It was a clear night in a small community near San Francisco, California when a mysterious blue light was seen by several residents as it fell from the sky. The next morning, a none-too-bright man in his early twenties went to check out the field where the strange blue object landed and found a small crater. A shiny blue stone about the size and shape of a football lay in the center of the shallow crater and the curious local, a high school dropout who still lived with his single mother – who had never married or been in a committed relationship for more than a week, thought the stone might be worth some money. To his surprise, the space rock suddenly split open and released a slimy, shiny black goo. Rather than leaving immediately, Antonio Mansa, who was like far too many of San Francisco’s residents, barely literate, unskilled, and yet another typical product of the San Francisco public school system, got closer. He should have run when the meteorite cracked open. The gooey black thing that came out of the blue stone was actually a parasitic symbiote, and it suddenly latched on to Antonio’s left arm and crawled under his shirt. It released a toxin that made its new host forget what just happened as it entered his body through a small cut on his shoulder and Antonio wandered back home in a drunken stupor just as he would on most other days when he didn’t have enough drugs in his system to make a bull elephant hallucinate for a week. And thus Antonio became Patient Zero. The parasitic pandemic that would change the world forever would start with him.
A week later in a small town in Alabama, J was fishing in a small stream when a clumsy man bumped into him and fell over. J helped the man to his feet and thought nothing of it as the man left. He wondered if the guy was drunk. Little did J know what was to come. That night he was unusually hungry and ate four times as much as would normally be a feast for him at the buffet he went to. J had never eaten that much at one meal and he was known for his big appetite. After a deep and peaceful night’s sleep, J was shocked to find that he was wearing a thick, rubbery black bodysuit!
The strange, stretchy “suit” covered everything except for J’s ears, face, and the thick, shaggy brown hair on J’s head. It looked just like a full-body set of bulging black muscles with a big white spider on the chest and back and weighed at least a hundred pounds! It felt like soft rubber and was as close-fitting as a diver’s wetsuit and rather clingy. J was not wearing this last night! J could still move normally despite the heavy suit’s great weight and somehow felt strangely stronger. “What the hell is this? No way I’m going out in public with this thing on me!” But this outfit that resembled the Venom creature from Marvel comics without the gruesome head, terrible teeth, or bloodlust was still destined to be a fashion nightmare in other ways.
J felt around for some kind of opening or seam on the suit’s back since there wasn’t one on the front, but there was none! Whatever it was made of was super-stretchy, however, so maybe he could get out of it through the neck opening, which was the only opening. When J pulled on the body-hugging suit’s neck area, he got a disturbing surprise when it actively pulled back and resisted him! The suit suddenly felt like a super-sticky glue trap as it deliberately clung to every inch of J’s body with an impossibly strong gooey grip. The more J struggled, the more it stuck to him. The effectively glued-on black muscle suit was ALIVE! J tried to cut it with a razor-sharp hunting knife, but the fearsome blade only made a tiny scrape on the rubbery muscle-goo suit’s surface that healed almost instantly. This was just the beginning of J’s sticky problem.
A loud burst of thunder made J jump as he was contemplating his gooey and very muscular wardrobe malfunction. When J saw that he was clinging to the ceiling like a big insect he realized he had spider powers. Two large, veiny, and gross-looking lumps had now formed on J’s wrists. These proved to be organic web-shooters! Though formed by the suit, the web-shooters were connected to J’s blood supply as if they were his own organs like his kidneys or liver and their main mass was embedded in each of J’s arms among his arm muscles. It was clear that this situation was permanent. This is gonna be a huge issue, J thought. He could feel other even freakier changes taking place.
J’s stomach rumbled. He was strangely hungry again. He jumped down from the ceiling and began to prepare his breakfast in spite of what was happening to him. J had fifty pounds of fish in his freezer from multiple successful fishing trips. Only after frying and baking and then eating it all in one sitting did he realize he’d eaten all of it. He also drank many gallons of water. Why is this happening? It must be this blasted suit! Where did this THING come from?! As these thoughts raced through his mind, J could swear he felt his bones DISSOLVING and turning into muscle. And his hopelessly non-removable suit was growing! “I need to get to the doctor!” However, he could not stop himself from falling asleep after his massive meal.
J slept through a rainy and stormy day and woke up twelve hours later. Once a mere 140 pounds and five feet three inches, he was now 250 pounds of muscle and eighteen inches taller, but his forever stuck-on living muscle suit weighed 500 pounds! J effectively weighed 750 pounds with the unsettling way in which the accursed thing was now bonded to him. The symbiote had merged with his flesh on a molecular level and every cell in his body was now half-symbiote. Even his DNA was half-symbiote. It was impossible to tell where J ended and the symbiote he was literally stuck with began. Somehow J knew this instinctively. To top it all off, his bones were gone, replaced by muscle, which was abundantly clear when he reached for a light switch twenty feet away and saw that he now had super-stretch powers in addition to the spider powers and organic web-shooters and super-webs. J’s now-excellent vision meant his glasses were no longer a necessity and his once brown eyes were now glowing green ones. He would never need a flashlight or lantern again because he could see everything in the dark without one. “No surprises there – unfortunately. At least I don’t need glasses anymore”, he said to himself. J knew he also now had immense super-strength, invulnerability, and regeneration abilities. He could lift a 1000-ton boulder with little effort and was incredibly super-stretchy, practically indestructible, and had super spider powers and super-webs and regeneration abilities, but he was now the parasite, completely dependent on the symbiote to support his body now that he didn’t have bones. J could harden, soften, and expand at will and withstand fire, ice, and extreme heat and cold as well. “I’m a superpowered freak of nature and to add insult to injury, I look like one and I know it. This is a nightmare!”
