WARNING! Some scenes in this story may cause serious discomfort (not violence or sensuality). Readers' discretion is advised.

— FIDANTROPHY —

Chapter 1: Scaly Movie

Bailey holds up a plastic cup whose color disastrously clashes with her outfit—a truly hideous sight to behold when I lift my eyes from my mirror case. And my ears are getting treated no better, Cody's ranting about aliens abducting children and chickens in a farm, something about spaceships and strange lights and all kinds of stupid stuffs.

Cody brings his big newspapers to Bailey, huffing. "It's been confirmed. Satellite images had shown new crop circles forming not just overnight, but within hours! In Kettlecorn! Kansas!" he says excitedly. He's been so hyped this morning just because of that stupid news. Really, I can't understand how boring stuffs like that can appear so interesting to some weird people.

Bailey sighs, then puts her cup down on the counter. "No, Cody. I'm pretty sure there have been no aliens landing in Kettlecorn, otherwise my mom and brothers would've told me the second they landed."

Cody immediately takes a light breath, going to counter that. But before he can reply, "You know, Cody, I have this feeling that you'll make a bad scientist." Bailey shakes her head. "With such a presumptuous nature."

Cody sits up stiff. "Wh- what do mean 'presumptuous'? Not that I don't have a source. I do. And here it is."

He wildly turns the pages of the newspaper, then finally settles on a certain page. He whisk it toward Bailey's face, inches from her nose. "Now study this carefully." His finger pats on the black-and-white surface. "What do you think that picture's suggesting?"

Bailey gently shoos his hand away with disinterest, directing his arm toward me. "Maybe you should ask London about what she sees in that picture."

Cody turns around, snorting reluctantly, and then nudges my hand with the newspapers. Eww! I never spare a thought on grabbing that dirty charcoal painting!

But he's staring at me, waiting . . .

Oh fine!

I take a quick glance. Some blur of white spots in a dark night sky . . . I see, so that's how it was . . .

Then having figured out the truth behind the photograph, I rise up and spit out my wisdom. "Those are just elves mistaken by stupid uneducated people for being from the outer space."

Cody pouts with an eye-roll, and Bailey picks the newspapers off Cody's hand. "See? You know all too well how the media makes a fuss out of something that could just as easily be anything else besides an alien spaceship."

Cody snatches the papers from her and argues back, and there they go all sciency again, talking about Northern light in China, flying brooms on the Bermuda Triangle, human in a bottle—wait, that reminds me to take my prescription!

Lucky I remember it on time. It's ten o'clock now, almost miss the time I should be taking it. I take out the small bottle from my purse and uncap it. Then pour the whole content of fern-green powder onto the surface of my Banana Fofana. It hisses on contact with the water. I watch it as it dissolves by itself without me stirring it.

And when everything turns silent.

Cody and Bailey are staring at me, slightly squinting. "London, what are you doing?" Bailey asks eying me at an angle.

I blink innocently, not sure what to reply. "Oh you mean this?" I say pointing at the drink. "Or this bottle?"

"The stuff in that bottle that you've just poured into that drink," Cody says, and they're staring at me again, waiting for me to answer.

I check for a moment. There's no point hiding the truth from them either. Not that they'll tell anyone else. It'll be fine to tell them.

So I grab my milkshake, and pull it close to my chest. "This," I hiss, "is a glass of Banana Fofana, which I just mixed with the Blanket's stupicle."

They gasp. "Blanket's stupicle?"

I nod a big nod, like hammering a nail with my chin. "Tutweiller said that the problem with me is that I'm too intelligent to understand all those simple things in class. So they brought me to Blanket and their solution was to give me this." I joggle the little bottle in front of them. A smiling Blanket flashes his teeth on the label.

Cody and Bailey flinch with a disgusted grin.

"This thing's gonna boost my stupidity plenty enough to reach you guys' level!" I tell them, totally suppressing the rebellious giggle under my belly, but fail to hold it long so it bursts out in a series of chuckles before coming out hysterically.

Cody and Bailey eww in unison. Jealousy evident across their face. Then they go and ramble among themselves . . . something about Tutweiller and nice pedagogy and what Chocobo's effect . . . Ugh, too simple to understand again.

I grip my glass. Heck what am I doing wasting my time listening to those crap? Now's medicine time. I take one last look at the Banana Fofana, by its color this smoothie with stupicle promises yumminess. I take a full long sip of my Banana Fof—

Yuck! It's like I'm tasting wet dog!

