by R.T. Allenson

He scratched the wound furiously until his skin bled, it pained him but he was adamant that something had entered his body that night. There were days wherein he could not go to school as he was too racked in self-inflicted pain; tired and without sleep, for even late in the night he scratched at the wound, which became many wounds in the span of a week, for fear of the thing that was inside him.

His family, fearing for his life finally handcuffed him one day, restraining him in his bed when he began tearing his flesh away. His furious screams disturbed them, for he was certain that the thing inside him was closer to being born to this world. It was around this time that they consulted a doctor who, upon visiting and inspected him, shrugged the condition as mere food allergy and that his behavior was simply due to insomnia. He prescribed him sleeping pills and a lotion, but he insisted that the thing inside him was the cause. That same day, his father forced him to drink the sleeping pills and instructed him to apply the lotion to his wounds. He went to bed that night defeated and resigned himself to his room. The following days were uneventful and his family, finally breathed a sigh of relief as everything it seemed had gone back to normal.

Seven years later, the world was in ruins with civilization nearly destroyed by self-mutilation. The few who had not succumbed fully to the disease spent their last agonizing days scratching themselves furiously, their skin mottled and with great wounds that festered and rotted.