Something to Digest PC Julia Silver parked her car in the forecourt of the undistinguished small building. It could have been an office or just about anything workaday, but it was the laboratory of Dr Sebastian Curtis and Dr Curtis seemed to have disappeared, twelve days after his assistant Gail Lee had likewise gone missing. Pretty young woman, prosperous old man – the answer might have been obvious, if they hadn’t both been single. Julia had simply been the officer nearest the site when the Inspector had decided the lab ought to be searched. More might have followed, but just before she parked, she’d got another message. There was a major incident – fire at a town centre shop followed by looting. She should carry on and check out the lab, but no-one else was coming unless she found a body. Right away there was something odd: the front door was open. Burglary - and poor old Curtis had interrupted it? Could be. She entered cautiously. By the rules, she shouldn’t have, but there was a very good reason why backup might be hard to get and if her guess was right, Curtis could be alive inside and badly hurt. She was also confident in her ability to tackle a man or two. When her sexist colleagues had organised a BEST COP GIRL BUM IN HEREFORD competition, with candid photos, and she’d come first (with a commendation for her tits) she’d not hit the roof or felt violated, just felt contempt and pity for their childishness and resolved to show she was a better copper than nearly all of them. That she’d done. She’d even confided to her best friend Emma that her determination maybe came from the same sources as her shape – Polish Jewish origin father, Italian mother, knowledge of being different from the other girls – and of course, Polish plus Italian was very likely to show in the size of the bottom. Right, were there any villains on site? But everything seemed in order. Internal doors were closed. Nothing had been knocked over. The computers were off. The building consisted of an office with two desks, two computers and a big screen, some kind of monitor; a laboratory with some stuff she couldn’t identify and some she could, like a good old Bunsen burner, specimen dishes, bottles of liquids and powders, a fridge-freezer and what she thought was an X-ray scanner; and the usual bits and pieces, bathroom, kitchen and store-room, all on one level. It didn’t seem necessary to check cupboards and filing-cabinets for concealed villains or bodies and she was keen to finish and go and help her colleagues in the centre. She found two electronic keys in a holder. She pocketed them, hoping one worked the front door so she could secure the building when she left and yet avoid the need for other police to break in if a further search and forensic tests were necessary. Just two things seemed slightly odd. On the office floor, between the two desks, there had been a chemical spill or maybe an accident with food or drink. There was a damp patch and little puddles of a gooey pale grey deposit with tiny flecks of silvery-white and pink. Near it, someone had dropped a cheap bangle. There wasn’t very much of the mess and she gave it little notice. There was another similar patch in the kitchen, which supported the spilt food hypothesis. There was more of it and in one piece, which suggested a bigger or more recent spill. Not far away were some tiny bits of intricate metal, no doubt from some broken mechanical device. Well, the place was overdue a good clean, except for the immaculate laboratory. The other thing was a big old-fashioned notebook open on the bigger desk with writing in ink. She was curious enough to start to read it. It was some kind of journal, presumably kept by Dr Curtis. After the two pages open to the world, the rest was blank. “Artists express joy better than scientists. I cannot adequately express my joy at my discovery and my success. I was grateful for the funding from the Osman Foundation and I have not wasted it. When that first message came, I was suspicious of a practical joke, but even then, in my heart I knew this was it. Then the seeds appeared, just where I was told to look for them on the roof two feet from the skylight. Everything after that has been revelation after revelation and achievement after achievement. I am sorry about Gail, but sacrifices to achieve great things are sometimes necessary.” That made Julia stiffen and resolve to read the rest carefully. “What has been born? A culmination, a liberation and a successor to poor old homo sapiens. What was the point of human history, all that striving, the development of science? This was the point, for without me, it would not have happened. They are very close, it seems, to what they were on Romvar, but they are not the same. They evolve and in other ways change incredibly quickly. They have entrusted me with the development of features specific to their new home and I have been amused and honoured to award to them a strong attraction to the female orifices. I have been present at, I have assisted in the birth of, a new species! What man can say that? As for me, it is enough. It is done.” She glanced back. There was stuff that seemed to belong to Science Fiction, rather poor and dirty-minded science fiction at that. Either he’d been wiling away the dead time in his experiments with amateur SF writing, or he was