Brain Food

Jeff’s brain itched, so he did what any self-respecting man would do. Unlatching his skullcap, he pulled it back locating the troublesome itch with his probing finger and scratched that fucker until he felt jolts throughout his body as his receptors shot miscellaneous sensations to what remained of his nerves.

His brain had been itching more frequently as of late. Probably something to do with the recent lack of brain food.

After the Great Transformation, those who survived were left in a state between life and death. The parasites that changed the face of humanity wiping out two thirds of the populace left Jeff in that odd condition. In movies they were called zombies, but Jeff was a thinking man, and knew damn well he was something beyond a zombie.

Damn-it, he needed food! Rather, his brain needed food. Jeff was his own person, but the parasites that wiped out the human race had been able to sustain life in some people by dwelling within their brains. The parasite didn’t control Jeff, but he had to find it food or it may evacuate his skull and leave his empty decomposed husk in its wake.

Jeff remembered when fish was considered brain food. In the infancy of his new state, he once offered his brain a fish, but it didn’t suffice. The parasite sent jolts of pain through Jeff’s body that could only be stifled once he made the proper offering.

With the itch returning, he knew his brain was hungry, and it would only be a matter of time before the jolts of pain began.

Jeff left his abode and headed for the broken ruins that once served as the city of San Diego. Big cities were the only areas where brain food could be found, and it was a cutthroat affair being that the few others like Jeff were also seeking to satiate their own brain-parasite.

Jeff’s posture was beginning to suffer from his afflictions. He was smart enough to have fashioned his skullcap with a hinge and latch for easy access to his brain, but his body was deteriorating, and the nerve damage was creating areas in which he had no feeling. It was difficult for Jeff to use his left hand because of this. He feared it was only a matter of time before he could no longer swagger himself out of the house, and that would certainly be the end of him. The parasite would have to leave in search of a healthier body.

Near the long forgotten train tracks crossing University Avenue, Jeff spotted another like himself. In the beginning, he had tried to befriend other such unfortunates, but he discovered very quickly that the brain-parasites took control when it came to their voracious appetites.

The woman caught sight of him. She walked with a limp broken bones and nerve damage could only account for, her face so severely rotted that the skull peeked through in places. She was in bad shape. The parasite in her brain that was keeping her on her feet, and the sight of her sent a numbing through Jeff’s body as his brain prepared to eat.

She staggered toward Jeff. He knew she was thinking that it would be her brain to win the battle leaving Jeff lying across the train tracks to finish the slow decomposition he was already enduring.

As they met, there was something in her eyes that reflected Jeff’s true feelings of what was about to transpire. Jeff didn’t want to kill her any more than she did him, but brain-parasite survival was vicious.

She made the first move, sloppily lunging for him, the few remaining teeth in her black-gummed mouth poised and ready to bite through his skull to the tender prize therein.

Jeff took a step backward unlatching his skullcap. He was thankful the crude improvement allowed the parasite in his brain to fight for itself.

It was only on these savage hunts for food that Jeff ever saw the parasite, a small creature with wings that rivaled a dragonfly’s, and an unbridled appetite for its own kind.

The woman’s face froze as the parasite drove itself into her eye. Her body fell to the ground, then Jeff’s parasite exited through her other eye, the parasite she had been harboring clutched tightly as the little beast returned to Jeff’s brain to savor its cannibal feast.

Jeff would live to see another day.

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Robert Essig  Robert Essig's website Somewhere in southern California lurks a creature by the name of Robert Essig. This beast is known to have a macabre fascination with horror and is fortunate to implore an imp of whom whispers dark delicacies to him in the night. Robert’s fiction has been published in Night Terrors, Tales of the Talisman, Zombonauts, Hungur, and Withersin amongst others. He is the editor of Through the Eyes of the Undead, out soon from Library of the Living Dead Press.

Other works by Robert Essig