By Millie Holden
It came at night. Through blue velvet, whispering strange things. Once dark and unseen, it climbed the lattice like ivy, growing deep, flooded with moonlight. It filtered through the porous grout and dispersed a rich smell of vodka-soaked cranberries.
Floating towards the mirror, it penetrated the glass. Snapped nails and fragmented knuckles punctured the reflection and gripped the bedroom carpet. It slithered further out, contorted into a demonic crawl; pale and malnourished, its papery skin plagued with open wounds. Deflated breasts and pimpled limbs dropped like meat on a butcher’s slab. Its face had decayed, the skin melting from the bone and dripping onto the woollen rug.
On trembling knees, the carpet gripped and peeled back its skin as it shuffled towards the bed. Gently, it balanced its palms on the duvet and pushed, the bones splintering in its wrists. Stunned, the man cradled his duvet between his thighs, his gaping eyes growing drier from the exposed air. His mouth hung open as saliva inched down his chin. The creature crept towards him without bending its knees, like a circus performer on stilts. Towering over the man, its brittle nails followed his hairline. It lowered its face to his and dragged its calcified tongue along his cheekbone.
Suddenly the man threw the duvet at it, startling the creature. Rattling his knees against his chin, he pinched his temple and whispered manically, “wake up, wake up.”
“What are you?”
It stepped back and flashed diseased gums, revealing gaps where fangs once were.
“What happened to you?”
The creature pressed its flaking lips together. “What?” Its vocal cords crumbled.
“You look… ill, I guess.”
It looked away, exposing the yellow of its starved eyes.
“Is it painful?”
A slight shrug shivered through its body.
“And that’s why you are here?”
Cautiously, he shuffled to the foot of the bed and stood inches away from the creature, feeling its hot breath condensate on his skin.
Tasting his complacency, its eyes dilated until both sockets filled with black and veins convulsed in its head. Its mouth stretched till it tore at the corners and uncovered layers of teeth, emerging from its treacle-stained gums. Strings of drool hung from its crusted lip. The creature punctured the man’s neck and gorged on him.
Once his complexion was drained of colour, it discarded the corpse like a used wet suit.
Finally, it waited. It waited like every other time. Staring deep into the mirror, waiting for change.
Millie Holden is a student, currently residing in Lancashire, England. Her work has been previously published in the LLA Anthology 2020, Lancaster Flash Journal and Tether’s End Magazine. She has also been shortlisted for the Literary Lancashire Award for prose.
Millie can also be found on Twitter.