Anna woke up to screaming. She tried to stand but her body refused to respond, not even to turn her head. Only her eyes responded to her insistent need to do something, run, hide, fight, anything but lay on the hard, frozen pavement. Opening her eyes revealed only a heavy, oppressive fog obscuring everything around her, including her legs.
The screaming echoed through the fog, seeming to come from all directions at once, though it was weakening, coming in coarse gasps and underlying tears. The fog almost seemed to have a presence to it, pressing down on her, choking her, and making it difficult to breath. The screaming matched its rhythm to her breathing, cutting off suddenly when she began to cough. It’s me, I’m the one screaming. Her newfound insight seemed to be the cue her body needed to make it work again. She wished it hadn’t.
Searing pain raced up her limbs, burning her nerves, boiling her blood, tearing her muscles, and shattering her bones. Another more primal scream escaped her raw throat and the coppery smell of blood overloaded her sense of smell. The pain forced her back to arch, her hands clenched tightly, scraping her knuckles against the sharp pebbles littering the road, hardly registering over the other sensations overwhelming her system.
It stopped as abruptly as it had started. Her body dropped down hard on the pavement, and her breath came in short, deep gasps as though she had just run a marathon. But she could move now. She slowly pushed herself up, using the yellow guardrail next to her to lean on while her shaking legs adjusted to her body weight as well as the fog. The fog that seemed to cling to her like spiderwebs in a long-abandoned tomb. She left smears of blood along the guardrail, dark red coating the bright yellow.
Glass and gravel crunched beneath her feet, loud and distant at the same time. A car, there should be a car, she thought. She continued to stumble forward, searching with her hands and feet as much as with her eyes.
The crumpled wreak of her car fuzzed into being in front of her, ghostly and ghastly. The crumpled front looked like it had attempted to plow through a mountain and failed. The windshield no longer existed and the steering wheel was crushed into the driver seat along with the driver side door. Where she had been sitting, buckled in. She looked down at her chest and found herself staring at the torn, bloody shirt imbedded in her skin with chips of glass and a narrow metal rod. Her hand rose of its own volition, shaking violently as it tried to grasp and pull the rod from her left breast. Her blood slick hand only slid along it, but she knew already what it meant.
She lunged from the rail to the car, its blue paint barely present between the gouges in the carbon fiber. Her hands found the cold, wet vehicle, and she inched her way around to the driver window. Cold. Enough time had passed for the car to cool off. Her hair prickled, covering her in goose bumps as the cold had not and sending a shiver down her spine. She knew what she would find, but she needed to see for herself.
She reached the door where it had been forced at least six inches into the cab. Her eyes closed involuntarily, putting off the inevitable for a few extra seconds. Then they opened and she saw her own body, slumped into the passenger seat and covered in blood. From this perspective she could see her chest was crumpled into itself, her head hanging limp against her shoulder.
The screaming began again, something so primal and full of fear that the fog shifted away from her, afraid of her. Then, gathering itself into a swirling mist it engulfed her slowing only when she had been consumed entirely.