“Give ol’ Charlie a kiss!” Charlie Drenth pressed his purple lips towards hers. Gale fell back, Charlie on top of her. His exposed viscera squished as he bore down on her.
“No!” Gale screamed.
A bloated tongue darted out between yellowed teeth, seeking to enter Gale’s mouth. Gale managed to get one hand free. She clawed his face, the flesh coming away in soggy strips beneath her nails. He chuckled with glee.
Gale grabbed the tiny medicine bag that Brian had given her, tore it from around her neck, and shoved it into Charlie’s mouth. She poked it down his throat with her fingers. Charlie released her, and she crawled from under him.
Gale got to her feet. Charlie knelt before her, his hands at his throat, making a choking sound. His eyes bulged, fixed on her. Gale watched as the maggots, the worms and insects turned on him, consuming him. She could see them moving beneath his skin. Then, like a sandcastle hit by a wave, Charlie crumbled to the floor, his body decomposing in an instant. Gale looked away.
“You killed him!” a voice wheezed. Gale turned to see Sanura Orva—or what had been Sanura—step from the Darkness. She had been half eaten, in places no more than a skeleton, her face half a skull. Her one eye glared at Gale.
“You killed him!” Sanura repeated. “Just like you killed me!”
Gale tensed. “No, I didn’t.”
“You let me die!”
“You’re a liar.” Gale said. “And you’re not my friend.”
Sanura screamed, and the scream became the high-pitched roar of a beast. She dropped to her hands and knees. Before Gale’s eyes she began to change, bones melting like wax, muscles and skin stretching and contracting. In a moment the thing was Sanura no more; it became the leopard that had killed her.
Gale took a step back, matched by a step forward from the leopard. It crouched low, its tail twitching, drool spilling over the fangs of its lower jaw. It growled, muscles bunching, then leapt at her. Gale fell to her knees, throwing up her arms in an instinctive effort to protect her face.
The sword lay on the floor a few feet away, offering no help.