All it took was a blink, a reflex to lubricate her lenses, reinvigorate the dry tissue, encourage lucidity. And the vision fled, blurred behind excess moisture. Tabitha blinked again and again like she was turning an engine that refused to turn, and it all became so distant, settling into a fold of her mind like a dream waiting to reappear when called upon. As that dream faded, reality formed around her, and the light of day was left to illuminate the ward.
“I need to write this down!” rushed through Alfred’s mind as his eyes flung open and he brought his hands together to put pen to paper. But his hands were empty and there was a disturbingly uncomfortable tug on his right arm. When he rotated his wrist to find the source, he winced, pulling air in between his clenched teeth.
He groaned under his breath, “How?” as he sat too afraid to move now that he was facing the needle in his arm. He thought hard about how he came to be sitting in this chair, in this room. He closed his eyes to focus, but the grotesque operation that had been performed on his arm pulled him out of it, and then there was that awful stench – it smelled like decay. He mustered the courage to bring his hand to the object lodged in his opposite arm, barely moving it, expecting his own body to naturally reject the foreign element on its own. With slow and steady purpose, he tugged it out, never again laying eyes on it.
Alfred opened his eyes again, wrestling them away from his arm and toward the person sitting beside him – their head lolling back, mouth opened wide, eyes deflated in their sockets and forming two more gasping, silently screaming mouths in their face.
By the time the others began grappling with their surroundings, Carrion had already yanked the needle from her arm and crawled out of her chair. She pulled one of her neighbors over, igniting a scream between the wooden chair and the damp floorboards, and causing some bag to fall from overhead, landing with a wet slap. She didn’t care about the disruption if it afforded her some semblance of safety, if she might crouch down, hide in the space between the chair she’d escaped from, the one she’d borrowed, and the wall.
In the time it took the rest to awaken, Carrion acquainted herself with the corpse before her. She’d learned that while lying among the dead, it was best to become familiar with them rather than ignore the person they were and the thing they’d become. Besides the infestations that had taken residence beneath this woman’s skin, it was apparent that someone else was using this thing much like they were making use of everyone else in the room, herself apparently included, Carrion thought as she glanced down at the site where the needle had been pressed in.