's 2018 Horror Write-off:

A diagnosis

Submitted by John Sanders (email)

The way Dan explains it, I think I’m confident in my diagnosis that weird shit is going down with his body.

For context, Dan is an archaeologist from the UK who discovered a major site filled with these engraved bronze knives and swords. Whatever’s going on with the good doctor, it started when he grabbed one the swords with his bare hand. You see, until that point everyone who had handled one of these blades were wearing some kind of glove, partially to protect the precious artifact, and partially because they were being pulled from some nasty welsh bog.

He says that when he first grabbed the bronze tang (its wooden handle decaying some five thousand years ago) He heard a voice like his brother’s telling him to run. This was swiftly followed by the skin of his palm and fingers filling in for the missing handle by liquifying and fusing to the metal itself. He can place the blade into a scabbard formed from the bone and skin of his thigh, and it will unfuse from his hand, though this seems to be the only way to detach it I’ve discovered so far.

When I asked him what the shit went down, he started throwing out wild physics terms to describe what happened. Something about how he’s “a puppet to the thing in hyperspace” now and that he was a “ticking timebomb” until it started “rotating through the lower dimensions again.” He also made some claims I’ve never heard of, about realms and the world veil, I swear he mentioned wizards in the midst of his rantings. Shit hit the fan when he mentioned “Cu Chulainn” and his “Riastrad.” To say he turned inside out would be a gross simplification. His skin peeled off, dangling like a dripping cape with his former mouth hanging loose around his neck.

His jaw split, and the incision cut all the way down his front and up his back, meeting back at the start. He opened up into a flurry of oversized fingers and rainbow intestines. Bits of jaw tissue lined with tiny-to-monstrously-huge cat teeth jutted randomly and his left arm swelled and forked into a massive two headed, caterpillar esque growth he used in conjunction with his newly hooved feet to launch himself along the ground like a lop sided gorilla. His right remained the same, if skinless, and grew increasingly united with his ancient blade.

Out of the crew of thirty he worked with, eight survived, and three more of those seem to have been tainted, based on their failed transformations. When I arrived at the campsite Dan looked to be eating one of the victims of failed metamorphosis. I’m not quite sure how, or if that’s even what was happening, but it was hard to look at either way, both for my own squeamishness, and the physical limitations of my eyes. The hulking beast Dan had become loomed over me, now walking backwards with his feet twisted around and his knees working like the ankles of a bird, his own malformed hips providing the function of the thigh. I fell, horrified, and watched as Dan somehow reversed the transformation. The process looked like someone had hit the rewind button on a VCR, complete with inexplicable static in the air around him.

When the process stopped, a nude crying Dan sat before me. He pulled the cloak made from himself off and in a shaky tone simply asked:

“Could I have an examination.”