Much to Annette’s surprise, she was the only one in the next room. In a break of the cycle, there was no body. This was now putting her into a mix of confusion, worry, and annoyance.
“Oh, don’t tell me this was all a prank. Did I seriously have to watch all those traumatizing flashbacks just to get an empty room?!” She gripped her hair in frustration, and attempted to rip it out.
Her actions were halted when she heard a quiet voice whispering to her. It had been so soft, she almost didn’t hear it. Stopping her furious hair-pulling, she stopped to listen to it again.
“Help me, Annette…”
The transition into the first scene wasn’t as violent as the others. If only she could say the same for the location itself.
Even after several centuries of not seeing it, Annette would have recognized the strip club anywhere.
What she almost didn’t recognize was her own voice back then:
“Sagebear, don’t smell too much in this beacon of sin,” she heard her younger self saying to Sagebear, as the dog had taken to smelling one of the apparently well-used poles.
Annette was at least glad that Sagebear kept following her throughout the club. As she remembered, most of the rooms were completely deserted.
The only one that wasn’t was the basement. Now she was reminded of the unpleasant image of Mister Blanchard, the owner of the club.
She quietly followed Sagebear and herself downstairs, and once again was forced to relive the events that transpired there.
The words discussing financial matters were spoken, along with some other rather disgusting innuendo from Mister Blanchard.
“But the erection in my jeans won’t soften itself.” Hearing that line again just made Annette cringe. Clearly the man hadn’t heard of less sexual methods for suppressing boners.
As she predicted, Mister Blanchard then grabbed the younger Annette by the neck, spewed some choice words at her and calling her a daughter of Lucifer, and grabbed her by the arms.
By this point, the woman behind the bar counter decided to chime in. “Can’t say I like seeing high school grads pimped out either, man.”
All the disgusting implications of what she’d said make Annette want to vomit. At this point, her younger stopped struggling to break free of Mister Blanchard’s iron grip.
At the same time, Sagebear began to bare her teeth, and growled at the awful man who was currently hurting her owner.
“What the hell do you want?” Blanchard snarled at Sagebear in a rather demanding voice. Sagebear’s response was to leap up and take hold of his arm with his teeth.
In an instant, Blanchard was on the ground, screaming in some sort of pathetic agony. The woman behind the bar counter proceeded out the building. Sagebear went after her once she was done causing Blanchard grievous pain.
“Oh jeez…If I remember correctly back then, this came before…” Annette said as her younger self then went out to meet up with the Sinbad of her universe. She was then reminded of his begrudging help back then.
It was better than the current Sinbad’s outright hostility, at least.
She then realized what happened next after this, and her blood ran cold. Her fears churned about in her memories as the scene changed.
(For reference and to understand the scene better: Eight Cicadas, Chapter 18: Tattoo)