She's got a body like an hourglass
It's ticking like a clock
-- Paramore - "Misery Business"
There was so much noise and light, and these two-legged things, so many of them, some blue ones with shiny hearts and sticks that spat fire and pierced in the greater part. And there was the fire-
The greater part shattered into smaller parts. Outnumbered. Small. Broken.
Am weak. My memories are lost or uncertain. The greater part is lost in fire.
Self remains. [The Smallest Part].
I found the black stuff above the doorway just before I left.
"Crap," I said, and tried to glare it into submission. It was apparently a strain of mildew that had developed immunity to glares.
Pucchi sat up.
"Not you, baby," I said to my dog. "It's just...I dunno. Frustration maybe." I plopped onto one of the kitchen stools. "First they shut down the place and they don't even tell us why. Then I sit around for two days with my thumb up my rear." I spun to face the little black dog. "I'm supposed to be checking gossip blogs on company time, not painting my toenails and watching reality TV!"
Pucchi nosed my ankle.
I sighed. "I already fed you."
Pucchi started to mount my ankle.
I sighed, and pulled my leg out of reach.
The problem with having your place of business shut down by men in big yellow suits is that you can't commit to anything. Since it could reopen at any time, you can't head upstate to visit Mom, you can't head to Florida to visit Grandpa, and you can't be whirled off to Paris for a breathtaking romance.
Not that anyone had offered lately.
Eventually, I got bored. A girl can only reread "Men's Health" so many times before chafing starts to be a problem. I even went to see that new Scorsese movie, the one with Leo in it, and again, chafing. And now this.
"Pucchi, don't eat the black stuff, okay?" I said, and grabbed my purse off the hall table.
Mind stabilized. Unsure how Self reached current location.
Large being (Alpha?) has left apartment. Smaller creature present.
Self needs more.
Targeting smaller creature.
I tried going to the courthouse to pay a parking ticket - I don't see why they don't ticket people when there's an actual fire - and they had the place locked down by some folks in moonsuits. Same people who were at the office.
I drank some tea from the Starbucks across the street and fumed at the building, just on principle. The principle being that I was angry. No one had told us anything, aside from that video someone sent to the news station that someone proved was fake later. The mayor and police chief even went on TV and said no, we are not being invaded by tentacle aliens, vote for me.
I got back home all full of vim and vigor to find the black stuff was gone. This would ordinarily be a good thing, except I had a lot of new cleaning supplies I wanted to try out. Trying to deny the fact that two days of meh had turned me into my mother, I yelled "Pucchi! Did you eat the toxic mold? 'Cause that would be bad!"
As it turned out, my little doggie had bitten chunks out of the couch. Really big chunks. I followed the trail to the kitchen, to find that he had also destroyed the only piece of modern art I owned; a cast-iron piece half-sphere I had gotten from a then-boyfriend. Asit turned out, his only real skill was hyping itself. I used the thing as Pucchi's food bowl. It looked like he had bitten clean through it.
Naturally, it took me a few seconds to realize that my dog was breaking the laws of physics. You can sneer all you like, but you would've been stunned too.
"How'd you do this, Pucchi? Are you on crack?"
I've seen a dog who took crack before. He started to lick himself really fast.
I decided to lie down for a second, to think about what was going on, to figure out if I needed to call animal control. Or the National Guard.
Pucchi was sitting on my bed.
Besides the fact that he wasn't supposed to be, I said something I had promised myself I would never say.
I said "Nice doggie..."
Yes, just like the guys in the movies. Don't judge me. You would've done it too.
See, my dog was covered in some weird black shiny stuff that happened to look a lot like the mold. All I had to do was put two and two and freaky goo together to come up with "GET OUT NOW'.
Most people would've run. I had watched just enough nature shows to know that running would trigger Pucchi's predator instincts. I mean, if a terrier still had predator instincts.
The idea was to back out of the room, shut the door behind me, and call 911. Then Pucchi hopped off the bed, tail wagging. He didn't really seem to notice that he didn't actually seem to have eyes any more. Most people would've panicked.
So I panicked.
Just a little.
The Alpha was upset. According to the host, it had much the same reaction when viewing certain [moving-light pictures]. During those occassions, Alpha would hug host tightly, if none others of her species were available.
