‘Nice work,’ said Chergoa. ‘That’s a good start. You should see if you can do something new now. Try manipulating a part of your skin--the knuckles, maybe. An application of keratin could make it more resilient.’
Emiliana made to respond, but when she looked up from her work, her eyes widened behind her mask as something else demanded her attention.
A pitch dark figure was suddenly there before her, taller than any person she had ever seen. But this wasn’t a person, seemingly. Rather, it looked more like a monster, covered in black scales and even bearing a tail in spite of its bipedalism. Its lithe torso seemed vaguely human, as did its folded arms and huge hands with long, gangly fingers, but its head was still a matter of debate. It appeared to have no mouth, somehow--or at the very least, no lips. A small protrusion in the scales suggested that the nasal passage was where it should be, but the eyes--those were piercingly reptilian, glowing faintly crimson, and most unsettling of all, staring right at her.
Emiliana was without a voice.
The creature was certainly alive and breathing, but it said nothing. If it even could. For a long moment, it only watched her, until it slowly turned its head and looked around in silence.
‘You okay?’ Chergoa asked privately. She’d been hovering next to Emiliana the whole time but didn’t seem especially perturbed by the monster’s presence.
Finally, Emiliana found the proper question.‘What the HELL is that thing?!’
Chergoa hesitated. ‘What thing?’
‘That giant monster! Right in front of us!’
‘How can you not see it?! It’s right there!’
‘I don’t see anything,’ said Chergoa. ‘I don’t sense anything, either.’
The monster didn’t move. It only lingered there mutely, until at length, it faded away into empty space, dispersed like a whiff of smoke, leaving Emiliana to wonder if it had even been there to begin with.
‘It’s gone now... You really didn’t see anything?’
‘I really didn’t. You really saw a monster?’
She put a hand to her head. ‘I... I thought I did... What’s happening to me? Am I hallucinating?’