A young woman had a mole on her ear. It started out as a speck, right on the rim of the top arch, where the cartilage was a little firmer.

She lived far from home. She attended the local university and studied humanities. She was a good student: dependable, intelligent, hard-working. She developed a strong, professional relationship with her professors.

About a month passed, and this woman noticed her mole had grown to twice its size from before. It was now a raised bump.

The next day, the mole doubled again. Then the next day, the same thing happened. She documented the growth in a notebook over the next week.

The mole was now a sizable protrusion from her ear. She noticed when her classmates’ eyes would dart to her ear and try not to get distracted during lectures or study groups.

The woman made an appointment to see a doctor.

She entered the doctor’s office and related the history of the mole while the doctor examined it. It was now about an inch long and irregularly shaped. It was dark, and it didn’t hurt whenever he poked or flicked it. She stated the mole had no sensation whatsover.

The doctor, having heard this, decided to do a quick outpatient operation. He took a tweezers and held the end of the mole, then with his other hand, he grabbed a scalpel.

He ran the scalpel flush along the edge of the ear and sliced the mole quite cleanly from the the surface. He held the mole in front of the young lady for her to see, then he dropped it into a metal bowl.

The doctor put a bandage over the wound and sent the young woman on her way.

The mole was left in the bowl overnight.

That night the young woman tried completing a homework assignment that she told her professor would be overdue. She had mentioned a personal matter that needed tending to, referring to her mole. She couldn’t concentrate. She stared at her textbook without reading, and she held her pen against blank paper, but no words flowed.

She went to bed, hoping her professor would understand the situation and give her a little more time to finish. Her professor knew she could finish. She always did.

The next morning after lecture, she approached her professor about the homework. Before she could explain what happened, the professor thanked her for turning in the assignment. The professor said he appreciated her effort to get it done, despite whatever else was going on in her life.

Puzzled, she smiled, nodded, turned around, and walked to her next class.

Over the next few weeks, the young lady realized that if she made plans for anything, she discovered they’d already been done.

There was the time she was going to clean the bathroom. She had the bucket of soapy water and a sponge, and she put on rubber gloves, but when she got to the bathroom, it already smelled of bleach and everything was thoroughly cleaned. Pristine.

Then, once, she was going to hang out with some friends. Go to a movie and dinner. She called one friend to confirm the plans, but the friend kept going on about how delicious dinner was and thanked her for coming along, it was a lot of fun and her insight about the movie was brilliant.

The young woman was so confused. 

At times she thought she saw shadows, or maybe just one shadow, lurking, dashing between other shadows, shadows that were still.

Along with the strange occurrences were feelings of deep sluggishness and weakness. As days progressed, she found it increasingly difficult to get out of bed. She felt as if the world was puffing up around her. Everything seemed bigger, and so she felt smaller. Progressively. Day after day.

She made another appointment with the doctor.

She entered the doctor’s office and related what had been happening to her since he removed the mole.

The doctor reexamined the site of the operation. He found another mole. He lanced that one, too. It hurt.

This mole bled a lot for its size. This mole was a slightly raised dot, much smaller than the lumpy mass from months before. This tiny mole went into a metal bowl. 

Then the metal bowl was emptied into a biohazard bag with other biological waste, tumors and plasma and bacteria and oozy bodily discharge. 

The biohazard bag was then transported to an incinerator.

The incinerator destroyed the biohazard bag.

By then, it was too late.

The shifting shadow disappeared.

The professor could still count on the young woman turning in her homework.

The young woman’s friends still would enjoy their outings together.

The young woman’s family would still expect her home for holidays.

No one knew the difference.

Especially her.