It disturbs her, in a way that is mixed with equal parts relief, to see how bare and clean the floors have suddenly become. The white is welcome and warm, where once there was only thick and damp and wet and wet and wet. Red. Enough to make her shudder, just a bit, around the edges. But now her toes graze the ground and it's blessedly dry, and so she moves on.
The real question is how it came to be that way, in the time she passed in sleeping fever dreams and darkness left alone. That is enough to set her nerves on edge. Tom is worried too, she can tell; the memories of his hands curling shaking into her shoulders are very warm and very real. So there is an uneasiness in this, in moving forward alone and shutting doors behind her and leaving things to chance when her back is turned, but there is not much that can be done about that.
Besides, she needs the time right now, if she is to clear her head and lay out her thoughts and find the way out through this rabbit's warren of a labyrinth in which they are trapped together. There are things to be done, and all that will happen if she thinks too hard about ghosts and ghosts and ghosts is that all of the strength will run out of her fingers, and that is simply no good at all.
She says goodbye to Tom -- tries not to hurry it, fights the pounding in her heart -- and slips out. Breathes. The air is clean here in a way that doesn't feel right, as if the purity is artificial and the fishes drifting by in front of the window a floor up are not real. As if none of this is real. But the ground is smooth against her knees as she crawls through the first shaft and her elbow clips the wall when she stands, and the feeling of each is vivid and immediate and convincing enough. If this is another dream brought in howling with delusions, then so be it.
She scans the room, from the hollowed out too-clean closet like a chest cavity washed wide open to the shattered glass of the pipe above on which she nearly cuts her ears. She looks at the floor again, all white white white. At the painting on the wall, which looks back.
Her guard is not-- lowered, not precisely, but. When pain descends, it is like confusion, and it catches her completely unaware. Her eyes slam down, her knees lock, and everything crashes to a stand-still.
She stumbles in sudden darkness, gropes for the wall; her head is peeling open and it burns, burns, burns. The agony of it is splitting and terrifying like an axe to the skull in slow motion, slicing out in fine fine lines from the very centre of her forehead and on as if to circle all her brain. It radiates. Skin strains, crackles, tears apart with a wrenching grating grind that rattles low through her bones, from nose to jaw to collar to ribs and around and around and around inside her chest. All of her being is reduced to a punishing pin-prick like a rail-spike right between the eyes. It pierces through her and through her and through, over and over and over, and there is not room enough between her ears to hold all of it in--
And then at its core it bursts outwards all wet and raw to leave her gasping in shock and collapsing down to her knees. It does not fade and it does not lessen, this resonating hurt, but it sits idle and becomes something to be tamed (it becomes something to be welcomed). Slowly, with great effort, she masters it, and for a moment all she can do is breathe beneath its weight. When she finds strength enough at last to claw herself up and raise a hand from where it is braced against the floor to keep her from curling down down down into nothing, it comes away with fur drenched near to soaking.
Abruptly, achingly, she realises that her eyes are still closed. She opens them to a world too sharply in focus, too bright, painted white in a way that she feels like it shouldn't be (the thought sits fat and sluggish beneath her skin). She blinks, then again, and shakes her head to clear it before lowering her hand down to stare. For it is like her fingers are not her own, wrapped up as they are. It is another thing entirely that has made its home upon the stump of her once-was-wrist, even as it moves as she directs it and shakes with subdued fright in a way she clearly feels.
It is blazing, blazing, a brilliant bright war-red. It drips.
There are no illusions, not here: this is her hand, and she knows it, but that is not something she wishes to admit. For all that she has seen blood down here, and torn-up still-moving bodies enough to make her stomach turn, there is something in this more unsettling than everything, all of that. Something like-- an omen. (welcome ruby, welcome home)
She slowly raises up her fingers once again to probe the wound and gasps at the pain of her nails as they sink into her find. It's -- an eye. A giant eye, sitting round and rolling and enormous like a cross at her forehead.
There's more wet all over her fingers, these bloody tears, and it makes something in her bubble over with panic, because this is wrong wrong wrong, all of every part of this is wrong, and it is hers. She knows this with surety, with violence, and it terrifies. The eye rolls in its socket and burns raw against the air as her thoughts bounce like bullets about her brain.
It distracts her. It hurts. (it feels magnificent)
Hurriedly, she shuts it, claws the eyelid back down to cover it in safety and darkness. Hurriedly, she scrapes her hands against the floor, leaves palm-prints and smears all about like a massacre, paints the whites a deep and curdling red (it is less unsettling). Hurriedly, she stands on shaking feet, leans shuddering on the wall, scurries on.
She has to get through the shaft, to the other room. Tom is waiting, Tom is waiting. She must go to him at once. But he's not allowed to see, not her and not this, because she's wrong. This is wrong. This is intolerable, in a way that makes all of her insides twist in on each other and tear to pieces with the strain of their churning. There is no time to do anything but wipe away the blood and lock its lid down tight, however, for every second she dallies in roiling agony is another clue for him that points to something being off.
She simply cannot have that, and so she walks, sways, crawls, staggers. Waves at his pale outline through the window to signal that she is all right. She's all right. The eye sits like a veritable weight pressing back against her brain, but she swallows the nausea it brings.