Back in our quarters I hastily concoct every possible way to get the thing out that I can think of.
“Drugs! Overdose her... it comes out... kill it... revive her. We’ve got all the gear.”
Dubious about our resuscitation skills Kristine firmly veto's my first scenario.
“Starve it out.”
I’m down to the messiest choice.
“That leaves surgery. I’ll pry the bastards out.”
“How would you know where to find them?”
“I know where they embed themselves. Ummm, there’s something I never told you. You know that Host we brought back from your shopping trip... I cut him up... found where the fuckers hide.”
How’d you do it?”
“Chainsaw and ratchet loppers.”
I almost laugh at her horrified and disgusted expression.
“No, no, no, I wouldn’t use that technique on Shanna. I’d be very careful. I’d do much less damage.”
“Shanna won’t survive your butchering.”
“Maybe she can. I’d do everything possible.”
I’m lying through my teeth. There is absolutely no chance she’d survive my unskilled doctoring. It’s merely a devious way for me to let Shanna die without directly killing her. Minutes after I started cutting into her she’d be dead from shock and blood loss. Then, when the Parasite comes out, I’d kill the little bastard. Problem solved.
Kristine is not fooled. She shakes her head repeatedly.
“You’re not cutting her up.”
“What are you going to do with it then? Keep her caged up like a wild animal? What if some part of her knows what’s happening? What if she’s screaming inside? Screaming for you to kill her. Wondering why, if you love her so much, you won’t put her out of her misery.”
“No... no... no.”
“You’re right. There’s probably nothing left of her mind to save. Even assuming I got the Parasite out, and assuming she lived through the operation, she’d be brain dead. Don’t you get it? There’s no fucking happy ending at the end of this fucking fairytale. Let her go. I’d want you to do the same for me.”
“I’ll do it quick. She won’t feel a thing...”
I reach out a comforting hand but the touch sets Kristine off. She screams out her hearts’ pain, attacking me with windmill slaps.
“NO! Stay away from her! Get away from me!”
Huge, anguished sobs, and a thrown kitchen chair, drives me out the door.
I leave. Resisting her, or attempting to reason with her any further, would only escalate the fight. I’m very afraid the cracks in her mind have widened to insurmountable chasms.
I make for our peaceful garden retreat, though its charms are already diminished by the enemy’s presence within our home. I sit and think about that relentless, hungry mind that brushed over mine like a cobweb. I know its thoughts. It will wait patiently for the right opportunity to kill and feast.
I decide not to return to the staff wing. I hide away for several days, surviving on stashes of junk food left in unlikely place. The box of pills I habitually carry sustains me when other sustenance runs out. Moving quietly, I shift between caves created in wardrobes and foot-wells of ornate desks. In these dim places I still my body and try to contain my manic mind. A kaleidoscope of confusion covers deadly sorrows to perfection.
I’m dully aware of each day’s passing by tracking shadows that edge across carpeted offices. Morning light fades into encroaching night for a second time as my anger and hurt dissipates. Hunger and a need to refill my drug dispenser forces an eventual return to our home.
The place is a mess. Kristine’s prized porcelain figurines and crystal bowls have met untimely ends against chipped walls. Several plates of half-eaten food are left on the kitchen counter. Looks like Kristine has overcome her OCD.
Of all the ways a woman might show her anger, she’s taken it out on her own stuff. My pill collection has been swept from the counter and litter the floor but none appear to be broken. She’s missed her chance. Destroying my assorted crutches would have hurt me deeply. Afraid for their safety I collect them up and deposit the load in my rooms’ floor safe. My bedroom is really messy. I can’t tell whether Kristine has continued her destruction in here or if this is its normal state.
I collect some of the rubbish and broken ornaments and pile the rubbish bags outside the main security door. This is as much a warning to Kristine that I have returned as it is an attempt clean up. She might not want anything to do with me, but she’ll have to return sooner or later. Feeding the Host; that disagreeable presence downstairs; will take priority over her distrust for me.
It is many hours before Kristine eases in. She’s a shambling wreck. Our eye contact is cursory as if I’m an ugly piece of broken furniture, observed only to navigate around its jagged edges.
Waiting sheepishly in the background; silently pleading for an amnesty is embarrassing. Just as silently her forgiveness is withheld, and I’m excluded from the food she prepares.
The cost of being brushed off is paid for by reckless drug ingestion. I cross the turbulent waters of our disagreement on boats of Diazepam, Vicodin and OxyContin. The wash of warm beer churns the stomach’s cocktail. When a level of reality begins a return, I recross its boundary and fly away to the abyss.
Separated by our unhealthy coping devices, our days pass in alternate universes of seething resentments and oblivious unconsciousness.