"Hey, you're late. You okay?" Jen's hug was warm. The apartment smelled of tomato sauce with a hint of weed. Erika slid the phone into her pocket and sank into Jen's embrace.
A deep sigh. All the tension from walking ten blocks through the city from being prepared for almost anything melted out from her. "Yeah. Hi."
"Hi! I made sauce that I saw on that cooking show. You're going to like it!" Jen padded into the kitchen where she stirred a pot that smelled good.
"I found a phone today."
Jen turned around and stage whispered, "You did? Anything good on it?" She winked.
"No, it's not like that. It was in a box and still wrapped in plastic and I'm like, 'Hey, free phone.'"
"Let me see! Apple or Android?" She looked over her her wife then began digging through her coat.
"No. The box said, 'Duma'."
"Oh, it probably runs Android." Jen came away empty handed from the coat and wrapped her arms around Erika, hands sliding over in search of a familiar rectangle shape. Their eyes met, "Aren't you gonna show me?"

Whatever 'Duma' was, it was a stock smartphone. Erika's old SIM fit inside. The apps were all the same as her now-old phone. Jen opened the Gallery app and giggled, "You weren't kidding!"
"Let me show you something." She popped out the earbuds and wrestled Jen to get them on her despite her squeals. Pickles watched from the window then returned his gaze to the street.
"Ew, ew, ew, you're sooo gross!"
Erika pressed play and Jen stopped goofing around, "Uh... that's static." Erika turned up the volume and Jen yanked out the 'buds. "Jesus! Are you trying to make me deaf?" Jen shot up and went straight to the kitchen. For a second Erika thought she could hear the static from the earbuds and stuffed them back in only to apprehend the same, profound silence from the subway.

Snapping fingers with chipped black nail polish entered her field of view. Erika hit stop and pulled out her 'buds. "You hungry?"
"Uh, yeah..." She really wasn't.
"You've been sitting there for an hour in a trance. I called you like five times and you didn't hear me. You sure you're okay?"
Erika stared at the phone in her lap then at Jen's face. "Yeah."
"You have a new toy. Have fun." Jen kissed her forehead. "But don't forget about me, miss. I left a plate in the micro for ya."
"Where you going?"
She pressed the on-button, lit up the screen and saw it was almost ten. "Shit."

After wolfing down the sauce and pasta, Erika showered and went to bed a hair before eleven. Deep, reverberant bass thundered from the ceiling and competed with Jen's snoring. It wasn't that the bass was necessarily loud, rather it carried a frequency so low and profound that it shook her bones. Loud music could be ignored but this music demanded her attention. Then again the silence from her phone also demanded her attention.
All was quiet. Perfect silence in the heart of downtown Manhattan.
Before succumbing, she watched red and blue lights from the street dance on her ceiling and she sighed with relief that she couldn't hear the siren.

Then pinprick of light pierced the illimitable darkness of her slumber. Accompanying the light was the faint sound of wind in winter without leaves to quiet its screaming. As the light grew so did the tuneless howling, and Erika found herself at the mercy of a dream. The once distant light resolved itself into a pale, white sphere guttering like a candle next to a drafty window. When she squinted a faint band of something black crossed the light's face. More terrible was when she squinted, more details became clear despite the distance. Despite the darkness. Despite her common sense.

A sickly white star smaller than a full moon loomed in her sky, except the sky was all around her. Along the edges of the star were green and blue prominences licking at the void and those prominences made her more aware of the underlying melody of the howling. Squinting again the dark stream flowing across the star's face looked more like a crown of thorns. Squinting yet again she made out those thorns weren't thorns but dessicated human corpses tumbling in orbit around a white dwarf. Erika blinked and she could count each horrible wrinkle on those radiation-blackened bodies as they skimmed the photosphere.

One of the corpses opened its clear eyes and looked her in the eye. It opened its mouth, revealing perfect and regular teeth.
"I'm not going to tell you again."

The room was flooded with sunlight as Erika woke and she shivered from the cold breeze from the broken window rushing past her sweaty skin.

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