'Of The Rising Sun'
It seemed as though an eternity of darkness had passed by and Nora had begun to lose her grasp on the concept of time. She spent her days trapped in a void vacant of any external stimulation, during which the only sensations she experienced were those her own body created. Nothing from the exterior world seemed to penetrate the emptiness. She could hear the fluttering of her eyelids as they blinked, and every time her heart beat it was as though a tidal wave swept over her entire body. Her own blood sounded like a rushing river, deafening in it's roar as it threatened to engulf her.
Beyond these simple, biological functions there was nothing. Nora pleaded for something, anything to disrupt the monotonous darkness. Though it was not so much boredom that urged her to do this, but rather the unfathomable fear that perhaps there was no longer a world beyond the darkness at all. There was no way for her to be certain.
She tried to relax and fill her barren surroundings with whatever thoughts her mind could conjure. Instantly, the black space around her began to swirl with images as she sifted through the memories that accompanied her in the abandoned world. Flashes of Bray's face swam into her vision as she replayed the heartache she had felt many times over during their final goodbye kiss. She'd stood on the tips of her toes in order to reach his lips, and he'd wrapped his arms around her in that cold, chipped blue paint room. She could still feel the sensation of warmth and safety from their last embrace. Eternity had not caused her memories to fade, it had only forced her heart to accept the past.
In her vision she clearly saw the Dream Machine, illuminated by a single bulb that hung from the ceiling above. The three small console screens were frozen in place, showing data that had been collected from her recent stint inside of the new world that had opened up to her when the cold disks pushed against her skin. The worn padding of the chair was still warm with the heat of her body, having sat in it only an instant before. The rusted metal door remained closed after Otto and Phoenix had abandoned the room, leaving Nora alone with Bray--the man she had grown to love from this moment forward.
Instead of the memory she insisted on retaining, remnants of Dr. Secora lingered in the room. His impact on her mind causing their perfect embrace to become poisoned with his interference. The metal rods she had used against his body, once fastened to the worn chair, were now strewn across the room. The area where Bray and Nora had fought with Dr. Secora shimmered with dust particles that had been kicked up during the scuffle, flickering in the dim blue light of Nora's vision like twinkling stars. She stared in silent reflection at the images she saw of her and Bray, as their tragic tale unfolded for the countless time before her eyes.
When the pain of the memory began to overwhelm her, as it inevitably always did, Nora had to let it go, as though she were unable to bear its weight any longer. She returned to the empty blackness and settled in for another eternity to pass by before she had the courage to face her last moments with Bray again. The most difficult part for Nora was not knowing what happened to Bray after their kiss. She stared out into the dark void in sadness.
Unwilling to surrender her time to the nothingness yet again, Nora willed her mind towards another memory, filling in the blackness around her with visions of her own conjuring. Soon the images she sought came into view and she saw the dirt walls of her confinement surrounding the stiff cot her body slept on. The humid underground air stuck heavily to her skin while a lifeless Bray sat motionless in the chair across from her.
Nora remained patient, watching the man she loved without interruption, waiting. His breathing became labored and his arms began to twitch. Suddenly springing to life within the memory, Bray stood up and walked over to the low cot that Nora laid upon, his eyes staring into her own with an intensity that scorched her soul. As he bent down to kiss her, Nora intermingled with the memory and spoke out to him.
“Please Bray, you have to come find me,” she urged. She'd forced her way into the memory for the countless time, hoping that somehow Bray would find the words she left for him there and make his way back to her.
As Bray lifted himself up and crawled into the bed next to her, Nora left the memory, the ache of laying next to him in a world that may no longer exist caused too much pain for her to witness again. Once the vision dissipated, her eyes welled up with tears and the darkness around her resumed. Her fragile mind was unable to deal with the wave of emotions that would soon follow as she struggled to come to terms with the reality she had created.
An untold amount of time passed on and Nora sat quietly listening to the sound of her own heart, unsure if it was beating out of necessity for life or for her own sanity. Seconds and minutes turned to hours before Nora could no longer stand the isolation, eventually causing her thoughts to turn towards the blue paint chipped room, forcing Nora to relive her last moments with the man she loved, yet again.