Chapter one of a book idea of mine. In which a young girl meets a monster.


Mr. Mort


“The Doctor is often more to be feared than the disease.” –French Proverb



Tessa folded her arms across her chest. She stood shivering in the frigid room those terrible people dumped her into. She didn’t fully comprehend what happened. Everything had seemed perfect and wonderful, now in such a short span of hours her life fell apart. Those awful people separated her from her parents so fast. She thought back to the car ride which led them to this unknown place. Her father told her they were heading to a hotel. He had to explain what a hotel was since she’d never been to one prior. Her family rarely took extended trips; this being the first instance where she left home with them. This vacation her parents planned delighted Tessa who wanted a chance to see many things outside of her known realm. When Tessa asked about where they were going her parents simply told her to be patient. Her father secured what they needed in advance via postage. These mysterious people he kept in contact with were the ones who provided the car they rode in which brought them to wherever she stood now. Tessa stopped asking about the trip after both of her parents promised her she would love where they were going. She wanted to believe them so she let her doubts go and decided to have faith in their words. She started obsessing over her parents opinions of her after her brother’s birth. Up until then she was their only child. Her parents tried many years to conceive another. Her mother continued having miscarriage after miscarriage over a variety of reasons.

It almost seemed like they had a curse placed on them from so much misfortune. Bentley came fifteen years late. Her mother had a difficult pregnancy with him which left her bedridden during its course. Tessa spent many days and nights curled on her mother’s sickbed. She cared about her mother and did her best to keep her company. Being an only child had its ups and downs. On the positive side it secured her parents focus on Tessa. She received only the finest when it came to her upbringing and a part of her wanted to hold on to this exclusive privilege. This was her entire world as long as she could remember. There were some downsides to having that much attention though. It occasionally got burdensome having emphasis placed on how she carried herself. Her parents expected her to behave in certain ways. As their only child they hovered over her a bit too much and it got worse the older she became. Anything Tessa enjoyed they considered improper met fierce opposition. Her family had an image to uphold. She felt trapped by her birthright. She often wondered what it meant to live without having to obsess over someone else’s judgement. She thought if she had younger siblings they’d help alleviate some of this pressure on her. She didn’t have any friends.

Her parents’ home tutored Tessa. The only occasions she got to socialize with kids her age happened when her family attended some kind of function or party. Her father went to these social gatherings on formality to conduct business. He brought his family along to show off. Tessa despised going to those events. The other children spoke to her with the same rehearsed blandness she practiced. They also had certain standards to uphold for their families and what they represented. Speaking to them was about as much fun as watching dust collect underneath the furniture. Perhaps at the very least a little brother or sister would give her someone closer to her age to talk to. As the years went on she stopped hoping for this. No way of getting close now with her infant sibling. By the time he’d start thinking on his own she’d be well on her way to marriage and in the process of starting her own family. After her brother’s birth her parents poured their attention into the new baby. Tessa always wanted a taste of freedom and she got what she wished for. Her parents barely noticed her now. She went through her daily motions; her tutoring suddenly became the only real human interaction she engaged in. She desired freedom yes but she still craved her parent’s affections. She debated on what felt worse, the overbearing judgement or cold indifference. Hearing about this trip it amazed her. While the day drew closer towards their vacation both of her parents started fawning over her. They took her out shopping. They bought her several new dresses, some jewelry and books. Tessa had to beg for books any point before. Her parents made sure she had the ability to read. They only intended her to have literacy in case her future husband might need her help. The main scenario they envisioned Tessa’s usefulness was if he fell ill or became incapacitated in a way which hindered his ability to work.

She might have to dictate documents of interest to him. No one expected her to have a say in the affairs. Tessa’s father warned her on the dangers of indulging in fiction books. They mostly only allowed her to read her lecture materials. Tessa learned to accept the older she got the less they catered to what she desired. During this trip they bought her new books and said nothing about her choices. On top of this her father told her they were taking a train ride outside of the city. Tessa never left home before let alone ride a train. They were expensive even by her family’s standard of living. Only the wealthiest and most important people got to travel across the world. The information left Tessa speechless. Despite her reservations she started getting genuinely excited for the trip. Her favorite part of the journey being the private time she got to spend with her mother. They were able to talk. It hadn’t happened in so long. Tessa thought this trip was her parent’s apology for their recent distance. Maybe they’d come out of their baby fever and realized how despicable they were towards her. Tessa almost let a sardonic chortle escape her lips. As she continued to mull over her situation she grew sadder each passing moment. She was old enough now and clever in ways her parents took no interest to understand. A sickness in her belly which had it twisted in knots told Tessa this whole affair stood as a cover to something much more ominous, something she wasn’t ready to deal with. She still held confidence against this growing suspicion. They were her parents! This had to be a mistake or perhaps a bad joke although she knew they weren’t the type who messed around.

