Cool Water

She sat alone in her office, swiveling back and forth in her chair. The fan above her head rocked a rythmyic tune as she waited for her computer to load. The blue screen in front of her displaying circling dots. She let her head fall back against the chair and she stared at the ceiling. Stucco patterns overlapped in ugly clumps.

The walls were pale blue, too pale. It would probably be considered sky blue, but the sky never seemed this shade. She noted the many nail holes that dotted the walls as she swiveled back and forth. The holes were remnants of the previous resident who appeared to like hanging things.

As she swiveled left and right and left again, she stopped and lifted the edge of the blinds to peek outside. All she saw was black. She swiveled right again. A pool of water was collecting at the bottom of her glass. A drop of condensation slid down the plastic to join the other fallen drops.

After seeing that her screen had still not changed, she lifted herself from the seat and went to the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face; to wash the sleep from her eyes. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. It was not a reflection she was particularly proud of, but it also wasn’t horrible. She turned her head right, then left, shrugged and turned her attention to the faucet.

She let the cool water pool in her hands before bringing them up to splash the water on her face. It felt good. She scooped some onto her neck as she leaned over the sink. It was refreshing and calming. She straightened and dabbed her face and neck with her hand towel. As she hung it back in its place she glanced at her reflection then turned to walk away.

She stopped before she had fully taken a step. She turned and faced the mirror. A red mark was on her neck where none had been before. She leaned over the counter to get a closer look. She rubbed the mark. It was flush with her skin, not raised as she might have expected. It felt no different than her skin. It wasn’t warm or tender to the touch.

She turned on the hot water and rubbed the mark with soap and water. It didn’t change. She heard the sound of Windows loading and decided to worry about the mark later. Her fingers lingered on the spot as she walked back into the office. 

Her cat looked up at her with a pitiful expression when she found him in her seat. She laughed and picked him up, setting him on her lap as she sat down. He lept from her lap to find his own place of comfort. She logged into the computer and played the waiting game again as the updates finished installing.

There was a tickle at the back of her throat. She coughed and tried to it. Her desktop loaded and she clicked on her browser, ready to work on her client’s webpage. The tickle was persistent and she rubbed her throat, trying to massage it away.

She updated the banner images and went to work on updating the “contact us” page. She took a long drink of her water hoping that would clear her throat. She tried to ignore it, but the itch became more intense. It began to feel as if her throat were closing. She rubbed it again with no change.

She stood and went to the bathroom. The mark had grown. It spread across the entire right side of her neck. She coughed again trying to get rid of the ball that seemed to be lodged in her throat. She watched the mark crawl along the front of her neck and toward the left. 

She could barely breath now. She clutched at her throat. She scratched at the mysterious mark, but only began to bleed when she scratched too deep. She watched her face darken and her eyes redden. As she silently choked for air, the edges of her vision started to darken. She began to feel weak and grasped the counter for support. She stared at her reflection in the mirror and had just a second to see the red mark completely cover her neck before her world went to black.

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