#StitchedSaturday 2/2/19 – Brian McNatt

 

THE CHANGELING

 

Adam didn’t know when exactly Emily, his Emily, had stopped BEING Emily. He first noticed it, without a doubt, one Saturday when they were both free and in the mood to hang with a college friend outside of college. Adam still didn’t know what urge had struck him to make him look up from their patio table in time to see Emily leave the shop with their drinks. Watching, Adam saw how everything seemed . . . wrong with the woman. Her gait was off, her skin too light (pallid, veiny, translucent), her arms too long, her smiling teeth too sharp, her fingers too . . . many.

“What’s the matter?” Adam remembered the Thing in his friend’s skin asking as It sat back down, smiling and setting the drinks on the table. “You look like a dead man walking.”

Adam had almost run, right then and there, but something old, something forgotten, some deeper animal instinct, told him to stay seated. To pick up the drink. To put on a smile. “Well, at least walking’s an improvement over laying down!”

Days passed. Maybe weeks. And each night since, Adam had dreams. In his dreams he saw her crouching there at the foot of his bed. Changed. And each night, each dream, if they even were dreams, the changes worsened. He dreamed her pale skin rippling, growing taught as her back split, a black ichor spreading, bony spikes spreading. And to the sounds of flesh tearing and bone splintering into spikes, into claws, into curling tail, there accompanied a thick, wet retching as the creature in the guise of Emily vomited up more of the black fluid. Fingers tipped in wicked claws swept through the blackness, spreading it over Itself, and where the fluid spread, humanity withered.

Each dream, each nightmare, ended the same, the naked, alluring, repulsive creature looking up at him with a dead doll’s eyes. Lithe body uncurling. Crawling over him like an insect, pressing in—

Then Adam, alone in his bed and sweating, eyeing the shadowed corners of his room until dawn came. The events before a nightmare web spread between sleep and wakefulness. Fearing the next nightfall.

And longing for it.

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