Whether out of curiosity or compelled by some unseen force, the next thing she did was lean forward and squint at the wall. Her nose was no more than a centimeter or so away from it when she pulled back, rubbing the red tip and frowning even more.
“This wall is burning hot.” she said, still trying to rub the heat out of her nose. If the situation hadn’t been so serious and uncomfortable, I could have laughed at her Rudolph nose.
Commanded by some self-destructive urge that I can’t even begin to understand, she tentatively reached for the wall, hesitating for a few moments before gently placing her right hand against the smooth gray stone. Her hand clung to the wall like a magnet.
She tried to pull it away, but it wouldn’t move.
“It’s… stuck…” she said with a small, low grunt, pulling back with all her might.
When you drop a sugar cup into a cup of steaming hot coffee, it dissolves and disappears into the murky brown liquid.That’s what happened to her brave facade as she turned towards me. The calm, courageous expression melted and morphed into the wide-eyed madness I had come to recognize as fear.
She opened her mouth. I was assumed she was going to say something, to plead for help. Her lips moved, mouthing a word I couldn’t make out in the dim light, but no sound came out.
A soft crackling filled its place. Her mouth tore itself in half, forcing out a scream. It burst from the cold black depths of her throat and echoed around us, stabbing through my ears and ringing endlessly in my head. It was louder and higher than any sound I ever thought I could hear. The scream was soaked in agony, dripping with terror.
The crackling sound grew louder. In the flashlight’s frozen beam, my wide eyes remained glued to her hand.
The pale skin became red in the pure white light. Large round blisters blew up from the surface. The exploded, spewing crimson lava into the air. Warm droplets splashed against my face, streaming down my face like tears.
The blood immediately sizzled on the surface of her hand as the boils and burns climbed up her arm.They fled to the safety of her sleeve, quickly reaching her chin and crawling over her face. It devoured her skin, plowed over her nose, and plunged through her eyes.
I watched, paralyzed. My limbs had turned to stone, brittle yet immobile. The flashlight sat heavily between my hands. I wished my weak fingers could have given up. I wish the flashlight had fallen to the ground and shattered, letting me use its broken shards as a shield for my scarred eyes.
I don’t remember when the scream ended, or if it ever did. My ears stopped functioning as my heartbeat deafened them.
I watched the blisters disappear into her hairline. They continued bursting, their excrement turning her bleached white hair a deep crimson.
If only my flashlight had died then. If only I hadn’t been forced to witness the next phase in her horrific mutation.