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Elizabeth Smith, Feature Writer

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Waking up to the sound of nothing was probably the worst way to wake up. It was like the silence was sucking up everything and anything. I looked up to the clock above my television, 2:45 A.M. The couch left indentations in my skin like temporary tattoos, proof of how soundly I slept. I got up, the thin blanket I had falling to my feet as I shuffled down the hallway and into the kitchen. Flicking the light on, I squinted and let my eyes adjust to the brightness of the singular LED lightbulb.

“What to eat, what to eat.” I mumbled to myself. Midnight snacks were the only way I could sustain myself. My hand reached to pull the fridge door open when I heard a deafening crash. I jumped back to evaluate the situation when I saw my cat hunched over the trash can.

“God, Mittens!” I chastised. “You scared the living soul out of me.”

I picked her up and set her on the counter.

“What shall I eat, oh wise one?” I giggled.

She meowed, and I let out a gasp. “That’s it. We shall eat pizza! What a genius.”

After thirty minutes of waiting for the oven baked pizza to cook, I dug in to the greasy snack and took it to the living room. Grasping for the remote, I shoved a slice of pizza into my mouth. I started clicking through the channels when I felt something moving in my oral cavity. Confused, I took my hands and reached within my mouth only to pull out nothing. The moving never stopped. I hopped up from my spot on the worn down couch and raced to the bathroom. Flipping on the light, I gazed into the mirror with my mouth wide open. I came close to the mirror and inspected the wiggling. Looking closer I realized nothing was there. But the moving never stopped. I peered closer and saw that there was something in my mouth, underneath the thin skin covering the back of my throat.

Thick lines grew and squirmed around in my mouth. Covering every inch of the opening, they kept growing and growing until a dull pain surfaced and red spots appeared on the superficial layer of my mouth. I let out a scream as little heads popped out of the red spots. Blood came gushing from the orifices, and I started gagging. With a few dry heaves, bile came spewing from my stomach and onto the counter. Gasping for air, I looked into the pile of vile fluids and saw maggots swimming in the sink.

“What??” I questioned.

A low rumbling erupted from my abdominal cavity. I lifted my soft blue shirt to reveal black lines crawling up from my pelvic cavity. I let out a whimper as hands formed from deep in my stomach. They grew talons as they ripped ribbons into my stomach. Searing pain jutted out from where they pierced and ripped. I let out another blood curdling scream as blood and gore fell onto the floor. My eyes were blown wide as I watched a tall slender creature crawl out of me.

Its skin was a drab grey with hairy spines erupting from its dorsal surface. It turned to me, turned its beady red eyes on my broken figure. The creature lowered itself onto its haunches, crawling towards me. It let out a deep growl and arched its spine as three limbs shot out from each lateral side. The limbs slowly reached for me, its vile skin covered in my DNA. The distorted hands grasped my weak body, and it lowered its head closer to mine.

“Child….” it whispered, its maw dripping with drool and filled to the brim with sharpened teeth. Each of its eight hands pinned me down as I writhed beneath it.

“I shall take my sweet time with you…” Its breath smelled of rotting flesh and dead things.

I tried to scream, to plead my way out of whatever situation I’d gotten in, but the pain was so intense, I was withered and voiceless. I reached out, one last attempt to get away. My hands raked down its skeletal system. So thin and frail, but strong at the same time. With four hands still holding me down, it took the rest and placed them on each limb. It pulled, and pulled, and pulled. My shoulders popped first, then my hip joints. It still pulled. My shoulders came out if its sockets, and I screamed, sound finally coming out. My throat was ripped raw with the action. I could hear the tendons and veins rip apart as my first limb came off. It let go of the rest and focused on my left arm, off my body but still attached by the thicker veins. It took a talon, sharp and gleaming in the bathroom light, and severed them.

“Hmmm.” It hummed, as though it was a mother knitting a sweater.

It inspected the nub left from its pulling and dug into the bloodied flesh. With a lethal precision, he dragged out a string, a vein. And then two, three, four until he had pulled out my entire cardiovascular system, save my heart. Blood gushed onto the floor, and it laughed.

It lowered its head to the inferior part of my body, and took a bite out of my thigh. My thigh gushed more blood from the medial bite in my flesh. Black started to creep into my vision as the blood loss got to me. Giving up all hope, and strength, I grew numb, my body cold and the pain no longer felt. It backed up, leaving me there a broken mess, lying in a pool of my own blood. I can see the anterior of its body better, its skin withered and proximal to its bones. Malnourished, like it had starved for centuries, its eyes distal from their sockets, and its jaw unhinged to form a gruesome smile. It paced a few steps, surveying the scene before it. It lunged for my broken body again, slamming its foot onto my chest, breaking my ribs and crushing my heart.

“I’ll see you soon, love,” it said with a lover’s touch.

I shot up from the couch I’d fallen asleep on, gasping for breath and holding my chest. Tears fell freely from my eyes. The superior part of my body throbbed in a phantom pain. I looked around, wondering why I wasn’t dead, only to realize it was a dream.

“It was just a dream. Just a dream,” I whispered to myself. Mittens came bounding to me, her soft fur relaxing as she landed on my lap. Looking towards the clock above my television, I froze, my blood running cold as a deafening crash resonated, and the smell of burned pizza and death wafted from the kitchen.

2:45 A.M.