03 Feb The Failed Study of Nature’s Mother
“The Failed Study of Nature's Mother”Written by Kitty “The Odd Cat Lady” Olsen Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 21 minutes
To encourage the patients to keep up on their journals, Dr. Bryant has encouraged the rest of the staff assigned to this ward to keep a journal as well openly. It’s not too much of a trial, and if it’ll encourage these patients to monitor their mental states and open up about the shared trauma they experienced, I suppose taking a few minutes out of my day to write is worth it.
I am one of the nurses assigned to what we’re calling the Enigmatic Hall. Enigmatic, of course, is the company responsible for the chemical spill at the campground that poisoned all these people out enjoying summer vacation. At least it wasn’t on a bumper weekend like Fourth of July or Memorial Day, but everyone in the area had to be taken here. Whatever was in that truck was potent, so even if they feel fine, they’ll have to be monitored for weeks, if not months. Luckily for them, Enigmatic is footing the bill for all the care costs. I imagine they’d get sued to high heaven if they didn’t, though.
Around twenty patients require minimal care, showing no symptoms or signs that anything is the problem. They’re not going to be typically under my supervision- those poor souls need intense care to help them recover. Or potentially just to provide care measures so they’re not in agony during their final days. Unfortunately, a few were right at site zero where it happened. They’re all in clean rooms.
I hope that they’ll all get to go home soon. For their sake, of course. How can I complain about my own life when it could be so much worse?
I’ve started to get to know everyone. The troublemakers, of course, stick out the most.
Yup. I feel awful for laughing. But one of the worst patients is named Karen. And she acts exactly how you’d expect. She was on vacation with her husband Barry and two sons, one of which is a college student and the other still in high school, and the way she’s acting, she wants to be treated like she’s at some high-class resort. I am just waiting for her to ask to speak to a manager. Still, I’m not overly affected by it as much as she complains. I used to work retail. I’m used to her type. And if there was a time to be a Karen, this might be it.
I hate to admit being scared of a few of them, but one of the men frightens me- Elijah. I might be a bit naive, but I know what prison tattoos look like, and he has several on his arms and one on his neck. The one on his neck looks like a snake. He’s loud, and he hasn’t tried anything yet, but I still find myself shaking a little when I hand him his daily antibiotics and medication. At least he doesn’t have any swastikas or other racist symbolism on him… at least, not as far as I can tell. There might be some other tattoos hidden under his shirt.
There’s one patient I am getting along with, though. Kyra. We have a lot in common- it turns out we attended the same college simultaneously. Although we never shared classes, we probably bumped into each other in the past. She’s so sweet, and she’s doing her best to stay strong. Sadly, this trip was put on by her friends and twin sister. It was to cheer her up after her fiance just dumped her out of nowhere. She asked me to check in on her sister Myra if I ever got put on shift there. I promised I would, although I don’t think I’ll be working there anytime soon. Enigmatic has hired many specialists to help care for the ones most affected by the chemical spill. She’s the only one of them not in intensive care after the incident. Probably for the best, they know what they were carrying after all, and that means they probably know the best ways to counteract the effects.
I still might try and slip in there, though, just to check on Kyra’s friends so I can soothe her worries. The worst part is always not knowing.
I feel bad for judging Elijah off the bat. He’s hilarious.
It started with Karen loudly accusing Elijah of looking at her… ahem, her ‘behind.’ Not the word she used, but you can guess what word she used. Elijah was hardly bothered and told her she was not his type, quite frankly. He proceeded to flip his hand downward and wink at her husband, who laughed so hard I thought he was going to choke.
Karen sputtered, turned a shade of red I didn’t think was humanly possible, and then proceeded to throw her cup of peaches at him. Elijah was fine, but Karen is restricted to her room for the day and apologizes to Elijah once she cools off. I got him a new shirt and confirmed that none of his tattoos were race-coded, at least as far as I know.
