The door banged open and Olivia jumped inside, spreading her arms wide. “I'm here! Run for your lives!”
Em turned, the sight of her sister dissolving her anger. “What are you doing?”
“I'm practicing my entrances. I want to have a good one. Wait.” She spread her arms again. “I'm here! Fear me.”
“That was terrible,” Em said. “It makes me fear you less.”
“I'll work on it.” Olivia pointed at August. “He looks kind of scared, though.”
Though she knew she should probably be frightened at the sight, instead Mia took a deep breath, combed her fingers through her air, and stepped out of the alley, right into a slop pile of what she hoped was mud.*
* It was not mud. Alas.
Dame Izanami elle-même était la plus terrifiante, avec sa peau de cadavre et ses orbites vides. On l'appelait la Mère Sombre. Celle qui chanterait le chant qui mettrai fin au monde.
“On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”
[...] Te souviens-tu de notre rencontre ?
Tessa s'assit dans un fauteuil bas en rassemblant ses jupes autour d'elle.
- J'ai fait irruption dans ta chambre au beau milieu de la nuit comme une échappée d'un asile.
- Tu t'es glissée gracieusement dans ma chambre et tu m'as supris en train de jouer du violon.
My body doesn’t move as planned. It shudders, flops, and goes limp. “Stiff from being on the table so long,” I tell Jada, who watches me with narrowed eyes. I contract my abdomen, bend at the waist, stabilize my upper body, rotate my hips, shift my legs as a unit over the side of the gurney, and touch my feet to the floor.
Desire. Lust. Greed. And the path I choose to supremacy.
Master of adaptation and evolution, I slide more surely into my skin with each breath, enjoying the complex, albeit imperfect elegance of what I possess. I inhale long and slow, swelling first my abdomen then lungs with air. Breathing brings an assault of unfathomable stenches, but I will acclimate.
Every thought, every emotion MacKayla Lane experienced is filed in my meticulous mental vault, but during my incarceration in her body, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t smell.
I was—as she is now—trapped in a dark, silent prison, my only connection to the world an attachment I forged to her central nervous system through supremacy of will and relentless trial and failure. My existence was a smattering of complex electrical charges, intricate patterns without substance. Although I spied on her life as much as possible, I was able to seize and use her body, hands, and eyes only once, for brief duration. All else was diluted, second-hand perception absorbed from within, but for that overcast, rainy day I killed the Gray Woman and Mick O’Leary.
The power. The glory. That was the day I knew I would win. Those clumsy, debilitating hours I rode a body for the first time.
I require time to perfect control.
I draw myself up inside, gathering the enormity, the ancientness, the hunger and storm of my being and expand into the imperfect biological vessel I’ve claimed, saturating, possessing every atom. I fill my blood, my bones, my skin.
I turn the full force of my regard upon Jada, blink once, and reveal myself. My eyes, reflected in the stainless-steel door of a commercial freezer unit behind her, fill with obsidian until no white remains.
She changes color. Fear impacts the nerves that connect brain to heart, constricting circulation. The blood vanishes from her face, leaving freckles upon snow. Her eyes widen, her pupils dilate and freeze. The scent of her body alters to one I find … intriguing.
I experience all of this with my own senses. It’s incomparable. My mere presence reprograms the anatomy of those around me.
I was made for it.
I would prefer to shred her flesh from bone, but several things prevent me. I smile with my new face.