My shield morphs outward, lunging like a huge amoeba to envelope the female Creep. It wraps tightly around her Parasite shield and squeezes, popping it like a pimple. The head top tendril is forcefully expelled, whipping wildly across my misshapen, smooth shell, trying to reconnect. Failing to find a socket it falters then retracts swiftly.
I move the woman closer. Her few steps greatly ease the strain on my overstretched shield. Expanding it starts a brain ache.
These abilities decrease in line with a person’s energy levels. A good night’s rest might have been the smarter option than a marathon sex session.
My initial attraction to the host’s lithe body is countered by a dangerously grim look on a blood-slicked face. She holds a shadowed bundle tucked beneath her breasts which I ignore. I leap directly into her granite grey eyes to see if we are discovered.
The Parasite is still thrashing about sending an alarm call, completely at odds with its host’s calm stance. Curtly, I demand its rank and purpose, mainly to stop it bouncing off the walls. It is suspicious but bows to my authority and flashes a pictogram.
A... a... nurse?
Not one I’d want looking after me.
It’s a strain to keep this one in check. Even my compliant Cricket has become increasingly difficult to control over the last few hours and I’m not ready to engage another. This new Creep’s unwillingness to be tamed digs fish hooks of dissent into my brain. It pushes and pulls and won’t be stilled. My head physically tilts to one side at the increased mental weight exerted upon it.
The growing, automated node, whose job it is to keep these external minds occupied, crashes. It taps my consciousness for assistance. The resulting constant interruptions disable the thought processes I’m relying on to get me out of this mess.
Head tilted, eye squinted closed and mouth open; I must look the right spastic. Shutting out external stimuli is the only way I can concentrate fully on the inside problem. Holding the Creeps is easy when I’m in here but there’s no support when I let go.
A throbbing, sharp-edged hurt tinges my vision red. Blinking rapidly and rubbing my eyes results in blood coated fingers. Christ, my eyes are bleeding.
What’s that plopping onto my chest? Tomato sauce? Ah, shit! More blood. Dripping from a nostril.
I haven’t even been picking at it.
I use a handful of Cricket’s greasy shirt to wipe my nose but more falls in steadily drips.
Something tells me I’ll be bleeding from every orifice soon.
Relying on the minimal data accumulated so far; data gathered under duress and illogically punched into this faulty brain; I've had faith my sudden disconnection of various Creeps won’t be investigated in any great detail. Nobody missed Cricket and his mates when I took them. And I’d thrown a mind-grenade with no retaliation.
Perhaps the Parasite infrastructure is so vast a few ‘assets’ disappearing from their radar are reconciled as naturally occurring deaths.
On the other hand, all these disruptions could be causing something to stir uncomfortably.
Regardless, I can’t set this one free. It would raise the alarm. I should kill her, and the Parasite.
Pity I’m naked and weapon-less.
Change of plan. She’s coming with me.
Wait up. What is she holding?
A bloody package of tiny arms and legs. Fucking hell! It’s a new born baby with a frayed umbilical cord hanging from its belly. Chewed off, by the looks of it. That explains the nurse’s bloody face.
Without meaning to I dip into the baby’s head.
So empty. So brand-new. So clean.
It’s alive, hungry and annoyed at my intrusion. It wants the breast just out of reach above it, and a howl is being formed that will peel paint off the walls.
There are certain things I can’t stand. A crying baby is one of them. I jam my fingers under the sticky child and lift it to the host’s breast. She uncooperatively drops her arm and suffers the indignity of being suckled passively.
Oh, that’s just great. Now I’m holding the baby. At least it’s keeping the little bugger quiet while I work on making the nurse obey my commands.
What else can go wrong?
Uh-oh. While I’ve been dicking around, mind-snooping, a few burly Creeps have moved around our little mothers' meeting.
They’re no longer content to ignore me, and their numbers grow by the second.
I think the game's up.
OK. Now things can’t get much worse.
The baby turns its head from the unproductive nipple and screams its frustration. The sound claws at the chalkboard of my mind.
Bloody hell, my head’s going to explode.
I clutch the child to me, then joggling it to stop it latching onto my man-boob. It screams louder.
While I prepare myself to be eaten, I belatedly reclassify these permanently plugged in, shielded Creeps as more important than foot troops.
As hopelessness dawns on me yet again, both Cricket and the nurse are unwrapped from my control. The sudden uncoupling almost knocks me over with pure relief.
The shield flops over me, elasticity over-stretched.
A tendril tugs itself from the closest Creep and plunges into both abductees’ heads. It pulls out again then re-dips. Their explanations are found wanting. Cricket’s eyes roll up and his legs turn to jelly. He and the nurse hit the floor and are still.
The Parasite boss mistrusts them after I’ve been in there.
Several Creeps move towards me in a solid wall. Retreating advances me towards more Creeps blocking the corridor’s other side. I turn to fend them off holding the baby out.
I’m not afraid to use whatever weapon is at hand. They move away from the threatening child. The sound coming from it is enough to rupture eardrums.
The Creeps don't attack or touch me. Something is afraid of what I might do.
What can I do?
Paranoia rushes in late to see what’s going on. It can’t believe the situation either. Reseating itself on my left shoulder it proceeds to shout conflicting advice at me.
Kick, punch, destroy!
Run, you idiot!
Use your mind blaster thingy.
Finally, a good idea. I gather ‘the force’ together, visualising the formation of a giant sword. I swing it and pain instantly slices my brain in half. A further gush of blood runs from my nose.
That can’t be good.
I’ve overdone it and the force shrivels up and blows away.
Right then, since they aren’t eating me just yet, maybe I’ll just go along with them. I draw the shield close to fit my skin and exclude the child I hold. Thankfully this stops the baby crying as exposure to the fog soothes it.
I have to move along inside a ring of Creeps. They take me along a myriad of corridors until I recognise David Jones store front and its protective line of guards.
I should feel honoured that I get to meet the big cheese.
But I don’t.