Hunger: Chapter Two

Sluggishly, Raul rolled open his eyes, his body was numb, but he still had his body. With a cautious breath, Raul touched the spot on his chest again, yet his fingers were still too deadened to feel properly. He knew something was over chest but the exact quality of it was uncertain. Again, this time with a painful awareness of what should await him, Raul examined the wound. Looking to opening in shirt, he was more than a little curious as to what had happened. There was no opening, no golden worm, or even and blood. His shirt was ripped, but beyond that there was little evidence to say he had been hurt. Raul couldn’t put it all together right off the bat but figured he had been mistaken. It wasn’t impossible to say the these strange chemicals had gotten to him and confused his mind. Unlikely as it seemed, it could very well have been that he had been knocked off the platform above and dreamed all the more unpleasant parts.

Using the pipes linked into the wall beside him, Raul hoisted up his insensate legs and gave them time to reawaken. As he waited, Raul studied the area trying to find his way back up to the platform. Though he had never looked around for a way down into the pit, it was now vital that he found the ladder or stairs that led into it. He couldn’t imagine that the lower area was entirely inaccessible beyond falling or shimmying up a cement column. Then he remembered, of the three wet labs like this, only one had had a set of stairs leading up and down. They were all connected too, a sort culvert ran the length of these massive processing areas, meaning Raul would have to pass through all three to get up. Even if it meant crawling through a mile’s worth of the murky dark bubblegum-colored fluid, he’d have to do it. He might have a head injury that would need to be treated immediately but that wasn’t what worried Raul most.

Somewhere, hopefully on the upper level, that stingray abomination still flapped about, possibly looking for Raul. He would have to consider himself too lucky if the damned thing had gone back to whatever test tube or cage it crawled out of but it wasn’t likely to happen. Finally, finding his legs back in order, Raul began to move forward warily. There was no telling what lurked in the water or anywhere else in the lab for that matter. Part of him still waited for the creature to pop out of the water or that monstrosity from his worst nightmare to slither out of chest. Yet, anticipate either as much as he dare, neither came. All the same, Raul wasn’t going to take any risks, not knowing what kind of experiments were run in the lab, there was no way to predict if he would be safe or not.

Heading to the far side of the lab, Raul quickly found that even beneath the platform, the lower area was wildly different. There was heavy fog or steam that filled the space, dropping visibility down to nothing. Barely able to see his hand in front of his face, Raul stuck to the posts that held the upper area in place. What made trekking further worse was the humidity that felt to grow with each step forward. It wasn’t effecting the water, lucky for Raul but his skin became sticky, so much so that he had to yank off his jumpsuit as the arms had begun to cling tight to him. It did little to alleviate the discomfort he felt but it was something.

More of something came along for Raul as what he could attribute to waste or cast material came floating his way. It looked to him like a morel mushroom grown the size of a buoy and sent to drift through the lab. Inside the many deep folds and wrinkles were thousands of microscopic hairs that shivered independent of breeze or motion. A bit too curious for his own good, Raul ventured to stick a finger inside one of the flaps only to be reminded he was missing part of one finger. It was only after her had the stub partially inside the floating mushroom that he realized this once more. That evidence swayed him into believing that all that had come before may not have been a dream but that thought fled with haste.

The opening slamming tight on the halved finger the second Raul bumped one of the hairs inside. It was like a venus flytrap attempting to capture its prey by sheer force and pressure. Raul tried to jerk himself free but found this spongy thing had a vice like grip on him. Playing by impulse alone, he began to club the floating debris with his free hand, putting a series of dents in its soft exterior. After a second of frantic strikes, Raul was set free, but only as the mushroom-like material rose out of the water. Underneath rounded off asteroid of swiss cheese was a bloated hog-like body that bolstered the piece like a tumor in its back. The face was a knot of mouths and eyes so much so that even had they not been of various different creatures, it would be impossible to make sense of.

The monster thrust its broken tusks at Raul who instantly fell back, letting the jagged ends fly clear passed his head. With the fail strike the creature left its flank exposed, had Raul a weapon he could have struck it but likely with little effect. Yet, before it could turn around, something projected from Raul that caused the beast great pain. His chest had erupted and that despicable worming creature had shot out and plunged its terrible beak into the hog’s ribs. At first it whined in agony before fighting free, bucking Raul and his worm into a support further inside the fog cloud. Adrenaline fired through Raul, he didn’t feel the pain of striking the steel beam and was quick to vanish from where he fell.

Slipping behind the beam and then sloshing quickly and stealthly as he could through the water, Raul removed himself almost entirely from the situation. He didn’t want any business with the hog if he could help it but more importantly refused to feed the worm. It was already too strong the way was just feeding off of him, Raul couldn’t imagine what would come of it were it to eat the pig. Worse still, what if it entered the creature and turned it into its new host? The hog would flatten him and then the worm would have a full meal and a host. It was almost as though the worm could read Raul’s mind as the second he hid himself it began searching.

Sliding free of Raul’s grip, it slithered around in the fog until it located its prey. Raul shut his eyes and prayed the worm would attach to the pig and leave him enough time to sneak away but then he saw the beast. It was as though he was sharing the perspective of the parasite as it stalked the gray-skinned, fungus covered hog. Clearly, the worm had gone unseen but in a moment the pig was aware of the threat once more. With renewed fervor, the parasite dug into its prey, choosing to go the route it had before, digging directly into the previously made gash.

Watching through the eyes of the worm was something entirely new to Raul and by no means was it a pleasant sight. Flesh flashed pass him, the bones and pumping organs sat before him, but the parasite focused on something more than soft meat. In one of the larger organ that was turning becoming overgrown with fungus it found a slithering honey string. Rushing at it, the worm snatched in its beak one of its own that would have been half its size were they both outside of their host. With one clean jerk, the parasite pulled out, taking with it, its fellow worm. As it pulled back into Raul, he could see the hog double over in pain before collapsing with a splash. Whatever the parasite was doing inside the pig was enough to keep it going, without it, it was as good as dead.

Like a child slurping a spaghetti noodle, the worm slithered back inside of Raul with its bounty in tow. The sight disgusted Raul to the point he thought he’d black out again but he preserved. With hesitant steps, Raul crept out from his hiding spot to take a last look at the hog. It writhed in the water, weakly as though it couldn’t muster enough strength for panic in its pain. The growth on its back was deflating second by second until it was nothing more than a pile of pale fungus. Had Raul his box cutter or a pipe, he would have taken the monstrosities out of its misery but he lacked any such tool. All the same, he watched it thinking of how he would do it, where to strike and how hard. Then a queer image flashed through his mind, not one he particularly enjoyed.

It was the thought of sinking his teeth into the hog’s throat and ripping free the jugular, killing it quick and smooth. He knew his teeth were not sharp enough, his jaw not strong enough but the impulse raced in him. Before he knew it, Raul was stooped by the pig’s face and nearing his bared teeth like some predator. Part of his mind raced with panic, wanting him to stop but like the fascination with a peculiar fetish, Raul couldn’t stop himself. In a moment, the deed was done, and the waters ran with a deep, almost ebony crimson. That wasn’t the end, not for Raul, against the screaming in his mind, the man began to consume the kill.

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