Those terrible people left her in an almost completely white room. The walls and ceiling were pristine ivory. The floor under her feet came peppered with colored flecks of gray throughout the tiling. She stood close to a shiny silver bed in the middle of the almost white void. The bed constructed of metal yet as she inspected it for the hundredth instance she now only realized it looked more reminiscent of a table. She saw her body in the thing’s reflective surface. There were no pillows or blankets or any soft comforting thing near this metal bed or more than likely table. She thought about sitting on top of it. The idea made her nauseous. She hated the way it dipped in certain places and the weird convex tray affixed to it. She only speculated what the tray intended to hold. A large drain rested on the floor close to this table, it had to be a table. What a bizarre placement for it. This room disturbed her. Its overbearing light hurt her eyes. At least the drain in the floor had no nasty sewage or wet musk odor coming from it. It actually smelled far to clean like someone had doused the whole thing in an abrasive solution she couldn’t identify. The odorous chemical wafted into her nostrils relentlessly. It started to give her a headache. She’d long since given up on trying to escape the white room. After those horrible people tossed her in here they locked the door. She attempted to get it open a few unsuccessful goes. She overexerted herself continuously ramming her shoulder into it with no results. Not only did her head hurt now the entire right side of her body ached due to the strain. After Tessa ceased struggling with the door she walked through the rest of the room. She refused to think of it as a prison despite the ugly term keeping its hold in her mind. The only other objects in the room were a set of cabinets built into one of the walls. She tried to get those open with no luck. They were locked as well. She lost an unknown stretch of hours while she waited in the surreal void those people placed her in.

Her stressed nerves kept her on her feet a long while. Now that she had a good moment to calm down her strained body began to crave rest. Sitting on the metal table wasn’t an option. She walked towards the furthest corner of the room away from the door and the cabinets. She planned on staying in a placement which allowed her to face the doorway when she heard a clicking sound. Tessa focused her attention on the locked door. She turned around to face whoever came strolling across the threshold. Tessa’s mouth flew open in a silent scream. It died on her tongue before she produced any noise. She started gasping for air, the near frantic pace of her inhalations and expulsions made her mouth dry and head fuzzy. She hadn’t known what to expect when the door opened again. Nothing prepared her for the lurid thing approaching her now. The man who made way to her looked more like a monster than an actual person. Tessa heard about wicked beings during the few instances her father took them to listen to a cleric. They were supposedly ugly entities who had human shaped appearances. Tessa thought it silly to believe in the possibility of such creatures. Looking at this man almost swayed her opinion. He stood tall, tall enough she had to crane her neck in order to hold steady eye contact with him. His bizarre and sick eyes bore into Tessa. He had pale blue irises surrounded in bloody pools of red. As he entered he produced a large red cloth he used to gently dab underneath and at the corners of his eyes to remove a buildup of crust forming in those tiny pockets.

“You are such a beautiful girl.” The man wheezed.

His voice came out deep and yet it was little more than a saccharine rasp of air. It sounded painful to use his vocal chords. He coughed into the red cloth and wiped
his lips clean from whatever surfaced. He didn’t have a nose. She wished she imagined him missing such an important facial feature. Tessa wondered if its absence had something to do with the rattle in his voice. It seemed stupid correlating the two together. She’d never met anyone with such deformity before. The nightmare man cocked his head to the side. His long red hair fell away off his shoulders. His locks were not normal. They were to bright a red color and the individual strands also too thick. As he continued to close the gap between their bodies she noticed ugly sores on his scalp. Wherever the abnormal hairs poked out of his skin the surrounding areas were puffy, calloused and pink. Infections of some kind running rampant through his hairline. His hair, or what he substituted as hair, made of an unnatural material currently destroying his flesh. Tessa stopped her near hyperventilation as the nightmare man came unbearably close to her.

He stopped mere feet from her person. Now they were within reaching distance of one another the girl heard an unnerving noise. She almost dismissed the constant ticking which accompanied him. She wondered if he carried a pocket watch. The ticking mixed with his strained labor of drawing breath; the combination of the two quite worrisome. His powerful scent replaced chemical odors of the white room. He smelled nice in comparison with his appearance. Tessa caught aromas of tobacco and notes of other herbaceous substances. It reminded her of burning incense more than anything. He still held the red cloth. He absently lifted it up to his infected scalp. He used it as a barrier over his fingers to scratch at one of the sores in his head. He must have realized how repulsive his actions were. He stretched the cloth across his scalp and swept the anomalies for hair into it. He tied it at the base of his neck with unsteady fingers. This makeshift bandanna blocked Tessa’s view of his head wounds.

“You must forgive me. It all itches terribly. I’m in a never-ending battle for relief.” He explained.

“What’s going on?” Tessa asked. She finally found her voice. “Where are my parents?”

“You poor thing, I think it should be obvious. Why you’re practically grown, not nearly as gullible as the smaller ones.” He said.

“I don’t understand what you mean.” The nightmare man smirked at Tessa.

It happened to be the ugliest thing the girl had seen yet. His teeth glinted silver in the light instead of white or yellow. Tessa licked her lips then drew a long deep breath to try and even her voice into a more pleasant tone.

“I’m scared.” She meant it.

