Hemotoxic venom. Those words came to me as I used the couch to pull myself to my knees. A weekend spent watching a Fatal Attractions marathon on Animal Planet had taught me about hemotoxic venom. It screws up blood clotting and causes organ degeneration and tissue damage. It acts on the heart and cardiovascular system. It’s also very painful.
I gave up on wiping the blood that continued to leak from my nose. I didn’t know if what that asshole had injected me with was hemotoxic or not, but it was indeed very painful. My leg was swollen. My shoulder still bled from the hole he’d ripped in it; it was bleeding too much for my liking. Then again, so was my nose. I tried standing, but my leg wouldn’t allow it. My chest began to hurt. Breathing was an effort.
This was not good.
I sat on the floor. Tasted blood in my mouth now. Also a bit dizzy. I stopped worrying that I would die from this, and started worrying that I wouldn’t. Black fireworks started shooting off in front of my eyes. Soon, black was all I saw.
I floated in and out of unconsciousness, curled up on my side on Jennifer Malone’s floor. When I finally managed to stay conscious, the living room was filled with daylight and there was a maroon stain under my cheek. Dried blood. It stuck my cheek to the floor. Took me a few seconds to free myself.
I slowly sat up, my cheek stinging. I felt better. Not one hundred-percent, it would be nearly a week before I felt that way, but good enough to finally get out of that house of horrors.
I staggered to the bathroom. The cold tiles felt good under my feet. I checked myself out in the mirror above the sink. Dried blood caked under my nose, streaks of dried blood leading from the corners of my mouth to my chin. Left side of my face coated in it.
I washed up, took the once-white-now-red washcloth with me into the kitchen. I found some garbage bags under the sink and dropped the washcloth into one. Then I headed into the living room for more clean-up. It took a while; I was still so weak I had to take multiple breaks.
Chunk of my shoulder: into the bag. The area where it had been torn away had filled in while I was out, but it was sore. At least my leg felt better.
Torn clothes: into the bag. The only items I could salvage were my leather jacket, boots, and bra.
I borrowed (okay, stole) some clothes from Jennifer’s closet: pair of sweatpants and a Texas Rangers T-shirt. I stuck my gun into a pocket of my jacket and knelt beside Connors.
His skin was a light green. Not a decomposing green; this looked to be his true skin color. Bit of a chameleon as well as a poisonous snake. His brown hair turned out to be a wig. Under it, his skull was bumpy with two rows of small horns that started just above his forehead and ended at the base of his skull. No wonder his head had felt so hard when he’d whacked me with it.
And those dentures. All that work to hide what he really was. I stood up. I’d had an epiphany of sorts while I’d waited to die on the floor. He had looked grief-stricken in those moments after he’d killed his offspring. At the time, I hadn’t cared why he’d looked that way or why he’d done it. Now, though, doing a final sweep of the place (I’ve gotten really good at covering my tracks), I thought I understood why he had done it.
He said he wanted nine months. What took nine months? A normal human baby.
He hadn’t wanted that scaly, skittering seed. He’d wanted something that took more after the mother than the father.
What I figured, anyway. I walked outside, squinting at the sunlight, the keys to Connors’s car in my hand. I hit the unlock button.
At the end of the street, headlights flashed on. The car was light gray, four-door. A Toyota something. I trudged to it.
I searched the vehicle. The interior stank of reptile. I took periodic breaks to keep from throwing up. Not that I had anything in my stomach.
In the center console, I found a manilla envelope with six driver’s licenses inside it. All of the licenses belonged to women, all who resided in Texas. One of the licenses belonged to Jennifer. She hadn’t mentioned a missing license; either she hadn’t connected it with Connors, or she hadn’t noticed it was gone.
I wondered how many of the women were pregnant. How many had already given birth.