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John Carpenter's


by Peter Butscher (Nippy)


"My head…it hurts. Oh hell, who am I kidding? Everything hurts!"

Blake didn't remember much. The last thing he knew was that he was pinned between whatever the hell those things were and a large group of trigger-happy goons. He only wished that he had seen those canisters of compressed air before throwing that grenade. Captain Blake moaned and rolled onto his back. He looked up into the snow filled sky, resigned to his fate. His friends were dead, the facility was dead, and now so was he. It wouldn't be much longer until the cold overtook him.

A small noise caused him to look up. Standing in the rather large hole that had been blow in the wall was a single figure. A middle aged women stepped out into the snow, her long blond hair fluttering in the wind. Flakes of snow stuck to her dark red sweater and black dress pants. Her leather shoes made misshapen and sloppy footprints in the snow. Blake knew this woman all too well. A few hours ago she had been stomping around with a squad of soldiers while demanding his head on a pike. She hadn't done a very good job of it. Blake had seen more leadership ability in a desk clerk.

"Come to finish what you started, eh?" Blake taunted. "What's the matter? Don't you want the world to know what you maniacs were doing out here?"

The woman remained silent. She dropped on her knees and gently took his head into hands. See studied him for some. Her cold blue eyes scanned up and down his body.

"Finish it!" Blake yelled, his voice rising with anger. "Just put a bullet in me and get it over with!"

"Perfect." She said.

Suddenly it dawned on him what was wrong. The power and heat had been out hours before he had been knocked out. Yet here she was, walking around in light clothing without any trouble at all. She should have killed him on the spot or have been dead from exposure herself. None of her actions made sense. Unless…

"Get away! Get…Umph!"

The woman clamped her hand over his face in a singe swift motion. His nose and mouth were closed shut. Panic set in and Blake struggled as best he could. The woman had no trouble restraining him and simply tightened her grip.

"Go back to sleep." She whispered in an overly calm voice. "You're having a bad dream. Just close you eyes and go back to sleep."

Spots formed in front of his eyes as his body used up what little oxygen it had. Darkness filled his vision, slowly choking off the world around him. The last thing he saw before finally giving in was the delicate face of the woman next to him. Captain Blake couldn't help noticing the soft smile on her face.

The darkness lasted for some time. He felt nothing for hours on end. After a while his body began to feel warm, very warm. Noises crept into his mind. Hideous grinding and sawing was all he could hear. The sound was distorted and far off, as if in another world. He listened to it for some time, trying to figure out what it really was.

"Blake? Wake up." A soft voice called out. "Come on now my love, open your eyes."

Captain Blake opened his eyes. He was inside now, laying on his side under a mass of blankets. The floor beneath him was hard and frigid. The same woman was standing over him, still smiling. Blake pushed the blankets away and stood up with a groan. His body was still rather stiff and sleeping on the concrete floor hadn't helped.

"Where am I? Where did…the hell?"

It only took him a few moments to figure out where he was. Blake now stood in the motor pool, or at least what was left if it. He had seen it on his way in. The motor pool had once housed four snow tractors, six snow machines, hundreds of tools, and lots of room to spare. Now it was something straight out of a mechanics nightmare. Two of the tractors were gone, taken by the few survivors in their bid for freedom. The rest of the machines lay mangled and broken. Their parts spread across the floor.

Then he saw it. A small saucer shaped craft sat in the middle of the room. The mismatched color of the outer hull matched the cannibalized machines perfectly. In the corner of the room was a device that gave off an intense amount of heat. No bigger that a coffee cup, the tiny machine held a blue point of light the size of a marble in the air. Dozens of wires ran from it to a large transformer, which then led to various electrical power tools throughout the workshop.

"How did…how?"

"You're confused. I understand." The woman said. "The space craft is a hybrid of human and alien technology capable of interplanetary travel. The small device in the corner is now the world’s smallest and cleanest burning nuclear reactor."

"Where did they come from?"

"Where do you think?" The woman laughed. "I built them of course."

"You…you're infected!?"

"Yes, I am." She replied. "Tell me, does that change anything?"

The woman took a few steps closer and continued to speak.

"The part of me you see before you is named Dr. Amanda Madigan. It's all right if you just call me Amy."

"Lady." Blake said as he stepped back. "I'm going to call you a lot of things before I kill you."

"Really? Amy chuckled. "Captain Blake, have you really looked at your situation?"


"Your friends are dead, this facility is nothing but frozen wreckage, I used the few remained vehicles to build my own craft, and even if you return to civilization your own kind will kill you anyway."

"Then what the hell do you want from me!?" Blake demanded. "Why not just kill me like the rest!?"

"I'd like a chance to explain that." Amy replied.

Amy directed him to a card table in the corner of the room. Two chairs were tucked underneath it, each facing the other. A cast iron coffeepot, a hot plate on which the coffeepot rested, a basket of various pastries, and two empty mugs sat on top of the rickety table. Amy pulled a chair out and seated herself.

"Please, sit down." Amy asked.

Blake sat down in the other chair and looked at her intently. She reached over and picked the pot up and poured the steaming contents into her own cup. Then she did the same with Blake's cup as well. Blake glanced down at the now full coffee cup and then back at her.

"I think not." Blake snarled.

"Don't worry, none of the food here is contaminated." Amy said. "I promise."

"Oh, you promise." Blake replied. "Well hell! That makes it all better then!"

"Captain Blake, please. I'm here to answer your questions."

"Okay then, just what the hell are you?"

