Running Colors

// transformations, implications

It’s been three hours since the changes began. You can still feel your insides shifting, rearranging, your guts sloshing and the world sloshing with them. Your vision kaleidoscopes drunkenly as you lurch through the driving snow. Why did you go home with her? What did she do to you?

The cold stopped bothering you a while ago. If you weren’t such a mess, you might have noticed that, or noticed that your breath isn’t producing condensation, or that despite your anxiety your heart seems to barely beat at all now. You haven’t, however, actually noticed any of it.

What you have noticed is the way your teeth feel different and wrong, the way your nails have started stabbing through the fingertips of your gloves, and of course, the way your insides are churning and roiling uncomfortably. That last one is taking most of your focus.

Do you even know where you are? It’s the middle of the night in the middle of a blizzard and you decided to walk home from the house of that woman you met at the bar? Like, what the fuck is actually wrong with you? What are you even doing out here?

You stop, eyes darting around the desolate wonderland. Snow is falling heavily, thick fat flakes blanketing everything in a muffling silence, you can only see a few hundred feet, where the light of a 7-11 radiates salvation into the darkness. Yeah you have no idea where you are.

You notice the pressure first, as you hover in the threshold awkwardly, snow and wind blowing into the store. You can’t quite bring yourself to go inside. The tired looking kid behind the counter gives you an exasperated look and beacons you in, the pressure vanishing at once.

You definitely look like hell frozen over. Your makeup is smeared, you’re covered in at least an inch of snow which begins melting and dripping brown fluid from your hair as soon as you enter the building, your clothes are…let’s not think about that. Just play it cool.

The only things you can find that seem remotely appetizing are beef jerky and mixer for bloody marys. Whatever, estrogen makes you crave weird shit all the time. You toss the items on the counter and mumble out a request for a pack of cigarettes. That’s where the trouble starts.

He asks to see your ID, looks at it, at you, and asks you to take your mask off. 

“I really don’t think I should do that,” you say, chewing your lip, feeling like your mouth is full of marbles whenever you speak. He frowns and tosses the ID back to you, “Why? You got COVID?”

“I um…” You stammer for words, “Maybe?” 

He frowns at you, “Look lady, I work here every night and I see a lot of shit, you’re gonna have to actually show me your face, I ain’t afraid of some virus but I’m not losin’ this job cause some bitch was actually a fed.”

You could have warned him at least, but you just shrug and take the mask off. He opens and closes his mouth and hands you the cigarettes wordlessly. You would purse your lips, but your teeth have enlarged too much to be able to so instead you just make a goofy face.

It’s at this point that the smell of the store and of the clerk and the everything else hits you, formerly obscured behind the mask, and you feel your eyes light up as a new hunger yawns open inside you. You’re staring dumbly at the cashier now, and all you see is food.

He must have sensed something in your posture, because he says in a voice that clearly indicates he knows he’s food, that you should probably go home now. You strongly consider leaping over the counter and tearing his throat out, but instead you bolt into the dark and cold.

The jerky tastes awful and makes your stomach clench uncomfortably but you force yourself to eat it anyway, very carefully chewing each piece as you trudge along, unsure how your mouth works now. You’re not really paying attention to anything, but there’s not much to see.

The streets are quiet and barren, snow drifts and blows. The shops are all closed and dark, their windows reflecting the storm outside. You pause in front of one of them, and that’s when you notice that you’re melting. It stops you in your tracks.

The image of you reflected in the glass is oozing and dripping away. The color is falling out of your hair in dark drops, the color from your eyes is running down your face, your tan is washing off. More alarmingly, beyond that, it’s as if your very image is melting into nothingness.

The top of your now bone white hair is gone and your head is slowly disappearing. You pat your scalp in near panic but everything feels okay. You take off running at that point, abandoning your snacks in the snowdrift. The world blurs past you, when did you get so fast?

When you finally stumble in the door the changes are almost completed. Your hair and skin have lost all pigment, your nails are longer and sharper, even if she wasn’t melting, the red-eyed girl in the mirror looks nothing like you used to. Oh but she’s also melting.

With fascination and horror, you watch your reflection ooze out of the frame like a wax figure left in the sun. You don’t even want to think about what the actual sun would do to you. The process is slow, distinctiveness running off you in layers. It doesn’t hurt at least.

After about an hour it ceases to be interesting and you instinctively go around the house carefully blocking out any place sunlight could leak in. You don’t really know why you’re doing this. Yes you do, you just don’t want to admit it, denial is easier. For now anyway.

It takes a while, most of the rest of the night, to fortify yourself against the coming daybreak. It’s something that feels at once both silly and extremely important. It takes enough of your attention to not even bother changing out of the torn and bloody clothes you have on.

So, when you finally glance in the mirror again to see if your reflection has finished vanishing, you’re met by the sight of something wholly unexpected. Perfectly nestled into the spot formerly blocked by your reflection, dripping with fear and hope and freedom, there is a Door.

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