The finger broken, snapped open. A gasp. A fear escaping her startled eyes. His heavy hand cracking the digit further back at the knuckle, with rage. This was just the beginning for Marshall Shaw – leader of “the movement.”
He dragged her up by the hair to the open stage, onto the village platform and yelled out, “She just ain’t human!” There was terror in his voice.
The crowd’s eyes moved like marbles on sloped surfaces, searching for answers. They stirred. How could he treat her so violently? She was his wife!
“Come look at her,” Marshall cried. “Bring your vision, and your mind, and your judgment!”
The bravest went first towards the wretched woman, now on her knees, hair twisted in his fist. Marshall held out her hand for all to see: inside the skin was a strange machinery. It wasn’t bones and blood. It looked like cogs and wires and screws… but upon closer inspection they saw that the stuff inside was made up of other creatures, tiny ones they had never seen before – wriggling and writhing, each in tune with the other.
“She ain’t one of us,” Marshall yelled.
“Maybe she’s from the future,” Old Woman Wise snarled.
“’Nother planet is more like it,” came the preacher’s reply.
“A Witch!” Yelled Marshall, “with all them critters inside.”
“Let her be,” cried the woman’s sister.
“Are ya gonna meet yer maker tonight too, little sister” he snapped back.
She had children. She would be quiet.
“Friends,” Marshall addressed the crowd, “help me to break her open!”
Ten or more men rushed to the stage. They wrestled and fought with the screaming woman until they pulled her arms from their sockets, her torso in two and her head right off.
Big greasy sluggish ropes of flesh and detailed scuttle-spiders with cog-like qualities issued from her core. Fish-like entities and jumping eels flopped and flipped. Her face melted as creatures crawled from her head, out her eyes, nose and mouth.
When the last jellyfish of a miniature monster oozed from her bloated abdomen, the human body casing was dry. In the desert heat it sparked alight and flew up into the air like a balloon; then it blew right up, sending the men scuttling towards their wives.
“Whatever they are, they’re spying on us,” Marshall asserted. “And each and every one of you’s has got to prove that your wife ain’t one of ‘em.”
“How do we do that?” One of the youngest men asked.
“By lining ‘em up and breaking their fingers open…”