Author : Duncan Shields, Featured Writer

I’m standing in front of the safety glass and seeing the thing look up at me. Its legs end in black tentacles that look diseased. The fingernails of its left hand are very long. One nostril is dripping what looks like grape juice onto the cell floor. It’s a little pathetic and I get a swell of sympathy that I have to stamp down on immediately.

I have to remember the deaths. I have to remember Allison.

I try to keep the steel in my voice. I can see Allison in his jawline. I can see Allison in the patches of long blond hair that poke through the short black haircut. I can see Allison in his left blue eye with the long eyelashes.

“Ask question?” he says to me.

“Yeah, I have a question” I say. “Are you scared of dying?” I ask this thing.

With a shock, I can see that it has two blue eyes now and the rest of its patchy and uneven hair is turning blonder by the moment.

“Not as long as I know you’re here with me.” It responds. Its voice is getting higher, closer to Allison’s. Its English is getting better. It’s gaining focus. Its shirt is getting tighter as Allison’s breasts push forward and fill the man’s shirt that it’s wearing.

It’s gaining strength by the second. Allison’s been gone for months. I thought I could to do this. I was kidding myself. My vision is starting to blur with tears and I can see that Allison is nearly complete before me behind the glass.

I watch my fingers reach towards the lock. I stop and look at my traitorous hand. I don’t have the code to open the cell anyway. I have no idea what I was about to try to do.

“Brian” it says. Allison says my name. “Let me out. Let’s go somewhere. Quit your job. We can live somewhere hot. Let’s forget this and get out of here.”

I breathe deeply. I realize that I’m standing and my forehead is pressed against the glass. With a start, I stand back and straighten my clothes. Control. Control. I turn and walk towards the main elevator up to the office. I leave this parasite behind.

“Brian, they’re going to kill me!” the Allison thing shouts to me as the door to the elevator closes.

It’s a few floors up and then a brief scan on checkout and I’m out. They saw the whole thing on CCTV so they don’t ask me any questions. They let me out into the fresh air and into my empty life.

The department doesn’t know when Allison was taken. I may have been living with the parasite for days before they detected it. Maybe weeks. I might have made love to it.

I get behind the wheel but the shaking and the tears start before I’ve started the car. I feel almost grateful that the thing in the there let me see her one more time.

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