I shove the cup across the counter. "Eww what happens to your smoothies today!" I pull out the tissue papers in my purse and wipe my tongue clean. And that's when I see Zack running by from the direction of the hot tubs.

Zack turns his head around searching the Skydeck and scanning through the crowd. Soon he spots us here at Easy Squeezy. "Codes!".

Cody and Bailey hold their conversation and look to Zack.

Zack arrives and drops his butt on a seat next to me, slightly heaving. "Cody, our pet car's got something wrong with the steering wheel," he says like talking to a mechanic.

Cody tenses and stands up fast. "What? It hasn't even been three days!" he says, shocked. Then he tilts his head into a suspicious glare. "You're not telling me your girl's twice the weight of Kirby are you?"

Zack scratches his head. "Well, plus the ones sitting on the front and the back bonnet, then yes."

Oh ay oh!

I can't believe the me ten minutes ago decided to follow them down to the cargo hold. The smell of oil and other stuffs here is even worse than Bailey's closet. But this doesn't come close to that rotten Banana Fofana just now. Did I really drink a mouthful of that and swallow it?

Cody's still nagging Zack, so annoying that I'm glad I can just fire people like that. All the rustling of cockroaches' footsteps just sound so faint in comparison.

"A car's telling you it can carry no more than two people when it only got two passenger's seats attached to it," Cody repeats for the fifth time. He's been whining all the way down since we left the juice bar, about Zack never giving him a chance to drive it since their mommy and daddy left the ship, about how carefully he'd chosen the washing agent to wash the car, Zack running over his foot, blah . . . Sigh, that did set off some bit of sympathy in me. Poor Zack getting an earful of all that crap.

I lean on a huge wooden crate—the cleanest one I can find down here, finally having a rest after a tiring walk. Now what should I do? No telephone of internet line down here. This place is worse than stupid.

So I check out the crate, maybe it'll be more interesting than the boring nagging.

Square. Made of wood. Just like any other crate here. Only, there's something familiar on its side—a figure of a three-bladed electric fan painted in black and yellow. I remember seeing one of those drawings in Zack's zombie-shooting game near the building where he's afraid to get into, and also on Cody's geeky book cover with a picture of an explosion right next to it.

Bailey wanders near a bright-brown crate. She peers back at the small door on the far end of the room, then to the larger gate-like door on the opposite side that leads to somewhere I don't know—though I do know that it wouldn't lead us up to the deck. "You guys keep your car down here?" she says walking toward Cody and Zack, minding her steps making sure she doesn't kick the protruding metal stripe on the floor. "How did you carry it up to the deck anyway?"

"Easy," Zack says shrugging. "Break it down to pieces, then reassemble it."

Cody stoops behind a pile of smaller crates and picks up a detached steering wheel. He holds the steering wheel up, face puzzled. "But not this small of a piece," he says.

Zack's smirk jolts into a dumb confused frown. "But I didn't do it."

Rustling sound. The huge crate quivers across my arm.

Bailey tenses. "What was that?"

Cody and Zack twist around, just noticing the sound. And before any of us can react any further, a loud bang fills the room.

It blows me off my heels. My back crash-lands onto the protrusive surface of the floor. A constant flat-line beeps in my left ear.

My back hurts like hell! It's only after a long painful wince that I finally get to open my eyes to see what the heck has just hit me.

But as soon as light enters my eyes, a thick square wooden board zooms in and slams right onto me. I hear Bailey screams my name.

I shut my eyes, waiting to for the pain to hit me. But that's until I realize the pain is taking too long to come.

Trolled—the board isn't in fact heavy at all. I quickly shove it off my body. Then stand up akimbo in sheer rage. "Who dares to touch a rich person this way!"

A hissing sound.

"But London," Zack stammers. "Maybe it's not a 'who'."

Don't know what he's saying. I then turn to the crate I was leaning to.

Something long like a fireman hose stretches out on top of the crate.

I catch myself not to freak out.

The thing has a dark-purple body peppered with polka dots. Skin like that of a fish. No legs. A triangular head. Eyes that constantly glaring. And a skinny tongue wagging out its mouth.

I instantly recognize this animal. I saw it all too many times on TV. Ambushing its preys and swallowing them whole. There's no mistaking it.

It's a worm!

Panic! Cody-Bailey-Zack screech their necks off at the advancing animal, naming it "Boa", "Python" and "Anaconda" respectively at the top of their voice. Then they scatter out like billiard balls.