mad. In the first case, both disappearances were unexplained. In the second, both might be explained. She had better make a more careful search. She was moving boxes in the store-room when she heard a slight sound. She had noted the hatch in the ceiling next to big pipes along the wall. Presumably it led to a sort of loft with more piping and maybe a boiler. She’d made a note to put something in position and clamber up to check it out. Now she wouldn’t need to. The thing was coming through the hatch and reaching for the pipes. She’d never seen anything like it – a mass of soft-looking matter, apparently barely solid, reddish-brown for the most part with changes in colour and dull and shiny bits, a kind of arm stretching out for the pipe and then dissolving into the body as the thing reached the pipe, a number of knobs and ridges, what looked like claws without hands and three glaring red eyes which travelled around its body, if body it was. A giant slug, a massively oversized amoeba. What should she do? Whatever it was, it was a living thing. If Curtis’ journal was half-true, maybe he’d created some weird beings and they might be intelligent. There was no evidence that it had harmed anyone. Nonetheless, she should keep her distance and report it. The report would seem mad. She’d better take a photo or two on her phone. It sprang. Smell and sight confirm lone life-form detected. Best match: take 1. Identification Themform2. Collected information: they are all different. Protrusions exceed take 1 by factor 13 and take 2 by factor 236. SmellsmellsmellconfirmMEATMEATMEATconfirmARSEHOLEconfirmCUNT!CUNT!CUNT!CUNT!CUNT! Attack. Contact. The thing wrapped itself around her head. She could not see and could not breathe. It had a sickly-sweet smell and a damp, slithery, elastic feel. The phone dropped from her hand. Instinctively, she shut her eyes, but not before she saw in the red-brown darkness a pale blue rotating whorl. Don’t panic. Think. It’s around my head. The nearest bit of something hard at the right height is that packing-case to my left. She stumbled left and her leg hit the packing-case. She reached out and felt the rim. She bent and hit her head hard against it several times in quick succession, willing herself to ignore the pain. Her brain fought against panic from lack of air. The thing’s grasp loosened. She banged her head twice more. The thing slipped away. She opened her eyes. Two lumps of glutinous horror plopped into the packing-case. Thank God. She looked for something to throw on top of it. The two bits might still live. She could see nothing truly heavy. Instead, she tumbled full cardboard boxes on top of it. Pull back. Get out. PAINPAINPAINPAINDAMAGEANGERANGERREVENGEreformreformreformREVENGEMEATCUNT Another one had appeared and was between her and the door. This time she was better prepared. They attacked and were dangerous – so she was justified in using force first. She detached her gas cylinder and let the beast have a full blast. Something shimmered in the air and the gas came straight back at her. It stung like hell. She spluttered and coughed and stumbled around. Some cardboard boxes hit the floor. One of the things wrapped itself round her head and a moment later she felt something damp hit her bottom. Where was that packing case? Would one of the walls do, or the open door? She began to lurch forward with no idea where she was going. Something else wrapped itself around her ankles and she fell. GETGETGETGETGETsmellfeelwarmthstrugglesMEATMEATMEATJUICEJUICEJUICE Fighting for air, her mouth opened and glutinous intelligence forced its way down her throat. New-formed tendrils corkscrewed up her nostrils. Her eyes began to dissolve. Her clothes were being consumed, hat, reflective jacket, boots, belt, shirt, trousers, socks, amber panties and matching bra. Her fibreglass baton was consumed along with her police ID. Her memories were consumed: the useful ones – police codes, vehicle speeds, the location of various buildings and the SAS barracks – were collected and the others disassembled. The diamond in her engagement ring fractured into specks of carbon and was consumed. The gold was not consumed. Along with metal buckle and gas canister, it was discarded. Finger-like projections pushed up her arsehole and her cunt. She was half-dead, still stupidly half-alive and struggling. The naked body twitched and spasmed. The fat buttocks quivered. Two of the things formed sharp teeth and gaping maws. They bit hungrily into her buttock-flesh. Fingers reached her brain and began to consume it. Her cunt became jelly and was sucked up. Her breasts twitched ludicrously long after her brain had gone; then they too were bitten and swallowed. Briefly, her bones appeared, long leg-bones, broad feminine pelvic girdle and staring skull. Then they too were dissolved and consumed. A gold ring lay on the floor alongside a metal hat badge. Six conquerors rested. A few bubbles rose and burst. Bulges shifted around and gradually disappeared. Within the red-brown, glorious pale blue and dark purple spread and shimmered. Each conqueror spasmed as if dying. Each one split. Twelve conquerors rested. On the floor was a sticky puddle made up of the least valuable compounds in Police Constable Julia Silver, enclosing tiny flecks of pink and silvery-white – seeds. Seeds of the future.