It was coming. I could neither see nor hear it, but I knew it was approaching. Slowly, deliberately, it was coming for me.

I waited, suspended and bound, in a prison of my own making. The wind brushed past me, whispering a warning.

I shivered.

chrysalisWhen I had first arrived, I thought I was being conscientious and careful. I had put a lot of thought into creating armor that would be both strong and fearsome to my enemies. When it was finally finished, I climbed inside and was immediately encompassed with a deep sense of peace. I felt neither hunger nor thirst. I thought I was safe.

But then…

I could feel something happening to me, even by the end of that first day, and I struggled against my golden bonds. No use: I had constructed the walls to be foolproof, even against a fool like me.

It was coming. Exactly what, I did not know, but something terrible and awesome and powerful.

I heard the birds chattering above me. “Freak!” they cawed. “Monster!” The tree branch shook as they flew away in unison, wings beating a frantic tattoo against the air.

Monster? What kind of monster? My heart beat a little more quickly, imagining the horrors outside. I shifted my body a bit and made a rude noise to frighten off any possible enemies in the vicinity. If there was a monster around here, I would do my damnedest not to allow it into this sanctum.

As I moved about, though, I got a brief glimpse of my body. My legs were no longer smooth, but hairy…and there were fewer of them! I was colored differently, too: what once was white had turned into a deep black. I jerked my head back in surprise and disgust and saw that even my mouth, my beautiful mouth with all its lovely teeth, had morphed into a long, thin tube with an equally long tongue.

I vomited.

This must have been the trap all along: it had already come for me, while I had slumbered peacefully. It had insidiously entered my body to create something new.

A frog below croaked out one syllable, long and loud: “Chaaaaaaange.”

I gasped, recognizing the name of the thing I feared most. I knew in my heart of hearts that I could not escape it, and yet I fought it with every fiber of my being. Who — or what — was I now? I screamed and kicked in terror. Vomit and spittle coated the inner edge of the walls surrounding me, burning a hole in my strong, shiny armor. My new, long legs broke through and finally found purchase on the outside of the shell. Change might have found me, but I was not going to let it kill me.

I grunted and pushed and pulled with all my might until my head emerged from my prison. I took a deep breath and flexed my back muscles, breaking the already weakened armor in half.

There was something on my back. Something heavy and wet and moving.

My heart skipped a beat. Oh God, what was it? Had change taken corporeal form and become the monster of my nightmares? I turned my head slowly, fearful but also with a twisted curiosity.

What I found was not some demon or ghost come to take my soul, but the newest part of my anatomy: brightly-colored wings, still wet from my own spittle.

The monster had arrived, and it was me.

I clung to the outer edge of my former prison and nearly wept in relief. The sun shone brightly, filling me with an energy that I had never felt before. I flapped my wings experimentally. They worked! I might be a monster or a freak, but now I had extraordinary powers of flight.

The wind blew past me again, softly but insistently. I could smell new things now: the sweet aroma of flowers floated on the breeze, and suddenly my grotesquely long mouth and tongue were aching for a taste.

I didn’t know how or why, but I knew exactly what needed to be done.

I took a deep breath, flapped my wings a few more times…

And let go.

Polymnia Tigerwing (Mechanitis polymnia isthmia)

For the prompt exchange this week, lisa gave me this prompt: Write a story about the scariest thing you can imagine. Be as descriptive as possible; see if you can scare us too. and I gave kgwaite this prompt: standing on the crossroads at midnight, waiting for the devil to appear.

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