The exuberant shout turns to one of pain when my physical eyes open to a blinding light. Disappointingly this light is not of my making. I’m staring straight into the sun which chooses this moment to blast out from behind a shiftless cloud.
Shit, now I’m a blind God. Flaring spots accost my sight, erasing the Other-world visions of Parasite mind-fog and those angrily writhing tendrils that seek its attacker.
This sheepish fall from Godhood couldn’t be more embarrassing. Fortunately my audience consists of unimaginative Hosts and a few doped victims who are too preoccupied to point and laugh.
With my euphoria crushed I am bothered by an unscratchable itch. Parts of my skull feel pressurised, other bits, empty, and a migraine headache thuds across the left hand side of my brain. A pulse pounds in my groin and a raging, highly inappropriate erection increases my growing distress.
Putting the expectations of a wide awake penis aside, I consider my position. An attack on the connected Parasite minds is bound to have concerned them. They may not be masters of this new art, but they’ve had much longer than I to explore that other realm, and may come back with weapons I have no defence against. My connection to this new power is better than theirs, but I remind myself, without an instruction manual I am greatly disadvantaged.
Despite bodily distress, I harden a resolve to learn how these new abilities work. But the glorious walk out of here, sweeping aside adversaries with nuclear mind-blasts has to be put on hold. My ambition is tempered by several factors. I am exhausted, both in mind and body. Also, ever the pessimist, I am suspicious that this unearthly phenomenon is as likely to abandon me just as quickly as it dropped in.
My carriers have dumped me directly in the path of other food deliverers. I am a conspicuous rock in their ever-moving stream, and although they ignore me, it seems prudent to relocate myself.
The threatening clouds precede their storm with more light spits of rain; enough to dampen my spirits more than my clothes and skin. I look for cover, somewhere out of sight, to recover. The massive shopping complex is the closest source of shelter. It is an island on this sea of asphalt and I convince myself there must be hiding places aplenty inside. Pushing a large helping of trepidation aside I make the decision to head towards that Parasite hell-hole when every sensible part of me screams at me to run away from it.
Before I regain my feet I take notice that none of the other prisoners are allowed to walk around freely out here. Toddling off on my lonesome might draw unnecessary attention. All meat, like me, is being dropped off at a busy main entrance. Each delivery is being put on his or her feet and a Host guides them inside. My best form of transportation would be the one they prefer. Pursing my lips, I subtly whistle up four Creeps as they pass me, cautiously directing my probe to avoid touching the ones under Parasite control.
Once my team has assembled under my airy umbrella of mind-fog protection, I push aside the naturally occurring squeamishness and ask them to touch me. They are rougher than I would like, grappling me face-down to the ground and then lifting me as one. They totally ignore my demands to be careful and gentle. Apparently these words have no meaning to them.
Since my welcome is worn out, a front door entrance would be out of the question. I direct my Hosts around the Parasite Paparazzi who continue busily looking for the superstar I have become. We leave the orderly lines behind and stomp off towards the shopping mall’s rear, where a bank of rusting sea-containers and vine infested fences hide us from general view.
Using my head as a battering ram, I forge my eight foot drive through a mass of undergrowth that has taken over a freight unloading area, searching for an unlocked staff access door or open ramp. I’m finally rewarded when, amongst the vines, I spy a semi-hidden entrance, fortuitously hanging ajar from a long-ago break-in.
We approach and I direct the foremost Creep to wrench it fully open. He struggles with the badly bent frame and my secretive infiltration is not achieved quietly. Thankfully, no-one appears to check on the racket, and judging by the untrampled dirt on the floor inside, this area is not heavily patrolled.
I look about the cool, dusty corridor as the Hosts bring me into their nest. It is quiet and dark in here. The walls are lined with notice-boards and closed doors. Pinned up papers curl with age, printed with instructions to employees dead and gone. My handlers prevent me from reading these proclamations when they continue on down the hall.
“Hey! WHOA! That’s far enough. Stop. Put me down.”
I speak the commands hastily; verbalising to lend extra authority to my demands. However, my squad is unused to receiving spoken orders, and though they falter, they recover and march me towards the busy thorough-fare beyond.
Son of a bitch! I don’t want them shoving me out there. Out into that mess of shadowy movement where the echo of a thousand footsteps whispers in my ears. By the time we reach the corridor’s mouth my fear escalates to full blown panic.
I shut my eyes and think-shout the command. My four holders stamp to a halt and all sound ceases. I dare to open one eye and see, to my utter amazement, that every single Host in sight has obeyed.
“Oh shit! You wankers have dropped me right in it.”
My second-sight shows the extent of my accidental disturbance. Concentric ripples flow through the mind-fog, with me directly in its turbulent centre. I make a mental note to tone down the enthusiastic use of this power in future.
