The Matriarch – Part 3
“Easy, Number Nine. Mr. Allen gets the point.”
Greg coughed as his airway opened, and he massaged the bruises Nine had left on his neck.
“It would inconvenient for us to find someone else for this task,” said shark-boy. “Your background has allowed you an unusual degree of independence, but any further flippancy will not be tolerated. We can find someone else, if necessary.” The shark-grin became a frown. “You will do this task for us. And you will not survive failure.”
Well, thought Greg, that’s that, then.
He took a deep breath, bit his tooth until he felt a break in the surface, and let out a long exhale as though he were sighing. He’d just killed them all, even if it would be hours until they realized it.
“I submit, Great One. How exactly can I serve you?”
Shark-boy, unaware of his now-inescapable death, went back to grinning.
“We believe we’d found the upstart rival queen that disappeared thirty years ago. She’s been in stasis all this time. Revive her. Earn her trust by helping her find a new host, and she’ll think you’re one of hers. The upstarts will flock to her, and you will destroy them one by one.”
Ursula screamed as Dr. Allen crouched over the prone body of the Director and tore off the Director’s shirt. Then her eyes widened and her scream died as Dr. Allen clutched an elongated worm-like creature and peeled it off the Director’s spine.
Her breath came in shallow bursts as Ursula stared in disbelief at the hideous creature in Dr. Allen’s hands. She couldn’t help but notice the horrifying similarity to the unknown specimen in the cylinder.
Dr. Allen dropped the worm on the floor, then crunched the eyeless head under the heel of his shoe with a nauseating squelch. Yellow ichor covered his shoe and pant leg and dripped from his fingers where he’d gripped it.
He looked at Ursula. “Your Director was under that thing’s control for weeks. This whole Special Exhibit idea was part of its plan. You’re not one of them, but I don’t know how many of your coworkers are. You are in danger. We need to get out, and if we run across anyone else, let me do the talking.”
Ursula blinked, flared her nostrils, and held up a finger. She turned and grabbed a wastebasket just in time to not get any vomit on her clothes or shoes.
“Okay,” she said, her brain spinning as she tried to come to grips with truth of the ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.
Dr. Allen strode over to the other specimen, the one still in the glass cylinder floating in a clear liquid, and picked it up. “All right. Follow me.”
WEDNESDAY, 3:30 AM
Greg took his temperature. Ninety-eight-point-seven degrees Fahrenheit. The fever had broken. He felt tired and dehydrated, but his bio-enhancements had helped him to survive the virus. That was a relief. He’d had this body for a long time, and it wouldn’t be easy to replace if it died. Not with all the enhancements he’d made to it since its acquisition.
It had originally been host to one of the Great Queen’s prime offspring. Shortly after helping his own Queen-Matriarch enter bio-stasis and go into hiding, he’d begun working out how to steal the body and masquerade as an agent of the Great Queen.
Once he’d gotten the body, he’d waited patiently for a chance to act. Now it was time.
Shark-boy, Number Nine, and the others would be dead by now. After the limo driver had collapsed, Greg (he’d gotten used to thinking of himself as the name of this host body) had broken the window to the front area and taken the wheel. He’d driven the limo into a ditch and covered it with brush and branches to hide it as well as he could while his body’s boosted immunity fought the virus.
By the time the Great One and her Primes managed to disengage from their dying hosts, it would be too late. There were no other suitable hosts for miles, and they could only survive a few minutes without a host.
It would be hours before the Great Queen’s other agents began to suspect something was wrong. Until then he would continue to pretend to be one of hers and recover his own Queen-Matriarch.