Non- BW related.
It started with an itch. That’s all it really was, and the first itch happened on my arm. I was in the middle of talking to my friends at school, just updating everyone on what I did over the weekend. My boyfriend had driven into town and he took me to dinner and a movie. We went to the new bar in town and partied until like 1AM.
It was when I was talking about how the bar tender was checking me out when my left arm got really itchy under my sweater. I didn’t think anything of it then, I just scratched it for a bit and moved on. I mean, what’s an itch really?
Soon, quarter after one came and we had to split for class. I was heading to Human Anatomy and Forensics One, my friend Becca was off to Grammar and my friend Lizzie was running towards the Mackenzie building for Nutrition. The campus was huge, so it was a mystery whether or not she would actually make it. And just to clarify, college campus, not high school. This isn’t some corny high school drama.
Anyway, I went to my class and sat down, waiting for the teacher with massive anticipation. I loved that class and still wish that itch hadn’t happened so I could still be in that class. That’s one of the things I really miss: learning. I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm but a lot of people tell me I don’t look the part: “You’re way to pretty to be that smart!” What does beauty have to do with anything?
Class started with a discussion about the skull. Professor Stevens was point out where the occipital bone was when the itch started again. It was the same place, on my left arm above my elbow. This time around, it had spread a bit and crawled down my arm about an inch and a half. I really didn’t think about it, my sweater was usually itchy every now and again.
The day went on as normal and I met up with Becca and Lizzie again around 6PM. We walked down to the school bar in a light snow and ordered some food. We were all sick of the instant noodles at our individual dorms but none of us could afford anything more until the end of the month. That’s when our parents would get worried and send money or care packs. We’d eat well for about two weeks, survive on instant ramen, Kraft Dinner and cheap vegetables when they went on sale for a third week then be reduced to ramen for the last week. College was not the time to eat well.
We stayed there for about two hours, updating each other on parents, little brothers, older sisters, boyfriends and pets. Finally around 8PM we all decided to split and go home. I had a bit of Anatomy stuff to do and some mock criminal profiling and Becca had an essay to write. Lizzie had to study for a test.
That night was freezing. The snow had started coming down in huge chunks while we were in the student bar. It was all ready up to my knees when I started walking back to my apartment, located only a 10 minute walk from the school. I made it out of the campus and felt that itch creep back along my arm under my heavy winter coat. This time it was radiating from the inside of my elbow all the way down to my wrist.
I had to ignore it then; it wasn’t like I was going to take off my winter coat outside just to scratch my arm. I ducked my head deeper into my collar and quickened my pace. The itch didn’t go away. If anything, it got a lot worse. I mean, I know itches get worse when you can’t scratch them but this one felt like there were fire ants under my sweater sleeve feasting on my flesh. It kept migrating too. Now it was my whole inner left arm from the armpit all the way down to my wrist.
I finally made it home in a half-jog, half penguin walk and basically flew up the three flights of stairs. I dropped my keys once and I think I actually growled in annoyance. Once I got inside, turned on my light and locked my door and just about tore off my winter coat and bag just to scratch at my arm.
It felt so good once I was finally able to get the bulk of it. What I didn’t noticed (at first, I sure as heck saw them later) were the white flakes coming from under my sweater sleeve as I scratched and scratched at my arm. I was in the main entrance with my boots soaking through the carpet for at least ten minutes, just clawing at my arm. Finally, the itch went away and I stripped out of my boots and put everything away.
I carted my bag to my room and in the span of those few minutes, that familiar itch started tingling at my elbow. That’s when I decided that the sweater had to go. Yes, it was an amazing shade of teal that highlighted my red hair and green eyes but it wasn’t worth this much trouble. High fashion was not worth discomfort, EVER.
I think I actually tore my sweater when I took it off. I can’t remember and I haven’t really looked at it since. But it did pile to the floor at my feet as I scratched my arm in the darkened room. Finally I flicked the light and caught my reflection in the full length free standing mirror across from my door.
