Post series: Parasites

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 7 – Finale

  1. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4
  5. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5
  6. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 6
  7. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 7 – Finale



Parasites: Part Seven


Stale air and questionable smelling smoke mingled with the stink of sweat and alcohol. Leila spun around, seeking her best friend, her wingman, in the undulating crowd of the nightclub.

A song pulsed in time with her rapid heartbeat, driving in like spikes until her breathing grew ragged. 

The crowd packed in, closer and closer. Dancing, flailing, writhing.

Leila, a voice called, deep and husky.

Goosebumps ran across her arms, clashing with the heat of the dance floor. She knew that voice.


The club vanished, leaving Leila in inky, silent black. The silence dug into her ears, unnatural and dangerous.

A man appeared inches away. Leila yelled as she stumbled back. Dull thuds echoed from her footsteps.

He was taller than her, and broad-shouldered. A muscular build barely hidden behind a tight t-shirt and stressed jeans, a chiseled jaw, a self-assured grin. Everything she’d go for in any normal situation.

His grin widened as he caught her eye. “Hello, Leila. Remember me?”

Blurred images danced at the edge of her memory, full of pleasure, pain, and something more primal. “No. Should I?”

The man chuckled. Pleasant at first, then deeper, more ragged, until it cut the air.

Leila gasped, throwing her hands up as he burst into flames. Heat came from him in waves, drying her skin until it was ready to crack.

“Look at me.”

She didn’t want to. She fought her arms as they dropped of their own accord.

What stood before her was no longer a man. Deathly pale skin hung loose on a naked, spindly frame. Long claws tipped even longer fingers.

Blood pulsed in Leila’s ears. She wanted to scream, but the sound stuck in her throat, thick and prickly.

“Maybe this will jog your memory.” 

He was on her in an instant. His breath burned against her scalded skin, stinking of sulfur as his hand slipped under her chin and forced her to look into gray-filmed eyes. His grin. Too wide, full of shark-like teeth.

Leila trembled as realization hit. It couldn’t be possible. None of it should be possible.

His tongue lashed out, long and thin, wrapping itself around her cheek and the back of her neck.

She whimpered and jerked back. Sharp pain bloomed across her chin as she pulled free of his grasp. “No!”

He grabbed her wrist and yanked. She fell against his chest, the roughness of his skin like sandpaper.

“That’s not what you said Saturday night.” His voice went smooth. The contrast made her stomach turn. He leaned in, gripping her around the waist as he whispered in her ear. “You went down on your knees and begged for it.”

The scream stuck in her throat tore free as she thrashed.

He laughed and let go, sending her sprawling into the darkness.

Leila’s scream twisted into a mad giggle. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t. But she did. She remembered, and that made it so much easier to fix her mistake. The child. No, the creature, couldn’t be saved. Her hesitation was gone. As soon as she saw the thing again, she’d end it.

The demon appeared on top of her, pinning her in place. “You’re mine,” he hissed. “I can hear your thoughts. I know your actions. Harm the child and you will know pain like you’ve never known before.”

Leila stifled a laugh. Pain was all she’d known lately. As long as she could kill the little demon first, it didn’t matter what happened to her. Kat would—

“Your friend lives because I will it.”

Her thoughts stuttered. “No… the exorcism—”

“A pathetic attempt at stopping the inevitable.” 

The demon pressed harder, rubbing his body across hers. Leila tried to buck, but he was too heavy to budge.

“Nuns with delusions of grandeur and a washout priest think they can change God’s plan. Feel special, Leila. You’re the mother of the end.”

Tears ran from her eyes as she turned her head away from his sulfuric breath. “I won’t… I won’t care for the creature.”

“Then your friend will die. Not quickly. Oh no. Slowly. I can make it take months. And when her pathetic mortal shell gives up, I’ll take her soul to hell. She’ll be waiting there for you.”


A baby’s wail shocked Leila from sleep. She lay askew on the bed, sheets twisted around her and pillow on the floor. Tears still streamed down her cheeks, the feel of the demon’s body on hers still fresh.

She propped herself up as shivers wracked through her. The baby shrieked, face deep red and 

toothless mouth open wide. It was hungry. She didn’t know how she knew, but she did. She also knew the consequences if she didn’t feed it.

Leila let her nightgown, halfway off already, fall from her shoulders. Her skin crawled. Kat… I’m so sorry. You got hurt because of me. But don’t worry. I won’t let it happen again.

She reached into the cradle and brought the baby to her breast. It quieted, sucking greedily as it watched her with gray-filmed eyes.

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 6

  1. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4
  5. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5
  6. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 6
  7. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 7 – Finale



Parasites: Part Six


Leila stared at the baby next to her. It lay swaddled in a white cloth, sound asleep in an ancient rocking crib a nun had dredged up from who knows where. The sides had two angels carved along its side, reaching up as if carrying the baby to heaven. She grimaced. They were taking it in the wrong direction.

Matthew had assured her all demonic signs had vanished. He’d shown her, rubbing his finger along the baby’s bare gums, pointing out its slate-blue eyes and smooth, pink skin. The baby looked like any other newborn, but she knew better. The exorcist hadn’t seen what she’d seen. Hadn’t dreamed what she dreamed.

