The noise reverberated through the air, first a dull thud and then a metallic twang. Lily looked up from her garden in shock, swiveling her head to ascertain where the noise came from. Dirty-blonde hair swung first left and then right as she zeroed in on a direction. Her hazel eyes squinted through black-plastic-framed glasses and watched as dust and a slight tinge of smoke rose from the woods in the distance. She looked back down at the bean poles she was setting, then out to the woods again.
“I suppose there’s always tomorrow to finish planting,” she told no one in particular and strolled inside to exchange her fringed shorts for longer pants and sneakers for hiking boots. She also grabbed a backpack, filled her water bottle, dug her camera out of the boxes in the closet, and found a few pairs of what she hoped were fresh batteries. Within fifteen minutes of quitting garden work she was back out the door and headed towards the woods.
Keffler Valley State Park was still technically closed for another two weeks, but Lily was of the opinion that those time restrictions only applied to camping and event hosting. She’d done plenty of off-season hikes before and even the two times she ran into a park ranger on those hikes they never seemed to care that she was out there. Her property sat about a quarter mile away from the wood’s edge, the field between them belonged to a defunct agricorp and had laid fallow for over a year. She stopped half-way through the field to mark on her compass the approximate direction she needed to follow to get to whatever had crashed in the woods.
Lily trudged through the woods on the sunny Saturday afternoon, stopping periodically to orient herself, mark compass readings, and leave the occasional broken branch or notched, upright stick to help her find her way back. It only took her about half an hour to find the cause of the earlier commotion. A small clearing about fifty feet long had been formed by a metallic black object plowing into and knocking over seven trees. Lily readied her camera and snapped a few photos from the edge of the clearing. Since Alterra, the nearby city of superheroines and corporate researchers, began the SETI 3.0 Project a decade ago, space junk had been falling around the city every month or two. While Lily’s curiosity was the main reason for investigating the sound-now-confirmed-to-be-a-crash, the thought of a reward for reporting it to the SETI people was brightening her mood even more.
“It doesn’t look dangerous,” she told the fallen leaves and surrounding trees, “Perhaps I can get a few close-up shots.” She walked warily towards the rectangular object, eyes suckered in by the deepness of the alien black that shimmered gold every other step. She stood five feet away from the closest edge of the object and scanned along the edges of it, wondering what it might be. It was perfectly smooth on the sides, with no sign of a seam from construction or dent from impact. The further end seemed to taper inwards forming a pyramid shape, although she couldn’t be sure from her current vantage. The right angles on the rectangular prism that formed the end closest to her were crisp and perfect, the shimmering material begging her to touch it. She resisted the urge, knowing from the news how dangerous interacting with extraterrestrial objects could be.
A flash filled the air as she snapped another picture, or at least hoped she did. She frowned as the camera didn’t yield it’s familiar clicking noise. It was digital, but the manufacturers seemed to understand the human need for the familiar and reassuring click when the user took a photo. Lily pulled it up close to her face to check the saved pictures, to make sure the camera was still functioning. She found everything to be in working order, but just as it crossed her mind that she hadn’t heard the sound of woodland crickets and birds since approaching the alien object something found her.
Ur-glazz was a terrible pilot. Primarily this was because they, like the rest of their species, lacked the ability for thoughts beyond basic need fulfillment. Long term planning and complex thoughts were for the lesser, host species. Their Grapilite host was supposed to be piloting the scout craft under their supervision, but the stupid creature had suffered a sudden brain hemmorage right as their plan was nearing fruition. Ur-glazz began scanning and sifting through all the neural data stored in their host’s dying brain, trying to reduce it to the basic instructions and intuition that they could store in their own limited memory until a new host was found.
They were headed towards a largely oceanic planet containing a primitive species the Grapilites had observed, contacted, and declared unworthy of further study two aeons ago. Why? Because the Grapilites had used their advanced genetic modification abilities to create biological countermeasures to Ur-glazz’s species; one such countermeasure being the brain hemmorage their host was currently experiencing, triggered by a detection of their species feeding habits. Ur-glazz had the fortune of infesting one of the few Grapilites that was on the modification project, allowing them to glean the knowledge to forestall the expiration of their host while searching for a new host species that would not actively resist the hosting process. Based on old scans and records, the species of the plant they were currently hurtling towards possessed a basic but compatible nervous system, and lacked the technological acumen to create any form of safeguard against infestation.
Ur-glazz dismissed all this information, it was useful to review but they needed to store simple instructions for their plan to acquire and infest a host. As a stand-alone organism they only possessed a small amount of individual memory, relying primarily on their host’s neural processing to understand and store information. First they should engage the crash-landing shields which were…
Ur-glazz felt the fuzziness of their host’s memory, one of the five switches in the center-left grouping engaged the crash-landing shield but they weren’t sure which one. Doing a fast status check, they determined they’d already lost control of their host’s left leg; better to act quickly before they lost this processing power. Ur-glazz manipulated their host’s arm to flick all five switches in the group, one of them would be correct.
Scanning through the remainder of the neural patterns related to the plan, they began to distill the things they could carry with them after their host expired. Step one didn’t need to be stored, Ur-glazz would attempt to locate a host without needing any further prompting once the Grapilite died. Although, they thought, they should make a note that the host they’re searching for is bipedal and lacking a majority covering of thick hair or feathers. Step two, they needed to reaccess the ship and place the new host in the genetic modifier, the settings were already tuned according to the records the Grapilites had taken and should allow them ease of control over their host and great power over the native species. Step two-point-five, the access code to the ship; need to remember that. Step three, replicate and harvest the Grapilite technology to spread further. Not really necessary to remember that one, truncate it for efficiency. Ur-glazz noted one other thing: primary species has neural center in head on top of torso, more nerve endings down column extending from there and another cluster at the top of legs.
The Grapilite host lasted a short time after the crash landing; the craft burying itself slightly in the dirt of a forest. Ur-glazz absorbed the last bit of sustenance from it’s former host and began the slow process of disentangling itself. The organism outside of its host slowly blobbed into a multipedial black blob, it’s senses immediately searching for intelligent life to infest. It looked at it’s enclosed surroundings, a vague memory-bank hint at an exhaust pipe being a good exit to find more food. They skittered and slid out into a large, open forest; newly cleared by the ship’s crashing. They began scouting for anything that met their criteria: bipedal, small amounts of hair and feathers.