That nightmare had one last freaky permanent surprise for him. J suddenly felt a weird squirming sensation in his armpits. Within seconds, the symbiote-suit formed a second pair of arms under J’s own black-clad and now mega-muscular arms! Though made entirely of symbiote muscle-goo, they looked just like his own suit-covered arms. Inside J, black goo-nerves embedded in his flesh connected these symbiote-arms to his brain so he could feel and control them. Since they had organic web-shooters like the ones embedded in J’s own arms this meant twice as much super-webbing. In shock and not sure what to do, J turned on his TV, which he hadn’t watched in several days.
When J turned on his TV, he saw reports coming in on every channel that were all about one headline-grabbing subject. That big headline, of course, was an unstoppable new nation-wide outbreak that started a week ago and was traced back to the blue rock from space that had fallen to Earth in a field near San Francisco. Thousands of people across America were infected with black symbiotes just like the one poor J was now trapped in for life. Doctor’s offices were inundated with patients facing the same very sticky suit situation J was in and there was no cure or treatment to stop it. Containing its spread was impossible since its ability to hide inside the cells of its host made it undetectable until it formed the inescapable black super-spider suit. At this rate everyone would soon have one of these slimy, stretchy, and indestructible body-hugging permanent glue-traps forever stuck on them. Everyone would be forced to be dependent on the parasites to walk and perform basic mundane tasks once their bones turned into muscles and at the same time would gain the same superpowers J now had whether they wanted them or not. At least J wouldn’t be alone or too humiliated to be seen in public. Why hide if everyone is afflicted?
Being merged with a symbiote that weighs twice as much as he does was still no laughing matter for J. Inside the very thick and heavy thing it felt like and WAS being stuck up to his earlobes in a rubbery living tar pit that will never let go. The powers, super-webs, bonelessness, and whole-body Hulk-like physique with these monstrous giant symbiote-muscles everywhere and the mega-strength to match that came with them would be a major life adjustment. J would never get used to the freaky feeling of the shiny black organism attached to him and stuck on him like rubbery super-glue… or being literally stuck in a lifelong host-parasite relationship where he was the dependent parasite!
But he had no choice. Under the big, heavy living muscle suit, his own cells and DNA were half-symbiote. He had pure symbiote cells coursing through his bloodstream and living inside all of his red blood cells. Those slimy muscle-goo extra arms had wire-like goo-nerves extending through the flesh and organs of his torso and rooted in his brain. J and his new big, body-hugging black “friend” as he sarcastically put it were literally inseparable in the most disgusting way possible. Half the time he’d wake up the next day in a big super-spider web he would produce in his sleep instead of in his bed. The most disturbing part was that being stuck in this gooey, stretchy, super-sticky glue-rubber living tar pit body trap felt strangely pleasant and he LIKED it! This was perhaps just as well, however, since J’s bizarre condition was a life sentence. Liking it did not mean he’d ever get used to the weird sticky glue-rubber feeling or anything else about this.
No one knew how they spread so quickly. In ten days half of the American population was affected and trapped for life in mega-muscular black symbiotes that completely covered them up to their chins and earlobes like J. Amazingly, civilization had NOT collapsed like J and many others initially thought this might cause it to. Society continued to function almost as if everyone was simply ignoring what had already happened to at least fifty percent of the people in every state in the mainland U.S.A. with many also affected in Alaska and Hawaii. J was dumbfounded but at the same time glad America hadn’t gone down the tubes, though California seceding from the union to become its own country the day before the symbiotes were first noticed in it and a few other states wasn’t doing that former state any favors. The Democratic Republic of California or DRC was facing several severe crises that had nothing to do with the symbiote outbreak and many of its wiser residents were now former residents living in neighboring states to avoid giving up their status as US citizens. Those still in the DRC were facing food shortages, drought, rampant crime including a murder rate ten times that of the worst state that was still part of the U.S.A., a failing economy, and various struggling social programs that were doing more harm than good, provoking increasingly violent protests that had already caused major destruction and dozens of deaths in several cities. For some reason few people were symbiote-infected in the DRC and no reports of “unclassified biology altering parasites” or UBAPs as the media called them had yet come from any other country. J was still adjusting to his new symbiote-stuck life.