The bed sheet rubbed against her bare feet as she rolled over in bed. The nuns had introduced themselves, bathed her, given her spare clothes and a spare room in the convent. All without a whisper of contacting a hospital or police. Proof no one else believed it was all over either. 

She was done trying to make sense of it all. She just wanted out. Out of whatever hell she’d crawled in to after that night at the club.

That night.

Leila still couldn’t remember anything clearly. Kat had said there had been a guy, so why couldn’t she remember? 

She groaned and curled into a ball. Kat. By the way her mother had talked, she was probably dead. Leila sobbed. For her those who had got hurt, for her life, but most of all, for her friend.

She was still crying when Matthew knocked on her bedroom door. He looked just as ragged as the first time she’d seen him, even though he’d changed clothes. 

He pulled up a chair from the little writing desk in the corner of the room and sat at the foot of the bed. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Leila choked out a laugh, wiping her face on her nightgown sleeve. “Can you turn back time, or bring someone back to life?”

Matthew looked at the floor.

“No? How about taking this kid somewhere else? Anywhere else. I don’t think I can sleep with it so close.”

“Ms. Roberts—”

“I don’t want it. Get rid of it, please.”

“The exorcism worked. He’s just a baby now. Your son.”

“I wasn’t even pregnant until a few days ago. You saw what happened. That’s not normal, damn it. That thing isn’t normal.”

“I understand—”

“No, you don’t.” Leila’s face grew hot. “People got hurt because of it. Kat… Kat died because of it.” 

Leila swallowed the lump in her throat. She didn’t want to cry anymore. She wanted to feel the anger, the hate, toward the creature she’d birthed.

“Look, Ms. Roberts.” Matthew leaned forward to pat her arm, then thought better of it and sat back. “I won’t pretend to know everything you’ve gone through. I also won’t pretend to understand the ways of the devil or God. All I know is I asked for the child’s salvation, for yours, and God answered. If you want things to get better, you must have faith.”

“You and your God can go to hell.”

Matthew sighed. “You’re still in shock. I get it. I’ll come back later. Get some rest, okay?”

Leila glared at him as he left. Rest. Right. Good to know he’d been listening. She turned her glare to the infant, who still slept serenely in the cradle. She could smother it. Her pillow wasn’t big, but it was plenty big enough to cover the kid’s face.

He’s just a baby now. Your son.

She gritted her teeth. The nuns. The exorcist. They all had their beliefs keeping them from harming the infant. She didn’t have a religious bone in her body, so why was she hesitating?


The baby’s presence taunted Leila all night. Quiet, even with the nuns coming in and out to check on them. He looked so peaceful. So vulnerable. A perfect target, yet Leila’s arms stayed glued to her sides as she tried to reconcile what she needed to do with what she was capable of. When a new visitor knocked on the door, she let out a sigh of relief. 

Kat’s neighbor walked in. Every inch of her screamed professionalism, from her perfectly bound bun to her shined black heels. “Ms. Roberts.”

“What the hell are you doing here?”

The lady stutter-stepped, the forced smile she’d had on her face melting. “I’ve come to check on you. Have I done something to upset you?”

“You gave me the exorcist’s card.”

“Which was clearly the right thing to do.”

Leila wasn’t so sure. If she hadn’t sought out an exorcist, maybe she’d have died in childbirth, or maybe the kid would have stayed a demon. She bet it would be easy to find someone willing to kill a demon child.

The lady seemed to accept Leila’s hesitation as apology and walked closer to the bed. “I’ve also brought news you’ll want to hear.”

“What news?”

“Katharine is fine.”

Leila’s stomach dropped as the room spun. “Kat’s… alive?”

“Yes. Her condition stabilized yesterday. Right after the exorcism, from what I’ve been told.”

“She’s going to be okay?”

“She’s going to be okay.” The woman turned on her heel and left, each step delivered with almost military precision.

Kat’s okay. Kat’s okay.

Leila repeated the thought like a mantra. Her best friend would live. Comforting warmth spread through her body for what felt like the first time in ages. Maybe the exorcism had worked. 

She glanced back at the baby before settling into the bed. Maybe it was just a baby now. Kat liked kids. She could help figure out what to do. Leila smiled as her eyelids grew heavy. Things were going to be all right.

The scent of sulfur followed her down into sleep.

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5

  1. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4
  5. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5
  6. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 6
  7. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 7 – Finale



Parasites: Part Five


Leila stared at the convent from the sidewalk. It looked straight out of a medieval manuscript—all sharp edges, crosses, and stained glass windows. A statue of the Virgin Mary prayed on the wildflower-dotted lawn.

The business card flipped between her fingers as Leila thought about going in. The convent looked a lot more professional than her actual destination.

The address on the card pointed toward a squat, ramshackle house across the street. Its windows were barely hanging on, and there wasn’t a religious symbol in sight. In fact, it looked like the kind of place young girls went into and didn’t come back out.

“Can I help you?”

Leila lashed out at the voice, hitting a gray-haired guy in a threadbare business suit right in the gut. He grunted, but didn’t budge as pain radiated up her arm.

“My apologies for startling you.”

Leila yanked her throbbing hand back. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. “Uh… sorry. I’m a little jumpy.”

