Two long multi-jointed arms wrapped themselves around the dessicated remains of Julian, pulled them away from the serrated syphon that served the creature for a mouth, and carefully deposited them in the murky shadows with the others. The arms rewound themselves up against the black bulk, and rested.
Linda didn’t scream; a few of the others among those not mercifully unconscious emitted feeble whimpers. In a little while, maybe an hour, maybe 6, those sames arms would feel about the other victims glued to the wall and floor, pick one, and deposit him in the feed trough Julian had just now vacated.
She heard a muffled chuckle, and craned her neck against the sticky but not quite solid excretion that held her in place to turn toward the sound. It was Albert. She remembered how he’d lobbied to get a spot on the longship, how he’d learned everything he could about the selection process, how he’d worked on ingratiating himself with the influential people on the board. He’d spent his time out of stasis grinning like a fool, like a truant kid skipping through the woods on a spring day. Now, after 20 years subjective and centuries earth time, after finding the needle in the galactic haystack that is a habitable planet around a stable star, he was waiting to die with the others.
The legs uncoiled. Now there were a few sobs from the trapped colonists. Again the appendages reached out toward the dwindling collection of live meat. They poked and felt among the victims and settled on Albert, and began dislodging him.
“Damn,” he said as he was lifted free, “I thought when I got out of D.C., I’d escaped politics…”