Chapter 29: Host
Ian was trying hard not to panic.
He was alone.
In a town infested with ghosts.
With a serial killer after him.
He sat down in the alley way and leaned against the wall of the building, tears filling his eyes. He couldn’t do this. He wasn’t meant for things like this. It was easier to just do equations and fill out papers.
Why did his brother have to always drag them into adventures?
That’s when something suddenly came to mind.
Would that work?
Ian took off his glasses and cleaned them off, wiping the tears away.
Well, he didn’t have any better ideas.
It was either try, or die.
He stood up, clenching his fists.
It was time to try…
There were whispers in the air. Joey slowly opened her eyes to see the night sky above her. She sat up and looked around to see that she was surrounded by people. She guessed they were the people from Pinnacle Gulch.
“Joey?” a familiar voice called out. She turned to see Brian kneeling beside Jordyn, who was groaning and holding her shoulder.
“She’s losing a lot of blood…”
At that, Joey took off her shawl and ripped it, making a makeshift bandage and sling.
“Did Ian get away?” Jordyn asked weakly.
“I-I think so.”
“Good. He can be useful for once.”
Joey rolled her eyes, a little smile coming on despite everything.
“Joey-what’s going to happen next?” Brian asked, looking around at all of the people around them.
“I don’t know. You stay here with Jordyn. I’m going to see if I can get some answers.”
Brian nodded, and Joey made a mental note of where her friends were.
It looked like the large gathering of people had been brought to some type of canyon with strange rock formations that cast odd shadows. She could see the orange glow of fires lit sporadically through the group of hundreds of people as she pushed past. The residents of Pinnacle Gulch huddled together and shivered in the cold.
Joey pushed her way passed people to find that they were surrounded by ghost girls and those weird goopy zombie people.
So they were trapped.
She looked around, noticing that there was some type of large rock formation that seemed to have a large bonfire in front of it. Curiously, she pushed her way through to see what it was.
She finally reached it to find that the Mayor and Roderick were up on a ledge.
“Soooomething is ooooff.” Roderick hissed, pacing around the fire. “I don’t knoooow if this hosssst is ssssstrong enough for theeeee ritual.”
“Well he doesn’t have to survive it does he? Once you’ve fed on everyone else you should be strong enough to-.”
“But I still need aaaaa physicaaaal foooorm.” the parasite hissed. “Hooold on… Heee’s being diiiificult…”
Joey watched wide eyed as a big glob of goop stretched itself forth out of Roderick’s nose, and the dark form of the spirit parasite stretched itself over the fire.
“That’ssss beeetter. It’s a little uncoooomfortable beeeeing in there fooor soo long. Thaaaat shouldn’t beee…”
Roderick stood there, swaying for a moment, the color slightly returning to his face, his eyes coming back to normal. He shuddered and fell to his hands and knees.
“You… you can’t… do this…” Roderick said weakly, coughing up the black goop, dark circles under his eyes. Joey eyed him with concern.
He was dying.
Joey froze as suddenly, the spirit parasite turned and looked at her.
“Ahhh… Josephine Washburnnnnn… Some of the ooooothers on the other siiiiide have told me about yoooou… You’re knowledgeable about these things…”
Joey suddenly felt herself pushed forward by some unseen force until she was brought down to her knees beside Roderick.
“Hey… Joey…” Roderick said weakly, huddling there on the ground like he was sick.
“Hang in there Roderick.” she whispered.
“Stand up humaaaan.” the parasite demanded. Joey did as she was told. “Look over this group of people. Do you notice anything?”
Joey looked at the terrified crowd illuminated by the orange glow of fires, the desert sky dappled with twinkling stars. Her eyes suddenly grew wide.
Wait a second.
Those fires were in a specific pattern…
She had seen this ritual in a book when she was child.
“You-you can’t!” she exclaimed, looking at the hundreds of people trapped in that desert canyon. “This-this ritual disturbs the natural order of things-you’ll rip open a hole in this dimension!”