Too late to join the chorus. I spin to my back and begin my bolt toward the exit. To the door we came in from. Getting there will mean safety! My heels starts to bing-bang the floor as I sprint toward the—

Bam! I bump into something invisible, slumping hard onto the ground.

I rub my swollen forehead. A transparent telephone box stands right in front of me.

I chance a glance behind me—the animal's tilting toward here!

My body moves automatically. I spring to my feet.

The hissing is drawing near.

I yank the door open.

Noises of stuffs falling down behind me.

I slip into the booth. Slam the door shut.

Then silence.

I shut my eyes. And relieve myself with deep, rapid heaving. I'm safe. It can't penetrate in. Though I'm not sure how the others are going to deal with it. Has anyone of them been eaten now? I don't know.

Or maybe—they've made it out of this place and left me all alone! How dare they do that to me! No, I've got to check this out. In case I'm the only one still stuck down here.

So I brave myself to look at what's happening outside—see if there's a huge bulge on the snake's body! Then slowly, and nervously, I roll my eyes up.

Giant eye. Glaring back at me within hugging distance.

I drop to my butt. Freaked out.

The animal juts its tongue at me. It looks threatening, but not advancing any closer—now I realize it, there's a glass door in between us.

I jut out my own tongue. "Stupid good-for-nothing worm!" Then fiercely, I hurl my heavy purse at it and the purse hits the glass door—which as crazy as it might sound, the door bounces open!

The door's swung out wide. Handle beyond reach. The worm happily creeps its way in, hissing, and closing in.

I whole body tenses. I guess this is 'fear', almost forgot how it feels. But I quickly swallow it. I square my shoulder. Then grab my Blackberry. "Any closer and I'll call Daddy!"

All of a sudden, the animal's head cocks sharply to the front—something's just hit it from the back.

I look to the top of a pile of crates. Zack is surfing on a dangerous, holding a Y-shaped stick. "What the hell you're still waiting for! Shut that stupid door up!"

I take no chances. I snatch the door handle before it has the chance to recover, yank the door in, and shout "careful don't hit the glass" before it slams all the way shut.

The worm turns away. And chases after its new target, gliding up the crates where Zack's standing. I can't see him very clear from over here, but Zack seems like releasing a another shot.

The worm bucks. The shot has hit it. But it takes almost no time to recover and carries on its way up.

But seconds into the climb, the head stops abruptly. I don't see any apparent reason for that.

Then it turns to its back.

Only now I see it—Cody and Bailey are dashing towards me, fleeing to the exit door behind. "Bailey, you go to the left, me to the right." Cody shouts and they split up to my sides.

The box around me topples backward—wall becomes floor—I flop down on my back, and before I can realize it, I'm hovering across the room—they're carrying me together with them!

I'm lying in a flying coffin. Cody and Bailey are on my left and right, lifting the heavy box as they rush toward the exit. They're not leaving me behind! They are nice people!

I peer through the gap between my feet—the worm's zigzagging toward us with unnatural speed.

"Cody! Bailey! Faster!" I scream, tapping the wall around me.

But then out the blue, the whole world spins violently. The box flips to the side. My soft nose into hard wall. Deafening boom. And I'm down to the floor with the telephone box.

I shake my head clear, touching my face to find any wound. I just knew I can't trust Cody and Bailey. But then I smell something. It's the smell oil. No good! I've got to shut the bloody door up quick!

Wasting no time, I roll to the left to—

Glaring eyes . . .

My stomach clenches. Unmuffled hissings on my forehead. A skinny tongue at the tip of my nose—the worm's been all the way through the door and into the box. I'm doomed!

I flick my eyes to the right. I don't want to see this horrifying close-up.

Outside, Cody and Bailey are flinging a ton of TV's and pillows at the animal's body.

Then to the left, Zack's hollering out Tarzanically with all sort of monkey gestures.

I just knew they are all nice people. They know how pathetic the world will be without me.

The stupid monster carries on zooming in even closer, well into kissing distance. It brushes its tongue all over my cheek. Its nose nudges into mine.

Then halts. It checks for a while, staring at me speculatively.

Then strangely, and out-of-the-world-ly, the worm pulls its stupid self out! It pulls its freaking stupid self out! Out and freaking away from me!

Just outside the box, the blurred sight of its moving body gets thinner and thinner, until the tip of its tail disappears from sight. Then "Bailey run!" I heard from the back of my head—the direction of the exit door.

