Carla thought she was opening her eyes, based on the fact that she could see again. Then again, it didn’t feel anything like opening her eyes usually felt. Her body felt cold and stiff, like what she imagined waking up from a coma must feel like.
In front of her, Carla saw a bloody stain on the ground. It was her. It was her body. There it was, her clothes, her torso, most certainly not her head but that definitely made it worse because there was no head at all. She was dead, that was a sure thing, but Carla still sat there, seeing herself. She closed her eyes or whatever it was so that she wouldn’t have to see it again. Was she a ghost? Had that weird toiletry demon really turned her into a tree? Either way, the only good thing was that, physically, Carla didn’t hurt anymore.
She moved her legs to walk and realized she didn’t have any legs. It was certainly a strange experience, no longer having the limbs she had had all her life. Curious, Carla looked down at her body, but this proved impossible. When she looked down, all she saw was the ground.
Carla tried flexing her abs. Nothing. Her pecs? Nothing. Just stretching her back? A shudder ran down Carla’s definitely-not-a-back as she realized she no longer had a back. She reached her arms up to touch her face and was pleasantly surprised at the revelation that she did, in fact, possess hands and a face.
Using lungs she no longer had, Carla screamed in horror. The voice wasn’t hers, at least not like it had been before, but it definitely was coming from what was now her mouth, resonating through what was now her head.
Twitching uncomfortably, Carla dug her fingers into the warm earth and dragged herself away.
Chips of bark flew past Mel’s face like shrapnel as four swords stabbed at the tree he had been using for protection. Even with the saber unsuited for stabbing maneuvers and the difficulty of working with four arms in tandem, Pritha Prithvi was making rapid progress, needling through the edges of the wood faster than Mel could follow.
He waited for the right moment- the second that one of the swords, the rapier, got stuck in the wood- before rolling down the gently sloping hill, carefully avoiding bashing his head in and scampering to his feet. Mel hoped desperately to find Carla, but his first priority had to be living long enough to protect her, so he continued running into the forest, leaping and bounding in silence.
After a minute or two of running, Mel slowed, trying to get a feel for his environment. Most of the trees this far into the wood were a few dozen feet tall, casting a green shade over the ground. The silence was eerie. Mel took a deep breath and grabbed a decent-sized branch, the kind that could maybe block a few swings of the statue’s swords before breaking, before yelling his niece’s name.
Pritha Prithvi stabbed her short sword into the ground and grabbed at the splintered tree with her free hand, easily pulling the rapier out. The blade was slightly worse for wear, but it didn’t matter now. She had spent far too much time attacking the man who had betrayed her, her first and last friend. Now it was time to exercise purpose, to destroy the demon before it could harm another mortal soul like it had destroyed the centaur’s hometown centuries before.
Sadly, it only took a minute or two for Pritha Prithvi to find the bloody, headless body. Her hearts beat faster and the grip on her swords tightened. The man, it had to be the man. He had brought his own sacrifice for the demon. As if by some sick cue, a male voice rang through the forest.
And then Carla was a burger. Not just a burger, her own burger hat thing. She wiggled her new fingers and in the reflection of the fountain water, three cartoonish fingers wiggled as well. The lettuce teeth were soft and cool, the meat patty tongue too large to easily form words and now that her nose was reduced to small nostrils on the front of a sesame seed patty, Carla didn’t even look remotely human.
She fell back onto the floor of the cathedral, feeling worse than she could ever remember. If the plunger had put her into the hat, what exactly was she? Surely this thing couldn’t fit her brain in it, let alone the other necessary organs to sustain her life. Carla couldn’t remember ever seeing the hat eat. She could still breathe, but the air went into her mouth and then disappeared into no lungs. With a horrifying thought, Carla waved her new right hand between the top and bottom bun, right above her meaty tongue, and realized that she wasn’t even completely attached to herself. She could still feel all of her separate parts, but they didn’t even have to be touching for Carla to wiggle her bottom bun using muscles she’d never had. Nothing made sense.
Carla let her hand fall down to her side when she noticed something right along the side of her bottom bun. It was small, way too small for a full-sized human to stick their hand into, but if she was careful, Carla could just slip one of her fingers into a pocket built into the side of her new body.
In an instant, Carla could no longer feel the touch of her own hand. She slid the rest of her hand in slowly and wiggled her fingers around in the seemingly infinite empty space. The inside of the pocket didn’t seem to be a part of her body. Confused, Carla pulled her hand out.
And it was holding something.
In Carla’s hand was a pamphlet, the kind you see being given to pregnant teenagers and sick people, only this one was titled So You’ve Accidentally Had Your Consciousness Transferred Into A Hamburger Hat.
MORE PREY MORE PREY MORE PREY
The demon flew through the air, hungry. And there it saw its next victim- that four-armed woman, the one who had been set as a guardian all those years ago. The plunger warped behind her, its wooden handle resonating softly with the heat of magic, and bared all of its teeth in a nasty grin.
Pritha Prithvi turned around on an instinct and my oh my, there’s that look again. The look the humans get when they smell, hm, what’s that thing they’re always whining about? Death. Blood. Pain. Fear is the loveliest feeling to see on someone’s face, that wide open gasp of natural selection realizing it has failed to survive until the next day.
Immediately, a long, straight blade flew up toward the demon, but it caught the sharp edge in its teeth with a grinding screech of metal on bone. That’s it, that’s how I’ll kill her, she’ll have her lovely bones pierced through with her own swords, teach the bitch to defy me by living her measly life in my presence.
Another sword swiped at the demon, but it hastily spit out the first blade, propelling itself backward through the air and avoiding the slice. With a thought it swapped places with a gnarled old stump on the ground and suddenly the centaur found herself sprayed with the chunks of rotten wood as she stabbed, two swords at once, with a cry of “Tiger Blade” and the demon smiled and thought good, good, let the dead tree-flesh splatter like your own mortal body will soon enough.
Before the woman had a chance to turn around, the demon rushed forward along the ground and spun, slapping its solid wooden handle on the back of her knees. It cackled as she buckled and fell, savoring the inevitable victory and drooling in anticipation.
What a great day this has been.