(an excerpt from) “The Daughter’s Road” as told by Ercel Lermouth
…rose bumps about the whole of her body. The bumps became hardened and they bled and scabbed. Two days later the scabs fell off, each revealing a small downy feather like those found on the youngest fowl. The woman could not speak sentences. I couldn’t tell if she held concern for herself. The feathers were sprouting from her legs, arms, and neck. The hands had begun to stiffen and curl and the nails grew longer and harder and cusped together into a long fist with a lone yellowing talon. The father grew increasingly concerned. The daughter looked on.
After three more days, the mother was no longer downy. The soft cover had turned into an oily, black-on-gray coat that covered her entirely. What had previously been her hands and arms had now cured themselves solid into hideous appendages befitting some sort of monster from lore. Her face was pale and without color. Her nose had grown elongated and arced to the ground, like the softened beak of a finch. Her eyes remained open and unblinking, with grayed pupils covered over in a milky film. The daughter did not once see her look at anything in particular. The eyes were like those of the dead, following nothing and staring to the rafters of the small cabin.