• Cuprum Manum
    By Theresa Vardanega
    ┬ęTheresa Vardanega

    Tilli awoke in a strange, cold room. The walls were a dull and lifeless grey and water dripped rhymically from the mouldy ceiing. There was a strong smell of singed flesh in the air and Tilli could hear low, rasping growls echoing throughout the room. Tilli had a bad feeling, about both her current situation and inside herself. A wave of nausea washed over her as she tried to sit up. As she tried to lift her hand to shield her eyes from the relentless beam of fluorescent light above her, Tilli found her wrist bound to the bench beneath her by short lengths of chain and leather. Upon further inspection, she found the bench beneath her to be not unlike those she had once worked with, a dissection table.

    Panic began to set in. The low growling had stopped and Tilli could hear footsteps coming towards the door. There was a screech and slam as the door was unlatched and another as it was closed. The footsteps got closer and there was an overwhelming stench of rotting flesh as her captor drew closer.
    "Wake up Tilli Na-Mar," growled a low voice, "it's time to open your eyes."
    The light above Tilli dimmed enough for her to be able to open her eyes. When her eyes had focused on the face looming in front of her, Tilli's heart stopped. It was a Kreeper, an alien beast from another universe. Without a word, Tilli fainted.

    Tilli regained consciousness some hours later in a new location. She was dressed in soft cotton and lay on a most comfortable bed. Beside her was a steaming bowl of soup, a large square of cheese, a few fresh rolls of bread and a jug of cold Nygall tea. Tilli was starved but as she gulped down the lavish meal, she couldn't help but wonder what the Kreepers were doing or had done to her. She finished her meal , but still felt hungry. Usually a meal such as that would feed her for several days. Suddenly a voice came through the door.
    "Would you like some more soup?" the voice was quiet and sweet sounding. Tilli accepted the offer and the door opened, letting in something Tilli had never seen before. A young Kreeper. Its skin was smooth and its eyes green, however its teeth, although small, were still razor sharp.
    "Do you like the soup? I made it myself. My name's Ryyuk. I know yours, it's Tilli. That's a pretty name."
    The young Kreeper sounded excited and spoke fast.
    "You're the first human I've ever met. What's that?"
    Ryyuk pointed at Tilli's stomach. She looked down and saw a small blossom of blood forming on her shirt. She lifted her shirt and found a small wound above her navel. Ryyuk's eyes grew larger and just as Tilli was about to ask him where she was, he rushed out of the room.

    Tilli lowered her shirt and sat back on the bed. She looked over at the new bowl of soup that Ryyuk had brought in and hunger pains bent her in two. She ate the soup and the sweet cake that Ryyuk had brought in and lay back down in bed, her stomach gurgling and a strange feeling in her wound. She fell asleep with a strong feeling that something huge was about to happen.

    The next time Tilli woke up, something big HAD happened. She was still in the same room she fell asleep in, but now she was surrounded by Kreepers of all ages. Ryyuk was sitting on the small bench beside the bed on which his soup had once sat, and he was humming a hauntingly familiar tune. Ryyuk was the first to see Tilli wake.
    "Uncle, uncle, she's awake," he cried excitedly. The large Kreeper that Tilli had first seen stepped forward. He stood in front of Tilli who, by this time, had sat up and cowered in the corner of the bed. The Krepper introduced himself as Fryn-Ka and to Tilli's astonishment, bowed to one knee in front of her.
    "My Queen," he said in his low growling voice. All the other Kreepers followed suit and with one unified voice cried "Queen" and bowed to the ground. With this Tilli let out a scream of pain as her skin bubbled. Her back arched and her body shook. With one final jolt she was thrown onto the bed. Tilli sat up and looked at her hands. Her once porcelain skin was now a copper colour and scaly. Her nails were now talons designed to rip flesh. She ran her tongue over her teeth and found them to be razor sharp. The Kreepers cried in joy, their Queen had come to them. The change was perfect.