The next three days saw the rest of the US population get forced into rediscovering life as Arachnosuiters, as those afflicted with the symbiotes were now called. Reports of UBAPs also began to rapidly increase in the DRC. The riots in the DRC began to become less violent. It only took 21 days for the outbreak to infect the whole U.S.A. Only three weeks. America was literally musclebound, which now meant being stuck in several hundred pounds of slimy symbiote goo-muscle that merges its DNA with yours against your will and sticks to you like your worst combined glue, rubber, and fashion nightmare as a permanent living tar pit you wear that forces YOU to be the boneless parasite that depends on IT, binding you to it for life. Strangely, there were still no reports of UBAPs or Arachnosuiters in any other countries.
Six feet and 630 muscular pounds was now average adult size, so at six feet nine inches and 790 pounds with his extra-muscular symbiote J was now considerably taller than average and one of the heaviest and strongest ones. His powerful symbiote had really muscled out for some reason and gained the additional 40 pounds when it formed the extra arms. Everyone had the extra arms regardless of his or her muscular new size, though. J had been richly rewarded for finding a missing diamond wedding ring and returning it to the couple it belonged to three days after being infected and “suited up” by his symbiote and gave most of his reward money to a charity that helped Christian refugees escape unspeakable and horrific persecution in war-torn countries. Many of these people had been rescued with this donation and J’s feeder insect business was thriving. J was able to use the money he earned from selling feeder insects to go diving for tasty lionfish and other prized underwater game. With his symbiote he didn’t need a wetsuit, fins, or dive mask for seeing underwater and could stay where the fish he hunted were for much longer. J’s symbiote formed an organic dive mask and organic fins when he dove and enabled him to stay underwater for hours at a time without scuba gear by storing oxygen which it released into his bloodstream while he was underwater.
On Day 22 all the news outlets ran with a new headline. A clue to the origins of this bizarre epidemic had been found on the blue space rock that brought the first symbiote to Earth. On the inside wall of the hollow blue stone was a mysterious set of symbols that could not have been created by human hands. Shockingly, the symbols were all ancient Hebrew letters. Those Hebrew letters formed words and the message was clear. BE GRATEFUL FOR THIS GIFT. IT IS BOTH WARNING AND BLESSING. USE IT WISELY. KNOW WHO I AM AND REMEMBER MY LAWS. Under this message was a line of golden Hebrew letters that spelled out an unmistakable name: YESHUA HA MASHIACH. The Hebrew name for the Savior – Jesus Christ. That night, J and millions of other people across America had vivid dreams and visions about the symbiotes providing a path for humanity to make the world a MUCH better place and bring an age of enlightenment and about the Rapture, Tribulation, Great White Throne Judgment. Some of the dreams were beautiful and others were horrifying. Everyone who had these visions and dreams saw and experienced all of the same things in their sleep. J and all of the other random symbiote-fused random Americans who had this experience were moved and compelled to tell those who didn’t have visions what they saw that night. The message and warning these dreams carried seemed to be that it was either the symbiotes or the End Of Days and that many would have been left behind after the Rapture to endure the Tribulation and thus the worst seven years in history, with hundred-pound blood-red hailstones mixed with fire raining from the sky, rivers and lakes turning into deadly poisonous blood, unimaginable horrors at the hands of the Demon Beast, and a foul plague worse than any currently known illness on all those who chose to take the evil shape-shifting Beast’s mark. This vile disease had horrifying symptoms. Fevered madness, gut-wrenching stabbing stomach pain, bloody vomiting and diarrhea, black and green necrotic lesions, unbearably painful festering boils and sores filled with oozing, reeking, disease-spreading green and yellow pus that attracted flies and fat, wriggling, flesh-burrowing maggots with horrific hook-like mandibles, and frequent infestation with lice, ticks, and flesh-eating worms and revolting black leeches that can kill in an absolutely repulsive manner were just some of the ghastly symptoms of this awful disease.
The symbiotes were a bizarre and stern wake-up call to a wayward nation that had been headed down a terrible path. Freaky and disgusting as they were, they were far better than what would soon come if America and the rest of the world continued on its appalling and hopelessly depressing current path. These life-upturning organisms had saved the country rather than destroying it. J smiled as he watched an uplifting report about how people were actually heeding the message of the visions from the night before. The social disaster the last two decades had turned the U.S.A. and by extension the rest of the world into was already changing for the better. “FINALLY!”, J shouted. “At last! At long, long last! It’s about freakin’ time people started caring! I was afraid I’d have to endure the agony of spending the rest of my life helplessly watching the world slowly die in front of me! I’m only in my mid-thirties but until two weeks ago the state of affairs on this planet made me feel like I was in my mid-nineties. Thank God Himself that nightmare’s over! This THING I’m stuck in and fused with is no picnic but being symbiote-stuck for LIFE is still better than living out the rest of my life on a planet that’s completely intolerable would have been if this never happened and the End Times didn’t come.” J’s neighbor agreed.
No new big stories broke on any of the news stations for the rest of Day 23, but after sunset, multiple football-sized and shaped glowing blue meteors identical to the first symbiote-containing stone were seen and reported by witnesses falling from the sky around the world. Just like America, each and every country on Earth received one glowing blue meteorite.
Credit: John B. Harris
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