Mothling excerpt

When he got home, he approached the door to find silk threads hanging through the cracks. He pushed it open and found they were hanging through the air, loosely and transparently enough that they were only truly noticed after a second glance. They were interwoven through the house. Spiders? Silk worms? An infestation, or perhaps another dream? He set his bookbag down by the couch and followed them. They wound and crisscrossed up the stairs, through the hallways, up to the last room at the end of the hall. The guest room. He knocked on the door. No response. He knocked again, forcefully this time. “Hello?”

He creaked the door open to peer inside. His mother lay on the queen mattress, her back facing him. She was only wearing her night nightgown and some slippers. The wound was angry and visible, each thread trailing and embedding in a different cell of flesh. The webs were coming from her scab. A bar of sunlight streamed from the window and fell across her shoulder blades, illuminating the silvery threads.

 

The room was still. It was eerily silent. The only sounds that filled the room were the sounds of his own breath.

“Mom?” He squeaked.

He hoped that this was a dream. For once he hoped this was a product of his overactive imagination.

He edged closer to her, holding his breath. Up close, he saw the abnormality of the wound. It appeared to be a rip through paper, as his father had said. Crystallized blood plugged up the cracks and gleamed red and amber. From the blood came spindles of silk, many of them, like the strings of a marionette doll. She lay motionless in a fetal position, curled to her side with her hands clutched to her chest. He was afraid to touch her. He was afraid to do anything to disrupt the bewitchment.

He repeated her name over and over again, but she was like a photograph, a moment frozen through time. Finally he extended a trembling hand to try and shake her shoulders. As soon as he did more strands of silk shot out and tangled around his fingers. He dipped under them, removing himself to scurry into the corner.

He could feel his heart beating in his cheeks.

He slunk down, staring at her back, silently screaming in his head.

The rational part of his brain tried to convince himself that this was another delusion. The rational part of him wanted to be crazy, so that his mother could be safe. Unfortunately, the more intuitive part of him said otherwise.

His breaths were becoming faster paced. He found himself gasping for air, trembling and rocking with his knees pulled to his chest. He knew that this was very, very bad.

He subsided to the panic. Soon enough he was curled up into a ball shaking uncontrollably. He knew it was too good to be true- there always had to be a catch. They would never be a happy family.

The sun started to set somewhere during his panic attack. The room lost its natural light, making the strings invisible to his eye.

At that point he had calmed down, and was beginning to devise a plan. He went downstairs to call his father.

After a moment of silence, he picked up.

“Gabriel?”

Dad.”

“What’s wrong? You aren’t supposed to call me when I’m driving home.”

Gabriel clung to the phone desperately. “Dad.”

His voice cracked. He had no way to describe what he had just seen.

“What?”

“I-I-I don’t know how to say it-”

“Is this a joke? Did your mother put you up to this?” He sounded genuinely annoyed.

“No! Please listen-wait-it’s-it’s horrible- horrible-”

Gabriel! What is happening there?”

“Mom-she’s…there’s…there’s strings coming out of her and she might be dead!”

Silence.

“Dad-”

“Stay where you are. Don’t go near her until I get home. Do you understand?” His voice was unnaturally stern.

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Stay put.”

He laid on the couch and listened to the dripping of the faucet.

 

Thirty minutes did not describe the time he spent waiting there. It felt like a whole new century had ushered in before his father came home. He lounged  in shadow.

Finally his father burst through the door. Gabriel stood up.

“Where is she?”

“Guest room.”

He flew up the stairs, Gabriel clamoring after him. They dodged the threads like lasers, flinging open the door. Gabriel stood to the side.

Beau went over to stare at the source of the threads. His expression did not change.

He sat her up, swiping away the sprouting threads with the stealth of a martial artist. Slowly, he swaddled her with them. He wove them around her form, pulling them from her back to cause more to spring up. He was slowly mummifying her.

“What-”

Beau held up a hand to signal him to be quiet. It was endless, yet Gabriel could not tear himself away.

The night went on and eventually Kalare Wistfaun transformed into a human cocoon. When it was over, Beau collapsed next to her.

Gabriel never felt worse in his life.

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