Protelean. Short Story.

Ugh. Just ugh.

My phone fell out of my pocket last night and the screen shattered. Wasn’t even from a large height. Shortest I’ve ever owned a phone and broken it. Oh well. I’m going to get a plastic screen protector so I can use it without fear of slicing my fingers open until I have the money to get it fixed.

I haven’t really been up to much, planting things, buying things in which to plant…plants. Obviously I’m very skilled and knowledgeable when it comes to gardening. Once everything doesn’t die, or uproot themselves to kill us all, I’ll be happy with the results.
On with the show!

___________________________________________________________

 

Jacob slid his bag off his back and let it thump onto the floor. It had been a long day at work, so very, very long. He’d managed to get all of the forms filled out and all his emails sent, though to do so he had to eat his sandwich at his desk, he had been working nonstop. He was home now though and dinner was already sorted, well, his roommates had already texted asking to get pizza, so close enough. He was craving comfort food. He’d change into pyjamas and veg out with a few movies while eating pizza with his friends, perfect. Tomorrow would probably be equally stressful, but it was Friday, so he’d have the whole weekend to relax, read a few books, watch a few movies, maybe even go out if the mood struck him. Jacob kicked off his shoes, leaving them beside his bag. He’d have to empty out the lunchbox and a few other things, but he could do that later.

“Hey, Jake? Could you come in here for a second?”
Jacob frowned, that sounded like Stacy, Steven hadn’t said she was coming over.
Groaning internally, he walked into the kitchen, Stacy was sitting at the table, there didn’t appear to be anyone else around.
“Where is everyone? Thought they’d be back by now.”
“Oh, they just popped out to the shops. How was work?”
“Good. Did you need something?”
“Yeah, sorry, there’s a jar on the top shelf, in the cupboard by the fridge, I can’t get it, Steven said it’s some really awesome sauce for with the pizza later. Could you grab it down?”
“Uh yeah sure.”
Jacob walked to the cupboard, wondering why Stacy couldn’t just wait for the others to return or just use a chair as a step stool, like a normal person.
“Did they say how long they’d be? I think I’ll probably just veg out in front of the TV tonight.”
“Not too long.”
Jacob jumped, Stacy was much closer than he thought, she must have moved while he was talking. He could feel her breath on the back of his neck, hot and moist. He grabbed the jar and as he placed it on the counter, something sharp stung his neck.
“Ow, what the fuck?”
“Sorry, I slipped. You shouldn’t have felt that.”
“What do you… mean…” Jacob frowned, his words were slurred and drawn out, his face felt wrong, slow.
“Don’t worry, it’ll start soon.”
Jacob swayed on his feet, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t adjust his stance, he was going to- he fell onto the ground, hitting his shoulder against the kitchen table, he tried to shout in pain but his mouth was locked open.

Stacy was suddenly in front of him. “Sorry. I lied. The others didn’t go to the shop. They’re in the sitting room. Don’t worry though, you’ll see them soon.” She grabbed Jacobs arm and started to pull him, he slid along the floor easily.

Stacy positioned Jacob on the sofa, beside John, Steven was on the other chair. None of them were moving. No, that wasn’t right, their eyes were following were focused on Stacy.
“Don’t worry. It’ll wear off soon. You won’t feel anything. Trust me.”
As he watched, Stacy seemed to shiver, then her skin started to shift, no not shift, melt. She stretched, then smiled. “I feel so much better like this, freer I guess? It’s like I’m not pretending anymore. It’s so nice to be able to relax around people, not being worried that you’re going to find out what I am. It’s just great.”

Jacob couldn’t quite comprehend what he was seeing, it looked like Stacy, but at the same time it looked like some kind of giant insect, perhaps a spider crossed with a cricket. Whatever it was, it stood on two legs, but it had six more, all being used to keep it balanced. As he watched a long protuberance stretched forward, towards his stomach, the tip looked sharp, a drop of clear fluid was forming at the end.

“I’ll start with you, then move onto the others. I know you never really liked me, don’t worry, the feelings mutual. You can be a bit of a prick sometimes. I don’t really know what your problem is. It shouldn’t really hurt all that much, but it might. If it does, I’m sorry I guess.”

There was brief second of hot, searing pain as the proboscis pierced his abdomen, it lasted only briefly before it faded to nothing. As he watched, lumps moved along the proboscis, being pumped into his body. Stacy moved back, the proboscis being pulled from his body, there was a few drops of blood, then nothing.
“Good. Sometimes the clotting agent doesn’t work right and people bleed to death. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it all figured out these days, but sometimes you can never be quite sure. Not like my mother was around to teach me these things.” She pulled a towel from a small bag and dabbed at the wound on his stomach.
“You won’t even notice this in the morning.” She put the towel away again.

“Did I ever tell you guys that I was adopted? My parents didn’t want me apparently.” She giggled, “at least that was what I thought when I was younger. Man, then puberty hit me like a ton of bricks. That was fun. Mommy, why is there more hair? Why are there more arms? They freaked out, not that I blame them. Tracked down my birth mother not long after that. I was the one that got away. She couldn’t teach me much, she was too preoccupied with my siblings, far too many of them, so I fell through the cracks, but I found out what I was.”
She moved around the small room to the others, as Jacob watched, the proboscis emerged and pierced the stomachs of the other two, each time pumping something inside them. When she was done, Stacy stepped away from them all and shivered again, returning to normal. Jacobs eye seemed to throb once in relief.

“I always get a little reminiscent at times like this, not that you’ll all remember. You guys are going to pass out soon. You’ll make up your own memories for what happened. That’s taken care of. I won’t see you guys again for a week or two, not until things progress a little more. Soon my children will start to grow inside you. You’ll take care of them, keep them safe, feed them. They’ll be in control of you, you might realise what is happening, but if you do, don’t try and fight it. It won’t work. I’m going to eat two of you, maybe the three. I haven’t decided. My children will have started to process. You’ll be all mushy and delicious by then. If I do eat you, my children will die. You might think that’s a little harsh, but if we didn’t keep control of ourselves like this, well, then there’d be a lot more of us.” She stretched. “Ok guys, see you in a few weeks.”
Stacy picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder, she blew a kiss at Steven and winked, then she left them.

Jacob watched as the other two began to drowse, their eyes closing. He could feel whatever she had injected him with wear off, he could move, but his arms were heavy and sluggish. He had to remember, he had to. He had to get to the hospital, they’d be able to do something, pump him with antiparasitic’s or something, even if they didn’t believe him he’d make them run tests he’d…his mind felt slow, sluggish. He was thinking about something…important…but what? He blinked once, twice, then finally, he fell asleep.
Jacob woke the next morning, feeling stiff but surprisingly refreshed. He had come in after work and went straight to the sitting room, planning on getting some pizza and watching TV, he must have just fallen asleep. He looked at the others, they were still out of it. He stood and went to the kitchen, yawning. They weren’t in work until later, lucky bastards. He scratched his cheek and put the kettle on, he was craving some coffee and something hot for breakfast, maybe an omelette? He was absolutely famished. Normally he wasn’t that hungry in the morning, but he had skipped dinner last night, even if it was an accident his body was making him pay for it now. He got out the ingredients while the pan warmed. Jacob didn’t notice the faint writhing on his stomach, nor did he notice the slight gurgles. He looked out the window, it looked a little chilly outside, he should wear a sweater, wouldn’t want to get too cold.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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