We are hungry.
Having our new body weak was a good plan ten minutes ago. But now we are weak, hungry, and clumsy. Rarely have we been so united on a matter. We need food.
The walk back out of the cannery takes longer than it should. Despite our newfound clarity of thought and senses, we suspect that we may have taken a wrong turn through the hulking machines. Everything seems brighter and dustier, with unexpected smells and odd slitherings in the corners. Everything seems smaller -- we are taller now than when we discovered this place. Finally we reach the street.
And again, a flaw in our plan becomes apparent. This is not a part of the city where food is readily available. We now realize that packing a picnic lunch would have been wise. Or even bringing a can opener.
Fortunately, our knowledge of this area is extensive, and we know exactly where to go. Just 12 blocks North, and we will have food. And then, anything else we need.
It is a long walk. It takes a rather drawn-out referendum amongst ourselves to decide that it remains a walk the entire distance, and never devolves into a crawl.
And then there is food! Across the street, a small and seedy corner store, with exactly the sort of fat-loaded, sugar-laced foodstuffs that will do us the most good.
We do not pause to think -- we take off across the street, thinking only of the smell of grease and salt.
And then there is a loud thump, an intense burst of pain, and nothing.
Justin was having a good day. Not by any means a boring day, as the city was just as full of thoughtless, clumsy, and unlucky people as it ever was, but today most of them had reached a phone before bleeding out, been removed from the road before a wreck could develop into a pile up, or been merely upset, and not homicidal. So far today, no one had died, attacked him, or vomited in the ambulance. It was a good day.
When the call came in -- a pedestrian hit by a pick-up truck, pedestrian and driver both needing assistance -- Justin was still feeling cheerful, and as the sirens came on the and ambulance pulled out of the fast-food restaurant's parking lot, he allowed himself an unusual dose of optimism. After all, lots of people survived this kinds of accident.
The guy is in the middle of the street, lying in a large puddle of blood. He looks like he had been filthy and half-starved before being hit by a truck, probably some homeless guy. Justin looks over at Jean, who is over by the truck. It had flipped and landed on its side when it swerved to miss the pedestrian, and Jean is cutting the driver out of his seatbelt with a pair of trauma shears. He looked like he would be fine once the shock wore off. Justin couldn't say the same for the pedestrian.
They guy isn't breathing. Justin carefully staunches the bleeding -- not as bad as it looked at first glance -- and starts CPR.
I think... We still Are. I think. There's something there, something dragging me... us... out of this body. Taking us into a strong, healthy, well-fed body. We rush to take possession.
At least, I do.
It doesn't take Jean long to stabilize the driver, and she comes over to help Justin with the pedestrian. "No response yet," he tells her between compressions. She she kneels beside the body, ready to help by taking over the breaths. He motions: it's time. She bends over and quickly forces two breaths into his mouth, pauses for five compressions, and does it again. And again. And again. But this one isn't coming back. By this point Justin is feeling so confused and disoriented that he doesn't even regret the messy end to what was shaping up to be his great day. He feels... Happy. Satisfied. And full.
Some of us are missing. A lot of us. This body is even better than the last one, strong and healthy, but it feels empty. Perhaps because it took us, instead of the other way around?
We look around the crowded compartment, crowded with four bodies, one of them the remains of our last residence. We were hardly aware of the transfer. Could there still be some of us in that? It was pure luck that this body decided to take some of us in, through some strange medical ritual that our new member tells us is called 'Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation'. It was apparently the 'pulmonary' that saved us, and the ritual did not last long enough. After all, the body only did the first part, before...
Across the compartment, the female body is sitting, watching us. Is it her? Is she us? Is she Them?
We sit and plot her demise.
And, we suspect, she, or they, also plot our demise. It doesn't matter which one wins. One of us/them must die, so that we can be us again.
We would prefer for it to be them.