Regaining the child has cleared my mind. I draw on her life-force like a Vampire. Reducing myself to the level of a Parasites partly spoils the rush of receiving free energy. The Parasite Queen’s previously emotionless voice changes and I sense her exasperation at my recovery.
‘The Meat draws from the new-birthed. If it will not be tempted, let it be consumed. Let the Melding absorb them.’
A forceful delivery of voice-pictures carries her displeasure and alarm, making my inner-ear vibrate painfully. I need to break contact so I wrap the baby in my shield which cuts the Parasite Queen’s tendril and separates the child from the fog’s drip-line. The child immediately wakes and wails, feeling the many abrasions I’ve inflicted upon her as she’d slept. Her yowling reverberates in our enclosure and grows ever stronger, impossibly heightening to a jet-engine roar that threatens to crack my skull in two. The strength she’d lent me withers under this crushing sound in short order.
Cringing in exquisite pain I put a stop to the torture by shutting her outside my shield again. The sedating fog rolls in and the ousted tendril reengages its evicted place, nestling against my own with nauseating familiarity. The instant it drives home, a shocking cacophony of panicked noise and pictures assaults my already frazzled nerves.
‘Shut out its mind. The Melding unravels. We are hurt!’
The babies cries seems to cause them physical pain. If I can work out how to manipulate her cries without incapacitating myself, I might be able to use it against them. Any half-formed thoughts I had of trading the kid’s life for mine are swiftly, and guiltily, shoved aside.
Parasite panic subsides as the child falls deeper into a comatose state. I leave her quieting to them and rethink my strategy, embracing the use of a baby as a weapon without reservation. Nudity requires me to utilise whatever defensive tools are at my disposal and she’s all I’ve got. I mean, let’s face it; I’m standing upon a whale-sized Parasite, hemmed in by genetically engineered creatures that are eager to tear me apart; surely these circumstances would strain the morals of a Pope.
Firstly I need to stop the fog bleeding through my mind-link with the baby. But I need her to buffer me from direct contact with the Parasites. I study the two tendrils sprouting from the baby’s head. The one joining us together is now a frayed and kinked looking thing. The other is gloss-black and drawn as tight as a tuned piano wire.
What comes in can also go out. Gathering most of the energy boost that I’d stolen from the child, I prepare some pay-back. Sending a destructive surprise package directly into the Parasite Mother’s head could be an interesting experiment. Perhaps in the ensuing chaos we can escape.
I gather my courage to back-track the covert, almost invisible Parasite tether. I ask a lot of my severely weakened Other-vision but it comes to my aid willingly, revealing many hundreds of tendrils weaving around us aimlessly, complicating the choosing of an unimpeded path.
A temptress breaks my concentration by stepping on my sorest foot and thrusting her body against mine. Her attack is thrown off by another rippling undulation beneath our feet. As she falls I seize the girl’s throat to prevent bared teeth and clawing hands from reaching me. I get a good look at her grey gums and hauntingly blank eyes before flinging the Host away.
The soft surface caves in beneath me as I release her neck, and then swells to crash onto my falling butt. The trampoline effect flips me helplessly onto my back. Yet again I drop my most precious possession and cling desperately to the wrinkled flesh.
Riding almighty waves of this liquid-filled elephantine sack, I’m buoyed to great highs then dropped into deep troughs. Each convulsion further separates me from the baby. I see black beams of Parasite projections drill through the murk to play over the child. They’ve waited until we were separated and I have the presence of mind to note the importance of this.
Another Delilah is staggering at me in attack mode. Still several steps away she disappears from view; falling into a rippling skin-fold. It snaps tight again, forcefully expelling her from the fleshy crevasse. The Creep bounces from the Mother’s hide and hits the hard floor in an untidy sprawl. I think it would be best if the baby and I did not follow suit.
I strain to reacquire the ragdoll child as it tumbles towards me then away on another rolling wave, just out of arm’s reach. With a Walrus’ humping motion I flounder forwards to snag the kid by one leg.
Time slows as my fingers wrap around the child’s too-soft skin. Re-establishing contact cuts the dark beams’ intentions and another exhilarating electrical charge fills my depleted biological battery; a much stronger one than the last one. My second-sight lightens the room until even the deepest corners of this enclosure are revealed in shades of grey. Within this drabness, several inky blobs stand out. These mini black-holes draw at my mind with awful, sucking emptiness.
Shifting filters meticulously, I sharpen the view until the dozen orbs hanging above us are revealed; ominously unsupported below the undulating cloth roof. This material has dipped alarmingly as more and more Parasite Crawlies fall upon it. They are getting rather excitable up there and may break through at any time.
My attention returns to those menacing blobs. Intuitively I name them as mechanisms of the Melding. Something so far unexplained, and all the more frightening for their anonymity. Eager to please my accursed curiosity, Other-sight bores into one, stripping away its layers. I can almost discern the occupant lying within the deep blackness inside. It echoes with amplified thoughts, and hums with power.
The energy I’ve stolen from the child is quickly being expended. Other-sight dims at the penultimate moment of discovery. But its petulance shows. My inability to supply its needs goads it from servant to master. I have taken my new abilities for granted; thinking they were mine alone to control, and I’m quickly proved wrong. The force shows me its unequivocal independence. As if to prove the irrelevance of my wants, it tears my mind free from my body for the second time, with terrifying ease.
There is an excess of power permeating this room. Other-sight wants it and opens a vacuum to be filled. The rush is intense. Like a water balloon stretched over a fully opened fire hydrant, the power bloats me. I feed greedily, taking more than my share.
The usurped astral body I’ve become crackles; tingling with power. Lightening erupts from the extremities of my mind to ground on the Mother’s mass of flesh below. She twitches and bucks at the abuse. I sincerely hope my slack body stay’s safe on this giant bladder until I can regain the controls.
Before any dialogue can be considered to negotiate a return, I’m accelerated at incalculable speed towards the closest dark orb. A scream has no time to form before I smash into its glossy surface and explode into a billion particles.