Siobhán lowered her hands into the stream of the tap, savouring the flash of warmth as the lukewarm water hit her soil-covered skin. After five hours of gardening in a draughty, half-leaking greenhouse, it was good to just be alone for five minutes. Unfortunately, it couldn’t last, as one of Maebh’s teasing comments about herself and Diarmuid came unbidden to the fore.
“Come on, Shiva. The doctors aren’t going to care if you hug him once.”
Shiva. Diarmuid’s nickname for her. A name he genuinely hadn’t known was that of the Hindu god of destruction. In fact, he hadn’t even known of them – he’d just “heard the name somewhere”. It was still a pagan god of destruction…
She tried not to look at the mirror as she raised her head, but found herself unable to look away from it. Facing her was herself, just as expected. The same brown hair, green eyes and rounded jaw. She close her eyes for a brief moment, and opened them again to see-
A muted gasp broke from her lips as her heartbeat doubled. Facing her was somebody with the same eyes, hair and shape of her face, but the other face had more. Yellow fangs jutted up from the corners of the leering mouth, just like the ones on Maebh or Seamus or any of the native-born Fomorians. The green eyes now bore the intense, fixed stare of somebody completely deranged. And to say nothing of the blood splatters that covered her opposite’s face.
No, that wasn’t her opposite. It was herself, or what she would become if the transformation went any further. A monster.
No longer aware that she was standing in a bathroom, she felt her lips curl and brow lower in disgust. That…freak. That…monster. That…thing needed to-
“Die, bitch!” she hissed, curling her right fist and swinging it up as hard as she could. She barely noticed that her opposite was raising her own fist as well-
And came crashing back to reality at the thud of something that did not sound like glass and the jolt of pain in her hand. Blinking in a mix of agony and disbelief, she saw her reflection extending its left arm off the edge of the mirror to meet her right, with no sign of the spider-web of cracks in the glass that should have been there.
She lowered her throbbing hand, only vaguely noticing the livid bruising that was beginning to spread across her knuckles as she focussed on the mirror again. The fangs had…gone. The leer and fixed, unhinged stare of her opposite had been replaced with her own stare of bewildered pain. And the blood had been cleaned off her face. Where had they gone? Had they been real?
Finally, she took a wincing look at her hand. The tops of her fingers were a livid patchwork of purple and brown, with a single cut on her ring finger. As she ran the tap again, the throbbing began to subside slightly under the cold water, but not enough to hide it completely. She didn’t want to go to the infirmary for this, but a brief flex of her fingers caused the pain to shoot back up again. What a stupid thing to have done to herself.
“N-nurse Delaney? I t-tripped and hurt m-my hand.” She shuffled into the infirmary, forcing her eyes to look at the Fomorianised nurse’s face.
The nurse frowned as she examined the hand. “Come over to the sink and let me take a closer look. What did you trip on, and what did you hit?”
“The b-bathroom doorway.” Even to herself, it sounded blatantly false. The nurse’s face did not change as she looked up again.
“Siobhán, as you are aware, I am obliged to report what I think actually happened. And to me, it looks as though you punched something. Or someone.” She paused, and let out a pent-up sigh as she turned to the cabinet next to the sink. “If I called Diarmuid in right now, would he be able to explain this?”
Siobhán vehemently shook her head. “He wouldn’t have a c-c-clue what you’re t-talking about! B-because he was nowhere near me when…when I was by my-my-myself in the bathroom. And he wouldn’t h-hit me unless I…unless I tried hitting him.”
“Won’t throw the first punch, will he?” Delaney paused and turned to face her again, one hand holding a dark brown bottle. “I would expect more cuts if you had punched a mirror. Did you punch a wall?”
Siobhán nodded miserably and hung her head. “I…punched a wall. I…I thought it was…me. My face.”
“Yourself?” Missing from the woman’s voice was the contempt she expected. Instead, Delaney sounded alarmed. “What would possess you to think your face needed to be punched?”
“I’m a m-m-monster.” She blinked, trying to hold back the tears.
“Any more than I am myself? Or Dr Magnusson?”
A bitter laugh escaped Siobhán’s lips. “Diarmuid said the exact s-s-same thing after we learned th-that…that we’re now F-fomorians.” She looked up as Delaney drew a brush from the bottle, coated with a clear liquid. A brief flash of cold coursed through her hand as the brush gently slid across her bruises. “All my life, I’ve been told Fomorians are monsters. D-demons. So…now…I d-d-don’t know what’s next!”
“I’ve been there too, Siobhán. Unfortunately, the Fomorian Brotherhood” – she practically spat the name – “have a point about the lack of support for anyone forcibly exposed. That is one of the tricks they use to keep their victims in line – if you let yourself be caught by the dwarves, your life is over.” She paused to start wrapping a bandage around Siobhán’s hand. “The League has repeatedly said the exact same thing about getting captured by Fomorians, but word is that they’re reconsidering that. Things are starting to improve, but it doesn’t happen overnight.”
“W-what if they d-d-don’t?”
“I know Diarmuid is your closest friend here,” the nurse sighed as she tied the bandage into place, “but he doesn’t have a very positive attitude. I would say you have a better chance of reintegrating into society than anyone else here.”
Siobhán did not believe that. Never mind that she was born on the surface of Achill Island, she was still a daughter of the tunnels. The woman in front of her was not. In fact, everybody else at the holding facility was either born a Fomorian, or a British citizen who’d been exposed.
None of them knew what being a Firtollán entailed.
This is basically the follow-up to this image of Siobhán staring at herself in the mirror, which is how she sees herself after being
turned into an orc exposed to Fomoritis. I considered creating a follow-up image which would show her punching the mirror, but I couldn’t figure out how badly it would mess up her hand…and I’m not dumb enough to punch a mirror myself to find out. Not even for SCIENCE! research purposes.