I think I actually fainted when my eyes landed on my left arm. Actually, I KNOW I fainted because I had to get up off the floor to get closer to the mirror. That and my head was just throbbing where I had hit it on my downfall.
My left arm was a mass of red. I’m not talking mild irritation either, I’ve had that before. It was BEAT RED like a stop sign. As if that was bad enough, flakes of skin were literally just falling off my arm wherever I had scratched. I had never seen any rash on ANYONE look this bad. To make it worse, I was STILL scratching. Skin was just sloughing off my arm and sticking under my nails and I couldn’t STOP.
I was actually morbidly fascinated with it for a long while. Just watching the skin fall off and start piling on the floor was kind of intriguing. Then it hit me: this was MY ARM. This was MY SKIN. I stopped and grabbed the top of the mirror in my right hand, holding my left arm closer to the glass to study the damage.
In retrospect, I really shouldn’t have done that. There were black spots appearing where I had scratched the skin too much and they were oozing this clear fluid, kind of like pus. I felt bile rise up in my throat and barely made it to the toilet to relieve myself of the pizza sub and potato chips I had for dinner. It didn’t taste as good coming up as it did going down.
I think I was dry heaving for about 15 minutes before I noticed an entirely different stench coming from my immediate vicinity. At first I couldn’t make the link to what it was exactly. Then I sniffed around my left arm and just stared it shock. Rotten flesh was what I smelled; my arm was turning this sick gray color where it wasn’t red, flaky and pus-oozing.
That’s when I really started freaking out. When I showered this morning, my arm was perfectly fine. A bit stiff because I like sleeping on my left side, but besides that, it was normal. The weird thing was that I could still move it like normal and FEEL. I learned the feel part when I smacked it against the toilet by accident when I got up.
I started making my way back to my room when the lights went out. Total darkness took over the entire hall between my bathroom and my room and I leaned against the wall for support. I heard heavy breathing and thought someone had broken in for a second, until I realized it was just me panicking.
I managed to make my way back to my room when the familiar itch started on my shoulder. This high pitched keening sound started and I knew it was me this time. I think I grabbed the first thing my right hand landed on out of my closet and pulled it on with both arms perfectly functional, even though the left was literally rotting away.
The shirt was my sheer black one which I normally wore a tank top under. I didn’t care at the moment. I stumbled to my front door and pulled on my boots and coat again. I barely remembered to grab my keys and purse before stepping back out of my apartment and down the hall.
I made it to into the lobby, trying not to scratch at my shoulder when the landlord spotted me and called out. I didn’t hear him and he called out again. Actually, I heard him fine, I just didn’t register it was me he was calling.
Finally he grabbed me by the shoulder and I screamed; punching out with my right hand and hitting him square in the nose. He landed with a thud and blood streaming down his face. I didn’t even stop to see if he was okay, I just up and ran out the front door of the building and down the street.
The insane dash to the local hospital was a blur of snow. I fell at least six times and almost got hit by a few cars because I wasn’t paying attention to the traffic lights telling me when I was all right to cross. I think a few drivers screamed at me too, but I can’t remember what they said. All I knew was that the itch had spread into my back and it was getting worse.
I finally saw the hospital up ahead and hitched a sharp breath of relief; they HAD to be able to do something to stop this. I slammed through the doors and promptly slipped and fell hard on my butt because of my slippery boots. A nurse came running to me and helped me up and I remember nodding and starting to rip my coat off.
“What’s wrong hun?” She asked in a sugar-sweet voice.
I finally managed to tug my coat off and her face kind of shifted to one of mild disgust at my shirt. With the knee high boots and skinny jeans I probably looked like a hooker because of the sheer black shirt.
“My arm is rotting away!” I screamed and literally ripped the left sleeve off my shirt to show her.
