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Fabio F. Centamore is an Italian science fiction author who has written short stories, a novel, and many reviews. He has translated authors such as Robert Silverberg and Robert Reed and your humble editor into Italian. This is his second American sale.

WITHIN
by
Fabio F. Centamore

T-thump.... T-thump.... T-thump.

I can hear it. I'm about to see it.

There, behind the door. The air is burning in my lungs, driving me mad. I'm breathing too fast, sure. Too fast. But I can't stop now. Really, I can't do it. The wound stopped bleeding and it's burning hard The same thought is always beating in my head, it's growing inside me like the crazy throbbing of my heart.

It wants me now.

Of course, it's only a cold and bare fact, but also relentless like that ticking sound from the ship's engines.

Hansen, Pauli, Daria.

Their empty eyes widened to nothing, their torn up bodies...got mauled...killed. I couldn't stop to see them like nasty living frames against the dark. Now it's just me, all alone. Nothing else to eat but me.

T-thump.... T-thump.... T-thump.

My heart is pounding, maybe it will explode and fill the vibrating floor of this damned ship. Maybe, but not yet. There's some rustling in the shadow down there, it's too low to track it clearly. But I know where it is, it's crawling behind that airtight door. So hurry up and run along. Sure, I'd do it. But where? I can hear a prolonged squeak now.

My heart jumps.

It's coming.

It will break that door in.

Suddenly there's a maintenance hatch under my fingers. I can crawl out into the engine room. My only chance is to abandon ship before it does, before I go mad or get eaten. But my dead mates are still accusing me silently, I can feel their blown off faces staring at me in the dark. I know, my friends. We shouldn't have done it, we shouldn't have brought it aboard.

“You know,” the zoo officer said to me before leaving Ventspills, the sixth planet of Alnitak's solar system, “an Alnitakian daemon can be a very dangerous and unpredictable being.” An imperceptible smile hovered around her thin pale lips, her round face became even more flat. “Currently we only know that it's incredibly fierce and has amazing predatory skills,” she kept running her mouth, “but you won't have any trouble getting it to Pismis VIII. We sedated it just after the capture, so it's not feeling any of this. It'll be in a coma until delivery to our local exobiologists. So, men, think of the good you're doing to improve our knowledge,” she said, entering the payment into our bank account from her personal device. “Finally we'll understand how it breeds, my friends.”

 

My foot!

That damned officer was completely wrong. The burning under my skin won't stop. It's beating me from the right side to my mind. They knew too little about the daemon's anatomy to keep that being in a real coma, their sedation didn't run. It killed my comrades and...has bitten me too, that bastard thing.

How long? Maybe for too long. I'm burning now. Oh, yeah! It could be poisonous, why not?

\T-thump.... T-thump.... T-thump.

My heart grows heavy. The engine's ticking is too loud for me. I break down the last hatch and let myself fall into the engine room. I'm in. The barge is at hand, finally.

Suddenly something blows up.

The main door gives way.

Here it is. Its eyes are yellow like the anger, its skin is made of scaly crests. It's staring at me, switching its blue tongue among those sharp teeth. There's nothing between me and the being. It could jump on me, but.... It crouches down and cracks a rare smile. I'm trembling. I can't move.

Something from within.

My skin is really burning now and I'm not able to resist. And yet it still doesn't jump on me. It's just watching me as if fascinated. I tremble more and more, I can't move at all. Suddenly I can feel my skin rising and becoming scaly.

The bite!

It wasn't poisonous. I grab my head. The hair stays trapped in my fingers, they're falling in heaps. But that absurd being doesn't stop staring at me while my bones are changing into something else.

No, it wasn't poison.

The alien wave hits me from within. I'm screaming now, but I can't hear my own voice.

I found out, exobiologists.

Now I know how the Alnitakian daemon breeds. I found it out at my expe...grrrrrrrowl

Copyright © 2017 by Fabio F. Centamore

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

HOME

The Editor's Word

FICTION
ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS
by Larry Hodges
GIOVANNI’S TREE
by Nick DiChario

THE WATERS AND THE WILD
by Mercedes Lackey
TO THEM WE ARE MERELY CLAY
by Liz Colter
WE GET WHAT WE DESERVE
by Kevin J. Anderson
and Neil Peart

IT’S NOT A PURPLE
PEOPLE EATER

by Marina J. Lostetter.

THE TORCHMAN’S TALE
by Edward M. Lerner
ELITES
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

WITHIN
by Fabio F. Centamore

FAREWELL MY SOLDIER, MY HUSBAND, MY LOVE
by Paul Eckheart
SCHERZO WITH TYRANNOSAUR
by Michael Swanwick

INTERVIEW
Robert Silverberg

by Joy Ward

SERIALIZATION
Double Star (Part 1)
=Heinlein's First Hugo Winner=
by Robert A. Heinlein

COLUMNS
From the Heart's Basement
by Barry N. Malzberg
Science Column
by Gregory Benford
Recommended Books
by Bill Fawcett & Jody Lynn Nye

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © Arc Manor LLC 2017. All Rights Reserved. Galaxy's Edge is an online magazine published every two months (January, March, May, July, September, November) by Phoenix Pick, the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint of Arc Manor Publishers.