I know you want to read Part 1 and Part 2 before you dive in...So go ahead! -m
The thing squeaked a couple of times when the shaver started clearing away fur, but it didn't fight me until I accidentally hit one of the tentacles.
A free tentacle waved at me, nearly whacking first my arm, then the shaver. I had about a third of the alien shaved and didn't really know what to do with the tentacle. So I hit it back, slamming my hand into the tube. Except...well, maybe I should have thought a bit longer about how to hit a moving object. My hand didn't hit the tentacle, my wrist did. I yanked my arm back, cradling it against my chest.
"Ow!" There were four tiny scratches on the inside flesh of my arm, right where it's nice and tender, and the skin around them was bright red and tinged with purple.
Avel twisted to look at me, so I showed him my wounds. He grabbed my wrist and licked the scratches, smacking his lips. "Poison. Interesting."
"What? Poison?" The purple and red spread up my arm. "Oh, *&$%."
I pushed Avel closer to the back of the couch so I could get a good look at Avel's skin. It was purple and red all over, and spreading quickly in the direction of his heart. "I think it's getting into your bloodstream."
"So that's why this hurts so much," Avel said, trying to laugh. He looked seasick and was covered in a sheen of sweat.
"You look like crap," I told him.
"Don't make me throw up on you, Meli."
"Right. OK. Do you want me to keep going?"
"Can you see the whole thing?"
"Then keep going."
"Are you sure? If it's poison, maybe we should call someone?" Avel didn't answer, so I resituated myself, ordered my nerves to ignore the burning sensation spreading up my arm, and got to work. Green fur fell in waterfalls, revealing green skin polka-dotted with black freckles.
"Still hurt?" I asked.
Avel cleared his throat and swallowed. "Yep."
I finished shaving and sat back on my heels. "Done." I took the head off the shaver and smacked the entire thing against my thigh, knocking green fur onto the floor. While I did this, Avel very slowly and carefully put his hand on the alien and inspected it.
"It feels like a dolphin," he said. "I wonder..." He pinched one of the tentacles and tried to pull it off of his skin. The alien squealed and Avel winced. It didn't look like the alien was going to budge.
"He's like a fuzzy dolphin-porcupine-octopus...thing," I said. I reached out to poke it, but changed my mind when I saw the barbs. I wasn't exactly keen to get nicked again. "Now what?"
Avel sat up, carefully not touching or otherwise disturbing the formerly fuzzy alien. "We're going to see Ezequiel. Go grab your keys."
My stomach twisted. I didn't like Ezequiel. He didn't like me, for that matter. Probably something to do with, oh, I don't know, the fact that I shot him in the shoulder once. Twice. In my defense, he was trying to mug me in the middle of a job. In his defense...yeah, he deserved it.
I dragged my feet to get my keys and purse from my room, resurfacing by the front door just after Avel. He was wearing a huge, ugly hoodie that hid the alien nicely. We drove to Ezequiel's place in the southeast part of the city.
The neighborhood is all tiny bungalow houses on terrifyingly steep rolling hills. It reminded me of San Francisco on steroids, if that's even possible. Instead of parking by the house, Avel had me park at the bottom of a particularly steep hill, and we walked up. By the time we got to the top, my legs were shaking and I was breathing like an asthmatic in a marathon. Avel, of course, looked as fresh and relaxed as ever. Well, I mean, if you didn't count the fact that he looked like he wanted to die. Alien parasites do that do a person, I've learned.
Ezequiel's house was usually darker than a seedy bar, and I always had felt like I was supposed to whisper a password to get in. But today the house was surrounded by cars and people, and all of the lights were on.
"What the heck's going on here?" I asked. A nearby couple heard my comment and gave me a weird look, scowling as they looked me up and down. "Can I help you?" I said to them, returning their scowl. Avel didn't give me a chance to hear any response – he grabbed my arm and pulled me through the open door.
Everyone inside was crowded around tables piled with stuff. Old stuff, new stuff, stuff in boxes and bags and cellophane wrapping. Avel wove through it, still holding my arm, and got us to the back of the house.
Ezequiel was standing with his meaty arms crossed over a faded, grease-stained Coors t-shirt. "Brother," he said to Avel as they shook hands and pounded each other on the back. He glanced at me. "Meliora."
"What can I do for you?" Ezequiel asked.
Wordlessly, Avel led him into the bathroom and I followed. It was the one place that wasn't full of people, and it was surprisingly roomy.
"I need your...expertise," Avel said. He nodded to me and I shut the door, and then he pulled off the hoodie.
Ezequiel whistled and then cursed in Spanish. At least, I'm pretty sure he cursed. My Spanish isn't so great, but it sure sounded like cursing.
"That's not comin' off, man," Ezequiel said.