Tonight I woke up before it happened. Last night, I only had nightmares. Then I woke up this morning in a pool of blood, with something fleshy and broken twitching the last of its life away in amid my fingers. Everything hurt.
Then I vomited up my dinner. When I saw what it was that came out of my stomach, I vomited again.
The rest of the day was horrifyingly normal. I got home before sundown and went into the basement. As usual, the chains were all broken and the doors were broken down. As usual, I stood in front of the mirror for two hours with the gun in my mouth, just trembling and crying. Still couldn't do it.
Then Beth decided to surprise me by showing up. She knew that I've been depressed lately, so she came with a cake, wearing nothing but a trenchcoat and a smile. I did my best to keep her out of the house, being as polite as I could be, but then it made her come in.
Then she found the gun.
The next ten-thousand-year hour of my life was spent trying to explain what had happened. She didn't buy a burgular, even when I showed her the basement. When I tried to rationalize it away, she got angry. When I tried to push her away, she got angrier. Then it tugged at her mind and suddenly we were in the back yard, making passionate, furious love to each other.
It was the release I needed. It was the release it was waiting for. When it was over, we fell asleep in each other's arms. I had never been more content in my life.
I remember a lizard briefly running over my face. I woke up with a start, only to start staring at the full moon rise above the horizon.
Beth stirred beside me and smiled her wonderful smile. I started to cry.
Then it happened.
I could feel my skin prickling as hair burst through it. My bones twisted and warped of their own volition, filling my mind with an agony so intense that it blanked out any rational thought that I might have had. Muscles shivered and grew, giving my distended frame the power it needed to rip my prey apart. My jaw was cracking and re-healing a dozen times over and my head was splitting and my teeth were too close together and my fingernails hurt and my feet were aching and my chest was on fire and everything hurt and I was...
Then it's just redness and ripping and the raging, fiery emptiness in my belly calling out for more.
I wake up on the beach, in a pool of blood. Something that might have been human once is twitching and dying in-between my fingers, piteously gasping for air, begging for a relief of suffering. I can't bring myself to do it. The sea beckons to me, and I realize that it's too dense to swim. When I change, I'm too dense to float! So I walk into the ocean. When my feet can't touch bottom, I start swimming. When I'm too tired to swim, I start floating. When I'm too tired to float, I start sinking. As the water fills my lungs, and the pain rips through my body, making me go into desperate convulsions, I start to smile, despite myself. Then it all goes black. A short time later, I slip away.
Should have known it was too good to be true.
I wake up on a fishing boat, somewhere out in the ocean. Somebody's spoon-feeding me broth. When they found me, I was skeletal, only skin and bones, with no body fat left. I'm too weak to do anything but sit back and let them feed me, change my bedpan, wash me, and tend to my every need. The bastards. Weeks pass. The bob and roll of the cabin is my world, and only occasionally now will the crew come to chat with me, or stop in to check on me. The Captain says he'll let me off when they stop into port the day after tomorrow. He can't understand why I'm so reluctant to go ashore, but I won't tell him about it, so he won't press the issue.
The storm hits late in the evening, moving faster than normal for this early in the season. All hands are on deck, tying down equipment and making sure that their catch won't get loose.The boat tips and rocks dangerously--lightning flashes--a wave breaks over the bow, flooding the deck--thunder crashes--a crewman goes overboard, tossed screaming into the mountains of water that tower over the tiny boat. The crew screams for help, and I immediately recognize the fact that I don't want to drown a second time, so I spring onto the deck to help. There I am, pulling on this rope here, tying down that net there, keeping those men from falling overboard, bailing when the waves get too much. For a moment, I'm alive, lit in strange tableau by lightning and spotlights.
Then we hit the eye of the storm, and everything stops.
The clouds part.
I can see the full moon dancing on the water.