The gizerat crawled out from beneath the convolutions of my brain, a tiny, hideous insectoid, scuttering up the crevices seeking a better fit, latching on and digging in, nestling into the position from which it could exert control. I don't know how long it must have been there, suckling on my id—nursing, growing. By the time I felt it, it was too late. The gizerat was in control.
Every man has the potential for a gizerat—I know that now. I must have fed mine unknowingly. It fed off of every horror movie I'd watched, every woman I saw on the BART I wanted to screw; it fed from the parts of my psyche that wanted to turn to see the carnage of a disfiguring accident. It ate the dark secrets that my own brain kept from me. It wasn't my fault. It told me so.
The first time the gizerat spoke, it asked me in plain in English, Are you happy?
It didn't phase me at all. As a matter of fact, it seemed quite natural. I suspected it was because I was tired that I heard the voice. I responded, "Yes, I'm quite happy," and kept walking downtown. When it asked the second question, I realized that I was not just talking to myself.
Then why don't you beat in that policeman's brain who's talking to that pretty girl over there like you want to? This time, the voice was louder, more persistent. I was shocked; I looked around to see if anyone else could hear the high, scratchy voice. The girl and the policeman were still talking, the barber shaking out his rug nearby didn't seem to notice, and the people on the sidewalk went merrily on their respective ways. Their only concern was to avoid the confused pedestrian that had stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk.
Stunned, I sat down on a bench by a bus stop. My mind reeled. I tried to grasp what was happening: I was hearing voices. I wasn't crazy—I'd had some kinky tastes in my life—but I wasn't any kind of psycho. Now I was hearing voices. Not good mojo. I tried to think of what could have been the cause. Had somebody slipped me a mickey? Was I the butt of somebody's psychedelic practical joke? I looked around again and saw that everything seemed to be normal. Everything, but me.
I looked again at the policeman, who had ended his conversation and resumed his beat. I had no antagonism toward him—some garden-variety sexual jealousy, okay, maybe...but no outright hatred. I mean, hell, I didn't know him from Adam. I leaned back on the wooden bench and listened to see if the disembodied voice would return.
Instead, I heard the diesel engine of a truck going by and the clatter of boots, purses, jackets, car keys. The odd horn in the distance. Voices, yes, but just the chatter of a couple of bluehaired ladies from the cafe a few storefronts down, delicately sipping their decaf. As the wind blew through the flowers in the planter, suddenly I felt scared, confused and alone.
After I collected myself, I tried to establish contact with whatever it was that spoke to me. Of course, back then, I didn't know it was the gizerat. I'd heard about early CIA mind-control experiments, like MK-Ultra, where they'd used primitive microwave devices to beam signals into people's brains. The kind of stuff you read about on the Internet, like on Alt.Paranoid.Government.Conspiracy. I knew about alien abductions, in which aliens allegedly communicate with people through implants, and all that.
But the gizerat had fallen silent.
I went straight home to my basement apartment. It was on the waterfront; a small, cheap place that used to be a real wing-dinger in the Seventies. Now it was just another shabby, run-down bachelor pad in the warehouse district. It was home to me, though, and my dingy bed had never been more inviting than it was right then. Well, not since the thing with Suzanne, anyway.
I fell into a long sleep, untroubled by dreams. I slept for hours. I floated in an eternal indigo void. When I finally woke, it was because my brain itched something fierce. I sat up and screamed, working my fingers feverishly into my ears. It felt as if somewhere between my Eustachian tubes and my sinuses, raging herds of cattle-driving microorganisms were dancing to a furious hoedown.
"Stop it!" I screamed, clawing at my eyes and my nose. "Stop!" The itch grew until it became nearly unbearable. It was a slow itch with localized intensity that I could feel as it moved. It was the gizerat. My peripheral vision suddenly became awash in a brilliant display of colors. I flung the covers off onto the floor and sat on the edge of the bed in stark terror. I think it was the first time I fully realized I was not alone in my head.
In time, the itch subsided somewhat, and the Aurora Borealis on acid slowly faded from my mind. I gasped and tried to shake the feeling that I had to sneeze—but couldn’t—magnified several times. It was then that the gizerat spoke again.
Hang on, I'll be done in a minute. The unearthly voice now sounded like a cross between Peter Lorre and metal bending under extreme pressure. There was more movement and itching in my brain, then a POP and suddenly everything felt fine. The itching stopped. I could detect a sort of burnt-rubber smell, but I knew I wasn't smelling it through my nostrils. It was a smell I would become very familiar with. It was an oddly pleasant odor.
