Death and the Buffered Analgesic
Ten hours later and no stew.
The Valeyard pushes himself up from the litter again, holding his legs up to avoid the....
Then he snorts, shoves some air from his lungs, and touches one foot to the stone tiles anyway.
Ice fractures out from his bare toes, freezing the veins of amberite in the flooring tiles into little gold rivers of yellow snow.
“Do you want something to eat besides me?” he muses softly, his fingers idly poking and prodding his freezing abdomen for proof of residence.
He stretches, then plods across the room to a chest of drawers. His muscles propel him as far as the middle of the room, then freeze up as though they’ve lost oil, his abdominals in particular. He can feel the ice shifting across their covering of skin, frosting their edges like a cold morning’s kiss on a lucky clover.
He rubs arms aching with cold, hunching forward awkwardly.
Then he tries to straighten again.
Suddenly his mental vision is assailed by a thick and twisting maw lined with a thousand gnashing fangs clanging around and around, clicking together and apart with mechanical, meat-grinding precision.
He lurches and falls, wild-eyed, his elbows banging against the tannish chest of drawers.
“Watch yourself, child,” he gasps, breathlessly catching an elbow about his trembling midsection as it languidly drips cool sweat, “…I warn you, if you don’t play nice I will think seriously about letting you house-sit my… AGH!”
His womb crimps suddenly and sharply inward, imploding down into a tiny point around the embryo in his belly; it drives his body forward, his feet dragging forward as his belly strangles itself further into a hard ball against his spine, crumpling in unholy reverse like a paper ball on rewind.
His face meets the door, cracking his nasal cavity.
His mouth flies open to scream, the edges of his lips stretching beyond limit, carving new lines in his face.
The skin of his mouth protests as he draws a heavy breath into already heaving lungs, his chest grating against itself as he seethes.
“No more chocolate for you,” he manages, and his hearts ram his ribs.
This thing... it’s going to kill him.
Then it’s going to wear him, like a puppet.
Like the Midnight Monster.
No, no no no no.
He swallows and rests against the door for a moment, drawing in big gulps of air with a loose jaw to fuel his next physical expenditure.
Soon, it’ll be time to buy new clothes – he can feel the thing growing inside him, dividing, stretching him, the hard tumour of it stretching across the surface of his abdomen like a thick twist of gall on a tree branch.
New clothes are always nice, he reasons, snapping out of it, but he desperately needs the thought of it growing so fast to be a rotten pear on the ground of his hardwood flooring, and not a ripe one, dangling from his psyche’s beanstalk.
“I need to eat, even if you don’t,” he says, softening his tone until it closely resembles the Doctor’s most revolting soothe. He smiles, showing the white of his teeth as he adds, “… Daddy needs some food, sweetheart. Shall we go to the Kitchens then and sample the soup? We must keep up our strength.”
A happy gurgle bubbles up to him, shooting waves of bliss through the muscles of his pelvis and groin, plumping his buttocks and wetting his nethers- he doesn’t dare attempt to shutter all his nerve impulses at this point- only the ones that still serve him will do. Like the ones he’s using to plot willful destruction of the naughty bit of natto blooming in his gut.
Even so, he’s nearly at his limit, underneath this alien control. His body is shivering; if the thing inside him doesn’t acknowledge his acquiesce soon, he might black out. Or it might make him.
“Stew it is, then,” he breathes softly, having regained enough strength to be snide out loud as he rubs his stomach, caressing the little hard lump bulging under his fingers that wasn’t there before. Did it move just now? Oh goddess, how revolting.
Hainish, his little pet idiot, will have to wait a while longer.
Too bad, he thinks, rubbing the unwanted bump as he sways slack-footed and weak-ankled out the door, clinging to the wall as he thinks on where to place his feet next to distract himself from the fact that the ugly roots squirming through the walls of his womb, strengthening themselves, feasting on his borrowed body.
He’s being sucked away, down a straw.
It’s what he gets, he supposes, for that stunt with the Ponds, by the Lake.