Author’s Note: This was actually my submission for this years “Last Line” issue but it didn’t get in so I’m posting it here instead.
The whole room fell silent, eyes shooting towards Elizabeth. Burning questions glazed over their pupils but fear paralyzed their bodies.
The words kept tumbling from her painted black lips, stumbling over one another like raindrops melting together into a thin stream. Nonsensical syllables echoing around the room, merging with those of a voice that sounded almost identical to her own.
In the doorway stood a woman in a short black dress with flowing lace sleeves. The straps of her sandals snaked up her legs, matched in length by her curly auburn hair. Large blue eyes shone from a pale freckled face, separated by a thin nose. Her voice escaped low and harsh, incongruent to her soft pink lips and gentle features.
She took a step forward, eyes transfixed on her nearly identical twin. The people around her shifted uncomfortably, shrinking towards the wall as though she carried the plague on her slender shoulders.
Elizabeth raised her voice, surging through the crowd that parted like the Red Sea. She commanded the room in a way nobody else could, immediately drawing the attention back to her. Several people dropped their drinks as they saw the transformation inching across her skin.
Scales grew to replaced the short white hairs covering her limbs. Black as night they covered her entire body as her eyes rolled back into her head, leaving pure white orbs in place of her cyan irises. Instead of words her tongue now spewed hissing noises, low and soft and threatening. A dark aura followed her as she approached the door, seeping into the flowered wallpaper and wine-stained oak floors.
Both froze as the clanging of church bells outside invaded the room, crawling in from the doors and windows. The room fell deathly quiet.
Then the lights went out.
Nobody dared to move. Not a soul spoke. Eyes roamed in the dark, searching for the slightest movement where the two had stood.
Elizabeth and her twin stood outlined by the dim moonlight seeping in from the windows. Seconds ticked by as neither moved, still as statues.
Then, as though propelled by an invisible force, Elizabeth lurched forward, arms outstretched towards the other figure. The two moved too fast for eyes to follow, squirming on the ground. Elizabeth appeared to remain on top, legs locked tightly around the small waist of her counterpart. Her arms moved in sharp, blurry jabs, the silver watch around her wrist reflecting the pallor of the moonlight.
A scream broke the silence for only a second before almost instantly melting into a low gurgle then dying completely.
Only then did the lights return, revealing a pale Elizabeth with snow white skin and blue eyes straddling the lifeless body of an enormous black snake with dull copper scales atop its head.
Elizabeth stood, inky blue blood dripping from her hands. She looked around at the frightened, judgemental eyes of the people she had once considered friends and knew with a gut-wrenching certainty she would never fit in with them again.
It was hard to accept that from now on everyone would look at her differently.