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Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Savage Writing: Host

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This week’s topic was simply “spooky stories.” Well, it so happens that that sci-fi idea I’ve had involved some stuff I find incredibly scary…

One part of this dialogue is originally based off a comment on Reddit that I can no longer find. I’m not sure of the animal in question – I think it was a gazelle – but that made no sense in this situation, so I changed it. Sheep may be smarter than I give them credit for here. My apologies for being inaccurate.

This follows directly from We Will Not Drown.

___

Dan woke, face-down, on a stainless steel table. Prising open his eyelids, he saw the blurry outlines of monitors, machines, and wires. His mind strained through a fog of nausea that could only be drug-induced. With a groan, he peeled his cheek off the frigid surface and tried to sit up.

A spasm jolted from his lower back. He flopped down.

Reaching around with an aching arm, he felt parted synthetic material, skin…and bandages. Reaching from his tailbone to just past his waist.

Another groan, and a slow push-up, and he was upright. Hospital gown. Anaesthestic machine. Clean-edged metal. They appeared one by one as he focused his eyes.

The operating theatre was empty.

Placing his feet on the tiles, words began to jump unbidden to his mind:

Riots. Gunman. Tier 4. Alleyway. So…here? How? Where?

A thick bathrobe lay on the door-hook. He wrapped it around himself as he ventured out.

He was not in a hospital; that was apparent. It was as if he stepped into a completely different building: small office rooms, devoid of paper or clutter or any evidence of use, stood opposite the theatre. To the left was another door, and through its glass panel, Dan glimpsed a rectangle of glittering black. A window. That was a good place to start. Then he could get his bearings.

The door opened to another corridor, lined with glass walls, behind which lay MDF tables and ergonomic chairs and large panelled screens. Meeting rooms. Another twinge ran up his back and he shivered, pulling the bathrobe tight to himself.

The corridor opened to a larger boardroom. The glass wall opposite showed the city sprawled beyond, white and yellow and red smeared through the black of the night. Seated at the table were two people: a middle aged woman with greying hair, and a red-haired man. The gunman, and one of his companions. Dan’s abductors.

The screams of Tier 4 returned to him, the pain where the back of his skull had been smacked off the concrete. One step back, ready to run – and another spasm shot through his spine, blinding him. He stumbled forward, and when he opened his eyes, his hands were gripping the back of the third chair at the table.

The woman smiled in a kindly way.

‘Won’t you sit?’

Calculations creaked and whirred in Dan’s mind. They were stronger than him. He didn’t know where he was. And they had done something to his back. Escape was not an option, and they knew it.

He sat down, eyeing them both: woman smiling, gunman looking out of the window, nonchalant.

‘How are you feeling?’ the woman asked, in a honeyed voice.

‘What have you done to me?’ he croaked.

‘He’s direct, that’s something,’ the gunman said, with a smirk.

‘Now, don’t you worry,’ the woman said. ‘We checked everything over and you’ll be absolutely fine.’

A perfect non-answer. Dan pushed down the gnawing fear in his gut and tried another angle.

‘You took me here from Tier 4,’ he said. ‘Why? The riot –’

‘Is over,’ the gunman said. ‘Thirty people are dead, and most of the police force that was present has been arrested for inciting violence by private security forces.’

Images of Jamie and Caleb and his other squadmates flashed through his mind. Rage burned through him.

‘We – we didn’t incite anything – that was you! Why did you–’

The gunman turned abruptly in his seat and put a box on the tabletop. Dan fell silent, fear snapping his mouth shut.

‘Are you afraid of spiders, Dan?’ asked the woman.

The gunman opened the lid of the box and tipped it on its side. Out crawled an orange-banded tarantula, about the size of his palm.

Dan eyed the creature as it began a languid exploration of the table.

‘…not particularly,’ he said.

‘I think they’re wonderful creatures,’ the woman said, putting her hand on the table and gesturing at the tarantula as if it was a cat. The gunman slapped the table and smiled when the arachnid jumped.

‘What about sheep? What do you think of them? You ever eaten lamb?’

Inside Dan’s head he screamed: I don’t give a shit! You monster, you’ve ruined my friends – killed thirty people! – and now you ask me what I like to eat? But he remained silent, eyes on the tarantula. The base of his back throbbed lightly, like a second heartbeat.

‘…yeah?’

‘Dumb things, aren’t they?’ the gunman said, with another infuriating smirk. ‘You know, if you make yourself smell right and walk among sheep, they’ll never guess you’re human. They’ll just think you’re a weird-looking sheep. You can go and stand right among their herd and they’ll never bat an eyelid.’

