For a fraction of a moment Cecily was aware of the darkness and quiet of her bedroom before the agony struck. It was like her blood was being pushed through her veins with ten times the usual force and speed. It was like someone was pushing down on her lungs to stop them moving with ease, keeping them tight and empty. Most of all, it was like someone was digging through her arms and legs with a rusty nail.

And then it stopped. Cecily realized she was screaming, and fell silent. With the pain and pressure lifted, she could have been floating. After a few moments, her mind sank back down from euphoria and, trembling, she grasped for the light.

Her eyes were blurry and every inch of her was throbbing slightly from its recent torture. Panic began to set in. What had happened? She had been sleeping peacefully, and then this.

As her vision cleared, her horror rose. She stared, eyes wide, at her arms and legs. Cecily, pretty and slim with her flawless skin, had always been the envy of every girl. She looked at herself now, however, with disgust. Bumps and lines spread out across her limbs like a road map. Purple, black, yellow and green glared out, vivid and violent. At ankles, shoulders, thighs and wrists, the repulsive scars faded, stretching out as if to try and take over just a little more of her body.

Cecily scrambled off her bed as if to escape – but there was no escape from herself. Stumbling senseless through her apartment, she grasped around and somehow found the bathroom door. Collapsing in front of the toilet, she threw up several times before screwing her eyes shut and sobbing loudly.

Cecily had gone to bed as a beauty and awoken as a monster.