In reality, she wasn’t sorry at all, and wished he’d move on. But a small, still civilized part of her wanted this to be a normal conversation with another normal human being.

“Understandable. Especially if you’re desperate enough to seek me out.”

She stared at him with a frown.

He motioned at the card still clutched in her hand. “That’s my business card. Matthew Newcomb.” He held out a hand, then retracted after an awkward moment of silence. “I only give those out to my closest acquaintances. They only give them out to those in the greatest need.”

“Oh, great.”

This is stupid, the civilized voice said. It played over and over in Leila’s mind as Matthew looked her over.

Satisfied with whatever he saw, he motioned toward the ramshackle house. “Care to tell me your troubles?”

Leila glanced in its direction, pretty sure the house had grown darker since she last looked. “Can we talk here?”

Matthew chuckled, an affable sound that did nothing to calm the prickling of Leila’s skin. “If you want. Let’s start with what’s happened recently in your life. What makes you think you need an exorcist?”

“I don’t.” Leila blurted the words out, then backpedaled at his skeptical expression. “I mean, I’m not sure I do. A lady came to me and gave me this card.”


“Some accidents have happened where I work.”

“Go on.”

“They’ve all… happened near me, and—” Leila swallowed the sudden lump in her throat. “One was to someone I care about.”

“Describe the accidents to me.”

That was the last thing she wanted to do, yet the words poured out of her mouth in grisly detail. A feeling of being detached, a passenger in her own body, came on in full force. The corners of her mouth twitched as she neared the end, as if she was about to smile.

Leila forced her mouth down, clamping her jaw shut mid-word.

Matthew stared at her, eyebrows drawn together. “Have you been having nightmares?”

The middle-aged lady’s words echoed back in Leila’s mind. Have you been having nightmares, Ms. Roberts? She glared at Matthew. A bit of vagueness was to be expected from anything related to religion, but this was getting ridiculous. “Why? What’s so important about bad dreams?”

“It helps—”

“Yes.” Anger boiled up, burning away the last vestiges of discomfort at the situation. She’d started the week partying with her best friend, and since her life had all gone to hell. Now she stood on a strange sidewalk next to a strange man while her friend bled out in a hospital. None of it made sense, and she was sick of it.

“I’ve had a few nightmares,” she said through clenched teeth. “Nasty ones. Ones I could swear were real, yet couldn’t possibly be. Do you want me to describe them to you as well? Maybe they’ll haunt you as much as me. Did I tell you my friend is dying? Why the hell am I here, and not with her?”

“Because you need my help. Your soul knows it, whether you do or not.”

Leila scoffed. “My soul? Are you going to preach? Is that what I came out here for, a sermon?”

An image flashed through her mind. Matthew, stretched across the pavement, with his ribs split open. The copper scent of blood filled the air, along with a deep earthen tang. A bulbous headed creature, barely reminiscent of a newborn, dug into the open chest cavity and giggled.

Leila choked, gagged, then vomited the remains of her lunch into the street.

Matthew reached out to touch her shoulder.

She shied away, her hand dropping to her stomach, where the sharp pain had quickened in tempo. “Can a baby be possessed?” she asked. Desperation creeped in thick. “Before it’s born?”

He hesitated. “I’ve never seen it.”

Leila coughed out a short laugh. “So that’s a maybe. What about eleven?”

“I don’t—”

Leila yelled, doubling over as the pain in her abdomen turned sharper. This time, she didn’t have the strength to move when he wrapped an arm around her.

A woman’s voice she didn’t recognize called out from the direction of the convent.

Matthew called back. Leila tried to focus on their words, anything to distract herself from the searing agony spreading across her mid-section.

A long, thin knife.

Creatures with needle-sharp teeth.

She heaved.

Motion. Matthew scooped her up, folding her in his arms. A bulge in her abdomen. Leila cried out as the agony sprouted more blades. The bulge grew, pushing out from under her shirt. The surface of her skin rippled, contorted, as something writhed to be free. A hand pressed from the inside, tiny fingers etched in her flesh.

“Don’t worry, now,” Matthew said in a strained voice. “We’ll take care of you.”

He yelled something about a book and a circle, but the words lost meaning. Leila screamed as the blades pierced out and down. Whatever was inside wanted out. Shadows covered her vision as they entered the church. A loud boom and rattling. A shock of cold on her back as Matthew laid her on hard ground.

Leila screamed again and kicked, bashing her head against something hard. A numbness spread, blessed relief as wet poured down on top of her, soaking into her skin and pooling underneath.

The relief was short-lived.

Fire burned it away as her insides twisted, turned inside out. A wail, not her own, cried out. High, piercing.

The agony faded to dull throbbing.

A high-vaulted ceiling hung over her, a prism of colors dancing across stone walls from stained glass windows. Leila lay on her back in a puddle of cool and warm, gasping for breath.

Rhythmic murmuring came from all sides. She forced her shaking limbs under her and pulled herself up into a sitting position. A holy water basin lay upturned beside her, its contents spilled on the marble floor where it mixed with crimson.

Leila’s breath caught as another wail echoed off the convent walls, answered by a boom of thunder which shook the stained glass.

Nuns surrounded her in a circle. Praying, hands clasped at their chests and mouths. One sat at her feet, habit sleeves red.