I had a good time talking with him. He said he was bi, but ‘the bitch wouldn’t know the difference anyway,’ so he decided to mess with her for a bit of fun. He apologized to me for causing a fuss, even though she was the one starting things. Not a bad guy, Elijah.
I’ve tried getting into intensive care, but I’ve not had the time. Not to mention the one time I did try entering, I was practically shooed away from the door. I WAS told I’d need ‘approval’ from Dr. Bryant if I wanted to see any of the patients. Well. I doubt I’d be able to get that.
I’ll just have to be a little quicker next time.
God. I don’t know what to tell Kyra.
I got into intensive care last night when there wasn’t anyone watching the door. Each patient was kept in a separate glass room… and God. One of the men’s legs looks charred down to the bone. Fourth-degree burn barely cuts it.
But they’re not on bed rest. With how severe their injuries are, they shouldn’t walk around. Maybe some shouldn’t even be alive. I don’t understand that.
The man I mentioned was charred down to the bone? He was frantically pacing across the room, gnashing his teeth and dragging his fingers across his scalp. I could make out more prison-style tattoos on the skin of his biceps that weren’t burnt. He didn’t seem even to notice me pausing to stare, even when he looked directly at me with eyeballs that were bleached white. I believe he was blind. It was the only reason I could think of why he didn’t react.
None of the other patients looked better or were being treated as I think they should’ve been. Some of the burns weren’t as bad, but their skin was bubbling and cracking in ways that should have been agonizing. But instead of being kept on an IV, they were walking around their glass cells, their blank white eyes looking right past me. It was haunting.
I was almost thankful I got caught. Dr. Bryant bumped into me while I was staring in the glass room containing a woman that was absentmindedly pulling at her fingernails while staring at the ceiling. He only gave me a brief scolding, understanding my curiosity but explaining that the other patients could not know about the condition of the ones at Site Zero. Mostly because… well. Some of them don’t have identities yet. And with the accounts they were told, there’s one or two we simply don’t have in either ward. Either they weren’t at the campground when the incident happened, or worse- the catastrophic fallout destroyed their bodies. They were still exploring that site, and bone shards were found.
He couldn’t explain to me why they weren’t acting like your average burn victims. The only hypothesis was the seriousness of the burns, along with the chemicals, destroyed their ability to feel pain. Their vitals were stable, each person was at almost no risk, but they didn’t seem to respond to outside stimulus. It’s like watching crispy zombies, still ‘alive,’ but everything that made them a person is gone.
I suppose the only thing I can do is lie. I hate the idea, but Kyra doesn’t need to know that all that might be left of her twin sister is pieces and parts scattered across the campground. No reason to confirm anything.
A half-lie is still a lie, but it’s not as bad as a full lie. When Kyra caught up with me today, I told her that the patients were all stable, but there was a long road to any sort of recovery. I didn’t specifically mention her sister, and thankfully she dropped the subject. We ended up putting a puzzle together with Elijah. A few pieces were missing, but that’s how it goes with a puzzle anyone can use.
I’m already starting to wear out if I’m honest. Every day Dr. Bryant has us give the patients a new battery of medications to prevent any side effects from the potential chemical exposure. I’m starting to wonder if they’re worse off than they know. As a kid, I remember reading a book where a character drank a bottle of poison, and the only symptom was that they dropped dead after a few hours. Are my patients the walking dead?
I got sick in the chapel today. I’m so, so embarrassed.
So our hospital has a small, nonspecific religious chapel that patients and family members are allowed to slip into so they can pray. I had a long day doing physicals for the patients, and although I’m not nearly the devout Catholic my mother thinks I am, I decided to take my break in the chapel.
The moment I walked in there, I started to feel sick. I put it off to not having lunch and sat in the pew. I did notice the chapel was empty, which was bizarre- there’s usually one or two other people in there, quietly reading their religious books or having their heads bowed in prayer. But today, it was empty.