There, finished. Sorry about that, said the voice. Then there was a short silence. Well, don't you want to say something, get to know me?
I was no longer scared. Confused, like I'd missed something, but in fact I felt kind of good. A sort of drunken contentedness. I was curious, though.
“What the fuck are you doing in my head?” I asked. “What was all that itching? What are you?”
Oh, that. That was me. I had to move, you see. The place where I was became too small for me, so I had to relocate. I grew too big for your britches, you might say.
“So where did you come from?” I asked. “How did you get in there in the first place?”
The voice came again, directly to my mind. Details, details. All will be explained in due time. I'm sitting in between two layers of your brain. Specifically the cerebrum and the cerebellum. Just down from where I was hatched. I'm here to help you.
I got up and went to the bathroom, turned on the light. “What do you mean, help me? With what?” I unzipped and took a leak, the urine looking like it was tainted a little bit with blood. The flickering fluorescent light made the flaking pastel wallpaper look unnatural.
I'm here to help you get what you really want.
That struck me as odd, but as I shook off the last few drops and zipped up, it seemed like a good thing. A right thing.
When I next went outside, the day seemed brighter, the brine smelled saltier, and I had an insatiable appetite for fish. I made my way to the Wharfhouse, a waterfront restaurant that I'd always hated because it was largely populated by sailors and tourists, and because I detested seafood. Today, seafood seemed like the only thing to eat. I walked in and was irritated when I had to stand in line. I waited for about thirty seconds, looking at the restaurant's maritime scenery, when a young blonde waitress walked a couple and their rugrat from the front of the line to a table in nonsmoking.
I could smell the fish from the kitchen; batter-dipped fish, whitefish, shrimp. I could smell each individual fishplate at patrons' tables. I think I could smell each individual fish on their plates. I needed fish and I needed it yesterday.
Why don't you just take a table? The voice from inside startled me, scared me, until that calming burnt-rubber smell returned. I then felt a sense of superiority gradually pervade my body.
“Yeah, why not?” I thought, moving to the front of the line. A few tourists complained, and a heavyset Navy man at the front of the line pushed me in the shoulder.
“Hey, pal, what's the idea?” he said. “I'm first one in line here.”
I turned around, full of myself. “You're going to be the first one eating off the floor, too, if you fuck with me,” I snapped back, and got up in his face. It looked like we were about to get into it when a tall, pleasant-looking man in a neat orange-and-brown uniform hurried up to us and raised his hands.
“I'm sure we can find you both tables, sirs,” he said, smiling and squeezing in between us. He led me away from Navy Boy toward the lobby. “Now, will it be smoking, or nonsmoking?”
“Smoking,” I answered, even though I'd quit smoking years ago. The manager nodded and led me to a booth. As I sat down, I wondered about the changes coming over me. I was acting oddly. I was normally a nonviolent, non-confrontational person. Easygoing, mellow. Why should I be acting this way?
“What's going on? Why did I do that?”
Waves of satisfaction flowed through my head as the Gizerat spoke. You have to assert yourself. Don't be a wimp. Tell people what you really want. Isn't that what you wanted, to get a table and get some fish?
I nodded, getting out my wallet. “Yes, but why the smoking section? I don't smoke. And I hate fish.” Communicating with the voice was strange but effortless.
The voice resounded smoothly through my head. You used to smoke. You like smoking. And you must always have fire, to make fire. You must always smoke. The fans above the smoking section circulated the aroma of fish down to my table. I grew hungry.
That sounded right. The voice made sense. I got out of my booth and walked over to the register. The man that had seated me now looked at me with raised eyebrows and said, “Jennifer should be right with you, sir. I hope there isn’t a problem.”
“No problem. I just need some change for cigarettes,” I said and tossed four singles across the counter at him.
The pleasant-looking man fished sixteen quarters out of the register and deposited them into my hand. “Yes sir, it takes three-seventy-five, and there you go.” He smiled, but I could tell he was worried that I'd make trouble. I liked that. It didn't seem right somehow, but I liked it.
The cigarette machine was hidden over in a corner of the entryway as if you weren't supposed to notice it. The crosshatch carpet underneath the machine was brighter than the rest. I inserted my money and noticed as I pulled the lever under Camel Filters that the burnt-rubber smell was fading.