I saw her eyes widen in shock and she bit back a scream. I looked at my own arm and went to my knees with a sob. My entire left arm was grey and black with pus oozing everywhere. The shirt sleeve in my hand was soaked with it and my coat was actually changing color from white to yellow because of the pus. I had lost all my fingernails on my left hand along the way and the tips were shrunken and black.
“Oh my GOD, come with me, I’ll get you to a doctor right now!” the nurse said and hoisted me to my feet.
I don’t remember much of what happened next. I know the nurse pulled me into this special area and a doctor had turned and literally stared at my arm for a full five minutes before muttering something about prepping me for surgery. The nurse took me through another series of halls and into a room where she handed me a hospital gown and told me to put it on. I think I nodded and turned my back to her.
I heard her gasp and knew the rot had spread down my back. I could feel the itch along my lower back and starting in my right shoulder now. It had also spread across my front, over my left breast and gathering around the valley between my breasts. My neck was mildly itchy and I had the sudden urge to scream. I was going to rot away in less than twenty-four hours and no amount of modern medicine could do anything to stop it.
I think the nurse realized that I was in a state of shock then and moved forward to help me get undressed. I remember turning and meeting her eyes. They were brown and almond shaped. Her face was slightly tanned, her hair pitch black. I saw her pulse throbbing against her neck and this sudden hunger came over me.
It wasn’t a normal hunger like you get from being a few minutes from a meal. I felt absolutely starved, as if I hadn’t eaten in a week. I realized what I was hungry for right away, I could almost taste it. I bit her in the neck hard and ripped back, pulling a good deal of flesh with it. She really started screaming then but I didn’t care.
I grabbed her around the throat with my rotting left arm and snapped her neck. The funny thing is that I had just learned in one of my courses that it’s actually impossible to do that. The way the spine is made and the way the human hands are made, one has to be exceptionally strong in order to actually walk up and snap someone’s neck cleanly and quickly like that.
I heard footsteps coming down the hall then but still couldn’t bring myself to worry. The nurse at my feet had started rotting away quickly, faster than what I was. Soon the footsteps stopped right outside the door and four other nurses stared at me in abject terror. The nurse on the floor moaned and sat up with a crack.
Her head was skewed but she still managed to pull herself to her feet and stare at the other nurses, blood still dripping weakly from her neck wound. I finally swallowed the bit of flesh I had stuck in my teeth and it satisfied that intense hunger like I knew nothing else would. The nurse attacked her colleagues, literally biting hunks from their flesh until they bled to death or she ripped them apart.
More people were coming then and I joined her in the bloodbath. Soon my boots were slipping in the gore. Twenty people lay dead around us apparently the hospital was on skeleton staff since not that many security personal came to stop us. After a brief moment, all twenty people starting moaning awake and getting back to their feet. Their flesh was gray and sloughing away and their eyes were dead. They looked at me and I nodded.
I watched them shuffle away down the hall, heading towards the smell of people. I could smell them too now. The itch had spread across my face, stomach and right arm by that time. The smell of sweat, strong and tasty came to my nose and I followed the little army of mine down the hall and into the main waiting room.
Five people looked up and started screaming. I can’t remember how long it took but soon there was not a single person left alive in the hospital. Not a one made it out either because I made sure my growing army covered all the exits. Once everyone was accounted for and gathered around me in droves, I smiled.
I left my coat where it lay and walked out the doors I had run in what seemed like a lifetime ago. I had come in afraid of dying but was walking out as something that could not die. I felt my heart hitch a beat and stop but I did not falter. I was actually relieved that it had stopped; it meant I wouldn’t lose blood if I got cut. The problem was that I was still itchy, all down my back and my right arm now. But I ignored it and kept going.
I walked with my army down the street and began pointing them towards all the homes in the area. They went without protest and I told 100 to go into the sports arena across the street. There was a hockey game going on tonight and there would be at least 2,000 people there. I watched as my army broke down doors and attacked whatever tried to stop them.
