Katie frowned as she pulled into her apartment complex, seeing the red and blue lights of a police car illuminating the stucco walls of the surrounding buildings. She hoped nobody had gotten seriously hurt. She made her way past the front parking lot, seeing that there were lots of lights; something really serious must have happened.
It wasn't until she rounded the corner into the rear parking lot and saw the vehicles all clustered around her and Mary's building that her heart dropped into her stomach. Katie pulled her car into the first available spot and just stared out her window. They were all crowded around their end of the building, that was for sure. It looked to be four cop cars, and... a SWAT van?
"Good God, sister, what did you do?" Katie asked as she opened her purse and rummaged for her cell phone. She dialed both her number and Mary's, but neither phone even rang, it just gave a "your call cannot be completed as dialed" message. Katie sighed and leaned back in the seat, wondering what she could do. Could she wait it out, maybe check into a hotel? Only for a day or two at most; once she changed back into boobzilla Mary was pretty much the only person who wouldn't run screaming from her. Or maybe towards her, she thought, blanching at the prospect of someone finding waist-length boobs irresistible. Katie looked at the steering wheel and held her arms up in front of her, realizing that with her monstrous bosom's girth she probably wouldn't even be able to reach the wheel once she changed back.
"Hrrrraagh..." Katie muttered as she got out of her car, shutting the door softly so as to not attract any attention. How was she going to get into Mary's with the police in front of it? All the doors and windows were front-facing. But then again, Katie thought as she walked between the two buildings, those tentacles were pretty strong- maybe Mary could make her a back door or something.
Katie edged her way behind their apartment building, glad to get off the concrete where her heels made a rather conspicuous clicking. She made her way back across the rear of the building, passing the fist two units before freezing at a man's barked orders. Katie spun to see a man in a bulletproof vest, a shotgun against his shoulder and leveled at her.
"Hands above your head!" The officer barked as he stood near the tree line, and Katie dropped her purse to the ground and raised her hands high.
"Dispatch, got an african-american woman around back of the suspect's complex, please advise," He said into his shoulder-mounted walkie-talkie. The radio squawked and some garbled words came out, that rapid-fire staccato of acronyms and police codes that only Police could seemingly make heads or tails of, though Katie was able to make out the words "detain" and "lieutenant."
"Ten-four, dispatch," The officer said, never taking his eyes off her. "Turn around and get down on your knees!" He yelled, and Katie quickly complied, wondering for the hundredth time what on earth Mary had done to earn this kind of reaction. She worried about what the Body could have done had it taken complete control of Mary; she'd seen Mary at a rather huge size, and given the Flesh's indestructible nature there wasn't a whole lot they could probably do to her.
"Lay down with your hands behind your head!" The officer barked again, and Katie complied, hearing the pine needles crunch under the footsteps of the officer as he approached. Katie was so concerned with Mary that she didn't even protest the indignity of being handcuffed; all she wanted to do was make sure Mary was okay. The police couldn't hurt her, of that she was nearly certain, but the Body, if it somehow took over...
"So is there anything left of you in there? Where's 'Mary'?" Katie heard in her head, fretting about what the answer was now.
"What'cha got?" A voice from her right said, and Katie turned her head to see another officer with a shotgun coming down the treeline towards them.
"Someone sneaking around to the back of the suspect's apartment," The first officer said as he go up off of Katie's back. "Gonna take her to the lieutenant."
"Rodger," The second officer said. "Need help getting her up?"
"Sure, take an arm," The first officer said, transferring his weapon to his other hand. Katie's heart raced as she wound up with the barrel of a twelve-gauge pointing at her spine, but remained still.
"We're gonna pick you up now, all right?" The first officer said. "Get your feet under you."
Katie pulled her legs up to her stomach as the officers hoisted her to her feet, her ankle rolling slightly as one of her heels slipped off, but the officer on her right caught her before she could slip all the way down.
"...Can you get my purse?" She asked.
"Sure," The second officer said, bending down and snatching her purse up by the straps. They led Katie back around to the parking lot, marching her straight past the police cordon and to the largest knot of officers. Katie saw nearly a dozen bulletproof-vest-wearing uniformed officers lined up looking at the apartment uneasily, and another knot of them gathered around the side door of the large van.Poking out above the sea of navy blue uniforms was a single plainclothes officer, wearing a tan suit and a green tie, talking into a telephone whose cord ran back inside the van.
