The Itch by Chloe Copland

The Itch by Chloe Copland

They said it starts with an itch.

They lied.

It was more like goosebumps, it wasn’t constant, it mostly occurred when there was a slight breeze in the air, that’s how it felt anyway. The feeling of someone watching you from a distance begins to creep up on you, the hair on the back of your neck stands tall, you’re constantly looking over your shoulder for someone or something. Sometimes you think you see it. More often than not you don’t.

You begin to feel them crawling on you. But when you look there’s nothing there. Your friends and family won’t believe you, they don’t know what it’s like. The feeling of them running along your skin. That’s when the itching begins. Just a light sensation to start with, it disappears easily enough, then it comes back on the exact same spot. You don’t feel them crawling there anymore. Just that itching feeling biting away at you.

That’s when you see it more, that thing in the distance, it only arrives at night, when no one else is around. Staying within the shadows, keeping just out of sight. You catch glimpses of it. People begin to say you’re mad. You’re not mad. It just stays almost out of sight, it prefers to watch from afar.

The itching… It becomes more of a nuisance. Your nails are growing out but you don’t cut them, you drag them along your skin, the jagged edges dig softly into your skin, harder each time. You develop a scarlet coating over your nails, staining your skin. You don’t really care anymore, as long as it brings that relief.

You don’t really realise it until it’s too late, that thing, the closer it gets… the faster they crawl on you, it’s like they obey it. It’s useful though, it helps you keep track of where it is. If that’s what you want anyway. They start crawling along the itch after a while, they spread it around your body. Eventually you stop bathing, they don’t like water. They begin biting you when you go near it. They make your skin boil, blisters begin to surface across your damp body. The itching becomes almost unbearable. They crawl faster around the blisters, enticing you to scratch.

Your fingers dig deep into your flesh, you drag them deeper and deeper into your skin. Fluids, blood and pus ooze out. You dig deeper and deeper, you can feel the muscles and flesh around your bones. You can’t stop. You keep scratching and digging deeper. You need to feel that relief. You don’t care about the pain. They’re crawling around in your brain now, you can hardly feel the pain, all you care about is getting rid of the itch that’s coating your body.

It enjoys watching you do it, you hear a deep gurgling laughter in your ear. There’s no point trying to look at it. It will be gone by the time your head turns around. This is when the itching gets bad.

You stop going outside, they begin to hate the light. It burns into your eyes, they begin to itch too and trust me, that’s one place you don’t want to scratch. You only leave the house at night. They don’t crawl as much then. They don’t like it when you try and contact your friends and family. They’re worried, you stop answering their calls and you keep your door locked. It gets angry when they come over… It makes them crawl faster, it makes you scratch harder.

I don’t remember the last time I saw the sun. I don’t remember the last time I saw my family, they used to come over every day to try and talk to me. It made me tell them to leave. I ran out of food almost a month ago.

I don’t feel hunger anymore, only a sharp pang once in awhile. It’s the itching, it’s constant, I can’t stop scratching, I’ve given up trying to stop myself. There are chunks of flesh caught under my nails. It barely hurts to scratch anymore, it’s second nature to me now. They feel agitated. I can feel them running along my bones… in my blood… that makes the itching worse.

I drag myself towards a mirror in my room. I’ve been scratching along my neck recently, I take in my appearance. I’m covered in open wounds, I can see part of my bones along my arms and legs. My neck is caked in rust-coloured clots. I can see my jugular artery, it’s pulsing slowly… It’s itchy…

My hand travels up towards my neck. That’s when I see it. It isn’t hiding anymore, I can feel it’s breath on my neck. I look towards where it’s masked face is.

“It’s time”, it says in a deep growl.

My attention is drawn back to the mirror, my flesh is disintegrating. I spot those things at long last. Millions of them. Tiny ant-sized scarabs, they’re ripping the flesh from my bones.

I don’t feel any pain, I smile and look back up at it, it’s still in the shadows. I understand who it is now.

They’ve saved my face for last.

I look in the mirror, raising my fleshless hand, I never expected my bones to be this white…

My face is ripped apart slowly… they form a cloak… around me, shielding my bones from view.

“Let’s go”, it says.

I turn around and follow my master, as we leave my house I pick up my newly formed scythe.

I feel the excitement building up. The scarabs are hungry again.

Their itch is contagious…


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