You can see the bone through the demon’s skin, red beneath the translucent blue-white of its flesh. It slides through the bedroom window at night, silent and stealthy, and stakes its claim.
You can see the bone if you’re looking hard enough. Otherwise you see nothing at all.
Morning brings a sharply ringing alarm, sunshine, and a buzzing feeling that something is not right. Tingling in your blood and a humming in your brain. Memory of a dream lingers: stark red bones, an open window. But the memory fizzles and fades, and you shake it off. Touch your fingers to your collarbone, to your rib cage, check the lock on the window, and move on with the day.
Crimson bones and carmine arteries and the demon is hiding deep beneath your skin. These bones beg for release. A tickle, a shiver, a cry for you to unearth the calcium hardness beneath the softness of your flesh. It makes you uneasy, this. You resist. You cling to the body that is yours, or was yours, before the demon moved in. You cling to your milky bones and ruddy skin. But it gives no quarter, this demon. It demands flesh, your flesh. It demands a home for its carnelian rage.
You can see the bone through your skin, electric beneath wizened flesh. These days you don’t even have to try. The demon still scratches, scratches at your skin, screaming for more of your flesh, more, more, dig the bones up and set them free. You dream of talons now, of teeth, of windows slammed wide open.
That buzzing feeling, the one that said not right, is still there, but the demon has taken a toolbox, snipped the buzzing wires, rerouted them, reconnected them in different directions. Now the buzzing feeling says not right, not right, my bones are not yet ruby red.
Your favorite color was red, once, but now you’re not so sure.
The bone is buried beneath the demon’s marbled blue-white flesh as it lumbers out, this time through the wide-open front door. You can’t see the bone, not even when you concentrate, when you use spectacles, when you examine it under a microscope. It doesn’t matter, because you don’t have the energy to try. The demon’s departure has left you with a heady, floaty feeling, an emptiness filling up your brain until there is nothing but void.
You call out to the demon from upstairs, pleading wait, wait, what about my bright-red bones? You try to follow, but your legs tremble and feet stumble, your body tumbles, down down down the stairs.
Head over heels, limbs against treads. The crack of a rib, a viscous splash of blood, a tibia through the shin. You can see the bone.
Tamzin Mitchell is a proofreader and editor. She holds an MFA from the University of New Hampshire and has been nominated for Best of the Net. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Waxwing, Cosmonauts Avenue, Not One of Us, Crannóg, and elsewhere. She moves often but is currently based in Prague.