As the sun rose the next morning, I had 5,000 people following me as I walked down the middle of the street. I would command a few to charge into stores and houses as we walked and they would come back with more. No one questioned me though I don’t think they actually could question me. I was the only one among them that had not died to become what they were. I died after the rotting set in, I was superior. The only annoying thing is the itching didn’t stop. It traveled down my left leg now, slowly though.
The only regret I have is that Becca and Lizzie had to die. They were highly intelligent and were great for any type of conversation. But I couldn’t let them live, they wouldn’t accept the new breed of human. They did try to run though and they managed to run over a few of my army, crushing them but not killing them. We caught them quickly enough and they soon joined my ranks.
The ones that were crushed we put back together as well as we could and we continued on. We traveled through the entire city, turning everyone we came across. More than a few had caught on by then and with the technology as it is, it started spreading through the internet and people were warned before we got to them.
It didn’t matter though, not even a bullet to the frontal lobe could stop us. The only thing that stopped us was blowing off our heads and by that time, I had made my sure my army knew how to duck or made the mangled ones lead. Soon they just took to wearing riot helmets over their heads.
There were still some lost with every new city we went to, but we gained a lot more then we lost. It took three weeks to head across the frozen terrain to where my boyfriend lived and all three weeks I was still scratching. When I saw him, he was standing on his front porch, looking like he had been waiting a while. I sent my army off to gather more and stood there staring back at him.
Becca and Lizzie flanked me, plus fifty muddled around behind me. He didn’t say anything and he didn’t move from his lethargic position in the old rocking chair on his porch. I didn’t say anything to him and for a while, we just stared at each other. I think about an hour passed and in all that time, he shifted once. Wind played with his blond hair but he kept his puppy dog brown eyes focused on me. I didn’t move an inch. I didn’t have to: I was dead.
Finally, he stood up and walked towards me. I let him come and he raised his hands, showing that he had no weapon or means to kill me. He stopped a foot away and I could feel the others tense around me. They salivated at his meaty scent; I was the only one who could hold back.
“Amber,” He whispered my name with reverence.
“Yes?” I asked.
He smiled at me then and I smiled back. He lifted a hand to my gray cheek and stroked it. I let him as Becca and Lizzie started groaning in hunger beside me. Finally he leaned in and kissed me. I couldn’t help it then, I bit him. It wasn’t a hard bite, just a nip of my newly sharp teeth against his lower lip. He didn’t draw back and I didn’t bite him again. I did pull the tiniest bit of flesh away went I drew back though and the blood dribbled down his chin. He wiped it away without a care and I ignored the itch in my right leg.
In twenty-four hours, he had rotted like I did; it started at his face and he turned gray and dead just like me. The army only followed my lead though, I was their Queen. Now though, I could select people to keep around so we could talk with them. My boyfriend and I kept his older brother around, my sister and both our sets of parents. They weren’t disturbed by any of it after we bit them, but before they had tried to run. We were gentle with them. I regret not knowing that we didn’t have to kill everyone with Becca and Lizzie, but what is done, is done. At least they’re still at my side, even if I’m commanding them.
I’m not exactly sure how the itching started and I’m not certain why it caused me to just kill or command everyone to kill the living. I’m completely at peace with it though. I’m fine with knowing that I’m dead and that soon, everyone in the world would be under my command. I think the world is better off this way, you know? I mean once a new dead person eats enough, they don’t get hungry. I’ll have to work out logistics a bit more, but I’m sure I can make a better world like this. It’s kind of sad that everyone has to die, but whatever works. Do you want to know the best part? I’m not itchy anymore.
FIN (kind of, I'm still editing and adding stuff but I thought I'd share to see what people thought so far.)
I'll let you know if it actually gets into that short story collection in about May. If anyone else wants to check out the submission guidelines and such, PM in game or here and I'll send you the link. It's mainly zombie stuff and short stories. There's one or two with vampires, but again, short stories. Smile