Prologue

I woke up drowning in a sea of blankets.

Fear clung to my throat, suffocating, clawing, fighting my every scream. Sweat drizzled at every inch of my body; violent shivers eating away at any warmth I once had.

Thrashing blindly in the pitch black room, waves of sheets, pillows, and comforters were sent to the gaping abyss eagerly awaiting my fall. Hands reached out hysterically, swiping at pleading whispers and torturous moans. Rivers of agony poured down, disturbing the few slivers of the full moon’s light struggling against consumption by the conquering darkness of the night.

Somewhere in the middle of my panic, I froze to the sound of breathing not my own. Unable to muffle the rapid machine gun-like rate my heart was shooting in my chest, I exhaled shakily, facing my shadowed foe. In response, the figure let out a frightening snarl as I jerked away.

My head collided into a hard surface. Momentarily dazed, I struggled to rise to my feet only to collapse back onto the creaky springs of my bed. Once my hands recognized the plush texture of the mattress, my sense returned. The creature snarled once more as if reading my mind, causing the hairs on my neck to stand. I swallowed back a sob, carefully fumbling around the room for a source of light. Eventually my fingers grazed against the grainy texture of the switch, taking several attempts before flicking it on.

Squinting in the sudden burst of light, a shadow began to clear into a single picture. The first thing I noticed were the teeth stretched into a sickeningly terrifying sneer. It took me a few precious seconds to distinguish the red lodged between its fangs and the way its smile appeared too wide. Almost as if the sides of its mouth were…

The scream finally reached my lips. The monster lunged, knocking me to the floor. Then everything began to melt. And I was falling for ages.

It’s strange how one minute you’re falling to your death, running from the fatal bite of a deformed animal that somehow found its way into your bedroom, and the next, you’re in a beautifully lit ballroom of some sort, surrounded by the people you love.

This was after all, a dream. My memory of the sneer, the growl, the sensation of suffocating, gradually seeped away into a distant fragment that I no longer held a firm grasp over. I was excited, swaying in the background to the gentle grace of a waltz, enjoying the view of my friends laughing to one another and flashing me ridiculous grins full of mischief. Glasses of what I assumed to be sparkling grape juice, seeing as though we were quite under aged, was wheeled around in grand carts, servers pleasantly smiling at every face, bowing in a sense of hospitality. The low clinks and chimes of glass against glass brought forth a feeling of luxury. Above me, a remarkable chandelier glowed upon my face as I beamed with pride.

Today was a truly special day.

A couple of familiar faces passed by with a smile and I rewarded them with a hearty wink. Not a word was exchanged with me and I was perfectly content. A spoken syllable held enough power to break the magnificence of this occasion, so I kept to myself. By then, all doubt of everything being right had completely slipped my mind.

I felt truly stunning in my luscious velvet dress, flowing into a puddle of clumped red at my feet. Not a care was given as I knew I stood a distance away from everyone. It was really the wonder of the silence that stroke me with bliss. It was a great night to celebrate under the gold lights of this mansion of a banquet. Before I knew it, I was so deeply entranced with the spell of the evening that I hardly had the chance to consider my choice of reaction to what was to occur next.

It started with a single thought: What exactly are we rejoicing for? What is tonight’s special occasion?

I perked up at the sound of maracas being shaken with a frantic beat.

“Oh God, no! Please, not the children!”

The sentence came to me in a foreign tone making me dizzy with confusion. The overall fear I depicted from the voice sent a dreadful chill down my spine. I swallowed a gasp then bit back a howl of pain, bringing a hand to my head. The touch brought me jumping in surprise. It was strangely cool. The touch of a wintry night in the powdery plains of snow. I coughed away a puff of ash, blinking in disbelief.

An ear piercing scream brought me to high alert. In an act of defense, I slammed my bare back against the sticky surface of the wall behind me, arms extended in a posture for attack.

Sticky surface?

True enough, the entire wall clung to me like syrup, pulling me backwards. Strangely, I felt no desire to pull away, shrugging away the disgusting feeling of sinking in mud. My bare back grew warm at the touch as I clenched my teeth in stubborn annoyance.

It was bizarre.  At that moment, I had begun to feel myself being watched.  And I simply knew it was so.  In fact, the one noting my every move was actually myself. Suddenly I was in two places simultaneously, one huddling fearfully against the slimy texture of the curtain of filth slowly melting behind me into a blackened mess, the other floating as a separate whole, viewing from a unique perspective. Before it had only been a harmless, extravagant pillar embroidered in gold. I foolishly thought to myself what a shame it was for such a pretty design to be put to waste.

Here I was floating between the land of the living and the realm of nothing, pitying the architects of the building, observing the silhouette of myself below me, shrinking away from the tense crowd across the room while searching for the source of the earlier exclamation.

I heard the sound of a maraca fluttering in a sort of fit.  It sounded almost suspiciously like that of a rattle snake.

Beside me, a dog barked angrily.

The floor seemed to ripple, the shadow of something beastly lurking beneath the waves. Across from where I stood, my companions grew pale. Their attention was directed at the space behind me. The rattling of whatever they stared wide eyed at had begun to increase in volume and aggression, sounding less and less than a harmless instrument. With a hesitant breath, I turned.

