The pain came suddenly. Intense. Beyond the wildest imagination of men. He knew from experience that it would last only a few hours, and then go away. What the pain left, though would be emblazoned in his memory forever. But the passing seconds felt like an eternity. He stifled a scream, curled his fist into his mouth and bit his knuckles hard. He could feel the Serpent writhing behind him. Everytime it moved, it struck a chord in his memory of the first time this had happened.
He was 12. Or maybe 13?
His parents had to hide him away for days after, giving feeble excuses about a contagious skin infection. His sister, his beloved twin sister, she bore the pain with him. He remembered, hearing her toss and turn in her bed that night, moaning aloud, crying, begging for the pain to stop. He remembered her patchy reddened skin, flaky, falling onto the floor. Her welt-covered face. Blood and pus. They were both hideous. For a week, they had to stay out of sight. They remained in the house, with a constant cloud of gloom hanging over their heads.
Forgive me, he thought, tears prickling his eyes. Forgive me, sister.