I supposed it had to be empty sometimes as I took my seat. But the moment I bowed my head, my vision swam, and bile rose up in my throat. I swayed. I had to grab the pew in front of me to stop from sliding off. I closed my eyes to try to get a hold of myself, and images flashed behind my shut eyelids. I saw eyes. Lots of eyes. Hundreds, maybe even a thousand different eyes, all blinking at different times and all of them staring right at me. Right into me, even.
My own eyes popped back open as my stomach groaned, and I knew I was going to be sick. I tried to get out, I didn’t want to barf in the chapel, but I only got as far as the nearest trash can before bending over and heaving into it. Tasting my packed lunch again was as pleasant an experience as you’d guess.
According to the nurse that saw me exit the chapel, I was white as a sheet and looked ready to pass out. He thankfully had the time to help me, assisting me to the nearest bathroom to gargle some water and see if anything was wrong.
Honestly, I was fine after a few minutes. A bit shaky, but okay. I didn’t have a fever, and although my stomach still pitched and groaned, it settled down after I popped some tums. I wasn’t sick. I probably just need to throw out the deli turkey in my fridge, it’s probably gone off, and that’s why I threw up. It’s a bit old anyway.
As for the eyes… Well, you always see strange things when you close your eyes too tightly. The Enigmatic ward can’t afford to lose a nurse. At least I could finish the workday.
Something’s wrong here.
It was a typical breakfast. Elijah wished me good morning, Kyra asked for an update on her sister, and Karen was kicking up a fuss again. One of my fellow nurses, Marilyn, tried to calm her down. Something about not having a gluten-free option for pancakes, even though she’d never asked for anything gluten-free up until then.
Really, just a regular morning. Then I turned my back for one second, and all hell broke loose.
I heard a crash and heard a body hit the floor. I spun around to see Marilyn on the ground, everything from her head to her shoulders covered in food. Karen wielded her tray like a weapon, shrieking in rage about how Marilyn called her a bitch for ‘the last time.
Karen brought her tray down on Marilyn’s back, hitting her so hard the plastic tray cracked right down the middle. Karen just threw the shards away and started kicking Marilyn, screeching like a wild animal as Marilyn curled up in a ball to protect herself from the insane onslaught.
Elijah reacted first, jumping out of his seat and grabbing Karen from behind. He dragged Karen away as she kicked and screamed. Barry reacted next, jumping in front of his wife as he tried to calm her down. I ran to Marilyn’s side and helped her up. I yelled a Code Violet, and in seconds we had more than enough male nurses to handle Karen, or so I thought.
She had completely lost her mind. She screamed how we all kept calling her a bitch, that she just couldn’t take it anymore, and she fought like a devil. She ended up throwing Elijah over a table. How I don’t know- Elijah was over a foot taller than her and in a lot better shape. It took three nurses to hold her down, and it didn’t matter they were shooting her with enough sedatives to put out a horse- she kept fighting. Somehow, this 5’2’’, 120-pound woman had found the unnatural strength to fight like that.
After a hell of a fight, we got Karen strapped down to a gurney as she squalled and snapped her teeth at anyone who got too close. The blood vessels in her eyes had popped sometime during the fight, turning the whites almost crimson. She looked like a demon.
No one has serious injuries, at least. Marilyn had a cut on her forehead. Her back was bruised from where Karen had broken a tray over it. Elijah was banged up. Karen had bitten his arm while they were struggling, and one of the male nurses had a dislocated shoulder.
I don’t understand why Dr. Bryant insisted Karen be taken to the intensive care unit. She needed psychiatric help, but he was adamant. It’s not the right call in this situation.
I talked with Marilyn after she got patched up, and the strangest thing was that Marilyn admitted she was thinking about how much of a bitch Karen was being- but she’d never said it aloud. She knew she didn’t say it aloud. All nurses have had negative thoughts about a difficult patient. That’s just human. She was better than that. We all are.
It’s just a strange day. Maybe Karen just snapped, and Marilyn just happened to be thinking that.
My head hurts. I blame all of Karen’s screaming.