Her nerves existed as a thin string ready to snap at any moment depending on how this encounter progressed. Something passed across the nightmare man’s repugnant face. For a moment his swollen eyes drooped along with the rest of his countenance. She swore she felt his sorrow and decided she preferred his metallic grin.

“Your parents aren’t here anymore. They sold you to my partner. He told me how delicate you appeared. He was right, if I didn’t have any sense I’d say you were made from ceramic.” He said.

Tessa backed into the metal table behind her. She hadn’t gotten away from the room’s center before this man invaded her space.

“You’re lying you can’t buy and sell people. You did something to them.” Tessa accused.

“You are sheltered my dear. I guess I have to break your heart today. They sold you, this I promise. I saw them fawning over some infant your brother. I think they stopped wanting you a good while ago at least it’s the impression I got.”

Tessa broke eye contact with the nightmare man. She kept hugging herself since she found no scrap of warmth in this place. She needed to not believe his claims. The hidden worry she held under check came to the front of her thoughts. The pieces of this sudden trip mashed together in a way which made sense now. Her parents were sick of her and so they distracted her catching on to their schemes. Maybe the nightmare man lied about them selling her who knew? Her parents might have simply found a secretive place to abandon her.

“I…they…why? What did I do? Did I make them angry?” Tessa hadn’t realized she said her revelation aloud.

The nightmare man replied to her statement. “My dear some people are beyond understanding.”

Coming from the oddest person Tessa met his words rattled through her brain.
Tessa started to cry. She wiped at her moisture filled eyes with the backs of her knuckles. She wept silently, years of being taught to hold back emotion prevented her making offensive noise. Now that she got a better hold of her emotions she desperately fought to hide them again. The nightmare man moved to get closer to her. Tessa’s vision blurred due to the amount of tears she had trouble wiping away. He snapped his unstable fingers to the best of his ability to draw her focus. Tessa saw him invade the minuscule space that remained between them and she involuntarily quaked.

“I need you to get on the table.” he said.

Tessa almost vomited right onto the floor then and there. “I can’t.” she breathed.

He let another sigh part ways with his mouth. He wanted this process to go as smooth as possible. He needed to make a choice on where he wanted to place her for the night.

“It’s essential for me to have a look at you. I want to see if there’s something wrong with you. You’re so waifish after all, just a tiny thing.”

“No.”

“Get on the fucking table!” He slammed his hand onto the reflective surface.

Tessa nearly leapt out of her own skin. The jarred squawk of his elevated decibels made her flesh prickle.

“I am sympathetic to you. It doesn’t mean I have an infinite amount of patience. I’m a busy man and I’ve not the time for you to have a breakdown which inhibits your ability to listen. I didn’t ask you to sit down. I’m telling you to sit.”

Tessa covered her face with her hands. It got harder to hold her responses in check. She had no idea how to deal with this person. Most of her body stiffened at once and she thought she might pass out. Her reaction held him in place. After a pause of uncountable measure and when Tessa felt she could no longer bear his scrutiny he spoke.

“It won’t hurt I promise. It’ll take only a few minutes.”

Tessa noticed he left the door to the room open earlier. She debated about making a go at it since the moment he entered. She ran fast and the nightmare man had barely a scrap of meat on his emaciated frame. Tessa wondered if she caught him off guard how she might get a chance to knock him off balance. If she managed to run she’d get out this asphyxiating room. He raised his voice to get a point across. Tessa wondered if he read her mind. His next set of words stopped any further ideas of trying to escape.

“Stop pretending you’re going to run away. I promise you I’m stronger than you think. I have no desire to chase you. It will sour my mood and we want to have a good relationship you and I. Don’t make me angry.”

Tessa stayed in her place. He was ready for her. Her plans fell apart before they had a chance to begin. This forced her to accept she had no idea of his capability to back his claims.

“Now get on the table. This is the last time we will have this conversation.”

“I’ll do what you want.” Tessa admitted defeat.

She had to listen to the nightmare man now. She feared him attacking her. He seemed to be the kind of person who appreciated violence. Tessa struggled with his demands. He remained as close as possible to her. It caused her to panic over the idea of accidentally bumping into him. The table was as glacial as she suspected. Its coldness went through her like an electric shock. She kept her eyes squeezed shut during most of his inspections. His hands were almost as cold as the table. She only opened them during his examination after he wanted to shine an annoying light into her eyes. The entire procedure made her think back to when her family received house calls from their local doctors. They came to give her yearly checkups and sometimes an immunization. Her mother had the most health problems that called for a constant practitioner in her life instead.

The nightmare man inspected her same as those Tessa remembered. Was this rotten man some sort of doctor himself? It seemed crazy to think about. After he finished examining her he pulled a petite notebook and pen out of his red coat pocket. He began to scrawl in the pages. Tessa opened her eyes and stared at his chest. At this close range the ticks accompanying his presence took hold of her interest. The source of the noise arose from his chest area. Tessa marveled as she focused on its erratic pacing. Only moments before she dismissed the ticking for a pocket watch. Either he kept a watch close to his breast or something else made the noise.

