I originally meant to finish this today before work, but I don’t think I’m going to quite get there in time, so I’ll cut it short for today. I hope for the conclusion to come tomorrow.
The light of consciousness came back to her, slowly, and with the realization that at least part of her was already awake. Her mouth worked through the motions of chewing on something springy and oddly flavorless. Feeling as though she’d just awoken from a long and disorienting dream, Camille turned her head.
She blinked. All around her were tall spears of a dull blue-grey, and in front of her… In front of her, a pile of slimy, fleshy tubes that took her several horrifying moments to identify. It was from that pile she had been eating. She could see the tooth marks. She worked her tongue, trying to spit out the chewed bits in her mouth.
Camille pulled back away from the bloody mess on the ground. She could smell the blood now, an acrid metallic odor. She wanted to vomit. She recognized what she saw, now, though the colors seemed muted and wrong. She’d see pictures and videos in biology class. Organs. Intestines, she though, or something just as gross. She’d been eating from a bloody pile of intestines.
She tried to back away in horror, but her body felt wrong. It bent and flexed in the wrong places. She tried to look down, but her nose hit the dirt. She shivered in confusion and terror, her entire body trembling. She twisted her head hard to one side, and through one eye, she could see part of herself: a grey-brown flank of fur, the curve of a rounded thigh, and a clawed, furred foot with delicate toes.
The world shook as something huge landed next to her, pushing down the tall spears that she now recognized as grass. It was a bare, dirty human foot, with long, yellowed toenails that curled out like talons. She tried to run, but on four feet, she was uncoordinated, and she managed only to writhe ineffectually upon the dirt.
He knelt down over her. She blinked, but with her new eyes, he remained blurry. Still, she recognized him: the man who had stabbed her in the stomach. “How do you like your new body?” he asked.
She tried to respond, but her tongue and her through wouldn’t work right. She couldn’t make the words. Only an odd, strangled squeaking emerged in place of words.
“Ah, yes,” he said. “No words. I almost forgot.” He smiled, revealing twisting, rotted teeth. “That’s alright. I know you’ll enjoy it. Nature is peaceful, after all. And safe. And easy. You’ll get along just fine.”
He left. With a faint laugh, he stood and, just as unceremoniously as he had come into her life, he departed. Who was he? Why did he attack her? What was she to him, that he would do this to her? She would never know, because she would never see him again.
It took her time to figure out how to move. She still had something like her own brain, though her thoughts felt slow and foggy, like a computer running on less power than it used to. With some experimentation, she figured out how to walk. She didn’t know if she was walking like she should, like a real mouse or whatever she was, but as a child she’d walked on all fours for fun. This was something like that, though without the fun.
She wanted to be home. She pushed her way through the grass with that goal in mind, though she had no idea what direction home might be. She grew quickly disoriented among the stalks and, somehow, looped back around. She came to a place where the grass had all been smashed down as something fell upon it.
Looming there in the shade of the grass stalks was her own face, eyes and mouth hanging open, staring out at the world. There was an ant crawling upon her eye. Camille wanted to scream. She wanted to shriek and pulled at her hair and curl up in her bed with the covers over her head as she hid from the world.
Camille ran. What else was she to do, when she had no idea where to go except away from the horrifying vision of her own dead body? The thought that the intestines upon which she’d been chewing entered her head. She tried to push it away but, as such thoughts do, it only became stronger the more she tried to resist thinking about it.
She reached the edge of the clearing. She knew because she found the gnarled root of a tree, curling up out of the earth and displacing the previously ever-present grass. There, she vomited, purging her own intestines from her stomach, though not from her mind. She hadn’t known whether she could vomit or not, in this body. Well, she could, and it was every bit as unpleasant as it had been her whole life.
Was that even her life anymore? She had seen her own dead body. Was this some sort of cruel afterlife? Was the man who had killed her some sort of demon, who had sentenced her to… hell? In another body? He had seemed so bitter toward her, for someone she didn’t know. More importantly, he had seemed to know her thoughts. How?
None of that mattered. She just wanted to be home, in her bed, in her body. In her mind, a small flame of hope came to light that, if she could just return to her own bed and somehow fall asleep, she would awaken again in her body to find this had all been a horrible nightmare. She had no basis for that hope, yet still, it was something to grasp onto. It was all that she had.