I lie stiff inside this box, not daring any movement, afraid that doing so might call for the worm to come back. But then a stream of disturbing screeches . . . It's Cody and Bailey. Now I'm truly worried. I can't just let them die miserably like that. I have to watch it as they die! Finally I manage to twist my neck around, just enough to catch the sight of the chaos.

Cody and Bailey are climbing a tall wall of crates, clinging to it like a pair of lizards at only a human height above the floor. The animal rushes toward the crates, threatening them with hisses.

Just when I'm busy studying the scene, a hand clasps my shoulder and yanks me toward it—not another worm! Then a voice whispers right next to me, "Hey, you don't wanna die here, do you?" Zack's voice! "Get out now and we run to safety!"

I hastily roll back into the telephone box.

"Hey London!"

I swipe at his yell. "Nay the worm ain't gonna get its butt in here, just shut that stupid door up," I say. But then upon a sudden realization, "I'm not sharing this box with anyone!" I warn him, pointing a dare finger below his chin.

Zack grinds his teeth and makes an irritated snort before he stands back up. "Okay, fine. You stay in here, while I try help the others. Okay?" he says, then the door swings down like a back bonnet, shutting with a bang. Then his sneakers disappears from sight as he skitters away.

But after running several steps, he brakes. He spins around and point a finger back at me. "But I'm pretty sure that's a snake."

Then he rushes off.

Looking out through a layer of glass—not sure it's the floor or the roof of the telephone box—Cody and Bailey are still climbing, very slowly. And the big head of the worm—the snake—is only several feet below them, rising almost twice as fast.

Zack runs toward the snake carrying a fire extinguisher—not sure where he got that from—he reaches the waggling tail, aims carefully, and drives the heavy vessel crashing down onto the thin scaly appendage.

Metal squashes soft meat. The snake jumps. Its head shoots up even higher than Cody and Bailey. Shrieking in a torrent of pain. Then it tumbles to the floor.

Zack takes this opportunity to his climb up another stack of crates just opposite to the one Cody and Bailey are climbing.

The snake recovers. Its head spins around uncertainly—even looks at my direction. But it quickly spots them—two are high on the right pile rising up sluggishly and one's on the left pile speeding up with astonishing swiftness. It soon makes its choice. It goes for the one still closer to ground—Zack.

Cody turns for a glance at the snake. "Zack!" he shouts. "Faster the Boa's drawing close!"

"It's an Anaconda!" Zack answers between thick breaths while climbing.

"No it's a Python!" Bailey yells at Cody.

"It's a snake!" I roar, finding my chance to butt in.

Cody looks to me for the briefest of moment—before he catches foot on the loose little crate.

"Cody!" Bailey and Zack gasp in shock.

Cody's legs are dangling in mid air, swinging around in search for a spot to land a foot.

The snake sees this, and immediately switches its target. It goes from Zack's crate pile to Cody's.

Cody still can't find a place to lay his feet. "Zack!" he croaks. "My fingers can't hold any longer!"

Zack continues his troubled stare, but can't do anything.

The snake cleverly turns itself into a huge spiral trap right below Cody. It looks so much like a hot tub on Sky Deck, only with a scaly wall. The snake waits there, to catch the fall.

"Zack!" Cody screams again. "Don't just stand there! Do something!"

Then finally, he loses his grip.

He plummets straight down, towards the spiraling body of the snake.

A bang. Cody's fallen right into the middle of the spiral.

I can't see him anymore as he disappears behind the thick wall of snake's body.

The snake hisses. Immediately, Cody's head and shoulders poke up into sight, like emerging from a dive in the hot tub. He spins around in sheer panic, to find a way to escape. I don't think he can jump over the chest-height wall the snake has made itself into. He's totally helpless.

"Zack!" Cody shouts, and the spiral starts to shrink around him.

But just when it does, a huge, thick SUV tire falls straight into the snake's spiral—exactly around Cody, like a big nut around a thin screw.

The squeezing stops. Cody falls silent. The snake can't squeeze Cody with a thick barrier of rubber around him.

"Hide inside that doughnut!" Zack roars from the top of the pile he was climbing. "And careful here's another one," he calls out and tosses a metal wok down.

The wok zooms towards Cody. He ducks and disappears from sight.

The wok lands flat like a Frisbee right on top of where his head was. I can imagine it has covered the top of the tire like a manhole lid.

The spiral clears slowly, unveiling little by little the huge black waist-height SUV tire resting on the floor. The head of the snake edges toward the top of the tire. But as soon as it gets there, it stops. Can't get in.