"I'm a creature of science." Amy began. "Just as your people create tools for specific jobs, the race that created me designed me for certain tasks. Your machines are made of iron and wood, theirs are flesh and bone."

"And just what is your 'task'?"

"The collection of various species from across all of existence. Among my race there are two types of us. Receivers and Collectors. It's rather obvious what I am. The receivers mimic all the species we collect. Even now those who I came into contact with are being copied. Complete social, political, ethnic, and historical knowledge being relayed and recorded by the scientific community of my home world."

"I don't care why you're here." Blake stated. "I have to kill you. I can't allow you to make it to a major continent."

"Ah, still worried about that I see." Amy said. "It doesn't matter."

"How so?"

"We are quite alike, you and I. We both have rules that must be followed and procedures that must be adhered to. You see; the amount of time I am allowed to spend on a world is directly proportional to its size. For earth, I'm allowed four months, from first infection, to collect species until I must stop and leave. This is to prevent long lasting damaged to a planet's ecosystem."

Amy took a sip of coffee and paused for a moment. See studied him for a minute or so before speaking again.

"Captain Blake, may I ask you something?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"I just want to know your first name." Amy said. "I feel a bit silly calling you Captain all the time."


"Thank you, Robert." Amy said. "Please, ask your next question."

He hesitated for a moment and looked at the cup in front of him again. He couldn't remember when he had eaten last. Blake picked the cup and brought it to his lips. He took a few good swallows and set it back down. Robert waited for over a minute, yet nothing happened.

"See?" Amy smiled.

"Point taken." Robert said. "Now, what is it you want with me? Why are you telling me all this?"

Slowly, the smile faded from Amy's face. She looked down at her feet for a long while before answering.

"Loneliness is a terrible thing. I didn't know just how terrible until I came to this world. Laying in that ice field…I just…I just can't take that again…I won't, ever."

Amy stood up from her chair and stepped closer to him. Robert stood up as well. He had only been upright for a few seconds before his head began to swim. The world around him swirled out of control. He glared at the ever approaching figure.

"Damn! Wh…what did you do!?"

"I must confess. I have lied to you in a way." Amy said. "The coffee you drank was laced with a small amount of valium, morphine, and other numbing agents. Quite harmless really, but very incapacitating. It's better this way in any case. It will make your ascension much less painful."

"Damn you!"

Blake charged straight at her, not caring about his fate. In his drugged state he had no hope of winning. Amy grabbed hold of him and placed him in a bear hug. Time stood still for Blake as their faces hovered inches from one another. He wondered how he would die. Would she tear him apart right now or toy with him a little more?

"There is one difference between the two of us." Amy whispered. "You consider your life forfeit, I don't. My life has always been the most important priority. It's my instinct. I can't help what I'm doing to you. I simply must do it to survive."

Suddenly she pressed her lips to his own. A thick and bitter fluid filled his mouth. Robert tried to gag but instead swallowed a good amount of the vile liquid. It burned on the way down his throat and stomach. Captain Blake tried to shove Amy away and promptly fell flat on his back instead.

A small tear appeared in the back of Amy's sweater. A tendon probed its way out and being gently swaying around in the air above her head. More and more found their way out of the hole in her back. The tendons increased in number until there were at least two dozen swaying and fluttering softly around her. A bit of clear gel hung from the corner of her mouth. Amy brushed the sleeve of her shirt across her mouth and quickly whisked it away.

"I know you find my true appearance frightening, even revolting at times." Amy Said. "However, soon you will find it quite beautiful and natural, just as you will find your new existence quite comforting as well."

"Oh, God…why?"

"You still don't understand, do you?" Amy said. "I could have absorbed you like the others, but I haven't. I could have left you for dead or simply killed you, yet here you are. Just think about this one thing. Why did I design my new craft with the ability to hold two occupants instead of just one?"

Robert could feel something moving around inside of him. The strange thing was he knew it was a part of him, it was him. The tendons growing out of Amy's back began to wrap around his body. More and more grouped around him and slowly began to cocoon his form.

"I forgot to tell you how my race reproduces." Amy said. "Genetic infection of a host organism. Unlike standard infection, this takes much longer. This ensures survival of the host's mind. Soon you will be my equal, no stronger and no weaker. Very soon, we shall both share the same goals and ideals."

Robert tried to talk, to scream, to make any kind of noise. Instead he generated a light gurgling sound and nothing more.

"I have wasted three months of my time here. Now, with you at my side, I'm sure we should be able to make up for the time I lost. You are quite an intelligent creature, I'm sure your knowledge will aid the both of use quite well in the work ahead."

Amy knelt down next him and couldn't help smiling. With the huge mass of tendons covering him, only a small portion of his face was still exposed now. One ear was still uncovered and Amy traced her finger along it for a short while.

"If you can still hear me, I want you to know you haven't lost. In a way, you have done what you set out to do." Amy whispered in his ear. "I shall leave this world in exactly three weeks time. Yes, I…we will claim a great many species before we go, but the human race and earth as a whole will survive unchanged. Isn’t that what you wanted?"

A feeling of contentment overtook her as Amy watched the mass of flesh and tendons lose shape. It would take about an hour for the process to finish. Then they could be on their way. She smiled at how things had worked out so well the second time. Amy curled up on the floor next to her soon to be companion and whispered to herself.

"No other creatures I have to fight off. No panicked men with shotguns and flame-throwers to disrupt my work. No stray bullet to strike down my mate before I'm finished. No, my love, it's just the two of us now. Forever…"



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