"Ah, damn. God damn."
The stain was small, no larger than a coin. It fell near his right hip, nestled in the dip between crotch and thigh. Still, it was nauseating. Paul stripped off the trousers and walked to the sink, hoping the sliver of hotel soap would take out the spot.
He began running the hot water and paused, staring at the vomit. Resisting the urge to gag, he grazed his fingers over the stain. It was purely liquid and slick like dish soap, but the sickly brown could only be vomit. He slowly raised his hand to his face and sniffed his fingers. Nothing. It seemed, for a moment, odorless. But no, he suddenly caught a faint scent of metal. Like a cup full of coins. Or a bloodied nose.
"Shit!" A stream of blood ran down his nostrils, over his lip and down his chin. Paul dropped the trousers to the bathroom floor and watched the blood and water run down the drain, pink and cloudy. He grabbed a tissue and clamped his nose shut.
Catching sight of himself in the mirror, Paul started to laugh. Half-naked, clad only in a t-shirt and briefs, nose bloodied and trousers stained with vomit. He stopped laughing when he noticed an ugly, reddened patch of skin creeping out of his underwear and down his leg. It was raised and it shined like a blister.
Paul threw the tissue into the toilet, thankful that the bleeding had abated. He touched the spot, wincing at the sudden pain. Carefully, he removed his briefs, and saw an uneven, ugly rash, emanating outward from that tender area where the vomit stain had been. Thoughts raced: had the redheaded man ingested some kind of poison? Had his stomach acid burned Paul's skin? It was probably a simple rash, but Paul was frightened. He turned off the sink, rushing now to the shower, running a lukewarm mix before stepping in.
Paul worked up a lather in his hands and gently started to wash the rash.
Flakes, like scales, began to slough away.
Underneath whirled a mass of colors. Indigo. Vermilion. Rust. Mahogany. And they were
moving. Swirling. Copulating with each other. Buds of new, unseen colors exploding from the trysts.
It was beautiful. It was obscene.
It was spreading.