Don’t look. That small voice, long ignored. Leila ignored it once more.

She looked past her bare legs, pants awkwardly pulled to her ankles, to the pile of flesh, blood, and holy water between her legs. An infant thrashed, gray wrinkled skin contrasting with the red covering it. Large, rheumy eyes stared at her. It sucked in another breath, opening its mouth wide to reveal rows of shark-like teeth.

“No, no, no.” Leila tried to scramble back. Her hand slipped in the mess, laying her on her back once more. Pain bloomed in her skull, but she didn’t care. She had to get away from this thing.

The nun with blood on her sleeves moved up beside her and pushed down on her chest.

“Let me go, damn it!” Leila swung a fist, hitting the nun in the shoulder. She didn’t get a second chance. Two more nuns appeared, pinning her arms to the floor.

She fought, but it was pointless. She was too damn tired, too weak to dislodge the women. Hot tears ran down her cheeks.

The chanted prayers got louder. The sky answered. A peal of thunder shook the church as if God himself hammered at the ceiling.

“Our God in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

Matthew’s voice at her feet. Leila tried to look, but the bloody nun blocked her view.

“Thy children call upon thee in their hour of need.”

More hammers from on high. Rain pelted the roof, melding with the ever-increasing volume from the chants and prayers, creating a cacophony that vibrated in her bones. Leila gritted her teeth, wishing she could block out the noise, but the pounding of her heart would have given her no respite, anyway. She choked out a sob and screamed.

“Have mercy on this innocent soul,” Matthew continued. “Cast out the demon. Remove it, and cast it into the bottomless pit.”

Glass shattered as another hammer fell. Multi-colored shards rained down outside the circle of nuns. Then, silence.

Black clouds dissipated outside of the broken windows, giving way to a sunny day in seconds. Two of the nuns holding Leila down moved away. One stopped, removing the outer layer of her habit and draping it over Leila’s lower body. The last nun wrapped her arm around Leila’s shoulders and pulled her up into a sitting position. 

She felt numb, drained, teetering on the edge of an abyss that refused to claim her.

Matthew stood in front of her, dangling a cross pendant over the baby he cradled in his other arm. He looked at Leila and smiled. “The exorcism worked. It’s a boy.” He leaned over and offered the naked child to her.

Bile rose in the back of her throat. “No.”

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4

  1. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4
  5. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5
  6. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 6
  7. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 7 – Finale



Parasites: Part Four


An e-mail pinged on Leila’s phone way too early the next morning. Although the boss had given them the previous day off, he still had a business to run. Today would be business as usual. With nothing more than her nightmares and a secret she barely believed herself as an excuse, she showed up.

Her mind wasn’t having it, though. It stuck in a whirlpool of anxiety, bounding between the insanity at the office, her disturbing dreams, and the parasites growing inside her.

The previous day had shaken her so badly, she’d forgotten about them. At least, until she’d got up for work and vomited all over the place. A pill had beaten the nausea back down. It had not stopped the strange ache in her abdomen.

She couldn’t carry eleven kids. Hell, she didn’t want one kid. Yet, thanks to the phantom feel of a knife in her innards, she couldn’t bring herself to step foot in the clinic again.

A couple of co-workers walked by Leila’s cubicle, talking in excitement.

A creak, a crack, and a yell of pain as something large and dark fell from the ceiling and on to the passersby. Blood splattered against the outside of Leila’s workspace, a few stray drops landing on her face.

Déjà vu came and stayed. A haze settled over her mind as the first-aid kit, getting low on supplies, was pulled free once more. Sirens. Gasps and screams. A gaping hole in the ceiling where a chunk of metal beam mysteriously broke free and fell, cutting a groove down a co-worker’s arm. She couldn’t even remember the password to her computer. She was beginning to think it didn’t matter.

“Leila Roberts, right?”

Leila jumped, then flushed. The EMTs had taken the victim to the hospital a while ago. Without Kat around to talk her down, she’d stayed staring at the hole above her. She hadn’t seen anyone approach. “Yeah, that’s me.”

The speaker, a heavy-set older woman dressed in attire far too formal for the office, smiled. “You’re friends with Katharine, aren’t you?”

“Katharine?” Leila struggled far more than she should have to connect the dots. “Oh… Kat. Yes, I am.”

“A good girl. She helps me with my garden sometimes.”

Leila blinked, at a loss for words. Kat had talked about helping her ‘elderly’ neighbor before, but the woman in front of her didn’t look more than middle-aged. Besides, she wasn’t sure what the lady wanted from her.

“Is she not here today?”

Ah, that was it. “No. She had a doctor’s appointment.” Leila squashed down the sudden memory of her own missed appointment as a sharp pain jolted across her torso.

“I see. A lot of those lately, isn’t there?”

“Excuse me?”

“You were there for all three accidents, weren’t you?”

Leila narrowed her eyes as she tried to discern what the woman was getting at.

“Have you been having nightmares, Ms. Roberts?”


The words came out on reflex. Whoever this woman was, she was making her more uncomfortable by the second. All Leila wanted was for her to leave.

The woman smiled again. This time, it seemed almost predatory.

Leila’s skin crawled.