The dog at my side growled protectively, shielding me from whatever it was sliding down the spotless pillar where I had been leaning against only seconds ago.

A single drop of the black substance from the wall clung unknowingly to my outfit, melting away into the warmth of my skin. I held no knowledge of this. Rather, I remained fixated on the spot where a lizard like animal curled around the top of the surface, eyeing the room with hidden, dark intentions. The atmosphere grew frigid as the sleek outline of its tail slithered with purpose towards the place where I stood rooted in place with bewilderment.

The animal beside me barked once more, exposing its blood stained fangs and crooked sneer, the corners of its mouth gruesomely ripped apart to widen the grin. It glanced over at me, blinking a sign of reassurance.

The lizard thing hissed at my cowering friends. In response, a whimper rang out. The rattling continued.

It took me only a second to realize the rattling came from the tail of the lizard. In second glance, a mouth had taken shape on the tip of the thing as well as a tongue and a pair of pitch black eyes searching hungrily for its prey. Body of a lizard, tail of a snake. My stomach churned with disgust.

“Stop!”

In a flash of lightning, the creature dropped to the floor at my feet. My guardian flinched, astonished, then recovered quickly, snapping its glistening teeth at our attacker, wiping a paw fully equipped with blades lodged deeply in its prickly fur. A single cut formed on the flesh of my cheek, knocking me to the side, forcing me into an exposed position. As I laid there, dabbing at my numb wound, the tail of the lizard took the moment to strike.

The world lurched to the side then began to shift once more into the third stage of my nightmare, throwing me into a huddled, blackened mass of defeat and rotting flesh.

I knew nothing of my whereabouts, my head throbbing with the song of distant sirens. The beckoned me to crawl into unseen arms. They whispered temptations and made promises that were not meant to be kept. They dared me to stand up and defy all that was written for me. They demanded I try to change my fate.

These voices toyed with my emotions, laughing cruelly with taunting leers. I felt a scorching rage building deep inside, eating away at whatever remained in the broken heap of what had once been my body.  My shimmery attire from before had now dulled to a torn mess. Pieces of worn thread drifted lazily over ashen floors and fragmented shards from broken wine glasses. Gazing downward, red lines trickled towards where my legs should have been, weaving into a blur of letters and hieroglyphics illegible to the naked eye. I fell under the illusion of being drugged, struggling to reclaim control over logic and reason through sluggish delay. The entire place zoomed by; I was being dragged.

Once that much was clear, I strived for the words of resistance to flow out. A puff of mist sprayed out instead, decorating the ground with tiny specks of water, freezing into bits of hail just before impact, disappearing under the black sand.

A freezing gust of wind slashed at my face, black clouds of ash clogging my eyes, nose, and ears. Coughing and gagging uncontrollably, tears gushed down my face, fading in the thickness of a coming storm. The red tracks remained visible, darkening, growing thicker. A strong scent rose from these pools of liquid. One of salt. Almost nauseatingly metallically.

A pair of hauntingly beautiful eyes gazed up at me in the midst of the red. They blinked sadly as if expressing a sort of sorrow for my captured state. I found myself fascinated with the way they swirled in dizzying patterns, a sort of milky color.  The more I concentrated on those lonely pools, the more I felt myself growing faint. In not too long, a strange sensation of being pulled away opposite directions came over me, and I was soon blacking out.

But then I was staring back at myself through those very glassy orbs.

Right then, had I a mouth to perform a single wave of horrific surprise, my throat would have grown hoarse from lunatic moans and cries.

((Note: the next segment is GRUESOME. Probably a PG-13 level. Maybe higher..))

The girl, the thing, the “whatever” it was, was being taken away by the hissing of the lizards’ tail and the clenching of the demonic dogs’ teeth. She was hardly in a single piece. I was hardly in a single piece. I looked nothing like a human anymore. The metallic stench now had a name, flooding my memories with the horrid smell. Bloody bursts of rain filled my ghostly stare as I blinked them away.

I hadn’t been mistaken when I noted the absence of my legs. Raw stumps of meat remained of my thighs, little bursts of blood exploding from loosely hung arteries. My eyes were raw, a familiar black substance trudging along the outlines of my jaw. Where I had been sliced by the canine creature in the ballroom split open to reveal more black, bubbling with some sort of toxin.

But worst of all was the terrifying smile that had been forced open through deep, hideous incisions at the far sides of my mouth. With each wheeze the undead creature exhaled, the flaps of its face trembled slightly, revealing decaying fangs protruding through large openings that weren’t ever meant to be pulled apart. I wanted so badly to lose my stomach, if I even had one at the moment. The image burned so badly into my stunned gaze, I felt as though I’d practically go blind at any minute. I strongly prayed for my sight to be taken, to spare me from the horrors of this, this thing being thrown about. That girl couldn’t be me. This mass of a corpse had no ounce of life in it. The direction she gazed wasn’t even here. They stared off at something distant, something unreal. Her eyes… My eyes… explored nowhere in this realm. They lost their usual light. What I was made from, curiosity, wonder, eagerness, didn’t exist. All that remained was the far off look of Death.

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