Harvest Moon, pt 34

This is part of a text adventure series to celebrate the spookiest of months, October (and beyond!). Full information about what’s happening can be found here. It is free to read, but in order to vote on what happens next, you will need to be a Patron.  To become a Patron, you can find my Patreon page here.

Map of the known area

Your inventory:

  • A small flashlight
  • Nick’s car-related paperwork
  • A generic fast food straw
  • Half a packet of mints
  • A pen
  • A fieldbook about common countryside plants
  • Nick’s mobile phone

You reach through the now open doorway and give the door one last nudge to open it fully. From the threshold, you gaze in.

The room is a long, wide corridor stretching from the east end to the west end of the house. As with the small antechamber, the shallowest slope of the roof as it angles to meet the floor has been boxed off; so long as you stick to the centre-most third of the room’s length, you won’t have to duck. 

At a third of the way down the room, and at a second third after that, there are large south-facing windows set into the roof. They’re throwing down mote-filled beams of orange-silver light from the moon. It’s bright enough for you to pick out items of furniture, although things get fuzzy towards the edges.

There are three beds down the middle of the room; there is space between them for nightstands. The two closest to you are well-made and empty. The third is not.

You step inside. As you do so, the breathing starts again. Without the door in the way, you can, unfortunately, hear it better. It’s wet and uneven; there’s a note of uncertainty in it as though the one breathing can’t trust their body to keep it up without actively thinking about it. It makes you feel actively nauseous. 

As you pass the first bed, things become a little clearer. 

The occupant of the furthermost bed is a sprawling, indistinct form. Half in shadow, you can pick out a pair of large watery eyes staring up at you. Lank brown hair is clotted with sweat around her face; it curls messily across a sheet which has been haphazardly draped over her chest. A single thin hand clutches at the hem. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you’d found Violet again, but that’s impossible. You left her on the floor below scrubbing pastry out of a rug, didn’t you?

She says nothing, just watches you with those wide pale-blue eyes as you move towards her.

The feeling of nausea only gets stronger as you move close enough to look through the shadows.

You don’t think you’re looking at a human being. That’s the first thing you decide.

The figure’s chest is open, as though she’s come awake halfway through an autopsy. Her ribs have been split apart from the top of the sternum down. They reach up, jagged and glistening with something that isn’t blood. The lower half is hidden beneath the sheet that is tented between the protrusions. 

As much as you feel your stomach clench in a confusion of sympathy and disgust, you can’t pull your eyes away. And the more you stare, the more you see.

In the cavity of her rib cage is a rich tangle of thin greenery wound so thickly that you can only just see the pulse of living organs below. Delicate purple flowers sprout up between the knotted vines. They jostle with the beat of her heart; they rise and fall as she draws in each breath and releases it with a moist rattle.

The veins on her pale skin loop out to meet the air in places. Where they pop through the skin there are delicate little heart-shaped leaves and still-closed buds. Throughout her matted hair are leaves and flowers, entwined with tendrils of vines. 

Her wrist seems to have split open, revealing flesh that looks more like boiled cabbage leaves than meat.

It is impossible to tell where she ends and the plants begin. Perhaps the question is moot, as you realise that the bed she’s lying on isn’t a conventional mattress, but a planter of soil. With that, you realise quite how strongly the room smells of ripe, rotting plant matter and the sweetness of flowers. You feel yourself sweating not just from the heat, but through the exertion of trying to not vomit.

You attempt a question, but it escapes you as little more than a strained croak.

“You shouldn’t… really be here,” the figure in the bed wheezes. “But now you are… could you… pass me that water?”

You tear your eyes away to look at the nightstand. There’s a glass. With trembling hands, you put it to her lips. She takes a number of small sips and you put it back.

“Thank you. Everyone else… is busy tonight. I think… they’ve quite forgotten… about me.”

She attempts a smile. You recoil as she reveals teeth stained with green.

“Suppose you… keep me company… for a little while?” she says with effort. “I suspect… you have questions.”

What would you like to say?

  1. “You look like Violet. Who are you?”
  2. “What are you?”

Vote for what happens next on my Patron page before 11.30pm GMT tomorrow. The next update will be 8pm GMT on the 9th of December.

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