I woke up and found myself surrounded by sand, and hot air. Every breath was like inhaling fire. I slowly circled, praying for something familiar. The mind-melting heat fizzled as my blood turned to icy sludge in my veins. There in the impossibly blue sky hung a blue and green orb – Earth. That familiar ball in the sky, as much as it should not have been there at all, was the only break in the landscape. There was no indication of safe refuge, no trail through the sand. Another rotation revealed a difference in the shades of sand. One place was darker than the rest. It might have been a trick of the light or a misfiring synapse in my brain borne of desperation, it didn’t matter. Anything was better than sitting in the endless sand waiting for death. I pulled the neck of my t-shirt over my mouth and walked toward it. I couldn’t tell how long the journey took, but the dark spot gradually drew closer, and in time, I could, at last, see it was upright and vaguely human-shaped. I’d like to say I walked faster but the truth was closer to a dehydrated shuffle.
Finally, I reached my goal. I thought it was someone standing in robes with their back to me so I reached out a hand, to grasp their shoulder.
“Help…” I could say no more.
My hoped-for rescuer turned and became my horror.
It looked like something that had once been human, only with all of its skin removed to showcase the muscles, bone and tendon.
So kind of you to save me the task of hunting you down I heard it rasp deep in my head.
It grasped my hair with a skinless hand, curled its fingers and peeled my scalp from my skull.
I screamed as my flesh was pulled from me as easily as you skin a banana, the pain beyond anything I can put into words. I dropped to the sand, every grain like daggers biting into my unprotected nerves.
When the blackness swallowed me, it was a relief.
I don’t know how I got here, in this too-white room. You’d like me to be lying, I know. You could drug me into compliance. But every word is true, and while I don’t know how, I know he’s coming for you next.