TO KAFKA, WITH LOVE by Carl Barker

Feb 10 2013 Published by under The WiFiles

That well known adage, that girls mature much faster than boys, was wishful thinking to fourteen year old Milena during the first few months of her romance with Brody. Several years her senior, Brody had a decidedly evolved opinion of what a serious relationship entailed. At first, everything had been relatively simple. Each night just after dusk, away from the watchful gaze of her curtain-twitching foster parents, Brody would mount the ageing birch tree beneath her bedroom and come crawling through Milena’s window to spend the evening in her company.

Their relationship had started in much the same way as any other inexperienced teenage courtship might. A handful of wanton glances across a busy classroom and that obligatory initial conversation, familiar to many as consisting of such uninspired phrases as “Hey, what’s new with you” and “That’s pretty cool.” This simplistic ritual had in turn paved the way to their first awkward kiss and the warm fuzzy feeling and dizzying head-rush which had followed and drawn the two of them together. The fact that Milena’s never seen guardians had expressly forbidden her from seeing boys in any shape or form on more than one occasion had done little to dissuade Brody from the object of his desires and as she watched him ascend to her window night after night, the cerulean blue of his eyes catching softly in the streetlights, Milena had been unable to stop herself from falling in love with him.

Now that they had been seeing each other regularly for several months, their initial inept fumblings had progressed into a more assured form of mutual stimulation and it was becoming clear that Brody wanted more from their relationship.

It wasn’t that Milena didn’t want to give him what he wanted. On the contrary, she often yearned to have the courage to go that extra step with Brody and surrender to him that part of her which he craved most. But each time things Brody had grown more fervent with his affection, she had found herself overcome by a mixture of childish embarrassment and nerves and had asked him to stop.

“Is it because you don’t want to be with me?” he frequently asked of her in these moments, exasperation plain on his face. “You do love me don’t you?”

Terrified that he might leave her and find somebody else, Milena had done her best to give voice to her insecurities and told him that she didn’t want him to feel it was a rejection. She explained rather timidly that she didn’t feel ready yet, either mentally or physically, to handle the impending tidal wave of emotions that taking their relationship to the next level might bring. Brody had done his best to be patient and quiet the whirling maelstrom of his adolescent hormones, but in the last few weeks she had noticed his frustrations with her reluctance grow. So it was with a sense of overwhelming relief that Milena awoke one morning from uneasy dreams to discover that the peculiar physical changes which her mother had long-since warned her of had finally begun to occur.

The clustered spots of dried blood on her pillow brought with them a strange indelicate excitement, fluttering within Milena’s chest like a caged butterfly. Tracing the blood to her fingers, she saw that her cuticles had cracked open in several places, the torn layers of skin having given rise to the slow ebb of scarlet which adorned her bed-linen. Cautiously probing at these patches of ragged flesh, she found that the surface had become soft and syrupy, such that she was able to rend her nails from her fingers like plucking ice cubes from water.

Surprised by the apparent lack of tenderness around, Milena discovered that the rest of her hands had undergone further innocuous change during the night. Fourth and fifth knuckles, now suddenly developed in the lower half of each finger, appeared as bulbous fleshy protuberances not in keeping with her previous physiognomy. Flexing her newly elongated digits into an inverse arch, Milena experienced an abrupt spasm of pleasure at the raw-boned staccato trill which played across her joints. Taking hold of several nearby items on her bedside table, she marvelled at the altered sensation which came from grasping each object in turn and spent several minutes exploring her tactile re-education.

The room itself was filled with the sickly sweet odour of rotting flowers, despite the absence of any overdue vase or display, and taking stock of the clammy interior of her bedclothes, Milena discovered that a remnant brown fluid adorned much of her skin, giving rise to this new and unique scent. The sensation of warm damp across her young body was not entirely displeasing and she found that she enjoyed the easy comfort with which her limbs were now able to stretch.

