I watched Spegg, for the next several hours, turn the science lab into a tapestry of organic bewilderment. I kept still, silent, and reserved, even as the heat in the room grew more and more stifling. At one point Spegg paused and brought me a small bowl of snow, then continued, without speaking, with his work. The snow melted easily and I drank everything, knowing full well that it would evaporate if I tried to ration it.

Nearly all the stock equipment in the lab ended up on the floor, save the glassware, replaced by things I couldn’t comprehend. Using the tissue from the elephant seal, Spegg created a boiling, steaming mess of science, doubling, tripling, the size of the tissue inside what could only be described as an incubator, a luminous, spherical, crimson womb that pulsed and contracted like a giant’s disembodied heart.

The dead elephant seal began to smell, much worse than the typical, overpowering stench of bodily waste that they often coat their bodies with in the wild.

“Your turn,” Spegg said suddenly, and shambled over to my prison with the silvery device in hand. He clicked the end, the wormy tendrils wriggling out. I screamed and kicked at the cage, but I had almost no room to move, and my will had dissipated in the withering heat. He snagged my leg, stabbed the instrument into my flesh, and removed it a second later with little ceremony.

I clutched my calf as he walked away, breathing hard, dumbfounded. It hadn’t even stung.

Spegg took the device, slid the tip into a knobby bulge near the bottom of the throbbing incubator, and with a click, injected my tissue inside.