Jan and Tom
flopped back into the bean chair and watched the herons swooping
back and forth across the sky, dropping lazily back into the lagoon.
She felt all the tension soaking away in the suns warmth,
and for a change, it was nice. Lighting a cigarette she stretched
one leg out in front of her and traced slow gentle patterns down
her thigh, with a fingertip. A thought swam through her mind and
hadnt been the greatest of years for Jan, but she had finished
her course down at Town Site now, and was the proud,
and deserving holder of a degree in both Music and Fine Arts. She
wasnt normally one to work as hard as she did in her studies,
but once into something that she really enjoyed, she found it hard
to stop for food or sleep. How she had kept that up for four years
without losing her friends amazed many.
had never been an excellent surfer, and since the accident, he
rarely ever took a cold bath, let alone a stroll in the surf. Since
then a better part of his time was spent throwing clay pots on
an old treadle wheel, a hobby he had borrowed from
Jan to fill the many hours that seemed to waste by, while she studied.
had grabbed some fish and chips at Rowans for tea,
and drove straight home from work, knowing that Jan had probably
been cramming the books again all day, and would have forgotten
to have lunch again.
old Chevy creaked as it swung into the driveway, and he was pleasantly
surprised to see Jan sunning herself on the back porch, eyes resting
beneath mirrored glasses. The book and radio were common companions
for her, but the glass of wine was unusual, and that much uncovered
skin was very rare.
An eager thought tried to creep into his mind, but he held it off
and locked up the car. He knew that when thinking of Jan it was
better to expect a turn-down, and sometimes be pleasantly mistaken.
He headed inside for a quick shower, and ended up taking longer
than he needed. Jan must have dozed off.
underneath the wide-eyed shades, the Chevy had looked like a ponsy
Rolls, as it slid in past the gate-posts, but there was an unmistakeable
sound to Toms Chevy that reminded her the day was a good
part gone. Someone ran water inside, and she could hear singing.
Got a stomach ache Tom? she joked.
sloppy flannel flew out the window spilling her glass of wine.
Her cigarette drowned in a puddle.
Sorry. Jan sneaked inside to return it.
were both enjoying the shower when Jan had an attack of cramps,
and hop-hobbled to the couch, calf in hand. Tom really did care,
but he couldnt help smiling. He took the newspaper out of
the warming drawer and emptied it on two plates. With a bottle
of tomato sauce under his arm, he walked back into the living room.
seemed a low rumbling in the distance, quickly rose to a biting
buzzsaw scream overhead, and faded out in the lagoon somewhere.
Shit, that was low! startled Jan.
Ill say! replied Tom, rushing for the window.
Cant see anything from here.
gazed across at him and smiled inside. The towel he wore pulled
tight ly across his bottom. She felt proud and warm.
Lady started barking from the backyard. Not just barking
the It must be tucker time!, Hi there.,
or Im going with you, arent I? bark, but
the real deep You breath and youre dead mate!
growl that Rottweilers were renowned for, and one that The
Lady had never needed to use before.
Must be another dog out there. Said Tom. You
sit tight, an Ill be right back.
On his way out he grabbed the air-rifle, doubting whether he could
seriously hurt anything, but sure that a couple of slugs would
send any dog off running with its tail between its
Wont be a minute.
or four minutes of silence passed before she decided to put on
a record. A fly buzzed close by, and something smelt off
in the house.
Tom burst in through the door, screaming and flailing his arms
about like a mad thing. A swarm of flies flooded in about him.
Like a puppet on a madmans string, his body leapt into the
air and smashed itself against the floor, walls and furniture.
Gibberish, guttural sounds punched out from his body. Pink foaming
saliva sprayed from his mouth, and pain filled fear pleaded, trapped
behind his eyes. Jan was stunned. A braver person may have screamed
their lungs out, but she still couldnt understand any of
what was happening.
nauseating smell. Something dead, shocked her back to her senses.
There were so many flies that she could hardly see Tom, let alone
get near him.
at once, almost as if of one mind, the flies started in her direction.
Her heart leapt to her throat. Behind her stood the door to the
bathroom, its cold steel handle pressing against her back.
Her fumbling fingers opened, pulled her through, and slammed it
shut behind her. With a rubbery thud she slipped to the floor of
the shower as the tap turned. A scream echoed about her cranium,
and white sounds washed down over her face. Two large staring eyes
looked up unblinkingly into the towering faucet, the needles of
icy water stabbing at her unfeeling orbs, numbing her sight, and
diluting her tears.
past, and her bodys shivering became more and more intense.
The waters percussive touch tapped at her senses until a single
worded question focused in her mind.
without breathing, she quietly turned off the shower and listened.
All was still.
Tom? she whispered, praying for an answer, but hoping
that the flies wouldnt hear her.
There wasnt a sound to be heard.
Through strands of dripping blonde hair, she scanned the bathroom
for flies, especially the gap under the door and the keyhole.
silence grew unbearable, and with it her fear of not knowing what
was waiting, on the other side of the door.
mouth felt dry and bitter, like old dead parchment with metallic
scribblings. Invisible fingers squeezed at her throat. Taking a
deep breath, she took hold of the handle, its strong coolness
somehow reassuring. Opening it a crack, she peeked through.
(god it stunk!)
