By Nandy Ekle




Andrea felt the pinprick on the pad of her heel. The first thing that crossed her mind was the memory of the the empty glass falling out of her hand as she walked from the living room couch to the kitchen. It had hit the floor with a loud explosion, invisible splinters of glass raining across the room. She tried to sweep it all up, but the sudden sting in her heel made her wonder if she had missed a piece.

The second thought she had was that her heel—actually her whole foot had begun to burn as if it were on fire. Sweat beaded on her forehead and the feeling of flames raced up her leg, into her hip, and crossed to the other leg at the exact moment it also flew up her chest, arms, neck, face, and covered her scalp. Her jaw clenched painfully for a couple of minutes, then absolute numbness. Her legs fell out from under her and she fell to the floor.

The last thought she had before paralysis closed her eyes was that she was utterly alone. Tom was at work, the kids were in school, even the dog was at the vet. And she could not move any part of her body to get to the phone.

An undetermined amount of time later, Andrea became aware of being in a dark room. She couldn’t see anything, could just barely breath. No part of her body would obey her instruction to move. She felt something heavy and sticky covering her face. Her arms were definitely at her sides, but the sticky substance was wrapped tightly around her body. Somewhere close by she heard a strange clicking sound, then felt another pinprick in the top of her head going deep into her brain. She tried to scream as what felt like an arrow tipped with fire pierced through her skull and all the way to her spinal cord. No sound would come from her throat. The clicking sounds became more like the sounds of liquid being sucked through a straw. The pain turned into the sensation of floating up through a narrow tube up to another world.

All in all, the entire process only took about thirty minutes. When it was over, Andrea was an empty husk wrapped like a mummy and thrown against the wall. Nia had emptied Andrea’s carcass of all its essence. She threw the empty bag of bones against the wall, slunk back to the dark corners of the secret room, and locked the door. Andrea had been strong with a lot of essence that would keep Nia’s hunger away for a long time. And now she needed rest.

She curled her legs under her body and slept.

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