Something was watching me. I felt its eyes burning into my skin, watching as the pen in my hand scribbled rapidly over wrinkled notebook paper. That intense gaze moved from my hand to my arm, and traveled over my neck where it hesitated just briefly before continuing on. That same steady, chilling gaze journeyed across my ear and finally came to rest at my temple.
It was thinking about me; wondering if I realize that it is out there; watching me. I continued to draw, moving my pen back and forth across the paper. There was a painful cramp in my hand, but I knew better than to pause. I wanted to stare out at the moonlight as it poured in through my bedroom window, but that would have given the owner of those prying eyes an invitation to join me. If that were to happen, the results would be catastrophic.
When I concentrated hard enough, I saw it even without looking up from the paper. The strokes of my pen against the paper had begun to form an outline of its body. I focused harder, added more detail. My hand sketched out an elongated head, rounded at the top with a long, crescent, shaped chin. Its eyes—one green, one red—reminded me of glinting Christmas tree lights. The head sat atop a lanky neck, its skin dry and scaly. Thin flaps rose and lowered in the same manner as a fish’s gills.
The creature’s torso resembled that of an average male’s. It was covered in that same scaly skin, its color comparable to an old penny. Its blotchy legs shifted back and forth and a single foot taps against the cold ground in three second intervals.
The cramp in my hand intensified and my fingers faltered. The creature rose onto its toes, which are not really toes at all. They looked too deadly for that. Swirls of burnt, ashy, skin, circled around oddly shaped legs to form an almost hypnotizing pattern. The creature watched me, its gills opening and closing at the same time as his mouth, showing off rows of disgustingly yellow teeth.
I took a deep breath to calm myself and began drawing again. A sketch of the horrid beast stared back at me. I hate that I have to look at it. I hate that it’s my duty to see these creatures when no one else can. I’m exhausted and haven’t slept in hours, but I have to finish my drawing. Eventually, this drawing will sit atop an ever growing pile of sketches and another creature will come along.
A terrible piercing pain shoots through my neck, but I grit my teeth and ignore it. The creature outside was stronger than the others had been. He beckoned me to come outside, just like the others had before him. But they hadn’t been strong enough to even attempt a gill manipulation. The pain in my neck had simmered to a dull throb. The creature and the others before him were seeking a prince, a ruler of their kingdom. But I refused their advances. I enjoy this new body of mine—human flesh is warm and pleasantly soft.
Scales never really did suit me.
Image credit goes to typofi.