A hard box and a pack of matches slid into the receptacle, and I grabbed them. I walked back to my booth and slid in. Jennifer was already there. She'd brought ice water and a menu, and stood by the table with a coffeepot and a cup on a tray.
“Yes, thanks,” I responded, packing my cigarettes on the table. I looked her over. She was about five-six, dull black hair to her shoulders, and wore an inoffensive polyester uniform that was half dress, half apron. Her nametag read “Jennifer” in green strip tape. She smelled like fish.
She poured steaming hot coffee into the cup and set it on the table, and followed it with the pot. I unwrapped my cigarettes and withdrew one from the pack.
“What can I get for you today?” she asked, retrieving an order book from her apron pocket and unfolding the top. She gave me a perfunctory I-work-here smile and waited for my response. Her skin was white like faded plaster and the curves of her body sang to me from beneath her uniform. She was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.
“Fish,” I said, “Bring me fish.” I lit a cigarette and inhaled. It felt good to smoke, the voice was right.
She smiled and held her tray against one hip. “That won't be too hard. Did you have a particular kind of fish in mind?”
“No,” I answered, taking another satisfying hit off my cigarette. “Just bring me lots of it. I must have fish.”
She smiled some more and wrote something down on a ticket. “I'll bring you the First Mate's Special. It's the biggest dinner we've got. Lots of fish.” She finished writing and put the book back in her apron. “Anything else?”
“How about an ashtray?”
She looked at me blankly, then said, “Oh, yeah, sure.” She reached over to a nearby table and borrowed its ashtray for me. “Here ya go.”
“Thanks.” I nodded, and she smiled again, turned, and walked to the kitchen. I followed her with my eyes until she disappeared around the corner by the salad bar. Nice swing on that back porch.
I took another hit off of my cigarette and rolled the ash into the ashtray. The nicotine helped stave off my hunger, I had become ravenous while I was talking to Jennifer. I noticed I had developed a hunger for her as well, one that might not be so easy to sate. Fish.
Just before my meal came, I caught a glance from Navy Boy, who was seated at a table across the room. He was looking at me through the space between the fake wood divider of the nonsmoking section and the translucent glass above it. I turned to the window and looked out into the bay instead. He was really asking for it, looking at me like that.
Several minutes passed before Jennifer called “Out,” from the kitchen and I turned back to see her sashay out onto the floor with a large tray. She served a table in nonsmoking, brought Navy Boy a Coke, and strode toward me. I detected her breasts swaying to the polyrhythm of her walk from across the restaurant. Jennifer was a hot little property.
“Here you go,” she announced, putting a huge platter piled high with fish in front of me, “The First Mate's Special, along with tartar sauce.” She looked pleased and hugged the tray to her body. “What else for you?” Her smile was the kicker.
I pulled my fork out from underneath the napkin and laid the napkin across my lap. My peripheral vision narrowed somewhat, and the increasingly familiar burnt-rubber odor wafted through my brain. I looked up at Jennifer through a dull haze.
“You. I want you. What are you doing after work?”
Jennifer stood there speechless for a moment, a blank expression on her face. Then a smile slowly crossed her lips and she flushed. “Okay,” she said, backing up a little as she tried to hide her grin. “I get off at eight.”
I stabbed into a golden-brown piece of batter-fried fish. “Great,” I said, turning back to my meal. “I'll be here to pick you up.” I launched into the meal as if it might be taken away any second. The fish was juicy and delicious; it was the best fish I'd ever had, which wasn't saying a lot.
Jennifer backed up more and smiled big. “Okay, great,” she said, as she backed up into another table. She apologized, turned around, and headed into the kitchen again.
“Man, that was easy,” I thought to myself. I extinguished the cigarette in the monkey bowl of tartar sauce, and moved it to the other side of the table.
Of course it was, said the gizerat. I told you I'm here to help you get what you really want. All you have to do is assert yourself. You'll be king of the heap in no time.
I couldn't help wondering what the voice wanted as I wolfed down the fish dinner. It was already proving itself correct though; I was more able to get what I really wanted, it seemed. But why?
“What do you mean, king of the heap? When are you going to let me in on this? I mean, you're in my brain; the least you can do is explain some things here.”
All right, all right, just keep eating. Oh, and stay away from the shrimp, disgusting little bottom-feeders. Well, let's see. First things first. I'm a gizerat.
I kept eating. “Uh-huh, what's a geezeraht?”
