“Shelley!” I burst into the room, only to see her cornered by what looked like a man wearing all black clothes. But if that was a human head, I was blind: it wasn’t skin and it wasn’t bone. What was it? I thought at first maybe plastic. That would explain a lot. But no, it looked far harder – some sort of metal or something.
“Kill him,” it said, turning that terrible face to me. I stepped back as the Management turned to face me.
“No, wait, you don’t understand,” I said desperately. “I’m not your enemy! I’m one of the doctors here. I’ve known about all this for as long as I’ve worked here, it wasn’t a secret…” Stretching the truth a little, but if it saved Michelle’s life it would be worth it.
The Management turned their heads to one side, as though thinking. “He killed one of our people before he came here. Her body lies below, broken and unable to move. She will be remembered.”
“She was going to kill me first!” I objected, seeing Shelley look at me as though I’d betray her. “I didn’t mean to. It was self-defence, I never thought…” Now the awful thing turned to look at me, distracted from its original prey. Which was, of course, the point. I wanted to motion for Michelle to escape but there was no way I could without being seen. I just mouthed to her, “I’ll follow,” and turned to face the wrath of the creature.
“Is this true, human?” it asked.
I didn’t reply, instead preferring to respond with a question of my own. “Are you going to kill Michelle? She’s done nothing wrong. She’s put up with you all for years and years, never trying to do you harm. You can’t kill her.”
“We weren’t going to,” it replied. “But my people are lonely, and they are hungry. The girl would be ideal. She is young, strong – she understands us. Yes, we will take her with us.”
“To eat?” Oh, Shelley, too curious to just run. Why couldn’t she leave? I’d told her to, after all. Not in as many words but close enough. And she was my patient.
“No, not to eat. To be our queen.”