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June 14, 2013
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(Contains: strong language)

            Sunrise

As the sun's edge made its first appearance on the horizon, the warm glow of its light gave a strangely ominous feel to the starting day. Roderigo had been unable to sleep, but his mind refused to dim, remaining starkly clear. As he stood in the doorway, he stared out across the living room, where each member was still deep in sleep. After the events of the previous night, no one had been able to return to their beds, and had instead all taken to the furniture and floor when they gave in to rest.

    Devon's spot, however was already empty. Roderigo could hear him in the kitchen rattling around, the bubbling sound of the espresso machine echoing in the house. “Looks pretty bad out there,” he heard Carter say. “That red glow means a storm is coming. Well, I guess you already know.”

    “Yeah,” Roderigo said, taking a long sip from his cup. It was a very bad sign to those on the ocean, especially to those who use sails. More than a few ships were lost on days where the sky was red from the start, and Roderigo couldn't help but fear that the omen spelled doom even for them, that whatever hell that awaited them was about to come calling.

    Just a few hours before, Fiona had told them about the incident in the parking lot, and that news still hadn't had time to settle. There wasn't much to make sense of--just as with Carlton's own experience, the message was garbled and barely intelligible. They did manage to determine that the warning referred to a date--specifically, August 8 of 2000--and while they day was long past, it was one that every person in Calusa Shores would know. It was the Bauer twins' birthday.

    Roderigo was surprised anyone could sleep. Even Fiona had managed to drift off, spread across the loveseat with her arm dangling from the side. He could tell, however, that the group was sleeping light, as the smallest noise would cause them to stir and occasionally awaken. Roderigo was the only one not to get any sleep at all.

    It wasn't just because he wasn't tired. Strange as that may be, there was something bothering him, something particularly stressful. The voices, his hallucinations, had returned, but instead of hearing a room full of meaningless chatter in his head, they mocked him and threatened him and his loved ones. This type of hallucination wasn't usual for him; it was far more typical of paranoid--not disorganized--schizophrenia. He managed to drown them out fairly well, and although they were far more persistent than usual it wasn't just them that was bothering him. His body was changing, a change that was seemingly reflected in the nature of his symptoms; he was no longer human, and he could feel it in his mind and in his body. It made him feel powerful, like the person he was before was a shadow of his true self, and while his new-found strength and awareness felt wonderful, he did not like them in the least.

    It also felt ominous, just like that red glow. He could feel something far more destructive in the air, something they knew was coming, something that could make the Earth crumble. This Dheania--this malicious, ravenous god was tugging at strings attached to every person in the world, and should those strings snap a fate so horrible that even now he could not think about it awaited them all. While it seemed that one of the Bauer twins was involved, it wasn't definite, and even if they knew what the clue meant there was not much they could do. Even if that twin were the very god itself, it left them absolutely nowhere, and only served the brighten the light that shined on their deepest fears.

    “Here,” Carter said, handing him another hot cup of coffee. Roderigo set his old cup down on the end table. “Five sugars and vanilla creamer, just how you like it.”

    “Thanks,” Roderigo said. The comfort of a cup of coffee only barely soothed him. It seemed that, along with his fading need for sleep, he was becoming resistant to the caffeine, and he shuddered to think about what that might mean for his meds. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, attempting to clear his mind. He took a swig as he opened them, only to stop once the liquid had reached his lips. He could see something outside the window, something faint and glimmering on the bay's waves.

    He blinked. Was it the early morning light reflecting off the water? No, that light would be stationary, and this seemed do dance back and forth. He focused on it, and now he was sure--the ball of white light seemed to be hovering just above the waves, far too high to be a reflection. He decided to ignore it. There was nothing threatening about it, and given his growing relapse in symptoms it probably wasn't there to begin with.

    “Something wrong?”

    Roderigo turned to see Yvonne standing behind him, her eyes still half closed. “It's nothing.” It wasn't a very good lie, not that he could ever fool her, and when she stared half-groggy, half cock-eyed, he recanted, “Just a bad feeling in my gut. Probably doesn't mean anything.”

    “Guess you're right,” she said, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. For a moment she seemed content to hang there, but then she caught a glimpse of his cup. Her eyes widened as she pulled beside him and asked, “That coffee?”

    “Yeah,” Roderigo said. He handed it to her, and she quickly chugged it down. She recoiled, a look of disgust stretching across her face. “Sorry, it's probably a little sweet.”

    “All I could taste was sugar,” she said. “I probably should've gotten my own cup.”

    “Woke you up, though, didn't it?” Roderigo asked. The joke seemed duller than it should have, and the monotony of his voice gave it a creepy vibe.

    “It's funny,” Yvonne said. “When we met up again in '99, I almost thought you were blank. But each year I've been around you, I've been able to pick more and more emotion out of the things you say.” She pulled him toward her and embraced him. “You're still the same kind, funny man I went to high school with. You just have to pay attention.”

    “Yeah,” he thought. A sudden feeling of dread filled his mind. The voices were warning him to cherish this moment, that it would be one of the last they'd have together. Somehow, he felt the threat of losing her was real, that the voices in his head were more than just a hallucination. He quickly shut it out of his mind and hugged back. “Don't ever leave me,” he said. “Please.”

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