"...and I'm telling you, I don't *care* what protocols or forms you have to go through, just *do* it. There are lives on the line here, if she wanted to talk to Mars I'd have you patch me through to NASA! What? ...Yes, I'll hold."
Katie was brought before the man on the phone, who cupped his hand over the mouthpiece and looked at the first officer. "Who's this?" He asked.
"Caught her creeping around the suspect's place," The officer replied.
"What's your story?" The lieutenant said, more bored than anything else but still visibly on edge. Katie wondered how long he'd been here.
"I-I'm just trying to get back to my apartment," Katie said.
"Got ID on her?" He asked the second officer, who was rummaging through Katie's purse.
"Wallet," The officer replied, handing the lieutenant Katie's wallet as he emptied Katie's purse an item at a time onto the trunk of a cruiser. The lieutenant flipped the wallet open, finding her driver's license and reading it. He pulled back a bit, looking slightly perplexed, his eyes darting to Katie's.
"Katie Green?" He asked.
"Yes?" Katie replied, hoping it was the right answer.
"Well, you've just become a lot more- Yes, this is lieutenant Jefferies," he said, cutting off in mid-sentence to continue his phone conversation. "Uh huh. Right. Who is that, again?" He asked, looking from the notepad he had on a shelf in the van to Katie and back. "Take her cuffs off," He whispered to the first officer, and he got his key out and started to work on Katie's cuffs.
"Yes, fine, have them call as soon as possible," He said, pulling a cell phone out of his pocket and flipping it open. As he gave the number to call, Katie rubbed her wrists, glad to be free of them. The lieutenant shut his cell phone and handed it to Katie, who for her part just stared at it before looking back up at the Lieutenant. The lieutenant shook the phone at Katie twice, his eyes fiery for a split second as he talked on the phone. Katie took the phone and held it cupped in her hands, not sure what she was supposed to do with it.
The lieutenant finally hung up with the phone and walked to the line of police cars, picking up a bullhorn off the hood of one of the cruisers. "Okay, Mary, we've got someone from the CDC on the line. And Katie's here, too, she's gonna bring you the phone!"
Katie's mouth popped open as she looked at her apartment, surprised to hear Mary's voice come out of it.
"Katie? She's here?" her voice yelled out, though slightly muffled and indistinct.
"She's right here, and we're gonna send her right over, but first we need you to send out one of our officers," The lieutenant said. "We've been very patient."
"How do I know Katie's really here?" Mary yelled back.
"She's right here next to me," The lieutenant said. "Just look out your window."
"No, bring her to the door!"
"We can't do that until we know our officers are safe..." The Lieutenant said.
"Fine, just bring her close! If I can see her through the peep-hole, I'll send out an officer!"
The lieutenant dropped the bullhorn and put a hand to his face, his breath fogging in the cool evening air.
"Any luck?" He asked one of the officers standing next to him.
"Nothing," He replied. "Whatever that green stuff is we can't get through it. "The only way we're getting in there is if she lets us."
"What *is* that stuff?" The lieutenant fumed, looking at Katie as if only just noticing she was still there.
"Call's gonna come any minute," he said, looking at his watch. "Okay, you and Nguyen go with her to the door. Try and hang back as far as possible, but do whatever it takes to get that door open." He stared hard at Katie. "And *you*, you do whatever you can to help. If someone dies in there because you try to be cute I'll see to it you're locked away for life." The two officers took positions behind each of Katie's shoulders, and she swallowed hard.
"Go!" The lieutenant hissed.
Katie began to slowly walk towards the apartment, the two SWAT members' sub-machine guns held beside her. Her awkward one-heeled gait made the journey all the more intimidating, and as she approached the door, the ringing of the cell phone startled her enough to make her nearly drop it.
"Let it ring," Nguyen whispered, never taking his eyes off the front door. "He'll stay on until she picks it up."
Katie nodded and continued on, until the other SWAT member clamped his hand on Katie's shoulder.
"That's far enough," He said. "Call her."
"M-Mary?" Katie called out, her voice squeaking from nervousness. "Mary, honey? You there?"
"Katie?" Mary called out. "Is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me, honey," Katie replied. "Can, uh, can you come to the door? The phone's ringing. I think it's the CDC."
