Chapter One

The old couple drove away. I sat and waited for about fifteen minutes, watching for movement. Then I got up and ran. I made it to the back door, and slipped inside. That's when I heard the banging. Someone was in the kitchen. I crept around the corner, peeking in. Her-no it's back to me,it was shoving food into a bag from the pantry. Why would a worm need to steal? I asked myself. Then I made my move, creeping into the kitchen, knife in hand. I wrapped my arm around it to keep it from running away, and put my knife to it's neck.

"One sound and you die." I breath into it's ear.

"Do it." it spits."Just do it. I don't want to be a filthy parasite!" That threw me off. She's tricking me. It's tricking me. I thought.

"Clever. Must be a seeker." I paused. How would I get out of this? I slip my knife from it's neck, and wrap my hand around it instead.

"Where are the rest of them?" I squeeze hard.

"It's just me!"it gasps. Then it elbows me hard in the stomach. This doesn't wind me. Then it kicks back, hitting me hard, and catching me off guard. It turns to run, but I catch it's back and yank it back to me.

"Feisty for a peace-loving body snatcher, aren't you?" It flails around, clawing at my hand. "I will kill you, you worthless body thief. I'm not bluffing."

"Do it, then!" I stop. Wishing for death? that doesn't add up. I grab her hair, and my hand on it's neck fumbles at the back. No scar. No line.

"Impossible." I breath.I turn her around, shoving my arm against her, and grabbed my flashlight. I shone the light in her eyes. No circle of light. It- no she was human. "I can't believe it, you're still human." I grab her face, and kiss her hard, that's how happy i am. She freezes. Then she jerks her knee up, and between my legs. I wheeze, and then she's running. I can't loose the first human I've seen in two years. I just can't. " Wait!" I yell, and run after her. She bursts out the door. She's fast, and I can barley catch up with her. "I'm not one of them!" She keeps running. "Listen to me! Look! I'll prove it. Just stop and look at me!" She ignores me. "I'm sorry I kissed you! That was stupid! I've just been alone so long!"

"Shut up!" She hisses. I throw myself at her, landing on her.

"Wait. A. Minute," I huff. I turn her around, so I'm sitting on her chest. She growls in protest, and I feel I am squishing her food. I fumble with my flashlight again. "Look, look, look!" I shine the light into my eyes, switching from one to another to show her that I'm human. "See? See? I'm just like you."

"Let me see your neck." she says, suspicious. I hesitate,grimacing, remembering the painful experience of cutting a straight line on the back of my neck, so I could blend in more.

"Well… That won't exactly help anything. Aren't the eyes enough? You know I'm not one of them." I say.

"Why won't you show me your neck?" she snaps, her eyes wide with more fear.

"Because I have a scar there," I admit, looking away. She begins to squirm, and I pin her down. "It's self-inflicted," I explain. "I think I did a pretty good job, though it hurt like heck. I don't have all that pretty hair to cover my neck. The scar helps me blend in."

"Get off of me." I hesitate,then stand up. I hold one hand out.

"Please don't run away. And, um, I'd rather you didn't kick me again, either." I say. She doesn't move, defeated.

"Who are you?" She whispers, eyes wide.

"My name is Jared Howe. I haven't spoken to another human being in more than two years, so I'm sure I must seem… a little crazy to you. Please, forgive that and tell me your name, anyway." I say casually.

"Melanie," she whispers, still quiet.

"Melanie," I repeat. It was the most beautiful thing I 'd ever heard. "I can't tell you how delighted I am to meet you." I hold my hand out to her. She takes it, and I easily lift her up. Once she's up, I still grip tightly to her hand, afraid she'll disappear if I let go.

"What now?" She asks guardedly.

"Well, we can't stay here for long. Will you come back with me to the house? I left my bag. You beat me to the fridge." She shakes her head. I realize how scared she is, and how alone she must feel. I know that feeling. "Will you wait for me here, then?" I ask gently. "I'll be very quick. Let me get us some more food." She stares at me.

"Us?" She asks.

"Do you really think I'm going to let you disappear? I'll follow you even if you tell me not to." It's very true.

"I…" She hesitates, thinking. "I don't have time. I have so far to go and… Jamie is waiting." Jamie? She's not alone.

"You're not alone." Suddenly, I am uncertain. How many more are there? I ask myself.

"My brother." Only one other. That's fine. I would be fine with just her. "He's just nine," she continues, "and he's so frightened when I'm away. It will take me half the night to get back to him. He won't know if I've been caught. He's so hungry. " Her stomach growls loudly. I smile at that.

"Will it help if I give you a ride?" I ask. She stares at me.

"A ride?" She asks.

"I'll make you a deal. You wait here while I gather more food, and I'll take you anywhere you want to go in my jeep. It's faster than running–even faster than you running." I say, pleading.

"You have a car?" She gasps, still trying to except it.

"Of course. Do you think I walked out here?" She seems to think for a bit. "We'll be back to your brother in no time," I promise. "Don't move from this spot, okay?" Finally, she nods. I grin wide. I'm still holding her hand. "Please don't kick me." I pull her to me, and kiss her again, soft this time. She begins to kiss me back, her arms wrapping around my neck. Then her finger traces the line on the back o my neck. Oh no, I think. She jerks back, and screams.

"How could I have believed you?" She cries, scrambling back.

"No, no please. It's just so I can blend in, I swear." I say, trying to calm her. She backs into a tree. "I swear. Please,please believe me. I've been alone so long. I'm not about to give up." I say, walking over to her slowly. "We should get back to your brother." That seems to make it worse.

"Oh no, no! You want me to lead you to him, I would rather die. I'm not letting you take me. I won't let you take him." She screams. I look around, hoping no one will hear us. I feel like crying, I am so desperate to get her to stay.

"Please believe me. I'm not one of those evil parasites. I am not a body snatcher. Please, don't leave me alone. I don't want to be alone anymore." I grab her hand, and she doesn't pull back. I stare into her eyes. "Believe me." I lean towards her, and kiss her. She kisses me back.She believes me, I think, and I kiss her harder.