jelly

BRUH, we’re all over the news. APPARENTLY we’re persons of interest (people of interest?) in this cannibalism case, despite the fact that there is absolutely zero evidence of us having eaten any people. It’s Thursday, but it’s too insane to see blurry pictures of myself on TV not to write about it.

“You really gotta wonder,” Neal said from under his wide-brimmed, black, lady’s sun hat. “What do they think we’re doing out here? How did we pull off convincing a perfectly normal psychiatrist to eat his wife? Was it hypnotism? Did we just… pay him a lot of money?”

We’re in a very disgusting dive bar. Neal usually likes the ones with like shitty graffiti and bad local punk bands and 24 year olds doing cocaine off the urinals, but even that is too good for us now that we’re known wanted fugitives. I mean, more than we already were.

I can only IMAGINE what they’re saying about me at home. Literally, I’m wanted for questioning involving a CANNIBALISM CASE. Luckily me being maybe somehow connected to a cannibal isn’t even in the top 5 craziest things that’s happened in that town. The Sheriff was straight up in a cult last year, so hopefully this is small beans. But still, cannibals sound bad. Of all the cases to make national news, this is the one? We haven’t even done anything cool yet!!!

Anyways, Neal is frantically tracking down everyone who has been in contact with our cannibal, but it’s like a pretty significant number of people. The cops. The doctors. The psychiatrists. Nurses. Lawyers. Too many people, and the only thing we really have to go on is that one person murdered and ate a loved one, and then three days later, another person, who spent some time with that first person, murdered and ate a loved one. It’s not much. But, Julian pointed out from under his baseball cap, we’ve got more than the cops do, because we know that all this paranormal shit exists.

When he pointed that out four hours ago, it was with a note optimism. Now he’s got his head in his hands, and we’re all scrolling endlessly, and flipping through notebooks, and making phone calls to everyone we can think of, trying to figure out who and what is going to happen so that we can intervene before someone else gets hurt.

So far, we’ve got nothing, but we’re all wearing cool hats so that’s something at least.

LATER

The good news:

We found our killer. It’s never going to hurt anyone else again.

The bad news:

The FBI for SURE thinks we’re on a fucked up murder spree across the country.

The breakthrough happened like this: we had absolutely no leads. There was no evidence of cult activity, or some roaming beast. And then yesterday Julian, in a fit of frustration, said, “If there’s an explanation for what happened between cannibal number one and cannibal number two, it would be in Doctor Lowry’s notes.”

But those are in FBI evidence. What we needed was someone we could talk to, someone he might have confided in, who might either know whether something abnormal happened during that interview, or know who might know.

Well, we knew of one person. We met her at the office, remember his secretary Kylie? It was literally a hunch. We were hoping she might know if he was close to another psychiatrist who he might have confided in or something, we were literally desperate.

Kylie’s a grad student, living with a couple roommates. The house was charmingly old, and needed a new coat of paint. She came to the door immediately when we knocked, answered the door in a big fuzzy bathrobe. Her hair was a mess, and she looked either sick, or like she was crying.

“Hi,” Neal said.

Her eyes bugged and she slightly closed the door so she was only barely visible through the crack. Which, in her defense, like… dudes in suits appear at your door and you’re wearing a bathrobe at 4 o’clock in the afternoon? I get it, girl. “Hi?”

“We met early this week, I’m Detective Beech.”

“Oh,” she said. “You have more questions?”

“’Fraid so,” Julian said, with his signature warm, sad little smile.

She opened the door. “Come on in, I guess.”

Inside, the curtains were drawn and there were tissues and half empty mugs strewn all over the coffee table.

“Sorry about the mess,” she said, clearing off the couch for us to sit. “I’ve been having a… a rough week.”

“I can imagine,” Julian said.

“Are you feeling under the weather?” Neal asked, looking around at the tissues.

“A bit,” she said. “My sinuses are bugging me.”

Neal and Julian exchanged a glance, which in retrospect I suspect meant they knew something was fucked up right there.

“We had a few questions about Doctor Lowry,” Julian said. “He interviewed Susan McCormick after her incident, correct?”

“Yeah,” Kylie said.

“And did he mention anything odd about that encounter?” Julian asked.

Kylie glanced between us, frowning. “Did you see his notes?”

