Lyla was submerged in a tub of soothing warm water and, as she watched herself, she was evolving, her naked body gracefully changing. Her features were growing smoother, less precise. As she watched, her hands and feet fused, forming webbed fingers and toes. Then a tail began to grow from her body, and her neck developed gill-like slits. It felt utterly natural to her, and aesthetically, she found the transformation utterly beautiful, like witnessing the creation of a magnificent work of art.
And then Lyla awoke. She was uncomfortable and sticky. As she began to gain her bearings, she realized that she was lying in a pool of her own murky waste.
She frowned with disgust, peeling the fouled sheets from her body. This was the first time that Lyla had ever soiled her bed. She had been suffering with stomach upset recently, but she had always been able to at least make it to the bathroom in time until now.
About a week prior, she had begun to defecate inky black liquid. Shortly thereafter, she had also begun to cough up the same inky black liquid. It was as if her body were overflowing with the stuff. She feared that when she sweat, it would come out of her very pores.
Although Lyla rationally knew that she should see a doctor, she was afraid. She sensed that her system had been compromised, corrupted, infected, infiltrated... polluted. There was obviously something very wrong. Her stool was the consistency of oily water, and cloudy, swirling with copious flecks of black sediment. Her body was covered in organic raised designs reminiscent of tribal scarifications. She felt as though she was becoming something else. How could she possibly explain any of this to a medical professional?
That evening, Lyla's nose began to bleed. She wasn't sure why; perhaps it was the recent weather change. Although not immediately terribly concerned, when she went to wipe the blood away, a chill spread through her body. The blood was cloudy, full of black filament, and its smell was positively noxious, making her dizzy and sick to her stomach when she examined the blood soaked napkin.
The blood had the foul stench of waste.
Lyla tried to arrest the flow of blood, but it would not abate. Instead of slowing, the blood flowed faster, with renewed urgency. Although the consistency of water, it seemed to be turning into a wax-like substance, solidifying as it ran down the back of her throat. She felt as though she couldn't breathe; her throat was coated, her air ways blocked.
She fell to her knees in her bathroom, clawing ineffectually at her throat. And then she felt the embrace of hundreds of slender hands enveloping her.
As she sank into the earth, the shadowy limbs engulfing her, Lyla suddenly remembered with exact clarity a stuffed animal she had loved as a young child. It was a random thought, sad and distant. And then she was swallowed up.
Passing into the void in a great gush of inky umbilical fluid, Lyla was born into darkness, like a birth in reverse, sucked up into the confined space of a warm, moist, mysterious womb.
The crone snipped away a thread from the tapestry she was weaving, silently flicking a wayward tear away from her eye.