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Beneath the Milk White

“Tell me how you feel, Jonny. What you’ve been experiencing.”

“I’m in some kind of crisis, Julie. I have no idea what’s going on, but something is most certainly wrong. I alternate between feeling fine and absolutely sapped of strength. The nurses, who have little time to spend with me, agreeably nod their heads while encouraging me to rest. Listening to my complaints, I suppose, but mostly waiting for me to doze off. It’s hard to describe, so perhaps difficult to understand. I feel this recurring, dull pain at the rearmost of my skull, like I’m wired to a mild electrical current flowing in rhythmic surges. It travels to the back of my eyes and into my lower jaw muscle. Rather freakishly, it forces me to hold my mouth shut, and quite tightly at that.

“Julie, I haven’t committed any outrageous acts, but I’m being restrained to this bed like a murderer awaiting execution in an electric chair. I begin to fall asleep and see a large black shroud that resembles a welder’s mask being placed over my head. It may simply be a hallucinogenic nightmare caused by the intravenous drugs; whatever the case, the recurrent visualizations are accompanied by distant thumping sounds, weak heartbeats if you will, followed by increased pressure in my head. That’s surely real enough for me. I’m also having great difficulty in moving my head and neck, so cannot determine whether this strange condition is originating in my muscles or nerves, or perhaps within my spinal cord. The power is low at this stage, and non-lethal, I hope. I really can’t tell because the whole matter is sending mixed signals. I feel detached from my body -- as if I’m in the hands of a barbaric, medieval torturer.”

Exhausted at the end of his well-timed account, Jonny wondered whether his words had appealed to Julie’s charitability or ran contrary to her more scientific disposition. He had known her for less than a day. It seemed improbable for him to expect her -- or anyone for that matter -- to float down like an angel from the kingdom of God to bestow deeds of human kindness to an uninvited guest of as yet uncertain identity. He hoped, with a sense of urgency, for a sign of her faithfulness. It was now critical. He might not see another day. Alone, he felt doomed. Allied with someone like Julie, Jonny believed he had a fighting chance.

Julie had sensed his deplorable misery. Pained by it, sorrowful, gripping Jonny’s good hand with the assured firmness of her full conviction to save him, she tripped a Klaxon horn alarm in the untested genetic control center in the tip of his injured hand that warned the submerged parasitic vessel of the potentially detonative impact to its fresh protective casing beyond the small fissure already created by the hand-to-hand reverberation of pressure. Any larger and the opening would enable an eruptive flow of secret intelligence from Jonny’s cerebrum to Julie’s. It would be a veritable download-rush of factual data and interpretative reasoning for which any worthy government spy tasked with uncovering an enemy’s planned activities would kill. The information leak needed to be plugged, and without further delay, or the parasite’s mission could be sabotaged, and the parasite forced to either surface and abandon ship, or die under the crush of germicidal duress.

Rudely aroused from the quietude of repose, this napping lunatic released an agitated tremor. Battle station guns roared with maddened supremacy. Explosive shocks rippled the entire length of Jonny’s arm, from the tip of his wounded finger to the verbal orifice of his lower face. Aftershocks from the larger quake quivered across his lips, oscillating in spasms, displaying the contorted motions of fear, anger, and tortured amusement concurrently discharged for chaotic effect. The prolonged hostile opposition twisted Jonny’s lips into the wounded facial expression of a discordant kiss planted by an inhuman conscience.

With his jawbone bolted shut and teeth grindingly clenched, the continuation of his combative dissertation was hijacked by the deadening silence in the room. Suspended in stupor by the electro-convulsive disturbance, Jonny manifested a rigid, catatonic appearance. Unable to speak, he stared at Julie, wide-eyed and unblinking, desperately seeking the reassurance of her unconditional support to soldier on.