Gabriel stared at the spindles erupting from his stomach. They were drenched in thick blood, all springing from a cavern of grotesque gore.
His breaths were broken and gruff. He found himself sinking into the mattress, blanketed in bleeding threads. He heard footsteps. The door swung open. He watched his father appear with a woman and a girl. It was none other than Phillis and her mother. She came to a halt as soon as she saw him.
“Gabriel!” Her hands jumped to her mouth in absolute horror.
Her mother resembled her in some ways. They had the same clean, sharp brows and rosy brownish complexion. She had thicker wrists and ankles and broader, more prominent shoulders. She wore a long dress with a foresty color, similar to something Kalare would wear. Her face was grave.
“I’m sorry,” she said to Beau, putting her hand on his shoulder.
She went over to the side of the bed to open her bag. Phillis stood in the corner of the room, frozen. He was in too much pain to think about it or wonder what it meant.
The women smiled sadly. “Hi there hun. I’m here to help you. Can you look at me?
He nodded. She dug around in her bag for a pair of latex gloves.
“I’m going to have to get in close. That okay with you?”
He breathed in and out. “O-okay.”
“I apologize in advance.”
Her fingers pressed to the swollen, inflamed skin around the wound. He winced and curled back at the touch. More spindles shot out of his stomach.
“This is worse than I thought,” she murmured. He was still bleeding out.
She went to work, snipping the threads skillfully and then quickly pushing a piece of gauze down before the threads could spring up.
He felt momentary relief.
He could feel them shooting up against the gauze, creating a layer of mesh over his wound. The pressure increased and stung him to his core. His breaths were heavy, but he had managed to calm down. His arms hung limply by his sides as he throbbed. It felt like his insides were tearing themselves apart just to try and knit themselves back together.
The woman was gentle, pulling the gauze away to reveal a web that filled in his missing skin. She pressed down every stray string that shot out. They glowed white and welded into place.
“How do you feel?”
He breathed through his nose. “B-better.”
“You’re probably wondering what the heck this is.”
She looked to Beau for approval. He nodded.
“You’re going through a delayed metamorphosis.”
“Let me guess. I’m a moth.” He rolled his eyes as best as he could, glancing at Phillis. She stared down at her shoes.
“You’re not a moth. Something has been fighting this change. Do you know what that could be?”
He shook his head. He still did not understand.
She looked at Beau. “You haven’t told him anything?”
The web was crystallizing and slowly creeping over the rest of his skin, like a coating of snow.
“Someone attacked your energy source and now it’s bleeding out,” Beau said.
“Yes.” The woman said. “Fairies keep a small pocket of magical energy in a space across from the navel.”
Beau shot her a glare.
“Oh, pardon me. Mothlings keep a small pocket of magical energy in a space across from the navel. Females are typically referred to as fairies. I don’t understand why these males always need to come up with some new, “masculine” name for the same thing. A fairy is a fairy. A Mothling is a type of fairy. But whatever.”
“So-what-I’m a fairy? Dad is a fairy?”
“Mothling,” Beau corrected.
“So you are one? And mom…is that why she moved out?”
He tried to sit up, but he was pulled down by an agonizing stinging sensation. He thought he heard the warbled sounds of a fuzzy radio in the distance. It was playing a music box melody, deep and twinkly.
The woman applied some ointment around the wound.
“You’re going to have to rest until this scabs over. Hopefully the transformation won’t occur until later. If we’re lucky it could be a few hours.”
Gabriel wasn’t really paying attention to her though. He wanted to hear what his father had to say.
Beau sighed. “Look, I don’t have to explain myself to you. It was her choice. She decided it would be safer that way.”
“Is my whole life a lie?”
The woman laughed, shaking her head. “You are so dramatic.”
His stomach was turning white and glittery, the snowy web disintegrating into a sparkly dust. It started at his wound and collected over his entire body. Beau propped him up as he felt a tingling sensation in his shoulder blades.
“I guess we’re not lucky,” she murmured.
He felt euphoric, and then haggard, and then euphoric once more. He was dripping in glimmering, pearly white stardust. It poured from his navel and enveloped his waist. The whole bed was soaked in it. It spilled over the edges and gathered in piles on the rug.
He felt a bursting, ripping sensation in his back. He crumpled forward, shaking as his spine shrieked. His father was still holding him up firmly, as if he were about to sink in his own glitter. He wanted to shake off his grip but he knew better than to fight something he didn’t understand.
Two stalks shot up and blossomed with transparent wing. They grew and unfurled, fanning out and hanging over the edge of the bed. Phillis covered her mouth to gasp.
Beau released him. Gabriel staggered forward. His new wings drooped and weighed him down towards the floor, giving him the appearance of a hunchback curling in on himself.
“Now you know why your mother is so weird.”