Back in our rooms I put Kristine to bed fully clothed; dirty sneakers and all. Her minor discomforts are not worth considering. I choose to save any sympathy I can dredge up for myself.
I return to the zone of destruction. My plan is to remove and bury the evidence of what I’ve done to Shanna’s body, partly to save Kristine from seeing her like that, but mostly to be sure the Parasites are charcoal.
Armed with gloves, and fortified by whiskey, I roll a wheelbarrow through the wreckage to Shanna’s cell. The secure, outer room has remained relatively intact but the explosion has expelled the large observation mirror and the gaping doorway mourns the loss of its detached mate. Luckily the blackened human body has been contained within.
I reach for an arm and feel the softness of yielding flesh. These bits as worse than the hard, charred pieces I grub for in the ash. Cleaning up after corpses is an unsavourily habit that I would like to break.
I decide to cremate the remains, as I did for the other Host, as a prudent precaution. The flesh may harbour Parasite eggs. The risk is miniscule, but without evidence to the contrary I prefer to be overcautious than dead.
I reconstruct the corpse like some deranged murderer’s jigsaw puzzle before I’m satisfied all the pieces have been found. The decapitated head still frightens me. Jaw tendons in the burnt skull have pulled her mouth open in a last, eternal scream. In an effort to put her at peace I force the jaw shut.
Shanna’s burned flesh wafts up at me as I place her remains in the wheelbarrow and trundle her away from the carnage. Unfortunately I’m reminded of steaks on the grill; this association will rule out barbeques for the foreseeable future.
We enter the garden where I construct a pyre of timber offcuts and body parts in alternating layers. It is a simple affair formed in a shallow ditch, but it still takes until night-time’s gloom descends before I am finished. The dark garden becomes a less friendly place; I reverse its effect by swilling alcohol and lighting the bonfire.
My crackling blaze reflects back at me from a hundred surrounding panes of glass in a vaguely beautiful way. Shanna is consumed and her atoms are released in black smoke, billowing into the night sky. The fire eats its feast voraciously, encouraged by additional splashes or petrol.
When the fuel can is empty, I walk away.