Laying the palms of her hands upon the wall Milena discovered the odd cohesive properties which a fresh layer of tiny hooked hairs brought to her skin. Following several abortive attempts to gain adhesion to the coarse surface of the wallpaper, she was finally able to secure herself about the light-switch fitting and clambered gingerly upwards until she had attained a height of almost two feet above the floor, before tumbling down onto the thick carpet in a fit of elated giggles. Roused by this disturbance, Milena’s foster parents surged into her room and, finding their young ward rolling about the carpet, scolded her unchecked revelry and instructed her to make preparations for school.

Ignoring the half-muttered disapprovals of her forthright step-parents scuttling away down the stairs, Milena sat upon her bed and thought momentarily of her real mother, wondering what she might have thought of her only daughter’s first steps into adulthood.

Her mother’s departure had been sufficiently early on in Milena’s life that only fragments of memory remained, lodged in the interstitial cracks of her subconscious such that she struggled to recall the hazy image of her face. Her step-parents had often described the errant woman as being nothing more than a common painted lady, casually abandoning her offspring to their frugal care and flying away a long time ago. They spared no subtlety as to the nature of the lewd trade which she had plied upon darkened city streets to pay her way, yet to Milena she was still the only true family that she had ever known. Even now, her mother’s mysterious overnight disappearance remained a source of unbridled frustration and sorrow to the poor girl, often crying herself to sleep at night and pining for the touch of a mother she could never know.

Three nights after these first changes occurred, Brody came again to Milena’s window, drawn like a moth to her light. She expected him to be happy at the commencement of the first stage of her ‘becoming’, and was surprised by the fog of confusion which descended around him as she revealed the extent of her physical alterations.

By this point, the formation of further hardened knots of bone and cartilage had spread throughout Milena’s body and in places, these joints and intersections had widened, gleaming a waxy pallid white beneath her skin, signalling the steady growth of new limb segments. Her underdeveloped body had taken on the elongated shape of one whose ship has left the familiar harbour of childhood, but is not yet skippered into the secure port of maturity. As she sat cross-legged on the bed opposite Brody, uncomfortably folded into a haphazard mass of irksome limbs, she stared at the panic blossoming in those wild blue eyes of his.

That he still wanted her was certain. The musky scent he continually gave off, which she could now at last detect, told her so. Yet the indecision in his gaze spoke of an uncertainty at what she was experiencing. Not understanding her own physical reactions yet, she reached out for him and frowned when he pulled back from her touch in apprehension.

“No,” he muttered, voice wavering slightly as he spoke. “I don’t want to right now.”

The thin film of brown secretion which continued to ooze steadily from her pores had given Milena’s skin a dull earthy tint and subtle aroma which, judging by the bulge of Brody’s stiffened member in his jeans, was having the desired effect. Despite her sexual immaturity, she could feel his desire, and the discord of his indecision frustrated her immensely.

Milena slumped back against her headboard, limbs folded, feeling slowly hardening bristles rise anxiously along her forearms as she stared at her boyfriend.

“Why do you not want me?” she pleaded, only to be met by a bewildering look of male insecurity from Brody as he turned to crawl back out through the window in silence, unsure of how to voice his impotent trepidation.

Milena did not leave the house for a whole week after that night. Her foster parents (far better equipped than Brody to understand the changes which she was going through) wisely gave her wide berth, quickly scurrying out of sight beneath the furniture on the few occasions that she had alighted from her room to the ground floor in search of ripened fruit or honey.

They occasionally balled rotten food up into small parcels of nourishment, leaving them outside her door as peace offerings of a sort, letting her know that they stood ready to aid with her development, should she require their counsel.

Despite this though, Milena felt entirely alone. Segregated by both Brody’s rejection and her continually evolving appearance, she brooded constantly within the tropical sanctity of her bedroom. With the thermostat turned up full, she slept fitfully, huddled against the sweat-soaked walls, occasionally waking to find a multitude of further bony outcroppings sprouting across the surface of her body and gradually becoming fused into a chitinous outer carapace. Holed up inside the thick skin of her isolation and surrounded by her own excremental frass, Milena pictured Brody’s face over and over in her mind as he climbed out her window that night – stealing one last look back at that which he no longer understand and had become afraid of. She did not know whether he would return again and as her newly acquired layers of coarsened body hair fell away to form the beginnings of a cocoon around her crouching form, Milena felt as though she were forlornly shedding her connection to Brody as well.