Things are getting stranger.
I treated Elijah’s bite wound right after Karen was taken away. It was pretty bad. Karen hadn’t held back as she sunk her teeth into his skin. This morning I came back in to clean the wound and change the bandages… and the bite’s gone.
I thought I had lost my mind, but Elijah was just as confused as I was. The bandage covering a nasty injury is perfectly healed, as if it had never happened. There’s no sign of scabbing, there’s a little dried blood and some strange green ooze that may be pus on the bandage itself, but the skin is perfectly healed. Even the hair’s grown back.
Enigmatic immediately had every sort of test run on Elijah. We took blood, saliva, and urine samples before running him through the MRI machine and taking x-rays. We haven’t gotten back all of the tests yet, but he’s as healthy as a horse. He even admits that he feels perfectly fine, other than the confusion of how the hell he healed overnight. I have no answers for him. I wonder if Enigmatic has any.
Kyra tried to get into intensive care. I managed to head her off and insist that she didn’t want to see anything there, but she was pretty upset with me. I don’t blame her. But as far as I’ve been aware, they still aren’t sure if her sister is even in there. Not to mention I don’t want her seeing Karen- God knows what’s up with her.
Barry is dead. Karen killed him.
I don’t know how the hell he got past security, much less how he got into her sealed glass room. But within the ten minutes the nurses left Karen alone, Barry got to her, and in return, Karen ripped out Barry’s throat with her teeth. She took a few more chunks out of him too.
She’s not mentally well. She might have been a handful, but she cared for her husband. Half of the fuss she kicked up, she did for Barry’s sake. She loved him.
Claims that this may be a side effect of the chemical exposure, so she has to stay in isolation aren’t doing anything for me. They’re still keeping her in that damn intensive care. She needs help, psychiatric help. Dr. Bryant assures me that they will have mental health professionals added to the roster, but I’m not sure if I believe him. I’ve never doubted him before, he’s a successful doctor for a reason, but nothing about this seems right.
I don’t envy the person who had to tell Karen’s and Barry’s kids that their father is dead. And it’s because he broke protocol to visit her.
I saw my mom die of cancer when I was thirteen.
She’d already come back from it once, so we thought she’d just do it again. But the relapse was far more aggressive than her initial bout with it. She faded away in months. My father was the one who insisted on a closed casket- even though she was technically still whole, she barely resembled the person she was before the disease ravaged her body.
It was like a punch to the gut when I gave one of the patients a physical and found a lump.
Sky Monroe is a teacher. She’s upbeat, a real go-getter. The worst part about being in isolation for her is that she can’t go for her daily runs to burn off all this excess energy. But she didn’t let it break her. She instead came up with fun games to play with the younger crowd, and would push all the tables in the meal room to the side so the kids could play tag or play relay games with empty pill bottles. She’d make it to a hundred. She’s a real trooper—the picture of perfect health.
But this morning, during the physical, she mentioned that she felt something on her lower back while showering. Possibly a pimple, but she asked me to check. I did.
It wasn’t a pimple. It’s a growth at the base of her spine, about the size of my thumb. I don’t know how it grew so quickly, but it’s there. We’re performing a biopsy, and I’ve assured her that it’s likely benign, but that’s a lie. This is likely the first we’ll see of cancers resulting from accidental chemical exposure.
There are not that many people here, not in the grand scheme of things. But they’re still people. They had plans. Life goals. Things that they told themselves they’d ‘do later,’ things they never got to do because they never had the courage.
Now, whatever future they had planned… it’s been ripped away from them. I look into the lounge room, where someone put Bambi on the TV. Elijah and Kyra are playing checkers. They’re laughing. Perhaps if they’d met anywhere else, they’d end up falling in love, getting married, and living long, happy lives together. The kids… the youngest one, is barely nine. She wants to become president someday. She told me while I was taking her blood pressure a few days ago. The elderly couple, Robert and Agnes, should be celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary this year.
