Friday, October 17, 2003

Today’s Word: Prey

Rose Carver followed the slime trail with her pen laser, noting with some satisfaction that, mixed with the greasy yellow film, was a large amount of blood.

The air grew colder as Rose descended and the cave walls pressed closer. She keyed the Survsuit controls on her right wrist and felt the skintight armor warm immediately. From somewhere up ahead, out of pure darkness, came the sound of something hard scraping the rock floor. Rose increased her pace, and caught her prey not one minute later.

The man -- no, he was more insect now than anything -- continued pulling himself along, five of his lower, scorpion-like legs dragging lifelessly behind him. With striated human arms, muscles bulging to the capacity of their surrounding skin, Scorpman pulled his dead lower half. The sound was like sandpaper over rock.

"Keven, stop," said Rose, but there was little force behind it. This. . . creature had once been her lover; the first man in years she had truly cared for beyond a night of passion. But he was also her target now. He was marked.

Keven raised his human torso and looked round at her the way a man might turn to stare at an interesting bird passing over. His eyes were white, completely without pupils.

"Are you blind?" she asked him.

"Blunt as ever, Rose?" said Kevin in a voice that could no longer be classified human.

"Why would I change?"

"You wouldn't," said Kev, "but as you can see, I've changed quite a bit since last we met."

"Not for the better."

"For the best." Kevin turned back to his labors and started dragging himself across the cave floor.

"I have orders to kill you," said Rose, her voice low as sagebrush.

"But you won't. You love –"

Kevin's head exploded into a mist of red that splattered the stone walls for fifty feet down the tunnel. His half-human, half-insect body ceased all movement after about twenty seconds. Rose reholstered her screamgun, used her Survsuit's camera to take eight 2D and two 3D pictures of the kill, then stood, staring at the corpse for a moment.

"Sorry sweetie," she whispered to the night-black tunnel, "it seems I did change a bit."


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