We are a part of you that has been here since the beginning. We're the ones that insured that you survived the basic evolutionary process. The human mind has more parts than just the conscious and the subconscious, more than ego and id—it also contains a gizerat. That's me.
“But you're not part of the brain. You're a separate creature from me altogether, right?” I drank some coffee.
Well, yes and no. Let's put it this way. We evolved out of necessity from your own bodies. Our larvae hatch in your brains. We grow as quickly as you do, and guide you, and help you get the things you want. Humans survived because we made everything necessary for survival pleasant. Eating, hunting, territorial disputes, things like that. Drive. Mating. Sexual pleasures become magnified.
“Does everyone have a gizerat?” I asked.
Certainly not, it replied.
“How do your larvae get inside our brains?”
Never mind that right now, there’s more.
It was weird communicating with a gizerat that rode my brain and spoke in a screechy voice. But I liked it. It was helpful. It was a good thing. I ate some more fish, being careful to stay away from the shrimp. "Yeah,” I said, “okay."
The gizerat explained some more. Take Jennifer for example. You're gonna nail her, and probably wouldn't have had a chance if it weren't for me.
I put down my fork. “Hang on. She doesn't know about you. How would you being in me affect her?”
Keep eating, it commanded. Having a gizerat makes you more attractive. She can sense that you're an Alpha Male. You are the perfect choice to father her children. It was all beginning to make some deranged kind of sense now. The gizerat had a point.
“Why the fish?” I asked, picking up another piece from the rapidly clearing plate.
Brain food, of course, it answered. I've gotta eat, too.
That worried me. “You're eating my brain? I'm not sure I li—”
Don't worry, I only eat some of the nutrients that come into your brain. And my waste gets reabsorbed into your bloodstream. It's worked for a hundred thousand years.
I mulled this over, toying with the little bits of fish left on the plate. I was pretty full, really. I put the fork back down and grabbed another cigarette. This was definitely bizarre. I was enjoying the idea of being an Alpha Male.
Superior. Two heads were, after all, better than one.
Something occurred to me then that I couldn't figure out. If the gizerat was needed to spur mankind on to evolve and survive, why were they still around? Where did they come from? Who still had a gizerat? Why haven't any been found in postmortems? There were too many questions.
Jennifer came back with the check and a piece of pie, on the house. I thanked her, finished the pie and then paid the check. We reaffirmed our date and I left.
After walking home, I hopped into the car and cruised down to Carton of Eden, a health-food store by the expressway. I parked, went in, and did some shopping. I threw a little of everything into the cart: bread, milk, tofu, meat, produce, marinara sauce, some sweets.
As I pulled into the driveway I looked at my watch—quarter 'til seven. After working all day at the Wharfhouse, Jennifer would probably be hungry, for anything but fish. A good pasta dinner—linguine with pesto—that's what she'd want. I unlocked the door and schlepped my groceries into the kitchen.
I set upon the task of making dinner. As I readied onions, garlic and red peppers, the gizerat spoke to me.
Don't you think she'd prefer a piece of smoked meat? Maybe a nice brisket? The now-all-too-familiar odor wafted through my brain. I lit up a cigarette off of the gas range.
“Now hang on a second,” I said. I looked around, trying to clear my head of the dullness I felt. “Surely it can't matter what we have for dinner tonight?” I scratched the back of my neck and leaned against the kitchen wall.
The gizerat said, What could be more important? You want to make a good impression, don't you? My God, this could be one of the most significant decisions in your life, what you feed her. What if she's a tiger, her taste for food mirroring her sexual appetite?
“What if she's a vegetarian?” I responded, pulling foodstuffs out of the grocery sacks and onto the counter.
I hope for your sake she's not.
I harrumphed and put the groceries away. I was going to make linguini pesto for Jen and that was final.
By the time I had to leave to pick Jennifer up, the roast was almost ready. Another half an hour in the oven and it would be at its succulent best. I stepped out the door, checking the pockets of my jacket to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. Evening was settling onto the bay, and the lights on the water were coming up, reflecting like torches poised to set oil alight. I felt good.
I hopped into the car and drove the few blocks to the Wharfhouse. When I walked in, I was almost disappointed that Navy Boy had left. His clones were there, in all their jarheaded glory, but he was gone. I lit a cigarette and waited in the foyer, shaking my head when the hostess on shift asked if I'd like to sit down. She was cute, too, with her faux-blonde Doris Day hair and too much tan; but I was here for Jennifer.