They had been circling the downed craft for some time before prey came along that matched their criteria. Hunting instincts kicked in, the alien organism scuttling through the underbrush. If they were able to think more, they may have appreciated the sound damping field they had accidentally engaged alongside the crash-landing shielding or the fact that their prey was entranced by the jermarininzed metal the ship was made of. As it was, they only registered that the being was unaware of its presence and met the criteria they had been able to store in its smaller banks of memory.
They pounced on the prey from behind, aiming to infest its neural centers quickly. Their foremost tentacles entered in through orifices on the side of the prey’s head, rapidly infiltrating into the central nervous organ. The prey raised it’s upper appendages soon after to try to dislodge Ur-glazz, but they managed to locate and disable that motor function before the grasping limbs managed to gain any purchase on the alien infestor. The rest of their body glommed onto the prey’s torso, the other tentacled appendages seeking out any other clusters of nerves. The middle-two found two small flesh mounds on the other side of the creature’s torso that contained a large concentration of nerve endings and began stimulating and infesting them. The lower two took a hint from the memory Ur-glazz had carried off its previous host and searched along the top of the legs. Moving up from the legs to the area in-between them, at the bottom of its new host’s torso, they found the jackpot. One cluster in what they were beginning to glean was called the vagina and another in what their host referred to as an asshole.
Ur-glazz began digging deeper into their host’s neural center, remembering that the first thing they needed to do was pilot their new host into the ship’s genetic modification center.
Lily had felt the surprise pounce by some sort of unknown assaulter and spun around to face them, not realizing the attacker had stuck itself to her back. She let out a short shriek before black, plasmoid tentacles forced themselves into her ears and began probing her brain. The delayed sensations eventually registered with her of something oozing down her back and entering her vagina and ass. Simultaneously, another pleasurable feeling began pouring in through her breasts. She tried to pitch forward, to fall on her face and somehow dodge the intruders; but her legs were no longer under her control. In fact, her body was now being piloted by the jellyfish organism spread from the bottom of her neck down to her firm but ample ass.
A few muted sounds issued forth from her mouth, as her limbs twitched slightly. The camera she’d been holding fell to the ground soundlessly. Her head pitched first to the left and then to the right. Before steadying to an off-center, rightish angle. The tentacles sound her breast had begun massaging them, and the ones between her legs had started pumping in-and-out of the orifices to stimulate the nerve endings. Her body jerkily lurched forwards towards the large, shimmering alien object.
Ur-glazz had successfully commandeered their prey’s motor system and began moving them towards the crashed spacecraft. The middle and lower tentacles were stimulating nerve clusters that not only seemed to render the host more compliant, but were generating a succulent biochemical that Ur-glazz had never tasted before. They devoured wave after wave of this chemical; something that could sustain them just as well as when the Grapilites solved a logic problem, but was far sweeter on their palette. If it was this easy to generate this energy source, then Ur-glazz was happy they had chosen this planet and this species for infestation.
They piloted their new host towards the spacecraft, still jerking the locomotive appendages in this early stage of integration. They tapped into their limited memory to recall the code to enter, a symbol that had to be drawn on one of the flat planes of the ship. Giving it their all, Ur-glazz forced the upper appendage of their new host to trace the familiar sigil on the ship; happy when a keening sound issued forth from the oblong object. Momentarily they were inside the scout craft, sparse save for the pilot’s chair and another tubular device. Step two: reaccess the ship and place the prey in the genetic modifier. They paused, a slight conundrum arising from it’s new host’s processing unit. Should they be attached to the host when activating the genetic modifier? They roiled in anger at not having retained that information, their host’s appendages flailing during the outburst.
They prodded through their new hosts neural system again, hoping to find something that would make the decision for them. They were surprised at the complexity of the neural weavings, they were starkly different from the previous hosts Ur-glazz had controlled. The familiar thought centers were simpler than those of the Grapilites, but then there were other sectors that Ur-glazz had never encountered. They had nothing in their memory about these distinctions, and decided they were an unimportant mystery to be solved later, after the modifications had been run. Perhaps the configuration they’d prepared would even make them more similar to the expected neural links, surely they had planned for this.
The rest of the probe made the decision for them, the host would likely not remain passive for long enough after detachment to allow for a genetic modification cycle to complete. They weren’t certain of this, but based on the limited information they had it seemed relatively accurate. After all, if they were supposed to detach from the host before entering the genetic modification chamber then they would have made note of that before leaving the Grapilite host.
The decision made Ur-glazz swung the host’s body unsteadily around towards the chamber, and then pausing for one final snack. They stimulated the host’s openings at the bottom of its torso and the fleshy mounds on it’s upper torso, reveling in the chemicals flowing through their brain. The host’s body made a gurgling and trilling noise from the resonant chords below their head, and Ur-glazz felt as the overload of stimulus fired off jolts and spasms in the legs, buckling for a fraction of a second before Ur-glazz applied their control more forcefully. The host’s ocular organs rolled up towards the top of their head, the trilling from their throat strings becoming louder and more guttural. A flood of sweetness greater than any of the previous ones gorged Ur-glazz well past satiety.
The parasite lumbered their new body into the chamber, standing them in the center. They flexed a twitching arm and hand out, pressing a large, green button. The entrance to the chamber slammed closed as blue light enveloped the predator and prey.
Lily panicked on awaking in a cramped metal tube to flashes of white light. A monitor before her twinkled with alien symbols she couldn’t comprehend. The lights slowed and the door to the tube she was confined in opened with a hiss. She cautiously stepped out, gasping at the interior of some sort of spacecraft. She spotted a large red creature strewn on the floor by what she guessed was the pilot's station, a small pool of blue liquid running from one of it’s orifices. The rest of the ship seemed mostly empty save for a few crates stacked in the far corner and what she guessed was a bed.
She began to piece together her memories. She had been taking photos in the woods of a large object when something had attacked her. She grasped at her back in horror, searching for the attacker but found nothing. The next memories were less clear, like a string of photographs taken at various times over multiple hours by someone who didn’t understand how to focus the lens. She’d touched the alien ship at some point and ended up inside of it, then stood in front of the tube for some time, then there was a blue light, then the white one, then she was here. There was also…
She looked down at her clothing: pants and panties with their crotch savagely ripped away, shirt torn to shreds, bra snapped down the middle and hanging loosely by the shoulder straps. She ran two fingers from the back of her neck to her ear, a slight flush coming to her face as she remembered moments of extreme pleasure exploding through her whole body. She gasped, unsure what was more worrying the fact that something she’d normally classify as rape wasn’t bothering her at all or the rising arousal flooding her brain at the rememberence. Lily hadn’t ever felt like this before, she’d always been asexual.
