She furrowed her brow as the sound of a muted trumpet traveled to her ears via a rogue wind stream, trying to listen closer.

The occasional hum of an engine. The buzz of power lines overhead. The ocean, thundering faintly even from miles away.

Ah – there it was again. Some sleazy tune slinked its way into her eardrums once more. Before she knew it, her feet were on the case – newfound sleuths ready to bust this wide open. The night was chilly, and she felt the frost biting her nose and cheeks red. The faint streetlights lit the icy clouds of her breath as she pulled her fur coat tighter around her neck.

Mother would kill her for walking alone this late at night. Hopefully Mother would be too far into her nightcap to notice.

The neighborhood changed – pristine white and sands turned to mud-spattered blues and pinks and greens, white fences turned to open, patchy lawns. There were no lights on in these houses, not like home where the electricity pulsed through the home until late into the night to light the way for her brother’s guests and her servants.

Soon, the multi-colored houses became brick and industrial metals, newly made but rusted already from the ocean air. The buildings seem to vibrant, and the muted squawk of the trumpet was joined by the wail of a saxophone. Soon she realized a faint tapping was the percussive beat of drums. Her footsteps picked up, matching the tempo. She felt her heart trying to match it too.

Fast, frantic, frenetic music began to take full form. She became wild with the need to discover its source. She crossed back and forth across the street, until she noticed a door with an eyeslit. It was so unassuming.

She rapped at the door, jumping back as the eyeslit revealed two piercing blue eyes beneath near-black eyebrows.

“The dog laughs at midnight,” snipped a gruff tenor as the jazz exploded out the small rectangle.

“What?” she laughed.

The eyeslit closed in an instant. A winter breeze tickled her bare knees, slick from sweat she didn’t notice until then.

She rapped once more on the door. The eyeslit opened, and closed even quicker.

She rapped again, and would not stop. Her knuckles were raw from the cold metal impact.

“Go away,” the voice barked, opening the eyeslit for only enough time to say his peace and then close once more.

So she knocked. Again.

The door swung open, and she felt herself being pulled in by a rough hand.

“Who are you?” demanded the man, glaring at her from two inches away.

“Carla Richardson,” she said coolly, trying not to let on the fear she felt being grabbed by a strange man into a nondescript warehouse.

“Richardson? Oh boy. Look here, miss, you tell no one you were here. Go back home. There’s nothing happening tonight.”

The man let go of her arm, his eyes darting to the pink outline of his hand on her forearm.

“Sorry about the uh… mark. I’m sure it’ll go away,” he calmed. “But just the same, you best head back home. Scram, if you know what’s good for you.”

With that, he shoved her outside the door.

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