Angie sits on the park bench listening to the sounds around her. Off in the distance, a siren wails. Is it a death, a fire, an accident? What family is suffering loss right now? Birds chirp, squirrels chatter, leaves rustle in the breeze. Traffic sounds are muted and distant, never allowing her to forget that she is in the midst of chaos. An oasis of green in a concrete jumble, this park has become her refuge.
The sun feels warm on her face as she sits with her eyes closed. Footsteps approach, hesitate and then move on as the walker passes her bench. Grimacing, Angie realizes that she has become her own refuge. A no trespassing sign if you will. No one wants to sit next to such a horror.
Children tug on adults sleeves, crying what's wrong with that lady? Adults jerk on little arms, hurrying past to avoid contamination. No one questions her right to the bench; no one asks her to hurry along or accuses her of loitering. Dropping her head onto her chest, she opens her eyes, squinting at the harsh glare of the sunlight.
Staring down at her feet she marvels at the structure. Once she wore pretty girl shoes. Tiny little heels, bright colors. Her favorite pair was red. But now she wears nothing on her feet. Nothing but dirt and grime, caked with mud from last nights run through the forest. She examines her once upon a time feet; her toes are now mutilated and torn, bruised and bleeding from the change. Her eyes slowly travel up her legs. Still only two of them. Although that may change. Bare, slender with the muscles in stark relief, stretching the skin taut. And the skin itself. Once a pretty tan, she loved to wear short skirts. Not now. Her pretty skin is cracked. Wrinkled. Veins pulsing darkly just beneath the surface.
She closes her eyes once again. Not wishing to see any more. It's been days since she's looked in a mirror. She's afraid of what she might see. The angle of the sun slowly moves across her skin until she's sitting in a shadow. Becoming. Becoming what, she asks herself. Her mind skitters away from the truth of what’s happened, of what’s still happening.
Two weeks ago Angie was a bright young talent at the agency. An up and coming young executive, ready to take on the world. Living in a tiny studio apartment felt fine to her, she was chasing her dream. Until. Until. Until that night. That one little moment when her world came crashing down around her.
Memories began flooding her mind. She had been to dinner with friends. Only slightly tipsy from the wine with dinner, Angie began to hum as she strolled along the boulevard. Lights from passing cars brightened then dimmed then brightened again. She remembers smiling, being pleased with herself, pleased with her life. She reached her tiny apartment. She locked all the locks behind her, dropped her keys on the table by the door. Then what happened? What happened? She struggles to remember. Wasn’t there a shadow? A blackness at the window?
Angie scratched absently at her cheek, feeling the sandpaper rasp of nails against her once smooth skin. What was that shadow that filled the window? She drowned in that shadow. It rolled over her like waves in the ocean. She remembers the thick oily taste on her tongue, filling her throat, pouring into her. Voices whispering in a language she didn’t understand. She couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, she tried to scream as she drowned in the darkness.
But she didn’t really drown because she woke up. She woke up naked on the floor of the bathroom, cold tile leaching the heat from her body. She remembers dragging herself up and seeing herself in the mirror. Oh god, the mirror. The reflection peering back at her, it wasn’t her. It wasn’t her.
The next thing she remembers is running and running…feeling cool grass beneath her feet. Smelling fear on the breeze, her breath slow and even as her stride ate up the distance between her and her prey. Her prey. Hot, thick blood pulsing just below the fragile human skin, so easily bitten, so easily torn.
Angie runs her tongue across teeth that have lengthened into sharp points, all the better for rending and tearing flesh. Her breath coming in short gasps as hunger cramps her stomach. Her body convulses at the remembered coppery taste flooding her mouth.
She slowly raises her head, scenting the wind. It’s almost dark. Time to hunt. Memories of who she once was, of her humanness, begin to fade. Twilight empties the park of all but the desperate, the homeless, the dregs of humanity.
Standing, she stretches her new body, feeling tendons stretch and pop. An energy is filling her with the deepening of the darkness around her. The voices start to whisper again and this time she understands. Feed. Feed. Feed.