“Do you think we care hippie?” the Mayor sneered. “Kishnu here can’t grow to his full potential feeding on a few people at a time. This way, he’ll get the feeding he needs to be more powerful. And I won’t have to hide what I do anymore. I’ll be able to fully take pride in it…”
“But-this could bring-.”
The spirit parasite laughed.
“I have more friends than you Josephine. And they are also very hungry…”
The dark slender form of Kishnu came very close to Joey’s face.
“Now tell me why my host isn’t working.”
“I don’t know why.” she told him coldly, refusing to back away.
“Let’s seeee… I’ll just maaaake you tell meeee… Now where were thosssse other two investigatorsssss?”
The parasite raised an arm, and a black goopy puddle suddenly appeared in front of them. With dismay, Joey watched as Jordyn and Brian started to rise from the puddle. Brian sputtered, wiping the goop from himself. Jordyn simply closed her eyes as she lay there on the ground, trying to take in deep breaths.
“What is wrong with my hosssst?” Kishnu demanded of Joey.
“I-I don’t know.”
Suddenly, Brian and Jordyn started to choke on the black goop, and it started to ooze out of their nose and down their cheeks like tears.
“I don’t know!” she cried, looking from Roderick to Brian and Jordyn.
What should she do? What should she do?
She couldn’t lose anyone again-she couldn’t…
“Kishnu.” the Mayor said softly.
The parasite stopped what it was doing and turned to the mayor. Brian and Jordyn gasped for breath and coughed. Joey’s mind kept racing as she tried to think.
“We have a new guest. And that’ll completely bring in everyone from the town.”
The all turned to see that a couple of the zombie people were dragging Ian over to them.
Joey thought it a little odd that he didn’t seem to be struggling as much as he could be.
“Ian Vennnndeleeer…” Kishnu smiled. “Niiice of you to join ussss.”
Ian glanced at his friends, and then looked over at his brother, who was looking up at them, exhausted.
“Ian…” he croaked, some of the black goop still dripping from his mouth. Ian looked back at the mayor and the parasite.
“My brother is dying-isn’t he?”
The parasite didn’t respond.
“Please-let him go-he can’t handle anymore.”
“You don’t get to make the decisions detective.” the mayor sneered as the zombies threw him to the ground. They then turned back to Joey.
“Now tell him what’s wrong with the host!”
“I-I don’t know!” Joey said desperately. “My best guess is that he’s not entirely compatible-and-if that’s the case, then it’s slowly going to kill him to latch on-.”
The all stopped and turned to Ian, who was still on the ground, looking up at them.
“I’ll make a deal with you. I will willingly let you latch on to me if you let me brother go. So, take me instead. I’m probably compatible enough for your ritual thing. I am his brother after all.”
Jordyn and Brian stared at him like he was crazy. Joey tilted her head curiously.
Roderick’s face fell as Ian stood up resolutely.
“Bro-no-you can’t-you don’t know what it’s like!”
“I’m the older brother. It’s my job to look after you.”
“That’s when we were kids! I’m a grown freakin man now! I don’t need you to look after-.”
“Roderick. Think back to the Gillikan case.”
Roderick was a bit taken aback.
“The Gillikan case? What the freak does that have to do with anything?”
Roderick knew that look. It was the look Ian gave when he needed a very important favor.
“Let’s try this new host then…” the parasite said eagerly, coming closer to Ian.
“No!!” Roderick exclaimed as the parasite phased through Ian’s chest. Ian immediately got a pained look on his face as black goop dripped from his nose. He coughed, the black goop sputtering from his mouth. His body contorted, and he fell, screaming and writhing on the ground. Joey, Brian, and Jordyn shrank back in horror. Roderick felt tears streaming down his face as he watched this horrible thing happen to his older brother.
Finally, Ian stopped screaming and Roderick could see that his eyes had changed to that blank white. Ian’s face broke out into an unnatural smile.
“Heee’s perfect.” the parasite hissed gleefully.