Sunlight on the fifth day found her chrysalis complete, hoisted up and anchored to the ceiling of her bedroom by a thick silk-laden cremaster. She hung there in silent hibernation, suspended over so many discarded dolls and storybooks, her expulsion from childhood now complete as she awaited the day of her emergence into womanhood.

Brody returned to the house two days later, not quite knowing what to expect as he clambered up the smooth surface of the birch tree towards Milena’s window. The same heady mixture of fear and desire that had sent him fleeing into the night the previous week still burned a caustic streak of doubt through his veins, yet he found himself unable to resist the siren call of Milena’s evolution.

A sticky wall of humidity greeted him inside her bedroom and clung possessively to his breath as he stared up at the strange shell anchored firmly to the ceiling. The cocoon was an uneven mass of swollen growth, resembling a nest of tightly clenched and overlapping fists. A dirty tortoiseshell brown in colour, it possessed a mild phosphorescence, which drew the boy nearer to gaze up at it in wonder. Without realising what he was doing, Brody found himself tentatively reaching out a hand to lay trembling palm flat against the surface of the chrysalis. Something stirred briefly within and he felt an odd reassurance intermingled with terror, somehow understanding that Milena was safely concealed within. He longed to be able to penetrate that hardened outer shell and entwine himself in Milena’s moistened flesh. The thought increased his frustration, excess testosterone swirling through his bloodstream like some stampeding feral beast. Balling his hands tightly at his sides, he skulked about the room dejectedly, finally slumping into an uncomfortable hunched position against the dresser.

Despite a sense of underlying revulsion, he found his eyes continually drawn back to the bloated and malformed shape above. Desire, fuelled by the remnant haze of Milena’s boorish scent, laid siege to his pubescent senses and Brody could barely contain himself from tearing the cocoon down and forcing his way violently inside. As the day wore on, he became more and more restless until finally, as the clock in the hallway chimed six, he rose stiffly from the floor and gently laid his hands once more against the crusted shell in farewell, before climbing back out the window.

The next night he returned, drawn by the powerful biochemically fuelled urge to mate which had so overridden his mind and reduced him to the role of eager supplicant. Unable to consummate his sexual need, the boy’s frustration first rose exponentially, then boiled ineffectually over via his own hand, until it finally retreated deep beneath his psyche and curled itself into a hardened ball of unrequited lust.

As Milena’s body continued its steady alteration deep within her thickened membrane, so too did Brody’s urgent hunger metamorphose into something more akin to longing. He found himself consumed more by the thought of taking Milena tenderly in his arms and loving her, then by throwing her down upon the rug and mounting her like a trophy.

On the third night of his vigil, the boy was even moved to fetch books of poetry, poached from his father’s extensive library, and read softly to Milena in the cloying darkness. He did not know if she could hear him within her crusted shell or not, but he persevered anyway, drawing some degree of comfort from the act till his eyelids became heavy.

As the first sticky strands of dawn began to adhere to the walls, Brody rose wearily from slumber, prose-laden pages concealing his stiffened lap. Glancing up at Milena’s chrysalis, he found himself sleepily wondering what form of mate would finally emerge to him from within that hardened casing. Would Milena’s new shape take flight about the room and sail out into the sunlight on shimmering wings of fritillary gold and brown? Or would she crawl forth upon a thousand spindly legs to view him through myriad compound eyes and smile? Brody shivered despite the sweltering heat, unable to do anything but obey the fervour which sat at his core.

The very next night, he enacted the same routine over again, waking in the darkness sometime after midnight, roused by the scuttle of feet. Thinking at first that Milena’s transformation was complete, Brody glanced up into the gloom with anticipation. Seeing that the cocoon above remained intact though, he realised to his horror that the sound had come from elsewhere. Diving into the sanctity of the wardrobe, he set about burying himself beneath an exuvia of discarded clothes just as the bedroom door was pushed open, throwing a thin beam of sickly light across the surface of the bed.