The clock over the entryway to the bathrooms said eight o'clock straight up when she walked out, dressed in jeans, a smart red blouse, and wearing a backpack. Her long, raven-black hair rained down on her shoulders as if from a shampoo commercial. Nice to see her out of her uniform.
“How are you doing?” I asked, extending an arm.
“Never better,” she said, taking it, and waving goodbye to her co-workers.
We stepped out onto the wharf and I made for the car.
“I'd like to walk a bit,” she said. “I've been inside all day, and I need a little air.”
“Yeah, sure, okay.” I had another thirty minutes to burn before the roast did. “My place is this way.” We walked away from the waterfront and toward my apartment.
“You know,” Jennifer started, “I didn't get your name back at the restaurant.”
“Yeah, I know.” I looked back down at the ground as I dropped her hand for another cigarette, and lit it. She shrank back initially, but then came close again, and took my arm in hers.
“You’re really good-looking, but why so mysterious?” Jennifer asked. “You don’t have to be the Man With No Name to get a date with me, you know.”
No, but it doesn’t hurt, I thought, as we walked toward my place. “I guess I’m just the mysterious type,” I said. I stopped, and pulled Jennifer close. The sounds of the ocean and the birds that made their living off of it punctuated the evening. We shared a long kiss that stimulated at least two brains. It was a long, passionate kiss, with the novelty of the first time. After a moment, we broke. She blushed again, smiled and we walked in silence together until we turned the corner onto my street.
We stepped through the door of my apartment, and I no sooner had it closed than Jennifer started sniffing about the kitchen.
“Beef, huh?” She wiggled her backpack off and set it on the table.
I nodded. “A roast. It should be done by now.” I started toward the oven to check on it.
Jennifer adjusted the sleeves of her blouse and walked over to the couch. She looked around, sat down, and said nonchalantly, “I ate at work. I'm not hungry.” She began absently looking through my coffee table copy of Popular Science. “Not for that.”
I turned off the oven and opened it to cool off the roast. We made eye contact and that was it. I walked into the living room and sat on the couch. We had a brief discussion about protection—I think it lasted four seconds—and we were on each other like vultures on carrion.
Her hot kisses were suction cups on my neck. The girl had sex on the brain, but good. In no time, we had shed our clothes. I grabbed a condom from my wallet, fumbled with it out of its package, and handed it to her. She rolled it on and we got back to business. She mounted me and we were soon lost in passion.
Her pale breasts had a life of their own as she rode me into a frenzy. Jennifer bit her bottom lip, and then, later, licked the top one in her ecstasy. Our coupling grew to a fever pitch until finally I flipped her onto her back and drove the rest of the way home. She moaned hard and pulled me into her. I could think of nothing but her scent, her endless pool of femininity. Lust quickly turned into a long session of pure instinct. Over and over again, I pounded into her. I could faintly feel the couch burns on my knees.
More mindless screwing: just hot, animal sex. It seemed like it lasted for hours. But it could only have been minutes when suddenly I couldn't tell if the burning rubber I smelled was from the inside or the outside. I became lost in my thrusts into her, her French silk; it was hot, very hot. She was screaming, crying, begging. Before I came off into her, she was pushing against me, trying to get me out, but I held fast. Our genitals were a pool of magma inexorably mixed together, hot molten rock.
Afterward, we separated and she pulled into herself on the couch. She was crying, streaming tears. I looked down at myself and noticed the condom we'd used had broken. There were only tattered remnants of a latex ring remaining on my throbbing member.
“You bastard,” she cried. “You total fucking bastard.” She simply wept after that for ten minutes or so and I didn't know what it was I'd done. I mean, I knew she was angry that the condom had broken, but surely that was partly her fault, too. I felt like I was waking up from a nightmare, groggily returning to a normal state. The smell of burning rubber faded and the soreness crept in like the crash of pain pills wearing off.
I moved over to her, handing her my shirt. She grabbed it and cleaned herself up. Her demeanor went from victim to avenger in a heartbeat.
“What kind of a brute are you? What is your deal, man?” she asked, standing up to put on her clothes. She threw my shirt on the couch. Where was the gizerat now, when I needed it? I tried to console her, apologizing. She pulled on her jeans, fastened her bra and strapped it on in a single motion.
