Jillian slowly awoke. Moaning in pain, she worked herself onto her elbows and looked around. To her right were the remains of her mother's best friend; ghastly, shriveled, clothed in disintegrated rags. Jill looked down to examine her own clothes--and was thoroughly shocked.
"Oh, my God," she whispered.
Sitting erect, she found that her legs, shaved baby- smooth only that morning, were covered in a soft, silky down. Pubic hair... a wild mass of curls. She felt an equal mass of curls beneath each arm. And her brown hair, which before had barely reached her jaw, now hung about her in waves, nearly to her waist.
"Oh, my God," she said again, examining her split ends. "Yuck."
Getting to her knees, Jill realized that her hair was not the only thing to have grown. Trapped inside her brassiere were breasts twice the size and weight of her own.
"Jesus Christ!" she muttered, cupping each in a hand. "What is this?"
She actually had difficulty breathing. Standing erect, Jill slipped two fingers inside her blouse and released the bra snap. Her brassiere sprang open.
"Ah," she sighed, breathing freely again.
She felt suddenly embarrassed. She looked around. Then she peered down her blouse and realized she really had grown twice as big. "Oh, my God," she said a third time. Then she buttoned herself up.
Like it matters, an inner voice said. Why not take off the rest and go completely nude? No one's to see.
Shut up! she thought.
The wave had aged her clothing as well. The colors had drastically faded, and the material hung on her like sackcloth. "Gross," she said, shifting her shoulders.
The line of demarcation between wave and break was amazing. Calf deep grass gave way abruptly to chest high growth. It was like being in Africa. Houses were overrun by weeds and vegetation; nowhere did one look inhabitable.
She had awakened in a fetal position, thumb in her mouth. She had left her thumb there. For most of an hour, Jill had forced her mind blank, humming tunelessly, shoving aside thoughts when they intruded.
She was talking about years here. Many years.
"God," she whispered. "How old am I?"
With mounting trepidation, Jill went in search of a mirror. She went and stood before it. She observed herself in shock.
God! I am so old!
Moving close to the mirror, she turned her face back and forth, then went impatiently to the curtains and threw them back. She returned to the mirror.
Better," she said.
Her hair grew between eight and ten inches a year, and Jill guessed her age at nineteen, maybe twenty years old.
Six fucking years! she thought. "Better than a hundred and six," she said, aloud.
Yes, better than that. Other changes had occurred. No longer was she chunky throughout the waist and hips; her tomboyish figure had given way to rounded hips and a flattened tummy.
"Wow!" she said, fingering her new thighs. "For real?"
Twisting back and forth for a better look, she rather giddily thought: I look good. Better than I did, anyway. I actually have hips. But God, I hate all this hair.
Removing a pair of beige panties--Victoria's Secret, the waistband read--Jill slipped them on. Her new growth stuck disgustingly out the sides.
"That," she said, laughing, "is the first thing I do."
Stripping off her blazer, Jill removed her blouse and the useless brassiere and dropped them both on the floor. From a center drawer she selected a white tee shirt and pulled it over her head. She shook her breasts beneath it and laughed again. Then she went to look for a brush.
"Ouch." The brush hung up in her tangles. "Ouch, ouch ouch!" she complained.
She dropped her hands in disgust. "This is impossible."
Twisting her hair into a rope, she coiled and secured it at the top of her head with a pin.
He jerked upright, his skin freezing in fright, and then she screamed again. He scrabbled to find the bedside lamp, and managed to switch it on, but then it dropped onto the floor, so that what he saw was illuminated by an angled, upward light that made it look even more terrifying than it was.
He was kneeling between the legs of a shriveled old woman. Her sparse white hair was coming out in clumps. Her eyes were sunk into their sockets and her lips were drawn tightly back over orange, toothless gums. All that identified her as Catherine was her huge, swollen belly.
One foot emerged, and then a hand. Miraculously, it was still alive. It was purple and slithery and it smelled strongly of amniotic fluid. He turned it over so that he could cut the umbilical cord, and then he lifted it up in both hands. It was so tiny, so frail. A baby girl.
Vincent was overwhelmed. He started to sob out loud. Tears ran down his cheeks and dripped from his chin. He couldn't understand what had happened to Catherine, but he knew that he had saved the baby's life. He carried her through to the living-room, laid her on the couch, and then went to the bathroom to find some towels.
He sped to St Michel-des-Monts through driving, sunlit rain. At times his speedometer needle wavered over 110 kph. He managed to reach the house just after eleven o'clock. He ran to the front porch, vaulted up the steps and banged furiously on the knocker.
Catherine's gone. But I managed to save her child. I wanted to bring her back here before it was too late.'
He went back to the car, and opened the door. Very hesitantly, like somebody who has never felt rain on their skin before, or had sunlight shining in their eyes, a young girl climbed out, barefoot, but wrapped up in green bath towels. Vincent took her hand and led her toward the house. Violette and Baubay watched in silence as she came up the steps. She looked at least 17 or 18 years old, with long brunette hair, like Catherine's, and she was almost as pretty, although her features were a little sharper.
'I feel like her father. I brought her into the world, didn't I? I watched her grow up.'
'In three hours? That's not fatherhood.'
'All the same, it was incredible. She just grew bigger and bigger, like one of those speeded-up movies.'
Graham Masterton, 1997.