Normally, she’d try to ease her panic and get the images out of her mind. She’d do something proactive, like researching the scroll or going swimming to clear her mind, but now she let it linger. She made herself feel the absolute terror and rage at the thought of losing the people she loved the most.
And then she began to feel it. The flutter across her skin, radiating all over her body. It was a subtle, pleasurable feeling. It seemed focused in her hands, as an odd, stretching sensation passed over them.
When she opened her eyes, she could visibly see it happening. Her fingers were elongating, the skin stretching unnaturally. Her nails even began to grow, changing color from white to a dark brown as they thickened and began to hook like talons.
“Oh my gosh. My fingers…” Gemma gasped, watching her hands transform.
She’d been afraid that if she stopped focusing her energy on transforming, that it would stop, but now, since she was terrified about losing control, the fear seemed to push it on. Her fingers continued to grow until they were nearly a foot long. The skin stretched tight on her hands and arms, making the bones stand out more sharply.
“Does it hurt?” Daniel asked, peering at her hands.
“No, it tingles … and it feels kinda good, actually,” she admitted.
The flutter continued over her skin and all throughout her. Heat surged through her arm muscles, but even that felt oddly good. Her heart seemed to beat differently, and it felt as if it were expanding her chest, pounding more forcefully and pumping blood more rapidly through her veins.
When her wings had torn through her back during her final encounter with Lexi, that had been incredibly painful. She’d felt the skin ripping. But this was much different.
“That is so weird,” Daniel said, sounding in awe of her transformation as her arms began to stretch and grow.
“My mouth itches,” Gemma said, and the words came out with a lisp when her tongue hit against the sharp points of her new teeth.
The roof of her mouth was burning hot, and she could taste blood, but she wasn’t sure if it was from her gums as new teeth tore through or from her tongue’s hitting against them.
“Ugh.” Gemma groaned. “It’s hard to talk with these teeth.”
Daniel stared at her with wide eyes. “Okay, that is really gross.”
“You’re not helping,” Gemma said dryly.
Thankfully, she couldn’t see herself, but she knew exactly how Lexi and Penn looked when they changed. They had a mouthful of hundreds of razor-sharp teeth poking jaggedly out of their mouths, so their lips were stretched around them in a thin, red line.
Gemma could feel the tightness of her lips, and her vision changed, becoming clearer as her eyes changed into the yellow, birdlike eyes of the monster. She could even hear the bones in her face cracking as they shifted and moved to accommodate a much larger mouth.
“I’m sorry, but…” Daniel shook his head. “That’s just … not pretty at all.”
When the bones stopped cracking, she realized she could hear much clearer than she had before. The sound of Daniel’s breath and even the sound of his heartbeat echoed in her ears.
And the transformation seemed to make her hungrier. Not ravenous like she’d been before, when she’d killed a man, but it was gnawing inside her, spreading out from her stomach with insistent electricity.
“Should I do more?” Gemma asked, and her voice had taken on that slightly demonic tone she heard when Lexi and Penn spoke in this form.
“Can you do more?” Daniel asked.
Her legs hadn’t shifted at all, and her wings hadn’t broken out yet, so she knew she could go further. But she wasn’t sure that she should. “I don’t know.”
“How does it feel? Are you still in control?” Daniel asked.
“Yeah. I mean, I’m not eating you, but I do feel hungrier.” She breathed in deeply, trying to calm the hunger growing inside her, but it only made things worse. “And you smell…”
“I smell?” Daniel asked, confused.
“Yeah, like…” Gemma didn’t know how to explain it. Nothing on earth had ever smelled the way he did just then. “Delicious.”
“Seriously?” His eyes widened. “You want to eat me right now?”
“Kinda, yeah. I can hear your heart beat, and it’s like…” Gemma closed her eyes and sang along with the melody of his heart. “Da da dum, da da dum.”
“Holy shit,” Daniel said in complete awe. “Your voice was really beautiful just then.”
“Really?” Gemma asked, and looked at him.
He didn’t have that glassy stare in his eyes the way humans did when they were under the siren spell, but there was something not quite right about his gaze, like he was captivated by her.
“Yeah.” He shook his head, trying to clear it. “I’m not under your spell, at least not the way I think normal guys would be, but yeah, you had me kinda entranced just then.”
“You have no idea how hungry I am. I think I need to eat soon.” She tried to lick her lips but could only run her tongue along her teeth. Her stomach growled, an audible, angry sound, and her body trembled with hunger. “Well … maybe I could eat now. You could get someone, right? Some horrible person?”
“Some horrible person? Where would I find some horrible person?” Daniel asked, and he’d taken a step back from her.
Her back and ribs began cracking as her torso stretched out, and she felt herself losing her sense of reason. Her thoughts were getting blocked out, and she could barely remember the name of the guy standing in front of her. She didn’t know where she was, and she didn’t care. The only thing that mattered was the burning hunger inside her.
“I don’t know. But you should totally find them right now.”
“Gemma … you’re changing more.” He stepped back again and stared up at her, now that she was towering over him. “I think you need to get yourself under control really fast.”
“I will,” she hissed. “I just need to eat.”
“Your voice just now, it was not pretty at all. You’re losing yourself, Gemma,” Daniel said forcefully. “Let’s bring it back.”
There was a blackness coming over her thoughts, and she knew she was losing control. She knew that the monster was taking over, and soon she’d be run by some kind of primal instinct that she didn’t trust or understand.