“Sometimes our actions can lead to unexpected consequences,” the lady continued, seemingly oblivious to Leila’s unease. “They let in things we don’t quite understand. Things better left alone.”

“I’d like you to leave.”

A growl entered Leila’s voice as a flushing heat turned discomfort into anger. A small part of her wondered why she was angry. That part burned away in an instant.

“Of course. But, if you need help, help you can’t get in other places, please call my friend.” 

The woman pulled a business card from her pocket and offered it to Leila over the partition. Leila moved without thinking, jumping from her seat to slap the woman’s hand away. Her mind filled with white-hot fury. Who was this woman to tell her what she needed?

The woman’s eyes flashed, her mouth dropping into a frown for a second before reversing into a strained grin. “Think about it, Ms. Roberts. I don’t think either of us wants Katharine to come to harm, now do we?” 

She turned on her heel and rushed away.

Leila’s chest seized. Did the woman know something she didn’t? Was Kat in danger? She had been near all the injured, but that had to be a coincidence, didn’t it?

Her eyes locked onto the small, gold-trimmed business card that had fluttered to the floor. Her hand shook as she picked it up. Matthew Newcomb, it read. Professional exorcist.

Leila laughed. A ridiculous looking red pentagram, little horns sticking out the top point of the star, adorned the center of the card. The woman was either a comedian with the best poker face in the world, or completely insane. Leila would be about as likely to go to her ‘friend’ as back to the clinic.

She dropped it into the wastebasket under her desk and turned back to her work, intent on losing herself in the mundane. She’d had precious little of that recently.

It worked as well as it could with the stabbing in her torso. After popping two painkillers, she even dozed.

Leila dreamed of the ceiling collapsing. A grinning, bulbous-headed creature grinned out at her from the remains. It laughed, a raspy noise which scratched along Leila’s skin, as blood seeped from under the wreckage. It scrambled away, only to drag Royce, a deep crimson hole punched in his stomach, in front of her. Then came Anne with a hole carved into the upper right side of her chest. The remains of a lung pulsated within. 

Electricity shot down Leila’s limbs as the creature laid a third body out in front of her like a cat with dead birds. Hair pulled up, clothes the same as the last time Leila had seen her. Blood seeped from her mouth, ears, and under her eyelids. 


Leila tried to scream as the creature giggled.

Her phone rang, jolting her out of sleep.

Leila’s hand shook as she picked up the receiver, the feeling of ice water traveling down her spine.


“Leila, thank goodness you answered.”

The high-pitched voice ricocheted around Leila’s head for a moment before she placed it. Kat’s mom. She hadn’t spoken to her in years, despite only living an hour away. Not since Kat got her own place. Leila couldn’t fathom what she wanted now. “Mrs. Meyer, how are you?”

“Kat’s dying.” Her voice cracked.

The trickle of ice became a torrent, seizing Leila’s muscles and stealing her breath. “I… I talked to her last night. She was fine.”

Fine. Leila’s mind echoed. This was all just a mistake.

“The doctor says she’s bleeding internally. She collapsed during her appointment. They don’t know why or how long she’ll last….”

Mrs. Meyer’s voice rambled on, each word choked out until she sobbed. “You two are inseparable… she’ll want you nearby when….”

“Of course, Mrs. Meyer.” 

The words came out of Leila’s mouth, but she had no connection to them. They sounded cold, distant. A small part of her screamed to pay attention. Most of her wanted to hide from the truth.

She listened to the second.

“What hospital?”

Mrs. Meyer told her. The information flowed through Leila’s thoughts without sticking. The line went dead.

Leila glanced at the edge of a business card, a horned pentagram in the center, peeking out from over the top of the wastebasket.

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3

  1. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4
  5. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5
  6. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 6
  7. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 7 – Finale



Parasites: Part Three


If Anne’s piece of lung had distracted Leila, Royce stabbing himself with a pencil de-railed her brain completely, so it was good the boss let them all go home, even if it was probably to avoid any more on-site crises. 

Leila got back to her apartment, mind on auto-pilot, and now sat on her bed, staring numbly at a wall. A knock at her door nearly made her jump out of her skin. Her phone buzzed a moment later.

Kat’s text popped up on the screen. Hey, let me in!

Leila obliged, more on routine than anything else.

Kat brushed by her, staring as Leila closed and locked the door once more.

“How are you holding up?” Kat asked.

Unsure of what to say, Leila stared back. At least she hadn’t ended up in the hospital, she supposed.

Kat sighed and motioned toward the couch. “Sit.”

When Leila didn’t respond fast enough, Kat gripped her arm and lead her to a seat, lightly pushing her down onto a cushion before settling in herself. 

“Look, I know we didn’t know Ann or Royce super well, but we’ve still worked together for years. It’s not easy seeing anyone hurt, let alone someone you sit next to. If you want to talk, or cry, or just sit in silence together, I’m here.”

Leila frowned at her friend and chewed her lip. Seeing her co-workers hurt bothered her, yet that wasn’t what bothered her the most. The blood, the flesh, the wound on Royce’s stomach. It all reminded her so much of the dream. What was wrong with her when a dream bothered her more than the wellbeing of another person?

