love, short fiction, the transformation, women

Episode 31 – The Process of Becoming (The Transformation)

Previous episodes are here.

I can try to get away, but I’ve strapped myself in
I can try to scratch away the sound in my ears
I can see it killing away all of my bad parts
I don’t want to listen, but it’s all too clear

Nine Inch Nails, The Becoming.

1.

John stopped outside the facility. Kelly held onto his fur with enough force her fingers throbbed but when he lowered his shoulders to the ground, she slipped from his back. She trembled, eyes hot and wet with tears, disorientated and tasting something thick on her tongue.

The boy’s memories, she told herself.

She wrapped her arms around herself, revolted and frightened as John raised his muzzle to the door and barked twice. The door slid open with a hiss as the speakers crackled overhead. Kelly watched him pad inside, wreathed with ribbons of red and orange light as she saw the damage her thoughts had done.

The ribbons were receding as his body healed from the injuries she inflicted. She saw the twisting oceanic waves of his aura, their colours ranging from autumn to spring, and wondered if she was seeing John’s heart, even his soul.

Kelly wondered if she had wounded it.

‘Come in, Kelly.’ the AI said.

Its tone was flat and Kelly looked up at the speakers. A memory of confronting it, pulling on wires and feeding on information.

‘I did something to you. I’m sorry.’ she said.

A sigh came from the speakers.

John laid on the floor and put his head between his paws, growled as Kelly stepped into the facility. The door closed behind her as she watched the ribbons fade away whilst his muscles moved underneath his fur. There were wet, tearing sounds and muted cracks of motion as he breathed through his transformation. John slipped out from the fur, glistening and trembling. He stood up and stared at Kelly, his eyes dark with concern before they rolled up in his head and he fell backwards like a puppet with the strings cut.

Kelly rushed over to him. Her stomach ached as she pulled him into her arms.

She wondered if she could do something good with what lived inside her.

Kelly closed her eyes, went inside herself, a motion which felt somewhere between flight and diving, into the vast clouds of knowledge she held. A library of stolen truths, and each book opened its pages all at once, a cool wave of emotion washed over her as she searched for something she could use.

Kelly had no formal medical knowledge so what passed between thought and action was more art than science. His mind was a riot of raging neural activity, and she found the path of where her thoughts had wounded him.

Knowing what to do and understanding it were two different things, so she did something over understanding it. If it were something she had to live with, then she had time on her side.

There was a care in her investigation, a need to serve and heal him which gave her a surge of crude power. She shook with the force as she pressed her palm to his forehead and closed her eyes.

A transfer of energy between them. The memory of his weight on her in bed, the last good, warm memory they shared before she turned into a monster which fed on memories, used them to wound the people she loved. It was easier to reach into herself and find good things to help him.

Perhaps, she thought, the virus knew her a little too well. She had done it before, to wake him, and she did it again. John stiffened up, but his fingers were gentle when they touched her cheek. His eyes were wide as he stared into her eyes.

‘What have we done to each other?’ he said.

2.

The car swam like a shark down the freeway. Olivia found the smooth hiss of the air conditioning soothing as she looked through the windshield. There was an edge to her thoughts which looked at the occupants of the other cars and weighed up their value to her as meat. It was playful, without malice or real need, but she looked at the young, tattooed man with the trucker cap and faded tattoos on his forearms, and imagined his blood trickling down her throat. She smiled at him and he turned away.

She hummed with a delighted energy. Her senses made everything a playground, sweet and bitter, soft and hard, all the details of the world in perfect clarity as her thoughts swam around her head.

There was a screech of tyres and the percussive crash of metal brought her back to the moment as she looked through the windshield.

An SUV and a Mercedes Benz. The SUV had mounted the smaller car, and Olivia watched as a man got out of the driver’s seat. She watched him pull the brim of his cap down and her eyes fell to the gun in his hand. She stopped the car and undid her seatbelt.

The smart thing would have been to move on, but Olivia needed to test herself before she got to the real work. This, she decided was exercise.

The man in the cap staggered after a few steps. Olivia got out of the car, caught the blood in the air, different flavours mingled with gasoline and brake fluid.

‘You don’t have to do that.’ she said.

He stopped and wiped the blood from his chin.

‘Fuck off, lady. This asshole’s been on my case for miles.’ he said.

Olivia walked towards the man. She looked into his eyes and lifted her hands. Olivia had left the gun in the car because she didn’t need it.

‘Well, you’ve got them now, haven’t you?’

He looked towards the Prius. Olivia heard the sounds of panic from inside. She could smell the weed inside the car, the thin stink of panic and the artless scrambling for their phone. They could record it, she thought, and it decided for her.

‘Put the gun away. The police will come, I’ll Say I helped you out of the truck and we can all get to where we’re going to.’ she said.

She kept her voice soft and hid the flush of victory as the man stopped and looked at the gun in his hand.

He shook his head like he was trying to shake something out before he racked the slide on the gun and walked over to the Benz, lifted the gun and Olivia moved. The instinct snapped her forwards, and the tips of her fingers burst as her claws protruded and she had her hands out.

She dug her fingers into the meat of his neck, corded with muscle and squeezed as she tugged away ragged divots of skin and tissue. His blood was hot on her fingers and she watched it splash down his front, black in the sodium lights. She stepped back and looked at the Mercedes, saw the flashing light of his phone, held at an angle through the window.

Olivia coiled with disgust. She leapt forwards, swiped with her right hand and punched her claws through the back of his hand. Her fingers drew inwards as she pulled him through, reaching through the open window to swipe at his face. He was so young, she thought, before she stabbed her claws into his eyes and he screamed in a high pitch which only came from agony.

