The clack of glass quietly echoed through the cramped, disheveled alley. This was a favorite district for young, travelling businessmen. From the outside, acid neon lights tried to squeeze their way into what was little more than a long hallway of brick and refuse. The droning sounds of bass and club-goers barely penetrated the alley's thick, masoned defenses.
The Salesman found more success persuading customers to allow him to demonstrate his wares here. Stumbling patrons dizzy from drink, music, and women were much easier to entertain with his "curiosities" than the children had been. Their faces were never shaped right.
Controller parasites were a means to an end, nothing more. He didn't fully understand them but they responded to his commands with ease. There was but one way to ensure delivery and, though not at first, it grew easier with every customer. He was pursuing a greater goal but for now, right now, it was all about amassing customers. Never more than one at a time of course; any more and the influence of the crowd normally won out. It had to be a person who hadn't realized they were alone yet. He would talk comforts to them, ensnare them with wonder, and promise more than he had the ability or intention to deliver.
Still the sound of glass clacking quietly echoed. He rose. Something like a smile, tinged with pride, briefly flashed over his lips. His latest customer had been slumped back against the brick wall but now worked to raise himself to full height, filth staining his collared shirt. There was never much blood when the jars were jammed into the customers ruddy faces. The controller parasite would quickly follow its instincts, settling into the place where a face had once been like a hermit crab in a new shell.
The Salesman pulled out a wet hunk of something that resembled ribbed cartilage. It glistened and made a cracking, squishing sound as he squeezed it. Liquid ran down the length of his forearm, gathering at and dripping from his elbow. The customer, reacting as if politely asked, followed as the Salesman made his way back, deeper into the alley, away from what little light struggled to illuminate the entrance.
Another loyal customer, he thought. Another addition to the plan.