Kat took Leila’s silence as her choice, and snuggled closer, throwing an arm over Leila’s shoulders. “Anne’s fine, by the way. I stopped by the hospital before I came. The doctors couldn’t figure out what happened, and neither could she. They’re keeping her overnight. Just in case.”

“What about Royce?” Leila asked, finally finding her voice.

“Alive. Not sure beyond that. They have him on suicide watch, and since I’m not family, I’m not allowed near him.”

“It’s so strange.”

Leila was referring to more than the office events, but Kat didn’t know the difference.

“I know, right? Royce’s like the most stable guy on the floor. Unflappable. Somehow manages to be okay with desk work day in and day out. So, why?”

Leila shrugged as a heavy fatigue descended over her, stealing what little thought she had regained. Darkness rushed in before she could respond.


Leather wrapped around Leila’s wrists, strapping her arms down to a cold, white table.

Four bare, sterile walls surrounded her. They stood barely far enough away to contain the table and two people in hazmat suits. One person, sitting directly at the foot of the table, towered over the second, who sat to the left.

“Just try to breathe, Ms. Roberts,” the tall one said in a raspy voice. “It will be over before you know it.” 

The rasp turned into a grinding inhale as they took a long, thin knife from somewhere unseen. The knife lowered. Realization rushed down Leila’s spine like lava.

“No!” She bucked, yet barely moved. Thick straps she could have sworn weren’t there before covered her waist and ankles, pinning her in place. A lamb to slaughter.

“Just relax, Ms. Roberts,” the short one hissed through their mask.

Agony erupted from deep within, spreading up as the knife penetrated further and further. 

Leila’s mind collapsed as liquid, hot and sticky, flooded down her legs, hitting the floor with the sound of thick rain.

A scream echoed in her ears, dulled in the searing pain.


“Leila. Leila! Wake up, for God’s sake.”

Leila jerked upright, feeling like she’d swallowed glass. Her skin still tingled where the straps had been. Her innards roiled and burned.

“Christ, Leila. You almost gave me a heart attack.”

Her mind whirled as Leila looked at Kat, trying to piece together what had happened. She was back on her couch, next to her best friend. No people in hazmat suits. No long, thin knives. She shivered. “What did I do?” she asked.

“What…?” Kat stared at her wide-eyed. “Screamed loud enough to wake the neighbors, is all. Wouldn’t surprise me if the cops show up soon. Everyone else in the building probably thinks you’ve been murdered.”

That explained the broken glass feeling in her throat. Leila shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry. No one around here cares what happens in someone else’s apartment.”

“If you say so. What the hell were you dreaming about?”

Leila’s thoughts skittered around the answer, already more than willing to leave the nightmare to rot in her subconscious. “I….”

Her answer stalled as the fading horror connected with a very real memory. Her chest tightened. “Kat, what time is it?”

Kat glanced at her phone. “Nearly midnight. Honestly, I’m glad you woke up, even if I wish it had been a little less harsh. You passed out on my shoulder, and I didn’t have the heart to wake you. Not like I have anywhere to be. I’m getting pretty tired myself, though, and this couch isn’t quite as comfortable for me as it is for you.”

Kat’s words passed by Leila, heard, but barely understood. The appointment. The procedure. She’d missed it. Yet, as a piece of her latest nightmare came creeping back, she found she wasn’t so bothered after all.

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2

  1. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4
  5. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5
  6. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 6
  7. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 7 – Finale



Parasites: Part Two


Leila dragged herself to work the next morning with hair unbrushed and clothes rumpled. No one batted an eye. Everyone looked half-dead on Mondays, especially before their third cup of coffee. 

Currently, Leila stood in the break room, pouring way too much sugar into her first cup of the day. The nightmare replayed in her head. She could still feel the creature’s slimy, chubby hand rubbing against her skin. The eyes, big and innocent, clashing with the mouthful of teeth and flesh. Leila shivered. It was just her subconscious freaking out. It had to be. After her evening procedure, it would all be over.

Someone bumped her on the shoulder. She jumped, splashing hot coffee all over her hands. The mug slipped from her grasp as she yelped, burning pain flushing across her fingers. It hit the marble countertop and bounced off.

“God!” Anne caught the mug, tossed it in the sink next to Leila, and turned on the faucet. She grabbed Leila’s hands and shoved them under the cool water. “Jesus, Leila. I’m so sorry.” She rubbed Leila’s hands with hers, which only made them sting more.

“It’s fine,” Leila said as she pulled her hands free.

“Fine? I just gave you third-degree burns.”

Third? No. Look.” Leila held up her red, but otherwise intact, hands. “Scalded, at best. I shouldn’t be zoning out at work.”

Anne leaned in to inspect Leila, the scowl of concentration on her face deeper than usual. “You sure you don’t want some burn cream for that? Might as well get some use out of that dusty first-aid kit.”

“I’m fine. In fact, I think I’m just going to get back to work.”

Leila turned to go. Anne reached out, more protests on her lips. The words caught. Leila’s eyes grew wide as Anne’s face turned purple.


Anne’s hands flew to her throat, her mouth opening and closing in silence. 

Behind Leila, someone yelled. She watched, frozen to the spot, as quiet, reserved Dan rushed forward. He wrapped his arms around Anne and squeezed.

