I had a dream about parasites the other day. Yes, I know. Feel free to grimace.
It had one memorable scene and the rest is information delivered in an inner dialogue.
The parasites weren't Passengers, (a fictional species of parasite from the Void I thought up) but sickly yellow creatures about the size of rats that looked like pale, plump maggots with armored centipede legs and several oozing black eyes set across their blobby faces. They didn't seem to have any vocal apparatuses or mouths made for speech, but spoke anyway, either telepathically or through hosts.
But they didn't start out this way. I don't remember how exactly they began or where from, but I know their beginning is a slow, laborious one that doesn't originate on this world. I imagine they might travel through the air in spores, or come in through dimensional rifts and ride down onto the lands in raindrops as storms pass and gather.
Their first form is a small amount of shredded-looking yellowish flesh that somehow enters here from wherever it came from and later the body of a human or animal, bonding like netting to their nervous system and DNA. Unlike the Passengers, these entities can eventually take full control of their host at will, not just during REM sleep. But it takes some time. From hours to days to weeks, it varies.
They wrap around the brain and spinal cord, but also begin to encase the victim in that same sulfur-colored flesh as it seeps out of their pores. They can grow beyond the body and attach to objects, creating an intricate biological structure shaped by their own desires. An image entered my mind to accompany this notion: a revolting, speckled clump of skin having draped itself across a statue of St. Francis of Assisi in a courtyard somewhere. Then a voice said, "He takes care of all the little animals. Now we'll take care of you."
In time they may effectively remake their host's physiology into an insane, deformed abomination, eroding everything human from the inside out. However, these creatures also have unique personalities of their own and might spare what their host values most...just to be nice.
There were three characters in this dream, not counting me, as I only observed from an outside perspective as though watching a movie.
One was a “female” parasite with a playful and somewhat human-like personality. Alternately vindictive and friendly, depending on her mood.
The other was a woman who had slowly and surely become a host to this entity. I can't remember why or how long it took.
And the third, her boyfriend, who struggled to unknown results to rid her of this scourge and preserve her fading humanity.
The couple's names were Holly and Paul. I have dubbed the parasite Cirona for some odd reason. Once she said in her cheerful, girlish voice, “Love you, Holly!” As though they had been friends for years and not forcibly and hideously bonded.
Paul tried to talk Cirona into letting Holly go, but she argued back in a sickening-sweet croon, saying that being part of her and “the family” would be the best thing that ever happened to them.
These entities are part of a hive-like mind but still with individual thoughts. They are always seeking new minds and bodies to add to their repertoire and listen to a much larger creature that is rarely seen. A Queen?
I also got the impression they had taken over nearly an entire town , infecting its residents and cutting them off from the outside world. And they planned to keep spreading once everyone in town had been apprehended.
The sharpest scene I remember happened in a small but elegant church. The stained glass windows let in barely any light, and the altar and crucifix suspended above bristled with crab-like appendages, pulsating blobs of the parasite, and several pairs of long, bony clawed hands that restrained Holly by the arms. The entire thing seemed to sprout from her back and head, a disturbing thing to see anywhere, let alone in a church.
Candles and other objects flickered on nearby banquet tables, as though someone were preparing a ceremonial dinner. The place was deserted if not for humans and parasite.
Holly was a woman of average height and long, straight black hair. She wore a black shirt and jeans which were frayed at the edges. She still retained most of her personality, still bore these features despite the scraps of foreign matter that clung to her like fungus, and was giving it her all to resist.
“Let me go! Let me go! Get your hands OFF ME!” She shrieked, flailing in the creature's grip that was somehow her own at the same time.
Cirona giggled in response, and a questing insectile leg the size of a pencil poked mockingly from the back of Holly's head before vanishing in again. The massive pairs of hands were mottled and gray, tipped with claws and gaunt like a skeleton's. They seemed to be coming not only from Holly but the writhing mass on the altar.
Paul stood near shadowed pews and viewed the blasphemy that filled the sanctuary with a disgusted look on his face, but dared to venture closer.
“You are no fun, Paulie.” Cirona said. She raised Holly's arm in a dramatic wave, playing with her as though she were merely a toy, a meat puppet. “But we can be friends, can't we? We can be great friends.”
Paul didn't say anything. He just stood there, trembling with rage. He fiddled with the hem of his green sports jacket and his dark eyes narrowed and widened constantly.
Holly stopped fighting for a moment but tried to make her bare feet touch the floor. Perhaps she was thinking of grabbing on to the table leg with her feet and knocking it over to cause a distraction.
A previously idle pair of hands came down instantly, claws outstretched, and Paul screamed, “no! Don't hurt her!” Instead, the dark morbidity of this situation weakened a bit when the hands, instead of attacking and rending with their claws, began to tickle Holly's stomach. She tried unsuccessfully not to laugh and struggled wildly, and the parasite's taunts were so absurd and out of context that I almost remembered I was dreaming. Almost. It should have been funny, and it kinda was, but mostly it was just creepy.
I suddenly got a view of the inside of someone's skull with the brain inside. Nestled in a hollow in the very center of it, something unnatural, presumably a parasite quivered. Thin tubes and strands of stuff that looked sort of like pasta connected it to the surface tissue like ivy scaling a rock.
I still heard Holly laughing and Cirona joined her.
Then the dream flashed back to the previous scene.
A few moments later, Cirona fell out from the back of Holly's head and skittered to the floor on those grotesque, agile centipede legs. Paul stepped closer in a threatening way but had no weapon.
“I wonder where the priest is.” Cirona said.
The priest was no longer human but he probably still professed to do God's work, something told me. A lot of these creatures pretended to assume their host's roles in life or even found enjoyment in these new experiences. Perhaps this was how they placated outsiders that managed to enter this town.
Cirona turned to Holly, who was still trapped in the mound of flesh despite being separated from her parasite. She said something like, “We might do this again sometime, after dinner.”
Paul's voice trembled when he asked, “dinner?”
The mood was sinister again.
I woke up.