She started searching for a way out of the ship: if she could get home, take some time to recover, maybe call Sarah; then she could figure out how to leave this whole experience behind her. Unfortunately the alien craft didn’t advertise it’s exits easily. She checked the walls of the craft and found no seams to suggest a door. She gingerly stepped over the presumably dead alien creature by the pilot’s station and began pressing buttons and flipping switches, stopping after it occurred to her one of these might send her blasting off into space; a decidedly worse situation to be in. It was while she was pondering her next course of action that she felt her knees give out.
“What the hell?” she managed before taking a large, involuntary gasp that threw her head back. Her hands stopped supporting her kneeling form, twitching and shuddering her into a heap on the ground. Her legs kicked out at odd angles, frantically at first and then slowing to an unsteady jitter. Her head began to feel heavy, her mind woozy. She tried to stop her flailing, but found they were stopping at someone else’s behest. Like a passenger in her body, she watched as the possessor raised her from the ground and approached the wall of the craft.
“Whaaaaaaa?” droned from her mouth before control of that too was taken from her. Her hand traced some symbol on the wall and the wall lit up briefly to show the pattern. Next thing she knew, she was outside again. The force piloting her body snapped her head to the left and then the right, before marching away from the crash site. After about five minutes of walking, her body came to a sudden halt, staring idly into the distance.
In her mind she felt a creeping presence, something horrendously familiar. Her attacker was inside her somehow, controlling her, and now it felt like it was trying to subsume her. She felt an alien hissing in her thoughts, static that slowly coalesced into words.
“Where for is your you domicile home?” the alien voice rasped, assembling a flimsy sentence from concepts it had skimmed from the surface of her mind.
“What are you? How are you doing this?” Lily directed her thoughts at the voice.
“Domicile home rest place” the voice demanded
Lily almost began telling them, but decided recalcitrance was the best way to avoid whatever this thing had in store for her; be that oblivion or servitude.
“I won’t tell you”
“Domicile home tell say”
“No, not until you’ve returned control of my body to me.”
An alien-but-familiar feeling swept through her. Something broadly familiar but hard to place specifically; as if emotions could have generic store brands and knock-off imitators. This one had so many things she didn’t recognize, but she could tell what it mapped closest to for a human: anger.
“Tell say give!” The demand thundered through her brain. She remained silent thinking only of the trees her frozen eyes were focused on.
“Find uncover locate I me do!”
Lily’s head began to swim again, it was as if viscous, black oil was slamming itself at her little patch of consciousness. She tried to think of anything other than her home: Of the dog she’d had when growing up, of other places in the park she’d hiked to, of Sarah and their lunch last week. She began to find them tainted with a black ooze, a creeping presence in each memory trying to claw through them to get to her. She switched to trying to do math problems in her head. One plus one? Two. Forty plus fifty-three? Ninety-three. Fifteen plus thirty-seven? Black ooze.
The number was gone from her mind, replaced with alien hunger and something she couldn’t quite remember. She was… was… there was a word for it, for when you don’t like something or find it annoying and want it to go away forever. A word for a feeling like when she found out black ooze wanted to break up because she couldn’t black ooze with her black ooze. Lily was losing the battle.
“I will find where your domicile is very soon,” the thing had been brushing up on her language, “Last chance to help willingly”
Lily doubled down on her mental fortress, ready to valiantly be washed over by turgid blackness, fighting to the last. But then something happened: the ooze began draining from her thoughts. She could remember the number fifty-two again and the word “anger”. She could remember Christine breaking up with her due to their incompatibilities in libido. She could remember her dog and friends, only a smear of the black goo in the corner of the memories to hint that this whole thing wasn’t just a psychotic break.
Soon she was able to move again, almost falling as her legs switched the signals they were listening to. She wanted to go home, but didn’t want to lead the creature there. She looked at her torn clothes and the fading sun. Where else could she go like this? She tapped her finger against her chin, trying to puzzle out any other way to avoid having to go home and lead, or worse, carry the alien force there. Nothing else came to mind. She sighed and began walking home, following the snapped twigs and markers she’d left on the way in.
Lily made it home without running into anyone else in her state of distress and relative undress. No sign of the alien ooze had returned on the walk or after she closed and locked her door. She changed into clothing that wasn’t torn to shreds and contemplated what to do next. She could call the police, but if they somehow managed to believe her story they might hold her for quarantine or study someplace. A shiver ran down her spine, thinking about white-walled rooms with doctors and government agents overseeing her.
She could call Sarah. Sarah would hear her out without thinking she was crazy and could help her come up with what to do next about the alien menace that had possessed her. Lily looked at the clock: it was eight-thirty-seven, far too late in the evening to bother her friend. She resolved to call her first thing the next morning, maybe a good night’s sleep would help her clear her mind anyway. She prepared herself a cup of chamomile tea, drank it, and got into bed.
Her sleep that night was fraught with nightmares of the day before. Black oil crept over her frozen body as she felt herself being erased. An unfamiliar sexual arousal stirred as it reached her netherregions, desires Lily had never had to reckon with before plaguing her mind. The black rushed over her breasts. She wanted, no, needed to fuck. It felt so good, so much better than it ever had; escalating from it’s former place as an ambivalent action she did for others to a black hole of hunger gaping wide in her psyche. The slime was working it’s way up her neck, she purred into it and felt the sounds ripple through her body. Hunger and desire became synonymous in her mind. The black oozed into her mouth, the taste sweet and musky as it coated her tongue. Her body remained frozen in place, but she could feel the energy, the potentiality of it bucking and spasming as the ooze rolled into her ears and up her nose. She dreamed she could see her eyes rolling back into her head, the whites turning jet black. As the ooze crested her head, her black lips issued forth a scream of ecstasy and Lily awoke in a cold sweat.
She ran to the shower and doused herself in cold water, hoping to quench the newfound horniness her encounter had stirred in her. As she cooled off afterwards, she wondered if this was how other people felt; and if so how they managed to do anything with their lives other than fuck. When she was sufficiently calmed down, she stepped out of the shower, dried off, and checked the time. Seven-thirty. Just enough time for a quick breakfast before giving Sarah a call.
