The bathroom was still a blur in the white daylight; glowing smudges and dancing shadows. As her vision slowly came back into focus, she stared at her hands. She wiggled her fingers, turned her palms up. She raised her hands up at the window, just to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. Her hands were grey. They were grey metal. Dull, matte, rubbery metal. The grey faded back to her own skin tone at the wrists, as if her hands had been spray-painted. Like she was wearing painted-on gloves. She tried to grip the grey coating and peel it off, but there wasn’t a join. She scratched at the armoured skin but felt nothing. She could still feel her grey fingertips scratching at her wrists, at least. But clapping her hands, and pinching them, and punching them, even banging them down on the sink to hurt them… no sensation at all. She had, however, sent a crack right through the heavy sink. Another whack, and the sink shattered with a gurgling spurt of gunge from the pipes. She’d barely shifted her feet back in time to avoid broken toes. Tabitha looked at her hands; looked around at the bathroom to see if she was still dreaming.
‘What?…’ she mumbled to herself, sitting down on the edge of the bathtub. When she glanced in the mirror, she saw someone new. Her sad eyes were piercing green, lighter than they should have been. Her ginger curls had turned a vivid shade of red. She stared in silent shock; raised a grey hand to her face. That wasn’t her.
Dazed, Tabitha wandered back into her bedroom. She saw the threadbare carpet just inside the doorway. It was all coming back to her then, like a dream forgotten. Silver legs; lots of legs. And the stabbing alien needle. She studied the little pock mark in her thigh where the needle had gone in. It’d healed incredibly well for such a short time; there wasn’t even a scab. Looking around as she got dressed, she saw a silver spidery leg on the carpet behind the door. The alien. The socket… she’d killed it. It was out on the landing. Tabitha turned around, and there it was. Propped up in the back corner, legs jutting up against the wall. Just as sinister in death. She didn’t want to go close, but curiosity pushed her towards it like a hand on the small of her back. She reached out and touched a silver leg. Its skin rasped against her grey palm like sandpaper. The same skin.
Tabitha sat down on her bed, and pulled her phone from her pocket to call her mum. The phone didn’t switch on though. The charger didn’t work either. Not the lights, or the radio, or her little TV. No electricity, no running water… what was going on? Nothing made sense. She had to get to her mum. Everything would be alright; she just had to get to her mum. She had to tell her the whole terrifying tale.
When Tabitha came back downstairs into the living room, Mog didn’t recognise her. She looked much the same but moved, smiled and smelled differently. Her every step was a snake-hipped seduction to the empty house around her.
‘Hi,’ she said softly, waiting for Mog to edge closer for a stroke. Eventually he came and nudged her grey hands and circled her feet, purring. Tabitha put some food out for him in the kitchen, and stroked him as he tucked in. She couldn’t feel his fur on her fingers. There was a sour rancid smell coming from the fridge; the power must have cut out while she was passed out on the carpet. A cold puddle covered half the kitchen floor. Just how long had she been unconscious? She took a carving knife from the kitchen drawer to dissect the alien upstairs. She had to be quick. She had to get to her mum. But if there were more of these creatures out there, then she had to know how to stop them. She had to know what made them tick. Suddenly this was survival.
As she skinned her kill quickly in the bathtub, Tabitha realised that her body felt leaner. Stronger. She peeled back the alien’s skin in a rush and caught her wrist against the edge, and it sliced her skin like a tin lid. Blood like quicksilver streamed down her arm for a second, before the stinging cut healed up. A few seconds, and it’d closed up completely. She stared at her blood, shining silver like mercury, still dribbling down her arm. It tasted good. Beneath the spider’s skin were fibrous muscles, solid bunched-up cords of white meat. It hardly smelled of anything; just metal and faint salty flesh, with the clammy whiff of oil mixed in. Its splayed legs looked part spider and part crab. Its silver blood dripped thick into the bathtub, pooling and trickling down the drain.
After the quick dissection Tabitha slipped the carving knife into her belt. She’d wasted enough time. How could she not have rushed out to see her mum first? She hurried downstairs and swapped her trainers for hiking boots.
‘I’ll be back soon,’ she told Mog in the kitchen, rushing back through the living room for the front door. She stopped for a second, and felt a tingling in her chest. A sudden burst of lightning arced around her; a noisy crackling hiss. She stared in shock at white veins of electricity, coming from her. Something in her chest came to life where her heart should have been; something made of living metal and current. Voltage coursed through her body. Frantic branches of lightning jumped out of her, scorching the walls. Tabitha was paralysed; feeling too good to do anything about it. High on a neon cloud in her head. She tensed up inside when the electric feel embraced her. Weak at the knees. She felt the current reaching in everywhere, warm and tingling. Some new part of her mind fantasised about cables and circuits; saw their amorous voltage reaching out towards her. There was a lightning storm around her in the living room. Her clutter and magazines were sailing through the air, blown against the walls in a hissing gale of static. Mog escaped out of the cat flap in the kitchen door. Tabitha threw her head back. The volts reached into her, right in. They made her gasp. She moaned and smiled, climaxing. Every electronic shook and rumbled then, and exploded suddenly in a cloud of sparks and smoke. The stuffing from the couch tumbled down like foam snow. Tabitha writhed on the carpet as the waves of pleasure died down.
‘Hm?’ she said in a daze, sitting up to look around. A lightning storm had scarred her living room. Possessions in ruins. TV on fire. As her senses came back to her, Tabitha remembered her mum. She had to get to her. Drunk on voltage, she picked up the TV and sent it bursting through the window. She leapt out after it; cast her old self aside. Tabitha was about to become much, much more.
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