Swearing loudly at my fellow prisoner’s lack of backbone ruffles nearby feathers. The eyes that turn my way engage my face, scanning it into memories, line by line. Heaviness drops my head and I am overcome with thoughts of how unwise it is to attract attention to ones-self.
Somehow I’ve reverted to the floppy-doll position. The loose-limbed joggling and constant run of earth and tarmac beneath my dangling head are strangely calming. It’s amazing how quickly the intolerable becomes numbingly boring. Even the pains from my stretched joints and smashed toes have faded to deadness.
There’s a persistent pressure in my head. Hope that an embolism is about to burst isn’t rewarded. It would seem being snacked on alive is inescapable.
We slow. A deep, cool shadow sucks brightness from the day. I feel the press of other Creep’s bodies bunching closer.
Expecting the worst I look up, pushing past a cobweb-thin force that ineffectually attempts to curb my curiosity.
All is not lost. We are approaching a traffic jam of Creeps. They appear to be queuing in an orderly fashion, waiting to enter a bottle-necked constriction ahead. An occasional wail, cough or fart is emitted from several unseen prisoners in the crowd, otherwise the silence is highly unusual and discomforting.
We join the rear of a line and bide our time. My handlers move forward in half steps, politely merging in a zipper-like coordination with other Creeps until we are ten abreast.
By God, I’ve never seen so many Creeps in one place.
A host to the left of me holds a fly-covered chunk of meat dripping red stickiness. It has fur on it. I imagine a pack of Creeps bringing down a cow or some other large animal. Others hold their preferred prey; live people.
Being held waist high in a crowd has no upside. Inhaling the Creeps hobo stink of unwashed groins and sweaty armpits is utterly foul. I also soon realise it isn’t only the prisoners who are farting. A Creeps all-meat diet causes flatulence beyond belief. Well outside my proudest airy explosion conjured from eggs and onions. I breathe mouthfuls of fetid air shallowly.
For a necessary distraction I crane upwards to examine the structure we inch towards. The amorphous mass shows through dull heads and blank faces.
I recognise its relation, the semi-built barrier Kristine and I drove through a lifetime ago. It's much higher now, and quite possibly represents a completion of work. If so it will surround a good portion of downtown. Exiting this place could prove to be difficult.
I don't quite understand this calm consideration of escape. Freaking out would be more in line with my nature. The drugs sustaining the rushed outing I’d embarked on must have worn off by now. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accept my fortitude.
A middle aged woman is edged up beside me, held by her own quartet. She gestures at me and whispers.
“Oh. OK. I’ll just ask these four big cunts to unhand you, shall I?”
She stares helplessly, offended. I return a scowl until she looks away, embarrassed.
My holders trudge sixty baby-steps into the busy, quiet dimness. The gap tightens at an untidy fall of junk. Some of the separated materials are identifiable as a child’s pram, a stack of buckets, rolls of wire, a dog’s kennel.
The walls are an interesting interwoven mess of mankind’s leftovers, containing an eye-boggling array of goods and chattels once thought indispensable. Computers, TV’s, carpet squares, light fittings, a trampoline.
We pass from the gap into sunlight, splitting seamlessly from the throng to form a looser line at a quicker gait. Our new column appears to be for carried meat, minimum one item. I pray my four don't enforce this by quartering me.
Curiosity once again stretches my neck. I peruse the squat, rubbish-laden heap as it meanders away into the distance. The squiggled line it forms with gentle curves and unregulated height variances reveal the architect’s inattention to detail. Whatever lays claim to this monstrosity would have benefited from a laser-guided level and perhaps a few aesthetic considerations. However I do agree it serves its purpose; to enclose this chosen land and protect the Parasite masters. Twisted steel and ever-settling, rotting trash are not easily climbed.
I am taken deeper into their territory during these ponderings, borne towards something evil. I sense a dark future in store for us from something plotting our usefulness without compassion. We cross a large parking lot towards the city’s largest super-mall. Only now it is renamed in my mind as the Parasite Palace.
Understandably a nervous tic in my eye starts acting up. I’ll soon be gracing the residents of this place and their powerful masters with my physical presence. If they dig past indiscretions from my mind I might be subjected to ‘special’ treatment. I’m sure the duty-bound, in a fervour to please their rulers and nourish them with uncooperative meat, will gladly tear me apart.
Hastily, memories of the murder inflicted upon their brothers are shut away.
I take up our conversation with my previous acquaintance, magnanimously forgetting my last words of derisive abuse.
“Hey! You still there?”
“What do you want?”
He sounds morose.
“I hate to break this to you buddy, but you won’t get out of here with good behaviour. I’ve been here before. If you want to live, do as I say.”
“Bullshit. No one can get out of here alive. There’s ten thousand or more of these things.”
He’s right. The area is overcrowded with Creeps. No Crawlies are in sight, yet I do not doubt they are nearby. We plod on, passing the relic of a dusty red Honda with four flat tyres.
Before I can refute his claim of untruths, something itchy and unobtrusive brushes across a mind full of calamities. There is no intrusion, just a touch of greasy silk, unnervingly trailed over topmost thought layers.
A wraith-proof door slams on the ghostly gatecrasher. I press against this internal barricade, feeling the wafting of something once more sweeping by. My defence against its light enquiry brings no reprisals. Repeated, radar-like sweeps every five or six seconds show no immediate threat, though the beam strengthens as we near the source. Hesitantly I crack the door and reach for the apparition.
I detect a powerful combination of minds behind the projection. They survey this domain with a self-satisfied awareness, overseeing the functions of their many units with computer-like efficiency.
My own awareness heightens in this wash of supernatural power. Connections to the minds of the grouping of carriers around open wide for brief seconds. Orders are given and tasks checked off in the rise and fall of their master’s priorities. Constant reminders hint at a short attention span, something I file away.
We are being referred to as a ‘packages’. Four bearers and a... something. I can’t make it out.
Observed and labelled, observed and labelled. Finally I get it. I am designated to... the ‘food pit’?
I don't appreciate the resulting image of blood and gorging so I shout to my amigo for confirmation.
“Are you picking this shit up?”
People who answer a question with a question really piss me off.
“Open your mind. Can you feel that pressure?”
“What are you talking about? Ohhhh. There is something strange - like a thudding in my brain?”
“Focus when the beam touches you. Can you make out what it says about you?”
“Not words. I’m getting pictures. Oh, my lord. Lots of naked women. They look scared. Something about... the ‘breeding place’ maybe? Something like that.”
You’ve got to be kidding!
I’m food for the troops and this ineffectual pansy gets to loll around with a bunch of naked chicks, breeding his brains out.