He engaged in trivial conversation as he jotted down his notes. “How old are you my dear?”

“Fifteen.” Tessa answered.

“Well you’re becoming a young woman. I can tell you will be stunning when fully developed. Look at those blonde ringlets, so healthy. From a medical standpoint your complexion is strong and your reflexes are good.”

Tessa found his compliments grating. She wondered why he bothered to force a
chat between them in the first place.

“Didn’t anyone teach you how rude it is to stare?” Tessa momentarily adverted her gaze at his criticism.

Her eyes traveled from his chest to his shoulders as he wrapped up his inspection
of her. A few strands of his hair drooped across them. She finally knew what they were comprised of now. They were wires, each of the individual cords about as thick as a finger with plugs at their ends. When she made the discovery a slew of questions occupied her thoughts. Were the wires functional? If so, how did he plug them into outlets and not kill himself? More importantly who would want to embed electrical wires into their own head? How bad did they hurt? No wonder his scalp stayed inflamed.

Tessa hated the part of her wanting to ask him about his deformities. She had a genuine curiousness growing alongside her terror. She enjoyed studying how things worked. Her parents detested her questions. She had to learn with a more hands on experience as she grew. She often went outside and tried to take in the mysteries of her surroundings. Unlike other girls she had no problem touching gross or dirty things. Her parents scoffed at her ability to slip away from their detection so she could play in the dirt and mud. She oftentimes tried to share her discoveries with them at a more tender age. They wanted nothing to do with it of course. Tessa came to resent certain circumstances of her sex. She questioned different possibilities her life might have taken if born a boy and how it might change the way they reacted to her inquisitiveness. She had a hard time coping with the notion. Those ideas crept upon her most often after a day ended during the quiet moments before sleep. She carried perfect rational thought as much as the boys she’d met. In truth she wanted to follow her father’s example in earning her livelihood. She knew she was the right choice to carry on his work. She lied about her true desires out of fear of what her parents might do.

Her father’s memory hit Tessa hard. She still thought of her parents the way she did at home. They weren’t here now in this place. They tricked her into coming here. As much as she needed to believe this whole trip to be her parent’s strange attempt at humor, her rationale triumphed over whimsy. For a wild moment she almost cursed. She wanted to scream. Her anger over their abandonment made her face flush and chest hurt. They betrayed her, she carried their blood in her veins. If they didn’t come together she would have never existed in the first place. Sure she occasionally gave them trouble. How had anything she’d done warrant this kind of punishment? The older she got the more she tried to fit into their ideals. Despite her resentment she harbored towards them she still loved them.

“Did somebody hurt you?” Tessa asked the nightmare man.
His pen stopped in the uneven jostle of his note scrawls. In this moment she wanted to apologize. She gave an unfair verdict of his personality. His mutilation appeared painful and also had to have created barriers in relationships with other people. Perhaps he had no choice in what happened to him. Maybe he lost his nose in an accident. He might have a disease of the eye changing their color. Her fear of his appearance made her jump to unreasonable conclusions. Her interest with his face distracted her about her sadness. Tessa got nervous after he failed to respond.

“I’m sorry I brought it up. I’m being rude. You know what, forget I said anything.” Tessa fumbled over her words.

“Not a lot of people have asked me about my face before and certainly never a child. They’re too afraid. You are either the boldest person I’ve met or the most foolish.”

“I might be a mixture of both.” Tessa teased.

“Nobody touched me without permit if you must know.”

“Oh.” Tessa messed with one of the buttons on her blouse looking for an excuse to fidget.

“Do I bother you?” The nightmare man asked.
“I’m curious about you.”

“You wonder about me?” His voice hinted towards irritation.

Tessa crossed a line and now she regretted opening her mouth in the first place. He returned the pen and notebook back into his coat pocket. If the ticks accompanying his presence stopped their rhythm the whole room would have fallen into unpleasant silence. His ragged breath slowed. It left only those bizarre pings to fill the void with any kind of sound.

“Have you ever had your blood drawn before?” He asked.

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

“The answer is no then. Did your parents allow for you to get any immunizations in your life you’re aware of?”

Tessa nodded “I can recall a few. I don’t remember what diseases they were for though.”

“Well at least your parents had the decency to do that much for you. You wouldn’t believe how basic some people are when it comes to medicine, generally speaking these people are devout or vagrant in my experience. I have seen babies and small ones die from preventable illnesses too much. It disgusts me how stupid people are.”

Tessa’s head remained low and her mouth stayed quiet. She had a hard go keeping up with the conversation.

“I suppose we can get the next part out of the way then. You wait here. We need to get you out of this icy room and into something a bit more favorable.”

