If you prefer, you can listen to the audio version of this story Trapped on Soundcloud.
Karen came to slowly, her head pounding like never before. Her eyes felt like they’d been rubbed with sand as she tried to open her eyes and failed. The pain was so intense, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. It felt like she’d scrape the delicate skin of her eyes to shreds if she kept trying.
She tried to bring her hand to her face to see what was wrong, but her hand wouldn’t budge. It felt oddly heavy, like it weighed too much for her to move. Her consciousness shifted slightly, awareness prickled at the edges of her sluggish mind.
She strained to hear, but everything was silent except for a slow drip coming from somewhere in the room.
Her mind started to panic, to scream for help, but her mouth stayed silent. She tried to adjust her body, but she was helpless. Completely and totally helpless. She couldn’t move at all. Her eyes might as well be glued shut, she couldn’t open them at all without excruciating pain from even attempting it.
She tried to take in a deep breath to calm herself, but felt like a weight was on her chest. She was bound so tightly that even a deep breath was too much to ask.
Slowly breathing, shallow breaths, in and out. She smelled something odd that she couldn’t quite place. Heard the water dripping. It seemed like it was getting louder, but it was probably just becoming more obvious since it was the only thing she could hear.
Straining her ears to hear anything, she tried to open her mouth, to speak, to cry, make any kind of sound at all, but she couldn’t open her mouth. Her pulse sped up, her breathing spurred on by the dawning realization that something was horribly, horribly wrong.
She tried to remember how she’d gotten here, but her mind was utterly blank. She starting tapping the tips of her fingers together. It was the only movement she seemed to be able to make and it helped to calm her.
The water, still dripping, getting louder. She tapped her fingers to the same pace as the dripping.
Suddenly it stopped. Everything was silent. She heard something shifting in the corner.
Her brain tried to scream.
Slowing coming to consciousness once again, Karen tried to remember where she was. How she’d gotten here. Her mind still felt sluggish, her body too heavy to move. Had she been drugged? Kidnapped? What had happened.
She waded through the darkness of her memories, searching for a clue, a hint as to what had happened.
The last thing she remembered was that she had overslept. She’d been so tired recently, oversleeping had become way too common.
In the vague recesses of her mind, she remembered the feeling of panic that she was late or missing something important by sleeping too much, but she couldn’t quite wrap her brain around that emotion or reaction now. Everything just felt like it was floating in a thick syrup, her mind, her thoughts, her feelings and even her body.
She tried again to move, but even her fingers wouldn’t cooperate. She felt like she was somehow immobilized and yet not restrained. Like her body had been filled with liquid lead, making it too heavy to use her own muscles. She was still breathing, of course, but even that felt different. Muted somehow.
She let her mind take a trip through her body, looking for a hint of movement, of familiarity, but it all felt alien to her. She didn’t recognize the things she was feeling. It was as if she’d been mummified while she was still alive.
That thought sent her mind on another spiral of panic. She felt her heartbeat start to race and in some way it was comforting. Her body still reacted in a way that made sense to her.
Suddenly she felt her body heave. Her entire body convulsed, like it was trying to shrug off whatever was holding her down. It was an involuntary movement that was almost painful in its intensity.
She felt it coming again, another wave of heaving, her body arching up, straining against something. It felt like her skin was too tight. She wanted to scream, to reach out, but nothing happened. Her body struggled, convulsed again.
Something very strange was happening.
Her skin felt like it was stretching out tighter, painfully so. She had a random thought that ‘hey I bet my skin looks flawlessly smooth as silk right now!’ and at that point Karen realized she might be a little hysterical. Laughter started bubbling up in her brain at the same time that her pain increased. Her body seemed to be growing bigger, the skin on her face pulled so tight that it would surely explode any second.
And suddenly, the pressure released. The convulsions seemed to turn inwards, shrinking back to normal size. Her skin felt loose and she realized as her body continued to arch and struggle, that her skin was falling away.
Karen turned her head back and forth and suddenly realized that she could see again. Everything seemed to be coated with some kind of film, maybe her eyes were covered with it.
Her body undulated and she thought that perhaps she should feel a sense of panic, but there was so much relief at the lack of pressure that she couldn’t find it in herself to be even the slightest bit concerned. The fact that her now loose skin was being shed felt like the most normal thing in the world.
As it slid down past her shoulders, she had the oddest sensation of knowing her skin was sliding away like a set of too-big clothing and yet it all felt normal. Perfectly sane. A corner of her mind tried to scream at her, but she pushed the thoughts away.
She heard voices, unintelligible language, sounds, verbal chaos. Her body shedding it’s skin, her eyes working and now her ears were hearing again. She strained to hear once more and suddenly the voices became perfectly clear.
She turned her head and saw them…
Her first reaction was one of fear. Abject horror coursed through her veins. The beings in front of her weren’t human at all. They were terrifying to look at, grotesque even. Her eyes widened as she watched them approach. Her body had stopped convulsing, but she was still having troubles controlling her movements.
Her body now felt almost… sticky. As if the shedding of her skin had left behind some sort of gelatinous residue. Her brain warred with itself trying to solve the puzzle. Karen wasn’t sure if she was terrified or perfectly calm. She felt like she should be scared, but her mind was feeling slightly hazy. Her thinking grew cloudy as she watched the beings approach. She knew they weren’t speaking English and yet she was starting to understand their words.
She felt her arm finally break loose and lifted it, wanting to reach out and hold these creatures back. She caught sight of her own arm, her own hand and gasped. A weird sound flew from her mouth. She cried out, and yet her voice didn’t sound like her own.
The beings grew closer, their voices becoming more clear with each step. The one nearest to her reached out its hand and Karen saw that it was identical to her own hand that reached out. Her mind eased. This was how it was supposed to be. She smiled, or tried to smile at the creature reaching towards her. She felt their hands meet and was filled with a peaceful feeling that flowed through her like a sedative. Her breathing eased. Her mind settled. She was home.
This was where she belonged. Karen felt her thoughts and memories from before dissipating like a cloud of dust until they were no longer a part of her. She focused all of her energy, all of her attention on the being in front of her, holding her hand.
She heard him clearly, “The Metamorphosis is complete,” He said, lifting her hand to his small mouth. Karen smiled. Everything felt so perfect. “I wonder if this one will taste better.” and his mouth suddenly grew horrifyingly wide, rows and rows of teeth appearing before her eyes.