There was a time in which I thought I'd die.
"What's... what's going on..?"
I woke up, and everything was gone. The place I knew, and the people I associated with.
Gathering my strength, I lifted my heavy body off the floor and gazed out towards the endless darkness that surrounded me. As the cold slowly crept through my thin clothes, my body heat was all but gone. Shivering enough that my bones clattered, my breathing pace increased exponentially, to the point I started hyperventilating.
"I-I can't... w-where am I?"
With my muscles weak as though I've been sleeping for an eternity, I spoke to the surrounding darkness. And of course, no one replied. Not even a sound, as though I was the only one left in the world.
"Anyone... is anyone out there? I... I can't..."
As though liquid ice was being poured into my lungs, the cold was enough to choke me as I force numerous coughs in attempts to relieve myself.
And soon, I fell back against the floor. With one last thought, that I was simply tossed aside. Without memory, without a single memory, not even knowing, who I was, or what I was doing.
I thought, I was about to die.
However, when I came to, it was like a warm hand was grasped against mine; with enough strength as though there were pleading for me to stay.
My sleep felt like an eternity. When I opened my eyes, I stared at the wooden ceiling as a strange scent wafts through the air. I stared at the same ceiling for awhile as the small sounds of glass clattering, accompanied by the sound boiling of water in a pot made me turn my head.
As I rested against a bed made out of twigs, leaves and a strangely stuffed pillow; a small figure sat huddled by a small controlled fire. With the stove made from stone with a large worn out pot atop of it, the set up seemed rather primitive.
The stranger wore a worn, white dress as their long, dark untreated hair ran down against their back and onto the ground.
"Oh... you're up."
A small voice spoke out as they stood up and turned around.
A small girl greeted me; though she didn't seem too delighted about it as she closed the gap between us in small steps.
Crouching down next to me, she stared into my eyes, as hers seemed lifeless. Her dark pupils almost frightened me as she didn't smile.
"If you do. You'll die."
Almost about to choke once more, she didn't lighten her words and told me straight as it sent my already cold body straight to zero.
"So, if you don't talk. You won't, so."
Standing up once again, she walks down towards the pot as the lid clatters intensely as the contents boil over.
At that point, a million thoughts raced through my mind.
I'll die if I talk..? What does she mean? Where am I? Who is she? Who am I?
When she spoke, it didn't sound like she was talking to another person. It was as though she was merely speaking to herself. Her voice carried nothing, yet carried something; it was a strange thing.
How weighty, her empty words were. How unusual it was, that a child had such emotionless words. As though the concept of death was nothing to her.
As she opened the pot of boiling contents, another strange odor wafted through the air. Unlike the one that was present, the new was overwhelming as it made me feel a rather naesues.
"Hm, ripe, enough."
Taking it off the heat and onto the stone floor; separated from the timber as she stirred the contents of the pot with a ladle. Taking a heap, she poured it into a wooden bowl before she joined me at my side.
"Here. Drink up."
Taking a seat, she placed it nearby and stared directly at me as I could only stare back. Though I appreciated the hospitality, my body couldn't move; not even lift a single finger. I wanted to tell her, however, what she mentioned before made me remain quiet.
"Hm. Can't move."
As though she understood the situation, she leaned in with the bowl against my lips. At that point, I believed my throat was about to be scorched to death.
Like say, you're about to die anyway, so dying earlier than intended wouldn't be of much harm.
I wanted to squirm, however, I could only accept her offering as she poured the contents into my mouth. In an instant, the contents was rather cooling, however, bitter. Liquid boiled in a pot came out cool. I couldn't believe that.
Staring at me with no further words, she concentrated on pouring the contents down. It was to the point I almost drowned as my stomach expanded tremendously.
Tossing the wooden bowl aside, she shifts over and removes the blanket. I realised I was naked asides from my briefs.
Sitting down, she hugs her legs and continues to stare intently at my waist without word.
Wondering what she was up to, I felt rather embarrassed that I couldn't do a single thing. However, a few moments later, a pain shot up from my gut as though something was moving. Like standing atop of an ants nest as thousands of tiny jaws dig into your skin. Unable to even squirm to endure the pain, tears filled my eyes as I continued to scream.
"Does it, hurt?"
The girl then straddled me as she abruptly pushed both her palms against my gut as the thing inside shot up. Staring straight into my eyes as I continued to experience tremendous pain, it felt like her purpose was to torture me as she simply sat against me and watched.
"H-Help... Help me...!"
"You shouldn't talk if you don't want to die."
As though she enjoyed watching people suffer, she brushes her hand against my cheek before lowering her head against my chest. As she then tapped her fingers in a rhythm.
"What do you mean, I don't want to die but-"
As the pain continued to escalate, my body sweats as my limbs fell numb. And soon, something rises up from my stomach as she then abruptly thrusts her hand into my mouth and pulls out a long, grotesque creature covered with fluids including blood.
Removing herself from me, she tosses the creature into the pot and shuts the lid before placing it back onto the fire.
Left breathing heavily as I experienced hell, my entire body feels scorched as the pain still lingers inside. While the pain wasn't as severe, it felt like thousands of tiny cuts were left behind as my heart continued to race.
"Still, not enough."
Not enough? Not enough what? I wanted to ask that, however, I wasn't able to due to the sheer exhaustion and pain.
Walking away as I hear clattering of tin, she returned with a vial in her hand and a large leaf topped with various things in the other. Straddling me once more, she pours the contents of the vial onto the leaf as she scrunches it to form a ball.
"Are you, in pain?"
I couldn't answer her as she continued to squash the ball to the point liquid squelches out of it as it turns soggy. Before long, she holds it to my mouth and crams it in. Immediately waft with a sickeningly sweet taste. The texture was awful as it melts into a bitter mess before dissolving. Overtime, my body relaxed as my heartbeat sets to normal as the pain subsided.
