When he got home the sky was pitch black. He could see the stars. A couple of centimeters of snow was on the ground, the city was too far, he
couldn't benefit from the city's warmer weather. It was actually quite cold. He took his bath before eating, hoping he could wash the creepy feeling
away with warm water and bubbles. He was relaxing in the hot water, amongst the bubbles, when his eyes accidently fell on his chest, and he gasped
from shock. On his chest, a bit off-center, some sort of a ugly thing corrupted his skin. It looked like a mole, but greenish instead of dark. It
hurted, as if it was swelling his very skin instead of just growing on it. It looked like a miniature pillow or a tile.
He rushed out of his bath, and looked at himself in the mirror. His black hair fell as usual over his green eyes, and water started dripping in his
eyes but he managed to see that the wart was limited to his chest. No bigger than his little finger nail. Coincidently, it was marking the spot where
his heart was. He will have to check with a doctor tomorrow. It was probably just a wart filled with pus.
He ate a steak with a honey & garlic sauce and some potatoes. He was starting to have a headache, thanks to the witch.
At 23 h he decided to go to bed. He took a last look at the tile/pillow-like green thing on his chest. It looked as it was more shiny and slightly
bigger than earlier, but that was maybe just because he was tired. He closed the lights and slipped into his bed.
Now he was comfortably wrapped in his sheets, in total darkness. His headache eased a bit. The only other thing which was hurting was the burning
green wart thing on his chest.
He took a last look to his clock, on his bed table. 23 h 03. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep, to forget the pain. If only he could make it to
the paradoxal sleep state, the burning pain in his forhead - and on his chest - will vanish, just like magic. He would sleep, his mind at last
disconnected from his body, his mind untouchable. He tried to relax, to forget the unnatural swell in his chest's flesh, he tried to sleep.
He saw darkness.
He saw darkness.
He was seeing darkness.
Was it darkness? All that he was seeing was himself in the woods, chased by some sort of beast - it felt like a wolf, but he wasn't sure - yet at the
same moment he was here, in his bed, comfortably cuddled in his sheets, looking straight up at his ceiling, which was plunged in darkness. Where was
he precisely? Are dream world and real world intimately woven toghether, like two threads in a knitting pattern? He looked back at his dark ceiling.
The wolf was just behind him. He could feel its breath closing in. He was running in the snowy forest, swerving to avoid trees, focusing on not
falling in the heavy snow. He had to run faster in his bed. He shifted on his right side so his legs were free now to move. He attempted to speed up
in the snow but his legs weren't responding to his mind's commands. Why? He tried to swing his legs, anything to put distance between him and the
wolf-like beast which was hunting him. But the realization dawned on him that his bed was preventing him to rapidly swing his legs.
The sheets were preventing him to escape the beast, he concluded.
He struggled with his sheets but the wolf behind him closed its jaws on his torso. His whole body jerked to escape the beast's jaws. As the pain
soared once more, he woke up. And suddenly he realized he was in his bed, not in the woods, he realized that he was safely inside his bedroom. He was
only dreaming. Was he? He shot a glance to his clock. 0 h 49. So it was just some sort of a dream after all. But he could see his ceiling! How can one
be asleep and awake at the same time? Can one sleep with one's eyes opened? Some birds could, but that's all he could remember. The darkness in his
room was deep, as the bottom of a well. He started to think; What would the bottom of a well hold?
Would it still have old, lost one-cents lying under the black waters?
Or maybe a forgotten object, like a lost 1900 car part or something.
Or maybe even the body of a century-old murder victim, a murder which the authorities never resolved and then forgotted.
Maybe Jo could take his chance and resolve the case himself. He leaned on the brick side of the well. The rocky material was pushing against his chest
but he had to try and forget the pain if he wanted to take look. He had to take a look, or else he won't be able to sleep with his mind at peace
He opened his eyes. Tonight? If tonight was located in the future, then when was he, if not already in this "tonight"? He turned around and looked
at his clock. 0 h 57. The victim was killed by a beast. Wait. How did he knew that? Simple. He succeeded at looking into the well's watery bottom.
That was the reason why his chest hurt so much. His chest scraped against the brick. No, he couldn't. He was in his bed, right? People can't be two
places at the same time. He had to remember that.
