Palms and fingers braced my forehead as fire burned the skeletal reaches of my veins. I swear you could see the smouldering through my skin as thin as paper.
My sister curled up and watched as I battled two halves, flaming. All sound exploded in my ears. A concerto of fireworks. I writhed, unable to make out her face.
The wriggling, incessant burning forced me to crawl as I tried to reach her. Words seared my lungs. I hadn’t asked for this. I hadn’t been given a choice. The only thing I could think of was a cure. There had to be a cure.
Silver light dappled my skin, piercing the gaps between the leaves that gazed with concern through the kitchen window. The shine gave me some release, soothing my fever wherever it touched. I blacked out for a while, salved somewhat by this luminous power.
When I came to she was gone.
Bleak eyes searched the kitchen for her cackling form but found nothing until I sniffed. There was the smell of liquorice with the tang of iron. It grew heady in my nostrils, tangling itself around my thoughts.
She had left me something.
I crawled from my puddle of moonlight, no longer burning, no longer screaming for help. The hunk of meat waited ready on its platter. Blurred gaze guessed she’d left me dinner, some kind of apology after what she’d done.
It was smothered in some kind of fruity sauce. My first guess was Chinese, but I couldn’t remember anything on the menu and my head ached too much to try. I started to eat, forgetting my manners, forgetting everything until I was gorging myself on the fleshy substance.
My eyes cleared and focused as I ate, fever lifting its haze. I tried to remember the events before. I tried to think of the reason for my collapse. Andrea’s face swam in and out of view until I gave up.
The back door creaked behind me, wailing like a shrew between cat’s claws. The exclamation caught my ears and I turned to discover him. His face, slack jawed in disbelief, searched mine. A sanguine dreg of gloop dripped crimson from my chin.
“I didn’t get here fast enough,” he murmured.
I blinked. Hand lifted to wipe my chin. “Sorry?”
“Cass… Cass look what you’re eating.”
I frowned. It was just some leftovers. It was just a peace offering from Andrea. But I turned. The peace offering dripped, bleeding. Flesh straggled at its edge, pink and shredded by teeth. My eyes narrowed for a moment.
I sprung backwards, slipping in red essence and kicking out with feet that only seemed to slide in the bloody solution that washed the tiled floor. He caught my arms, hooking his own beneath mine and holding me still as I howled. His lips tickled my ear, breath disarmingly close, as I stared at the carnage that laid before me.
“It’s okay, Cass. We’ll get you help. I promise.”
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