But it was too late. The curtain swished back on its track and there was David, or what used to be David. A humanoid form lay on its back on sterile, white sheets under a blue gown. The smell of alcohol and iodine was pricked by something else unusual—organic but, not fetid. His eyes were closed in sleep by wrinkled, pale lids, and he had IV lines and monitor probes on both arms, and a slim, transparent tube delivering oxygen to his nostrils—or what could have passed for nostrils. Monitors quietly displayed their readings and IV pumps whirred. He looked shorter and his legs and arms appeared bonier. His hair had fallen out entirely, and his skin looked yellowish-pink and wrinkled. His eyes were enormous against their sunken sockets… or was it that his nose and jaw were longer? There were angry red lines in his skin around his nose, mouth, over his eyes, and up the center of his scalp. The space between his nose and mouth bulged outward, and his nostrils stretched apart from each other. Sam’s eyes drifted down in horror to David’s left hand, and he saw that the fingers were bony and pale. His pinky was shriveled with thick sheets of skin sloughing off. Then, there were David’s feet which were yellowish with thick sheets of flaky skin lifting and hanging. His toes were hideously long with blackened, thick, sharp nails. He slept peacefully, but he looked more like a Holocaust victim than a thriving cancer patient.
Sam’s hand tightened on the edge of the curtain and his mouth dropped open. “Whhaaaattt in the hoooolllyyy fuck?!” He slowly hugged his arms to himself as his eyes surveyed and resurveyed his dear friend, searching for something familiar. Tears misted his vision and he turned to the doctor, fire in his stare, “Improvement? What the hell have you done to him?”
–From The Sky Calls, expected release in September, 2018