“We did,” Neal lied. “But we were just wondering if there was anything he said, or did, that was maybe out of character.”

“No,” she said, and Neal glanced sideways at Julian. He shook his head minutely.

“Nothing that made you pause?” Julian asked.

She hesitated a moment. “I mean, she bit him,” she said.

Neal sat back, satisfied. “She bit him,” he repeated.

“Yeah,” Kylie said. “Right on the cheek. I thought it must have been horrible, but wasn’t too bothered by it.”

“Not too bothered by a known cannibal biting his face?” Neal said.

Kylie opened her mouth, then closed it again.

Julian cleared his throat. “And to your knowledge,” he said, slightly hesitant. “Has he been… behaving strangely at all lately? Anything you’ve noticed?”

“You mean up until he killed and ate his wife?” she said. “No, okay? He was totally normal.”

Neal frowned. “Was he feeling sick at all?”

She hesitated. “He had a slight cold. Nothing serious.”

“Kylie, have you been hungry lately?” Neal asked.

“What?” she said. “Look, I’ve talked to the other agents, I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

“Have you been having trouble swallowing?” Julian asked.

“What?”

“A tight feeling in your throat,” he said. “Pressure or movement in your sinuses?”

“I have a cold,” she said.

Neal and Julian exchanged a look.

“Okay,” Julian said. “We’d like you to go ahead and stay in the house, alright? We’re gonna have some follow up questions in about an hour, okay?”

“About what?” she asked. “Can’t you ask them now?”

“I know it’s inconvenient,” Julian said. “Give us just an hour, and we’ll explain everything then.”

I followed them, bewildered, out to the car.

“So, what exactly is going on?” I asked

“It’s a parasite,” Neal said. “They live along your spine and up into your sinuses and slowly start taking over your brain. She was lying when she said Dr. Lowry was behaving normally.”

“So you think it… passed to Doctor Lowry when he got bit?”

“No, that’s not how it works,” Neal said. “They only stay in a host for a long enough to feed, and then they move on. My guess is that she didn’t just bite him.”

I didn’t know what was coming, but I already knew it was gross before they explained.

“They can’t spend much time in open air,” Julian explained. “Usually they transfer mouth to mouth.”

Which essentially means, that most likely, it wasn’t so much a case of getting bit, as like… a lot of open mouth kissing. Hopefully she brushed her teeth before Doctor Lowry got there lmfao EW.

“So where do we think the parasite is now?” I asked.

“It’s with whoever Dr Lowry last made out with,” Neal replied.

“So you mean,” I said. “Like… his secretary.”

“Yeah, no for sure,” Neal said. “Problem is, we have to get that thing out of her by making her body uninhabitable.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they sort of get their little tentacles into your brain, and slowly take it over,” Julian said. “It’s an incredible process that we haven’t been able to study in any real capacity. They hijack your brain chemicals and just do whatever they want with you.”

“So how do you get rid of them?”

“You just get the host super fucking high,” Neal said. “Like, lying in the grass at Woodstock levels of high. Little booger should pop right on out.”

Which… as far as ways to get rid of a man-eating parasite, seems like an okay price to pay.

We ended up buying some acid off a scrawny 19 year old who called himself The Pharmacist in a Walgreens parking lot. I wouldn’t have even begun to know how to find acid in a random town, but what mischief can’t Neal Hawthorne get up to?

We were back at Kylie’s house within 45 minutes. When we knocked though, no one answered.

Neal went to the window. “I don’t see anyone,” he said.

“Do you think she ran for it?” I asked.

“Maybe,” Neal replied, doubtfully.

Julian didn’t seem to think he’d left either. “Was there anyone else home?”

“Shit,” Neal sighed, and got to work busting down the damn door, which didn’t work, even with all three of us bashing ourselves against it. Finally Neal picked up a rock and threw it through the window. He took of his jacket and knocked away the glass to open up the hole.

That must have been when the neighbors called the police, but we didn’t know that yet. Instead we were climbing as fast as we could into the house, already calling for Kylie.

No one answered.

We found them in the hallway. Kylie was crouched over a young woman, dipping her hands into a pool of blood. As I watched, Kylie licked her fingers.

“Oh, fuck,” Neal sighed.

Kylie twisted to look at us, mouth smeared with blood. I thought I saw something shine behind her eyes, something animal.

