(I took another look at it, and seeing as you’re a small and forgiving readership, you deserved something better. Thank you and I hope you are enjoying the series.)
Previous episodes are here.
She spreads herself wide open to let the insects in
She leaves a trail of honey to show me where she’s been
She has the blood of a reptile just underneath her skin
Seeds from a thousand others drip down from within
Nine Inch Nails, Reptile.
Kelly leapt over the wall and landed in a crouch. Her mandibles sliced the air as her eyes adjusted to the twilight and she saw the incandescent streams of information, twisting through the air as shimmering globes of energy rose into the surrounding air.
Her joints throbbed and she exhaled as they elongated and twisted inside her armour. The pressure made her drop onto her stomach and she crawled as her joints reversed and she welcomed the alleviation as she stalked towards the mansion house, mandibles twitching with hunger as she moved towards the source of the streams and globes. In the pit of her stomach, she felt a deep rush of pleasure to explore her new appetite.
Her new flesh.
She experienced it all as a passenger in a car going too fast for comfort. Kelly had spent nights in the backs of cars and vans, huddled with other guys stinking of nerves. Kelly got to stay in the van most of the time, but that was worse. The adrenaline had nowhere to go and she remembered the quaking in her legs as she waited for the guys to come back. It was like being back in the plane again. The sick wrenching sensation when she woke up and the ping of bullets passing her.
The first time she saw the wolf.
She wanted to scream for losing control. A seizure of overwhelming disconnection. She was monstrous, the sharp edge of her desire to know, to feel through the numbers and to put something together elegant was tattooed into her skin. It was magic, and now it had cast a spell which she loathed.
She stopped and wretched but a spasm of sublime hunger overcame her. Kelly had fought all her life, but her body was no longer her own and it was cunning in its rebellion. She wretched and kept moving, locked inside herself as she felt the cold, implacable thing she had become run towards the house.
She saw the young man through the window with a can of soda dangling from his fingers as he spoke into his phone. He laughed and she studied his face, watching as a ball of energy slipped from his forehead into the air. Kelly’s instincts made her turn and snatch a ball of it which drifted past her. He made a face like an emoji. She saw him as something to play with. A whim with teeth coiled around her as she released a burst of cold inquiry through the glass as she crawled forwards.
Her nervous system had sharpened and she sucked in the songs of the world around her, and she knew everything about him.
Eric wore his fears like infected piercings, and his desires were like waking up in damp sheets, pretending to be a feminist and waiting until the women he partied with were passed out drunk. He stuck to soda and he would feel them up in a way which never felt as good anymore. He told himself he never went inside their underwear to justify what he was doing. Some of them have nightmares about it because they don’t want to think it’s him but Eric knows so he’s pretending to show solidarity with women. Certain women.
The lies made his head hurt, but he couldn’t help himself.
It wasn’t enough anymore. He had thought about getting them alone. Condoms were a necessity and he had ordered non-latex condoms ahead of the weekend. Trent would get bored and go home but he’d provide an alibi.
He wanted to do it once. There’s a girl he liked, who trusted him. Talked about her boyfriend, a fucking plumber, and how they kept fighting because he wanted her to stop the protesting. She had no proof of this because he never called her and she believed it, was upset and piss drunk. Eric believed he blended in, by his mewling need for approval. He was safe in the way socks were safe but there were whispers, and he wanted to do it before he got caught.
His parents had money. These things would go away.
It embarrassed his father, Eric thought, but he wanted to do it once.
Kelly found a door and looked up at the alarm system. She saw its processes as veins of information and she scrolled across them, silenced the system with a pinch and shutting off the alarms as she pushed a command into the door and felt the lock turn as she reached out and opened it with a brush of her taloned fingers.
Eric took a lot of photos. He had perfected a look of
He took photos of himself and had asked Trent if he was going to the #metoo march at the weekend. They planned their lives around the anger and pain of women. He practiced smiling until his face became a mask, and whatever it was which lived within him, drew Kelly to him like a moth to a flame.
She looked up at the ceiling and crawled up the wall, stepped past the framed pictures with a gymnastic grace as she pressed her palms against the ceiling. Minute spines extended and slid into the plaster as she took in a breath and switched his phone off with a thought.
Eric looked at his phone in disbelief. He walked out into the hallway, pouting with irritation as he opened the door. Kelly flexed her thighs and lower back, felt the muscles piston with a rippling power which allowed her to wrap her arms around his neck as her mandibles shot twisting beams of electricity into his head.
She did not give him time to scream. Through the chitin, she sucked out his thoughts in a swift as he juddered and kicked in the air. His eyes were rolled back in his head as his tongue protruded, galvanized as she drank his thoughts down into her, took them for fuel. She dropped him, alive but empty. Hollowed out into catatonia as he fell to the ground and slumped against the wall.
Kelly wept within herself as she felt her mind worn away again by the satiation of her hunger, and the power it gave to the entity which was controlling her.
There were others here.
A seismic rumble stomped into her perceptions. Something had followed her from the room where she had woken up.
Her first meal was tainted with disappointment as she crawled into Eric’s room.
Its paws thumped against the lawn. Kelly composed a thought of zen violence and sent it towards the hulking, furred thing which came towards her, an engine of bone and fury as it bared sharp, white teeth.
Through the glass, she saw its eyes as the thought sunk into its skull and it fell forwards, flecks of foam launched into the air and it collapsed.
She smashed through the glass as something unnamable drew her forwards. The edges glanced off the armour where her momentum had not pushed her past them as she charged towards it.
Kelly shuddered against the warm bank of consciousness which emerged and she returned to herself as it washed over her.
She inhaled him, the chemical signatures landing on her soul like kisses. Kelly tried to weep as she realised the horror of what she had become. She had returned to herself and her body revolted at the revelation.
The skin on her cheeks tingled and the mandibles drooped as the additional tendons in her jaw popped and they fell from her face. Her joints twisted like God had practiced judo on her before the pain took her away for a second.
Her heightened senses became a perfect aperture to torture. A razored instant of agony as her body warped back into fragile humanity.
Life was pain and even this escape from it had been a different expression of pain.
Kelly peeled the armour off, but the claws had cracked and she had to pluck them off as she looked at her hands and struggled to keep from screaming.
The house lights came on and she reached towards John as she heard someone scream.
She was afraid it was her.