The Hangnail

Content warning!
This article contains mild body horror and injury.

It began with a hangnail. Unsightly things, they are— taking up root where they're not wanted, like weeds. So, I plucked it, and as it was removed from my body, so too was it extirpated from my mind. One doesn't waste much time reminiscing over weeds once they've been uprooted, after all. The next morning, however, it was back— larger, and more unsightly than before. I simply plucked it off just as I had the day prior, though not without a brief moment of pain, this time.   The next day it returned, reddened, curled, and gnarled like the branch of a dead tree. This took a bit more effort to remove, and I was left bleeding afterwards. Naturally, I bandaged the resulting wound— however minor it may have been— and hoped that would be the end of it. When I took off the bandage the following morning, however, it resisted— as if it had been firmly glued to my skin. I decided to let it be for the day, but as time went on, the skin beneath it grew hotter and hotter. I couldn't bear it— and finally relented. I pulled at the edge of the linen with steadily increasing strength, yet pull after pull resulted in nothing. My finger grew hotter still, and felt as if it had been dipped into boiling water. I pulled with all my might— until, finally, the binding began to move. The cool air on my skin felt liberating, and so, I pulled again. And again, and again— making steady progress until I turned my hand to see better as I worked.   The bandage had torn free a layer of skin alongside it, about the same thickness as the hangnail, leaving pinker, more sensitve flesh beneath it. But the air on it felt so good, so liberating. The skin still trapped beneath the remaining binding continued to burn without rest, and it wasn't long before I bit my tongue and began to pull again. Yet as I tore the wrapping from my body, it didn't come off. The layer of skin it had held onto so greedily only seemed to continue, without breaking. I gave it a few strong tugs to break it free, to no avail.   I thought to grab a knife or other sharp object to cut it off— but the skin alongside it had begun to heat up, as it had beneath the bandage. The burning sensation was unbearable, and I couldn't help but wonder just how good it would feel if I were to simply keep pulling. And so I did. As I pulled, the heat would continue to travel just beyond what I had freed, only soothed by the removal of the skin above it. Soon, my entire finger had been peeled, and then my hand, my arm; the veritable rope of skin I was now pulling grew wider the more I pulled, pulling more from my body with each tug.   The skin split when I reached my shoulder, allowing me to continue across my opposite shoulder, arm, and its fingers, before returning to peel my chest, stomach, and legs. Eventually, all that remained was my head, which felt as if it had been lit on fire. I did not hesitate as I pulled, the skin freeing itself from my neck, my cheeks, my brow...nothing was spared until I was free. After hours of agonizing burning, tugging, and tearing— an entire layer of skin had been reduced to revolting ribbons at my feet. I was more sensitive to every sensation, my thinned hide could even feel the dust that lingered around me. But, it could also feel blissfully cool air and its every movement. This soothing sensation, combined with my fading frenzy, and the ensuring exhaustion, lulled me quickly to sleep.   When I finally awoke, I brought a burning hand to my face. There, at the tip of a finger, mockily curled and pink, was another hangnail.

Comments

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Master PrincessESH
Aster Blackwell
27 Mar, 2022 20:07

This was incredibly uncomfortable to read. Good work!

Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
27 Mar, 2022 21:32

Thank you, glad to hear it!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
30 Mar, 2022 06:57

Painful as all hell but it was an amazing read. I liked the touch of madness in it , how as painful as it was, there was something blissful underneath. Oof

Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
31 Mar, 2022 07:25

Thank you! No joke, the morning after, I got the first hangnail I'd had in months.

4 Apr, 2022 21:50

Terrifying. I LOVE IT.

Check out my competition entry!
Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
4 Apr, 2022 23:28
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