Bogleech.com's 2016 Horror Write-off:
Brian looked at the framed photograph. It showed him and his grandmother, from two years ago. It showed his hands, tapping along the keys, his grandmother sitting beside him on the bench.
He remembered his grandmother's smile. He remembered her words: "What lovely pianist hands you have."
"Pianist?" he had said.
"A piano player."
Brian looked wistfully at the piano. In the dark emptiness of the house late at night, it looked almost spooky. He thought to look at his hands-no. No.
Brian clenched his hands, nails cutting into his palm. He knew what they looked like already.
Thick. Coarse. Bulbous knuckles with edges so hard, it was as if they were chiseled from stone. And by the day, the dark, thick hairs grew, overtaking his skin like weedy kudzu along a road. Skin and muscle and bone from some inhuman beast was creeping through his body and replacing it with its own. What would happen if some tendril, a tendril of this weed of flesh, reached his brain?
Brian didn't want to think about it.
Already his hands had changed so much. And still it wouldn't stop.
"What a sweet boy you have," his grandmother had said to his mother years ago. "Shame they all change someday," his mother replied. Then his mother saw him, smiled, and changed the subject.
Brian went upstairs to his bed. This, this transformation-no, what's the word, transmogrification-must be tiring him out. That, or it was his bedtime.
As Brian lay in bed, he would still feel slight ripples of pain in his body, like little worms inching beneath his skin. Inch by inch, his body strayed farther and farther from that sweet boy pianist and closer to some butcher, or murderer, or something he didn't have a word for yet.
"My hands are getting all big, Mom."
"You're a growing boy," his mother said, puzzled.
"But, Mom, why?"
"Why?" his mother repeated.
"Yes, Mom. Why?"
"A...little thing called a pituitary gland?"
"Can I get rid of it?"
His mother chuckled and mussed his hair. "Now why would you want to do that?" she said, an undercurrent of laughter and incredulity in her voice.
The next night. He laid in bed once more. He felt the same pains, the same troubles as the butcher grew and grew within him. Brian pressed and pinched against the back of his hands. A signal of pain and discomfort ran through his brain, as if the developing unwholesomeness was part of his body, as if it belonged to him. He pushed at the skin of his hands, trying to peel it off. It stretched, smoothing out and going slightly translucent, but did nothing else.
"No!" Brian yelled. He was startled at this outburst, but continued: "I refuse! I refuse to go along with this mess! I will not!"
"I am master of my body, and I will choose how it develops!"
His hands did not reply.
His mother opened the door. "Dear? You were yelling something?"
Brian cried. He tried speaking, but could only speak a blubbering gibberish of sadness.
"There, there. I'll make it all right," she said, hugging him.
Brian cried over her shoulder. But can you? Can anyone make it all right?
His hands were even bigger now, but not the same way as before. They felt looser, baggier. Skin slipped over his knuckles, wrinkling slightly.
What is this? Some new stage? Some new level of monster? Brian thought.
"I thought I told you to stop," Brian said, trying to be authoritative but failing. The helpless quiver of his voice gave it away.
His hands did not reply.
Soon it grew baggier. Paler. It nearly dripped over the meat of his palms. Though the temperatures were getting warmer, he covered his hands in mittens. His hands felt a little firmer enclosed within the colorful cotton of those mittens.
One day, Brian felt a dry, itchy sensation on his right hand, as if they were chapped in the winter cold. He peeked underneath the mitten.
There was a crack, a little fissure going up from the wrist.
Brian put the mitten back on. He breathed. He tried to calm himself with it, but it only increased, turning into a panicked panting noise. He checked his left hand. There was a crack there too.
Itch. Before he even knew what he was doing, he was scratching at his right hand. A little orange goo dribbled out.
The goo worried him, but scratching at it gave him a strange relief and satisfaction, like picking off a scab. A scab. No, it's not a mosquito bite, it won't get worse, it needs to be removed. It should be removed.
The skin crinkled, drying out, and he peeled it away. Inside was a pale, tender-skinned, slender hand. No dark hairs overran it. Its knuckles were human, not ape. It was the pianist hands of the picture-just bigger. For a grown person.
He peeled off the other hand. Now they matched.
Brian grinned widely, and couldn't help but squeal in happiness. He held his hands up to his face. A little gooey, but, what was it about metamorphosis fluid in butterfly chrysalises? Nothing to be alarmed by.
"Thank you!" he addressed to his body. His body did not respond. Oh! There was one other thing-
"Go ahead, do that 'growing teeth between the legs' thing. I'm happy now."