Wrist and ankle restraints are attached to the gurney. Our patient is becoming increasingly unruly with all this activity and I’d feel better if they were around her limbs instead of a few layers of duct tape.
I point at one, subverting true motives with fake concern.
“Do you think she’d be more comfortable in these?”
Kristine touches the sheepskin lined leather.
“Yeah. I suppose that’s a good idea. Any scissors about?”
A search of the cupboards rewards me with a scalpel.
It is firmly taken away.
Shrugging off her lack of faith I busy myself wrapping a padded belt around Shanna’s throat. Pulling it through to the last hole would solve a few problems.
The temptation is resisted.
The more Shanna feels her movements limited the more uncooperative she becomes. I grab hold of her arms and fool her into helping by pulling in the opposite direction I want to go. When she pulls away I throw my weight across her and pressing down strongly while Kristine buckles one wrist in.
“Damn, she’s strong. Do it up really tight.”
“It is tight!”
“When you cut the tape I’ll try the same trick to move her other arm.”
The tape is cut and Shanna’s hand grips the belt around her waist to frustrate my efforts.
The Parasite learns fast. I get the impression it might have understood what I’d said.
Shanna’s bones bend under my grip as I tug her arm across.
“Do up the strap! I’m slipping!”
“Shit. Your hands are in the way. Get her wrist through further.”
There’s a loud snap as Shanna’s forearm breaks. I slam the suddenly weakened arm into the restraint.
“You broke her arm! You broke her arm!”
“Just do the fucking buckle up! Have you got it tight?!”
“Yes! Let her go!”
We jump back and watch the other leather cuff creak. Shanna’s supercharged muscles strain, testing its limits. There is another snap. Her other arm breaks and flops uselessly.
We watch, dumbfounded.
“She broke her own arm. Can you believe this?”
I dart in and pull the chest belt another notch tighter then step away quickly.
“Don’t loosen it. She can breathe fine. Don't worry, they heal quick. See, she’s relaxing now. It knows her body isn’t capable of breaking free. How the hell did you take her down by yourself?”
“Gas. From the dentist next door. Guess I was lucky too. When I saw her...I wasn't thinking straight...she came to me, like she recognised me. Except she tried to bite. I got the gas mask over her face and held on till she collapsed. I taped her up before she woke. The gas doesn’t last long.”
Talking to me is an irritating distraction. She’s lost in Shanna’s eyes, mesmerised.
“You could have told me that before I broke her arm. Where’s the gas?”
“I think I forgot to pick it up when I was getting her into the ute.”
“Great. We’ll have to do her ankles the hard way too.”
Another struggle ensues to secure Shanna’s legs. I pretty much have to lie across them, putting up with repeated kicks to the guts by a pair of bony knees. Kristine and I are breathing heavily by the time we’re done.
“Why’d you tape her mouth?”
“In case the Crawlie came out.”
“They only come out when the body dies. I think. Could be wrong though.”
“I have to feed her. What should we do?”
“There must be something in here we can use.”
We root through drawers until I come up with a plastic mouthpiece. Designed to keep a patient's mouth open for tubes to be put in place, it would be just as useful as a muzzle.
“Reckon this might work.”
I dangle the gag in front of Kristine by its rubber ties. She nods and addresses Shanna.
“Sorry, honey. It’s only until we get you better.”
Kristine carefully cuts the tape while I hold Shanna’s head and rehearse the movements needed to get out the door.
Just in case something black and spiny leaps at me.
Kristine’s method of removing the tape is slowly and gentle. It’s taking forever. I give the other end a helpful tug, leaving a painful looking weal across Shanna’s mouth.
She never even twitches.
“Hey! Be careful. I was going to dissolve the glue with alcohol.”
“Don't yell at me. You’re the one who taped her up. Wow! Look how much hair came out.”
“I warned you about hurting her. Get away. Back the fuck off!”
“She’s a host, Krissie. There’s a Parasite in her. Let’s not forget that in all the excitement.”
It feels stupid to be stating something this obvious but she doesn't seem to be getting the whole picture.
“I...I know that. It’s still Shanna though. We can get it out. She’ll be OK if we get it out.”
I look down at our captive with great foreboding. That inhuman stare switches back and forth from our faces, following our conversation. Her reddened lips move.
“What’s that Shanna? What are you trying to say?”
Her gums are grey. A continuing fear of the Parasite’s sudden exit starts a nervous tic going in my eye.
“She’s not saying anything. I think it’s just a reflex or something. You going to fit that gag?”
Kristine’s crouches lower over Shanna mouth.
“Don’t do that. She’ll bite.”
I push Kristine away even as Shanna tenses and whips her head forward like a snake. I’m appalled at the close call and fit the gag roughly.
“We need to talk. Let’s go up and get something to eat.”
Kristine shakes her head.
“I’m staying here.”
Exasperated I throw up my hands and leave.
“Fine, starve; as long as you’ve got your precious girlfriend’s body I’m sure you won’t need anything else.”
Or anyone else for the matter. Self-pity tears at my heart.