After some oatmeal she dialed her friend’s number, hoping she wasn’t trying to sleep in. She kept the details light, just that she’d had a weird day and would like some company if she could spare the time.
“Of course”, Sarah said over the line, “Anything for a friend. I’ll be right over.”
Lily dropped the phone back in it’s cradle and tried to find something to do while waiting for her friend. She was surprisingly still hungry after breakfast, and grabbed a pop-tart from her snack cabinet. After a few nibbles, she realized the food was having no effect on the feeling; and further that the feeling was similar to hunger, but not hunger itself. Like an imitation, a generic brand, off-flavored but recognizable; an alien feeling mapping onto a human one. That last thought worried her, the alien wasn’t exerting control over her as far as she was aware, but some remnant of it’s touch was still with her. She sat down on her couch and flicked through television channels to distract herself, maybe Sarah would have some advice.
The familiar pickup truck pulled into the driveway, and Lily rose to meet her friend at the door. Her jaw dropped when she saw her friend stepping down from the truck in her pink knee-length skirt, strappy sandals, and white, pressed shirt. She’d always thought of Sarah as good-looking, a person who could pick cute outfits that accentuated her work-strong figure in a way that implied strength and femininity. But she’d never thought of Sarah as hot until this moment. An arousal rose between Lily’s legs and a hunger began creeping into her mind as her friend approached the front door. Lily pinched herself on the wrist, shoved these new feelings into the corner of her mind, shut her gaping jaw, and swung the door open.
“Sarah, hi! Come on in,” she ushered the other woman into her living room, sitting her down in a chair opposite the couch.
“Hey Lil, how’s it going?” there was an undertone to her voice of eagerness to hear about what happened to her friend.
Lily took a deep breath and told her everything, the trek to the woods, the attack, the struggle for her own mind, the strange dreams and arousal. She left out the fact that she wanted to leap across the coffee table, kiss her on her pretty, pink lips, and fuck her brains out. She doubted Sarah would take that well, her husband even less so.
Sarah seemed to think it was a joke at first, a story meandering towards a punchline, listening raptly with a grin on her face not taking anything too seriously. Then worry crept across her face for her friend and she listened to the rest of the story with somber attention. Lily finished and sank back into the couch, Sarah’s expression was a cross between shock, worry, and contemplation.
“I saw SETI vehicles going out towards the park on my way over,” she started, tapping her fingers in a ragged beat on the coffee table, “Police too. I’d imagine they’ve already found the ship. If we went to either of them, they’d probably squirrel you away for testing like that poor fellow from a few towns over.”
Lily vaguely remembered something about a guy finding alien tech and it grafting onto his hand. SETI had snapped him up the next day and the story on the news the next week said he was being indefinitely detained for his safety and theirs.
“Maybe we could take you to see a doctor,” she continued after a short pause, “Or drive into Alterra and see if one of the superheroines there could help. They have a good track record for helping people while respecting their dignity, and don’t seem like the sort to lock you away for study.”
Lily nodded slowly, waiting to see if her friend had anything more: “God Lily, I’m so sorry this happened to you. Do you need me to stay and help? Or even if you just want to talk it all out, I’d be happy to stay.”
Lily considered that idea for a second, she did want her friend to stay here with her but increasingly it was becoming more about wanting to shove her hand up under that cute, pink skirt of hers and making her cum over and over until Lily’s urges were satiated. She knew the events she’d experienced should be traumatic to her, should have left her crying in a corner; but her thoughts kept drifting to those pert little B cups under Sarah’s impeccably white shirt and to the cheery blue toenails in those sexy strappy sandals. She licked her lips, part out of lust, part out of trying to give an external signal that she was thinking.
“I think I just needed to tell someone, I’m already feeling a thousand times better,” she was feeling something all right, part of her brain was running wild imagining what color and cut of panties her friend was wearing under that skirt. Daydreaming of running her hand across those pretty little feet, up over her firm calves, sliding sensuously over her creamy thighs, and hooking her fingers around the band of an ever-changing garment; each new form making Sarah’s ass and hips look better than before.
“How about this, let me have the rest of the day to recover and sort things out in my own head. Then tomorrow we can head into the city, maybe find someone from the League to help us?”
Sarah smiled at the proposition, Lily’s pussy clenched, “Ok Lil, if in the meantime you need to talk to me any more or need anything else, just call and I’ll be there.” A dark part of Lily’s mind urged her to tell her pretty friend to strip naked, to pin her down to the ground and fuck her until it was dark. Lily nodded, biting her lip as if to keep the lewd thoughts sealed in her mouth. Sarah stood and spread her arms wide for a hug. Lily worriedly rose to meet the embrace, liquid starting to run down her thigh as her friend’s bosom squished into her.
“You’re an amazingly strong woman Lily,” Sarah said with a smile, “And we’ll get through this together.” She released the embrace and began walking towards the door. Lily’s brain was on fire, her eyes following the sway of her friend’s ass as she left the domicile. She flinched as she thought the word, and again as predatory thoughts began to overtake her. The prey was right there in front of her, still within her lair! Lily shambled forward around the coffee table, an animal instinct pulsing through her veins. Her friend turned back to face her, and Lily imagined herself becoming a wave of black liquid and washing over Sarah, staining her white shirt and pink skirt, wiping the color from her nails, overpowering her pretty, white skin with utter darkness. She could feel the stain on her panties and the nibs of her nipples rubbing pleasurably against her bra. She reached her friend breathing heavily, a look of concern on Sarah’s face.
She snapped herself out of it and forced up a smile, her breathing calmed. “Let me get the door for you,” she gently caressed the doorknob, even the cool metal sending sparks through her brain. She just had to hold out a few moments longer and Sarah would be gone and safe from her urges.
“You sure you’re okay Lil? You looked out of it for a second”
“Nothing a little rest won’t fix,” she piped out faux-cheerily, yanking the door open. Sarah floated out the door, calling back over her shoulder “I mean it Lil’ if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call.”
“Absolutely Sarah! See you tomorrow!” she closed the door and started panting again. Her friend opened the truck door and swung herself up into the vehicle, Lily’s hand needfully gripped the doorknob. It started to turn, before she grabbed the wrist with her other hand, yanking it back. With a feeling of relief she watched her friend turn the truck around in the driveway, ready to leave. Then horror overcame her as a jet black tentacle shot from behind her and wrapped itself around the doorknob she had just tried to open herself. She tried to scream but something wouldn’t let her. Her friend’s vehicle turned at the end of the road, cruising off to safety. Now it was just her and the tentacle.