I want to pray that they all get to have their dreams, that since we caught it early enough, we’ll be able to head off any cancer or sickness… but every time I bow my head, I feel sick. The words catch in my throat like there’s a hand around my neck strangling me to silence. I can’t get anything to come out. So I just sit back up straight and try to tend to the patients the best I can.
I don’t want any of them to die. Please, if anything is listening, don’t let them die.
I’m going to lose my goddamn mind. Enigmatic is the one running the tests on the biopsied lump. And they aren’t telling. Us. ANYTHING.
I want to scream. Sky is being patient, but I’m fucking not. This is insane. We should have the results by now, at least a yes or no on cancerous cells present. But nothing! No good news, no bad news! A woman is waiting to hear if her life is over, and they’re just jerking us around like it means nothing!
I’m this close to talking to someone above Dr. Bryant’s head about this. This whole setup is starting to feel like bullshit. Patients having psychotic breaks, or not knowing their sister is possibly dead, or being forced to wait, and wait, and wait to hear whether or not they have CANCER. This is a mess. Maybe to them, it does mean nothing.
I’ve copied all my previous entries to this new notebook. The journal-keeping my thoughts will now only be telling the people above me what they want to hear. But just in case something happens, I need some sort of evidence. I believe the Enigmatic personnel and Dr. Bryant have been reading my journal without my consent. I left it at my workstation. I didn’t think that anyone would care.
This morning Dr. Bryant took me aside. Nothing he said I could take him to court over, but I don’t take kindly to veiled threats about my future as a nurse if I don’t just suck it up and pretend everything happening in the Enigmatic ward is par for the course. Nothing here is right. Right now, I’m a fly on the web, they’re keeping an eye on me now, but I won’t back down so easily.
I’m trying to get a hold of Sky’s results, at least to give her an answer about the lump in her back. It’s expanding and has a hard, grayish shell-forming over the top of the skin. Maybe it is cancer, but maybe it’s something worse. I’m not going to rest until I have answers.
I finished my rounds when I was grabbed from behind and dragged into a broom closet. The door was slammed after me, and I was cornered by both her and Elijah. I thought for a second she might tear my heart out with how angry she was. But how can I blame her? I lied to her. I didn’t mention that her sister was potentially MIA, which she is now, officially. All the patients have been identified now, and none of them are Myra.
I couldn’t apologize enough. I felt horrible. But thankfully, I was forgiven only because they needed my help though.
Kyra managed to get into intensive care. She saw the patients, all burnt. Only now, their flesh, their skin, it’s growing back. Their skin is still black, with a thick gray ooze dripping out of the worst injuries, but it’s no longer the texture of charcoal. They’re healing, somehow they’re healing, and I don’t know what to say to that. They’re still acting like there’s nothing wrong with them, and Kyra even talked with one of the patients- a close friend of hers named Zoe. Zoe wasn’t acting like herself. She claimed that Myra was safe because she was with Kyra, and she spoke of the one in the basement level. Zoe called her Mother. Said she was all of our mothers now and that she was trapped.
When Kyra told me about ‘Mother,’ I swear the room tilted. I felt faint, dizzy. For a moment between blinks, I thought there were eyes. Eyes. Everywhere. On the walls, Kyra and Elijah, even sprouting from me, blinking, staring, all-black eyes. Elijah caught me before I fell and asked me if I saw them too.
The eyes. I’m not the only one seeing them. The patients have been seeing them for a long time now. Only some don’t go away when they manage to blink their vision clear. The eyes are on everyone, even people just working in this wing. For me, it’s on the tips of my fingers, the palms of my hands.
I’m trying to do everything I can to trigger my vision of the eyes again, but it’s not happening. My hands look normal. They feel normal. But I know they’re there.
I need to find out more about Mother. It’s up to me to find out.
There’s something in the basement. Elijah and Kyra were right.
