The sun was unusually strong as it streamed across Michael’s face, waking him gently. There was a surreal stillness filling the room as Michael lay still, trying to work out which day it was. It felt as if he had only just lay down, but the room was hot and stuffy with the bright warmth of the sun. It was eerily quiet and the mirror opposite him was reflecting the light into his eyes. He squinted, looking at the image of the door behind him. Something was moving, but he couldn’t see what. He sat up, his stomach strangely tight, and his breathing cautious. Michael felt the warmth leave his back. Shadows crept into the room as the sun hid behind the clouds that now filled the sky. Michael turned back to the mirror, and saw the blurred outline of his mother in the doorway. Smiling with relief, he turned around – and stared.
Empty sockets stared back, devoid of anything but filmy membranes across distant juicing flesh. Long, skeletal bones reached out, the remains of muscles clinging to the forearm. Skin covered her shoulders and legs, peeling off in random layers around her joints, and veins stretched over the mottled, translucent skin of her face as the bloody stump of her mouth spread into a smile. "Hello, darling."
Michael watched, frozen in horror. A bony white hand reached out, the nails ripped off revealing the tattered tissue beneath. The fingers stroked down his cheek, leaving a stripe of bloody mucus. He looked up, his eyes connecting with the empty pits of what was his mother’s gaze. His stomach lurched; he fell out of bed, scrambling madly across the room. He did not try to understand, or to make it right. This was not his mother. This was not his life. Michael launched himself at the window, his mother’s fingers scraping his neck. He grabbed randomly behind him; as the glass shattered around him, his hand caught a grip on bloody, matted hair. It ripped away from her as he flailed through the air.
He smashed onto the concrete driveway.
Michael’s mother slammed the brakes as the body of her son landed in front of her. She leapt from the car and fell to her knees by him, sobbing in shock and confusion. There was no need to look for a pulse. She collapsed over him and cried until neighbours dragged her back from the scene of flashing fluorescent lights.
The police prepared to leave the grisly scene in less than an hour, but the Chief Inspector stood silent on the driveway. He looked from the body bag being loaded effortlessly into the ambulance to the fragmented window above him, then to the crimson hair he now held in his hand.
Michael was the fifth to die that month.