It was a mess, but it was quick.

She found the phone, saw it was recording, not streaming and slipped it into her pocket. The traffic was light but someone would see if they hadn’t already. She took the gun from the man’s body, opened the fuel tank on the SUV and went back to her car.

Olivia licked her fingers like a cat, murmured soothing noises of comfort to herself before she drove off. She drove past the cars with care, looked at the mess she had made and decided it was better not to mention this. A field test, a game gone wrong, it was all relative to her. Before dawn, she stopped at a motel, checked in and showered. The phone had no security, so she went in, deleted everything and reset it all to factory settings before popping out the memory card and the SIM, cut them up with nail scissors and flushed them down the toilet..

There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt. Olivia sat up in her seat, flush with confidence as she saw the turning for the offices.

3.

A party in the kitchen. Loud, boorish noises and someone had good coke, so there was an energetic pace to the volume which reaches her as she’s sat there, trying to write.

No, it was not working.

The violence was too close to drown out or use. The Editor tried to make the scene work, but it did not come to her. She heard a bone crack and someone cries out before the boom of a shotgun made her ears ring as she shuffled forwards. She breathed in, went back to the draft and focused in on the Adam itself.

It was a seething hive of necrotic flesh and electricity, stitched together with sigils and black science. It had been a story in her world, rewritten and deployed to patrol the contested territory.

No one had considered what happened in the long term. Adam had transcended the limits of its narrative and became something else. It had turned on its authors and editors in a display of hubris she wanted to find ironic.

She used the search engine on the quantum keyboard to locate any cars outside. A coincidence in the second line of the moment told her which car had the keys in the ignition.

The Golem roared before something crashed to the ground. She wrote a terse internal narrative which held hypothetical instructions for a set of moves which would stop Adam and sent it.

She heard a hard, compact thump and a gush of fluid before a louder, more complete impact shook the ground beneath her.

The Editor turned as The Golem’s scarred, bald head rolled towards her. Adam’s hands were down by his side as he reached for the knives on his belt. He grinned at her as he stepped forwards. She blinked twice, activated the plot twist.

She started the car and drove out of the grounds. Adam took out the rear windshield with a shot but she got away and it was dawn before she stopped. She pulled over by the side of the road, fished out the lenses and realised she left the case back at the house. Her eyes burned and the tears stung as she put on her glasses and looked around her.

Her phone had been in the bedroom.

The slow trickle of dismal facts pinned her down before she took a deep breath, started up the car and carried on driving. She wanted to go home and feeling sorry for herself was third rate hackery to her mind, so she kept moving until a development came to her.

She called Editorial from a payphone.

‘This is a Corrigendum.’ she said.

‘Where are you?’ Editorial said. It was a different voice each time, and she listened to one of the male voices, gruff from cigarettes and scotch but kind and professional.

‘I drove east from the safe house. I need whatever you have around.’ she said.

Editorial sighed.

‘That was it. Politics, my dear, are the greatest enemies of our art. There’s a safe house on the coast, I can get you back to the Library. There’s no sense in staying until we establish our response.’

The Editor squeezed her eyes shut.

‘No, I’m not leaving. I need support down here. Adam is not stopping and it’s a narrative we can’t have loose.’ she said.

Editorial sighed and she heard the snap of a lighter.

‘A Corrigendum? OK, go to the safe house, wait for further instructions. I’m inclined to pull you out but -‘

‘No.’ she said.

She wanted to go home. The fragile life she was building where the weight of things didn’t rest on her shoulders so much and there was someone with her at night who made her feel safe. The corrigendum warranted a response but her reasons ran deep and she let them anchor her to her decision.

‘I won’t leave.’ she said.

Editorial sighed and she heard him pull on a cigarette.

‘What about the Golem?’ he said.

The Editor looked out at the street, cautious for signs of Adam’s approach.

‘He’s gone. I put in a deus ex machina but it didn’t take.’ she said.

Editorial chuckled.

‘Good girl. Get out of the street.’ he said.

He gave the address and she put the phone back in the cradle and ran to the car. She wanted to call home, but she wasn’t sure about hearing his voice, what it would do to her. The Editor missed it all the time, and the feeling kept her awake as she drove towards the coast.

https://ko-fi.com/mbblissett if you enjoyed this and want to donate, you’re most welcome.

Advertisements
Standard
short fiction

Episode 30 – Force of Arms (The Transformation)

Previous episodes are here.

1.

A surge of electricity had fried everything, cameras and alarms before someone had bust through the door, the locks wrenched like taffy and the cabinets torn open.

 

A pair of combat revolvers.Four boxes of ammunition.

 

Pump action shotguns. A bandolier. Eighteen shells.

 

They had taken the good knives. The fixed blade models and sheaths.

 

What scared the police and Frank, the owner, was what were these people going to do. Frank was glad the cameras were out because he wasn’t sure he could look at whoever it was and be able to sleep again.

 

2.

 

The Editor took off her spectacles and rubbed her eyes. She was drunk with exhaustion, sat in the neat, back bedroom of the Golem’s house. There were multiple forces at work here, two pairs in proximity whilst another moved towards them.

 

There were bodies around all of them. She saw the information as glowing flecks of red coal scattered like ashes next to the soft flames of their presence. She saw the light of the monsters and the people burned by contact with them. The Golem had arranged for men to connect direct surveillance of the sites, and with a phone call, had police reports available of the pertinent events.

 

The slaughter in the woods.

 

A robbery which ended in an assault by something described as a gigantic wolf or bear.

 

Families brutalised in their homes. Strangulation or blunt force trauma, conducted over a short, vicious space of time.

 

The Editor had asked for a moment and the Golem had one of his men take her to the room. She had heard his footsteps echo down the hall and laid down on the bed.

 

The bedroom smelled of fresh polish and citrus, old oak furniture polished until it shone. She sighed as she laid down.

 

A sleeper agent in another realm, sent into a place which had appalled and enthralled her. The Editor had taken ill, forced to contemplate whether it was the world killing her, or a rejection of the woman she had been before this. She met someone strong with her, did not sit and suffocate her, stayed over but accepted the jagged rhythms of her work and the need for space. She missed him, hating the lies but knowing the cost of candour with him. In bed, at night, she’d sleep with her head on his shoulder, tucked into his arm after they read together.

 

She ached to tell him about all the additional Hemingway work she knew. The poetry of Hypatia, a female version of Lovecraft which was taught in schools. He was happy with his world, and when he stayed over, watching her laugh and dance, she believed she could be too.

 

They would kill him if they knew about him. It led her to wonder about the life she wanted, and where.

These thoughts followed her into a thin doze before there was the clatter of alarmed activity and she was on her feet, reaching for her spectacles and opening the door.

 

3.

 

Olivia practiced the flex of transformation in the mirror, Amaro’s touch had opened her to an intimacy of flesh which lent itself to a new art.

 

Cosmetics. She had tightened the flesh along her jawline and given her lips a sensual flushness. Her hair was thicker and longer, and she knew it would lead to hunger pangs but she wanted the experience.  

 

Her work was her priority, she told herself. These abilities were signing bonuses and when she watched Amaro enter the room, she smiled at him in the mirror.

 

‘Are you ready?’ he said.

 

She stood up and smoothed down the front of her cream blouse. The glasses were tucked into the front pocket as she turned and smiled.

 

‘I will head out now and be at their offices by morning.’ she said.

 

He smiled and walked towards her with open arms.

 

‘You’re following the money?’ he said.

 

She nodded and slipped her arms around his lean waist. Amaro was centuries old but his flesh was warm and lean as he held her.

 

‘My good girl. Do me proud.’

 

He moved back and looked to the door as she went through. An unpleasant splash of dismissal hit her on the cheek as she went out to the waiting car. She reminded herself such spasms of feeling were unwise here, despite the gifts of her new existence.

 

They were monsters.

 

4.

 

Kelly stroked the fur along his muzzle. His eyes were closed, but he was breathing in deep, even bursts as his chest rose and fell.

 

‘I need you to wake up, John.’ she said.

 

She shook him, wondering what she had done here, a single thought forged into a single command, fired from her head like an insult she couldn’t take back. There was a phrase when you coined the perfect comeback after being insulted, in French, l’esprit de l’escalier and it had felt like delivering one of those before the event.

 

Kelly fought the panic as she heard screams from the house behind her. They had found the boy.

 

Kelly focused on reading John. She saw the sluggish flow of neurons, the pneumatic pump of his circulatory system and analysed it as an engineering problem. Her fingers knotted in his fur and she pushed a command into him, felt the power of the word flow down into him as it bloomed inside him. A perfect, qlippothic thought which was a phrase she never thought of before, but it fitted as she plucked it from the massive storm of knowledge within herself. Kelly had used it to hurt people, but within her was the capacity to help. To heal.

 

He opened his eyes and sniffed the air.

 

Kelly put her hands to her face as she watched him get to his paws by degrees.

 

He pushed his muzzle against her belly, gave a soft butt into her stomach before he turned and padded away into the shadows of the garden. She walked with him, trembling with anticipation at his reaction when he became a man again.

 

She had hurt him and been hurt in turn. Kelly followed him, felt the chill of night bite into her skin as they moved back to the grounds. She had climbed the wall with ease before, but now, exhausted and aching, it looked impassable. John barked and lowered his massive shoulders to the ground as she looked at him.

 

Kelly got it as she climbed onto his back, the raw power of his form pulsing through his bones and muscles with each breath as she dug her fingers into his fur. He stood up, bore her weight without effort as he turned away from the wall to gain some ground. She gripped onto him and closed her eyes as he charged the wall, moving from a trot to a sprint which ended when he pushed off his back legs and leapt into the air. John was the only solid thing beneath her as they left the ground and she fought the dizzying nausea of being airborne before they landed on the ground.

 

Kelly opened her eyes but kept her fingers dug into his fur as he ran towards the facility.

 

5.

 

Adam racked a round into the shotgun as he walked out of the shadows, his hair hung in his face as blue sparks of electricity flashed between his gritted teeth. His skin had become translucent and yellow, visible patterns of veins and musculature in motion with each step he took towards his target.

 

He looked at the house and smiled at the chance to act according to his purpose. A line from the one of the books he had used to educate himself, back when he was at war with his creator.

 

“Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.”

 

Adam climbed the wall with ease as he sent his consciousness into the electrical grid of the property, overloading it with the force of his will. He shut down the lights and power. There were two of them here, and they had force of arms to protect them.

 

He lifted the shotgun to his shoulder and watched the movement through the windows.

 

‘Come out and face me.’ he said.

 

His voice was a sonorous, booming thing which shook the glass in their frames.

 

The metallic rasp of weapons being loaded came to him and he smiled as he walked across the lawn.

 

A door swung open and the muzzle flash drew his attention as the round whipped past his head. He squeezed the trigger and the shotgun boomed as he walked. He heard the thump of a body hitting the floor and he pumped another round without thinking.

 

Another volley of rounds came through the dark, one took the meat of his right cheek in a spray of blood and skin whilst one buried itself in his shoulder but he fired and heard someone cry out. He shouldered the shotgun and drew the revolvers, brushed his thumbs over the hammers, having tooled them for a lighter action.

 

Webs of light danced across his ruined cheek, knitted the flesh together with an ugly economy as he saw a shape through the gloom and fired at it.

 

The bullet to his forehead stopped him, like holding a sneeze and a sick throb of pain went through him as black blood squirted from his nose. He lifted both revolvers and fired, watched the man’s head burst apart before he moved into the house.

 

Adam brushed the hair from his face as he watched the men point their weapons down the hall at him. He snarled at him, awash with hate and pain, all of it harnessed to his will.

 

‘Bring them to me.’ he said.

 

They fired at him, enough to bring him to his knees but he got up and fired both guns as he walked.

 

A spike of sensation charged through him, as they shot the flesh from his bones but his shots never missed, even when a bullet took out his jaw and it hung from his face before a corona of electricity glued it back on and two men were dead before he smiled again. He slipped the revolvers back into the shoulders and brought up the shotgun, cutting a path with the force of his violence.

 

There was a flickering light past the men, visible through the air, thick with smoke and bullets as he kept firing.

 

A fire, waiting to burn him.

 

6.

 

She slipped the contact lens in, calm despite the roar of gunfire and the screams of dying men. The Editor brought up a quantum keyboard and started to write a better version of events than this was turning out to be.

 

He had found them instead, and she focused on crafting the right opening line as the Golem walked out of the room, smoke rising from his skin as he told her to get working. She could work to a deadline, she thought.

 

Standard
short fiction, women

Episode 29 – Love Is Violence

(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.

 

1.

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.

 

Standard
short fiction, women

Episode 29 – Love Is Violence

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.

 

1.

Kelly leapt over the wall and landed in a crouch. Her mandible 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 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 bit into his temples.

 

She did not give him time to scream. Through the chitin, she sucked out his thoughts in a swift as he juddered and felt the awful pressure of his skull broken before a sudden, sickening insult of agony and he died between her mandibles. Kelly spat him away and turned around.

 

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.

 

Standard
romance, short fiction, women

The Transformation Episode 28 – Assembled Into Something Into Something.

Previous episodes are here.

I am just a copy of a copy of a copy
Everything I say has come before
Assembled into something into something into something
I don’t know for certain anymore
I am just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow
Always trying to catch up with myself
I am just an echo of an echo of an echo
Listening to someone’s cry for help

Nine Inch Nails, Copy of A.

 

1.

 

‘I thought I’d get to punch more stuff?’

 

Kelly glanced at John as he attached the adhesive pad to her temple.

 

‘So does everyone who gets into medicine.’

 

John frowned as he worked. She reached out and touched his forearm.

 

‘I feel incredible. For the first time.’ she said.

 

He ran his tongue over his lips as he lowered his eyelids and put his hand over hers.

 

‘It feels that way when I turn into a wolf.  The pain is part of it but when I was there, I lost control of myself.’

 

She leaned towards him and kissed him on the mouth. She brushed her lips against his and closed her eyes.

 

‘So far, John, I know amazing things and terrible things. I have to control it, don’t I?’ she said.

 

He rested his forehead against hers and sighed.

 

‘We have to establish baselines. Whatever you spoke to, it’s more than a virus and I want to know what it’s done. Kelly, we have to know why. I need to study you.’ he said.

 

She kept her eyes closed before she laid back down on the bed and let him attach the other pad as he went over to the laptop on the table and switched on the bluetooth speaker.

 

‘John. Voice activation is on. I need you to tell me what you’re processing’ he said.

 

Kelly’s face grew taut with concern as her eyes dampened and he came back to her side.

 

‘Are you frightened of me?’ she said

 

He shook his head, his mouth in a tight line as he breathed in through his nostrils and took her hand in both of his.

 

‘No, I’m frightened for you.’

 

He typed into the keyboard before he asked Kelly to focus on her breathing.

 

She felt the pull in the back of her mind. It gained clarity as she reached out, following the shimmering waves of information into the laptop.

 

Kelly’s head throbbed with a sudden, nauseating roll of sensation, coating the inside of her skull as she drew in the surrounding information. She turned her head to one side, her eyelids sprung open as she stared past John. It was the rough word of God, a galvanic revelation as John watched the data spike on the screen before her lips pulled back over her teeth as she held onto his hand with a mechanical, impossible strength.

 

Her eyes were all black. Numbers scrolled  across them. John looked behind him and saw it was reflecting off the computer screen either. Her hand against his head. A halo of blue electricity formed around his head before it sank into him and his eyes rolled back in his head as he pushed away.

 

She bucked and thrashed as she tore the electrodes from her head. Kelly’s black eyes, scrolling numbers, looked on everything with a blank, insectile interest as John curled up in a ball. Small red blossoms opened on his skin as she watched him change.

 

Kelly lifted her hand to her eyes, watched as her pores dotted with black globules of shimmering chitin as it flowed over her like a chill kiss. It hardened into curved plates of blue-black chitin, iridescent where the light struck its surface and when it formed into a perfect, featureless mask over her face, it was cold and dark for a moment before her senses adjusted to her new form. Kelly stretched upwards, tested the new configurations of anatomy before she saw how the man lost beneath the thick, scarred shell which encased him.

 

She sensed the chemical riot of his transformation but at the edges of her new, brutal consciousness, more interesting prey presented itself to her and she ran from the chamber.

 

‘Kelly, stop it.’

 

Kelly looked up at the ceiling. Her arms were loose by her sides as she looked around, followed the trails of information twisting through the air before she strode over to the laptop and placed her palm against the screen. She screeched and lifted her chin as she sucked down the information, the knowledge and let it suffuse her brain.

 

‘That was interesting.’ the A.I. said.

 

Kelly screeched and it chuckled through the speaker.

 

‘I back up every 3 seconds. You’ve got three lines of random code, and whatever you’ve sucked down before. Sit down and wait for this to pass, you’ll regret it otherwise, I know.’

 

Kelly swiped the laptop off the table and it smashed into the wall, breaking in two as she walked out of the room.

 

The moonlight glinted off her armour and she squatted as her fingers elongated into razored tips and polyps of material ballooned on the line of her jaw into serrated mandibles which cut the air in rapid swipes as she ran into the night, eager to feed.

 

Inside the facility, the door sealed shut and the computer screen changed to a series of zeros and ones as the carapace on the floor cracked open, revealing the shimmer of wet fur and glistening white teeth as the beast tore itself free.

 

The air filtration system emitted a fine, white steam which drifted to the ground and the beast roared as it charged the doors.

 

Yvonne watched the agents leave. She gripped the mug of coffee with enough force to make the skin over her knuckles white as she kept the door closed to her office and struggled with what she had been told.

 

National security.

 

The war on terror had come to her part of the country, dressed in something bizarre and terrifying.

 

This animal was part of a program, she had been told, and the validation of her hunch to call local breeders was bitter as she tried to keep her face still.

 

This had been a test, deploying one of them in a limited, but dangerous environment to see how the animals acted. The investigation had captured a shipment of canine embryos en route to a post office box in Seattle. Yvonne had sat there, blinking in disbelief as the two agents gave her the story.

 

She had not believed a word of it but the lie was big enough to make her decide the truth wasn’t always worth pursuing. There were bodies all over the woods and handing it off no longer was a bad idea. She swallowed the lie, having been around too long to know what blowing a whistle cost you.

 

‘Killer dogs, huh?’ she said.

 

Yvonne got up and wandered to the door of her office and sighed.

 

Her phone rang and she answered it. She listened and got her coat on, cursing under her breath as she wondered what the weird thing was now.

 

For something she decided was not her problem, the universe was pushing to make it hers and the headache came on slow as she drove to the cabin.

 

3.

 

Adam charged through the woods. He moved like a missile, following the ugly, grating pulse in his head as he pumped his arms and pushed aside anything in his path.

 

Something had emerged and the call to act grew impossible to avoid. It was a relief to be stripped of dichotomy, focused on his purpose and running to meet it with open arms.

 

All to kill it.

 

His consciousness expanded, searching for the location until his senses were enervated by the contact. His sinuses were packed and he snorted ropes of black ichor down his face as he grinned. They sizzled where they fell to the ground but he kept on running.

 

 

Standard
love, purpose, romance, short fiction, women

Episode 27 – (The Transformation)To Take Flight Without Leaving The Ground

hold_on____by_p0rg

https://p0rg.deviantart.com/art/Hold-On-57499889

Previous episodes are here.

1.

Olivia looked at her hand, fingers splayed, fascinated by what was happening to her. The webbing between her fingers had swollen into translucence, with minute black veins visible beneath the surface. A sharp burst of pain flared in her fingertips as pearlescent needles slid forward, set in beads of black fluid which dripped onto the table. She sighed with pleasure as she lifted her hand for inspection.

‘Excellent, Olivia.’ Amaro said.

‘Now do it again.’

Olivia repeated the process until the tips of her fingers bled. She felt a deep pulsing travel up her forearm as the wounds closed.

‘Will it always hurt?’ she said.

Amaro give a thin smile and nodded.

 

‘As with all life, Olivia. However, some pain serves a purpose.’ he said.

 

Olivia ran her tongue along her gums, feeling the small nubs of raised flesh, through which slid the secondary set of teeth, fine black hollow needles which produced a neurotoxin and a vacuum seal to draw out blood. She lived with bursts of fascination about her new anatomy before a fleeting sense of how alien these things were washed over her like crude oil atop an ocean.

 

‘My experiences beg to differ.’ she said.

 

Amaro’s lips curved into a smile. Olivia noticed the subtle changes in his physiognomy, how his cheekbones would protrude and recess then the plates of his skull would swell before he caught himself and resumed his normal features.

 

‘Of the two of us, I have more to say on the matter.’ he said.

 

Olivia looked into his eyes and held his unflinching gaze.

 

‘How Old Are You?’ she said.

 

He brought his hand and covered his mouth as he shook his head and chuckled

 

‘I will be 340 years old in May, Olivia.’

 

‘Why are you laughing?’ she said.

 

He came around the table and stood close to her. She caught the salted piscine musk of him, wondered how far from humanity he was.

 

Perhaps it was the power, both in his form and wealth which set him apart. She had met with deputy directors, elected officials and although their station afforded them respect, Olivia knew without that station, they were small, crumpled and weak. She looked at him and fought the chill stirring of her interest which ran through her veins.

 

‘The ages have been dichotomous Olivia. I have been a monster and a god to some, but all I know is my purpose.’

 

She caught the Spanish accent, the diphthongs which escaped his control which made her smile to herself.

 

‘Which is what Amaro?’ she said.

 

He rested his hand atop hers for a moment.

 

‘In time, Olivia, in time. Now, walk with me.’

 

Amaro’s long, supple fingers curled around hers and he lifted her hand as she got up. Her breath caught in her throat as she followed him from the room. They left the house through the rear, wandered through the garden and out onto the beach. Olivia raised her nose and struggled against a pleasurable shifting through her body. The smell of the water prompted further changes and when she caught Amaro staring at her, she lifted the black t-shirt over her head and tossed it to the sand. He unbuttoned his shirt without taking his eyes from her, wandering over her high, firm breasts and soft stomach. Olivia had held herself apart from men but her transformation still held surprises. Her nipples hardened when the warm breeze caressed her. Amaro’s physique was a study in definition, sculptured muscles underneath translucent emerald skin as he let the shirt fall and he unbuttoned his trousers. The lack of modesty was reflected as Olivia stepped out of the cotton jogging pants and removed her white cotton panties. They established communications through the sets of laryngeal tissue set in vibrating pads of mucous membranes beneath the gills in their trapezius muscles.

 

(initiation) (consummation)?  He said

 

(trust) (manipulation) she said.

 

Amaro stepped towards her and took her hands in both of his.

 

He led her to the water and she watched his face elongate into something cetacean as his mouth swelled with the additional rows of teeth in his mouth. His eyes blackened but there was an open lust there as she stepped into his arms. The rush of the sea water around her bare, webbed feet was a caress and when Amaro stroked her cheek, she opened her mouth, letting her additional teeth slip forwards as they nuzzled one another, moving into the ocean where she shuddered with an exultant bliss. She surrendered to the liquid, alien wonder of mutation as Amaro lengthened and drew her into the water, reaching for her with cold, elongated fingers which knew the places to draw her pleasure.

 

They sang to one another under the surface. When the surrounding fish convulsed and turn on one another, Olivia looked and saw the coruscating eddies of photo-electricity, lines of force which penetrated the surrounding space. Amaro pulled her close and she slipped her legs around him as he drove into her with an urgent thrust which was agony and ecstasy in the same instance.

 

If it was not love, then it was the monstrous equivalent and for Olivia, it was enough.

 

2.

 

Kelly watched John as he loaded the dishwasher. She had showered and changed into one of his t shirts and a pair of pyjama bottoms festooned with superman logos, which made her chuckle when she saw them folded on the bed. When she came through, he smiled at her.

 

‘They look better on you than they did on me.’ he said.

 

She smiled and walked towards him as he stood up. Kelly enjoyed the difference in height between them. He read her thoughts and reached out, took her in his arms and kissed the top of her head.

 

‘Thank you.’ she said.

 

He took in a deep breath and she felt the raw force of him as she pressed her cheek to his collarbone.

 

‘It’s strange, Kelly.’ he said.

 

She looked up and watched his face. There were dark circles under his eyes but he smiled and she touched his furred cheek.

 

‘What is?’ she said

 

His smile faltered before he put his hand over hers.

 

‘Not being alone anymore.’ he said.

 

She kissed him and brought her other hand to his cheek before she drew back and stared into his eyes.

 

‘I know you didn’t give this John. Please don’t feel bad about it. I’m freaked out enough as it is.’ she said.

 

He lowered his mouth to hers, but held himself.

 

‘I wouldn’t hurt you for the world, Kelly.’ he said.

 

He gave off waves of warmth through his clothing and his hands smoothed down her back.

 

‘I know, but we have to figure this out, don’t we?’ she said.

 

He rubbed his nose against hers.

 

‘We will. I’m interested in the intuition you’re experiencing. Do you feel stronger,?’ she said.

 

She had not considered it but there were rushes of vitality coming through her in waves, sometimes subtle and involving but in his arms, it was a more primal state of grace which wrapped itself around them.

 

‘Yes, but it’s the thoughts. I reached into your computer without touching it and it was something I did without thinking.’ she said.

 

He pressed her to him and they held one another, drawing a deep comfort from the simple reassurance of touch which chased the thoughts away.

 

‘John?’

 

He looked into her eyes,

 

‘Take me to bed.’ she said.

 

He led her through to his bedroom. There was a full cabinet of books, some worn paperbacks skulking between crisp hardback spines and the floorboards were varnished and warm beneath her bare feet. She looked at the king sized bed with egyptian cotton sheets and sat on the bed.

 

‘I want to feel your weight on me, John. Everything in my head is floating away and I need you to hold me down until I figure it out. Do you get it?’

 

John did not have to speak. A flare of insight gave Kelly the biological information of his arousal. The hormones translated into tastes and textures. Testosterone and oxytocin were the soft crush of fruit flesh and wine, the endorphins were clouds of golden butterflies and she sensed the immunoglobulin as wavering globules of light appearing around them.

 

‘You look so beautiful.’ she said.

 

He gave a tender smile and looked away for a moment.

 

‘No one’s told me that before.’ he said.

 

Kelly watched the subtle shimmer of his vulnerability as a heat haze around him.

 

‘That you’re beautiful?’ she said.

 

He sighed and she ran her hands over her shoulders.

 

‘You are, John. We’ve changed but I still feel human, don’t you?’ she said.

 

He stood in front of her and she pulled him down onto the bed with her. They were still dressed and it lent an adolescent clumsiness which ended up in a burst of giggles before he slipped his hand inside her pyjama bottoms and ran his fingertips over the curve of her pussy. She tensed up with the delight of it before she softened and nodded to him, her voice lost to the urgency of her need.

 

‘I feel human around you.’ he said.

 

She kissed him hard and pushed his bottoms down his thighs before she caressed the taut globes of his backside. A moment’s concern wafted across her forebrain about protection but she looked into his eyes and wanted him inside her with nothing between her.

 

The virus had chosen them both. Perhaps it had a reason but as she closed her eyes and surrendered to the urge for his substance. It did not chase the thoughts away, but it gave them an alchemical symphonic quality which eased her fears. Kelly could see the means to kill and break, but it was a tool to see how desire manifested through her new senses.

 

John put his weight on her and moved inside her, slow but determined before she urged him not to hold back. He gained pace and urgency as she grew sodden with each angled thrust of his cock, moving deeper as she opened to him. When she came, with her fingers dug into his back everything went white before he joined her in the moment of pulsing abandon.

 

Later, as they laid there, Kelly turned on her side and stroked the hair on his chest as she moistened her lips with her tongue.

 

‘John, we need to test what I can do, don’t you think?’ she said.

 

He opened his eyes and brushed the hair away from her face as he nodded.

 

‘Tomorrow.’ he said.

 

She squeezed him close and rested her head on his chest.

 

A hive of thoughts hummed in her skull as she laid there, enjoying the strong thump of his heart and the dark musk of sex which hung in the air between them.

 

‘Would we have gotten together if we hadn’t met the way we did?’ she said.

 

He stroked her hair. She listened to his heartbeat for a change in pace but his heartbeat remained strong and steady.

 

‘You were flying over my house. I don’t like to ascribe meaning to horrible things which happen any more than I do to good things. I’m glad we have met, despite everything.’ he said.

 

She inhaled the smell of his skin before her eyes grew heavy and she drifted off into a slow, deep rest.

 

3.

 

Yvonne walked into the station house and stopped when the pair of agents stood up, their faces were expressionless but polite as they identified themselves as Agents Richards and Evans. She hid her nerves well as she led them into her office.

 

They sat down and she asked one deputy to bring her the files from the store robbery. Agent Evans pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose and thanked her.

 

‘In the interest of cooperation, we hope you’ll be amicable to our help.’

 

Yvonne chuckled and shook her head.

 

‘I’ve dealt with stray dogs before but this is some fucked up Lassie shit.’ she said.

 

She punctuated the balloons of horror which floated through her day with sharp observations, disguised as homespun humour. The pair of agents were a tough crowd, however.

 

Agent Richards leaned forwards, rested her forearms on her thighs.

 

‘Yes it is. We had the autopsy report sent over on the way here. Your coroner was a touch precious about it, but we figured we’re all on the same side, sheriff?’ she said.

 

Yvonne nodded with care.

 

Whatever the thing was, the coroner had assessed it managed about 1160 psi, enough to bite through the knee joint and amputate the leg in a single bite. Yvonne had looked on the internet and saw it was more powerful than a bengal tiger. She had emailed a few local dog breeders, asked them if they had taken orders or bred anything special but they responded as a chorus of indignation at the suggestion.

 

Evans smiled and looked at Yvonne with a quiet disdain.

 

‘The Lassie thing is cute, sheriff, but we’re looking at something which has been used to kill several people in your jurisdiction.’ he said.

 

Richards, who had the bright insincere smile of the girls who bullied Yvonne through school, shook her head.

 

‘You must forgive Evans. He takes getting used to.’ she said.

 

Yvonne hoped she wouldn’t have to but smiled and asked them if they wanted coffee. They agreed and she asked one deputy to go across the street and grab some.

 

‘As precious as Ray is, he’s recovered some foreign tissue and it’s getting analysed.’

 

Richards pouted and nodded her approval.

 

‘That’s good, the sooner we can find him, the better.’ she said.

 

Yvonne wondered if she misheard her but when she saw the blood creep up Richard’s throat, she realised she had.

 

‘What do you mean, him?’  

 

 

 

Standard
love, romance, short fiction, women

Episode 26 – The Transformation – Minor Players

Previous episodes are here

1.

Perez called on the way back. Jasper’s reunion had become an eviction party by the time the cab parked outside the warehouse. He watched Ezra and Josh wheel the roadie cases into the back of a waiting truck. Ezra scowled at him as they walked past, into the warehouse.

 

‘If he’d seen what I had, mate’ Jasper said.

 

Perez was still struggling with the news. He walked as though every step caused him pain, hands in his pockets as he led Jasper to the office at the back.

 

‘Ezra’s pissed about the job going south. We all are, but with what you’ve told me, it changes things.’ he said.

 

Jasper lit a cigarette and glanced at Perez.

 

‘I’m sorry, I had no fucking idea.’ Jasper said.

 

Perez blinked and tilted his head to one side.

 

‘If he’s not human, then he’s smart enough not to fuck with. Either that or you lost your fucking mind.’ he said.

 

Jasper shut his eyes and shook his head.

 

‘I wish I was crazy.’ he said.

 

Perez gestured a thumb to the office at the back and smiled at him.

 

‘Tell it to the boss.’ he said.

 

Jasper gritted his teeth, hissed out smoke between the gaps in his teeth. A fresh crop of sweat beaded along his hairline as he walked towards the office.

 

They heard a voice telling them to come in.

 

Jasper and Perez looked at one another.

 

‘I’ll back you all the way.’ he said.

 

Jasper looked at Perez, and there’s something detached in his eyes which makes Jasper take in a sharp intake of breath. He opened the door and stepped inside. The brittle crunch of plastic sheeting made him chuckle as he looked up.

 

Jasper had seen the man at the house. He had been one assistant, but he smiled with a bright amusement as he gestured behind Jasper.

 

‘Hey Jasper.’ Miller said.

 

Jasper looked as a man closed the door before he gestured to the chair with his gun.

 

‘Fucking do it, then.’ he said.

 

Miller shook his head.

 

‘Oh well, if you insist.’ he said.

