like a deer in the headlights

There is some kind of luminous liquid surrounding me, feeling faintly like something I’ve experienced before but can’t quite recall. My whole brain is that way, now that I come to think of it. Is… is reincarnation real, and am I being born again? No, I still feel the same age as I was when I died… was it five months ago? Only five? And am I really sure that I’m not being born again? Or is Soona Bris screwing with my brain again?

I’m stuck floating in the lazy light show for what I assume to be a few hours, although I can’t exactly tell since I have no way to measure how long it has been or when oblivion crossed into awareness, before someone’s hand reaches in and roughly grabs me by the upper arm. I’m hauled quickly up and out of the tank and onto yet another chilled operating table, not a surprise by any means- you’d think that all these “reincarnations” would somehow manage to be original, but no, every single one of them has to be like this- and I’m barely given a pause before someone flings a sheet onto me so that my naked body isn’t freely exposed to the air and the gaze of whoever’s in this room.

“Yasmin Radine? Have you reached sufficient consciousness?” a cold voice intones above me, and I manage to open my eyes. I might as well have been born again for how awkward I feel.

“I don’t know. Is the relative lack of warmth in the room supposed to make me feel like one of those pictures of a pristine Alaskan wilderness in the middle of spring or something? Because it’s working just fine. You can stop now.”

“That was supposed to be a yes or no question.” The person moves into view, and my brain takes a few moments- faster than everything else my brain is trying to process- to recognize his face. Compared to the Evan that I knew back when we were stuck in Soona Bris, all gangly limbs and unabashed puppy love for Emma, his face is all angles and lines and none of the baby fat that made him endearing to everybody. He looks like an actual sixteen-year-old… too bad I’ve forgotten his birthday. “Welcome back to reality, Yasmin. I suppose that you’ll want to tell me what it was like to die, be stuck inside a fire walled server, and then experience coming back from a drug-induced coma for the millionth time, but I’d like you to get dressed first.” He picks up a pile of clothes next to my head that I hadn’t noticed and gently sets them on top of me, leaving the room and not giving me a chance to see what lies beyond the doorway.

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