I didn’t manage to get in. I was already too close to getting caught. But there is a door leading down to the basement. Until now, that was the way into the morgue, where bodies stayed before their families came and got them. But I checked the paperwork- we shipped all our bodies out to other hospitals. We haven’t taken any other bodies in. Officially, it’s been closed for cleaning.
It’s been that way since the ‘chemical spill’ happened. Which I don’t know was a spill anymore. Elijah told me about what he saw- a team of heavily armed men walking into the woods the evening of the incident. They were going after something… or perhaps someone.
If I squint enough, I can see the eyes. Dr. Bryant is concerned I’m having migraines, but I brush him off by pretending to swallow some pain meds. Thankfully he seems to buy that my other journal is legit, that I’ve accepted that I’m just ‘stressed’ and that I just need to care for my patients.
More symptoms are showing up. Thank God, not for Elijah or Kyra, but other patients are changing. Robert and Agnes are both yellow, despite their liver function seeming normal. I did hear a strange story about several pounds of carrots vanishing from the kitchen, but I always thought that was an urban legend. A rascally scamp named Greyson, one of the kids, has a dozen lumps on his body. These seem more like… I guess bone spurs is the best term for it? They’re sprouting from his joints, and they’re not flesh. We tried biopsying them. The needle fucking broke. The little girl I said wanted to be president. Her name is Jennifer. She keeps losing teeth. Like. Not the way little kids do. I mean, she spits out teeth, and there are no gaps in her gums. She has too many teeth. And they’re getting sharper with each shedding.
I don’t notice anything wrong with me, but there are whispers about some of the other staff showing strange symptoms. Cravings, insomnia, mood swings, all of which are being brushed off as ‘stress’ from the long hours. There’s also the whole ‘aversion to the sacred’ thing, which I think is why I haven’t been able to pray. Again, ignored.
We’re a part of the experiment now. Because this is what it is—an experiment.
Karen got out. Holy. Fuck.
She’s not human. I didn’t even realize it was her at first. I looked down to hand Kyra the right pills, I heard a scream, and when I looked up, I saw this creature. Eight feet tall, skin stretched so tightly over its body it cracked and tore in several places, but instead of blood, it oozed black. Its eyes were so wide it looked scared, and it was crouched as it watched the room without blinking.
Its jaws stretched open, unfolded and peeled back until it covered its face, the flesh unfolding like flower petals and revealing rows of spines and teeth. Then it roared and charged.
I nearly wet myself. I couldn’t even shout for help. It charged through tables, throwing them out of its way like they were nothing. A nurse that got in its way was given the same treatment, and he hit the wall with a crack as loud as a gunshot.
It skidded to a stop just a few feet in front of me. Its mouth folded back closed, and I finally recognized those stretched eyes.
And I recognized the face protruding from its chest, even if its expression was one of terror.
Karen’s clawed hand raised in the air. Barry’s smaller hands reached up to hide his eyes.
Elijah tackled the disturbing chimera before it could kill me. He slammed it into the ground, holding it down until one of its claws shot up and sliced open his throat.
I only unfroze when I saw Elijah’s face go chalk-white as blood poured from his neck. My whole vision went red, and I attacked Karen with my bare hands. I don’t know how I did it. I’m not even a fighter or that strong. But when the fog of war cleared, the monstrous Karen was curled up on the ground, groaning, a bloodied mess. I was soaked in gore. Barry’s head lay on my lap. His eyes flicked around as he seemed to struggle with what was going on.
Kyra took Barry’s head and hid it under a table before security arrived. Elijah claimed he was the one who beat Karen to a pulp to save me. His throat was fine, but he was still drenched in blood. Blood they assumed was Karen’s, not his.
I still don’t remember. But they’ll check the cameras soon. They’ll see that I somehow took down Karen. If they do, I hope they tell me.
The eyes are everywhere. I see them on the ceiling, and when I close my eyes, I see them staring back at me.
I hear Mother’s voice. I think we all do. Karen was trying to go to her, but she was confused. Barry is being hidden and taken care of by Kyra. We all know now that this isn’t a chemical spill, that this is anything remotely made by man. Her children are perverting, mutating in ways she did not guide by keeping Mother here. We’re not right. We won’t be right until her chains are taken off.
