Jo stood under a reinforced awning, heart pounding in her chest. She’d been doing solo cases for a few days now and had been starting to get the hang of them, until the word came down from Dunn that she and Mark were to team up again for today’s case.
Rain poured over the landscape, and this time it was bad, acidic enough to sting and blind, quite possibly permanently. It wasn’t the rain that threatened to freeze her breath in her lungs though. She stared at the old Ironworks, the target of their current investigation.
“They really think they need both of us for this?” Mark said. “Not that I don’t enjoy the company, but this place has been picked clean ten times over.”
They’d been ordered to the Ironworks to locate anything old that wasn’t nailed down from a list of specific locations within the structure. Not that the place really had an “in” anymore, she thought. It was just as skeletal and dread-inducing in rain-soaked day as it was at night, and it was just as rotted out and exposed, as well. There was little left but the rusting bones of the old construction, twisting and rising into the air, suggesting where walls once stood.
They’d examined the plans earlier in the morning and she knew there was more to it than that; there were lower rooms, but … “Yeah, I know.” Even to herself, her voice had a hollow quality to it. She turned her eyes to the street in front of them; they had to cross it to reach the ironworks. It was terribly broad, and so very exposed. She hunched into her jacket, pulled the hood further out over her face, and wished she had her umbrella.
“As I’ll ever be,” she said.
They sprinted. Rain pounded them as they left the protection of the awning, and their clothing couldn’t fully make up for it. Legs pumping, she felt a slow burn on her face as fine mist settled on the skin. It felt like the time she’d been in the sun too long. She closed her eyes, opening them every few seconds to check her footing.
Once they gained the walk on the other side, they stopped briefly, but there was nothing to shelter under on this side of the road. The burning sensation subsided on her face without the speed of their run, but Jo could already see larger rivulets of water running down her sleeves. They’d work their way into the space between jacket arm and glove soon. “We’ve got to keep moving,” she said.
They rushed to the gate in the fence, and Mike, key already in hand, wasted no time popping the lock open, then locked it behind them. As soon as she crossed the threshold into the Ironworks yard, Jo felt that same dizzy, spiky, pins and needles sensation wash over her, but far more strongly than before. It hit her from head to toe, and as she looked over the yard, the image was oddly doubled.
She could see the iron girders, bent and rusted with age, supporting the smallest fragments of remaining walls here and there. At the same time, she saw the Ironworks whole, a sight she’d never seen, even in pictures. It was clear as day; a bright, sunny day, in fact. It rose before them, walls a bit weathered but sturdy as the day they’d been built.
On yet another level, she saw those walls on the day they were built, the girder supports again bare, but strong, unbent, new, the yard strewn with scaffolding and wheelbarrows and stacks and stacks of construction materials, girders and concrete and wooden beams.
On none of those levels did she see any people besides Mike. She clutched at his arm; he was looking at her, mouth moving, trying to talk to her. His voice was faint, as though reaching her from a great distance.
“… ou okay?” he was saying. She shook her head and snapped out of it; her vision cleared, and the pins and needles faded from her body.
“I … yeah, I think I’m okay,” she said, while her mind raced. What is happening to me? she thought.