Peter now stood in front of Ercen, the enormous being occupying the punctured floor by the coffee table, which was now propped up somewhat due to the heaving floor beside it. His breathing was slightly ragged, and he was unsure of why the creature had called him over. “Yes?” he said, not knowing what to expect. He heard Amy shifting in the couch, directly behind him.
Ercen, he could see, was making that face at him again. Assuming it was safest to conclude she was smiling, he gave a small grin back to her.
“May I take your hand?” she asked.
“Uh…I guess so,” he replied, not sounding convincing, even to his own ears. He stretched out his white and crimson wrapped hand towards Ercen. It was clear he’d been steadily bleeding into the paper towels.
She took his wounded hand in both of hers. Until that moment, Peter had not noticed what had been there all along: Ercen’s hands had talons as long as butter knives, and they looked as sharp as his wood-carving tools in the garage. He heard Amy faintly gasp behind him.
The most peculiar sensation Peter had ever felt began pulsing through his hand. It reminded him of the intense tingling he’d experienced as a kid when he’d played in the snow for hours without gloves. But instead of the painful freezing that normally caused the tingling, this sensation seemed to be caused by heat. Or was it both? He had trouble isolating the feeling.
After a moment, he realized the confusion was because there was also the awareness of enormous pressure being applied to his skin. But it wasn’t like his hand being crushed under accidentally loosened rock; he’d experienced that unpleasantness during their dig in Ethiopia! No, this pressure was vaguely like the pressure on his eardrums when he and Amy went snorkeling in the Mediterranean during their honeymoon. The pressure became uncomfortable enough that he wished there was some way to equalize the heaviness on his hand like he had been able to do with his ears.
Abruptly, Ercen pulled her hands away from Peter’s. “You may remove your dressing. Your hand is healed,” she said.
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