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The Plague Symbiote

Screams, so few lately, so valuable.

Wet guttural chokes of anguish spluttering against hard, drenched concrete. The arousing scent of brutalised fresh gore polluting the air. That's what is required. It’s time for some early morning exercise.

Down an alley, golden rain paints a rusty dumpster. The lowlifes of this city are easy prey. Weak, like the gurgling cry of this morning’s first victim. Pathetic. The continuous discharge of blood and plasma splashes the wall as it accumulates a cesspool about a nearby gutter where it belongs. The creature looks down at its weeping claws unsatisfied, a lacerated carcass at its feet.

12 AM. The store is on night shift. The street light outside flickers a little and an empty candy wrapper sweeps through the buggy automatic doors. The greasy, coffee stained cashier stares ahead. Its mind-numbing, lifeless gaze as depressing as the life span of the fly docking behind the unhinged, saliva swamped harbour.

The phlegmy gagging alarms something behind a distant, shadow-cast aisle and cans launch deafeningly in all directions.

"Ouch! Fuck!"

Faltering up from the floor and smacking his head against the gum congealed counter in shock, the flustered hominid skillfully maneuvers back into the solid racks behind him, knocking various items down onto his hollow skull.

"Agh! Shit! Aagh!"

As he rubs his head groaning, the surrounding lights start to gleam and pulsate inconsistently, blackening the environment entirely before returning it to its initial, comparatively blinding state. This clearly isn't a normal power outage but it seems there's obviously something more to be anxious about.

Groaning again, the cashier clumsily staggers over to the origin point of the disturbance, clutching his scalp. As he kneels to examine the brown pulpy mess on the floor, a twisting silhouette, sculpting the form of an edge catches the corner of his eye and he turns, a look of abject, sweaty paranoia on his face, to see just... blackness. He turns again. Total blackness. The lights had finally given out. He shivered, feeling a sort of... chilling presence... And some more cold, wet cat food splatters his forehead from the ceiling.

Feeling like a total bitch, gulping back the sensitivity of dread, the young cashier takes a breath, appropriating a laughable false sense of security. This must be what they do to all employees on their first night shift, right? Nice thought. His eyes begin to well up just as he turns the corner.

Flinching at lightning speed from a sharp hissing followed by a pair of white claws launching towards his face, the cashier ducks and screams, shooting his hands around his head. Shelves fall like dominoes, produce hits the floor, the ear-splitting shrieks continue.

A sudden moment of cold, dead silence passes.

Then a gentle purring emerges from behind and the pattering of small paws begins to approach. A regular sized tabby cat nudges its cute little ear into the cashier's side. He removes his elbow from his face to witness a pair of adorable, glowing, emerald eyes, tilting in sequence to a perfectly sincere meow. Our hero sighs with heart clutching relief as he reaches out to pet the little cat when his spinal cord crystallises into ice. A gulping breath fails to escape.

He identifies a darkened figure... a spindly, razor clawed hand placed gently on the tabby's head, softly combing the ginger fur. A bead of sweat trails down the cashier's temple as he stares, captured by a vision blurring lightheadedness. With a rock lodged in his throat, he ever so gradually begins to peer upwards, optics wide, fixed dead ahead as he comes face to face with two large, stark white eyes, pure and texture-less, continuously shifting and swirling in shape within a base colour of obscurity and shadow, morphing like thick liquid... like blood... No sound... No ambiance save the steady, slowed reverberation of two beating hearts, one constricting in agony. On the floor.

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