A Study of Host-Parasite Interactions

An audio recording of Dr. Harriet Park in conversation with patient GM-1725, digitally recovered by Jen R. Albert
Art by Leigh Legler

I am the very picture of health. I do not smoke. I do not eat red meat. I do not drink excessively. I exercise precisely the prescribed amount every day, never so much as a minute more. I strive to be the perfect physiological specimen. And when that day comes, when one of the Worshipful Masters deems me worthy of consumption, I hope to be an immeasurable delicacy the likes of which they have never tasted. I only hope that day is not today.

I know you no longer love the Masters as I do, but I must express to you the depth of my feelings. I am enamored with them–their slender, delicate legs, the intricate depth of their compound eyes, the sinuous beat of their antennae, the churn of their mandibles as they grind the bones of my brothers and sisters. It brings tears to my eyes. Truly. My life, my research, my years of hard work, I dedicate to them.

But now I see that it has all been for naught. Despite my most noble intentions, I have failed to be a properly dutiful servant. If the Masters were to learn what I have done, where my research has led, they would feast on me in shame, on the spot, without ritual or pleasure or seasoning. I could not bring myself to blame them.

But neither can I allow it.

You see, it is we who make them sick. You’ve witnessed this epidemic, this horrible, rampant plague that dissolves their muscles, that strips pigment from their eyes and makes their carapaces peel away. It all comes from us. It sits inside of us silently, waiting for that glorious day when we give our bodies up to the appetites of our noble conquerors from beyond. It waits in us for its chance to rise from dormancy and replicate inside of its primary host–our Worshipful Masters.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2015 collection.

Dr. Harriet Park was the head of parasitology at the Glm’lek Institute for Masters Research, a Hexopoid­run facility that existed in the years leading up to the Human Liberation War in 2163. After the Great Eviction of 2167, Dr. Park was brought before the Allearth Council on charges of conspiracy and treason against the human race for her actions during the war on behalf of the insectoid invaders. She steadfastly refused treatment for the Hexo parasite, choosing instead to continue her worship of the invaders up until her council-appointed execution in 2173.

Jen lives in Toronto, Canada with one dog, one guinea pig, and one fiancé. She is addicted to reading and writing speculative fiction, and steals time to indulge in these obsessions whenever she can, usually late at night by the light of a single tallow candle. Jen puts up a respectable front and pays the bills working as an entomologist at a university in Toronto, so you could say that she’s a bit of a mad scientist herself.

Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.

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