A thick, purple and red glob flew from Anne’s mouth. It hit the floor with a splat. The edge of the mass looked jagged, as if many tiny, sharp teeth had torn it free.

For the first time in Leila’s three years of working a boring desk job in a boring cubicle, an ambulance was called. By the time the EMTs arrived, Anne swore she was fine, and hadn’t the slightest idea how she had gotten the ‘thing’, as she put it, lodged in her throat. Of course, the boss would have none of it, so off she went for a full check-up.

Leila went back to her organized, sterile, white cubicle and attempted to work. All she did was stare at her computer screen while images of torn flesh danced through her mind.

“Messed up, huh?”

Leila stifled another yelp. She really needed to calm down.

Kat frowned at her from over the white wall dividing their identically rectangular work spaces, her frizzy hair doing a good job of escaping her ponytail. “Mark said it literally looked like Anne coughed up a piece of lung.” She grimaced. “Talk about in bad taste. I hope she’ll be all right, and she’s not contagious. Wouldn’t that be great? I can see the headlines now — ‘data monkeys ground zero for new plague!’”

Leila forced a thin smile. Mark wasn’t the only one with poor taste, but she’d known Kat long enough to realize she wasn’t trying to be insensitive to Anne. She was just trying to distract her friend. Kat always seemed to know when she felt off. “Yeah. Even with getting the day off, I think I’ll pass on coughing up chunks.”

“Oh, speaking of which,” Kat’s eyes lit up. “You don’t know how much I hurled after Saturday night.”

“You’re right. I don’t.”

“What about you?”

Both of them paused. 

Kat’s face scrunched up. “Not the hurling. The guy. How’d it go with that guy you were dancing with? Did you even get his name before he whisked you off for some extra fun? Actually, who cares. How was he in bed? He seemed pretty awesome on the dance floor.”

Leila’s mind stuttered, stalled. Guy? As usual, she and Kat had visited a local night club Saturday night. She remembered the loud music pulsating in her bones. The lights flashing, the acidic smell of sweat and booze. Too much booze. The details were hazy at best. Any guy she might have met melted into the faceless crowd in her memory.

“Leila?” Kat raised an eyebrow as she studied Leila.

“I… don’t remember.”

“What he was like?”

“The guy.”

“Oh.” Kat’s expression soured. “Did he drug you? Because if he did, so help me, I’ll hunt him down and cut off his junk.”

“I… no. I don’t think so. We only drink things we order each other, right? So how would he?”

“You got pretty drunk, Leila. Maybe he… you know what, it doesn’t matter. I was an idiot for letting you go off on your own.”

“I’m not your kid, Kat.”

“No, I’m your wingman, and a piss poor one at that.” She clenched her teeth. “You think—”

A loud thunk followed by a gurgling cry from the cubicle in front of Leila cut off whatever Kat was about to say. She leaned over to look. Her face blanched. “Holy hell!”

She disappeared into her own cubicle. The sound of the landline phone at her desk being pulled from its cradle echoed back.

Bile rose in the back of Leila’s throat. Her body felt leaden, her eyes glued to the divider. She started to shake as Kat’s voice filtered through the wall. “The guy in front of us, I think he’s just stabbed himself.”

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1

  1. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4
  5. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5
  6. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 6
  7. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 7 – Finale



Parasites: Part One


Eleven sacs. Eleven tiny crescents with eleven tiny heartbeats. A staccato rhythm beat in Leila’s chest, nearly as frantic as the pulses coming from the ultrasound machine.

This couldn’t be happening. She was still in bed, still asleep, dreaming the impossible. She had to be.

The technician, a short, stout woman with dirty blonde hair, shot her a sideways glance. “Um… give me just a moment, Ms. Roberts.” The picture on the ultrasound screen shifted to a hazy gray cone as she withdrew the probe and rushed out the door.

Leila’s stomach clenched. Sweat broke out across her body, bringing with it an almost unbearable itch and desperate need to vomit.

She shot up, burying her face in the barf bag clenched in her hands. Bitter liquid flowed out, leaving in its wake a burning in her throat and nose. She spit, grimaced, gulped air. None of it made sense. She’d only come to the clinic because of the stupid idea she’d woken up with. The pregnancy test had to be wrong, the ultrasound… definitely wrong, on more than one level.

A sharp knock at the door heralded the return of the technician, this time flanked by a taller woman. 

“Hello Ms. Roberts. I’m Dr. Stetson,” the tall doctor said.

Leila frowned. She was getting sick of hearing her last name this morning. “Hello.”

Dr. Stetson sat down on the stool near Leila’s feet and put a hand on her arm. Leila fought the urge to pull away.

“I’m going to take a look, if you don’t mind.”

She minded. Leila had come to the clinic on paranoia, waited nearly an hour to strip and lay out on an ice cold exam table so a strange woman could prod her and tell her the impossible. At the same time, she needed someone to tell her this all had been a huge mistake. User error. Sorry your technician is new and can’t read ultrasounds or count. If getting that answer meant another stranger prodding her, so be it.

Leila forced a half-smile, which felt about as natural as walking upside down. “Sure, go ahead.”

Dr. Stetson gave her a final pat, then scooted toward Leila’s feet. A few uncomfortable moments later, the ultrasound screen lit up with dark ovals.