The sight of Milena’s foster-parents scurrying into the room turned Brody’s stomach, for they were unpleasant multi-legged things with bulging eyes like flies. Brody’s terror filled his throat as he watched these two oversized humanoid beetles climb the walls onto the ceiling and proceed to the point from which their ward was suspended. With one hand clamped firmly over his mouth to prevent a scream emerging, Brody watched wide-eyed as the two creatures descended the girdle onto Milena’s swollen cocoon and began to pick industriously at it with their pincers. Flecks of desiccated, superfluous chitin littered the floor as Milena’s custodians enacted the task of maintenance over their charge, occasionally communicating with each other in a series of high-pitched clicks and squeaks, which seemed to bizarrely wrap around the spaces in conversation which words should have occupied.

Once this thin layer of excess material was stripped away, the two creatures secreted some form of translucent mucus upon the chrysalis, evidently intended to strengthen and repair the outer surface as it ran down the sides. The stench of the fluid was overpowering and Brody was forced to stuff crumpled garments into his nose and mouth to prevent himself from gagging.

Their duties soon completed, the drones vacated the nest, the bedroom door clicking quietly shut behind them as they left. Frozen in slow horror, Brody could not bring himself to move from the interior of the wardrobe. He stared, without blinking, at Milena’s slowly spiralling chrysalis, hanging in the air like an over-sized comma, until eventually his eyes began to water and he burst into silent tears. Trapped in a hapless web of his own inescapable hormones he lay there paralyzed until the dawn returned once more and the first signs of new life appeared within the now translucent shell.

Throughout her gestation period, Milena had been only partially aware of Brody’s continued presence. Encapsulated as she was in her own private universe, she had still been able to sense, on some rudimentary level, the heady cloud of pheromones which accompanied his frequent intrusions into her bedchamber. His proximity remained a comfort, as she marvelled at each and every stage of her accelerated transformation.

Strange sensations began in her abdomen, spreading outward to every part of her body until she felt truly alive with the possibilities of alteration. In tandem with these physical manifestations, Milena felt the workings of her mind also begin to change over time, adopting strange exotic pathways which excited her. An understanding of her rapidly evolving body brought with it an emergent confidence which she had never known, and with the time now come for her to complete her pupation, she suddenly knew more than anything else what it was that she wanted.

Brody lay dozing fitfully in a tightly coiled ball on the floor when she first began to penetrate the outer shell of her chrysalis. The cracking noise of her exit roused him from slumber and Milena took great pleasure in the lustful gaze which poured from his eyes as she emerged naked into womanhood and stood before him on the bed.

Almost a foot taller than before, Milena smiled down on her erstwhile suitor as monarch, carefully flexing every aspect of her supple new body. Brody’s hungry eyes played over the beautiful mottled ringlets adorning her teneral skin and she smiled with pleasure as he fixated upon the peacock eyes of her exquisitely patterned breasts, stepping nervously closer to the bed.

Pulling him up onto the duvet and quickly helping him shed his outer garments, Milena dragged him confidently down towards her and took the boy as her lover. Despite her instinctual dislike for being pinned down, she allowed Brody to eagerly mount her and fulfil his adolescent desires.

Wrapped in the throes of passion, she slid her proboscis across the skin of his back and drank deeply from his sweat, enjoying the salty taste of his flesh as though it were nectar. What inexperience he showed, the boy endeavoured to make up for with enthusiasm and Milena found herself wishing for longer than a mere five days to explore this final, overtly sensual portion of her life-cycle.

Sensing Brody nearing climax, she wrapped her muscled hindlegs around his midriff, squeezing tightly as he bucked and thrashed wildly against her. She felt a sense of completion wash over her as the boy finally exploded into her, filling her with his fertile seed and collapsing against her chest. Gasping with pleasure, Milena leant forward with widening jaws and hungrily bit off her lover’s head, enjoying the way his decapitated body became even more vigorous in its last passionate death spasms. Allowing the lifeless body to slide onto the floor she lay back in exhaustion and smiled happily to herself, feeling new life already beginning to grow inside her.

She was going to be a mother.

Bio

My fiction has previously appeared in magazines such as Dark Horizons and Midnight Street, as well as various anthologies. I maintain a web presence at www.holeinthepage.co.uk.

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