I remember waking up a late November night. I remember the frost around my window, the snow falling like diamonds from the sky. I remember the searing heat. I remember the way I was tangled up in my sheets, writhing in pain.
Yes...the pain. That is the clearest memory of all.
I was confused at first, and then terrified. I thought I was going to die. I hadn't realized before that point that, despite the pathetic hand I'd been dealt in life, I did not want to die.
Waking up cocooned in those sheets, sweating buckets, I felt a change, a shift in the universe. Something was born inside of me, and it wanted out.
I worked to untangle myself, feeling pain as well as fear blossom inside of me. It began in the pit of my stomach. The pain was dull and small at first, but it swiftly grew. It spread like a blooming flower.
I moaned in agony as the petals of destruction reached my heart. I felt as if I were going to burst, and I was so hot...
Somehow I freed myself from the sheets and shoved myself out of the bed, only to stumble and crash on the floor, my hand slamming against the unyielding hardwood. Nausea and dizziness faded into the background as the sharp petals of pain transformed into burning.
I screamed, but soon the torturous flames licked my throat and my head, and I could do nothing but cry. It was so hot, unbearable...
I screamed again when the fire burst from my body, searing onto my skin. I cried and begged for death and for life at once.
I felt my heart slow, and I fought to keep it beating. My vision began to blur. The white-hot flames dancing over my skin focused on my back, sinking deeper and deeper into me until the spasms overtook me, and I was fighting, inside and out.
Despite my frantic, panicked work, my heartbeat slowly decreased as my pain increased. I yelled until my throat ached and my voice was hoarse. Tears of misery ran down my cheeks.
Then, I felt the tormenting pain burst from me again, but differently, this time. I thought I felt something really come out of my back.
I shrieked again, feeling as if my skin and muscles had been ripped apart. I collapsed against the cool wood, soaked in sweat and something warm and sticky, defeated and dying. My heart had sped up with that last explosion, but now it was decelerating again.
The torturing fires began to dissipate, as well, except for my back.
With all of my strength, I turned my head to see what had murdered me. I almost wish that I hadn't, or I might have died then. Then again, the Fade really wanted to see me suffer, so maybe not.
Two identical shadows towered over me. They moved in sync, and were dripping the warm, sticky liquid onto me. They scared the life back into me.
As if by my will, they moved closer to me, making me yelp in pain when they pulled on my torn skin and muscles. They dripped more of the sticky stuff onto me, soaking my hair in more than sweat.
With sickening certainty, I realized that it was blood...and the shadows were wings.
The last thing I felt before I lost consciousness was those bloody wings wrapping around me gently, supporting me.