She slowly turned her head, looking for the monster who’s appendage was reaching past her, only now loosening its grip on the doorknob. It didn’t relieve her to find nothing behind her, in fact it only spiked her dread to new levels. She steeled herself and touched the end of the tentacle, feeling a terrifyingly odd sensation. It was like she was touching a new arm, a new part of herself. She traced it back and back and back to its origin, a small hole to the right of her spine. She started breathing heavier, running upstairs to her full length mirror. Indeed, the tentacle was pouring out of her back and as she prodded it and focused on it some more, she found she could move it. Her mind began to shudder and her eyes crossed as a whole new section of herself unfolded. Five more tentacles erupted from her around her spine, three on each side. With a shiver she began intuiting how to move them in synchronized motions, testing them by picking up her clothes strewn on the floor from the other day. Another wave of knowledge passed over her and she began retracting them, watching in amazement as they shrunk back into her spine. As the final bits receded inward the holes they emerged from became a placid black liquid, like her back had been patched with latex. A moment later, they shimmered and adapted the color of the surrounding skin. She extended and retracted them for the next ten minutes, trying to understand and control her new physiology.
After a final retraction she sat on the edge of her bed, overwhelmed. Yesterday she had been a calm, collected, asexual, human woman who enjoyed a life of deep connections and artful hobbies. In less than twenty-four hours she’d become something else, some sort of alien creature with an intense sex drive, nearly incapable of letting her friend leave her house. She needed to find something to take her mind off of things until tomorrow.
She spent about twenty minutes fiddling with miniature figurines she wanted to assemble, then at her easel trying to focus on painting a sweet little picture of the birdbath out back. When she paused to look at the painting, she realized she’d started painting the water in the fountain black. She shook her head trying to clear it, and let out a frustrated scream. She needed out of the house, to just hike a trail with no one around. She needed to just disappear into the woods for a few hours, to let the vastness of nature overwhelm and calm her.
She set off through the woods on a trail leading away from where she’d found the crash site. She shuddered at the idea of returning there. It wasn’t long before she saw taped off trails with a police officer standing watch. They beckoned her over.
“Excuse me Miss, but did you happen to see anything weird around here yesterday?”
Lily shook her head, “No. What happened?”
“Space junk crashed back that way,” the officer jerked their thumb over their shoulders as they shrugged them, “SETI folks are looking at it now. Don’t know what they hope find, just looked like a big slab of rock to me. Anyway, if you see anything strange around the woods please let one of us know. And don’t go down the Diamondback or Sandy Springs trail, we’ve got those blocked off.” They motioned to the tape.
“Of course officer, thanks.” Lily tried to determine what speed she could hurray away without looking suspicious. “Have a nice day!”
The officer nodded and went back to leaning on a nearby tree. Lily continued her walk, cautiously watching for SETI agents or more police; counting herself lucky that she didn’t see any. Things were peaceful for another two miles, giving her time to destress and start to relax. She felt a rumble in her stomach, the hunger from earlier was still there. She opted for a path another mile onwards that wound its way out of the park close to a few blocks of smaller stores and cafes. She checked her wallet; just as she thought she had one more punch in her Laddybucks Coffee card before getting a free pastry. She smiled to herself, sometimes it’s the little victories that make the day shine brighter.
Laddybucks was practically empty. The only other patron, an older woman was finishing up her coffee as Lily entered. Behind the counter, the barista looked immaculate in her cute little uniform and beret. Lily snorted in surprise as the unbidden thoughts began jumping through her mind of grabbing the pouting redhead by her tiny waist and sucking on her flawless neck. Fortunately, neither other person in the cafe seemed to hear. She shuffled up to the counter, catching a glimpse of her nametag: Maxine.
“Could I uhhh get…” Lily’s eyes drifted across a menu she’d seen a hundred times before, “a small mocha and a vanilla scone?”
“Mmmhmmm,” the pretty Maxine hummed back, “that’ll be five-fifty.”
“I’ve actually got a, uh, punch card,” Lily almost tripped over her words as she fumbled with her wallet. Her hands were shaking when she handed it over. Maxine’s nails were a metallic purple, skin light and soft. Lily imagined each shimmering nail turning a glossy black and flowing up her arm like a living opera glove. She forced her eyes back to her wallet to dispel the vision.
“Alright, that’ll be three-twenty,” Maxine ripped the spent punch card in half and threw it towards the trash can behind her. The card willfully floated past the opening and down to the ground. With a sigh, she turned around and bent over to pick it up, leaving Lily staring at her round ass in faux-leather tights as she looked back up from her wallet with a five dollar bill.
Lily’s thighs were trembling, her eyes growing in their sockets. Maxine deftly placed the paper in the wastebasket and took the cash out of Lily’s hand, apparently oblivious to the woman across the counter biting her lip and lightly panting. She laid the change on the counter and grabbed a scone from the nearby display.
“Here’s your change and the scone, coffee will be out in a few minutes.”
“Don’t you,” Lily breathily asked, “need my name for the order?”
Maxine looked at the empty cafe, smiling softly, “No I think I can find who it’s going to. Feel free to take a seat and I’ll bring it out to you.”
Lily sat down, feeling a squish in her underwear as she did so. She initially sat facing away from the redheaded barista, but found herself slowly turning to ogle the beautiful Maxine. She tried to rationalize it away by telling herself that Maxine had to be only twenty-four or twenty-five, too young for a thirty-year-old, loner, asexual who talked to her plants. She ran through rejections of her advances in her head while watching Maxine’s ass wriggle in those tight leggings, her breasts bouncing merrily under the barista uniform. She had to force her mouth shut to stop herself from overtly gawking at her when the coffee was finished.
“Here you go, enjoy!” The woman set the mocha on the table and turned to leave.
“Hey uhh Maxine?” The barista turned back around with a raised eyebrow, “Could I get your number?”
She smiled and shook her head, “Sorry, no. I’m flattered but, well, you’re not quite my type.” She strutted back to her counter area and began playing with her phone, awaiting the next customer.
Lily’s face flushed with embarrassment for a minute while she sipped her coffee and nibbled on her scone. She gradually calmed herself down, realizing that could have gone a hundred times worse. Maxine seemed to take it in stride and it didn’t even look like she was thinking about it any more. That was the way it was, she mused, romantic rejections always seemed so horrible before they happened, but most people handled them with politeness, kindness, and grace.