I was right. The wok has fallen right on top of the hole in the middle of the tire, becoming a tight lid on it.

The snake makes several brief attempts to scoop up the edge of the wok, but gives up shortly after. Then it stares up. Looks to Zack and then Bailey—but never to me—and its eyes finally settle on Zack.

The snake advances toward the pile of crate Zack's standing on.

"Zack!" Bailey shouts from the top of her pile, rummaging a peeled-open crate labeled "Ajax"—she too has reached the top. "I need a lighter!"

"I don't smoke!" Zack yells. He throws a small crate down, trying to slow the snake.

"No!" Bailey shouts again, then she pulls up a long string of big red fire crackers, banana-sized. "This should scare it away!"

Zack looks to the crackers, slightly taken aback. "But I do have some matches," he says, and grins. "Those crackers should deal some serious damage."

"No! We should only scare it away! Not kill it," Bailey retorts—she needs some smarticles!

"Heck look at how huge the anaconda is! It may give it a hard lesson but it won't kill it."

"There's got to be a better way!" comes a reply from over the floor. Cody's lifting up his wok-lid on the tire at a small angle, like a sewage worker appearing through a manhole. "Just don't harm that animal if we can help it! "

That's when a reptilian tail swings toward him, and slips into the tiny opening under the edge of the wok. It takes Cody by surprise. "What the!"

The lid used to cover him is open. Cody has no idea how to close the wok down.

The head of the snake now makes a U-turn and back to the tire, at the same time stuffing more and more of its tail under the wok and into the tire.

"Bite the tail!" Zack shouts to him. "Find the spot I just hit it earlier!"

No way Cody's going to do that. He just keeps punching and punching the tail with his soft knuckle. "Zack! Don't just stand there! Light the crackers!"

Bailey flings the string of fire crackers toward Zack.

Zack grabs it. "Cool. Almost longer than a machine gun's ammo."

The tail jerks up and flips the wok away. "Zack!" Cody screams again. "Quick!"

Then comes the triangular head. It descends slowly on top of Cody's tiny head. Glaring. Hissing. Sweats ooze out Cody's thick hair.

Looking back on the pile of crate, Zack's tapping all around his waist and thigh. "Can't find my matches!"

The snake shrieks. Then plunges right into the center of the tire. Bull eye.

The rest of the snake's body arcs stiffly while the head sinks into the tire.

Bailey just stands there. Awestruck.

Cody doesn't make any sound.

"Oh I found it!" Zack shouts pulling out the matches under his sock. Then he hurries and light the fire crackers. "Here comes a red carpet to hell!" he roars and swings the long red string of fire crackers—which is now hissing like a snake too!

The crackers land on the snake's most meaty part. It carries on hissing.

And goes off—a train of booms thunder across the cargo hold.

The head whips out. Its tail spins. Then it lets loose inaudible shrieks under the bombardment of explosions. The body twists and coils and bounces away from the ongoing crackers. Then rolls away lifelessly before it glides again like a drunken snake and into the back of a pile of cargo covered with camp.

The fire crackers finish. A silence of victory.

Bailey and Zack don't move at all. They're standing tense on the crates, like preparing to react to the tiniest sign of the snake coming back.

Soon enough, Cody emerges groggily out the tire, hugging the huge ring of rubber. His head's wet with sticky yellowish-greenish slime, and a dark bruise on his neck that I can see even from here.

He raises his pretty face and squints at our direction for several seconds. Then cocks back down.

Oh ay oh!

At the manager's office. Me and Bailey and Zack are sitting in front of Moseby's big desk, answering a lot of questions and telling our epic survival tale.

"The worm snaked toward Cody and Bailey as they climbed up that tall pile of rubbish."

"A snake," Bailey butts in.

"Then the snake wormed toward Zack after he stamped it on the tail with a fire extinguisher made of metal," I go on with excitement. Moseby's massaging his temples, listening in distress. "Lucky that I could safely watch everything like a panoramic movie in a glass phone box."

"Plastic," Zack spits. "There's no telephone box made of glass that is light enough for Cody and Bailey to lift it up with a person inside and could still outrun an anaconda."

"Python," Bailey says calmly.

"Anaconda."

"No, Python."

"Anaconda."

"Snake."

"Ehem!" Moseby coughs. Bailey and Zack hold their voice, and nicely turn to Moseby. "Be it python or anaconda," Moseby begins, his face doesn't look like those when he's about to punish someone. "Or snake, or worm . . ."