Host approached Alpha. Alpha retreated. Self realized that host's changed appearance might be discomfiting Alpha, and left host.
Pucchi shook after the goo flowed off him.
Yes, I said "flowed". Melted right off him like syrup pouring out of a bottle. Freaky black shiny syrup. Then it turned into a copy of him, and sniffed at his butt.
I'm pretty sure I giggled at this point. We looked it up later, and apparently that's common for people in hysterics. I waited for them to do something, but they both just sat there, looking at me. After a while, Pucchi went into the kitchen to take a nap. Apparently, freaky black goo had him plum tuckered out.
"Please don't eat me," I said. "I'm very bony. I'm also very high in cholesterol."
The fake-Pucchi sat down, and started to wag. It would've been cute if it had remembered eyes. I eased my hand toward the doorknob.
"Wait, you can understand me? Wait, you're alive?"
Something struck me. "You're that thing that shut down work and the courthouse, that black stuff that was on the news!" I straightened up. "You're the reason I've been bored!"
The Alpha was angry. Self reduced Self's mass, to make Self a smaller target. Alpha turns away from [The Smallest Part], making what first-host's memories say are angry noises.
Was Self wrong? Did [The Smallest Part] offend Alpha by linking with Alpha's [companion/child/consort]? Perhaps Alpha would like another like her, a [companion/friend]. Self leapt for the [upper horizontal surface]; gravity would help build a facsimile.
I'm not dumb. Shallow, yes, but not dumb. Whenever I suddenly "get" something, I tend to start walking around the room babbling to myself, which is why I turned my back on the blob.
"Okay. Okayokayokay. The reports suddenly stopped the day after we got hustled out, though there've been rumors online. Maybe I could look one of those up, though I can't tell them a girl or they'll be all 'pix or it didn't happen'. What do you think, Pucchi?"
Pucchi was staring, head cocked, at something behind me.
I sighed. "It just turned into something with fangs and teeth, didn't it?"
Pucchi got up and edged closer.
"Well, that's a good sign. If you had barked or growled, I would've ran for the bathroom or soiled myself. Maybe both." I turned around. Slowly. No need to rule out the bathroom just yet.
It was like looking into a mirror made of black goo.
The thing was doing its best to imitate me, though it still forgot the eyes. Mouth was there, nose was there, even the mole on my neck was there. It was still adding details, like the studs on my belt.
I said "oh wow."
At this point, anyone would reasonably assume it's friendly, right? I mean, if it had wanted to eat me, Jaws style, it could've. And now it was imitating me.
And it hadn't hurt Pucchi, had it?
And dogs were, genetically, pretty similar to people, right? Science said so.
This is crazy, says my Voice of Reason.
Yes, I know, I respond, pulling my shirt over my head.
I'm serious. You're going to deliberately expose yourself to what might well be a dangerous space alien just because you're bored?
Well, yeah. Can't be any worse than that spring break at Laguna Beach.
That's not fair. You muted me with tequila, and how was I supposed to know that okapi wasn't insured? Besides, that thing shut down a federal courthouse for two days!
Oh, come on! Government workers close up shop if someone gets a hangnail. Besides, you don't have any hard evidence that the two are related.
We saw the news reports! Heck, you could just look it up online!
I would, but I have this black mold problem to deal with.
You are so infuriating!
The conversation had only taken a few seconds, just enough time for me to unhook my bra. I slipped it off, planted my hands on my lower back, and stretched. Then I swung my right arm across my body, and pushed on the upper part with my left. I repeated the gesture with my right.
"Don't look at me like that, Pucchi," I said. "If I'm gonna die, I want to die limber."
Truth be told, I was stalling. Reason had made several good points, mostly with regards to me dying horribly. I made sure the drapes were shut; no sense giving that pervy 13-year old across the street a free show. At least, not again. The black thing had been hanging from the ceiling patiently, and I walked up to it.
"Okay, how do I do this?"
Sanely. Oh, wait, that would be not at all.
Unless you Like That Sort of Thing, you probably don't look forward to needles. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach? It might start days before you get to the doctor's office, or when you get out of your car. It builds as you wait, the uncomfortable little chairs, the out-of-date large-print "Reader's Digests". You don't actually pay attention to what the doctor says, and you have a strange mix of fear and a desire for it just to be over. You are aware of the needle's location at all times, and, barring the most iron-willed self-control, you will lean away, even if just a little, as the gleaming shaft approaches.
