Chapter One--The Looking Glass

She looked around the run-down bar nervously and spotted the restroom sign, hanging crookedly next to a broken jukebox.

I sure picked a quality place to indulge my vanity, she thought bitterly. The smell was almost intolerable, but she would have to do her best.

I have to do this. Without meeting any curious stares, she walked quietly and uncomfortably towards the sign, keeping close to the cracked wall. This was not the type of place she felt at home in. One quick glance up confirmed what she'd been afraid of: every man in the decrepit bar was staring at her like she was their next mug of beer. The girl shuttered slightly and grabbed the "ladies" room door handle.

"She's a lady alright!" whistled a drunken voice from the bar. The girl did not look back.

I doubt any lady has ever stepped foot in this bar, she thought dryly, shaking her head at the crooked lettering. As her hand grasped and pulled at the dirty handle, she noticed how incredibly white her skin was. Her hand shook a little, but she forced herself out of the view of the gawking men and into the dingy, faded bathroom. She approached the sink and reached for the tap, ignoring the black spider that crawled lazily around the drain. In her past life, she would have yelped at the sight, found her Raid, and sprayed at the spider from ten feet away. But now--but now.

She pulled the sleeve of her long sleeved blue v-neck--a shirt she'd been wearing for the past, how many days? Six?...Seven? --over her hand and wiped at the dirty mirror. She glanced into the small circular area she had cleaned…and froze. Who was that staring back at her? She glanced over her shoulder, but she knew there was no one behind her. She leaned in closer; this was why she was risking everything. She had to know how she'd changed.

The eyes. They shone back at her, not her normal warm chocolate colour, but a brilliant golden blaze…full of something terrifying, something that had not been there only a week ago. A week. She closed her eyes briefly and pushed back the flash of memories that wanted so badly to make themselves known. She shook her head and opened her eyes. Be strong.

Her eyes moved away from themselves and focussed on her hair. She had never particularly liked her hair. She had thought of it as mousy, brown and slightly boring. It tended to ignore her efforts and do as it wished. But now, instead of hating the waves that she could never tame, she knew there was something different about her hair. She put a pale hand up and touched a tendril that had fallen from her ponytail. Soft and so shiny. Longer than she remembered with a look of beautifully disheveled wildness that framed her striking heart-shaped face.

Everything about her felt the same—but different. When she wasn't starving, she felt stronger. Her small, slim frame looked the same, but she could feel the strength emanating from her. That was part of it, she knew. She had been told, mockingly, right before—right before It had happened. Before. What else happened Before? But she wasn't ready. She squeezed her eyes shut once more. She was afraid. When she wasn't afraid, she was hungry. She figured she'd rather focus on her fear, rather than her hunger. Hunger got her nowhere good and fear kept her safe.

She washed her hands and glanced around the tiny bathroom, spotting a small window. She could fit. The last thing she felt like doing was walking back through that bar, holding the breath she didn't really have. She was pretty sure she wouldn't make her escape quite so easily, in fact, she could hear the men talking about her from where she stood. Her sense of smell and hearing had also been affected. She could hear things she never noticed before. The sound of an insect's wings, the quietest whisper, the smallest sigh. It was annoying. She knocked out the screen and quickly and quietly pulled herself through, arching her back and landing gracefully on the other side of the window. I've never been graceful in my entire life. She knew that about herself. She could remember the little things. But not much else. She wasn't sure she was ready to remember.

Just as she began to walk away--now outside the seedy, rundown bar--one of the men from inside spotted her from the large window on the other side and yelled furiously. She gathered the last bit of strength she had took off at a sprint—a sprint that found her miles away in a couple of seconds. She stopped, looked behind her, down the road…and finally ducked into the dark woods off to the side of the road. She was exhausted and hunger was starting to beckon. She needed to be—away.

Sleep. Maybe if she got some sleep, she would feel better. She walked far enough to feel like she was untraceable, found a small cave and curled up, making herself as small as she could.

Sleep. Ha. What was she thinking. She hadn't been able to sleep days...a week? I will never be able to sleep again.