There he pauses. Zack and Bailey exchange odd looks. The cold air from the vent sends several papers on the desk drifting to the floor, but Moseby just eyes them with little concern. "I hope you guys would keep this unhappy incident to yourself," he continues, hands clasping one another. "Please don't tell anybody. I'll order a bunch of men to hunt down that snake, but please don't tell anybody." Then he looks to us one after another, with a rare apologetic grin across his face.

"Oh sure," Zack answers with a shrug. "If you got fired, the replacement manager might not be as easy a victim to my pranks."

Moseby gulps with a sour face. "Thanks Zack," he says. "But shouldn't you all pay Cody a visit at the hospital?"

Oh ay oh!

Bailey huffs heavily through her angry snarl. "I cannot believe Moseby really isn't going to order an evacuation," she says. A nurse passes by and glances at us suspiciously.

Then we stop in front of the door with a sign reading "3.19". It's Cody's room. Yay me!

Zack chuckles, playing with the bouquet in his hand like a feather duster. "Evacuate to where? The ocean?" He jerks the door handle. "It's good enough that he actually gave Cody a room here."

Zack walks into the room. Bailey shakes her and I follow behind. Cody should be in a pretty good shape by now.

But as soon as we get in, the look inside the room turns out more a concern than the disappearing snake.

Cody's bed is empty. The strong ocean wind outside is blowing into the room through the shattered window glass. Spilled milk and food on the floor.

"What. The feather. Has happened in here?" Bailey says, standing rooted to the spot. Her mouth gawping.

"Watch out," Zack whispers, slowly pushing us back with his arm. He runs a brief scan across the room, then he shoves the bouquet to me, and strides into the room.. "The anaconda!" he exclaims pointing at the broken window. "It must have come here and took Cody away!"

"So . . . so Cody's . . . He's . . ." I want to ask if Cody's dead, but my voice . . . I just can't get the word out. It automatically gets stuck below my throat. "How can we revive him?" I spin around to Bailey, my voice cracks like a crying rock star. "Tell me. If the money in my wallet isn't enough, I swear gonna bug Daddy to give me more. We'll get Cody the world's bestest life specialist. Bring him back—"

"Cody's still alive!" Zack grunts. "I can feel it! He's still safe and sound inside that anaconda!"

I'm not sure that's enough to convince me, but at least it was comforting to hear. I don't wish Cody's dead.

"Guys," Bailey calls us. Voice calm and steady.

Zack and I turn to her. I hope she's got a way around to save the day.

"Take a look at this." She picks up a hideous white cap near the mess, and stares at it with a serious face. "Looks like the python's taken a nurse with it too," she says, then gazes across the floor, scanning the tray, plate, cracked glass and a slop of mud-like food. "I guess the nurse was bringing Cody lunch during the attack."

"Who cares about the nurse!" Zack yells, coming alive with fury. "I only care about Cody! Dare the anaconda lay a hand on him, I'll make sure it end up in a frying pan at a Chinese restaurant!"

Bailey tries to calm him down. Talking about some forensic stuffs and what she thinks was happening here. Not sure that will help though.

I just stand there, holding the bouquet of flower. Watching. But soon, something on the corner of my eyes draws my attention.

Tens of feet away, on Cody's bed . . . there's something on it. Something purple.

No way it's the snake lying on the mattress. I'm smart enough to know that. So I walk toward the bed to check it out.

Horror strikes.

I drop on my butt and shrieks like a siren, wincing in fear.

Zack rushes to my side. "London! What happens?"

I brave peeling up my eyelid. I point to the bed. Finger trembling. "The . . . the bed."

Bailey hurries toward the bed. Then she gasps at the sight. Hundred-percently shocked.

She picks up the made-in-hell hideous purple cotton PJ with vertical yellow stripes on the mattress, looking at it with utter unease. "It's just a pajamas," she says, tucking a hand on her hip. "The patient uniform."

"It's frighteningly ugly!" I scream.

She huffs rolling her eyes.

"Bailey wait," Zack suddenly whispers," What's that thing under it there?"

Bailey looks to the bed again, to where the cloth previously lied. Her eyes gradually open up wide. Breathing stops.

Zack rises slowly. His glare fixed on the bed.

I follow Zack up, craning to look at the bed. Wonder what I might be seeing.

There's something on the bed. Something odd. Something that I don't think should be here. Or in any place at all.

A dry purple sheet of scale. Polka-dotted. Human-sized.

And human-shaped.


Thanks to tiger002 for beta-ing this chapter.

Please review and tell me what you think.