When I arrived on Earth, it was a warm spring night. The air was filled with the aroma of hyacinths and honeysuckles, and sky was clear and speckled with stars. If you watched closely at just the right moment, you could see a shooting star streaking above the horizon, hurdling towards the planet’s surface. And on the outskirts of a small college town, in a quiet little forest, under an old oak tree, lay a flower that died just as it was starting to bloom. Her name was Anna. Everything I have, I owe to her.
My first memory was of the cold, dark void. I traveled through space deprived of heat and light and sound, dormant and unaware of my own existence. I had no thoughts or desires. I was empty, the faint outline of a living thing waiting to be filled in. Then, after what may have been a second or an eternity, I was violently shaken from my stasis. I arrived on Earth nestled in a meteorite, a stone cocoon just strong enough to protect me from the impact of landing. When I emerged from the shattered rock as a barely self-aware, wriggling mass of flesh, her body was the first thing I ever saw.
I stared at her with my beady red eyes, tracing over her crumpled figure. Her lightly tanned skin shone in the moonlight. Her wavy, shoulder-length chocolate hair was splayed in every direction. Her dark brown eyes were glazed over, and her limp tongue dangled from her open mouth. Despite lying mere yards from the impact site, she was completely still, her face frozen in a look of terror. She was still warm.
Seeing her made me feel something for the very first time. Following a deep-rooted instinct, some primordial calling desperate for that warmth, I clamored over to her. Prying open her stiff jaws with my tentacle-like appendages, I climbed into her mouth and propagated throughout her body. First, I assimilated with her brain. Soon, her entire nervous system was under my control. In a matter of minutes, every part of her had become one with me. Her body tissue became a patchwork of her cells interlaced with mine, all working under my command. Her body—our body—writhed and convulsed as I learned to use her muscular system. Coordinating the movement of the arms and legs posed another challenge. Like an unwieldy infant, I learned to crawl, then to stand. Over the course of an hour, I learned to walk.
Just as I had mastered the art of not falling over, I felt a vibration against my thigh. My hands rushed to the source and found a flat prism covered in reflective material: Anna’s phone. Still unaccustomed to using my hands, it took me a few minutes of fumbling around before I clumsily took it out and brought it up to my face. Under the light of the moon, Anna’s reflection—my reflection—peered back at me. My neck was marred with reddish-purple lines which wrapped around my throat. When I gingerly touched them, I had my first taste of the sting of pain.
I remembered seeing these marks on her body just before I entered it. Somehow, I knew they were very important. In fact, they were the most important thing in the world. As if influenced by Anna’s lingering resentment, a remnant of her final moments left behind in the body I now inhabited, I felt a surge of emotion seeing those marks. I wanted to know—I needed to know...
Who killed my body?
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