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His hand lay against the bed sheets, fingers slightly curled, the pale skin lined with purple and green veins. It moved subtly in rhythm with his damp breaths. The room smelled of moldy bread, and something else indefinably ill. It was the smell of a body on the very edge of life, waiting for the last nudge that would push it over.
The sound was less than a whisper- a lament riding on the wings of a breath.
"Willa. Come closer to me."
I dragged my eyes from his limp hand, forcing myself to look into the hollow face with the milky eyes. My name wasn't Willa, but he was clearly talking to me. Or to whomever he thought I was. I leaned forward uncomfortably.
"It's nearly the time. Willa, the time... I should have... It's too late." His eyes were roaming back and forth now, blind but trying to see.
Then his hand flew out and grabbed a fistful of my hair, wrenching me forward so that I struggled to keep from falling onto his brittle rib cage. I think I might have let loose a startled yelp, but it was immediately trampled by the appalling sound tumbling from his lips.
"Willa! Forget everything you've learned to depend upon! It's all going to hell soon enough." His voice was a brutish shriek that rasped and writhed and clawed at my eardrums. "Willa... Willa..." For a moment he seemed at a loss for words. His tongue darted out to moisten the cracked lips. His eyes continued to roll for a moment, and then they seemed to find my face. "Willa... listen to me. You're not who you think you are. None of us are... but that isn't my point. Your blood... It runs with something... else." His eyes bulged sickeningly, and then they bored straight into my gaze, focusing clearly for the first time.
"Willa, you were hatched from a dragon's egg."
And then he seemed to deflate against the mattress.