She closed the side bay door behind her and edged across the corridor, avoiding patients like the plague, her jumper barely covering the standard nightgown. She wobbled, almost stumbling into the festive tree nearby.
It felt as if somebody had loosened the tap on her blood supply as her pulse began to rush in a vicious eddy beneath her flesh. A feverish ache tore across her brow, spinning her with dizziness. She’d never had such a violent headache.
Her fingers wound around the handle of the nearest door. The wood swung open and then slotted smoothly back into its frame. She pressed her side up against the door to keep it tight, her vision clouded with a sickly fog.
What was happening to her? It didn’t make sense. She hadn’t felt ill before. They’d only brought her to the hospital for shock…
A strange cramp churned her stomach. It was like her insides were contorting into new shapes. A cry of pain twisted her lips. It was like something was searing through her body. What drugs had they given her? Sweat broke out on every inch of skin. It crackled and prickled as if she’d leaned in too close to a fire and scorched.
She raised a shaking hand to her face and panicked when the surface of her palm came into view. The flesh bubbled and wriggled, hissing and spitting, before her wide opened eyes.
What had they given her?!
Fingers struggled to find the edge of her bandage as her skin boiled and writhed. Eventually she peeled it away. The stained material fluttered to the floor as gracefully as a ribbon. She didn’t notice.
Her eyes were transfixed by the gaping hole in her wrist that bubbled and seared around the edges like a pool of lava.
It was only a dog bite… How could it open up like that? Dog bites didn’t do that…
Something pulled the muscles in her legs, bringing her yelping to her knees. They were stretching, contorting, just like her stomach. Her ribs seemed to crack out of position and move themselves in her hellish agony. Her throat stuck too hard to make any more noise than a hideous guttural gagging. Her windpipe seemed to be stretching, moving, choking, too.
What’s happening to me?!
She tried to put her hands to her face but they were mutating. Her palms and fingers were shrinking in length as her wrist stretched and twisted. Horror scarred her face. Each finger nail thickened and reshaped as claws.
She tried to move, scrabbling the floor in a fight of fear. She had to escape it! Adrenaline pulsed into her bloodstream, but it only made things worse. Things started happening faster. Her bones twisted and reset with searing joints. Her face elongated, fusing into a snout. Pins and needles raced through her changing flesh, sprouting hair wherever it travelled.
Her back arched, clothes tearing and pulling her throat into a breathable form, forcing her to let rip a strangled howl beneath the clatter of sharper teeth.
Then it was over.
She collapsed on the floor, body heaving in total and utter exhaustion. Her mind screamed in a displaced mush until one thought overtook all others. Her eyes opened, yellow and feverish.
The scent of food.
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