A hand stroked John’s wrist. He flinched at the icy, nearly inhuman touch. He held his tongue though, refusing to scream. Somehow he thought the creature he had seen, only momentarily before vanishing, would enjoy it if he did. Then remarkably his restraints were loosened and his arms free of the straps that had held him down. The thick belt around his middle was next and then the straps around his ankles. Cautiously he sat up. The room tilted for a moment and he felt grateful for the invisible hands that helped steady him.
“I see you are awake. I am sorry I wasn’t here when that happened. It might have bought you some time.”
The voice came from his left and John turned his head. It was instinct, he knew he wouldn’t see the man next to him. He wished he could, then he would know where to aim his fist. He struck out anyway, hoping he’d get in a lucky punch to the jaw. Mid throw his fist collided with something solid, but instead of the crunch of bone breaking, he felt a vice close around his hand and squeeze.
“Do you wish for me to restrain you again?”
“I wish you to go fuck yourself,” John said.
John didn’t know what kind of a reaction he had expected, but the laughter that sounded next to him was not it. His captor sounded amused. “John, I like you. I think if things were different, we could even be friends.”
“I’m not friends with rapists.”
“As I said, if things were different. They aren’t though. I wasn’t always a monster.”
The voice had moved and John’s head swiveled, trying to track Dr. Brown across the room. He watched a glass sitting on a table by his cot, lift into the air. The glass seemed to blur in the middle, twisting and turning in mid-air.
“How did it taste?” Dr. Brown asked.
“How did what taste?”
John flinched as the glass sailed through the air towards him. He imagined that Dan Brown had thrown the heavy container at him. Then he realized it was moving because the inventor was carrying it to him. The glass hovered in front of him.
John took the glass. There was black sludge on the sides and pooling onto the bottom. He recognized it as the muck Mendler had forced him to drink. He thought he saw something in the ooze move. He looked closer and then felt his stomach lurched as something slimy slithered across the bottom of the container.
“What is in there?” He asked.
“Not much of anything now. Some bits and pieces left, little of this, a little of that… bug larvae, insect dung… there were spider embryos, but I think you got them all. Mendler is pretty thoughough.”
John gagged. Then his stomach lurched and he felt bile rushing up his throat. Strong hands clamped over his mouth, holding it shut.
“Trust me, I will make you drink your own vomit to get them back inside of you.”
John’s eyes bulged. He struggled, trying to free himself, but his mouth remained shut. He swallowed, forcing the vitriol back down.
“I am sorry to have to be so heavy handed about this… I have no choice.”
“Yeah, right. Just as you had no choice to rape and then murder your ex-wife.”
“Oh I had a choice. That was pleasure…” There was a pause and then Brown continued, his voice quivering with the memory of his deed. “Just as was when I had your partner. She is rather beautiful. Willful. She nearly escaped me. This however is science.”
John forced himself to remain calm at the mention of Denise. He wanted to attack Dan, but since he remained invisible, that wasn’t an option. Instead he asked, “What kind of scientific research makes it necessary for you to force me to drink spider embryos?”
“First I should explain to you that these aren’t normal spiders. I know Mendler explained to you about the accident that caused our… condition. I remain aware, to an extent, of what goes on when he is in control, just as he is aware of me. He is in fact listening to our conversation now.”
John looked around the room. “He’s here?”
“In a way. In another way, he is worlds apart. The surge of electricity that caused our accident, opened a portal to another dimension. That’s where I went to and where he is now.”
“And this portal opens every 16 hours and lets you back out?”
“Yes… or traps me in the other world. There are creatures there… creatures Mendler wants to help bring into our world.”
“Spiders? We have spiders.”
“Not these. Full grown, they are bigger than humans. Blood thirsty creatures.” There was a pause and then Brown continued, “If you promise not to try and attack me again, I will turn off my cloak.”
“Okay,” John lied.
Brown chuckled. “You would be terrible at poker. It doesn’t matter, even if you try to take me, you will fail.”
The air in front of John shimmered and then a figure wearing a gray cloak appeared. A hood covered his head. John tensed to jump the man, but then Dr. Brown reached up and pulled the hood back, revealing his face. Black, spider like veins popped out from his face and thick cords stuck out of his neck.
“What happened to you?”
“I was attacked by those things. The poison their bites injected into my blood, changed me. They would have eaten me if the cloak hadn’t activated when it did. Instead I remained paralyzed while they moved around me. They couldn’t see me… but the entire time I was aware of them. Then the shift came and I switched places with Mendler.”
“And they didn’t kill him?”
“No. We think it is because of his connection to me. The changes, well let’s just say that they see me as one of them. It was Mendler that decided to try and bring them into our dimension.”
“Control. What enemy could stand against a nation that had an army of killer spiders?”
“Perhaps. The military likes it though. There have been difficulties. The spiders can’t come through the portal, not intact.” He shuddered, and John briefly had a mental picture of a giant creature turned inside out. “But their embryos come through just fine. Which brings us to your part in this experiment.”
John shook his head, not understanding. “You really are thick, John. Not nearly as smart as your partner.” Brown flipped a switch on the wall and a light turned on behind him. John hadn’t noticed the window cut into the wall, probably because he’d been giving the demented doctor all of his attention. Behind the window was another room, which John could now see into, thanks to the light. Denise was in there, or what once had been Denise. She was now partially cocooned. The parts of her that weren’t encased in spider webbing were being feasted on by hairy creatures that only vaguely resembled spiders. John felt a pain in his stomach. He moved to attack the doctor, but the pain increased and he doubled over, unable to move.
“It only takes a few hours for them to grow once introduced to a hospitable environment… such as the inside of a human body. Then they eat their way out.
“I’m afraid it’s true, John. You are food.” Dr. Brown pushed John back down on the table and began to refasten the straps. “I’d love to stick around and watch the babies ‘hatch’, however I have recently become aware of an attractive nurse that works on the psych ward. I believe you know her… Meghan.”
John’s eyes met Brown’s at the mention of his sister’s name. He pulled an arm loose from the doctor’s grip and swung, barely missing Dr. Brown’s jaw. Brown laughed and then lifted his hood. A moment later he vanished. John’s arm was twisted back and strapped down. He tried to resist, but the pain in his stomach seized him up again. A voice whispered into his ear, “I’ll be sure to give Meghan your regards.”
And then he was alone.