The door squeaks open. The first thing I notice is a small tank, perched atop the dresser tucked away in the corner of the room. It strikes me as odd, being the only thing I don't quite recognize. There's something inside but it's difficult to make out the contents. I cautiously walk closer. My heart races as the muddied form begins to take shape: a lizard, or some sort of reptile, stands solemn toward the rear of the enclosure. Its skin is a pale and lifeless gray; half its body is translucent white, cracked beyond repair. It's almost as if the creature began to molt but failed to generate new skin underneath. The mouth hangs agape, as if long searching for food or water. Most chilling of all, the reptile stands unnaturally still, its legs permanently cemented in rotten substrate. Surely this poor thing must've been dead for months. It appears as though there's some sort of mass on its head, though it's difficult to make out. Hesitantly I approach. Suddenly the head snaps to face me, once dilated pupils contracting into thin vertical slits. The chest pumps rapidly, repeatedly exposing its ribs as it gasps for air. It then becomes painfully obvious what the mass on its head is. A spider; a sharp form of sleek black, the light granting the legs a sinister orange glow as it passes through. All eight of them are firmly embedded in the poor reptile's skull, which appears to have been bored open. I can't quite tell how deep the incision is, but I swear the dark gray substance being chiseled to dust almost looks like brain matter. Surprisingly there is no red, no blood. No sign of life. Abruptly the reptile clumsily crawls towards me in a blind panic, its snout impacting the plastic wall as the legs keep trying desperately to push forward. In response the spider tightens its grip, causing its victim to audibly hiss in wretched pain. I can only watch in horror as the pitiful creature writhes violently against the enclosure. I turn around in disgust, unable to witness anymore of this grotesque display without being launched into a frenzied panic. I pace around the room, failing to suppress the overwhelming dread that rapidly expands, fills my body with molten lead. I did this. How the hell did I let it come to this? How could I have allowed this poor creature, its very life, to be lumped into the immeasurable mass of things I've neglected? What else have I left to rot? Even with my sight locked in the opposite direction, I can still hear every detail: the squeak of the reptile clawing desperately against the plastic walls; the searing hiss of its pained cries; an unnerving crackling that I can only assume its skull being slowly ripped apart. I can feel mine tearing open as well. I can't bear this any longer. Briefly I consider trying to nurse this thing back to health. But that shriveled mess of a corpse is surely far beyond redemption... it's been years, I've forgotten what it eats, what conditions it requires. And what of the parasite latched to its head, how in the hell do I... remove it? Even if I manage to pry the damn thing off without causing further harm, I really don't think it will live much longer. It's barely clinging to life as is. Maybe... ...maybe I should kill it. Put it out of its awful misery. How would I even go about such a thing? A sharp stab? Blunt force? I don't know how to gracefully end a life without hurting it further. It's already suffered enough. I'm afraid to even touch the damn thing; its frail body could easily snap with the slightest touch. Even if I were to painlessly end its life, what would follow? Just leaving the parasite to feed on the corpse of its host? I am unsure of saving it, unwilling to kill it. Afraid to come to a decision, I shamefully regress back toward the door. "I'm sorry," my voice cracks into the empty room. The door shuts.