The Parasite crawls from the slumped dead boy’s shattered face. It is unscathed; legs and claws flail at nothing to show its displeasure. Kristine plays the Queen of Drama, delivering extremely loud instructions. I move to shield her.
“Careful, not so close, stay back!”
“I gotta, I can’t hit shit from back here!”
The horror hasn’t a chance of taking advantage of my complacence in this case. But it’s the size of a golf ball so I have to advance.
Aim and stance is modified text book. With a back foot turned sideways as a brace I step and slide forward until gun and target are up close and personal.
The Parasite senses danger.
I radiate hate and fear.
Its eyes flicker open. A foreleg with clicking pincer reaches, beseechingly. The dreaded mistake of allowing it to unfold is a lesson learned not requiring a refresher course.
Rapid fire blows the sickly moving beast into unrecognisable parts. Speckles of blood land on hands and guns. Damage done to the dead host is stomach churning. I’d vomit if the Parasite's extinction wasn't so stimulating.
The pistols stop bucking. Aching wrists are wreathed in smoke. I inspect the bodies, pronouncing both irrefutably dead. Any piece of Parasite with more than two legs attached is bashed with a long stick.
Kristine sobs with relief. My arms carry her from the carnage.
I cherish our closeness. Clinging to her is the only expression I allow of overinflated emotions. The long slog up empty corridors leaves time for introspection. An epiphany of genuine feelings overdraws energy reserves. The river Adrenaline dries up. Iron muscles loosen into fatigued fleshy bags. Alert level reduces to Def-Con two. Chemically masked nerves object to abuse mutedly.
I rely on Kristine to stay focused enough to work the keys while I cradle her.
Thankful groans escape us both to be back in our quarters. I place her reluctant feet on bathroom tiles.
“I want to lie down.”
“Not yet. You’re having a shower then I’m fixing those cuts before an infection gets in.”
Ignoring weak protests I adjust the shower and push her in, leaving to find medical supplies. The first-aid kit is prominently placed on a wall. The entire box comes off its mount. Kristine has wedged herself wearily in the corner of the shower cubicle, away from the water. At least she’s upright. The torn smock is wrapped wetly around her.
“Take it off.”
I rotate a finger to make her face away from me. Dark blood does indeed glue it firmly to shallow, wide scrapes from shoulder to butt. There’s bark off her everywhere.
Tilting the showerhead to thoroughly soak the material enables it to be peeled away. There’s much hissing and flinching. Cloth is ripped up seams to be more easily removed. The scumbag has removed her panties less gently.
“This will hurt, Krissie. I gotta scrub the dirt out of these cuts.”
She tries to turn around, wild eyed, to resist my advance with a loofah. I’m the world’s biggest bastard for gripping an already bruised neck and pressing her face to the tiles. I use as few strokes as possible to firmly brush dirt and dried blood out of gravel rash, not stopping until blood flows freely.
The screaming would get me locked up for murder if we had neighbours.
“Please stop. Don't! Bastard! I hate you! You’re killing me!”
I don’t think the curses and threats I am subjected are going to be followed up. Maybe I’ll lock my door for a while anyway.
I hold stiff arms to direct warm water into cuts then depart to the bedroom, giving her a chance to recover her dignity and dry herself. Eventually she limps out, sliding a hand along the wall for support; a towel is wrapped chastely. She needs assistance to sit on the bed. A glass of water and pills are ready.
“Take these. They’re the fastest trip to Fluffy Cloud Land I know of. You might even see me there an hour or so.”
I grandly reveal the colourful capsules in my palm.
“There’s no clouds. That's your brain cells dying.”
The sales pitch is hoarsely rebuffed.
“In that case I better halve your dose. You won’t be able to tie your shoes when this shit wears off?”
I get a sarcastic ha-ha in return. She swallows the pills miserably. Glaciers advance faster than the rate I’m allowed to recline her onto the bed.
“This stuff might sting a bit. Antiseptic cream. OK?”
She stiffens but nods agreement, resigned to further roughly applied medical treatment. Eyes are averted and lower lip bitten hard.
“I think we’re past the bashful stage, Krissie. The flashes I’ve been getting for weeks haven’t left much for my imagination to fill in.”
A tiny smile amidst tears slipping down her face. I give her two lozenges and pull the bloody towel away, beginning the long job of cataloguing injuries.
Sexual interest is a fleeting spark that winks out at extensive bruising and cuts weeping plasma. A trip to the hospital would be on the cards in the old days.
Facial bruises are widespread. The entire left side is dark. Cheeks are red and cut by our vicious derelicts sharp-edged ring. A bloodshot eye looks into mine trustingly. The socket purples.
I talk constantly while wiping blood and dabbing cream, joking with her to relieve our discomfiture. I get grateful grunts and short groans for replies.
The bruised throat is untreatable. Bitten, bruised and scratched breasts can only be disinfected. Applying medicated wipes and cream ruins past and future fantasies I had of handling them.
Any tiny fragment of sympathy for the fate Ratface faces shrivels to a hard sharp cinder. A cinder that sticks in my eye, blurring sight with angry wetness. Guilt, and uselessness, drive a sorrowful stake into my heart.
“Sorry I let this happen, Krissie. It’s my fault he got the jump on us.”
“Not anyone’s fault. Just happened. S’the way the world is.”
Her dreamy acceptance is unheeded by my vengeful nature.
I run feather-light hands over bruised ribs, feeling for sharp bits. She gasps at certain probed areas. Not even a doctor can fix cracked ribs. I move down.
Methadone dissolves. I see her body uncoil as powerful chemicals circulate. Rushing blood carries calm on a whole of body tour. Her immaculately clean system naively accepts the soft credentials of hard drugs.
Multiple fist-sized bruises are early blooms on her stomach. A punching bag would burst from less punishment. Internal injuries are guessable.
Hands cover her pubic mound contentiously.
“Did he hurt you there?”
She knows what I’m asking and shakes her head. In case modesty or shame is cause for a lie, I lightly remove her hands aside and part knees. The place I’d desired to look upon for more pleasurable reasons now elicits fearful anticipation of injury. Nasty scratches and bruises along her thighs from pistol and fingernails weep plasma. Clamping her legs on the gun has prevented penetration. Cleanly shaven of pubic hair allows quick inspection without touching. No injury has been inflicted to the most delicate of areas.
I sigh deeply in relief and meet her eye. She watches me woozily, smiling slightly from my reassured reaction.
“Made the bastard stop before he got to what he was after, Krissie. I’d rather be killed than watch him rape you.”
“You were brave to attack him, Sam. Stupid but brave.”
I rise high on the wings of her gratitude and finish layering cream on her inner thighs so she can close her knees.
“Never knew you had such an impressive set of balls down there, Krissie.”
I duck a stuffed teddy bear, thrown with a tinkling laugh.
“Careful. You don't feel anything but the muscles are still torn.”
“I feel like dancing.”
“Shit. You whacked already? Maybe I will halve your dosage.”