"What did you do..?"
Strength returned to my body as I could twitch my fingers and toes.
Rising up, she leaves me and sits by the stove as though to watch over the pot.
A girl of who I do not know of treated me. At that point, I didn't know what she did to me, nor did I understand her.
Did she save me? Or was it just a spiraling road to further despair? I didn't know, however, I opted to at least show my gratitude. Because, my furthest memory was being stranded alone in the darkness; suffocating.
From one limb to the next, I found the strength to move them all as I walked over to the girl as she continued to stare at the pot.
"Umm... thanks. What was that... thing?"
"Gypeltuis, a parasite."
I tried repeating after her, however, such a name wasn't known to me.
"It's a parasite that saps away blood and vitamins from a body before laying its eggs to breed. When hatched, the-"
"On second thought, I'd rather not-" Turning away from her, her last few words sent a cold shiver down my spine as I look back to her in fright.
"Yes." Turning to me, she stared deep into my eyes. "In a few days, your body will become home to thousands of Hepeltuis."
I fell silent as I believed the worst had passed, however, it was just the beginning as she stood up.
"Does it hurt? Your intestines, right now, they're lined with its eggs."
"What do you mean... It doesn't hurt now but... I-"
Unable to even comprehend what's about to happen in the near future was enough to paralyze me in fear as I took several steps back and clutched my gut.
"...I, I don't... I don't want to die..."
Tears filled my eyes while my mind raced around, trying to piece together what happened that very day. Being lost in the darkness, what occurred before, what lead to my body becoming home to Gypeltuis.
"Then." Rising from the floor, she points towards the pot which she tossed it in. "Drink that."
"Drink... You want me to-"
I couldn't fathom her methods, something about her felt eerie, perhaps even more dangerous than the Gypeltuis.
"If not. You'll die. You don't want to die. Isn't that right?"
"If they hatch, it's not an immediate death. It's a painful one. You'll be alive long enough for them to feed and become Gypeltuis."
A sensation ran up my stomach as I retched stomach acid.
"If you don't hurry, the shells will harden."
With the foul taste still lingering, I dashed towards the pot and drank the entire contents as I almost choked in my attempts to take it all in.
"A greedy one, aren't you?"
After downing it all, I became slightly nauseated as I collapsed against the floor in cold sweat. As hazy images filled my vision, the girl squatted down beside with her head tilted just a slight.
"If you're going to drink it like that, you shouldn't leave a mess."
As I heard metal being scraped against the ground, she held a ladle up.
"If you don't drink it all, the effect may vary."
Without a single other expression against her face, regardless of how I suffered, it never wavered as though she was simply staring at nothing. Not even the dim lighting reflected in her eyes.
Though I shouldn't have trusted her at face value, I agreed to her terms as I was already sliding down the rabbit hole of despair.
The moment I came to the following day, the area was dim of any lighting like the day before. It made me realise that the sun rays doesn't reach the area.
"You've woken up."
There in the same tattered white dress, she sat calmly against the ground as though she was observing me during my slumber. Taking more of the surroundings into account, it's made mostly of wood as though we're inside a large tree. With various bundles of plants and herbs dangling from threads, some were dried and at the end of its life.
"Yeah... seems that way."
As I got up, my body felt strangely invigorated as I stretched my limbs whilst she sat there staring at me.
"So... should I be thanking you for this?"
Though it may have been because I had a good rest, I believed it was her doing.
"Well... you found me out there, right?"
With the window being basically a box cut out of the tree structure, I gazed out, though all I could see was a dimlited trail which lead further out into a forest. Better yet, we were in a forest.
"No one wanders into here without a sane mind."
"A sane mind, hmm..."
As I slid down the wall, I tried once again to recollect my memories; no matter how fuzzy they were, there was just no way I would stumble here on my own accord.
"For one who's about to die, you don't look afraid anymore."
As she crawled closer, she looked into my eyes before I remembered what could occur in the near future.
"...It's not like I'm not afraid but," Staring down as I placed my hand against my gut, if what she said was true, then that painful outcome could occur and I'd have no power to stop it. But. "I just thought, if there's a chance I could avoid that by believing you, I will."
"Though, despite drinking all that ehhh... soup. I feel rather empty now, is that a sign of..?"
As my voice trailed off, she simply rose and looked away.
"That concoction wasn't to fill your stomach as food."
Walking pass an arch which lead to another room, I didn't see her for awhile as I took the time to walk around.
I didn't realise it at first, but despite that small room I woke up in, the place was fairly large with numerous connecting rooms. With furniture being made of entirely wood, most rooms stored books as most were decorated by plants and flowers. However, every room shared one trait and that they all were dull, and seemed devoid of personal touch. With each and every room I walked into, I didn't see anyone else.
"You. Where did you go?"
With numerous sorts of items in her grasp; strange looking mushrooms, plants and produce, some were on the verge of falling from her grasp.
"E-Ehh... Had to use the toilet..."
I came up with a reasonable lie, probably because I realised I shouldn't have wandered off without her permission.
"Hmm. Then, did it hurt? Was there blood?"
I looked away as I immediately regretted it as she dropped everything.
"I see. Lie. You're lying. You are lying, aren't you?"
"N-No, I uhh..."
She stepped towards me rather menacingly as I sensed a fate far worse than death as I backed away from her. With each and every step, I felt like I couldn't keep my eye off her, however, I soon fell against my back because I stepped against a spherical object that managed to roll the moment she dropped her items.
Straddling me, she held her hands against my throat and leaned towards my face. With enough strength in her thin arms, it was well enough to choke a man to death.
"I don't. I don't like liars. Liars. Why, do you have to lie?"