We’ll go to Mother tonight. We’ll set her free.
Elijah started the riot just on time. He made a joke about doing this all the time while he was behind bars, but I think he was lying. The other patients joined in. Some of the nurses did, too, the ones who are hiding their extra eyes. In the pandemonium, I headed for the morgue with Kyra.
Thankfully all the Enigmatic security was upstairs handling the riot. We got in easily.
Mother was chained to the wall, and she didn’t look so good. To be fair, I don’t know how she looks when she’s not under heavy drug protocols, but she is not someone who wants to be on her knees. Her black form oozed, and that is not right. She is meant to stay whole.
Kyra and Myra are her favorite children. It turns out when Mother was attacked, she lashed out, exposing us all to her gifts and power. Myra would have been turned into nothing, but instead, she joined Kyra. Like how Barry joined Karen, except… well, less cannibalism and a much neater meld. If I squint, I can see them overlapping each other. They’re very similar, but Myra is taller, her hair is in twists, whereas Kyra’s is cropped short.
Mother can’t get out on her own. But if Kyra takes her in like she did Myra, we can all get out of here alive. Enigmatic doesn’t like letting go of its guinea pigs, but they won’t have a choice if we are all one.
I am writing this to say goodbye. Just in case I can’t be free after this, I’ll forever be bonded to Kyra like Myra is. There’s always a chance it’ll go wrong.
I love you, dad. Take care of my siblings.
But we need to leave now. We’re not one of you anymore.
We’re something Unknown, something More. We are the children of the Wild’s Mother.
It’s been a few months, and I’m… mostly leveled out. I feel mostly like myself. Not drunk on Mother’s kool-aid, so to speak.
I can barely grasp what she’s meant to be. It’s beyond human understanding, and I’m still mostly human. Physically speaking, just my hands are different. After Kyra spat us all out back at the campground where all this happened, the transformation had officially taken hold, and it only took a few days to finish. The flesh on my hands has peeled back, braiding around my wrists like macabre bracelets. To a casual observer, it looks like my hands are just bones. There’s still something tying them together, I can move them as quickly as before, and the sensation is mostly normal. I still sometimes jump when I look down.
Other than Elijah, I’m the most normal out of escapees from the Enigmatic Ward. He still looks human, except his eyes being slightly too bright, his teeth being just a touch too sharp. And well, the fact he can quite literally take anything thrown at him and walk away with nothing. We run errands into town at times. Drop off letters to family members. Pick up some snacks that campers don’t bring often enough. Get new clothes for the ones we grow out of. Barry’s the one who’s grown the most. He’s practically a human again, even if he’s much shrimpier than he used to be. He and Karen renewed their vows before the cavern Mother hid in. She’s recovered well. But she’s still seething with rage about what Enigmatic did to her, and I think she’s not quite done unleashing her revenge on them.
We’re not either. We’re laying low and might do it for years. They’ve come looking for us, but they’ve never found us. And if they get too close, well, Karen handles it. And if Karen doesn’t handle it, Kyra and Myra do.
They’ve never been able to separate. Myra was quite literally disintegrated when Mother lashed out. But they’ve worked something out. Every other day, they switch who’s in control, and their body changes to reflect which sister is at the front that day. I do still prefer Kyra, she’s more easygoing, but Myra’s a lot of fun to hang out with. She’s just a touch more morbid with the Enigmatic goons she catches. Good lord, I’d much prefer being ripped limb from limb by Karen.
We didn’t intend on becoming a family. Our plans in life didn’t include being mutated and changed from humans to whatever we are now. But it’s okay. We’ll survive, live, and be happy.
Then when Enigmatic least expects it, we’ll be back. And this time, it won’t just be a few dead security guards that they’ll be covering up.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableKitty “The Odd Cat Lady” Olsen Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A