The Owl Man – Submission by Sara George

Author’s Note: This is a piece written for a story starter (the first sentence)

His fingertips went first, the black infecting them overnight. He stood in his study, the light off, a nearly full moon the only thing to show himself the monster he was becoming. The blackness seemed only to progress faster during the day, having crawled its way up his wrist and used the thin flesh there to burrow in and travel his veins as a highway, turning them into ink that traced up his arms and encroaching on his chest. He clenched his fist, feeling how his new fingers bent, for their color was not the only thing that changed. No, they had grown longer, thinner, the nails now claws, all in satiny black. He no longer had skin, it had become softer, tiny feathers beginning to erupt from his pores.

If you choose to be a monster, than you should have the appearance to match!

Sorin scowled, turning away from the window angrily. Who was she to call him a monster! He had done nothing she could prove, and no one cared what he had done to that girl. His scowl morphed into a smile. Old hag, his knife would have felt delightful slicing through her flesh. Not nearly as sweet as the girl’s had, she had been young, vital, but the steel was sharp enough to disregard the sags and wrinkles of the old woman. He would go out again, he would find her, and this time, he would – pain then flared through his body, disrupting the thread of his thoughts, wrenching a scream from his lips. Sorin felt the blackness surge forward, leaping to pass his elbows and settle down again around his biceps.

The man-turning-monster stumbled forward, catching himself on his desk. The ravenlike feathers stood out sharply against his white shirt, and even more starkly against the cold, grey blade that lay where he had left it. He took a few deep breaths, trying to steady himself. Somehow, his fingers felt more graceful as they undid the buttons of his shirt, exposing the yet untouched skin of his abs. He shrugged off the stiff cotton and examined the bulging lines of his veins. The curse had reached his heart, it was eating at him, spreading faster now.

The knife was not the only thing on the desk. A small trunk had been left there by his butler during the day, dropped on the doorstep anonymously.

~Monster

He opened the trunk and nestled inside was a mask. Sorin pulled it out, his lips curling into something akin to a smile. He had to give it to the old woman, she had a sick sense of humor. Between the eye holes was a long pointed beak of black stone. It was designed to cover the top half of his face in black velvet. Tall feathers sprouted from the top, but it seemed to be missing a way to attach it to his face. Beneath that, seemed a cloak of some sort as if she had skinned black birds. He placed the mask to the side, and went to reach for the cloak, but was distracted by a chorus of pain, ripping down his back and shoulders.

“I’m running out of time,” he mumbled to no one in particular, the rate of his change increasing exponentially. The black had claimed his back, shoulders, chest and throat, creeping down his trunk and waist too fast to be stopped. Sorin was furious now. How dare someone like her medal in his affairs! He would find her, force her to change him back, then kill him for her incompetence. He stretched his new fingers out for the knife, but instead found the mask.

Somehow, knowing what to do, he pulled out the cloak, throwing it over his shoulder and feeling it become part of him, more than him. For, from the cloak came wings.

There was no pain as the last of his skin gave way to Shadow and he grabbed the bird face that was to be his. He approached the window, silent despite the feathers he expected to russell. The moon one again greeted him, highlighting the last of his pale skin. She had left his face untouched by the magic that had consumed the rest of him.

Sorin took one last breath with his own nose before fitting it over with the stone beak. With his new eyes, he looked out over the skyline and he could see something new in the light. The moon seemed to point out his prize.

He smiled.

I’m coming for you.

He rushed out the window, smashing the glass and spreading his wings to fly.

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