He stunned Tessa with how fast he moved. She seriously questioned on how poor the outcome for her might have ended up if she decided to run earlier.
In those sparse few seconds it took the nightmare man to clear the space she marveled at his confident stride. He made no noise with his feet as he left. The ticking faded with his retreat. He had to stand practically on top of Tessa before she heard it. She would have never known about his presence in the first place if he hadn’t made it a point to make her aware. He shut the door behind him as he left. Tessa followed and attempted to get it to open. He locked it again to prevent her escape. She figured she’d try on the off chance he forgot to turn the bolt in his hurry. She admitted defeat then pressed her forehead against the door’s surface. Tessa gave in to her exhaustion. She left the door in favor of the spot she originally intended to go before the nightmare man entered. She curled her knees to give her head a place to rest on. The whole ordeal of the day weighed heavy. She closed her eyes, although she wanted to sleep she decided to do calculations in her head. Solving mathematical equations gave her brain a routine task and it helped console her. Tessa loved how straightforward numbers were. Sure equations seemed cryptic at first. She learned as long as one understood basic formulas math had a way of falling into organized place. She enjoyed their solid foundation. In this moment she played with old friends as she waited for whoever else to come pay her a visit.




The door opened Tessa lifted her head to look at the new people entering. She fell into a light sleep even with giving it her best effort to stay awake. The audible click of the door lock made her skin crawl. She decided to stand while she met with the two women who approached her. She kept her back against the corner she chose to relax in. She tried her best to appear as unaffected by their presence as possible. The two women who entered glanced at Tessa with disinterest. Both wore the same crisp white knee length dresses. Both had red cardigans draped over their shoulders and they both had the same dark black hair pulled tightly into neat buns. They looked identical except one was dramatically bigger than the other in girth. The largest of the pair easily weighed as much or more than two adults combined. The skinny woman had on a pair of thick red eyeglasses. The bigger woman’s beady eyes were set in swollen cheeks along with a double chin which trembled with her movements. The fat woman smirked while the scrawny woman coughed as she adjusted her glasses with her free hand. She had in her possession a plastic red and white container. The bigger woman spoke first.

“Look at her! She looks like one of those fairy tale princesses doesn’t she Eileen? You remember those stories when we were girls right?” Eileen the petite of the pair nodded.

“I do recall some of those stories Genny. You know I hated them actually. I always thought they were boring and predictable.” Genny laughed, her sizable
throat shook with purpose.

“You didn’t enjoy the happy endings?”

“I cheered for the witches and ghouls. They had some personality at least.”

“So what do you think about this little tart?” Genny asked.

“She doesn’t seem terribly special. He spoke so highly of her. I haven’t seen him this enthralled in a good while.”

Eileen bounced the red and white container against her leg while she spoke with the woman beside her. She tapped Genny in her massive thigh by accident.
Tessa hated the two new women. Both of them had husky unattractive voices like they smoked too many cigarettes. Their teeth were brownish in color, it helped back up the assumption. What right did they have to make fun of her? Eileen took a few steps more in the room. She gave Tessa a once over and pursed her lips.

“I bet she’s got small veins. This might be harder to do than I thought. Genny we might have to get one of the menfolk to come hold her down.”

“Sister this flake is no problem. You want me to fix her right for you?”

Tessa got up off the floor. She shook the tiredness from her legs and thighs. She wanted to cooperate with these women so long as they kept their hands peaceful.

“I won’t misbehave, I’ll stand still if you want me to.” Tessa pleaded.

“You promise to be a good girl while Eileen takes some of your blood?” Genny asked.

“The doctor has ordered us to come get some. He’d do it himself if his poor hands weren’t so unstable at the moment. He tells us you’ve never had bloodwork done before.” Eileen explained.

Tessa nodded her understanding at the thin nurse.

“I’m the best at it. Everyone’s got to have a talent, mine is sticking people. I am going to take a needle then puncture it into a nice juicy vein. It’ll take a few minutes, the main thing is you have to sit still otherwise you risk breaking the needle while it’s still in you. It’s up to you on how hard you want to make this on yourself.”

“Is it going to hurt?” Tessa asked.

“You’ll feel a sting and pinch that’ll last for a few seconds.”

“Who is the doctor?”

“The man in here not long ago of course.”

“Is he coming back?”

“Yes he got caught up in some problems. It won’t take him long. He wants to personally escort you to a room. I still can’t believe how much interest he’s taken with you.”

Eileen turned her nose up at the young girl. She envied Tessa’s beauty. She wanted to destroy the child before her. Life gave her an ugly face. If only her sister changed her despicable eating habits they’d be identical twins. Genny appeared to have eaten a version of her sister and then some. Genny felt indifferent when it came to other attractive females. She purposefully let her body go to shit. Unlike Eileen she had no plans to find a husband.

“At least she has some manners compared to the other brats.” Genny said.

Eileen patted the top of the metal table. Tessa took the hint. She went the table and seated herself. She let her arms fall loosely into her lap. Eileen placed the cooler on top of the table next to Tessa. She slid the top open and started pulling items from it. Genny remained steadfast near the doorway. She watched Tessa for signs of aggression towards her sister. They learned to keep diligent hold over the children. The little beasts tried to attack the staff quite often. Simple procedures had great potential for danger in these conditions. Eileen got a diminutive clear bottle with translucent liquid inside.

