Gagging, sickening coughs rasped his throat. The stench was that of rotten meat, skunk, foul sewage. Still there were three minutes before the bell would ring on his alarm for school and he was exhausted. What had happened? Did the basement bathroom back up again?
He peeled opened one cold ocean blue eye and stared at the dust motes floating across his blinds. Rubbing his eyes, he listened for the sounds of his grandmother hustling around the kitchen, getting breakfast ready. The house was dead quiet.
Overwhelmed by the smell and the unnerving silence, he pulled on a pair of jeans and dashed out of his room. He crashed down the stairs. The front door was only a few steps away leading to fresh air. A misplaced glance. A stealing sense of terror snapped down his spine. He froze in front of the hall’s full length mirror. What stared back at him was not the restless college sophomore that he had gone to sleep as.
What stood before him unnerved him. He retained the same facial features and his body was the same yet not quite. Something was off, but he couldn’t put his finger on the change. His eyes were starkly different though. Burnt glowing gold with deeply slitted pupils, watched him warily. He blinked, convinced it was the strangely diffused green light shining in through the windows.
Pressure in his skull was almost crippling as he hunched over, glancing into the mirror once more. Who are you? He thought. A rippling, like a million bees, in the back of his brain shifted the floor and his stomach out from under him. An unearthly chuckle echoed in his skull. He looked away, breathing heavily as he tried to regain his composure. He had not barfed since he was a sixth grader when Ms. Norwich had the class dissected a dogfish. He had cut into a putrid organ of some kind and it had squirted bile all over him. He sure as hell was not going to puke now. His stomach had other plans.
He turned from the hall mirror, ignoring the foreign eyes to find a massive bear of a dog blocking the doorway to the kitchen. It was grayed across the muzzle and eyes, and it’s hips were unsteady, leaving it sunken and shaking with age.
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