There was no response. Katie looked at the front door, noticing that there were a couple round indentations around the lock, like the door had been pulverized but it hadn't moved an inch.
The constant ringing of the cell phone amid a sea of silence caused Katie to sweat, not knowing what would happen or even what Mary would look like if and when she opened the door.
The door broke into chunks, the sound barely registering before Katie saw a surging mass of tentacles reaching for her, entwining her, and pulling her bodily towards the apartment. She barely heard a "The hell?!" from one of the SWAT members as they dove out of the way, and then she was airborne, thrown onto a mat of green tentacles as the doorway filled again, the individual pieces of door joined back together and sealed tight until it was indistinguishable from the rest of the wall of green tentacles surrounding her.
"M-Mary?" Katie asked as she got to her feet, looking around at what used to be her apartment. What used to be *an* apartment.
"Oh my God, Katie, I'm so glad you're here!" Mary's voice came, though Katie could not see Mary. She had a slight sense of vertigo as she stood there, as the entire room seemed to be pulsating slightly, the floors and walls writhing in a sickening manner.
"Mary?" Katie asked. "Mary, where are you? What the hell happened?"
"I'm right here," Mary replied, and Katie saw a lump of tentacles racing across the ground, coming to the wall and climbing up it without so much as slowing down. It reminded Katie strangely of Bugs Bunny burrowing through the ground, the way the lump seemed to travel under the mat of tentacles without ever slowing down or actually displacing anything.
"Here, where?" Katie pleaded. "It sounds like the whole room is talking!"
The lump paused as it made its way across the ceiling. "Oh... sorry," It said as it began to swell and drip down from the ceiling. It detached from the ceiling and fell, something vaguely Mary-shaped rising and shaping from the lump on the floor. "I'm still getting used to this."
Katie stared agog at Mary. Her torso was more or less intact, save for the rather large breasts- all four of them- and the four arms coming from her sides. Her actual arms were only humanoid until the elbows, after which they split into three drooping tentacles. Her legs, such as they were, looked like a tangle of creeping ivy, a writhing trunk of flesh. Perhaps most disquieting was her face, though- without mouth, ears, or nose, the only feature on her was her eyes, a pair of pale green orbs looking at her forlornly.
"What the-" Katie started, before Mary darted forward and wrapped herself around Katie, her tentacles twining the two of them together tightly. Katie's first reaction was to pull away, but Mary had wrapped her so tightly she could barely get her hands around to Mary's back.
"Oh, Katie, I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do!" Mary yelled, though the question of how she was talking without a mouth passed by Katie without thought, the least disturbing question in a sea of insanity.
"Mary, Mary!" Katie yelled, trying to keep her cool. "What. Happened!" She wriggled her shoulders, trying to get some slack in the tentacle bindings that surrounded her. "And turn human for God's sake, you're freaking me out."
"Oh..." Mary said, withdrawing from Katie and looking down at herself. "I thought I... um, nevermind..." She said as she continued her metamorphosis, her skin turning back into something flesh-colored and her features assembling themselves into something humanoid. "...Is this okay?" She asked.
Katie cocked her head to the side, her brow furrowing. It looked Mary-like, but it was off slightly, her cheekbones a little too pronounced, her breasts a little too large, her skin a little more tan than normal. "'Okay'?" Katie repeated. "Mary... you're supposed to look like you."
"And this isn't it?" Mary asked, quietly.
Katie blinked and kind of shook her head. "You don't know...?"
"I, uh... kinda forgot..."
Katie shook her head again. "Honey, what happened here?"
Mary related her meeting with the police, Shandra's kicking, and her subsequent eating the two officers.
"I went out there, and I saw the car, and I heard the radio talking about them, and then I ate it, I just *ate* it, and I went inside and I ate and ate and ate and at some point I just sorta... felt weird."
"Weird?" Katie asked, shaking her head.
"I just, sorta, kept eating, and growing, and the tentacles kept pouring out of me, and they were eating, and at some point everything just sorta got fuzzy, and I wasn't me anymore, I was... everything. I didn't have eyes, or hands, I was just... everywhere."
"Did you really eat... everything?" Katie asked. "Where's Shandra?"