The doctor, unlike the technician, counted silently. Her eyes narrowed. Her other hand came up, moving across the screen as she counted again.

A twist of the probe made Leila want to kick her, and one oval grew larger, revealing the gray crescent within. More twists, more shapes. Leila gritted her teeth as her stomach turned again.

The probe retreated just in time. 

The technician, who had until this point been wringing her hands by the door, jumped as Leila vomited. “I’ll go get you another bag.”

Dr. Stetson watched the technician leave, then turned to Leila.

Finally, she’d get the truth, and she could go back to her life.

“Ms. Roberts, there’s no easy way to say this. Not only are you about seven weeks pregnant, you have eleven implanted embryos.”

Dr. Stetson continued, saying something about never seeing so many before, but the words barely registered. Ice solidified in Leila’s veins, clashing with the inferno on her skin. Her pulse pounded in her ears, faster and faster. The room spun.

She couldn’t be pregnant with one baby, let alone eleven. She was careful. This didn’t happen if you were careful.


Leila stared at the piece of paper in her hand the entire bus ride home. Dozens of bodies pressed in. Sardines in a can, not unlike what was happening in her uterus. Nausea settled in at the thought. The medicine the doctor gave her kept her from spewing all over the three businessmen, one businesswoman, and two teens in cut-off jeans packed in front of her. Just barely. Leila’s face flushed as the room tilted.

She focused harder on the paper, on the hand-written scribble at the bottom of the page.

Room available at 4pm tomorrow. Emergency d&c.

Leila had never wanted kids. She took great lengths to keep it that way, yet the thought of doctors digging around her innards made her skin prickle almost as much as the parasites busy sucking her dry.

The bus screeched to a halt in front of an apartment building. Leila stood, moved toward the door, and half the bus occupants moved with her. People closed in, rubbed against her exposed arms, legs, back. Electricity shot from her head to her toes. Bodies crushing in, constricting her lungs until she couldn’t breathe.


Her voice came out weak, drowned in the racket of dozens of people trying to be the first off the bus.


She pushed the person in front of her. They shifted slightly, not even bothering to look. Leila changed targets, elbowing the guy beside her in the ribs and wedging herself into the little space he made as he reeled back with a glare. 

Crimson ran down his face. He yelped, his hand shooting to his nose where blood ran like a faucet. Leila’s eyes went wide, but she didn’t wait to apologize. 

The sides of the bus squeezed in until she swore she heard her bones pop. She fought her way to the front as the shuffling of feet turned to yells of anger and surprise, not stopping until the smell of urine in the stairwell gave way to the smell of black roses blooming on her balcony. The smell of cinnamon pot-pourri joined the flowers as she opened her apartment door. It nearly knocked her off her feet, but the familiarity of it washed some of the heat in her skin away. 

Leila slammed the door behind her as she spun, throwing the bolt in case anyone from the bus decided to complain in person. She lay her head against the cool wood, her arms trembling at her sides. 

She was so tired.

Her grasp on wakefulness fled with the last bits of adrenaline. She stumbled to her bed, welcoming the oblivion of sleep.


Feeble cries surrounded her. Babies. Her babies. Leila searched for them through inky-black. She walked, ran, until her lungs ached and her legs gave way. As she hit the ground, infantile wails turned to rumbling growls. Low at first, then louder and louder. Something skittered in the darkness.

Leila strained to see it as a hiss echoed. A lunge from her left followed by the copper scent of blood. The black flashed to red. A small creature crouched. Under it, another lay, with bare, thin arms splayed out.

A sickening crunch, and a squeal. The top creature looked back at Leila. Wet flesh hung from jagged teeth, out of place on its babyish face. Large rheumy eyes sat in its bald head. It smiled.

A shudder passed through Leila. She looked away, toward the creature still splayed underneath the other. Her stomach dropped. A gaping hole replaced where its chest should have been, hazy eyes staring blankly up. A gray heart sat still in a pool of flesh and blood.

Leila tried to run, scream. Her body refused to respond. The victor gurgled, leaning its head back to allow the piece of flesh in its mouth to slide down its gullet with a slurp.

The growls returned, ricocheting from all around.

From the red rose bulbous shapes, stretching, straining against a thin membrane which covered the floor.

A part of the membrane tore, then another, and another. Nine more razor-teethed creatures crawled from the holes, hunched over with limbs askew. Nine gazes locked onto Leila. A hiss from a creature to her left as it lunged for the one next to it.

Chaos erupted. The creatures tore into each other. Screams, screeches, ripping, crunching. Blood splattered until it dripped down Leila’s skin, filling her nose with acrid, bitter tones.

She clenched her eyes shut, the only part of her body still under her control. She focused on the sound of her breath, ragged and rapid. Anything to block out the noises.

Silence. A skitter.

Leila kept her eyes shut.

A coo. A touch on her leg which reverberated up like an electric shock, forcing her eyes open.

A single creature stood at her feet, surrounded by the flesh of the others. Blue, black, brown, pink, red. An obscene rainbow settling on a never-ending background.

The lone survivor cooed once more, a sound which should have brought the desire to protect, yet only brought revulsion. It rubbed its blood-slicked hand across her calf and grinned.