A stain grows on a woman's arm, transforming her. WEIRD TALES (December 2016) entry.
|I woke up from the bright light of the early morning. My eyelids were swollen and glued shut from a night of rough sleep. I covered my eyes with my hand for a few moments so I could adjust to the brightness of the day. There were little pebbles stuck to my hand. Where was I? I forced my eyes open, and found myself outside, in an alley in a residential neighborhood, tucked between a garbage dumpster and a utility pole, covered in the morning dew. I was wearing the same jeans and sleeveless blouse that I wore the night before. I couldn’t remember how I got there.
A kitten wandered over my direction and nuzzled against me. A pain stung into my arm when I reached to pet the little creature. “Ow!” I cried out, rubbing the red stain on my left forearm. The young feline hissed and harmlessly swatted at my knee before running off and disappearing underneath a fence.
I examined the stain on my otherwise pale arm, it looked like a blotch of red ink. When I rubbed it, it grew larger and sting even more. I cried out again and cursed this time, that is when I heard it for the first time, the cackling, the laughter, it was near the long shadows cast near an old garage. I looked over there but didn’t see anyone.
This was the alley behind my own house, I finally realized, still sitting there. My back door was wide open. I struggled to get up and trudged across my backyard and quickly fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up, the stain had grown again, now it was the size of a half dollar coin. This was working up my anxiety, shivers of nervousness accompanied the stinging of pain.
After waiting six hours at the emergency room, a doctor examined me wearing blue, latex gloves. When his fingers poked into the stain, the piercing pain of daggers went through my whole arm. The stain grew to double its size right in front of my eyes. The doctor didn’t notice it enlarge, he assured me it was the same size. He said I had a skin allergy and prescribed a cream. Useless damned doctors, I thought, and then I heard the cackling again.
Sunlight made it grow. I covered the windows of my house with newspapers. I called in sick. When the stain covered half my body, I could feel nubs growing out of my head and my tailbone. What was happening to me? I was terrified. I withdrew from everyone. I couldn’t even talk to anyone on the phone anymore, my voice was changing, becoming hoarse and low pitched.
When the stain covered three-quarters of my body, I covered myself in a hoody so no one could see the horns. The nails on my fingers were thick and long no matter how often I cut them. A tail grew out behind me in the shape of a suckerless tentacle that I could coil and snap like a whip. My whole body was changing.I stopped soliloquizing when my voice was too grotesque and villainous to hear. The stain was everywhere except half my face and torso on the right side. I punched the mirror. And then I heard that laughter again, inside my own house.
I scampered into the kitchen and pulled him right out of the shadows in the kitchen. No, it was a she, and she looked just like me, or how I used to look. She had a similar stain, but --- but it was in the opposite places where it tainted me.
“How is the transformation coming along?” she said in my voice. I had missed hearing it.
“What have to done to me,” I shouted in a demonic voice, my tail whipping around like an agitated cat’s. My hands and nails were digging into the tops of her shoulders.
“You agreed to this, there is no backing out of the contract now,” she said.
I let her go and stepped back. I recalled something about that now, although the memory was foggy.
“Oh yes,” she said, pacing around my kitchen. She stopped and pointed without extending her arm. “You said you didn’t want to know how any of this worked.”
“I want to know now.”
“You are taking over for me, and I am taking over your life, and your appearance, as you are taking mine,” she said. “When the stain of corruption has fully engulfed you, you will descend into Hell and lead your minions in torturing the damned for as long as you are up for it.”
“I don’t want to hurt anyone,” I said, although I think I wanted to.
“After all the people who have hurt you?” she challenged. “Your parents that abused and abandoned you, your uncle who molested you, your boyfriend who slept around on you, your so-called friends that never cared or supported you? You told me all about how you were miserable and wanted to die. I offered you an alternative. Revenge, justice, retribution, on all those who wronged you. You were exactly who I was looking for, you’ll be perfect for this important responsibily.”
“Torturing the damned?”
“Don’t knock it until you try it,” she said. “You’ll love administering justice to the corrupt. You’ll never want to let loose of those reins.”
“But you did.”
“After four hundred years it was time to pursue other opportunities. Now, if you wouldn’t mind,” she said, opening the back door, “will you please get out of my house? No one would believe you are you anymore, because now I am you.”
There was no place here for me anymore. I skulked out of there while she laughed in my voice. My old voice. I disappeared amongst the people of the night, until, as promised, I descended into Hell. But she was right. I loved sadistically torturing the corrupt. I am never going to give this up.
999 words. Entry for the "WEIRD TALES CONTEST"