“You are one twisted fuck, man. You should get some help.” Jennifer was clearly angry. She jerked on her blouse and sat back down on the couch. She rolled her socks on, squeezed into her shoes, and grabbed her backpack.
I tried to reach for her, but she pulled away and headed for the door. She grabbed the doorknob, opened the door, and said, “Even in San Francisco, you’re a total freak. You’ve got big problems—and a tiny cock.” She left and slammed the door behind her.
That went well. Go after her. You can’t just let her walk away. The gizerat was right, of course. I put on my clothes hurriedly and grabbed my jacket. I made for the door when the gizerat stopped me.
No, you fool, you’ll need something to convince her with. Take a weapon. I turned to the kitchen and saw the carving knife I’d left out for the roast. I grabbed it, stashed it inside my jacket and took off after Jennifer.
She was walking fast, and had a good lead on me. I had a longer stride, though, so I didn’t have to run. I was gaining on her when she turned the corner toward the wharf. I slowed my walk enough so that it didn’t look like I was stalking her. As I turned onto the wharf, I saw that she was entering the Wharfhouse rather than going for her car. Seeking protection. As if she needed it from me.
The parking lot was filled with cars. Evidently the evening bar business was booming. I opened the door to the Wharfhouse and saw that the place was filled with sailors and tourists. As I walked back into the place, I felt the heft of the knife’s handle inside the pocket of my jacket. Navy Boy was back with some of his friends. Jennifer was up by the door to the back talking to a bartender.
“Randy, Randy, that’s him! The guy’s a psycho!” Jennifer yelled and pointed at me. But she had me all wrong. If I could just convince her it was all a mistake—but before I could, the bartender was already yelling at me.
“All right, buddy, you’re outta here. Over and done. Consider yourself banned from the premises.” I didn’t like that. I was considering whether to leave when Navy Boy got up from the bar and started walking toward me purposefully. I gripped the knife inside my jacket.
“You heard the man. Take a hike, scumbag,” Navy Boy said, pushing me toward the door.
Burnt rubber was all I could smell now. “Maybe you’d like to come out with me?” I asked him.
“I was hoping you would say something like that. Let’s go.” Navy Boy gestured for the door.
I opened the door with one hand, and pulled the carving knife out with the other, hiding it with my body as I walked out into the parking lot. The cars’ headlights looked on with mechanical disinterest.
I strode quickly out onto the asphalt to make him have to come after me. I was in a trance now, following the gizerat’s lead. When I turned to face him, Navy Boy was inches away, about to put me in a headlock. I withdrew the carving knife and in one fluid motion, inserted it underneath his ribs. The moves came slick and easy, as if I were the one that had been trained for combat.
A look of shock came over his face, and he stood there for a long second. Blood gouted out of him like the stuck pig that he was. I twisted the blade as I removed it from him, and then stabbed him multiple times. Navy boy groaned and fell to his knees. I gave it to him again and again in a gizerat-fueled haze. It was right; this was what I wanted. Survival of the fittest.
I was just slicing the skin off of Navy Boy’s face when I heard the cop yell, “Freeze! Police! Drop the knife and put your hands on your head!”
Jennifer was at the front of the crowd that had gathered at the door to the Wharfhouse. I could see her trembling, her hand over her mouth. Now she could see that I was the Alpha Male. I had a gizerat. She’d know that I was prime to father her children.
The thoughts had barely crossed my mind when I heard the gizerat again. Go get him. He’s the only thing that stands between you and what you want.
The scent of flaming tires filled my head as I got up and turned to face the cop. He was behind the door of a brand-new 1991 Crown Victoria squad car, gun in hand. I strode toward him, blood dripping from my knife. A voice from the radio inside the squad car squawked something unintelligible.
“Don’t take another step!” screamed the cop, aiming at me. “I’ll shoot! Drop the knife! Now!” I was within ten paces of the cop now. I would be on him in a second.
I saw the flash of his gun and then heard the loud BANG just as the bullet ripped through me. Massive stopping power. I dropped the knife as the force of the bullet knocked me over, spinning me backward. As I hit the pavement, the clear salt air filled my nostrils. It was the last thing I felt before I passed out from the pain.
I came to in a white room that looked like a hospital. Clean, clinical. I remembered what happened and was horrified at the thought. I had killed Navy Boy. What had I done? The gizerat had made me kill. Where was it? I struggled against the straightjacket and my shoulder cried out in pain.
Smooth move, boyo, said the gizerat. Really screwed the pooch this time, it said.
