“It’s really not so bad,” the stranger said, “It’s over quicker than most people realize."

Why why why, that single word ran through her head over and over.

But somewhere deep down, she had an idea of why. Ten years ago, that first death had been completely unbelievable, some sort of fluke in the universe, or a trick played on her by her imagination. By the second time, Phoebe began to wonder if something was up. A thought had planted itself deep within her. It was a thought which she largely ignored, but was never able to discard completely.

Image: A flashback of Phoebe lying unconscious in a hospital bed. She is on her back, and the viewer is looking down at her. She has a ventilator mask over her muzzle. End description.

Her captor stepped to the side, and light rose up from the floor as the ritual began. Phoebe swore that she’d never seen so much light in her life. It was pure, blinding, milky white as it caged her in. It flowed and anchored itself inside her. Her heart pounded with fear and anticipation, but it was soon drowned out by the thrum of energy filling her. It drowned out her heavy breathing, drowned out the noise of the train. It seeped up from the ground through her feet, like she was a tree sucking up water. It was tingling and buzzing, inside and out. It did not hurt. This was not the part that hurt.

Image: Phoebe stands in the middle of the empty train car. She is partially hunched over, and her eyes are screwed shut. Her dress is lifted up slightly above her knees, as though it were being blown by the wind. She is surrounded by strands of bright, white light which illuminate both her and the immediate surroundings. In the foreground is a brown trunk. End description.