She didn’t want to wake up. Perhaps, she thought, this isn’t even a dream. Perhaps this is the real world, after all. One where roses are blue and violets are red and last night… last night was the terrible, terrible dream. But here, she mused, the trees smell of cinnamon and the grass is made of silk. She lied there, breathing it all in. Devouring it all so hungrily. But as she brushed her arms across the silk she spotted something that didn’t belong — something grotesque.
There, on her wrist was the proof that last night had in fact been real. Red, blistery proof. The bite marks were still there.
She sat up with a spring. What had seemed an enchanted garden just moments ago, now had the distinct sensation of being a dark and dangerous wood.
“That’s how it is at first,” a low voice crooned. “Confusedly peaceful.”
All around her, the bright colours flickered to monochrome and back again and so on. She squeezed her eyes shut, breaking out in a cold sweat. A bird chirping in the distance faded away, drowned out by the pounding of her heart. By the rushing of blood in her head.
“Who –” a searing pain shot through her eyes. “Fuck!” She breathed. “Who are you?”
“Tell me what you remember,” the voice replied.
Her eyes peeled open to find the colours completely drained from the world. Even her own hands were a pathetic shade of grey.
“This is what you asked for,” the voice insisted. “I warned you.”
He had. She remembered that much now. A warning. One she had not heeded.
She slid her tongue across her teeth and found that they were long, and sharp. Her tongue came away bleeding. Looking at her hands again, she found they too were changing. Longer. Sharper.
“I’m” she shuddered. “I’m different.”
“Yes.” a crackling of twigs revealed feet coming towards her. A tall man in a top hat with eyes that glowed white knelt before her. “You’re cancer-free.”
“I’m not dying?”
“You’ll live. Forever.”
Her stomach lurched forward at the word. Forever. Such an intangible concept… until now.
© Shyla Fairfax-Owen