Still though, something was bothering her. For one thing the scone hadn’t sated her hunger and for another she felt like that interaction had gone entirely wrong. Burbling black voices whispered in her head, telling her that predators don’t ask their prey for their phone numbers. That Maxine could bring her so much pleasure, could sate the hunger that was gnawing at her all day. That Lily didn’t have to ask Maxine anything, because Lily could make her do whatever she wanted. Lily cast a glance to Maxine leaning on the counter and slightly shaking her hips. Then to the empty cafe around her and the nearly empty streets outside. She knew it was wrong but she couldn’t take it anymore, she was so hungry.
“How?” she whispered to the voices in her head, “How do I make her do whatever I want?”
Lily felt the thought connect with something sinister and alien, her arms and legs twitched. Had anyone else been looking closely at her, they would have worried she was having a seizure. Dark knowledge flowed into her mind, of the real purposes of her new tentacles. Her eyes swam with inky blackness, the predator she’d been merged with laying out their plan.
Ur-glazz had underestimated the human’s brain and neural weavings, the depth of her memories and connections had been too much to handle for the parasite. They had thought themselves destroyed, obliterated by spreading themselves across a thousand-million thoughts, memories, and dreams. But they had lingered on in the background, finding something strange occurring that they were only puzzling out now. They were almost certain now that the genetic modifier was only set up for the human, not for both of them. That the Grapilites had massively underestimated this species' ability to evolve and develop, not only in how far they’d come in the alien race’s understanding of progress but also that they’d surpass them in the arts and matters of expression. The Grapilite mind was an easy manipulation of straightforward language, numerical equations, and engineering plans. These humans were shallow in those areas comparatively, but it had been like falling into a whirlpool when they had spread into those other centers. Fortunately for them, entering the genetic modification chamber with the human had stitched them together, a fusion whose full terms and ramifications were still being determined. Ur-glazz couldn’t control the humanoid directly for long without finding themselves slipping away into the maelstrom of emotion, but they could influence the human host. Host was no longer even the right term, they were the same creature now their minds still fighting through the merging, working out what it meant to be this new being superior to both that had come before it.
They flowed through Lily’s brain, showing her how to reach into the mind of another and bend it to her will. Astoundingly the two intelligences merging began to correct the problems in technique and knowledge that had caused Ur-glazz to lose control, Lily would not make the same mistakes. The black cleared from her eyes as Lily finished her coffee, swimming just out of sight at its edges. She strode confidently past the trash can towards the door, throwing out her cup along the way. Reaching the door she flipped the “Open” sign over to “Closed”, gently but firmly turning the lock with her other hand. Maxine looked up from her phone.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” Maxine began to reach under the counter for something, alarm registering on her face.
“Freeze,” Lily’s voice tremorred in mutl-part harmony, Maxine’s eyes widening as she obeyed the command. Lily strutted towards the transfixed beauty, pulling her shirt over her head. No sooner had the shirt come free than her six tentacles burst forth from her back, ready to do their mistress’ bidding.
“Maxine,” Lily’s eyes pulsed with sadistic glee, “You’re going to be my first.”
Maxine managed a frightened whimper, the spell loosening. She wiggled her finger, slowly trying to work her hand free enough to reach under the counter. Lily placed her human hands on the side of the counter opposite to her, tentacles wiggling in the air.
“What’s below the counter Maxine?” Lily cooed with a knowing smile
The redhead’s hand finally was able to move, grabbing a can of pepper spray. She sluggishly brought the can up, her arm still feeling like it weighed a literal ton. Lily’s tentacles had no such sluggishness. The upper two shot through the air and wiggled into Maxine’s ears, the redhead’s attempted scream stopping at a gasp. Her hand, finally high enough with the pepper spray to have potentially deterred her attacker, jolted open dropping the can. Her face, body, and arms slowly relaxed, until she was staring blankly at Lily. Black rivulets began to run through her empty eyes.
Lily grinned at her captured prey, excited to play with Maxine’s mindless body. The alien part of her mind interrupted: out here they’d still be visible if anyone happened along; a good predator doesn’t leave anything up to circumstance. It whispered to her the next steps she could take, her eyes lit up.
She withdrew the left tentacle from her victim’s ear, a plopping noise signaling it was out. Maxine seemingly recovered enough control to drone out an unintelligible but elongated groan. Lily closed her eyes and focused, forcing red streaks of energy to dart along the tentacle still puppeting Maxine. Her empty eyes flooded with black goo at the sides as the red energy coalesced in the pupils, Maxine issuing a soft moan during the process. Halfway along the tentacle it tapered, thinned, then split; the half still connected to Maxine burying itself the rest of the way in her head, the half connected to Lily floating above her shoulder, tip pulsing a sinister red.
“Let’s go to the back room Maxine”, Lily prompted. Maxine cocked her head to the left as if to pose a question, her red and black eyes pulsing in time to Lily’s red-tipped tentacle. She paused like that for ten whole seconds before her head straightened and body stiffened, mouth moving to her controller’s demands.
“Yes, let’s go to the back room” she repeated blankly, mouth left hanging open at the end of her statement. She turned on her heel and shambled towards the back, each laborious step looking like a cross between a drunk and sleep walker. Lily followed close behind, eager for what was to come. When they reached the back room, Maxine’s hand softly drifted down into the pocket of her uniform, hooking a small key ring. She raised it in front of her face, cocking her head to the side again as her entranced brain tried to figure out which of the five keys unlocked the door. Lily deftly took the keyring from her braindead companion.
“Why don’t you let me handle that?” Lily flicked through the keys as Maxine’s head lolled to the side, the red pulsing in her eyes constantly deepening Lily’s control over her. The third key unlocked the door, Lily stepped back victoriously just in time to hear Maxine drone: “Yes, you should handle that.”
Lily felt her pussy clench at the power she’d exerted over this woman. Something about sapping her will and piloting her around felt so right and so fucking hot. She entered the back room, part store room and part break area, Maxine was still standing in the doorway slack-jawed and eyes pulsing.