He rubbed his eyes, deciding that he'll try and stay awake for a couple of minutes, just enough time to clear his mind and hopefully make more
restful dreams afterwards. He had a splitting headache. The pain in his head was only matched by the persisting pain on his chest. He moved a hand and
touched the burning area, attempting to soothe the pain down. He rubbed his chest but what he felt made his heart stop.
He felt a series of bulging tiles after bulging tiles, all over his chest. They were following some sort of pattern. He had catched a virus! He
followed the affected area with his fingers, to feel how big the affected area was. The pillow-like tiles we covering the hole of his chest, but also
his throat, and finally up to his lower jaw.
"Oh my god", was shocked Jo. It was an infection. He had to do something. The virus was probably at that very moment eating his flesh, turning it to
green pus. But he was so tired...
He fell back into half a dream. Where was he? Oh, yes, right, the beast or whatever animal it was was after him. But where was it? Jo looked straight
at his black ceiling. Where was the animal?
I can't be two places at the same time, remembered Jo. The beast is not out there, he reasonned. I am here. Which means the animal is... here. In my
very own room...
He felt a wave of pure terror at that thought. Will it bite me at any moments now? Or... what if it already did? What if it's the reason why I have
He was panicking, but he couldn't do nothing, he was too tired, he was feeling his flesh swell into these greenish tiles. He dozed off, and one of
his last thoughts was to look at his clock - 1 h 34 - and, when he closed his eyes, to realize the animal he was running from... It was in his mind.
In his brain.
He opened his eye again, automatically shooting a glance to his clock. 3 h 18.
He closed his eyes back again.
Then he vaguely remembered he had to do something. Too tired to open his eyes, he finally succeeded in freeing his hand once again. He slowly moved
his hand to feel the progression of the infection on his body. His mind was so lethargic, it was in a total detatchement he felt that the tiles now
covered his back, his chest, had spread to his belly, has spread onto his ears... and... he had to feel his mouth more carefully with his fingers. He
repeated the operation, he couldn't believe it...
Somehing was very wrong. Now he almost had a heart attack. Instead of touching a nose and a normal mouth, he was feeling some sort of a round snout,
covered with those pillow-like tiles, with a lip-less mouth and two circular nostrils.
He was stupefied. As he absent-mindly kept stroking his snout, he suddenly realized... The greenish pillow-like tiles were scales. Reptile skin
What a weird dream. He then saw nothingness. At one point he didn't even knew if his eyes were closed or not.
At one point he was on his belly, trying to disperse his body heat, which seemed to have rised up to 40°C. His head ached so much... The infection
was giving him hallucination and fever.
He kept thinking about that beast, the fire beast which was in him, eating him.
The he would think he was normal, that it was all just a dream.
It's hard to tell when you're in darkness. The heat of his body seemed to bring up the level of humidity in the cold air.
The darkness was now as in a jungle at night: pitch black, humid and unsettling.
At one point he was lying on his belly while his tailbone felt like it was shifting, re-shaping, shape shifting. Illusions, shifting reality,
shape-shifting his world. He had to let the monster slip into him, that was the only way the pain will stop, No, wait, I'm in a dark room, there are
no beasts. Just dreams.
He saw nothingness once again. He half-woke up, still on his belly, this time to stretch his back; he heard his backbones snap back into place as he
waved his whole body, as a snake would do to move in the grass. He wasn't even sure what he was doing, his mind was so hazy. Then he fell back into
the wet, dark void.
At one point he tried to feel his temperature but his hands seemed as they were covered by the thing, he had the impression he was wearing leather
gloves. He couldn't get a good reading. So he shot his tongue out instead and briefly licked his round snake scaly snout: The snout's humidity
evaporated in a matter of seconds. Which meant he did have fever... he had to grab medication, he had to see a nose doctor - surely a nose doctor
knows what to do when a patient comes in with a reptilian snout? Oh right, he remembered. I don't have one, I am hallucinating... -, but he was too
tired, he had to make a cofee first...
He had the impression he was slowly losing his brain to the invasion, that the virus was infiltrating his thoughts, shrinking his very grey matter.
Then the total and complete darkness.