“What do you mean he stole you? He kidnapped you or something.”
“Yeah, well the first time, but he thought he was saving me. He didn’t understand about my dad. I tried to keep Mike and his friends out of the way, but they were stubborn.”
“Wait, what does this have this have to do with Miskatonic?”
“I’m… kind of not exactly entirely human. Technically I guess I’m a chimera. Like I have three parents, but not really. It’s complicated.”
“I’ll bet.” Glory responded dryly, raising an eyebrow.
Gozala sighed. “Mike was doing undergrad work for Miskatonic, only they didn’t tell him what they were looking for, which was really kind of shady on their part. He and his friends found me, or rather, I found them, and I tried to steer them clear of my dad, but that didn’t work out so well. It’s not like my dad’s bad.” She hastened to add. “He just doesn’t get the whole, people have rights and feelings thing. My mom was a special case. He didn’t usually let people live long enough to get to know them. They were more useful to him as bodies.”
“Bodies for what?”
“Well, he’s kind of… a fungus. A slime mold actually… from, um… outer space…”
Mike literally collapse into the chair, gasping. Gozala glared at him. After a moment, Glory realized he was laughing.
“It’s true!” She insisted in a tone that said she’d had this argument before. “He told me so. He’s been under the pine barrens for thousands of years! He needs bodies to inhabit so he can move around and learn stuff. It’s not funny, Mike!” She slapped at his arm angrily.
“Well Mike grabbed me while I was unconscious thanks to one of his friends and took off. He thought he was saving me. Then he called up his professor from a motel and told him what happened. I was just coming around when they all got there, but right away they were trying to inject me with something to make me go back to sleep. When they finally got me knocked out again, they took me back to Miskatonic and kept me for observation.” Gozala made air quotes around the last word. “But see, when they were drugging me at the motel, I kind of knocked the needle out before they could hit the plunger and Mike got scratched with it because they made him hold me down. So he kind of got… infected… with a very tiny bit of my blood.”
Mike made that dry, rattling sigh again and Gozala placed a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t really blame Mike. He’s a really nice guy. Those Miskatonic freaks need a good smack down though. They kept me for weeks and jabbed me and examined me like I wasn’t even human, and I totally am, just a bit… extra. They didn’t even give me anything to do or talk to me like I was a person. It was like being in a prison cell. I just had a bed and a toilet which I didn’t use cause after a couple days, they decided I didn’t need food. Which I kind of didn’t really, but it’s just… you know, the principle of the thing, right? But I was kind of grateful after a while that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom where they could watch. It was totally… dehumanizing.”
“I really hate those guys, you know?” she said after a pause, and Glory had to nod. She didn’t think she’d fare much better in the tender care of Miskatonic University. And to think, when she’d still been considering college, she’d applied there. If her mother hadn’t talked her out of taking loans when the scholarships hadn’t come through, it would have been her first choice.
“It took Mike a while to realize he didn’t have the flu or something and more time to figure out how to get me out of there, and by then, well… it’s getting worse. But if they get us, I doubt they’ll help Mike. They’ll just ‘observe’ him to death. They’re really not nice people. They act like they’re fighting this war for the human race, but they have to share the world same as any creature, and I mean, no offense, but human people have totally run roughshod over the whole planet. The human race sucks. My dad’s not mobile, so it’s not like he’s taking anyone outside of his territory. He’s actually very conservative. It’s just… anyone that gets too close to where he is, he takes them. Though I think he’s gotten a bit more aggressive since I came along but… I think he mostly used to take animals before I came to stay with him.”
Glory wouldn’t really call Gozala a monster no matter what her pedigree was. All considered, she seemed pretty normal. Her father on the other hand, well, Glory couldn’t fault Gozala for being defensive of her parent, but that didn’t mean she’d want to shake his hand… or whatever hand he happened to be using. “But that’s understandable because he has a child to look out for.” She turned her attention to Mike instead, “So…. you’re dying then?” Glory asked. “And you’re looking for books that will tell you how to fix this… infection?”
“He’s… sort of… already dead,” Gozala answered. “No pulse. Even if we could somehow get the infection out of his body, I think that would kill him. My dad goes through bodies pretty fast in the summer because it’s hot and they, um, spoil. But one body can last him all winter if he doesn’t come in the house too much. I mean, the only reason my dad can’t stay in one body forever is because it gets too hot. The body gets preserved a little bit from him inhabiting it, but eventually it just… can’t be used any more.” She said this with some embarrassment, glancing at Mike, but he made no indication that he heard. He was obviously already aware of his predicament.”It’s… not a good sign that he’s lost his vocal cords already though. He’s not even telepathic like my dad, so it’s a good thing he can still use a pencil and paper.”
Glory sighed and looked behind her to the dark hallway. “You don’t have to worry about Miskatonic. They can’t come in.”
“Why not? Is it because of how you made a big deal about us getting in?”
“Yeah. I have protection all over the house. That they know you’re here is bad and we can’t change that, but the reason they’re still out there is probably because they can’t get any closer.”
“But they could be waiting for backup or something…” Gozala argued.
“Maybe, but they’ve been out there for a couple hours, and it’s pretty cold. I think if they could, they would have tried to get in already. Their backup could have come and gone already or be out there watching the house from other angles. Some of my wards are made to distract, so they’re no good any more since they already know you’re here. Others are made to increase fear in my enemies, and since you’re under my roof, you’re protected by them too. Your enemies are my enemies so long as you’re under my protection.”
“Wish I’d had some of those wards around our cabin.” Gozala announced. She considered a moment, then asked, “But what about when we want to leave?”
“I guess you could try to get away in the dark, but I think it’d be easier to do it during the day. They’re not going to risk snatching you in public. In the morning, I’ll go out and confront them in their car. You come out maybe five minutes after me and go to your car.”
Gozala looked surprised, then grateful and relieved. Glory couldn’t see Mike’s face under his hood, but he nodded after a moment, his hand absently stroking the table before he turned back to the page he had been reading. No sense wasting time in idle chitchat she supposed. She went back to her chair and resumed reading as well. Gozala did not seem inclined to return to the television in the other room however. Instead, she went over to the long window which looked out on the back yard and sat down beside it, drawing her knees up to her chin.
to Book 3, page 6