's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Nosebleed "

Submitted by Irene Vallone

A dark red circle appeared on the page of the book John was reading. He shifted his gaze to it, surprised.

Another circle appeared next to it. John swiped his pointer finger across his right nostril and looked at it. Blood covered the middle of his finger.

He sighed as he set down the book, reluctantly stood up from his easy chair, and headed down the hall to the bathroom. As he did so, he bent his finger and stuck the middle of it in his mouth, sucking off the blood.

In the bathroom, John grabbed the sides of the sink and bent over in front of the mirror, sizing himself up. He noticed blood beginning to trickle from his right nostril. He sighed as he ripped off a huge line of toilet paper, wadding it up around his nostril.

He remembered what he had learned in elementary school, when his nosebleeds had started. The nurses had always told him about the proper methods of nosebleed maintenance, using a cotton ball to stop the bleeding and pinching his nose to cut off the flow. That had never worked for him. He had developed his own method.

With a cringe, John blew his nose. He squinted as blood blew back at his face and into his eye.
John slowly withdrew the wad of paper. The entire right side of his nose and mouth was covered with blood. A spray of tiny droplets extended up across his eye and onto his forehead.

Hesitantly, John reached over and loosened his grip on the wad of paper, dropping it into the garbage can next to the sink. He then reached down and grabbed a new one, wiping what little blood hadn't already dried off of his face.

He looked at himself in the mirror for a few moments, gingerly touching around the rim of his nostril to make sure that it was all dry.

Just as he was about to walk out of the bathroom, his nose started bleeding again. A strong trickle came out of his right nostril and rolled down his face, dripping off his chin onto the toilet seat.

John sighed before turning back to the sink. He reflexively wiped his mouth with his hand, smearing the blood across his face. Now almost his entire face was covered in dried blood.

John turned the sink on. He cupped some water in his hands and wiped his face into it, cleaning off the dried blood. He watched his nose drip blood into the running water of the skin for a few moments, staining the water a pale rust-red.

Suddenly, John's other nostril began bleeding. That was unusual. It was usually one or the other.

He let them both drip into the running sink for a while. That was generally the only working option for when his nose started bleeding. If he pinched it or used a cotton ball, it would never stop. He just had to let it bleed until it was dry. Sometimes he wondered if his nosebleeds just happened to be more intense than everyone else's.

John's nose didn't stop dripping. In fact, the bleeding got more intense. Both nostrils began flowing blood into the sink, almost overpowering the clear water with their red discharge.

John panicked. He grabbed another wad of toilet paper and tried to block the flow, but the blood quickly soaked through the flimsy paper and covered his hands. He threw the toilet paper into the garbage can and reached for his bath towel.

The towel blocked the flow of blood for a few moments before it became completely soaked. John threw it to the side and collapsed to the floor. The flow of blood from his nose was increasing in intensity; it was almost as strong as the sink's faucet now. He felt his heartbeat pounding in his ears. He stared down into the pool of blood rapidly expanding across the bathroom tiles.

He felt something forming in his stomach.

John was weakening quickly. He barely managed to pull himself up over the toilet and flip up the lid before he vomited. It was pure blood. It roiled and squirmed in the toilet bowl, discoloring the water a rich red.

John heaved again at the sight of it, but nothing came out except for another trickle of blood.
He suddenly felt very faint.

As he collapsed to the floor, he felt blood coming out from behind his eyes.

John woke with a start.

He tried to move, but physically couldn't. He felt like he weighed nothing at all, like his muscles weren't strong enough to hold up his own bones. The back of his throat felt raw, and his nostrils felt clogged and crusty with dried blood. His eyes itched, as though he was having allergies. The entire room smelled like blood to him.

He shifted his head and realized that his head was resting on a pillow, and that sheets were covering his body. He was in bed. He didn't recall getting there. The last he remembered, he was in the bathroom.

He opened his eyes. He was indeed lying in bed. The room was dark. He was in his underwear, although he didn't remember getting undressed. The sheets were covered in dried blood. He hesitantly brushed the sheets away to see the entire front of his body and the palms of his hands were covered in blood as well. Bits of coagulated blood speckled his chest.

"Good," said a voice. "You're awake."

Someone was standing over him. John tried to shout in shock, but his mouth was suddenly full of blood. He choked on it and spat it all over himself.

"You seemed unhappy," they said, "So I tucked you in."

John was confused by their voice. It sounded very far away, or as though they were speaking underwater.

Too weak to move his head, John glanced upward.

The person standing over him was an exact replica of himself, made entirely out of coagulated blood.

"How are you feeling?" it asked.