She popped the cork then poured a tiny amount on her hands. The bitter aroma of pure alcohol invaded Tessa’s senses although she had no idea what the woman used to cause such a stink. After Eileen thoroughly rubbed the alcohol into her hands she grabbed a red washrag from the cooler.

“Let me see your left arm.”

Tessa held her appendage to Eileen. The nurse used the washrag to grab Tessa’s wrist. She rotated her arm several times before releasing it.The girl had such fair skin it made it easy to spot her veins. Eileen’s previous assumption about them was wrong. She had many good prospects to use. Eileen poured the alcohol into the washrag’s fibers. She ran it across Tessa’s forearm and inner joint where the upper part and the lower portion connected. Tessa stayed collected despite the hot sensation on her flesh. Eileen poked at a vein in her forearm with one half broken fingernail. It impressed the nurse on how calm she remained. Other girls cried well before she punctured them.

“Are you scared of needles?”

“No.”

“Please don’t lie, if they make you sick you need to tell me that way we can prepare in case you start to get dizzy.”

“I promise I’m fine.”

Eileen set the washrag aside. She dug in the cooler again to retrieve a worn leather pouch. She kept it bound with a single leather cord. She unraveled the cord to unfold the pouch into three distinct parts. One side had five perfect glass cylinder held in place with elastic bands. The opposite side carried needles wrapped in a sterile gauze. She screwed the chosen needle tip into one of the glass cylinders. Once she had the setup together she laid the whole thing on another red tinted clean cloth against the table. She got a rubber tube coiled in the middle section of the pouch. She brought the tube to Tessa’s arm and wrapped it below the girl’s elbow. She tied it as tight as she could safely do so. Tessa watched what Eileen did to her with interest. She had limited concern for the sharp object being prepared to violate her. She had more issues with the person doing it. If Eileen planned on hurting her she needed to think of a way to handle it. Eileen finally settled on her choice vein.

“Ball your hand into a fist then squeeze.” Tessa followed Eileen’s command.

“Now breathe in and hold your breath for as long as possible. When you exhale do it slowly. If you need to repeat this again don’t hesitate.”

She sucked in air while Eileen stuck her with the needle.
Other than the prickle of it penetrating her flesh it amazed her how painless the whole process went. It felt interesting the moment the sting faded to pressure. She watched the entire procedure. Eileen slowly pulled the needles plunger up. Her blood began to fill the glass tube. She got it completely full before she removed the needle. She held her thumb over Tessa’s wound as it leaked. She set the needle on the unused red cloth. She removed the tube then blotted her arm with the alcohol soaked rag. Once Tessa’s bleeding stopped she got to work transferring the blood into a better container.

She had a few vials inside the cooler. She picked one and placed on the table. She pushed the needle and syringe into this slightly larger glass holder. She pushed the plunger down. Tessa’s blood spouted into the vile. After she got the vile filled she screwed a silver metal cap onto it. The used needle and syringe were wrapped in one of the now dirty cloths.

“How are things going?” A raspy voice said behind Genny.

The large woman stepped aside to let the doctor into the room. The brightly decorated man entered. He watched Eileen start organizing her tools.

“She handled it spectacularly. She didn’t cry or carry on at all. For once this went easy.” Eileen said.

He stretched his hand to Eileen. His paleness almost matched the powder of the room around them. His damaged, half painted red fingernails and elegant gold rings put some much needed contrast against his complexion. Eileen coveted those remarkable trinkets. They were inlaid with precious stones; hues of dark garnet and taffy pink. The loveliest of the bunch was one he had on his left ring finger. It had an oval jewel that caught most surrounding light. It reproduced a rainbow of colors depending on the different angle she observed it from. He carried the type of finery piss poor folk like Eileen killed each other over. His gruesome appearance didn’t sway many of the other nurses unfavorably. Many wanted to trade their body parts for a chance to get with him. He had plenty of money to support multiple families if he desired. He also came from a class of people they only heard rumors about. His silver lined upbringing gave him a particular set of qualities they wanted to attract. Eileen would happily cut one of her own appendages off to have a fraction of romantic preference. Tessa finally noticed his destroyed hands. She supposed she hadn’t focused on them prior since his facial deformities distracted her before now. His hands were gross. Her mother punished Tessa whenever she caught her daughter with filth on her own digits.

“What’s the next thing a man notices on a lady after her face?” Her mother’s voice filled Tessa’s head with memories.

“It’s her hands my dear. A man will see your face first then when you offer your hand he’ll get to see how you care for yourself. You want to stay refined, a lot can be said about a lady with rough hands.”

Sure the mutilated man wasn’t a woman. Still Tessa applied the lesson to anyone that didn’t have labor intensive work. Nice clean hands meant superiority.
What he did next made Tessa curl her lips. He got Eileen to uncap the vile of blood. She handed it to him. She lingered a bit more than necessary before they separated. He drank almost the entire amount of Tessa’s fluids in one swallow. He swirled the residual contents checking for unknown qualities to Tessa. He looked at her after he finished his inspection. They locked eyes, his red infected gaze bore into her. She thought he touched her deep in her insides.