That's basically what I was doing.
Alpha touched [The Smallest Part] once, then released, then gripped Self loosely, at the lowest part of Self, pulling Self to one of the small lumps on Alpha's upper body. [The Smallest Part] flowed around the pointy bit on the surface of one of the lumps, with smaller bumbs around it. It seemed as good a place as any to form a seal to assist with the transfer to the Alpha, and Self covered the pointy bit and smaller bumps entirely before attaching Self firmly.
I had to say, it wasn't really all that bad. Sure, it was cold, and the goo moved in a weird way that wasn't organic but wasn't gravity powered either, and it seemed to be sticking to my left nipple, but luckily I'm a breast girl. For what little breast I have.
"Oh, that's...nice." And it wasn't really sexual, either. It was like getting a massage. It was like a boob massage. I had built up a lot of tension over the few days of doing nothing, and it was just...melting away. I even sat down on the floor.
Okay, it didn't seem to be eating me. I was noting a distinct lack of OmNomNom. In fact, when I looked down, I could see the "raw" goop flattening out and going shiny, then it reached for my other boob.
I said "Wait, there has got to be a better way to do this."
So I figured out one, even though I wasn't sure what "this" was.
I don't know if you've ever crawled headfirst through a bunch of drippy goopy stuff, but it is not exactly an everyday experience.
Unless you're a porn star.
Or a plumber.
And it's probably not black.
I even went to get my shower cap, just so the gunk wouldn't get in my hair. If you've ever put a bunch of shampoo on after you forgot you were wearing a shower cap, the goo felt a lot like that. As it flowed down my face, like a mask, I suddenly realized that maybe I should've gotten out a snorkel or something. Luckily, it didn't facehugger me, or even close up my nose. It did cover my eyes, and I had a moment of panic before some hit my spine.
I don't know if you've ever had a goo-thing mindlink with you before, but I strongly recommend it. Five stars on Yelp.
Imagine standing in front of a hurricane.
No, wait, imagine standing in the front row of a rock concert.
Imagine you have an IMAX movie projector connected directly to your eyes.
Now run those through a Cuisinart and add nutmeg.
That's not even close to what it feels like, but it's like the difference between learning to ride a bike and winning the Tour De France.
The first thing I noticed was that I could see again. The second thing was that the goo was somehow showing me what it saw. The third thing I got was a powerful sense-impression of...well, you know those Youtube videos where the soldiers come home from Iraqistan and their dog nearly explodes? Like that, except coming from a complete stranger.
I pretty much whited out.
When I recovered from my joygasm, I was lying on the ground and the goo had half covered me. It felt like I been half-covered by a living ooze that had just given me some serious warm fuzzies.
Imagine being hugged by a million kittens.
I distinctly remember feeling a lot of, I dunno, deference. You know those movies where the servants bow to the Evil Warlord? Or the other guys when Vader was force-choking that one idiot?
So then it started talking to me.
Yes, I know, smooth.
"Inside this apartment, yeah. With my mother, not so much."
"You don't have much of a sense of humor, do ya?"
In response, the sludge writhed, drawing in air somehow. Suddenly, I looked like a blow-up doll, at least in the chestal area.
"No. No! Cut that out! I look ridiculous!"
<Your body is well within the median generally considered attractive for female adult humans of your age group, ethnicity, and social status.>
"So...you're saying most men would think I'm hot?"
<And a statistically significant portion of adult females.>
Turns out you can't see a blush under a coating of not-latex. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me."
I could feel its satisfaction as it deflated. And a sort of thankfulness. Imagine "I don't know what I would've done on this dark lonely stretch of Route Creepy-Six if you hadn't come along".
<Self was lost. So lost without help>
"Well, I can help you, as long as we finish what we've started."
"You seem accommodating. You're a good listener. I like you. I shall keep you and shall call you -"
<[The Smallest Part]>
"What was that?"
"I felt all kinds of, I dunno, meaning when you said that. Like if someone said 'tea' and you automatically thought about teacups, high tea, iced tea, Long Island iced tea, and Mr. T."
