Bogleech.com's 2014 Horror Write-off:
" VERY GOOD SERVANTS "
ED AND JULIE BARTLETT
Very good servants they will make. They are larger than we usually prefer, and clumsy and haven’t much hair, but they will make very good hosts and beasts of burden.
Assuming, that is, that we can integrate properly. One will find out right away.
The one who is to embrace the creature has paralyzed it with one’s venom, and now makes an incision in its pink skin. The skin cuts easily, very delicately, but we can breed some that have tougher hides. There are animals on its planet that have something more like what we want, so perhaps in time we can unravel their genetic code and make the proper adjustments.
They are very wet inside, these creatures, and it feels strange to us. That one wriggles in, and we all feel the sensation of the internal nastiness. We are fairly sure we weren’t mistaken as to where the creature’s brain is in its body.
We were right. Here is its brain. Now we must integrate.
The first feelers slip through the tissue, trying very hard not to sever any important connections. It is too easy to lose hosts that way. We have lost many. We would recriminate the ones who were clumsy, but what is the point? We are all to blame, and there are no blames, as we are all here and all there and all together. Where there is one, there are all of us.
This creature’s brain is impossibly complex, though. We have never encountered a brain like this before. The more primitive parts of its brain are so underdeveloped! That must be why it ignored all the food and pheromone baits we used, preferring to go poke our ship instead with its long spiky phalanges. How do they reproduce or survive?
We begin to feel now, feel what it feels. Fear, of course, we remember it from many many hosts throughout history. Panic, and the rising fury of the cornered beast. We feel it, and we tense, all of us in our communion. Those who are hosted feel their fur rise, claws emerge, hearts speed up, acid flowing through veins, and growls rumbling from as many different kinds of throats as there are of us.
That one’s tendrils move farther in, mapping the brain and finding the language centers by which the creatures communicate in those odd grunting and hissing noises. So primitive, they are; they don’t even have a communion! This will help us figure out how to direct the—
GET OUT OF ME! LET ME GO! PLEASE NO NO NO NOT LIKE THIS!
What was that?
Our heads suddenly fill with meanings and concepts! Now we understand the sounds made by humans, men and women and children and boys and girls and babies and mothers and fathers and Father and Son and Holy Spirit…
We try, all exerting at once, but we cannot plug the fountain of words as they pour forth and pour forth and Fourth and Main is where it I we work…
We consider whether that one should retract one’s feeler, but it is too late, we are overwhelmed by concepts that make no sense and sensibility one hundred sense to a dollar a dollar a ten o’clock scholar what makes you come so soon! The language uses so many of the same sounds to mean completely different things and they are all spelled with different symbols and even the symbols the sounds are words like I and aye and an eye for an eye!
We must find a way to stop this, shut down the integration, until we can figure out how to silence the words and now memories, all alone in the moonlight, my moonlight memories of you! You thought when you left me I’d let you go! Something called “music” jangles through our mind and we “remember” dancing with one of the females of the species, Dana, and “remember” thinking how beautiful she is and she gives us a “phone number” which it I we are going to call this weekend weakened state.
But no, no, it we I had to go and see what that object was that fell out of the sky through my telescope because I we are stupid, dumb and dumber and alllllll righty then! All righty then, that one tweaks the human’s pain centers and see whether that stops
OW CURSE YOU CURSE YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME I HAVE RIGHTS
We recoil from the pain ourselves. We are not unaccustomed to pain—we sometimes must do this to make a host compliant with integration—but this time, this time it was much stronger. The integration is proceeding much more swiftly than expected. Perhaps the human thing is more advanced than other animals; will the other human creatures will be this difficult to integrate?
Perhaps this doesn’t seem like such a good idea. The doubt is sudden and detached, almost questioning, and it contradicts the accord of our communion to carry out our plan. Confusing, but why would we doubt?—we do not doubt, not like this—but resolve quickly to settle our doubt by remembering our reasons.
The humans will make very good servants. They are many, they reproduce rapidly, and they have very well-formed phalanges that allow for manipulation of small and intricate objects, and fine motor skills for delicate work. They are proportionately very strong, and it is easy to fit tools and structures to their bodies. They may even be useful on another world.
We will be staying here, in this place where the humans were born to live out their lives, until we tire of the place or until it runs out of food and materials. Then some of us will take our host bodies with us, and others will discard ours, and we will move on, just as we’ve always done.
Homeworld. This world is good, but nothing like our homeworld. It is lush and beautiful and a center of learning and knowledge and wealth. We almost drool at the remembered sight. It is also the source of all our communions. In fact, there can be no communions without the Syncretic Attuner to create us from I and I and I and an eye for an eye…It can reach across the stars and touch all the other communions, no less, for it can never be separated from what it creates…
We should go home, take this human creature back with us and see how it fares on our homeworld, before we go about integrating the rest of them. I’ve always wanted to see other planets.
We should go home NOW. It will be good to go home. It will be nice to be home. It’s nice to be home for the holidays, for no matter how far away you roam, if you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze, for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.
The venom has run its course, and the human levers himself to our feet. He comes back to us now with that one embedded inextricable integrated, part of our communion part of us part of we but somehow
LET’S GO ALREADY.
We would like to argue but we should must will go already.
He makes himself comfortable in the best seat in the ship, and we hurry to initiate takeoff. We are forgetting something, we know we are forgetting, there is a reason we came here but START THE SHIP AND TAKE OFF.
We take off. We, all of us everywhere, will be very good servants.