The ambient stench was stomach-churning. Lifting his jacket, Quentin smelled under his arm. The fetor wasn’t from him, despite his early stage of decomposition. Pushing aside the soiled sheet of cardboard that covered him, Quentin, stood and stretched. The smell was coming from all the unwashed bodies dwelling in a small tent settlement outside of the city. Drifting through the throng of homeless occupiers, he had his pick of new hosts. The brute he now inhabited was newly dead, but not so much so that he wasn’t useful.
Taking possession of Abigail’s specter had been unsatisfactory too, but it gave him a chance to regenerate. By now, her empty remains would be too far gone for her spirit to return. Quentin allowed a chuckle to bubble up, thinking of Abigail’s soul doomed to wander untethered for eternity.
She was a disappointment. He nurtured her as his apprentice, as the incubator for his next incarnation. She lied to him. He would deal with that betrayal later.
For now, he needed to keep trading up. Finding a better, and more animated host, until he could slip into a permanent home. Starting over wasn’t an option, The three years he wasted waiting on Abigail to fulfill her contract weakened him more than he expected. He was rapidly running out of time.
His new host, while strong, was mentally beneath his station. Scanning the other make-shift tents around him, Quentin knew he had to get back to the city. In his present state, a hospital would be a good option.
Whenever he transitioned into a host, finding his sea-legs was always a difficult. Quentin stumbled toward the main road, jerking awkwardly in his new body. Scaling a stone embankment, he waited just below the road bed, watching cars racing by in the morning rush. He had to time it just right, and hope the unfortunate driver wasn’t one to hit and run.
Steeling himself for impact, Quentin staggered into the path of a late-model Infinity. The car’s bumper shattered his femur, knocking him off his feet and into the air, his shoes bouncing over the road shoulder. He land with a sickening thud on the car’s hood. The driver, Casper Benson, a 72-year-old retired accountant, stomped on the brakes, causing Quentin to roll off his car and onto the highway. The anti-lock discs stopped the 2.25 ton sedan only inches from Quentin’s head.
Witnesses called 911 not only for the mangled pedestrian, but also the septuagenarian motorist who had a heart attack simultaneously with striking Quentin.
Bringing the two men into the nearest Emergency Room, paramedics wheeled their gurneys through a maze of sick and hurt. Nurses and doctors triaged their incoming patients, assigning Quentin the more urgent degree of treatment.
Blood was drawn, but wouldn’t show any alcohol or drugs. If his condition was merely based on his outward appearance, medical examiners would have put Quentin’s time of death at 24 hours before arriving at the ER. The attending physician was giddy with anticipation at having a patient who could be a potential paper subject.
The doctor’s youth and mental acrobatics attracted Quentin’s attention. Waiting for him to begin administering to his injuries, Quentin chose the perfect moment to assume his new host. When he abandoned the carcass of the homeless brute on the ER exam table, his former host suddenly flatlined.
Feeling a surge of sentient power, Quentin let out a euphoric groan. The doctor’s colleagues, surprised at his weird reaction to the accident victim’s death, didn’t realize Quentin was now in control.