A wave of nausea hit her as the stench stung her eyes.
(they had gone!)
room was empty except for two upturned arm chairs, a broken picture
frame with someones wedding photo, a sofa, and
was there, hiding behind the sofa, on his back, staring at the
ceiling. His naked muscles stood out like steel ropes, his fingers
splayed and locked in twisted claws.
threw herself in through the door and across the room, but stopped
when she saw his face. Toms eyes looked open and glassy in
a wildly contorted mask. She knelt down beside him and touched
his cheek. It was warm, but damp.
whispered word crept from deep in her throat, but didnt make
it passed her quivering bottom lip. Her skin crawled, and a shiver
ran up her spine, raising the hairs on the back of her neck as
she brushed a fly from her hand. It landed on the floor.
(but it wasnt a fly!)
It seemed to Jan to be more like a slater with wings. Looking back
at Tom, she could see more fly critters in his hair.
She flicked one away, squashed another, and as hysterical vengeance
overcame her she began to pound her fists on his scalp, trying
to squash as many of the tiny bugs as she could.
jaw fell open, and the fact that Tom was really dead, finally sunk
in, as a swarm of fly creatures flooded out of his
mouth onto the floor.
Repulsion and fear gripped at her stomach, pushing her back, stumbling
to her feet.
His body rolled over.
she could hide her face, her eyes saw
what her mind tried
not to accept. A gaping bloodless hole opened up his back, from
a now singular buttock, up to between his shoulders. Wrapped about
his neck, at the base of his skull clung something alien. A grey
ribbed oval shell. Small flagellating nodes hung from the rim of
the shell. Like living stone armour, the ribs closed up as the
shell flattened out, releasing its grip on his neck. The smell
was thick and burning in her throat.
looked back to see Toms neck, pink and white, half eaten
away under the shell. No blood hid the knobbly bleached vertebrae
that lay down his back.
retched. Bile dripped from her mouth, chips and batter lay crushed
underfoot. Blinking away tears, she saw that the shell had gone.
no!) It was on
her arm, slowly crawling up, and yet she couldnt feel it.
Expecting the worst, she glanced at her arm, but could see no gaping
trail behind the shell. It was not eating her flesh, as it did
on Tom. Unable to move, she watched as it slid up over her shoulder
and out of sight.
(what is this thing?
(what can it be?
(where is it going?
(what is it doing there?
(is it still there?
heard a squelching pop behind her ears as something needle sharp
and smooth slipped in under her skin.
(Im going to die!)
slick, thin, fleshy rod slid easily through layers of muscle and
tissue at the back of her neck pumping warm mucus, as its length
pushed with firm strength ever upwards. A revolting feeling of
warm pleasure came from the base of her skull and spread out through
her body in rapid waves. Her skin tingled and waited expectantly.
Her body wanted. She wanted. She needed the spreading of its warmth.
The spreading of her skin, her flesh, as it penetrated her person,
inserting itself, asserting itself, took control. She had to open
herself, spread herself wide to accommodate and engulf the sensation.
Her whole body quivered, pulsed, and rode a wave of ecstasy that
grew to an unbearable pitch. A feeling so strong that it seemed
to have a separate identity of its own.
Suddenly, with an orgasmic burst, it was gone.
felt cold and alone. Her mind so small and insignificant in a vast
eyes moved, stopped, and focused.
Her head turned slowly and looked about.
( ? )
She hadnt moved her head, and yet it moved. She wasnt
looking, and yet she saw. Something, something small and grey,
was controlling her head, moving her eyes. Something impossible.
She felt like a stranger, trapped in her own alien body. She felt
fly landed on her face, but she couldnt brush
it off. She had no control. Tiny foot pads tripled across her cheek
and upper lip, and then
( no! )
a thuzz, it crawled up into her left nostril. She could
hear, feel and taste every step it took, crawling, creeping and
tickling all the way. She screamed, coughed, gagged and choked,
but not a single muscle obeyed her mind. Somehow, her body was
no longer hers.
wave flooded over her mind, and she fell into the deep alien pool
of the shells vast memory. She knew what was
happening. It was all too clear.
fly thuzzed into her nostril.
the infinite alien memory, she saw and understood that the multitude
of flies covering her body and face, were the shells
drones crept into her nose and open mouth. The taste of dry sulpher
tripled down her throat. Her ears roared deafeningly as drones
tangled in her hair, and poured through every accessible part of
her body, nestling in the warmth of her internal cavities. Her
body, instead of rejecting the plague of degrading drones, seemed
to make every effort to accommodate them.
knew that her shell-creature and its ambitions were grossly
inhuman, but still couldnt help feeling awed at its impossible
memory and mental control.
Somehow her mind had been tapped into an infinite pool of alien
conceal herself from the ugliness of her present situation, she
submerged herself in her captors memory, and descended into the
chasm of watery images. Remembering them, living them, memory after
memory, life after life, generation after generation, and parent
after parents strange experiences, lay one inside the other,
waiting to be recalled.
returning to her senses, Jan found herself dressed in her cowl
neck sweater, tweed skirt and knee high boots.
Familiar names flashed past her eyes as the pages of her address
book flipped over in her hand. Her eyes stopped and came to rest
on one name, Peter Strong.
Chapter Two: Peter Strong