“Get in here”, Lily hissed, impatient to finally satisfy her new desires. The red pulsing on her tentacle increased its frequency, a corresponding quickening occurring in her pet’s eyes. This time Maxine’s body straightened it’s posture to the utmost, her head staring straight at her mistress instead of cocking to the side, her pace brisk despite it’s jerky movements, her voice with a touch too much eagerness to be monotone: “Yesssssss”
Lily grabbed the redhead, one hand around her waist and the other on the back of her head, pulling her in for a kiss. At the same time the two top tentacles plunged back into her ears, the severed one reconnecting to it’s remote control appendage. Lips locked. At first Lily was the only one providing any action, but as the red faded from Maxine’s eyes she started returning the favor. Her hand twitched as tentacles pumped new thoughts and feelings into her mind, eventually whipping around to grab Lily’s ass and pull her tightly against her body. Lily stuffed her own hand down the tight polyurethane leggings and traced along her pantines down between her ass cheeks. Maxine’s lips increased their tempo, only pausing to trill out a needy whine.
Lily tried to pull her tights down using only the hand caressing her ass and admiring the soft fiber of her thong, but couldn’t get the right leverage to outdo the elastic on the leggings. Fortunately for her, the two bottom tentacles gently stretched the elastic outwards and pulled the leggings down to her knees. Maxine’s cute, cyan-blue thong was soaked with the lust Lily had been pumping into her head. Lily had no trouble yanking those down to join the tights bunched up at her knees. She ran her middle three fingers up Maxine’s waiting slit, letting the middle one trail a bit deeper than the other two. Maxine’s glossy black eyes went wide, her body trembling forward into her controller and lover. The lower tentacles began gently removing Lily’s jeans and her own, more-practical hipster panties; deftly undoing the button and lowering the zipper.
Panting heavily and face full of predatory lust, Lily racked her brain for what to do with the naked sex toy in front of her. It didn’t take her very long. Just as she was about to command the squirming thrall to kneel, her knees buckled and she plunged her head into Lily’s vagina; the tentacles relaying the command more efficiently and directly than her voice ever could. Lily’s upper lips parted in kind to allow the melody of her arousal to float out into the air. Her hand alternated between petting the soft red locks between her legs and forcing the woman’s head further into her cunt. Once or twice she stroked her hand down the tentacles tethering Maxine’s mind to her will, feeling a light, pleasant stimulation. It was nothing compared to what Maxine was doing with her mouth though.
Maxine’s tongue had started off gently caressing the sides of Lily’s vulva, only able to hold herself back to a slow and gentle pace due to the tentacles pumping instructions into her mind. She traced poetry on the other woman’s tender lips, letting the black oil invading her mind tell her where and when to turn her attention. Occasionally while Lily ran her hands through Maxine’s luscious hair, the controlled woman would pull back ever so slightly and nuzzle her way up to her mistress’ clit, nose gentle rubbing against the hooded nub. Then Lily would gasp and moan, her new vocal cords singing out four pitches at a time, and push Maxine’s lips and tongue back in.
This cycle repeated multiple times, Maxine pushing Lily up to the brink of orgasm by caressing her tender clit with her nose and then tongue, before returning to a gentler, broader stimulation at command of the tentacles. Then Lily’s lower two tentacles slithered in between Maxine’s kneeling legs, one sliding into her vagina and the other into her ass. Maxine’s only allowed response was to clench her lover’s ass harder with her hands and move her mouth over Lily’s clit. The tentacles began pistoning into her vagina and asshole, enough to normally make her stop and scream for mercy. But this time her body didn’t let her stop, didn’t let her feel the relief of orgasm, forced her to ride the wave of millions of nerve endings firing pain and pleasure up through her body. Her mouth began to suck on her controller’s clit, Lily gasping for air as the pleasure overtook her.
The middle set of tentacles whipped forward and shredded Maxine’s shirt to caress her pert breasts. Lily ran a hand over her own bosom, pleasure adding upon the attention being given her clit down below. The tentacles began to mimic her motions, rubbing along the top, tracing around the nipple, tugging just the right amount to make Lily yip out a little cry. Her mind was finally overloading with pleasure, her hunger nearly satisfied.
The tentacle pumping into Maxine’s dripping cunt forked and a small section suctioned around the slave’s clit. The four tentacles teasing the red head poured their all into stimulating her pleasure centers, the ones in her head instructing her how to finish off her mistress and preventing her from cumming until her job was complete. She worked Lily’s clit with zeal until finally the alien-hybrid girl screamed into the air, eyes rolling back in her head, a glass shattering on a shelf from the resonance of her voice. The tentacles all streaked with red energy as Lily’s body arched back, frozen in place for just a moment. When she resumed breathing again, panting hard and fast, Maxine was finally allowed to cum.
The slave girl pulled back from her mistress, hands briefly trying to find how they could enhance her pleasure before realizing there was nothing of the sort they could do. Her body tensed and shook, her hands catching her as she fell backwards. She cried long and loud, the pleasure flowing through her system never ending. The tentacles in her ass and vagina unrelenting, her clit being stimulated past the point of pain until it became pleasure again, her breasts being caressed and squeezed and pulled, and her brain being looped through the thought-melting pleasure over and over.
Lily watched with excitement as Maxine twitched and squirmed on the floor, gasping and vocalizing violently through now-black lips. Her trembling limbs slowed towards a light vibration, the screams becoming soft and gentle coos as Maxine ran out of steam. Her eyelids fluttered shut as the rest of her body relaxed on the hard, linoleum floor. The tentacles carefully retracted from Maxine’s limp as Lily stood up, pulling up her pants. She found where she’d thrown her shirt, and recovered the top half of her clothing too. Then she examined the body on the floor.
Maxine was breathing as if in a deep sleep, her breasts slowly and rhythmically rising and falling. Her lips had been stained black somehow from eating Lily out. A slow drip of the viscous black goo was puddling below her exhausted cunt. Lily knelt and parted the slumbering girls lower lips, feeling no surprise at everything from her labia inward being turned a glossy, dark black. She stood up and tried to make contact with her alien half, hoping to better understand what had happened.
At first, the alien processes intertwined with her own were loath to do anything more than bask in the aftermath of the enormous meal they had just finished. Lily felt it too, that hunger that had plagued her all this morning and afternoon was gone. Eventually the details came to her, the languid information provided from the foreign parts of her knowledge being expounded upon by the more human parts of her brain.