“Shiloh,” Neal said, in a calm low voice. “You’re gonna go for the roommate, okay? See if she’s alive. If she is, stop the bleeding.”

“What are you gonna do?” I asked, frantic.

“Good question,” Julian replied.

“No kidding,” Neal agreed. “Dosing her is gonna take a bit long.” And then Kylie launched herself at us. Julian literally just shoved me around the corner and Kylie collided with them with a dull thud. It took me a second before I was able to get to the roommate. She had a huge gash in her belly, but it didn’t seem deep. She definitely had a pulse. I didn’t have anything else to mop up the blood, so I just took off my shirt and pressed it to her middle. Her hands were shaking and she was looking up at me with wide, glassy eyes.

“You’re gonna be fine,” I said, repeatedly, fumbling, totally frantic.

Meanwhile behind us, Neal and Julian were in full combat with Kylie. She was shrieking and throwing elbows and biting and scratching to get away. Julian literally had to pin her down, and she started screaming absolute bloody murder while Julian frantically tried to cover her mouth without loosening his grip on any of her limbs.

“How do you get it out?” I asked.

“We’re gonna have to tranquilize her,” Neal said. “You got her?”

He was out of the house for maybe two minutes, but it was enough that Julian just about lost her. Literally only the injection Neal gave her kept her in the house.

“You grab the shit?” Julian asked, breathless.

“Yeah,” Neal replied, taking off his tie. “Shit shit shit.”

“What’s going on?” I called.

“The only way to get this thing to emerge is to make the body uninhabitable,” Julian said. “We have to poison her.”

Fuck.

Neal soaking the end of his tie with a liquid from a little vial.

“You sure this isn’t too much?” Julian asked.

Neal managed a pathetic frantic little laugh. “Hope so,” he said. He was refilling his needle from the vial, gave it a little tap with his nail.

“Okay,” Neal said. “We got this Kylie. No problem.”

He sank the needle into the inside of her elbow, and at the same time Julian covered her mouth with the tie.

For a long moment, nothing happened.

“Is it working?” I called. The roommates blood had soaked through my shirt and my hands were damp, but we couldn’t very well call an ambulance until this thing was out of Kylie.

“It should only take a second,” Neal replied, and I could hear in his voice that he was starting to get a little frantic. But then, coming out of her nose — something iridescent.

“That’s it, that’s it,” Julian said, and with his bare hand he took a hold of this thing and started, very gently, to pull this thing out of Kylie’s sinuses.

It was horrifying to watch, obviously, because no one wants a parasite living in their head. But as far as man-eating parasites go, this one was… I mean, I don’t want to be that girl who’s like yeah, the parasite was pretty, but like…

It was WAY bigger than it had any right to be, but it was also, an opalescent, swirling, milky color, as if it was full of strange shifting glitter. It was shaped a bit like an octopus, but even less structured and with more legs, which morphed and changed into each other.

“There we go,” Julian said, and Neal handed him a mason jar. They slipped it in and screwed the lid in. Neal gave Kylie a second injection, the antidote.

“Kylie?” I asked.

“Pulse is fine,” Julian said, checking. “She’s gonna feel shitty when she wakes up though.”

“I mean she did try to eat her roommate, so I feel like that’s a given,” Neal pointed out.

And that was when the FBI arrived.

Ah, to be on the wrong end of Steva and Mulligan’s guns.

They came around the corner with guns drawn, to find us bent over two unconscious girls, blood everywhere, I’m not wearing a shirt, Neal is holding a naked syringe.

“Okay,” Julian said, very calmly. “I admit this looks bad —”

“No kidding,” Steva said. “Drop your weapons and put your hands in the air.”

Except we weren’t so much holding weapons. Instead Neal was holding a hypodermic needle and a tie covered in poison, Julian had a freaky brain octopus from another planet in a jar, and my hands were just all full of blood.

“What the hell is that?” Mulligan asked. He was staring at the jar and his eyes were all round and sparkly.

“This is a very rare, very dangerous parasite,” Julian said. “We just pulled it out of Doctor Lowry’s secretary’s brain.”

The agents stood there, aiming guns — which they have a pretty bad track record with, by the way — obviously uncertain.

