Killing Kristine’s girlfriend already stretches the boundaries of how I use the word ‘sorry’. And now I might have to apologise for leading the Parasites to our door.
I pound across the Parasite mind-net; borrowing the eyes of a thousand Creeps, hoping my worst nightmare will not be confirmed.
The dreaded deadpan messages of success are priority routed across the net. My heart sinks as I intercept one and transfer to the reporting host. I find him clinging to a high fence, attention fixed on the distant, grey concrete facility.
The host pulls at the wire.
A second Creep joins in.
Unhappy concern washes over me for the damaged woman inside the building. Unprotected and oblivious to all but her own pain, she’s in no fit state to protect herself.
I hate the Parasite suppressants exchanging outrage and guilt with watered down facsimiles. Any sense of urgency feels unnecessary and irrational. Shockingly, in the space left by the absentee human emotions, my love for her stands out as naked and defenceless as the body I’d left behind.
I like that forced introspection even less.
More Creeps drift in from side-streets and pathways surrounding the Detention Centre. I jump from one Creep to another, impelled by each new signal of ‘target acquired’. To break the sedation brought on by this Parasite controlled plane, I convince myself this situation is not a bad dream by running a quick synopsis.
Yes, I spilled my guts.
Yes, the Parasites are attacking our compound.
Yes, I should do something about it.
The fence-line collects Creeps like windblown leaves. Unlike leaves their weight stresses the wire, weakening it by degrees. Sooner or later they’ll be inside, prying at the doors and windows, hunting Kristine.
In a futile gesture I about-face the Creep I inhabit then leap to another, ordering it to depart also. It obeys but the eyes of the third Creep show me how many others are descending from every direction. To dishearten me further the first host brushes past, returning to his original orders.
This wasn't going to work. To turn this tide I must hack into the source of these instructions. I must infiltrate the Mother; something easier said than done.
A thousand mechanisms block my route. The ones designed to clean and sort reports before forwarding the distilled data onwards are carefully dodged. The last experience I’d had of being sorted had wrung me dry.
Sorters and Hunger Management bottle-necks are circumvented by travelling a maze of outer channels and byways. Clear-headed and analytically precise, I consider a plan of attack while traversing their labyrinth. Incredibly, the usual slap-happy, violent over-reactions I get when faced with desperate situations do not interfere.
It is confusing to be this empowered. The quintessential man of action doesn’t fit my profile at all.
The Parasite’s calm gets me through the layers of security I can’t avoid. The Mother’s mewling hunger is the beacon I race towards until a sudden repulsion halts my advance.
Its rejection is reason to pause and take stock. I lean into the force-field of dark beams, recognising them as dark orb projections. The same orbs that hang above the Mother like Satan’s Christmas ornaments. The orbs that had tried to smash me apart and assimilate my essence.
Too bad they failed. Now I’m the impassable stone in their urethra.
The wish to be inside those centrefold chicks is revived for reasons other than sex. If any of them survived being bucked off the Mother I could return to my body through them.
Reversing to an information junction, I picture Miss April’s glorious curves and instantly flash down a tendril joined to her. Kicking in the entrance to her mind is as subtle as I get. The Parasite is a little startled by the intrusion but bows to my authority.
I’m just in time. Miss June is recovered from her fall and has returned to pick up the still, silent baby. April is also busy rolling my body off the Mother. I watch myself slide in a loose-limbed tumble down the elephant hide and flop across the ground.
Ouch. That would have hurt if I’d been inside and conscious.
She clambers to the floor after me and I allow her to take hold of my hand. My body remains dopily submissive as she yanks me it the direction of the Mother’s mouth.
One guess what happens when she gets me there.
She’s having trouble shifting my bulk. Concerned for my arm’s shoulder joint I leap at my head, keen to be reunited with myself. Unexpectedly I crash against another force field. Those pesky dark beams deny me an exit. No amount of pressure exerted will let me escape this host’s head.
The rules of this plane conspire against my ignorance therefore I try brute logic. If the beams obstruct me, they should be removed. And the only weapon I have that will damage them is...
The baby girl!
I direct April’s eyes upwards. We examine the black hole pods hanging above. Parasite enhancements let the host’s eyes see into the orb. Slightly appalled I recognize a jumble of newborn infants within. Preserved fruits packed into a glass jar. Some are barely weeks old judging by attached umbilical cords. All are semi-conscious. Those whose faces are pressed to the outer wall watch me with slitted eyes.
The Mother’s influence is strong in there. Their tightly reined minds amplify its will. It is not pleased.
Miss June is walking away with the baby. A direct thought transfers me to her. Before I know it I’m looking through her eyes at the sleeping child nestled against her breasts.
I redirect her to down a sloping flap of skin to the floor. As we walk around the tail end of the Mother I see its hindquarters disappearing into a large hole. How much of it fills the level below I have no way of knowing. The bit I can see up here is frightening enough.
We see April has returned to her labours. She’s dragged me a few metres further. Instead of wasting time with a discussion, I take control of June’s fist to connect it with April's jaw. It’s a knockout blow. April hits the floor like a bag of spuds, causing great consternation for the Parasites involved. I ignore the twitterings, concentrating on laying the child on my chest.
In my body's unconscious state the shield wraps around her.
She wakes and screams. The Parasite mind I share the host with cringes in fear and pain. I tilt June's head back and look into the orbs. The babies inside are crying too. The noise builds. Waves of sound reverberates until the air shudders like thin glass in a strong wind.
The Mother rears up in extreme agony, looking for the culprit. Our quartet is spied with its hundred spots of black lidless eyes. The giant worm beast opens its mouth wide and descends from above.
The last things I see as the cylinder of flesh slams down to enclose us are the hundred thousand nubbed teeth that pass by on either side.
Inside the Mother’s throat the darkness is total.