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Mary Ellen was in love. She gazed up at John in complete adoration as they twirled around the dance floor.
The ceiling, made entirely of glass, framed the stars like diamonds in a pool of ink. Mary Ellen, being one of the few wealthy enough on Earth, owned a home in the new settlement on Mars. Her mansion was on the outskirts of the settlement, almost against the large dome that surrounded all ten miles of the area. It was among the most extravagant of houses, with grand spires rising up on each corner, and in the center of the house was the ballroom, with its glass ceiling and perfect view of the stars.
All too soon, Mary Ellen grew fatigued and turned off the stereo, linked arms with John, and shuffled on tired feet to the small oak table on the side of the dance floor. She took a seat in a red velvet lined chair, green satin dress pooling around her aching legs. Dancing for over an hour without breaks did that to a body, even if it was in the arms of your future husband. As she relaxed, yet kept perfect posture as a lady should, she began to regret giving her staff the day off. She liked to be alone with John, and the maids were all so nosey, spying on the two of them during his visits. Having dismissed them today there was no one to fetch a bottle of wine for them, and she was so tired now that she couldn't possibly get up without crumpling from exhaustion.
She knew he wouldn't mind, but the hostess in her chided her actions as she spoke, "John, I'm parched, and oh, so tired. Would you mind getting a bottle of wine from the cellar, please?"
He leaned over, kissed her cheek and murmured, "Of course, love. Back in a tick." He straightened and strode out the door heading for the kitchen, humming the last tune they'd danced to on the way. She checked the clock as he left. It was almost eight o' clock. When he got back with the wine, and she'd rested for a bit, they could go to the kitchen and eat dinner in the adjacent dining room. A dreadful hunger had settled in the pit of her stomach as soon as the dancing ended.
As John exited the room, Mary Ellen let herself fall back against the chair, forgetting all etiquette, and closed her eyes. She would hear John's footsteps on his way back. There would be plenty of time for her to reposition herself in a proper manner before he saw her.
* * * * * * *
It crept in through the cellar, a crack in the wall allowing the subterranean soil to spill onto the floor. It writhed in through the minuscule crack, searching for some form of inhabitance. As it crawled forward, the warm presence, which had awakened it from dormancy, drew ever closer until they were right upon each other. It scrambled forward, sliding up a smooth, then scratchy, exterior armor, eventually reaching the heated walls beneath the rough outer shell. The inner armor was warm, with many cylindrical blocks, forcing it to weave back and forth, searching for a weakness in the barrier.
There! It sensed a thinner layer of armor and raced toward it, burrowing avidly into the hot inside. As it wriggled all the way through, the little thing rejoiced with its tiny bit of sense that it had found a place to call home.
* * * * * * *
Mary Ellen snapped back to consciousness. Rubbing her eyes, she was amazed at herself for falling asleep in the ballroom, and with company visiting, no less! But it seemed she'd only been out for a moment, as John hadn't come back yet. Resuming her proper posture, she sat and waited for another five minutes. She began to wonder where he was, and she checked the small clock at the end of the table. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw that over an hour had passed since John had left.
Standing graciously and walking quickly toward the cellar, she prayed that he hadn't fallen down the stairs and hurt himself. The door was ajar as she approached the cellar, and she called out for John as she opened it, "John? John, are you down there?" When there was no answer, she started down the stairs, her dainty steps barely making a sound on the wooden boards. When she reached the bottom she gasped at the sight of John's crumpled form on the cellar floor, illuminated by the soft florescent lights above.
Kneeling down next to his body, she shook him, trying to wake him up, "John? John, please get up! John!" She began weeping when she couldn't rouse him. After about a minute of waiting for a response, Mary Ellen dashed up the stairs with the intent to call the paramedics. She made it half way when John's body rose from the floor. At first she was overjoyed and began to descend the steps, but his posture made her pause. He didn't look at all right; his shoulders were hunched forward, face obscured by long hair, arms loose at his sides. She noticed his hands, neck and ears had turned rather gray, the contrast stark against his black suit. The room was suddenly filled with a stench akin to stewed spinach and mildew.
She called his name, and when he looked up, she let out such a shrill scream it left her throat raw and burning. John's eyes, his beautiful pale green eyes, had gone black. Not just the irises, but the whites as well. His mouth hung open, and a black tongue lolled from the corner of his gaping maw. If his gaze weren't so murderous, it might have been comical.
He took one large, predatory step toward her, and that got her moving. She dashed up the stairs, almost twisting her ankle on her tall heels, and slammed the door shut, narrowly evading John's hand making a grab for a lock of red hair. Her trembling hands had barely twisted the deadbolt home when his body slammed into the door. The the screws securing the door hinges came out a fraction of an inch, and the door itself began to splinter in the middle. With that kind of force, she knew he would break out in no time.
Mary Ellen stumbled through several hallways to the kitchen, snatching up her cordless phone and punching in 911 (yes, the emergency services number is the same on Mars). She gave a clear, concise story of what happened as best she could in fifteen seconds, and the officer she was speaking to put her on hold. The bastard! She stood still, chewing the fingernails off her right hand, waiting for the silence on the other end of the line to end. She was praying, begging, any deity who would hear her to save her from this nightmare.
She had decided to forget the phone and just run out the front door when a loud bang echoed through the huge house, an inhuman roar following immediately after.