The tentacles had pumped a derivative of their black plasma into Maxine, bonding with nerve clusters all along her body. She intuited that this was close to what the parasite had planned for her before their genetic entanglement, the slight anger and annoyance at this being tossed aside in her desire to learn more. The black plasma used here had some sort of... her combined brains struggled to hammer out the exact word, the concept not translating cleanly into Lily’s understanding. Entangled resonance? The black plasma exhibited an entangled resonance with its parent source within Lily, allowing her to command it with much more effective results than her earlier vocal modulations. At this level of conversion, simple instructions and commands could be implanted and followed without the need for more direct forms of control. Furthermore Maxine would act them out as her normal self as much as possible, disguising her servitude perfectly. Lily’s eyes flickered to the glossy black lips, perfectly coated in inky darkness. If Maxine developed a sudden interest in darker shades of lipstick, that would probably be for the best.
“Maxine, can you hear me?” The woman’s body shivered, eyes blinking open.
“Yes”, her eyes staring unfocused at the ceiling tiles.
“Good,” Lily purred, her next words flowing from a joint effort of her new alien instincts and human knowledge, “Now Maxine I want you to feel these next instructions through the core of your being. First, you can not and will not tell anyone about what I did to you or that I’m anything other than a normal human. Second, while in public you will refer to me as if I was any other customer, in private you will refer to me as your mistress. Finally, you now desire to wear dark lipstick whenever possible to hide your new, dark lips. While you are proud of them while alone with me, seeing them as a mark of my ownership and favor; when any other person is around you will feel the need to hide them beneath makeup if possible and taking any other measure needed if not. These instructions are burned into and bound to your very being, they are the most important things in your life. Do you understand?”
Maxine’s body began to tremble against the floor as the black presence inside of her ingrained her new instructions into every fiber of her being. Her eyes flooded with black, dark lips mouthing the words of her new instructions silently. After a minute she inhaled deeply, the trembling stopping suddenly and black draining from her eyes.
“Yes, I understand” she said blankly, body unmoving save for the occasional deep breath.
“Good girl,” Lily was really starting to enjoy the power she wielded, “Now get up Maxine, it’s time to go”
Her eyes slammed shut and her arms stretched out as she yawned. With a blissful look the barista picked herself up off the ground and faced towards Lily. She blinked and the look dropped to a frown.
“What happened? How did I?” Her eyes went wide, “No way, there was no way that was real, mistress”. Her mouth gasped in shock, her hands flying up moments later to cover it.
Lily mirrored her confusion, she’d thought the tentacles would have made her… well… subservient and adoring, she prodded the dark side of her mind for answers. An ambivalent confusion rattled back: the tentacles had made her open to Lily’s commands and had ensured the prey would be unable to think of harming her. They had helped Lily form the commands to prevent them from being uncovered. Their hunger was sated and the woman primed for future control. What more was there to do?
Lily almost felt concerned at the dawning realization that her wish to force this woman not only to obey her but to adore her was originating from her own regions of their mind and not from the alien parts. Almost, but not enough to dissuade her from the desire. Maxine had dropped her hands from her mouth.
“What the hell Miss…” she tried to cut the word off early, but her black lips forced her to finish it, “ssssssstress? Why do I keep saying that? Why can’t I bring myself to be angry at you or better yet throw something at you? Why-“
Lily cut her off, the word gentle but imposing: “Silence.”
Maxine’s lips sealed tightly.
“You really enjoyed our intimate moment together didn’t you Maxine?”
Maxine’s eyes widened, her head nodded weakly.
“I need to hear you say it, you may speak now”
“I really enjoyed our intimate moment together Mistress,” a red flush was spreading through her cheeks at the thought.
“You enjoyed eating me out, you enjoyed being fucked by my tentacles, and most of all you enjoyed being mindfucked into my obedient little thrall.”
“Yes. I enjoyed eating you out and being fucked by your tentacles,” her head was nodding continuously, her thighs visibly clenching, “and most of all I enjoyed being mindfucked into your obedient little thrall.”
“You love me and adore me. You want to worship me and please me. You will serve and obey me.” Lily was beaming, radiating malevolent authority. Maxine was hers.
“I love and adore you,” her eyes focused intensely on the object of her new desire.
“I want to worship you and please you,” her legs pitched forward and deposited her kneeling in front of her goddess.
“I will serve and obey you,” her head tiled upwardly meekly, smiling with awe and adoration at her mistress. Lily felt her arousal stirring again, a part of her wanting to fuck Maxine again right here, right now. She brushed the thought aside, she could have her whenever she wanted after this.
“You feel those commands deeply, they guide all your thoughts and desires from now on.” Lily felt a raging desire from her human mind link up the alien one, producing one final thought: “Your body and mind have been joined to my will, like a puppet they manipulate you from within. You are helpless but to obey.”
Maxine’s smile stretched as far as it could go, her hips had started to lightly gyrate. She shivered as her mouth repeated her new creed back to her superior. When she finished, she looked up at Lily patiently.
“Oh yes Mistress,” Maxine looked like the happiest person in the world.
“Pull your pants up and let’s go. Oh and borrow a spare uniform top, yours in kind of ripped”. Lily glanced at the tattered uniform strewn around the floor in a hundred pieces.
“Of course Mistress.” Maxine did as she was told.
Lily led her out of the store and checked the time. It was getting a little too late to hike back home, so she commanded Maxine to drive her. As expected, Maxine willingly obliged. The ride was quiet, Maxine not wanting to talk unless ordered to and Lily trying to reconcile what she just did with the person she thought she was. When the car reached the end of the driveway, she was still struggling with it.
Maxine stepped out of the car and rushed to open the door for her mistress, almost kneeling in the gravel as Lily stepped from the vehicle. Lily thought it was a bit much, but she also wasn’t complaining. She allowed Maxine to stand back up, and inspected her new thrall one more time before ordering her to return to the coffee shop and clean up, leaving no evidence of their encounter behind. Maxine obediently turned to go before Lily remembered something.
“Oh and Maxine, give me your number”
The other woman flushed in embarrassment, remembering how she had turned down, no, let down her beautiful goddess earlier today. She took the proffered phone and punched it in.
“I’m so sorry for not giving it to you earlier Mistress. I don’t know what was wrong with me”
Lily smirked, “Whatever it was, it’s fixed now. I’ll call you later.”
Maxine’s eyes lit up with happiness and she practically skipped back to her car. As she left, Lily hauled herself up to her bed. She felt so good, so fulfilled, so accomplished. Weariness washed over her, her mind associating the feeling with the naps she’d take after thanksgiving dinner. She fell asleep with a broad smile on her face.