think they just like being dramatic little bitches. 

When I enter the room, my heart drops. Normally, there would be music playing. Some bullshit classical music, meant to show us how unsophisticated we are compared to them. The silence makes me nervous. I can already tell nothing good is coming out of this conversation.

"Hello, Ms. Ward."

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