Friday, 8 November 2013
Have you ever woken up and not felt yourself? I stood before the shaving mirror, shaking every so slightly, my feet rooted to the chilly bathroom tiles. Something wasn't right. I felt...strange. It wasn't ill exactly, it was something different. I seemed fuller. I was feeling things where there were never things to feel before. I ran the cold tap and splashed my face, the bite of the water flushed my mind clean and the feeling receded.
Later, on the bus-ride to work, the feeling came back but stronger this time. It's hard to describe how your own body feels. Mostly you don't feel it at all, and when you do, it's rarely good news. I felt a tightness down my right-hand side spreading up along my neck. I could feel my blood as it moved, my head throbbed, as if my brain were pulsing against the inside of my skull. I felt uncomfortable but still somehow normal.
I was still concentrating on this paradox when I felt someone poke me in the side. I turned my head but there was a good foot of space between me and the young woman who looked out the misty glass. I was poked again, but this time I could see that nobody had touched me. I ran my fingers under my coat and explored my skin. A tiny bulge pressed back against my fingers before withdrawing slowly and vanishing.
I bolted from the bus the moment it stopped and ran to my office building. I dashed to the toilet and locked myself inside. I stripped my jacket, jumper, and shirt. For an age, I explored my body with eye and finger. I could see nothing, I could feel nothing. But it had been there. I dressed and went to my desk where I was less than useless for the day. Time and again I caressed my side...searching without wanting to find.
That night, I examined myself in a full length mirror. Lights on full, with extra lamps plugged in and shining on the my torso, I searched in vain for the mystery lump. I had nearly satisfied myself there was nothing to be found when I felt the pressure again. This time it was deep under the muscle. With horrified eyes I watched the skin of my side push out. Slowly it rose, paused then quivered before sinking back. My fingers, now frantic, searched and rubbed my skin until it was red-raw. I dug and kneaded to find what should not...could not, exist.
No sleep came that night. I lay awake, searching for an answer that wouldn't come. The pressure came several times, each time stronger than the last. I spent the whole night with my left hand resting on my ribs, waiting for the next appearance. I was just dozing off when pain shot through me. My hand clamped down against my ribs and the lump reared up with a vengeance. I felt it wiggle under my fingers, causing unbelievable pain as it burrowed through flesh and nerve. I felt the thing force it's way between bone and skin before diving deep into my body. The pain was incredible, like shards of glass being driven deep. I leapt from the bed, soaked with cold sweat and sick to my core. I could still feel it moving, burrowing, deep where the nerves couldn't reach so the pain was ebbing. I was not alone, there was something inside.
The following day, I was at the doctors office hours before it opened. I had a feeling the thing inside was growing. I was hyper-aware, feeling every fiber that tickled my skin, every stretch of a muscle. As I sat in the waiting room I felt a strange sensation on the back of my hand. I turned it over and glared at the skin. It moved and I hadn't made it happen. I froze, afraid to watch, afraid not to. A ghastly shape swam under my skin, hurdling my tendons as it moved from my thumb to the base of my little finger and then it vanished. I was still staring at my hand with horror when my name was called.
Once in the office, I tried to explain but I could see my doctor thought I was crazy. He examined my skin, probed my flesh, took my fluids and measured every vital statistic know. He settled in his chair and said it was going to take some time for the test results to come back. Then he fondled an organ responsive to the touch of logic. He delved into the far reaches of my brain and I actually wished he would call the men with white coats to cart me off. At least then I would know I couldn't have felt, what I felt.
He declared me sane and blew my mind.
That had been two days ago. Since then I've not slept, not eaten, I've only felt. What exists within me is feasting now. I can feel it's tiny teeth tearing at my organs. I feel it writhe and squirm just under the skin before dividing once more. An hour ago, a white hot needle of pain pierced the back of my eye and I screamed a long gurgling scream. A shadow swam through my vision before it shot out of sight with a flick of it's rat-like tail. More pain but this time I passed out. When I woke, I knew I could not continue.
I had to get away, I had to be free. I fled from my home, heading west, stopping for nothing. But it was useless, wherever I went I took this abomination with me. I ran out of road so I walked and then I ran out of land to walk on. I stood with my toes on the edge of a cliff, gazing out over Atlantic waves as they marched in from the horizon. My phone rang, disturbing this one perfect moment.
"This is Doctor Casey. Your blood work back and we need you to come in for a second test," said the man on the other end of the line. His words were insignificant, he was powerless against this. What could they do? Poke? Point? Name something they could never understand? I felt a cough come from deep inside and the air that escaped was flecked with droplets of blood.
"Are you OK?" the physician asked hearing the cough. "You've got to get in here, and fast. You are a very sick man."
"Thanks, Doc. I'll be on my way now," I said, turning off the phone and popping it back in my pocket. I looked down and saw waves breaking on razor-sharp rocks. I swayed a little and that scene hurtled toward me. That was when I felt the thing inside squirm in terror. It knew...it knew what was coming and was trying to push it's way free of this meat coffin. I wrapped myself tightly, holding it inside and then...it was over.