The Better Man

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know I had it in me. Well actually, I guess I don’t. It was Chompy who brought out my inner singer.

That isn’t all he’s brought, however. As the first musical number to leave my lips came to a close, I could see his little plan forming. My time’s more or less run out, I’m no longer losing control, I’ve lost it. To him, I’m just a little voice inside my own head. Our tables have full-heartedly turned. And now he’s got cannibalism on the horizon. I don’t know if I’ll get my body back, but I do know I will never let it consume a person and certainly not a living one.

Something awakened inside Chompy’s control when he saw Samantha. Some kind of hatred or rage that entirely clouded me out. Makes sense. Nothing dominates a mind more completely than anger. She and him have since been in the middle of an intense staring contest. Between us, her zombie offspring, and behind us, Womble and Alice. I’ve never known tension quite like this.

Still, with his attention pretty much focused, I wonder what I can get away with in here. He’s been in here a while, but I doubt he knows the true potential of a Timelord’s brain.

“Do you apologise?”

Hearing Chompy speak through me now sounds like I’m hearing it next door. I wish he’d at least try and put on a voice; hearing your own voice make death threats is a whole new realm of unsettling. But I can still hear Samantha, at least.

“Apologise for what?”

“For us!”

I imagine he’s pointing at his fellow undead right now. I’d offer more detail, but right now I’m as much use as a guy locked in an empty prison. It’s seriously dark in here, and quite large. But I’m a Minecraft player, as we know. I’ll go through an underworld of darkness to find the diamonds.

Samantha sniffs. “You’re all just a part of the research process. You, in particular, are quite promising, however. I would very much likely to examine you.”

“Great idea. You can examine my stomach, for at start. Up close.”

Ooh, I’ve found…nope, these are just memories of famous birds of prey. Why do I know this stuff?

“Your personality does not match my husband’s. And although you’re not much to look at, you still look better than these ones.”

THAT was a lot of anger at once. It suddenly got quite hot in here. I think I’ve got moments before I’ll be made to break the number one taboo of the culinary world. Come on, Experience. Give me SOMETHING.

“Do you even care what you’ve done?! Are you so selfishly blind that you forget that these were real people?”

“People are just a virus. I’m using that to my advantage, and making a new one.”

You’ve succeeded there, Missus. Even waited long enough for Evolution to give it a conscience. Lucky me.

It’s getting unbearable in here now. The needle’s in the red, shaking, and the glass covering has cracked. Here comes Chompy’s Chernobyl.

With a roar somewhere between a wounded animal and a Big Daddy – again, didn’t know I had it in me – Chompy lunges towards Samantha. Teeth bared, no doubt, and eyes wide.

But I think I’ve found something in here. Not from my mind, though.

“EDWARD!”

I’ve shouted better things to calm a scene down, but…

Everything internal drops a few degrees. The red mist rises, helping me no end. The further it lifts, the more I can see of what Chompy left in here.

“Remember Edward, Chompy?”

Through our eyes, I can see Samantha a few feet away, apparently unfazed but still creepy enough to make Norman Bates in ‘mother mode’ look suitable for a TV advertisement. I’d like to give Womble a thumbs up, or something, I don’t think he can hear the “real me” right now. So, as ever, first things first.

If you’ve got a point, HH, I damn well suggest you make it. I’ve got a lot to do right now.

You’ve got a humane side to you, Chomps. I can’t believe I was stupid enough to miss it. No doubt an effect of having you in my head. But how else could a simple virus develop a conscience?

You don’t know what you’re-

If it was already bound to a human’s DNA.

That’s enough, HH.

She wasn’t just trying to bring the dead back to life for you. She was trying to bring you back. Every time.

Y’know, despite everything, I almost wish I could speak to congratulate Samantha on her skills. For a forty year old, sick, twisted meddler in all the wrong domains…she’s got vision. And gross determination. She’d make quite the Timelord.

Done, HH? If you’re done internalising a love letter, I’d like to rip the head off of your object of desire.

There’s bigger things at stake here, Edward, so I’ll ignore that.

Did she only make one batch? One huge vat of nothing but you and an abomination mixture of death-defiance? Determined of her, maybe, but rather short-sighted.