Edward went over the books, scattered across his desk were handwritten ledgers-likewise signed tickets with sales and trade deals, various sorts of sealed envelopes stuffed with money, there were pictures, descriptions, letters of interest, flyers, bills- the sheer volume of information was astounding. He had the burdensome task of keeping these things organized. As tired as he got it made him happy to know his hospital kept in perfect state. The numbers didn’t lie, they were making serious coin these days, much more than when he had the orphanage and the hospital running together. He batted smoke away from his face.

“Those cigarettes are disgusting. They remind me of a house of the divine. They’re to strong! Aren’t there publications about how bad it is to smoke anyway? Shouldn’t you lead by your example?”

The disfigured man leaning against the corner of his desk chuckled.
Edward only made out the silhouette of his partner. The dim light in his office at the moment produced by a lamp close to him. The disfigured man remained hidden in the shadows. The only distinct sign of his presence other than his laughter were the languid plumes of ash smoke and moldering tip of the cigarette he enjoyed.

A raspy voice replied “We all have our vices.”

Edward rolled his eyes. “How come you can’t have cigars same as everyone else? I appreciate those from time to time.”

His partner exhaled another obnoxious cloud of smog. It came directly for his face.

“Come now Edward you’re intelligent, you should know there’s plenty more in these than tobacco. They keep the pain to bearable levels if you want to know the truth.”

Edward stared at the silhouette. The man surprised him with an honest answer. They worked together years now and they barely talked outside their projects.

“What’s in them? I can guess a few things. I know how much you enjoy digging into the foxhole.”

“Oh I do indulge in my private moments. I don’t get cheap street knock back as it is. It costs a fortune but the quality of the highs are worth the price tags. I learned my lesson when I was younger and more ignorant on such things. These cigarettes I have now are a combination of different mixtures. It’s my own personal blend.”

Edward nodded his head.He wanted to try smoking one of those fun little paper cylinders. He licked his fingers then flipped the page of the current ledger he worked in. He grabbed a red marker in place of his ink pen to start highlighting important numbers. His partner continued with his explanation.

“I need the perfect balance that will make the torment of my body tolerable without putting me to sleep. I have to function as you know…it’s hard to manage...”

His partner grossly understated his pain threshold. Edward saw the full extent of his alterations. The man was a technical marvel. What he voluntarily underwent in the name of scientific advancement killed lesser men. The constant stimulus of drugs plus damaged nerves meant he also had a great tolerance against the dangerous outside world. Edward witnessed an example of this when his partner allowed him to cut into his thigh with a scalpel to prove his claims. He made almost no noise of discomfort. Edward sliced through the sinuous layers of fat and muscle to the bone. He grunted once in discomfort. The reaction didn’t match the moment. He seemed more annoyed with the blade tearing him apart than anything.

“You never talk to me like this. We keep our personal lives separate. You still refuse to tell me your real name. I don’t tire of some of your nicknames that fly around here though. Are we finally getting close today?” Edward asked with a mixture of sarcasm and slight wonder.

He took interest in the man outside of their agreement. He kept his associates close for self-preservation. The man hidden in the shadows intrigued him the first day they met. The interest intensified over these last few years. His stability dwindled with each passing season. His brilliant mind had developed bouts of psychosis. He fought against it. Edward enjoyed seeing the slow inevitable descent. If he went mad Edward had the possibility of making a massive amount of money. The eccentric circles he courted wanted his partner for their own personal collections.

“No Edward we aren’t I promise you. I want you to put this letter in the postage for me first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Oh is that all?” Edward took a sip of bourbon from a glass on his work desk.

He relished the warmth it created in his belly. They kept the hospital cold. They had to protect the special equipment by maintaining these chilly conditions. Alcohol helped combat the temperature for a cheap price.

“What do you think about our newest addition?” Edward asked. “Do you think she’s going to be worth our efforts? Got a folder dedicated to her somewhere. After seeing her portrait I knew we had to get her here.”

Edward’s mind drifted to the new girl. He only caught a glimpse of her as part of the welcoming party to her new home.
During this he had to focus on her parents. They still needed to discuss payment since he took care of the finances. He rarely came in direct contact with the children once they entered the hospital. His interaction with them only occurred when they first arrived and when they prepared for a sale. Well, this was only half true, he made it a point to find time for the ones who peaked a special interest. Tessa caught his attention. He planned to visit her. He delighted in thinking what he wanted to do to claim her virginity. He enjoyed the young ones with tight bodies and vulnerable demeanors.

It made it so much sweeter in his mind how he planned to stick it to her. He had specific needs being a man. He hated old pussy, it disgusted him. He preferred to have something no one else touched prior. Young girls were malleable. He taught them what he expected. He had complete control over their bodies in those intimate moments. He relished telling good little girls what to do. Unfortunately he needed to wait now. The opportune moment would present itself. The reward for such patience got better with anticipation. He planned on starting off slow with gentle looks and soft touches. He’d teach her how to suck his cock real good while he fingered her narrow entrance. She’d beg him to stuff her other dirty hole. Sloppy sex, the kind of stuff that made spirits look away got him off the most. He wanted to blow into her then make her push it out after. He’d lick the sticky mess from her to coat his tongue then spit it back on her face and in her mouth to make her appreciate the taste of their joining.

