| The cold water hit my face, shocking my system. I stood over the sink, staring down into the clear liquid below me. I saw droplets of water fall back from my face, drip from my nose falling into the pool with a small ripple as it broke the surface.
Finally, I broke my trance, grabbed a towel and padded my face, feeling warmth in the comfort of the plush material. I glanced in the mirror. Staring back at me I saw a pale white face, gaunt eyes. I was ill and I looked terrible.
There's no way I can have another day off work.
Shaking my head I folded the towel onto the rail and left the bathroom with the hint of caffeine lingering in my mind.
I had hoped it would perk me up at least, but I felt no effect as I left the house for work, following my routine rather than thinking.
The office was busy, as usual and my day went on and on without seeming to end. I felt worse and worse and by the end of the day felt so lousy I knew that when I got home, I was going to bed.
I crawled into bed feeling immediate but short term-relief as I swaddled myself in the patterned duvet.
I must have fallen asleep after a few minutes and when I awoke it was 11:47pm. My mouth was open, my throat dry. I tried to swallow but couldn't. I dragged myself from the bed and into the bathroom. I chose to leave the light off to avoid the harsh glare and filled up my glass from memory, gulping down the cold water. I felt slight relief.
Stumbling back to bed I lay down and tried to sleep, but after an hour when the sandman still hadn't visited I gave up, heading downstairs. I stumbled over my own feet, cursing myself as I felt my small toe throb. I flopped down onto my sofa automatically switching the TV on. The screen flicked with a small glare and the news came into focus.
The man on the TV sounded urgent, frantic.
Breaking news apparently.
I watched the screen, let the colours and images flow over me, but didn't follow. Only when a clown popped up, did I jump. I hated clowns.
"And this is what the infected are becoming," the news man indicated towards the clown now cycling frantically on a comical mini-bike.
What the? Infected?
"While it does not appear that the whole population is affected by this strange virus, around half the population are turning into those childhood comedy figures that we either love or hate," he looked scared as he watched the clown.
"If you felt you have any of the symptoms described earlier, call the helpline number scrolling along the bottom of the screen now," he instructed.
Shaking my head I flicked off the TV. Is this some sort of joke? I thought as I headed back upstairs, ready to try to sleep once more. People turning into clowns. Stupid.
Since I thought it might help me sleep I headed back to the bathroom to use the toilet. I had to switch the light on this time. The sudden brightness glared into my eyes. While I sat on the toilet I could hardly keep them open, only the tiniest slits of light penetrated my eyelids.
I flushed and stood up, glancing in the mirror to check my pallor. A splash of colour was visible. I did a double take, forcing my eyes to open wider.
"What the…" my voice was small, uncertain. My hair had transformed, literally changed. I now had a huge, and very colourful, head of hair. Gingerly I reached up, touching it with my fingers. It even felt like hair, not a costume wig.
I felt sick. The news. The sudden thought flashed across my mind. I raced downstairs tripping over my feet again and turned the TV on.
"The infection that has left many with changed identity should not be treated with playful intent," the news reader was utterly serious. "There has been mass destruction and murders caused by these things and the authorities would urge everyone who hasn't changed to lock their doors and windows to stay safe."
Just then a clown raced over to the news man with razor-teeth bared in a crimson grin. I watched as those teeth sunk into the man's flesh, tearing out hunks with a gleeful grin.
As the wave of panic began to set in I had a distinct taste for flesh in my mouth...