Those black, snaking tendrils of Parasite control reappear in their hundreds; tapping each Host in swift succession. Very slowly each Host resumes their previous orders; first with halting steps, then with more conviction, until they once more are all returned to their assigned duties.
I whisper this thought directly at my Creeps as the Parasite probes search for the cause of the stoppage. My Hosts reverse; moving feet backwards in concert until we are rewrapped in the corridor’s dimness. Almost immediately a questing tendril, black as sin, enters our space.
Last time this happened I’d closed up, which only seemed to draw the damn thing nearer. This time I try remaining motionless, in thought and body.
In the quietness of this suspended thought, I become hyper-sensitive to the four minds around me. Thinking that they have a much better view that I, in this face down position, I carefully release myself upwards and drift outside my head.
I feel particularly drawn to the right-leg-holding Host. I’ve noticed his Crawlie is always the first to react to my commands. Like a thief testing a doorknob and finding it unlocked I enter the wide open vessel of my sycophant, pleasingly easily. Inside, is peaceful. An emotion-free zone. My headache lifts in a neutral atmosphere of no concerns, boredom or excitement. Ensconced in its Host and adequately fed, the Parasite wants for nothing but orders.
I feel towards its hovering presence. It is incredibly still, though its deadly watchfulness is deferential to my hesitant touch. I sense the Parasite, who regards me with total submission and a grovelling attitude of respect, is very young and eager to please. Its lack of malice suggests a total unawareness of my humanity. I can only guess that in this realm I am indistinguishable to its superiors. I also sense that superiors do not chat with the “help”, and besides, I have a more urgent task. Self-preservation.
Turning away from the Host’s owner I peek from the Host’s eyes, watching carefully as the tendril outside brushes against my Ball of Clearness. The smoky appendage is briefly curious, caressing that impenetrable covering but, seemingly satisfied, withdraws as swiftly as it came in.
I crash back into my own body just as one of the Hosts breaks our silence with a patented loud, and wet-sounding fart. The noise is accompanied by the foulest smell imaginable and I dry retch as I choke on it.
‘Put me down! Put me down!’
They refuse steadfastly. Apparently freeing the Meat is against their religion. The best I can do to overcome their obstinacy is use that great old standby; brute force. I kick out with all my pent-up aggression.
The back two Hosts drop my legs. My knee-pads take the brunt of my fall but hurt toes strike the ground hard.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh, you sons of bitches.”
Angered by the pain, I bear down with my arms to loosen the front two Hosts’ grip.
‘Let go, you motherfuckers!’
Either I am stronger than I imagine or my telepathic abuse is having some effect. Whatever the case, they release me. Breathing hard, I kneel in the centre of their quartet, massage sore muscles and groaning. It takes a minute for my subservient position to unnerve me enough that I must stand up.
Keen to regain some personal space, I attempt to edge between them. The largest of my foursome has other ideas, halting my escape by clamping a meaty hand around one shoulder. He squeezes hard into the nerve bundle causing untold agony.
Shit! I’ve lost control of the beasts.
I careen into the offending Host and thrash its Parasite’s mind. The mental strain of the punishment makes me giddy and I must pause the spikes and spinning blades of my overwrought aggression to recharge. The confused Parasite takes this opportunity to radiate a plea for mercy. It was simply following its instinct to restrain the fleeing Meat. It had no orders to desist and the Parasite can’t comprehend its punishment.
Composure returning, I clear a mental throat and project my authority.
‘Release the meat.’
The Parasite acquiesces, moving the Host’s controls with a concert pianist skill. I’m momentarily baffled by fast pictures of neurons fired and nerves plucked. There is much to learn about their ways. Each time I connect to them an understanding grows about their casts and ranks, and how they think. These gatherers are dullards; mere hardwired amplifiers for a remote intelligence to manipulate. Without orders they immediately descend into instinct.
As if to prove my point the Host’s hand rises again to grip my vacated body. I repeat my order to desist.
‘Release the meat.’
To maintain control I will have to ramp up the delivery power of my orders. The effort is well outside my comfort zone. I flit away from the battered Host’s mind and dive into my own.
Back in my flesh I painfully rotate the abused shoulder and disdainfully squint up at the large pug-faced man who’d caused the ache. One of his eyes is bloodshot and a clear fluid trickles from his nose. I smile in black pleasure at the damage I’ve done to his mind.
‘Go away. Leave the meat here.’
They sway like trees in a breeze but their feet remain planted. More detailed instructions are needed and I strain to provide them. The farthest place I can dredge from my memory is a steep road that once boiled my borrowed car’s radiator. They could go for a nice hike up there.
‘Go to this place and wait.’
This time they form a line and march outside obediently.
‘Not you! Stay!’