The priest stood over the bed, gold and jewel encrusted cross held out to the girl tied to the bedposts with satin cord normally used to hold back the heavy curtains. “I cast you out, unclean spirit,” said the white collared man, not for the first time that day, “along with every spectre from Hell, and all your fell companions.” He touched himself and then her on the brow, lips and breast, his fingers dripping with rose scented water, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

“Amen.” the two other people in the room obediently murmured. The woman with the tear stained eyes worried rosary beads through her fingers, mindlessly counting them over and over, as she prayed under her breath.

The man was more stoic but his lips were a thin, tight line and his hands were clenched until the knuckles were white. He stood behind his wife, there to support her if needed.

The girl observed this as she twisted and turned against the improvised bindings that held her; she’d struggled so much in the hours since she was restrained her wrists and ankles were red and chafed. At first she tried to tell them that she wasn’t possessed by a demon but they looked at her as if she were speaking another language, huddling together in terror. She gave up trying to convince them and spent her energy on getting free from the bonds.

Her renewed efforts spurred the priest, in his vestments and purple stole, to greater passion, his prayers loud and fervent. “Hearken, and tremble in fear, Satan, you enemy of the faith, you root of all evil and vice, author of pain and sorrow!” Spittle flew from his mouth as he spoke.

From another room she could hear the hourly news update played over the television. She focused on the newscaster’s voice rather than the venom spewing from the priest’s mouth. “After an unprecedented forty year journey, the cosmonauts have been released from their three month quarantine. Interviews with these men and women are expected later today. Little information has been released on the results of their mission, only that it was a success and first contact has been made with the denizens of a distant planet. Protesters from religious groups are already gathering and the Moscow police are standing by. The Patriarch of Moscow’s Orthodox Russian Church issued a statement earlier today proclaiming the mission was a fraud perpetuated on the Russian people in order to drive them away from….”

The priest’s strident tones overshadowed the sound coming from the telly, “Begone, now!” he crossed himself and her, “Begone, seducer!”

A voice from the doorway exclaimed, “What’s going on here?” The owner of the voice, a young man in a white lab coat, stepped into the room. He looked from the girl on the bed, to the priest, to the couple standing about watching.

The woman turned around, “Oh, Mikhail, thank you for coming home. Sorry we called you away from the pharmacy. Father Viktor says Angelika is possessed by Satan!”

The man blinked slowly as he processed the information. “Possessed? Why would you think that?”

The priest didn’t answer Mikhail’s question, instead he continued to pray, “Depart, impious one!” He showered the girl in Holy Water, “Depart, accursed one, for God has willed that man should be His temple!”

The woman moved out into the hallway, pulling Mikhail along side her. She lowered her voice so as not to disrupt the priest, “She practically attacked Papa this morning.”

“Attacked how? Was he hurt?” asked Mikhail. His parents were devote Orthodox Russians but his sister and himself were less inclined toward such superstition.

“She attempted to molest him!” His mama was scandalized while his papa stood there in red faced embarrassment. Mikhail didn’t ask for more details, his parents were obviously traumatized by the event.

Mikhail’s mind processed the information. His sister, a fervent atheist, had to be appalled at how she was being treated. “Did she say anything?”

It was his mama’s turn to blush, “She said they must quickly be propagated throughout the world. It was time for them to take their place as rulers of this planet.”

“Propagated. You’re sure she used that exact word?” His mama looked at her husband for confirmation. Both of them nodded solemnly.

Mikhail patted her cheek. “It’ll be okay, Mama. Angelika’s not possessed.”

“She’s not crazy, is she, Mikhail? Not like Uncle Vladamir?” There was fear in her eyes as a shadow of memory crossed her face.

“No, Mama, she’s not crazy, either. I know how to help her.”

“I knew you would. You’re a good boy, Mikhail. A smart boy.” She smiled for the first time since her son arrived.

Mikhail stalked into the room, pulling a hypodermic needle from the pocket of his lab coat. He injected his sister before she, or the priest, could protest. Within minutes she slumped over in a drugged stupor. Mikhail snapped on a pair of latex gloves and asked for a container with a lid and a pair of kitchen tongs.

The priest stopped his endless litany as the occupants of the room were surprised into silence. Mikhail’s mother hurried to the kitchen and returned carrying a cast iron dutch oven with lid and a pair of tongs she used when serving cabbage rolls.

“Father Viktor,” the priest shook himself out of his revery, “Can you film this for posterity?” Mikhail handed the stunned holy man his Apple-phone. “Just aim it at us and push that button you see there.” Mikhail was grinning so wide, the fillings in his back teeth could be seen.

“Papa, hold onto the pot. Be sure to put the lid on it as quick as you can once I drop the creature into it.”

His father silently did as he was asked, standing on the other side of his unconscious daughter. No one in the room asked questions, they barely drew a breath, as they waited on Mikhail.

Mikhail held his sister’s nose with one hand and opened her mouth with the tongs. He pushed the tongs to the back of her throat, wiggling them around a bit before exclaiming, “Ah-ha! Gotcha!”

He pulled out the tongs and along with them came a long, snake-like thing with mottled blue skin and half a dozen red eyes. It squirmed but Mikhail held it tightly. He plopped the creature in the pot and his dad hurriedly put the lid on it, holding it down tightly so the thing couldn’t escape.

Mikhail looked up with a satisfied smile to find three pairs of wide eyes staring at him.

“What? Haven’t any of you heard of the Gliese 581 E parasite? They arrived here with the cosmonauts. It’s been all over the telly. Nothing was said about them escaping, though.” He looked down at his unconscious sister and chuckled, “Leave it to Angelika to bring something extra home from work.”

He snatched his camera phone from the priest and took the pot from his father. “I can’t wait to post this on the ‘Net; this video will go viral in an instant!”

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