Squirming in my own living flesh, I dropped the leather back onto my side table, brushing my hands of the awful sensation crawling through my veins. Human skin! F***ing tanned human skin! My great-grandfather really had gone mental. Yet I couldn’t shake off my curiosity of the patterned blood. Blood that shimmered in the dark. I was convinced it wasn’t my imagination. This human skin was cursed. I grabbed my knife from my side table drawer and carefully dug the blade into my palm. I bit my tongue to hold back my cries, then let one more drop of blood fall onto the skin. The moment it touched, it started to glow. Absorbing into the skin until only a few lines shimmered in its place, completing the image the last drop of blood started: a strange profile of a skull in an ornate headdress.
Now, I was convinced that the old leather was bewitched. Unfortunately, my discovery only led to more questions. But it did answer one: this was more likely the “thing” my great-grandfather referred to in the letter. Consumed in the moment, I placed my hand on the leather. The skin simmered an eerie whitish blue, which caused Richie and Wally to arch their backs, hiss, and jump off the bed while Tucker whimpered and whined. But the noise quickly died away as I became entranced by the piece of skin under my hand. A tingling sensation coursed through my entire body. It felt pleasant and warm, melting away all my aches and pains. Then something changed. The skin’s glow turned a scarlet red, and pain shot through every one of my veins. It burned like thousands of hot knifes driving into my flesh. My gut twisted into knots while my heart pounded in my ears, blocking out my own screams.
Through my spotty vision, I watched my blood drain from my hand into the lifeless skin, weaving and leaching through its pores. The lines were painting an island. Little palms trees covering the tops of steep cliffs that protected the inner mixed forests and a step pyramid cradled by a watering hole. A gorge split the northern part of the island with a lone mountain standing tall, and a large lake emerged between the cove and gorge. Surrounding the island were several square-shaped glyphs, depicting what looked like a variety of shapes, scenes, and faces. In the sea, under what looked like a crouching skeletal figure, was something scribbled in the same black ink as my great-grandfather wrote the letter in, which I hadn’t noticed before: