Author : R Patrick Widner

The signal light above the airlock door glowed red. Tense seconds passed. The atmosphere in the chamber equalized. Finally the interior doors slid open and the rescue team hustled in carrying an improvised battle stretcher.

The soldier being carried writhed in pain, grabbing the sides of his head. The attendants futilely tried to calm his flailing. Chaos was exploding around them in the fire and smoke. Loud alarms were blaring. Frantic racing shadows darted down hallways.

A voice cut through the din.

“To the ER!” “Get him sedated and on the table! He’s got a live one!”

Misty air swirled and danced as he succumbed to the surgeons tools. There was only blank darkness until he awoke.

She was hovering over him and he didn’t recognize her.

“Hey, soldier,” she said. “You had us worried there for a while. They got it out, though. You’re the first one ever to survive. The doctors from Earth really know what they’re doing. You’re lucky, landing up at this base.”

His head was swimming. Somehow he knew that if he tried to talk, he wouldn’t be able to. He raised his eyes and saw gauze bandages surrounding his vision.

“You just relax there, soldier. You had some serious surgery done on your head. They took an intact egg out of your brain. That’s the first time they’ve been able to get one before it hatched. You’re the first one to survive.”

He closed his eyes and tried to remember, but couldn’t.

“You’re pretty much a hero around here,” she said. “Your squad cleaned out an entire nest and you brought back the first intact specimen we’ve seen. It’s going to be a very valuable tool for the genetics lab. They’ll very likely be able to build a bio-weapon from it.”

He nodded slowly as he drifted away.

“One hundred percent eradication,” General Warren said. “We owe it all to you, soldier.”

The ceremony was starting and soon he would be live on TV in every country in the world that had survived.

“Without that specimen I don’t know what we would have done. Sorry about your fellow soldiers, that was a brutal way to go. The video we recovered shows the forward base being overrun in seconds. How you escaped is a miracle. The others, well, they were all injected almost immediately, and gestation lasts between two and twenty minutes.”

“C’mon, soldier; let’s go let them have a look at the hero.”

Looking out at the crowd he felt a swell of emotion. The President was about to speak and he would be mentioned by name and stand and give a nod to the audience . He would humbly accept his medals, even though he still didn’t quite understand the whole concept.

The opening speeches ended and then the main speech began. Shortly he heard his name mentioned and he nodded at the applause. The second time his name was mentioned, he stood.

Suddenly he felt a throbbing pulse of pain from his right eye. He grabbed his head and screamed. His eyeball popped from its socket and dangled on his cheek. Behind it a dull gray orb pushed out.

The pressure behind the egg burst it from its socket and it launched above the crowd. Still in mid-air, it erupted into a frenzy of claws and teeth.

It landed thrashing and slashing. Every human it killed, it grew a little. Soon it dominated the landscape and it wandered away destroying everything it encountered.

A single tear ran down the soldier’s cheek as he watched his baby go off into the world.

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