21 February 2012

Chapter 79 - A Queenly Secret

Our situation has deteriorated. The kid who was supposed to save my arse has gotten me eaten instead. So, here we all are, being swallowed by a Parasite Queen, and to top it off I’ve also departed from my body and gotten myself stuck inside a Parasite Host’s mind.
There’s no time to fully appreciate the astounding complexity of the trouble I am in as the huge, circular mouth folds around our bodies and gums us over the worn teeth stubs. Unexpectedly, they do not grind our limbs into digestible chunks. Apparently, at this stage of growth, tasting food is less important than filling Her stomach.
Using June’s hands, I push at the velvety softness that closes in around her. The softness is slippery with saliva, lubricating a path to the gut. Vertigo assails June’s brain when the Mother lifts Her head, sending the four of us on a wild ride down a slick throat. During this slide the baby and I are separated. Unshielded, her anguished howling is silenced at once.
The dissipating echo of the baby’s last cry releases June’s Parasite from the stunning effects of the child’s pain. A frantic survival instinct kicks in as its Host shows signs of suffocation. The Parasite mobilises its sharp pincers to dig and tear through June’s stomach as it desperately burrows a way out. I too fight to escape her dying body; latching onto a tendril’s tip which is hastily withdrawing from the doomed Host.
I careen down the mind-net’s severely disturbed conduits once again, and dive full-blast into the crush of babies inside an orb. I am lucky. The Mother has not recovered enough to resurrect Her force-field and this time I’m able to crash through the pod’s defences and penetrate Her mind.
Once inside the royal head I slow my rush to a crawl. I know time passes differently here so I move about slowly and with care. Very quietly, I check out the fantastically irregular workings of the Queen’s brain. There’s a lot of spare capacity here; most of it unusable. The super-intelligence she could be is hobbled by Her hunger which overwhelms most other functions. She is a victim of man’s greed. And we are aptly the victims of her cunning restructuring.
I slip along a back-trail of this burning need to eat until I discover the generating source. A malformed, twisted node is the overworked producer. It is a geneticist’s triumph, still running on full throttle with the brake disabled. I delve deep into the wiring, feeling the depth of Her artificial starvation. If my body wasn’t currently part of Her dinner I could almost feel sorrow for Her plight.
I briefly use the Mother’s multiple eyes and watch as her head drops back to the feeding position. A train of stalled Hosts resume a never-ending banquet, delivered from an endlessly cycling queue of delivery Creeps. When Her mouth is full She swallows compulsively and I am reminded of my plight. By extending a feeler I track my body’s position.
There we are, being squeezed down the throat in weak swallows, towards a gigantic gut. Tugging on different neurons slows the rate but can’t stop Her gulps completely. I’ll have to work fast now to prevent my body drowning in an acid bath… or dissolving in one.
But, I’ve never been in an actual Parasite brain before. My forays into Hosts’ minds were on a shared basis with the Parasite owner. Therefore I am curious enough to poke around this one, on the lookout for something to use against it.
My senses don't work the same on this plane as outside, but I keep feeling a reptilian watchfulness that eyes me off. It is a brooding, black awareness, constantly interrupted by unending hunger pains. The element of evil I’d expected is missing. There is only an intense, animalistic, state of self-interest. Qualities not unlike my own.
My prejudices against the Parasite are felt less strongly here. I accept their instinctual craving to kill, fight and eat. After all, we are all hard-wired with a strong will to survive. But, there are discrepancies. These references to ‘the Mother’ I’ve picked up are misleading. She’s merely an androgynous eating machine with zero sex-drive. This bloated body doesn’t even have reproductive organs. It is a singularly stupid creature, preoccupied with thoughts of food. Even defecating isn’t a conscious act. It shits when its bowels are full.
Questions rise above me in a slow motion avalanche of doubt. If not from the Queen, where are the instructions coming from? What controls the hive? What haven’t I seen yet? What high intelligence is watching my every move even in this dimensionless space?
I expand my awareness until I sense the liquid-limbed watcher that hovers on the periphery of my range. It veils its position with a shining mist and withdraws as I recognise it. The direction of its travel is away from the Parasite’s brain telling me I’ve been wrong to seek answers here.
I chase the wary spy. We enter a strange area of the Mothers’ flabby body that has brightly glittering walls that block my Other-sight. Before second thoughts can halt me, I focus my mind into a sharp blade and pierce the glowing material.
Falling inside, I find myself in the midst of an incredibly reactive fluid. This substance fills the bulk of the Parasite Queen. It is sentient, and presently motionless in thought and form; as if waiting for my next move.
In its perfect stillness I know what I am swimming amongst. This grey goo; these microscopic living creatures whose tell-tale footprint I’ve seen on Host gums; this is the brilliantly constructed mastermind behind the Parasite’s brutal reign. This is the immortal supplier of regenerative secretions. And I have broken the seal to their inner sanctum. I am privy to a mind blowing secret. There are parasites within the Parasites.

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