“Did you see what that thing did to Charles? No one leaves this room! It could be anywhere!” The man shouted, holding a laser rifle in his hands.
The other three looked at each other. One slicked back his hair, before holding up a placating gesture.
“Okay…okay, look…put that down. We should be safe in here.”
Another, dressed in a white coat, leaned down and looked at the corpse, using a rag to turn it over. An open rib cage stared back at them, devoid of organs or even blood.
“I’ve never seen anything that could do this. Not even a Neptunian eats this fast. It looks more like something crawled out.”
“How long do you think it was in there?” the fourth man asked from his chair while staring at the corpse, not looking away even when speaking.
“I said it looks like it. I’m not sure.”
“No, but it would make sense wouldn’t it? Charles was acting weird yesterday. You said something about walking in on him, Thomas?” the man in the chair said.
“Yeah…looking at a wall. I thought it was loneliness or something.”
Slicking back his hair again, the man moved over to the others and sat down on the floor. “Well it’s out now, and who knows where it could have gone. We should call in the company, there’s enough food to last us till then.”
“Abram’s right. The one month wait would not be that bad. We’ve dealt with worse,” Thomas said, shining a pen light up into the neck cavity.
“What if it’s in here?” the man in the chair said, finally looking away.
“What do mean, Yu?” Thomas asked.
Yu stood up and looked at the man with the rifle, ignoring the others. “It stayed in Charles that whole time, eating him out, waiting, and we never noticed. How could we? He acted so very normal…except that one time. How easy would it be for it to take another person? Tell me John, did you see anything?”
John’s trigger finger tightened, and he looked at Thomas, the barrel swinging subtly in the direction of the others. Yu sat back down and shrugged.
“Did anyone see anything? When we found Charlie?” Abram asked.
“No…I just heard screaming. And I came running,” John said.
“Same,” Thomas said.
“Same,” Yu said.
There was a long pause. No one moved. The sound of the ship around them gave the room its only sound: a deep, echoing pulse.
With noiseless steps Yu walked over to John, putting his back to the others. The two stood there for a few seconds, unmoving. The rifle passed hands, and Yu pumped the cocking mechanism.
“So I guess the question is…who got here first?”
Special thanks to: Collin Pearman, Dylan Alexander, Jerry Banfield, Michael The Comic Nerd, Pulsatilla Pratensis, and Zeony.
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