Somber Cook glanced over his left shoulder, and his anger grew by the minute. The Boyd brothers were following several yards behind making irritating high-pitched noises. They lived to aggravate him; he was an easy target as far as they were concerned. They pushed his tolerance daily to see how far they could go until he snapped and took a swing.
Somber slid to a stop, turned, eyed them for a moment, and then bellowed, "One more time, and I will make you swallow your words."
It didn't faze them one bit. The brothers continued mimicking Somber's every word in baby-like voices. Then, to irk him even more, they switched to a more irritating sound and did it even louder.
Somber felt heat climb up his neck, his muscles tightened, getting hotter and hotter with rage. His heart thumped painfully against his chest until it ached. His throat tensed up, and he felt a rush of adrenaline.
"Getting mad?" one of the brothers asked, smirking sarcastically. "Are ya gonna cry?"
Somber bit his lip and kept trudging with his head pointing straight ahead. He chose to ignore them, hoping they would get bored and taunt someone else. Hearing them whispering, he took a quick peek over his shoulder; the brothers sneered with devious expressions.
"What sort of name is Somber anyway? It's downright stupid," one of the brothers, teased. "Oh, I know what it means; you're a pathetic loser?"
Somber in an instant, stopped. He was breathing loudly. Just as he was about to turn around and punch one of them square in the mouth, he heard sloshing and chuckling.
The Boyd brothers crept up on him with a large bucket. They were so sly that Annabel didn't even notice.
Before Somber could turn, he felt warm goo cover his body. He growled as he jerked around with his fists clenched. With his mouth open in disbelief, the brothers took off running, laughing hysterically.
Somber angrily shook his head like wet a dog. His ears were clogged with mud mixed with fresh pig manure. His eyes burned and watered from the odor.
Gagging from the pungent smell, Annabel kept her distance. She stretched her shirt over her nose and mouth. She held her breath as long as she could before gasping for another.
With a loud grunt, Somber kicked the dirt in a rage as the mud oozed down his neck and chest. He clamped his jaw and shook his head in frustration as he and his sister hiked down the dirt road toward the cottage that they shared with their parents Isla and Ian, outside the village of Togglton. Togglton was a three-hour drive on a twisting road from Poshworth.
Halfway home, Somber suddenly stopped and kneeled down with a disturbing look on his face. "Annabel, I hear slurping sounds, do you see anything on my skin?"
Putting her hand over her mouth, Annabel gulped. Her eyes widened as she stared in shock. She nodded in agreement but said nothing.
With his mud-covered fingers, Somber touched his birthmark; it suctioned to the tips like a vacuum. They started to tingle, go numb.
Alarmed by the look on Annabel's face, Somber covered the side of his neck with his hand, and demanded that she run home immediately, and to tell no one about what she saw.
When she was out of sight, Somber attempted to rip his hand away, but couldn't; the suction was just too strong. His eyes watered from the pain as his palm burned, he swore his birthmark was craving to devour his flesh.
Then without warning, a storm rolled in, and thunder rumbled loudly directly above him. The sky turned gray, and it began to rain heavily. Lightening flashed in the clouds as they moved briskly across the sky.
In desperation, Somber kicked his shoe off and removed his sock to soak it in the rainwater. He briskly rubbed his neck to rid all the sludge. He squeezed water in-between his hand and neck. When the liquid became clear, the suction immediately stopped.
Staring at his palm, Somber noticed a sore in the shape of his birthmark burned in the center. The skin was raised, bubbled, and pulsated, like a heartbeat. It was full of fluid; the blister was expanding. As it grew, it began to spread across the width of his hand.
In a panic, he picked up a sharp stick. He stabbed the blister over, and over until it popped. Green fluid seeped out of it and fizzed on his wet hand. It was warm and had a rancid smell. Somber squeezed his hand firmly to drain it all out. As he watched the goo drip onto the ground, it instantly absorbed into the dirt like a sponge.
At that moment, the rain completely stopped. The storm clouds moved quickly across the sky and then vanished over the hills. The wind stopped howling, and the sun began to shine again.
Somber observed his hand. The skin he punctured was restored. The blister had disappeared. He ran his fingers across his birthmark; his skin was smooth as it was before, and the sensation in his fingertips had left.
Somber dashed home. He rushed into the bathroom and locked it. Hoping nobody followed him; he put his ear to the door and listened. Realizing he was alone, Somber slid to the floor and sat quietly. He was terrified to look at himself. Sweat dripped from his chin, and his hands became clammy. He knew he had to look, but he was deathly afraid.
Somber got up with his eyes tightly shut and made his way to the mirror. With tears rolling down his face, he stood without emotion. He took a deep breath and sighed. Hoping that it was normal, he opened his eyes. He stared in shock because something did change.