Kristine’s horrified whisper confirms the reality of my own experience.
Something wicked this way comes.
Air brakes hiss and I trundle us to a stop. My foot has forgotten its duty and the engine rattles on the edge of a stall at the late depression of its clutch.
Our eyes try to be everywhere at once. The tense stand-off stretches our sanity until it is molecule thin. Subtly I move a finger to raise my side’s electric window. Its softly whining motor prompts a small girl, directly in front of us, to step forward. I assume she has a high rank as the Hosts shift aside to allow her free passage. When she is apart from the crowds’ edge her hand rises and an extended finger points accusingly at me. That invisible, slick appendage is impelled to sift my muddled memories. I watch the snippets it dredges up of even instances of Creep interaction I have ever experienced. In particular the thing in charge is interested in the Creeps I have killed and, in particular, that Granny’s Crawly which had almost made a home inside of me.
I do believe we’re on trial.
The mind tentacle is having difficulty with my doped brains pathways. Irritated by its intrusion I impulsively push it back, ever so slightly. The reaction to my mental nudge is instantaneous and excessive. It withdraws fast, showing... alarm! The little girl’s finger drops and I imagine her poker face hides a mind full of fear. After several seconds of contemplation she moves her commanding finger to Kristine, who clutches her and moans under the arriving pressure.
“Yuck! What is it? That feels...slimy...and it’s weak. Oh, they really hate you, Sam. It...hates me too. It’s so clumsy. Holy Crap! They’re showing me pictures of what they are going to do to you!”
“Kick it out! And kindly keep whatever you saw to yourself.”
“...it’s going through my thoughts. It’s looking for more of us. It’s tracing our route back...get out of my head!”
Her shout triggers a similar response that its eviction from my mind had caused.
The little girl buckles under Kristine’s more powerful rejection, however she straightens up calmly and her arm rises, this time swinging her influence away from us. The Hosts rustle apart, leaving a runway along the track of her pointing finger to the dark mouth of a subterranean stairwell. An inky blackness within shifts in liquid motion. It takes a few moments to make out what the black flood rushing out is made up of.
Mini-Crawlies! The gut-bursting creatures of my past’s nightmares.
The specks scramble over each other, spilling over thousands of uncomplaining Creeps as they spread out. They leap from heads and shoulders, staying clear of the ground, lashing and biting at each other in youthful exuberance.
Mummy has let the kids out, and they are keen to play with the visitors.