 

The man lifted the pistol and shot Jasper in the head. Miller shook his head, disappointed at Jasper’s refusal to allow him a chance to gloat at how transparent his ambitions had been. They had found the crew, doubled their take and told them to wait for Jasper to check in. His ears rung from the shot, and he wiped away a fine mist of blood from his face.

 

Miller told the men to clean it up as he left the office. Perez was stood with his arms folded, looking out at nothing. When he saw Miller, he stood up and glared at Miller.

 

‘Tell Mary we’ll be in touch. Sorry about your friend.’ he said.

 

Miller willed a flicker of recrimination to appear in the other man’s face, but none came. Everyone had their price, and this crew had come in under budget. Perhaps they had heard about what happened to the last crew, but Miller had lost the taste for tradecraft and just wanted to get back to the house. Mr Felipe had asked him to take care of the matter, whilst he assisted Olivia with her transition and it was as depressing as having a team meet at the warehouse, tell them to clear out, pay the crew off in cash and wait. Perez was hanging around for an extra piece, seeing as he had brought Jasper back in.

 

Perez opened his mouth to speak but Miller shook his head.

 

‘No, I’ve said what I needed to. Fuck off, spic.’ he said.

 

Perez curled his upper lip and squared his shoulders but Miller held his ground with a varnished, smug grin on his face. He turned and walked away from Perez, who heard the sounds of plastic sheeting being gathered inside the office. Perez swallowed and it tasted like hot gravel pouring down the back of his throat as he turned and walked away.

 

The money was too good, he told himself. Whoever Jasper’s boss was, it was better to take the money and run.

 

Miller got into a car and made a call.

 

‘It’s done. Clean up is underway, sir.’ he said.

 

Mr Felipe thanked him and ended the call. Miller sat back in the seat and exhaled with satisfaction as he closed his eyes. His work kept him active, and although he had sacrificed a normal life for it, his needs were met. In time, he hoped, so would his ambitions. Jasper had come into the business under false pretences, and when he committed to those over his current employer, Mr Felipe had seen fit to deal with the matter.

 

He had been privilege to the secret of the man and took it as a measure of trust. Miller never acted against Mr Felipe, and it had been rewarding beyond his imagination over the years. He did not ask about being altered because he knew his use was in his appearance and manner. Olivia might have been capable of anything but she was bound to him forever. Miller saw the long term appeal of service but at an age and station where he would enjoy it.

 

Miller played out his subtle dreams of power behind his closed eyelids.

 

2.

 

The Editor looked at the cardboard sign and winced at the spelling of her surname.

 

MS SLATTER

 

She sighed as she walked towards the man, looming over her with a protruding forehead and acromegalic jaw.

 

‘You must be the Golem?’ she said.

 

He shook his head and lowered the sign.

 

‘No, he’s waiting for you.’

 

She sighed and checked her handheld device. He had sent her a message telling her he was thinking of her. A single x. A stolen ache slipped from her control but she grimaced and put the device back in her jacket pocket.

 

She followed the man out to a waiting car. He opened the door for her and she got inside. Her nose wrinkled at the bitter tang of burned flesh, like an oil on her tongue as she got in and closed the door.

 

He took up most of the back. Each breath was the soft roar of something large and mechanical as he sat with his knees close to his chest.

‘I dislike this place, Ms Slater. I am here because I am instructed to do so. Your skills as an editor are spoken of with warmth and respect but I am the Golem. You know of my reputation?’

 

She lowered her eyes and nodded.

 

‘It means you know mine, doesn’t it?’

 

He gave a slow nod. What light there was in the back of the car revealed pink skin which had healed into tight bands of scar tissue. She saw the wet glint of his teeth when he smiled.

 

‘We have two signatures to track. Evidence of a third, not including us.’ he said.

 

She had the lenses in her jacket pocket but the time on the plane had allowed her to read.

 

‘I will need information if we run a line edit on this.’ she said.

 

He grunted and the car started up.

 

‘I have a house we will use. There is internet there, and I have room for a sky tank, if you need it.’ he said.

 

His voice was the rasp lava made when it tongued its way down the mountainside and it unnerved her to be so close to it. He had worked with Special Lexicon, working with religious texts and had discovered an unknown word of power. His pronunciation of the second syllable burned most of his body but the change had been in his mind.  The surgeries and editing had transformed him and now he was a specialist, called in on serious matters.

 

She shook her head.

 

‘I’ve got what I need. We can talk along the way. What’s your story?’ she said.

 

He chuckled and rolled his shoulders.

 

‘In the beginning was The Word.’

 

She made notes in her head as she listened.

 

3.

 

Kelly watched John play with his dog on the lawn, squatting over it as he tugged the length of rope between its jaws. He looked up and she smiled at him, his eyes widened before he returned his attention to Duke.

Her thoughts gathered thunder, drawing information into her head where it waited for her interpretation. The pallet of scent signatures was intense, and she shuddered when she inhaled the perfume of coffee or the slow, narcotic pulse of nicotine but it was all overwhelming. He was teaching her meditation practices, a discovery he arrived at through need and taught to her as a way of managing the pressure.

 

She felt no urge to transform but there was an unsettling tension to her thoughts and reflexes which made everything a potential vector of concern. Kelly walked out onto the lawn and joined them both.

 

Later, when things turned bad, it was a happy memory for her, the decision to step out and join him in his space, but then she was driven by a desire for the silent comfort he offered without expectation of reward. It was enough for her then, to acknowledge it as he looked up and gazed into her eyes.

 

John’s phone rang and he answered it.

 

His face tightened and he asked them to contact the legal department. He ended the call and put the phone away.

 

‘They’ve asked about me and the cabin.’ he said.

 

Standard