The next day, when everything is ready and double checked, we prepare to move the Host. Shanna appears limp and non-threatening as I push her stretcher to the cell, but when I am leaning over her removing an ankle restraint she takes the opportunity to slam a knee into my nose.
Kristine is unsympathetic to my dance of agony. Fleshy blood runs freely when I take my hand away from a throbbing, white hot nose. Angrily I hit a lever to collapse the foot end of the gurney. Shanna is jolted as it crashes down. Kristine protests then shrinks from my roar of effort as I heave the gurney upright.
Occupying Kristine with the teetering gurney I circle around to snarl my displeasure in Shanna’s face.
“Pay-back time, bitch.”
Flowing blood sprays from my lips with the violence of my words. Shanna’s tongue extends, licking at droplets that have spattered her lips. The reptilian reaction subdues the tension in my raised fist.
“What are you doing? Don't hit her, you bastard! I can’t hold this up! I’m dropping it!”
Kristine is struggling. I could step back and allow the gurney to topple forward. Seeing Shanna take a face plant would be satisfying; but it would also send Kristine into a nuclear rage. She’s still got the pistol too, I remind myself.
I take hold of the frame, steadying it. Kristine is red-faced and wild with anger.
“Leave her alone, she can’t help it.”
“Fucking Creep, wouldn’t have felt it anyway.”
We walk the gurney forward so it blocks the doorway to the cell, leaving nowhere for Shanna to go except inside. Kristine unfastens the chest and neck restraints, and lastly frees Shanna’s left wrists. As practiced I pull the right buckle open in unison and quickly slam my shoulder into the gurney. Shanna staggers forward and I shut the cell door with a bang. My damaged nose seems to hurt less after the latch snicks into place.
Kristine leaves me to fuss about with the gurney and goes to the one-way mirror, placing a palm against the glass. I toss the stretcher outside and return moments later to hover behind her, searching my pockets for a clean tissue to wipe a dripping nose.
Shanna had been naked beneath that sheet. Without a hint of modesty she turns slowly, perusing every part of the cell, presumably looking for an escape route. Although bruised, her arms appear completely healed.
“Did you have to be so rough with her?”
“What about my fucking nose?”
“Shouldn’t have had your face so close to her knee.”
Shanna’s Parasite sees its Host in the one-way mirror and moves forward to stand before us. Those staring stolen eyes make my guts clench. It reaches a hand forward and slides it across the glass. Incredibly, Shanna’s arm stops moving, and flattens her hand directly opposite Kristine’s. The lovers’ soft touch turns to a frantic clawing as she scratches and then thumps at the glass. I watch Kristine nervously. She is biting her lips to prevent herself from crying. Shanna quietens and they gaze at each other with entirely unrelated desires.
Somehow the mind behind those flinted eyes can pierce the mirror. Shanna’s master dismissively flicks a glance in my direction and then focuses on Kristine’s face. Thoughts march unhurriedly behind that slackly arrogant expression as Shanna reaches up to tug the gag from her mouth.
In spite of icy dread clamping my heart, other parts of me are reacting to Shanna’s naked body. I run my eyes down those firm breasts and erect nipples, taut buttocks, shapely thighs...
“Stop looking at her.”
I shuffle my feet so Kristine thinks I’ve turned away and resume ogling her girlfriend from the corner of my eye. The Parasite soon loses interest in both of us and it moves its Host to the bed. It cursorily examines the clothing then begins to dress. The clumsy remote-controlling of her hands is fascinating. Underwear is ignored as too fiddly, but the short skirt and top are correctly donned, if positioned somewhat untidily. The Parasite does not adjust the clothes to suit modesty or fashion. Protecting its slave-body from the cool air is its only aim.
“What now? What’s the plan?”
Kristine shrugs, maddeningly. Yet, I admit to myself, I haven’t thought any further than this either.
“It’s not Shanna, Krissie. It’s just a body you recognise. A body that has got something foul living in it; controlling it.”
Kristine shakes her head.
“Stop saying that. And stop calling her ‘it’. She’s sick. We can make her better. Then she’ll be Shanna again.”
My gut says there’s no coming back. Once a Parasite embeds itself inside us we are good as dead.
“She’s not sick, Kristine. She’s healthy…, and possessed by a Parasite.”
Now that Shanna is where I want her, I can concentrate on attacking Kristine’s delusions.
“Please come upstairs and talk to me. That mind touch thing it does is spazzing me out. Probably understands everything we say too.”
At least she agrees with me on that one and follows me from the room.