THE PARISH – CHAPTER FOUR

December 4, 1700

The Parish

Her veins turn black with ichor and infection. Her pupils bleed.
She is hopeless and I am helpless as I clutch her arms and scream “Mom!” as her chest hitches and she crumples.

Her red skirts drape around her, like a flower wilting into the winter,
Like blood staining the snow.
“Mom, Mom! Please.” I plead even though she is already dead.

She starts to thrash and roar. My nails puncture her skin as she writhes.
Grey-pink froth foams from her mouth, her jaw unhinges, and then it is over.

My bare knees, feet and palms are raw. My chest heaves. I am retching in repulsion and grief. My mother’s dead body lays beside me.

She shivers out of her humanity as she awakens.
Run! Run, stupid! But she’s Mom, she won’t, she can’t, hurt me.
She jerks to her knees, far more lithe and agile than in life.

“Hitha.” She hisses my name like a curse.
“Mother” I pant, my foggy breath dissolves into the air. She watches it happen. “Come here, my sweet-pea.” Her voice is thin, wispy, needy and returns me to a state of childlike dependence.

I crawl towards her, hypnotized by her voice. By her razor-sharp features. By her irrefutable hunger. She vibrates with an electric, terrifying energy.
“My sweet. My darling. My love.” She says, wrenching me into an embrace.

Her mouth shudders against my forehead but when her teeth scrape my skin I understand. She is of the dead, and I am of the living. She eats and I am eaten.
I lurch away, tumbling onto my back.

She launches after me, shooting forwards. Her lean muscles collide with my shaky ones. Her body sheathing mine. I lash out. I push my wounded hands against her face, her decaying flesh, pulpy beneath my fingers.

Disgust and bile stew in my stomach, tears and dread pool in my eyes as I hurt her. My thumb pushes into her eyeball.

Her elbows and knees stab into my body, I wheeze as her eye macerates beneath my thumb. I push forwards into her brain. She screams, thrashes and then is dead.

 EMMA IRVINE
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