I can feel it here, inside, under my skin. It begins just beneath the muscles in my back, goose-flesh rippling against the bones. There’s a writhing along my vertebrae. Maggots. Terror solidifies there, trying to build, making my body an ill fit. It is trying to break through, but hasn't yet. I fight it. The sensation grows; I try to convince myself that it's just a feeling, crawling along the nerves of my spine like a repressed shudder between my shoulder blades. Phantom wings trapped beneath my skin, twitching and pulling. My skin crawls as I begin to doubt that this is just in my head. There is really something there, hiding along my bones and inside my muscles and my nerves. It spreads its arms and wings and legs and stretches luxuriantly. I feel something wrapping around my ribcage and creaking against my sternum. My stomach clenches and I want to vomit but do not feel nauseous. My heart can't decide whether to pound or to flutter. Tears prick my eyes and I cry out at the intensity of the horrid itching that has replaced the goose-flesh ripples inside. I feel the slithering of some plurality of limbs moving along my torso and my arms and legs, buds pushing out from the sides of my body, not yet bursting through. The skin on my back stretches with painful sharpness and I experience a burning like childbirth as my back opens up. My fingers seize and I watch in horrified awe as something sharp and black begins to protrude from each fingertip. The flesh rends and peels back, revealing scaly claws where smooth skin once lay. The scales seem to absorb light, yet they reflect, like oil, a diseased rainbow. Black. I feel new, supernumerary arms emerging from their buds on my sides, tearing through, flexing and seeking freedom from their cage of meat. The flesh of my face begins to stretch with the same sharpness as my spine. I feel sharp ridges emerge, splitting my skin, finally shedding my former flesh like a husk. I stretch my maw in an experimental yawn and tap my newly emerged talons against the ground, then leap skyward with a tremendous whoosh of my leathery wings.
With a Flapping of Wings by Tena Kolakowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.