HH, I’m warning you.

But at least that explains your insanity-

Shut it!

-and loss of humanity.

“ENOUGH!”

Without even being able to see properly, I could feel the whole room flinch. I don’t know if he meant to say that out loud. But it does mean, of course, that’s it’s working.

Stop fighting it, Edward. So many failed bodies and then you meet me, someone with the brain power and a ridiculously stubborn nature to help you rediscover who you are. Don’t let this chance go to waste.

I was dead, HH. I don’t know how or why she brought me back, nor in this manner in particular. What she has done to me-

Crosses a line, yes. But, she’s your wife, Edward. Mad, defective, awful fashion sense, sure. But she acted out of love…I think. And partially hope.

Now. Drop the anger-hunger-zombie act, just for a sec. Let your Edward side back through.

If you insist…

What happened next, I don’t think anyone was ready for. Edward started screaming first, filling my head with his yells, when all of the other zombies in the room joined in. There was nothing but the noise, within and without, and the pain along with it. It went on for what felt like years.

WHAT…DID YOU DO…TO ME?!

What? I didn’t, I just wanted you to-

I am scattered across hundreds of others. Injured. Or dead. All of them…cannibals. Murderers. Monsters. And I am all of them. WHAT HAVE I DONE?! WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME?!

…Womble told me later that, for a few moments, he thought I was dying. Following some form of full body spasm, courtesy of Edward’s epiphany, I began to leak from the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Womble described it to me as ‘somewhere between blood and sand.’

This is where I returned. With a massive mental thump, I dropped into full consciousness again. Back in the driver’s seat. Although I felt ready to slip right back out of it again when my sanity tried to process what was in front of me.

Whatever this blood/sand was, it had left all the other zombies as well, now leaving behind a roomful of ugly, decaying and stinking corpses. Edward had been their life line, I suppose. I hope their second departure from life had been painless.

This blood/sand had then reformed. Standing between myself and Samantha was a red-dust statue of a man. It was tricky to discern particular features, but I could still swear that I had seen the dead version of its face not an hour beforehand.

“You’re a bastard, HH,” it said. “A low, conniving little asshole.”

Er…

“I saw into your mind, Timelord. I know you didn’t want my Chompy side to eat Samantha. Not in your body. Not the body of a man who would tear down my sanity, just for personal gain. She,” he jabs a red thumb over his shoulder, “is looking better than you, right now.”

That’s a bit extreme. Okay yeah, I took a gamble just then, but I didn’t make the virus. “I didn’t know that would happen.”

“Perhaps not. But I’ll bet on all the steaks in the universe, you don’t care, now that you’re cured.”

…dammit.

“Chompy…Edward, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you like that, I only wanted to-”

“‘Do the right thing’? We both know, better than most, sometimes there’s no such choice.”

(It’s the Rapture way of life.)

“You know, when I first met you, I thought I’d be damning a good man. One of purity. But, Timelord, I shall leave as the better man. Because after all I have done as Chompy, that is nothing compared to the past of ‘Homeless Helper’.”

“Farewell.”

…no matter how far I run, the Past always manages to find me…

The blood/sand Edward turns, to be face to face with his wife. God knows what might be crossing her mind right now. But, somehow, she looks happy. As ever, it’s not a good look for her.

“You wanted us to be together, Samantha.”

Chompy/Edward rushes her then, either in a hugging or tackling pose, I’m not sure which. She goes for a hug, herself, for a second or two. But as Edward reaches her, his blood/sand body disperses, absorbed straight into her eyes, nose, mouth and ears.

So, Samantha got the perfect, gruesome and ironic villain send off. I don’t actually know if Edward’s intention was murder, but his increased potency certainly reached that end. Samantha lasted less than five seconds after he disappeared; five seconds of being eaten from the inside. What was left of her, as it as collapsed inwards, managed a small scream. All that remained following that was a murky stain on the floor. I might have heard “I love you”, but it could have been the hush of the ashes falling. I am often mistaken.

Finally, I turn back to Womble and Alice. At last, it’s brilliant to look at them without the endless desire to chew on them. Both of them stare at me.

I shrug.

It’s pretty much all I’ve got.

HH*

*Oh yeah. It’s good to be back.

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