“He looks great to me,” said Tim.
Nate trembled and forced his breathing as if he was trying to control anger, but he looked afraid.
“He looks like our Persian cat after dunking him in the tub,” said Bradley.
“He’s a basket case,” said Jack.
“It’s not really me,” said Nate. “Feepin’s trying not to affect my body, but he can’t help it. He’s going to completely lose it if we don’t get him another host.”
“Not so fast, now,” said Tim. “What’s the problem?”
“I don’t know,” said Nate. “He doesn’t have the words to describe it, but it’s something like my thoughts are too small.”
Tim chortled. “Cut him some slack, Feepin. His brain’s only big enough for tiny thoughts.”
Nate crossed his arms and squeezed. “He conveyed a feeling, and I can only describe it like trying to do the breast stroke in a ventilation shaft while wrapped up in bungie cords.”
“He must be exhausted,” said Jack.
“You should feel proud of yourself,” said Tim. “How long have you gone like this?”
“Almost sixteen hours,” said Bradley.
“Great!” said Tim. “Just think how proud you’ll be if you make it another sixteen.”
The dark grey slug popped out of Nate’s mouth, whirling his head around, and Nate stopped shivering.
“You’ve got to take it, Tim,” said Jack. “The poor thing couldn’t wait.”
Nate plucked it from his mouth.
Tim turned on Jack. “You think that thing’s going to have a better time of it in me?”
Jack glared back. “It’s your turn.”
Tim swayed his head back and forth. “You can’t be serious. How did it come to this?”
“His life depends on you, Tim,” said Jack.
Tim winced, shook his head, and grabbed the slug from Nate, popping it into his cheek. A vinegary tang turned to bitter tobacco-like flavor, which dissipated into a smokey sawdust spreading on his tongue, then disappeared after a vibrating sensation.
“Yum,” he said. “Tastes like chicken.”
—I thought it would be hilarious if the first words you ever heard directly from an extraterrestrial was mooing like a cow. Illustrious beginnings.—
Shut-up, jerk. Just cause your in my head, it doesn’t mean I’ve gotta put up with you.
—Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can.—
What are you doing?
—Everything I can to annoy the hell out of you.—
What the hell for?
—Hey, man, don’t blame me. It’s your brain. Roll it, and toss it, and mark it with a ‘B.’—
It’s like that, eh? All right, fish-food. Here we go. What the hell kind of lame-assed species has to think with another’s brain?
—Shut up, jackass.—
You first, shit-for-brains. You haven’t answered my question. How does a leech like you crawl out of the pond scum and latch on to Einstein instead of growing a brain of your own?
—In our smallest form, we’re able to recognize and embrace intelligence, and you imply thats a fault? If you’re so smart, explain rap music, sagging jeans, and Bronies.—
Huh. You might understand if you would rub two brain cells together. Oh, wait—you really only have two brain cells. Without me, you’re a complete moron.
—Not doing so hot with you, either.—
Tim stuck his finger in his mouth and swished it into his ear.
—Hey! You really want to turn this physical? I will cut you, pal!—
Jack tried to talk to him, but Tim waved him off.
Tim and Feepin went on and on, insulting, annoying, and arguing, the occasional break to make fun of Nate’s fascination with Pokemon.
“We’re docking,” said Jack.
“We’re docking?” said Tim. “I thought we had fifty-some hours to go.”
“We did,” said Jack. “You’ve been sitting their babbling for at least that long.”
—Looks like I’m finally rid of you.—
Yeah. Good riddance, asshat.
“Hey, Jack,” said Tim. “See if Bradley can delay it for a while.”
“Call it unfinished business.”
If you’re next host is a doofus, come on back, and I’ll set you up as fish bait.
—Sure thing. But after this ride, a Nitrilii infant will feel like genius.—