‘It depends on the senses,’ the woman said, as the tarantula climbed onto her hand. ‘Spiders see brilliantly, and they can sense vibrations and airborne chemicals – but they have no sense of balance.’

She tipped her hand from side to side. The tarantula skittered up her arm in response. Dan felt queasy as he watched it crawl over her skin.

The red-haired man leant back, hands behind his head.

‘Try to explain balance to a spider, the colour red to a dog – or try to explain to the sheep that what’s among them is a human, not one of their own.’

Another twitch from his back. It wasn’t centred, Dan realised. The pain came from a specific location, on his right side, a few inches up from his hipbone.

‘…what are you saying?’ he asked.

‘I’m saying – have you ever considered that perhaps there are beings who stand among the human herd, just the same?’

Dan looked at the smiling ginger man. It must have been the drugs. It must have been – because for a split second, he thought he glimpsed an outline beyond him, like a shadow: multi-limbed, non-mammalian, quasi-corporeal.

He pushed away from the table, but another wave of pain coursed through him, crippling his movement. When it passed, he found himself bent over, struggling to breathe.

‘It’s not true,’ he said – mostly to himself. ‘Can’t be. I’m still – I’m still under, I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming.’

‘We have been here a long time, Daniel,’ the woman said, voice still oozing kindness. Dan glanced up and saw the tarantula creeping across her temple. ‘Watching, manipulating, waiting. You lack the senses to see us, so we have made ourselves into a form like yours – a form you can sense, and interact with. And now we have you…our reason for being here may finally come to fruition.’

Another twinge rippled up and across his muscles. Bile rose in his throat. Something was throbbing, throbbing underneath his skin.

‘What did you do to me?’ he gasped.

‘You know,’ the gunman said, voice bright, ‘I was so impressed when you started to grow organs on animals. Ingenious, don’t you think? And synthetic meat, don’t get me started on that! But, anyway, you humans grow replacement tissue on animal bodies. We needed to do something similar, but with a human body.’

Another spasm. A second heartbeat.

‘It was very trying,’ the woman said. She pulled the tarantula off her head and kissed its furry body. ‘We’ve had so many failures, many have given up hope.’

‘Yes, because of course we tried women first – the carrying sex, and whatnot,’ the gunman continued. ‘But a womb’s a cauldron of hormones, you know – every attempt was spontaneously aborted. It made a hell of a cleanup.’

‘We should have known better,’ the woman said, putting the tarantula back on the table.

‘True – it became obvious after a while that we needed someone more…robust. And a better position for the tissue. A space with great access to human blood via an artery, in a place that wouldn’t harm the host. Well, it was obvious then, wasn’t it?’

‘After all,’ the woman said, ‘you have two, and you only need one.’

‘So we decided to take a young man in peak physical condition, and try this new location. Must say, it’s worked well so far. You’re still alive, at least.’

The tarantula crawled close to the gunman’s fingers. He slammed his hand on top of it with a bang, pulverising it, leaving only a furry wet lump on the woodwork.

‘Kurt, that was needless,’ the woman said, as mildly as if he had wasted a batch of paper.

Kurt put his hands behind his head again and grinned.

‘I thought human would be different though, didn’t you?’

‘Different?’

‘Different from pig’s kidney. It tasted pretty much the same.’

Dan jerked up from his seat. Half-bent over his roiling stomach, he stumbled away as fast as he physically could, hitting the door open, smearing his hands all over the pristine glass corridor. Just before the second door, his legs gave way. Pain shuddered up his vertebrae, across his hips, digging deep into his bones, and still the pulse of the thing in his back throbbed, and throbbed. He doubled over and vomited, heaving out every shred of sludge in his stomach, wishing he could heave and claw out his organs, one by one, until the creature was gone.

Hands grabbed his arms. Hands and multiple feelers, wrapping around him and hoisting him up.

‘No – no – get off me!’

Noises passed over his head, untranslatable. Then a phrase in a warm motherly tone:

‘We shouldn’t have explained it all at once.’

The gunman only laughed in reply.

They dragged him back to the operating theatre, and with unbounded strength they lifted him onto the table. He couldn’t see them any more. Screaming and incoherent, Dan struggled against invisible restraints as they pressed him down.

Something pierced his neck.

Dan shrieked until the world cut to black.

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Written by G.J.

30/10/2014 at 10:31 pm

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