I can't escape,
As I awoke, shocked, from a fitful slumber I was met with a severe pain in my chest. Brushing my fingertips over the bumps of my ribs, I located an area of extreme tenderness. Carefully, I raised myself from the plush surface of my bed, cradling my injured side.
Making my way to the nearest bathroom, I lifted the loose night shirt that adorned my torso; staring back at my reflection in the pristine mirror, I found nothing wrong with my chest. Not a bruise, not a cut, not a single mark. But still, the intense pain persisted - I could almost pick out a steady rhythm to the pulse-like sensation, and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a crow.
It won't stop, this persisting agony - my attempts at calming myself are moot. Breaths ragged, skin slick and shiny with sweat, my mouth dry; this was too much. I could hardly focus at work - other people can see it, I'm sure. Reluctantly, I poked my head into my boss's office, asking with all the strength I could muster a simple, "I need..."
He only had to glance at me before his head bobbed up and down in a nod.
It seems the only constant anymore is the radiating pain and the crow. The crow, I began seeing him again and again; he wasn't just a shadow I'd catch in my peripheral vision. In the beginning he may have been, but now I'd see him sitting, perched comfortably on my dresser. At first I was scared, throwing anything I could get my hands on at that ink-black bird, attempting to rid myself of him. But nothing worked, the objects just passed through him. He'd stare, unmoving, occasionally turning his head to the side - looking at me almost questionably.
I'm hallucinating, I must be. I'm going crazy, I must be.
I can't do this. I can't - this pain, that CROW. This is driving me insane. Stumbling to my small washroom, I once again lifted the hem of my shirt - and as before, there was not a single thing amiss on my pallid skin. But still, the "thump thump thump" continued on. it wasn't always there, you know, sometimes the pain would dissipate - leaving only a soreness. It seems the more distressed I become the worse it gets - with every rabid beat of my heart the pain escalates.
This needs to stop, I'm suffocating.
Surprisingly, I felt not a thing as the sharp blade punctured my chest. I slowly followed the line of my rib, stopping midway, blood spilling out in small rivulets. I set the crimson-stained blade aside, next to that bloody crow, and with shaky hands I poked my finger into the wound. I licked my lips, concentrating. As I made it further into my flesh, pulling it away slightly, the crow squawked. I whipped my head up at break-neck pace, settling my wide eyes on the bird.
That was the first time it had ever made a sound since I had began hallucinating it.
As my finger pulled the skin of my chest back further, exposing the bone, the crow squawked again and again. With every tear and feverish scratch the pain faded; with every rib I exposed the searing burn receded. I became more frenzied in my actions until my whole rib cage was bare to see. I touched the white of my bones - despite all my missing flesh, I didn't feel scared; rather, I was intrigued. The smell of iron was thick, the crow's loud noises oppressive - but I felt a sort of calm. I looked to the puddle of skin and blood and over to the mirror. What I saw staring back horrified me.
No, no, this can't be right.
Small, beady black eyes.
The crow came closer to me, since ceasing its squawking, and looked intently at my bare chest.
What laid within my chest cavity was a small, jet-black bird...