"Oh, *her*," Mary sneered, and Katie saw her teeth lengthen into fangs. "Yeah, she's up there," She said, looking to the writhing ceiling. Katie looked up as well, and gasped as she saw Shandra lowered through the ceiling. Shandra looked as though she'd been crucified by the tentacles, her feet bound together and her wrists lashed to the ceiling. Tentacles held her at her waist and her shoulders, letting her pendulous breasts and gravid belly hang free. Two final tentacles crossed over her mouth and her eyes, leaving her completely immobilized and blind to the world.
"Don't even think about saying anything on her behalf," Mary said, snapping her gaze down to Katie. "Those two police officers are dead because of her. Her!"
"Mary, calm down, you're hulking out again," Katie said, backing away and putting up her hands.
Mary stopped, looked down at herself, and sighed, reverting back to her almost-Mary form, though the color of her eyes was wrong this time.
"Did- did you eat everything in my room?" Katie asked.
Mary thought for a second. "No, I was too concerned with sealing up the doors and windows. I think there's still a chunk of your room that's clean."
Katie went down the little hallway between her bedroom and bathroom, the corridor of tentacles inspiring a bit of claustrophobia. She edged into her bedroom, which was dimly lit by a kind of phosphorescence radiating off the tentacles on the ceiling. Her bed, her closet, and most of the other fixtures in her room were in the process of being devoured, but her desk remained unmolested, an oasis of normalcy in the maze of tentacles. Katie gingerly stepped off the tentacles, opening the drawer of her desk and pulling out a small frame.
"Here, Mary," She said, handing her the picture. "That's you, remember? That's the *real* you." It was a picture of her and Mary at orientation week, the two of them looking anxious to get started in their careers.
Mary held the picture, her brow furrowing slightly. Gradually, she returned to her old self, every feature the right size and every pigment the right color. Mary let out a shuddering breath and sunk down to the ground, leaning her back against the wall of tentacles.
"What're we gonna do, Katie?" Mary asked, looking up at her friend.
Katie just shook her head at her friend, pulling her desk chair out behind her and sitting down. "I don't have the slightest idea, honey. I mean, I know they teach us to take in new information and process it quickly, you know, figuring out the best angle for a cross, all of that, but this... this is just..." Katie went to lean her elbow on her desk, but jerked back when she set it on top of the fruit pie Mary had gotten her.
"Where-? I don't remember this being here," she mumbled as she pushed it aside.
Mary scoffed. "I got it for you," She said. "That's why I was in here when the police showed up."
Katie looked from Mary to the pie and back again.
"It was meant to be a surprise," Mary said, managing a bitter smile. "A little apology gift for yesterday."
Katie snorted and shook her head. After staring at her lap for a few seconds, she took the fruit pie and opened it.
"You like it?" Mary asked as Katie took a bite.
"Cherry's my favorite, but apple's good, too," She said, managing a weak smile. "Thanks, though."
Mary got to her feet, looking off into the air. "They're trying to get in," she said.
"Where?" Katie asked, whipping her head around so fast a bit of pastry crust flew off her lips.
"The front door," Mary said. "Again."
"What're we gonna do?" Katie asked, standing up.
"...You remember what professor Watson told us about pleas?" Mary said. "She told us, if you manage to convince opposing counsel they can't win, even if they probably can, then you're already halfway there. Even if it goes to trial, if you've convinced them to go in thinking they can't win, they probably won't."
"Yeah...?" Katie asked, a brow arching. "So? What are you planning to do?"
"I'm going to convince them they can't win," Mary said as she made her way back to the front room. "Hopefully I can get them to leave without doing anything stupid."
"Stupid?" Katie echoed.
"Get themselves killed," Mary said as she walked into the wall of tentacles, passing through the writhing mass as she began to change.
When Mary emerged from the other side, her tentacles finally eating through the outer walls, she was fully embracing one of the "predator" forms the Body had tried to force on her before. Letting it come out fully, she was amazed at the sheer destructive capability she felt welling up inside of her, muscles thickening and bulging with cords of what felt like liquid steel, her hide becoming like reinforced kevlar, fingernails growing out to be like scythe-blades dangling from her hands. The gathered police and SWAT officers took a few seconds to even register what she was, a stunned confusion stopping all sound save the usual chirping of birds in the forest. Mary walked slowly towards the line of police cars, making her intent obvious but giving them enough time to get scared.