“I don’t know how I feel about her yet. It’s too early to tell where she belongs.” His partner said.

“You don’t sound confident.”

“Well no Edward I don’t, I just told you I’m unsure what I feel about her. Of course I don’t sound confident because I’m not. You see this is why I don’t speak with you, you have coherency problems. You can’t keep up and then you say stupid shit.”

“Well that’s certainly an opinion.” Edward deflected. “Hey let’s talk about something else more complicated while I have you here. I’ve received postage from ‘fast hands’. He’s planning on visiting us soon.” Edward down the rest of the drink in his possession.

“That can’t be right. I feel like he was here not long ago.” His partner replied.

“Two, no three seasons have passed actually. The warm climate is upon us, this is his moment to come sit at our table.” Edward said.

“I don’t share a seat with him anywhere close to where bread can be found.”

“To be fair his money helps pay for more than baked flour at supper.”

“And I suppose you want me to start planning for his arrival?”

“We need to start soon, do you have any ideas what you’re going to do? He made it clear in his letter he wants more than his last visit. He’s tired of gooey teenagers with holes drilled into their heads.”

His partner grinded the nub of his cashed cigarette into a glass ashtray he balanced on his left thigh. He smoked unfiltered rolls. The remaining bit had gotten too hard to keep hold of.

“Ephraim will take what I offer. If he doesn’t he can go somewhere else. He should be thankful I fuck around with him. He’s so vagrant like a dog with flesh rot.”

“You think so? He pays us handsomely when he rolls around. Have you forgotten what finances your side projects? You need to learn to sustain your benefactors.” Edward warned.

The mutilated doctor got up from his perch against Edward’s desk. Edward felt the movement. He reached to one of his desk drawers. He caught himself mid stride. He returned his hand to where his partner could see. His partner took pleasure from scaring him. He tried often to catch Edward off guard. He successfully got him more than Edward cared to admit aloud. The last thing anyone wanted was for such a damaged face to come out of nowhere into their personal space. Firm hands pressed down on both of Edwards shoulders.

“Don’t do that! You scared the shit out of me!” Edward rolled the hands off his body.

“Oh Edward I can’t help it. I wanted to make time pass with a bit of absurdity. No need to reach for the stupid gun you keep in your desk.”

“You’re trying to get me mad so I’ll drop the current topic. Listen we need to make sure a man like Ephraim stays on our side. Think about what he’s capable of. What if he wanted to bring the whole lot of his kind in here? Those men have no respect, might lead to trouble.”

“I can take care of myself besides if he does try to do something wrong against us I’m the more useful of our pairing. I’d exploit his fondness over me. Now you, well I’m not so sure what he’d do with you.”

Edward’s partner placed an envelope on his desk in front of him. He sealed the plain note with globs of tack instead of crested wax marks. Edward never asked about the preference for such uninspired correspondence; a waste of vocal strain. On the front of the envelope was the address of the intended recipient. The red shaded handwriting deserved a more elegant place for its flourish. The letters made Edward think about masterful pieces from ivory keys. Each consonant and vowel flowed into distinct patterns much akin to hymnal prayers.

This lettering attested to his partner’s polished upbringing. The rich had a way of making their daily living skills as flowery as possible. Simple cursive became time consumed masterworks of calligraphy. He had grown up with money as well. The difference between them came out of how long their families lived with abundant wealth. Edward’s blood only recently acquired such assets. His father sat at the head of the orphanage first and the hospital later. Edward inherited money within one generation, not years’ worth of old coin, or what people considered old coin seeing as most records of before were erased from their history lessons.

Edward said “You are right about which one of us has more use to the world. It doesn’t mean you’ll come out on top. If he caught wind of your special projects you keep hidden in the basement he might decide to take them. You will have nothing left unless he wants to enslave you for himself. My lies protect us both, quit acting like you can take down, shit I don’t know what to call them, a mob, cult, militia, assholes, whatever fitting term we imagine. He’s got plenty of men who can come through here to burn this place to the ground.”

How refreshing to know Edward had some nerve left in him. He carried logic with those words. His partner had to agree about Ephraim or ‘fast hands’ as people called him. His followers only did one thing well, they destroyed whatever got in their way with uninhibited levels of chauvinism. They were men who preferred to break what they couldn’t understand.

The mutilated doctor said “You worry about getting my postage sent. I will see what I can do.”

He left Edward to his ledgers. Edward waited after his departure before he opened the drawer housing his firearm. Looking at it brought refuge to his mind in these uncertain days. He had plenty of enemies. He’d use it on them if necessary to eliminate the burden of their lives. Nothing came between him and his meals, not Ephraim nor his partner or any of the other men who desired a share of his hospital.




Short story by Boogie_Down
Read 210 times
Written on 2017-12-15 at 15:35

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ken d williams The PoetBay support member heart!
Bravo! Boogie onward!
Ken
2017-12-15