"Never mind. Let's bring this home."
<We are in your home.>
"Sometimes it's hard to tell if you're joking or not." I grabbed great handfuls of gunk and started shmearing them across my body. Mostly my stomach. And yes, I have a bit of a pudge, and I am going to start jogging as soon as I have some free time.
<What are you - >
"The legwork," I said, and rubbed some of The Smallest Part on my upper legs. "All you have to do is smooth yourself out. By the way, TSP, Imma call you Teaspoon. Or just Spoony."
I just want to point this out; I have a nice butt. Ma derriere es muy bien. Besides my sparkling personality, it's my best feature. So I really enjoyed smearing big handfuls of goop across my badonk-badonk. (Yes, white girls can have badonk.) Then I moved around to my hips, then forward to my upper thighs. And before you ask, no, I didn't. Spoony covered that area when I told him to, with no hanky-panky. None of that Japanese anime stuff.
Lower legs, the little fold on the backs of my knees. I used both hands, working my houseguest over my skin as smooth as i could make it, feeling it come to life on me right after my fingers passed. Well, almost as smooth. I hadn't been shaving lately.
Spoony wasn't coming off on my hands, but they still felt slighly slick, and smelled -
"Why do you smell like latex? Are you latex?"
<Unknown. Origin unknown. Spoony's non-fragmented memory begins approximately five hours ago.>
I stopped fingering bondage goo into the cracks between each and every one of my little toesies. "What do you remember from before that?"
Something that feels like a cross between a migraine and a jigsaw flashes through my mind, and when it goes away, I can feel a dull ache in my forehead.
<Memories can be reconstructed, but it requires more processing ability than I have available natively.>
"Which, I assume, is where I come in." For absolutely no reason I can think of, I leave my feet as they are, sending Spoony an image. He shifts, turning onto a loop that runs over my big toe, kind of like a sandal. He makes up the sole too, and I now have some very supportive footwear.
<The average human has enough unused processing power for me to utilize a few cycles without major impact.>
"So, you'll be borrowing the ninety-percent of my brain I'm not using?"
Spoony feels thoughtful. <From a certain point of view, yes. The power boost may be both ways.>
"Ah. That explains why I knew what you were saying when you talked about 'unused processing power'. What happens when you're done?"
"Well, that's more than my last boyfriend gave me. Help me up."
It's weird having a liquid exoskeleton.
I get to my bedroom mirror, take a look at myself, pull off the shower cap.
"It needs a little something." I run my finger along where the top of my right boot would be. "Can you fake a seam, right h - yes, perfect."
I don't even have to ask before Spoony adds straps and studs and other things. A "seam" slides up the inside of my legs, and two broad stripes on the outside go dull and unpolished. Think your usual pair of labratory black rubber gloves.
Speaking of which, my little friend suddenly flares out at my wrists, turning into facsimiles of cuffs. I can feel the thin line of black running down the underside of my arms, my wrists, to the gloves on my hands.
I am the very model of a modern kinky general, I think, as my "collar" thickens, now pressing in on my neck in a not entirely unpleasant manner. Those little shoulder-thingies, tiny little details on them picked out in textures of matte and shiny not-latex.
Spoony peels away from my face, leaving only little curls and arabesques that somehow accentuate my cheekbones. I'd be the envy of my dungeon, if I had one.
I can feel Spoony cringing.
"No, no - good weird." We twirl. It's strange to be able to see myself from two directions at once, but there's no motion sickness.
I stop and touch the mirror. I can barely feel it through my gloves, but suddenly I'm feeling Spoony feeling me and the glass, and I'm feeling him feeling me, and we're a ways into the feedback loop when we cut it off and collapse.
We say something that would get my mouth washed out with soap if I were twenty years younger, followed by "oh wow." Is it supposed to feel like that?
Yeah, we think as we get up, definitely better than my last boyfriend.
We make our way to the window, look out in plain, light and infrared and other spectra which have no names.
The kid across the street looks like he's about to spontaneously combust. We give him a sarcastic wave, draw the curtain, and look down.
Pucchi is humping our leg.
"Malin Goes Dark"
By Eulalie "Nequ" Quentin
2012 CC By-SA-NC