Born Again - Prologue: Bitten

December 31, 2008
By Kristina Casteel, Harrisburg, IL

Encrusted in a nauseating green gunk and smelling much like a rotting corpse of some sort, I was almost certain the mere sight of my oozing appendage alone was going to make me sick, and that was without even stopping to consider the awful stench, which had me now covering my mouth with both hands -- as if that really made much of a difference as to whether or not I was going to spew regurgitated hospital food all over myself. And then even that couldn’t really make things that much worse. Could it?

The doctor seemed to entirely ignore the fact that I was ready to hurl all over the sheets of my bed, and instead began cleaning the wound with something that burned like wildfire. But it did appear to take away the greatly overwhelming odor of decomposing flesh, which had come to fill the hospital room air just moments before, and had made it so incredibly difficult to breathe -- for me, at least, if not for anyone else, particularly the doctor, who was probably very used to very nauseating things. Still, I kept my mouth covered. This was partially because my stomach was so extremely intent on misbehaving itself, and partly because I was trying so hard to not cry out in agony, for fear that this time I may permanently lose my voice. Whatever the doctor was using on me, I couldn’t see him; I had turned my head in the direction opposite. Currently, I was focusing -- or, rather, trying to focus -- on the rose-patterned wallpaper in front of me.

Suddenly I felt hot blood running down the sides of my leg and spilling onto the once perfectly white bedspread underneath. Then came the touch of a cool, wet cloth dabbing at the freshly reopened wound. The doctor, I could tell, was doing his best to quickly wrap the enormous gash up in gauze first, then with a thick cloth bandage. I knew as well as he did the last thing I needed was to lose any more blood. Two transfusions had already been enough for me.

When he was finished, the doctor left the room. Less than five minutes later, a nurse returned to the room in his place and helped me out of bed so she could gather up my bed sheets, now thoroughly dotted with my own red blood. Once she had finished taking them to, I presumed, the laundry room, she returned once more with fresh ones that smelled faintly of fabric softener and bleach. Finally she helped me back into bed, and she told me to get some rest. I proffered her no complaints. Several of the previous nights had been absolutely miserable; I was restless, thanks to all the little throbbing pangs I’d had no choice now but to live with. The nurses would bring me drugs, specifically for the pain, if I thought I needed them, but they could only keep the throbbing at bay for so long. The second the meds wore off, I always became overly aware that they had. That’s when I would force myself to deal with the pain. Unfortunately, it almost always meant yet another sleepless night spent in a hospital bed.

It was on one night such as this that I received my first ever glimpse into my new and improved lifestyle as something that differed entirely from the human being I had been since birth up until that night.

It was also then that the questions I had so often asked myself prior to that night had been answered, particularly what was quite possibly the biggest of them all:

Had it really only been a rabid dog that had bitten me?

Or was it something more?

That was when it all fell into place for the first time. My freshly wrapped leg was throbbing again, worse now than it ever had before. I can vaguely remember some of the things I know must’ve taken place -- slamming my fist into the rather large blue button at my bedside, in a desperate attempt to summon the nurse; the painful first transformation into something huge, something dangerous and wild, as I shed my skin and hair in the brilliant moonlight; throwing myself at the window -- which window exactly I’m not even sure -- out into the pitch black night, the window shattering into millions of little glass splinters, although I’m almost positive that when I returned to the hospital no more than a few moments later my body didn’t have a single scratch on it, minus the pale scar on my left leg. Only a scar had been left, I know, because it’s still there even today. The wound itself had healed sometime during the transformation, as far as I know. I’m pretty sure it did, because that was when the pain completely vanished without a trace -- again, minus the scar.

Impossible, right? Yet true nonetheless.

And, of course, there is the last thing I can still remember even that well, this one better, actually, than the others, a memory that still haunts me and will very likely haunt me always:

The pain is gone, and I am running away from the hospital, away from what I liked to call my own little hell on Earth, and I am running fast. I am running fast, and I feel strong, and the pain is gone. But when I look down, I’m not me. I’m not me at all. I am covered in light brown fur from my head to my toe, and where my fingers should be there are claws -- and my toes, too, for that matter.

And then I let out a long, lamenting cry -- a howl -- and I ran off into the same pitch black night.

The author's comments:
Not being a professional writer, I'd say I'm a pretty big fan of constructive criticism. Please, if you have anything you want to say to me, say it! I'm always open to readers' opinions on any work, so long as it remains constructive, not destructive. Having already taken a good look around a good portion of Teen Ink's Web site here, however, I'd say the majority of you all know the difference between what's constructive and not, so I don't think I really need to advise you all too much on that matter. Thanks, guys. I hope you enjoy(ed) my little story! If it goes over well, I can say there'll definitely be more to come, provided you all WANT more.
Anyway, thanks again!


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