Something seemed different. The odd bite between the shoulder blades of Liza Handley’s back tingled, but not in a bad way. It was like the slightest touch of a childhood crush that would set butterflies free. Euphoria overwhelmed her with a sense of beauty and magic.
The sting itself bulged red and angry in a cross. A small hole in the center of the swelling oozed, the clear, sticky liquid coating her spine. Liza had already been to see two doctors shortly after discovering the wound, neither of whom could identify what kind of creature might have created the puncture. A cream was prescribed and she was sent on her way with the assurance that “it should clear up soon.” That was two weeks before and the inflammation continued to grow.
Liza stepped out of the shower and went to the vanity. Her towel dropped to the floor and she stood, craning her neck, looking in the mirror at the large “t” on her back. The discharge coated the swelling. Having no luck cleaning it off — not even in a scalding shower — she bent her arm behind her back, scooping up some of the tacky secretion on her finger. Slightly disgusted, she thought that she should be happy that she was so unlucky in love. How would this gross development go over with a bed mate. The ooze was no longer clear. It was pearlescent and shimmery, almost as if it had glitter in it.
“Can you hear me yet?” a faint, slightly irritated, voice called.
A small light darted in her peripheral. She had noticed it before, and began to fear that she was beginning to experience hallucinations. She ignored it, hoping that it was a passing symptom.
“Human’s have no true ‘poker face,’ as you would call it. I know you hear me. You have to listen.”
Liza put her hands over her ears, knowing that she was going insane. “Hearing voices? That’s the first stop to crazyville,” she thought.
“You can’t merely block out my voice with your hands.”
“Of course not. I’m hearing voices. That’s the point. It’s all in my head and I’m out of my mind.”
“You’re not going crazy… You’re simply changing.”
“I don’t want to change!” Liza cried out and watched in amazement as small lights sprang from her fingers. “Oh no…” She crumbled to the floor, hugging her legs. “Crazy, crazy, crazy.”
A glowing ball hovered before her eyes. She reached for it, and it moved from her grasp. Liza frantically began to swat at it, knowing that it was part of her downfall, but it stealthily averted each swing. “Go away!” she screamed.
“I can’t… You’ve got to listen. You’re changing into a hybrid, forbidden by the counsel.”
“I don’t understand.” Just as the words spilled from her lips, the blissful sensation in her back turned into a searing pain. She quickly got to her feet and turned her back to the mirror. Horrified, she could see something poking through each shoulder blade. Blood ran down back as she watched what looked like bones tearing at her skin. Agony dropped her to her knees. The protrusions continued to rip through her shoulders. On hands and knees, she watched as the blood began to pool at her sides. “What’s happening to me?” Lights swirled around her and she felt faint.
When she woke, the blood and the pain was gone. Just as she was beginning to think that it was all a bad dream, the glowing orb returned before her, except it wasn’t an orb at all, it looked like a tiny person. Then she felt something different… something coming from her back. She reached behind her. Was that feathers?
“Will you listen to me now?”
Confused, she stared at the human-shaped ball of light, as she continued to finger the feathery material behind her. Almost as if in a daze, Liza stood and instinctively turned her back to the mirror. There, jutting out of her shoulder blades, she found the most magnificent silvery wings that she had ever seen, even on the most exotic of birds. She turned to face the mirror straight on, and she was greeted with — no more sporadic freckles, no more unsightly stretch marks — nothing less than perfect porcelain skin. “I must still be dreaming.”
“No. You’re not. You have to listen… we don’t have much time.”
“I’m listening, but first, who… what are you?”
Liza listened as the tiny ball of light explained that he was an elder sidhe, “a fairy to most humans,” and his name was Oisin. This did nothing to sway Liza’s thoughts of insanity being the probable culprit for all of the mornings chaos. He went on to tell her that she had been kissed by a bhampair sidhe.
“Wait… a what? And who told him that he could kiss me?”
“It’s not really a kiss. It’s more like a bite. Bhampair sidhe are like…” Oisin turned away, “…like vampire fairies,” he said uncomfortably.
“Okay… You’re telling me that I now have wings because I was bitten by a vampire fairy?” Liza let out a cackle. “I’ve officially gone over the edge. Tell me, will I be a vampire too?” She laughed until she snorted. She felt embarrassed, even if she was talking to an elder fairy in her bathroom.
“You’re going to have to pull it together. No. You will not be a vampire, nor are you a human, nor are you a sidhe. You are a hybrid and you are forbidden to exist. They’ll be coming for you.”
“Who are they?” If Liza was truly going insane, she may as well have fun with it.
Oisin frantically flies about as he explains that it’s the Counsel of the Elder Sidhe that already has a bounty out for Liza with instructions to kill upon sight. Hybrids are not allowed to exist, and those who do are in hiding.
“Wait… Aren’t you an elder sidhe?”
“Yes. An elder, but not part of the counsel.”
Liza, growing tired of the hallucination, began stroking her wings. “My mind can make up some crazy shit. Maybe I should have tried those mushrooms that my roommate offered me in college.” A sharp pain emanated from somewhere behind her back. Was that her wings?
“I hear that it really hurts,” Oisin said. Liza turned to find him holding one of her feathers. “So, I don’t know much about human hallucinations, but do they hurt like that? Now come on, we have to go.”