Kristine unsnaps the tonneau fasteners. I move in cautiously, preoccupied with scanning the car park for danger.
A pair of legs emerge as the tarp is pulled back. Instantly her hurried words are decoded.
Shanna’s body is in the ute!
I rip a pistol out of the holster so fast it almost catches fire.
“Fucking Hell! Tell me you killed the thing?! The Parasite?!”
Kristine doesn’t answer. She finishes wrenching the canvas off to reveal a young woman.
So this is Shanna. Slim and possibly attractive. Hard to tell with the dirty, matted hair falling over a bruised and taped face. Kristine has accounted for herself well in the fight to subdue the host.
“Why did you tape her hands and feet?”
Shanna’s eyelids open and her gaze bores into me. I scream a warning and thrust the pistol at her head, already squeezing the trigger.
“Look out, she’s alive! She’s still alive!”
Kristine screams too, but at me, and throws herself between Shanna and the gun, facing me down. With both hands she grasps the pistol and presses it deep into her stomach. My finger is a twitch away from blasting a crater in her. She fiercely meets my wide, frightened eyes as I struggle to shove her clear and take the shot.
“No Sam! I won’t let you hurt her. I’m going to bring her back. Please, help me save her.”
The slow calmness of her voice carries a frightening streak of madness. I am startled into recognising the psychotic break she’s suffered. Upsetting her further could bring about dangers I can’t handle.
The futility of tugging the gun from her iron grip brings us to an impasse. Defeated, I let her take the weapon and step away, as if retreating from a pair of angry snakes.
Where’d she get the strength to overpower me?
Shanna’s chilling, impassive eyes watch my disjointed movements. I’m reminded of how messed up my thoughts get every time a host is this close.
I shiver. A raucous crowd stomps across my grave.
A hypnotic link forms a shaky bond as my eyes dive deep into Shanna’s. Confused feet balk at taking me nearer. I feel the weak tug on my mind.
“She can’t hurt us. She’s tied up. Please Sam.”
Despite the tears, Kristine’s steely determination is not reduced. I tear my gaze from Shanna’s and fixate on the pistol in Kristine’s hand. It points at the ground, but my interest causes a finger to touch the trigger.
I stop pacing, hopelessly numb.
“You gonna shoot me, Krissie?”
We’d been through so much, it can’t end like this.
Her beseeching eyes plumb me for understanding.
“No Sam, I love you. But I love her more. If you kill her...I’m going to shoot myself.”
She’s crying hard now, the day’s events catching up.
I’m angry, scared and confused. Love and fear curdles.
I explode from my own private hell.
“Well I’m not helping you. This is stupid! Stupid! She’s got a thing in her!”
Hoping to penetrate the crazy blinkers she’d put on, I lay down an ultimatum.
“You’re not bringing that fucking bitch in here.”
Kristine is blindly sobbing. She flings the pistol at my feet and gets in the truck. The slamming door throws me off my rant.
I’d only just gotten started too.
“What are you doing? Where you going? You can’t go!”
I run to the window as she starts the engine.
“No, you’re right Sam. It’s not fair to ask you to do this. I’ll go.”