There was nothing particularly remarkable about the sentence she had just come to. The at-one-point-exciting novel had lapsed into dullness. Merely the red spot above the word "ghost" commanded attention. She couldn't think what it was, or how it had been made on a page she had only seconds ago opened to in a book she had purchased new.

She scratched it with her fingernail, and the circular spot quickly became a line along the pattern of her nail's movement, permeating the inside of the "o." This indicated that the spot was liquid in nature and fresh in origin. Then another spot caught her eye, between the words "such" and "as" in the next sentence. It was much bigger than the first spot, and she was sure it had not been there a few seconds ago. She sat in awe, watching the redness seep into the paper and blot out the printed words, unsure of what to make of this. The third spot had clearly dropped from above.

Afraid they were drops of blood from an unnoticed wound, she touched her hand to her cheek to feel if she was bleeding. To her horror, half of her hand came back covered in a red, semi-congealed blood.

She dropped her book and raced to the bathroom. The entire right side of the frightened face in the mirror was a bloody mess. She pressed a towel against her face to clear away the blood and locate the wound from which it had somehow issued without her awareness. She was quite shaken when she found that her face had been cut up like a jigsaw puzzle.

Deep wounds, looking to be from a razor blade, formed a triangle below her right eye, and a series of linear cuts radiated from each apex like the branches of a tree, extending to her chin, her ear, and the bridge of her nose. The flesh around the triangle was darkened and pulled away from the cuts as if it had been burned to cauterize it, but blood seeped from the other cuts immediately, covering the patterns with growing pools of crimson.

She had absolutely no idea how something like that could have happened, since she had spent the last thirty or forty minutes reading alone. Adding to the oddness, her face looked as though she had been crying, and her hair was a mess. But those were merely unsettling sidenotes. New tears filled her eyes. She had to do something; she had been attacked and needed medical attention.

She rushed to the phone, preparing to call 911. But, after picking up the receiver, she thought about the situation. What would she say? That she had just started bleeding spontaneously a few seconds ago, and now suddenly looked like she'd been thoroughly sliced up with a box cutter? They would think she was psychotic and had done it to herself.

She put down the receiver and took notice of the digital clock by the phone. It read 8:31. She had looked at that same clock ten minutes before, perhaps fifteen, and it was 4:17. A quick glance at the window confirmed the new reading. It was dark out, and the stars were visible.

She could not comprehend what was happening, but knew she had to do something. She could feel the blood streaming down her neck, soaking into her blouse. She was not in a state of mind to think of options that weren't likely to end with her being sent to the psychiatric ward.

Her sister. She could call her, and she would take her seriously and know what to do. Unfortunately, she had not memorized her new number. She ran over to get her cell phone, which had it stored in its memory, but tripped over something. There was a plastic box full of photographs lying in the middle of the room.

It shouldn't have been there, nor should the other boxes from the shelves, which had been opened and emptied all over the floor. Someone had been going through her things. She looked around at a room rearranged without her noticing, as her vision grew hazy. Her last thoughts were of reaching the cell phone in her purse as she lapsed into unconsciousness from a combination of hysteria and blood loss.

Written by Floyd Pinkerton (Lee Sherman)

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.