“Look, we know you’ve seen some wild things,” Julian said. “You know there are things that modern science can’t really explain.”

“Yet,” Agent Steva said. “Modern science can’t explain yet.

Neal sighed. “Okay, listen. I don’t really care what you think is and isn’t possible, okay. I am currently holding all the evidence you need to know that we had absolutely nothing to do with all this murder.”

“I would argue,” Agent Steva said, “that we have you confirmed at one of the crime scenes, and somehow connected to the other. Not to mention you’re pretending to be psychiatrists and government agents just this week. So I don’t care what kind of silly-putty goop you’ve got in a jar. Seems to me you’ve got something to do with this case.”

“You’ve been at all the crime scenes, too,” Neal pointed out. “Are you two eating people?”

Agent Steva opened her mouth and shut it again, apparently speechless with outrage, but Agent Mulligan just adjusted his aim and said, “Not lately. Glad to see you up and about, Shiloh.”

“No thanks to you,” I snapped back, because at my feet Kylie’s roommate was still bleeding and this dumb little standoff was doing no one any favors.

I could hear sirens.

“We’re gonna take all three of you in for questioning,” Steva said. “We have a lot of questions for you.”

“For fucks sake, do you really think we’re responsible for this?” Neal sighed. “This girl’s losing a lot of blood, and Kylie needs fluids.”

“Last time we saw you three you were helping criminals evade capture,” Steva replied. “So you won’t mind if we don’t immediately assume you’re innocent in this case.”

“What if,” Neal said, as if he was speaking to a toddler, “we were there for the same reason you were.”

Julian, bless him, so calm, said, “if you give us a chance we can explain everything.”

“No, I don’t think —”

And that was when our little parasite friend decided that a mason jar wasn’t enough contain it, and the glass shattered in Julian’s hand, leaving Julian with a handful of fresh cuts and man-eating jelly.

And that’s when the police arrived.

We just took off through the first door and crashed through the window.

“Neal!” Julian called as we ran for the car. “He’s not doing well!” Guns were going off behind us, which meant my dumb ass was literally on the pavement, hands over my head, brain an absolute black pit of nothing. Lmao that PTSD it’ll getcha!!!

I’d probably still be there if Neal hadn’t dragged me up by the armpits and literally shoved me towards the car.

“Kiddo, I’m gonna need you to drive,” Neal said.

“WHAT.”

“You can do it, just drive!”

“NEAL.”

“The jelly’s both dying and trying to kill Julian, alright, I need you to be the getaway driver.”

And everything was a blur, but it was true, the jelly was making a slippery dash for all Julian’s face orifices as he crashed into the backseat.

I had the keys. The cops were closing in. Agent Steva was shouting at me to stop.

So, I got in the car, jammed the keys in the ignition, and stepped on the gas.

Was it a smooth ride? No it was not. But did I figure out how to drive because of it? No, definitely not, Neal was shouting instructions at me the entire time, (“Take a left here — okay wrong left, go ahead and take the right instead. For fucks sake girl, you are on the run from the cops, were gonna skip stopping at stop signs, right? Make sense? Okay get on the highway — Oh, okay interesting choice, this is the off ramp, but that’s fine — do NOT turn around. Well just weave around the cars and drive over the divider! I said AROUND the cars Jesus Christ”) while also trying to pull the jelly off Julian’s face and shove it into a water bottle. But did we get caught? Well, yeah, technically we got caught too, they set up a whole barricade on the highway.

So I’m screaming, “WHAT DO I DO WHAT DO I DO,” and Neal’s shouting back, “JUST PUNCH IT THIS THING’S DEATH PROOF,” and I punched the gas and we blew on through, crunching cop cars.

It was my first time feeling what that death proof spell does to the car. When it engaged, I felt a strange horrible pull on my guts, like I was frozen still in time. And then, miraculously, it was all over.

“Okay don’t stop,” Neal said. “We’re gonna get out of sight, and then change directions. And just hold still okay, jelly’s almost in the bottle.”

“Thank goodness for that,” Julian said, nose full of jelly. “Is it alive?”

“It’s gonna be fine,” Neal promised. “As soon as we figure out what it eats.”

“Other than human flesh?”

“Yeah, that’s the hope.”

And that’s the story of how ya girl used the power of being a terrible driver to escape the FBI yet again.

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