Cut Off The Head

<Continued from The Lab

Continue to Master>

Charlie just managed to dodge the tentacle as it swept through two of the junkers nearby, and then stumbled and fell over one of the upturned benches. He vomited in his new hiding place a few moments later, but then realized his hiding place was not hidden nor safe; when the tentacle swept through a second time he saw a wall of flying tables and bodies in its wake and scrambled out of its way as it careened past.

The rest of the crew had scattered, which made him an island. A slow moving, stumbling, nauseous island waiting to get killed, or maybe at this point wanting it.

Benches crashed behind him. He felt the wind of the tentacle, could hear the suction cups sticking to whatever they touched, could smell the green goo on the air.

Finally, Charlie collapsed into the wall and watched the carnage unfold. The tentacle had a man he barely knew wrapped in its grip and was swinging him wildly, smashing him to a bloody pulp on whatever was in reach and using him is some sort of fragile bludgeoning tool. The man’s screaming stopped abruptly after narrowly missing a pair of junkers and smacking into a wall instead, and his head finally popped off when the tentacle cracked him into one of the benches on its way to a woman who was curled in the fetal position trying to convince herself it was all a dream.

The tentacle threw what was left of the man aside and grabbed her instead and then used her to send the next nearest targets flying.

Amid the screams, the smashing, the rifle blasts that splattered green and red on the walls and ceilings, there was something Charlie couldn’t shake. His insides were turning, slithering, trying to escape.

He looked down at his quivering hands, at the wound the bunny left him. Whatever was in there had been a death sentence. This whole damn ship had been one.

Over his hands he saw Jamal standing over Ameka on the other side of the room. A mess of tentacles were crawling out Jamal’s mouth, flailing and writhing their way down to her and stretching his face to an inhuman shape. His body looked like every bone in his skeleton had turned to rubber. Green goo oozed from his ears and eyes.

Charlie fought off the urge to vomit but did again anyway. The stench of bile was lost in the smell of hot blood and rifle fire.

He scrambled to his feet. Ameka and Bernhardt were cruel, greedy bastards, but they were the only ones who could end this, even if it were their fault to begin with.

Bernhardt lay unconscious behind Ameka and Jamal, whose arms had become short tentacles themselves and whose jaw had completely unhinged to the point that it could have given birth to whatever creature was inside it.

Charlie made it about halfway there before the tentacle from the vent swept through again. He stumbled to avoid but fell and sliced his hand on a big shard of glass near one of the benches, the remnants of some long-failed experiment, or perhaps the one that created this beast. Bleeding, nauseous, about to pass out, he was directly in the tentacle’s path.

He held his breath, just watching it approach. This was it. A life wasted in search of something exciting instead of something safe.

The tentacle paused in front of him just before striking, hovering there as though wondering what it should do. In that moment, Charlie understood what he was, and what he was becoming, and also what he had to do.

The glass shard shattered as he impaled the tentacle. Green goo splattered into his eyes. Blinded, he flailed until he found something rubbery and then held it there until he found another shard of glass. The second one sliced directly through and opened his hand to the bone on the other end.

Immense pain in Charlie’s head, so strong he nearly blacked out, or maybe he did because he couldn’t see anyway. His ears were ringing and his body was trembling all over. He may have screamed. He may have soiled himself.

When he finally wiped the goo from his eyes he saw a streak of green on the floor where the tentacle had slithered back to the vent. The end of the tentacle twitched on the floor before him.

Rifle blasts in the periphery and Ameka’s tearful groans. When he looked over he saw Jamal’s lower half on the floor before her, with the remains of his upper half splattered a short distance away. Bernhardt whimpered and rolled over.

Charlie fought against himself as he crawled to them. Before it all ended—before he lost himself—he needed to tell them what to do.

His body quivered. His ears rang. His insides were thrashing and trying to escape. His hand where the bunny got him was quivering and moving on its own under the skin. The bones on that side felt rubbery.

“Ameka.” His voice was scratchy, not his own. “Listen to me.”

She gasped when she looked at him, the hand on her rifle tightening by her side. He could not imagine what he looked like, but if it was anything like he felt he didn’t want to know.

“I don’t have much time,” Charlie said. “Master is downstairs… deck five… she’s controlling the ship… has been for months… caused the accident…” Bile in his throat. He coughed and swallowed, felt the hot burn on the way down, groaned through the kicking in his insides. “There’s no… escape unless you… finish her…”

Ameka’s rifle relaxed by her side. “How?”

Searing pain between his ears. He felt his ribs cracking, his belly expanding. “Cut… off… the… head… and… the… rest… follow…”

Agony in his chest and he realized his sternum had just split. His jaw was next from the way the beast slithered up through him. Green muck ran out of every opening on his head and he could barely breathe, but didn’t want to anyway.

Wiping his eyes free, Charlie looked around for one last time, saw the carnage Master had wrought upon the crew. The green-gooed woman was running over to them. Jamal’s body was in tatters. His own was wobbly and fighting against him.

“Thanks Charlie,” Ameka said behind him. When he slowly spun, her rifle was aimed at his chest. “I think you know what I have to do.”

His jaw finally broke and the tentacles flared out of his throat.

Darkness.

<Continued from The Lab

Continue to Master>

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