If Dee killed him right away, she wouldn’t maximize her nutritional intake (she couldn’t resist scarfing the first one; she’d been too damn hungry). Fear and suffering were her meat and potatoes.
So she pushed her prey beneath the muck, reveling in his wild heartbeat and his desperate panic. Every so often, she’d let him up for some air—he would take in a great, shuddery gasp that was almost a wail—and push him back under.
The sound of an engine rumbled cut the air. Dee looked toward it—at the hill to her right—and saw a pair of blazing headlights.
Her right hand formed into a two-foot long, spiny proboscis. She plunged it into her prey’s brain (Ricky, she realized as her mental siphon connected with his psyche) and sucked his consciousness into her being.
The truck stopped a dozen yards away. “Ricky! Gonzo! Where are you?” the man in the truck (Hank, she realized, courtesy of the incoming data from Ricky’s psyche) screamed. “Come on—let’s GO!”
Hank looked around, then his gaze settled on Gonzo’s corpse. The giant red holes, the wriggling worm-creatures burrowing through his flesh….
“Oh my…oh my…FUCK!”
Dee summoned the worms with a mental command. [Return.]
They slid across the grass, braiding into a thick, gleaming coil as they squirmed up her neck and entered her mouth. Her cheeks bulged wide as she gulped and swallowed. Fresh misery coursed through her being.
“Aaaaah.” She smacked her lips and stared at Hank, who was leveling the end of his ridiculous metal weapon at her. Its rails were equipped with energized tech, but her auric sight said they weren’t dangerous; they were solely for the purpose of optic enhancement.
She asked, “You know what’s going to happen, right?” According to Ricky’s psyche, Hank was a soldier—he’d been heavily trained in “target identification.” Unless push came to shove, he wasn’t going to kill a teenage girl. Another deluded idiot, in other words.
But his eyes hardened as critical thinking overrode his training. Dee was impressed; the fact that Hank could adjust this quickly meant he was a formidable human.
“Yeah.” His sights steadied on her buxom chest. “I’m pretty sure I know what you’re about.”
“So why fight it?” She cocked her head, curious.
“I am what I am.”
She nodded respectfully. “At least you’re honest.”
“For the last four years, I’ve been telling my guys to walk in a circle.” A slight grin. “This may seem weird, but you’re a welcome change.”
“Then thank me.”
“Not how this works.”
Hank unloaded, emptying his clip in a matter of seconds. He ejected the mag and grabbed a clip out of his harness. He jacked it in and released the bolt, but before he could fire, she blurred toward him, gouging his eyes with her index and middle fingers. Her right fingers went in his right eye socket, her left fingers in the other one. Both her palms were turned outward.
She pulled her hands out to either side, extending her arms in a wide, sweeping slash. Hank’s skull blew apart. Chunks of brain trailed her fingers, marking the air with red-speckled gore.
He slumped to his knees, then on to his side. The wounds in his temples—craters filled with curdy red slop—made it look as if his face had been gashed with a razor-edged ice cream scoop.
Mmmm…Dee licked her fingers. Yummy. The aetheric tides were still quiet—she hadn’t been noticed by other entities. Out-fucking-standing.
Because according to Ricky’s psyche, more food was on the way.
Half an hour later, four vehicles parked by the guard shack.
They were SRU, according to the Rick-i-pedia. This was confirmed a second later, when a squad of kitted-up operators poured from the cars. They dropped to a knee, weapons shouldered, and scanned their surroundings. The squad leader signaled, and the rest of the men repeated the gesture. They rose to their feet and walked forward in a double-file column.
One of them saw her and called, “12 o’ clock, 50 yards, teenage girl.” The rest of them spread out and raised their weapons, painting her body with invisible lasers. Due to her auric sight, the beams appeared as a network of brilliant green lines.
“Weapons free,” the squad leader called.
A barrage of slugs plinked off her skin, causing her clothes to jump and quiver. A minute later, the team leader called, “Stop.” His men repeated it, and the fire came to a halt.
Dee stood tall. Urgent murmurs—shit, what the fuck—rippled through their line.
Customized ordnance washed over Dee, coating her in a blanket of snaps and pops.
The squad leader’s face was covered by a balaclava. Nevertheless, Dee could see the fabric around his mouth dimpling and quivering as he struggled to express his disbelief.
His eyes said it all: Fuck this. He pointed his rifle toward the sky (a high-port, according to the Rick-i-pedia) and yelled: “Back to the trucks, no peel!”
Dee was confused—“no peel?”—then the Rick-i-pedia informed her that under normal circumstances, the men would have retreated in an orderly manner—a “peel”—which would allow them to maintain a steady rate of fire and make it look like they were a larger force than they actually were.
She watched, amused, as they piled in their vehicles and gunned the engines. As they picked up speed, some of them leaned out the windows and blasted away at her. This time they weren’t nearly as disciplined; they tore apart the ground with wild, frenzied bursts. The muck to her rear exploded with divots.
And then she was moving.
Everything slowed—she could see each bullet streaking through the air, the treads on the tires cycling round and round. She slammed a car with her right shoulder, sending it spinning into a nearby vehicle. Both pinballed off the road. As they flipped and tumbled, Dee flexed hard with her mind, crumpling them into wrinkled metal balls. Their occupants burst like overripe grapes.
The other two cars were gaining distance. Probably thought they were going to escape.
Not gonna happen.
Dee raised her right hand, clutching the air like she was holding a baseball at arm’s length. When her telekinetic freeze hit the vehicles, they halted in place. Their reinforced tires spun and screamed, churning up clouds of foul-smelling smoke.
To think you can fight me with metal fragments…ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous.
She drew them in, slowly but steadily. The doors opened, men poured out. They tried to run, but Dee’s mouth yawed wide, her lower jaw reaching down to her knees, and—
—ejected a torrent of segmented coils, each capped by an eyeless, snapping head. They lashed through the air in whip-like twists, coating the men in a nest of tentacles. Sharp-fanged mouths burrowed and gnawed, transforming the operators into a writhing pile of bloody food. They’d arrived as warriors, but she’d revealed them to be human, and now, meat.
As it should be.
Once the worms had drunk their fear (and ruined their bodies), she called them back. The last tentacle slid in her mouth with a wet, slippery shhlllPP.
God DAMN that is tasty. She wiped the drool off the edge of her lips.
Who knows? She got behind the wheel of an intact car.
This could be fun.
She gunned the engine and drove into the night.