Lana sniffed as she sat alone in her room. Everybody judges me. They think I'm a beautiful, talented, driven, wonderful, sweet girl who's self-involved. I went to a city that was almost as gorgeous as I am but I was forced by the hand of fate to come back to this place where one or two people talk about me because Jason made the mistake of kissing me at school. She took out her magic book and started looking for a spell. I'm going to make sure that they won't judge me unfairly no matter what.
She found a spell called Kindness, which promised that no matter what, the people around her wouldn't make negative assumptions and judgments about her.
Once she was at school, she noticed that the few people who had been a little standoffish regarding what Jason had done to her were now quite open and friendly. She said some rather tacky things on purpose to test the spell and it worked like, well, a charm. She smiled at how well that spell worked though she was beginning to wonder whether greasy skin was a side-effect of that particular spell. She wasn't breaking out, at least not yet. It's worth it, she thought.
The next morning, however, she felt even stickier all over. She had to take a longer shower to get rid of the feeling. Strangely, nobody seemed to notice . . . not even when the stickiness had come back around lunchtime.
"It's funny that some people will draw cute funny pictures of snails but slugs get absolutely no respect," said Chloe as she sipped a cappuccino at the Talon.
"Why?" said Clark, sitting opposite her and frowning slightly as he ate a danish that was in the form of a spiral.
"It's because people think the shell is cute even though really slugs and snails are pretty much the same," said Chloe. "They even name a breakfast pastry after snails. I think it's unfair since snails are really slimy and destructive but it gets a break just because of what it hides inside of. Oh, hi, Lana!"
Lana grumpily sat down next to them. She had broken out in splotches on her arms and those splotches were extra greasy.
"What's wrong, Lana?"
"I just can't stand these splotches," she said, showing the patch of skin affected.
"I don't see anything Lana," said Clark.
Lana scrunched up her face in irritation. "What? Chloe, look!" Men are so blind, she thought.
"Looks fine to me."
She looked at both their faces and realized that they were both being sincere, that neither saw anything wrong with her arms. "I'm breaking out but you don't . . . Try touching them." She restrained the impulse to grab their hands and making them do so.
Chloe and Clark both gave her indulgent looks and used their index fingers to touch her arms. "Nope, don't feel a thing," said Chloe.
Lana suddenly felt slightly ill.
She had gotten to the point that she had to shower four times a day just to feel the slightest bit clean. Strangely, nobody commented on that fact at all. It just seemed to slip their minds. When she woke up from her sleep, the sheets would seem to be wet with a kind of slimy goo and it would take half an hour to get it off her body. It really annoyed her to have to change sheets every single day.
She had been feeling something move inside her head for days. It troubled her greatly but it wasn't something she really wanted to go to a doctor considering that she couldn't really explain it without sounding insane and she couldn't really tell them what was causing it. It was like a soft push, not a painful thing at all. Considering that the local institution for the mentally insane was Belle Reeve, a place with the worst reputation ever, she wasn't inclined to invite an invitation by saying something completely off the wall. Also, it didn't help that she knew far too many of the other patients from previous encounters for it to be a comfortable place for her.
Lana opened up the book and looked at the recipe, her hands wet and dripping with something more viscous than sweat. I did what the recipe said to do, she thought. She looked at the recipe and was about to flip to the back of the page when she noticed the page was thicker than usual. It was only then that she realized what had happened. The book was old and used and some of the pages were stuck together. The book's pages were unnumbered therefore she didn't realize that not all the ingredients and directions were from the same spell. Trembling, she decided to take a look at the spell inside the stuck pages; part of whose ingredients she had included; part of whose directions she had followed.
It was a curse spell called Reveal. What made things worse was that she hadn't simply cursed herself (the spell did have a counter charm) but that she had accidentally fused two spells into a brand new spell, a spell that had no known countercharm or reversal spell and whose properties she didn't completely know.
It was then that the pulsing finally pushed outside from inside of her head and extended into two stalks. She screamed and backed away from the mirror. Trembling, she reached up and felt them. She pulled on them, hoping that they would easily tear off but the only thing she managed to do was give herself a headache. The only real comfort to be had was that the stalks were able to retract back into her head and easily pushed down with the slightest pressure.
She went into her dresser and pulled out a headband.
"Oh, I didn't see you at school today. Well, I'm sure you had a good reason," she said, typing away at the computer. She seemed completely unaware that anything was wrong with Lana, the weird splotches, the sliminess of her skin, and the fear on her friend's face.
Lana lowered the blinds and locked the door. "Chloe, you've got to help me!"
"Help you with what?"
"Something's happening. Something horrible," said Lana, crying. She pulled off her headband and felt the stalks emerge from her head.
"What? Dandruff? A bad hair day? Pfffft . . ." said Chloe. "Please."
Oh, my God, Lana thought. Am I crazy? Is this all just a figment of my imagination? Why won't someone believe me?
There was a knock on the door. "Chloe?"
Clark, she thought, he'll know what to do. I'm sure he'll have a solution to my problems. She put on her headband and opened the door to let him in. She quickly closed the door behind her. "Oh, Clark, do you see anything wrong?" She pulled off her headband and felt the stalks come up.
"You look great like you usually do," he said, smiling his usual broad grin.
"You don't see anything unusual?"
Both her friends shook their heads.
She realized that the Kindness part of the spell had rendered everyone around her unable to see any part of her situation as scary, weird, creepy or bad because it would be a judgment on HER therefore they just COULDN'T see the stalks, now a part of her, as being wrong, scary, weird or something that needed fixing in anyway shape or form. Or perhaps, it clouded their minds so they couldn't see them at all. "Pat me on the head."
"Pat me on the head."
Both indulged her but seemed completely unaware of the very obvious protuberances on her head. "And that was . . . for good luck?" joked Chloe.
"You don't feel anything?"
Clark shook his head.
Lana said, "Never mind. I'm going to go home."
"OK," said Clark.
As she walked out of there, she glumly thought to herself that there was nobody else she could really turn to. She couldn't beg Jason of all people to help her and as for Lex . . . he hadn't seemed to notice anything strange about her at all, much like Clark and Chloe. He had smiled and greeted her like he always did. He wouldn't call specialists if he couldn't see what was wrong with her.
Terrified, she went to the doctor and was told very cheerfully that she was in the very pink of health despite the fact that she noticed her blood pressure seemed abnormally low and her thermometer indicated her temperature was way below normal. The doctor also didn't notice the stalks, the sliminess and the odd way her body was proportioned.
That night, as she looked in the mirror after her nightly shower, she realized something had changed about the stalks . . .
They now had eyes at the end of them.
After Lana was missing for three days straight, Lex lent Chloe and Clark the key to Lana's Talon apartment. They went inside and saw that the place looked disheveled. An earthy odor emanated from the room. "Ughh, what's that smell?" said Chloe, pinching her nose. Clark silently agreed by making a face.
Clark noticed the magic book on the coffee table with the pages ripped out. He found the pages in shreds, almost soggy. "What is this?"
Chloe heard some splashing in the bathroom. "I think I hear something in the bathroom." She knocked on the closed door. "Lana, I'm sorry that we broke in here but you didn't answer any of our phone calls and we knocked on the door so . . ."
There was no reply. So Chloe opened the door, looked inside . . . before slamming the door, looking pale and sick.
Clark said, "Chloe, what's wrong?" He used his X-ray vision and . . .
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