“Oh, now you’re here. This isn’t what I wanted! What did you make me do? How does this advance my evolution?”
I never said I was here to advance your evolution, only to help you get what you really want. Turns out what you really want is some pretty twisted stuff. This is a fine pickle you’ve gotten yourself into. I don’t know how you’ll ever get out of this! The gizerat laughed, a mocking laugh that reverberated through my head.
I couldn’t get it out. I strained again and again at my bindings but they were on tight. And the hole through my shoulder, even patched up, really hurt. If I could only get at my head—with a knitting needle or something.
I heard voices from across the room. I looked over, and they were on the other side of the bars.
“Second-shift black and white brought him in. First degree homicide and sexual assault. Real piece of work. Cut up a naval officer. The DA will have him locked up for life.” One of the psych ward nurses was talking to another, two stocky men in white outfits. I could only imagine where I was.
“I wonder what these guys are thinking? I mean, what drives them?” the other one asked.
“Dunno. Apparently he didn’t know either of them personally. Guy’s a serious whack job. You hear him talking to himself in there?”
“Yeah. And if he keeps fighting the straightjacket, he’s going to hurt himself. We’d better sedate him, I don’t want to have to take it off to change his dressing,” the taller one said.
“Or fill out the paperwork.”
“I’ll do it,” said the taller of the two. He moved out of my line of sight and came back with a syringe with a long needle, and a little glass bottle.
“Get out of my head!” I screamed at the gizerat. “I’ll kill you!”
You can try, was its reply, if they let you out of the straightjacket, but I’ll move every time. You’ll have so many holes in your head, you really will be insane.
The nurse unlocked the door to my cell and advanced on me with the syringe. “This will help calm you down,” he said.
I wanted to appeal to his sense of decency. “No, please, you have to understand,” I said from the bunk I’d awoken on. “There’s something in my head, making me do things. It’s called a gizerat. If I could just get it out—”
The nurse squirted a little sedative out of the needle to remove the air. “Oh, working on your insanity defense?”
He held my head still with one strong hand and inserted the long needle into a vein. It hurt initially, but when once the needle was removed, a warm, pleasant sensation began to trickle through my bloodstream.
Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you wake up, said the gizerat. We can talk about how to get you out of here then. The gizerat laughed again, this time a wicked, taunting laugh that could have come from the Archduke of Hell himself. Then sleep took me, and I faded into unconsciousness.
The two male psychiatric nurses were back, but they looked different, somehow. I had to try to convince them that I wasn’t crazy, that it was the gizerat that controlled my actions.
“Okay,” I started, “I know you think I’m insane—but I have this little creature in my brain that makes me do things. It’s called a gizerat—haven’t you ever run across one before? They grow inside some people. Women can sense a superior male, right?”
The shorter of the two came close to the bars. “Sure, buddy, sure, we’ve heard of it. Get ‘em all the time.”
“You have to give me something to get it out. And take this straightjacket off. Then I’ll be able to kill it and I’ll be the normal me again,” I explained.
As they began walking away, one of them raised his hand in a blowoff gesture. I had to make them understand. I yelled after them, “Do an MRI! You’ll see! It’s in there. There’s no sign of them after death, they’re absorbed into the body. You won’t find it in an autopsy. In fact, a gizerat’s death always precedes its host’s. They’re so tiny, they’d get lost, anyway. You won’t find any evidence—”
As they continued walking away, one of them said in a softer tone to the other, “I guess as madness goes, a gizerat isn’t too bad.”
The taller of the two turned to the shorter and said, “He’s been spooling that line about the gizerat for twenty years now. The guy probably doesn’t even know what year it is.”
The shorter one stopped, and turned to the taller, with a raised eyebrow. “Think we ought to recommend a gizeratectomy?” They shared a chuckle, and continued down the hall.
Then they were gone, and I was alone again.
“Why are they laughing?” I thought to myself. “A gizeratectomy! That’s exactly what I need!”
I thrust my face up against the bars to my cell. “Nurse! Nurse! Come back! Come back!” I yelled after them.
And nobody came.
“You mean you can cut it out?” I yelled. “How can I get that operation? I want it cut out!”
And nobody came.
I struggled against the straightjacket, desperate. “Even if you have to take a piece of my brain with it, I still want it out!”
And nobody came.
And nobody came.
For the debut of
by Shaun Lawton
Only On The FREEZINE
of Fantasy and