"These prey should be easy to consume," The Body said. "We are pleased you are finally using a more appropriate form."
"I'm not going to kill them," Mary replied. "I'm going to scare them away."
"What?" The Body asked, confused. "Why would you not consume them? Your lair grows hungry, it must feed."
"You saw how consuming two of them brought this many more?" Mary asked. "If we consume these, then that many more will come, and stronger ones after them. We could not hope to consume all of them at once, they would overwhelm us."
"But if we convince them to flee, they will not return?" The Body asked.
"Yeah, and then we can eat all we want somewhere safer. Remember the supermarket?"
"Oh yes, we do, very much so," The Body said eagerly. Mary was certain that if it had a mouth the Body would be salivating at the thought of the grocery store and all the food inside it.
"So let me do this my way, and I'll get you some yummy treats from the store."
"We eagerly await the fleeing of these troublesome prey, then," The Body said, and was silent.
"The hell is that?!" One of the police officers finally yelled out, looking around.
"Fuck should I know?" Another officer said. The SWAT officers were a little more organized, closing in to a defensive firing squad behind one of the vehicles.
"It's coming this way..." One of the SWAT officers said, looking side to side to check on the locations of the rest of their team. "Orders, sir?"
The SWAT commander just shook his head, mouth agape. Mary continued walking, edging closer and closer to the police with every step.
"Orders??" The officer yelled again, looking over his shoulder. Mary roared and swiped at the ground with her claws, the long talons digging furrows in the asphalt and sending a shower of small rocks clanking against the cars and riot shields.
"Fire! Fire! Open fire!" the commander yelled, and Mary was instantly peppered with buckshot and bullets, her huge, hulking form making for a nearly impossible to miss backstop.
"They're bouncing off!" One of the SWAT shooters yelled as their small sub-machine gun bullets impacted against Mary's hide, denting the skin in but not penetrating. "That damn thing is bulletproof!"
Mary paused, thinking quickly. If they couldn't penetrate her, then they'd just bring bigger guns, which meant the army, which was bad. She needed to thin her hide a little, so the bullets would pass into her. As soon as she had given the mental command, her body jerked from the force of the bullets penetrating her flesh, a hundred tiny holes in the span of a few seconds.
"No it isn't!" One of the other officers shouted. "Keep shooting!"
Mary roared again, now within maybe twenty yards of the phalanx of police vehicles. A few of the officers had backed up from their firing line, still shooting but not wanting to be the one closest to Mary when she got there. For her part, Mary was eating the bullets right after they entered her body, the wounds closing within seconds. She figured one more show of force would be enou-
Mary's vision spun and fragmented as the sharpshooter's bullet entered the side of her head just below her left temple, her head jerking sideways as the bullet fragmented inside her head, blowing one of her horns off the opposite side as the exit wound spilled green flesh and viscera over the pavement. Stunned, Mary stumbled forward a step and fell over, her half-destroyed face impacting on the ground and leaving her confused. For a second, everything went quiet again. The raucous din of gunshots ceased, a few dogs barking their protest at all the sudden noise echoing from far away. Mary felt her face starting to re-form, but stopped it, a moment of dramatic inspiration hitting her. Just as the police began to cheer and clap, Mary got her arms underneath her and pushed herself up to one knee, causing the police, some of whom had begun to wander over to her 'corpse', to scatter back to their cruisers. Mary looked at the line of terrified officers with
her one good eye as she allowed her face to reform, then roared again before leaping the remaining fifteen yards from where she stood to the top of the nearest police car, caving in the roof as she landed on it. Finally, the desired effect; even the SWAT team broke ranks and fled down the parking lot away from Mary. Mary hardened her skin again; after that stunt with the sniper, she had made her point, and didn't want to have to deal with re-forming chunks of herself anymore. She jumped down off the cruiser, looking back to make sure the police were still retreating, and walked around to the hood of the cruiser. Taking one claw to the hood, she carved the letters "CDC" into the metal, then walked back to the apartment, absorbing the remnants of her head that had been blown onto the lot back into her as she went.
"So now feeding will be easier, yes?" The Body asked as Mary approached the writhing green wall that used to be the front of her apartment.
"In a manner of speaking," Mary sighed as she passed through the wall and began waiting for the inevitable response.