Saturday bonus–snippet

All right, my ghost-medium story isn’t shaping, but this other snippet from a different concept came out, so… enjoy! (It’s got all the cliches, but I figure as I go further I can figure out which ones I need and which I don’t.)

She’d once been beautiful, though it was hard to see how anymore—not just the vicious burn scars that splattered across the surfaces of her body visible behind her long lab coat, but the harshness and cruelty that infused every action, every line in her face made it clear that such a woman did not exist any longer. Yet if you looked, there were hints in the statuesque figure and its carefully controlled movements of what had come before.

Rex swallowed as she approached, shied away despite himself—as far as the chain that connected him to the floor would allow. He couldn’t tear his eyes from the foreboding yellow vial in her hand, the dosing gun she slid it into. “Mira,” he said, and his tone was soft and pleading. “Mira, none of this is you. It’s all him. You don’t have to do this.”

She smiled, as much as she could in spite of the scar tissue, but it was cold. “Your mistake,” she said, emphasizing every third syllable with a click of her heels against the stone floor, “is to think that there was ever a difference.”

Even had she still been fully human, it would have been difficult to resister her, at least from their relative positions; with her cybernetic arm added to the mix, seizing his jaw in a bruising grip, there was less than no chance. She met Rex’s eyes from a distance of inches as she brought the gun to his neck, her gaze fit to freeze steam in the air.

“We all serve God in our own ways, you say?” she hissed. “Now you can serve mine.”

Then she pulled the trigger.

The burning was instantaneous, sharper than in any injection he’d ever had before; Rex gritted his teeth against the pain as it spread, moving throughout his body with every elevated beat of his heart. He didn’t hold out long; despite himself, he felt scream rip itself from his throat as the agony grew and spread, infusing itself into shifting muscles and lengthening bones.

“You have always been a dog,” she growled, and her impossible hand let him go; in a second, she was out of the furthest range of his chains. “Now you can be my master’s dog.”

It was physically impossible that the wolfman serum should work so quickly, inconceivable that an injection should so completely remake a man. But as he hunched over with the shifting of his spine, felt the claws erupt from his fingers—he couldn’t deny it was true.

The transformation was almost complete before he felt it began to touch his mind.

He stared up at Mira, once his truest love, through wide, yellow eyes with the startle of comprehension as he practically felt words, concepts, facts fall out of his brain, felt his very personality shrink and sharpen its way away from him. He opened his jaws to speak one last time—but the only sound that came out was a small, pathetic whimper.

Seconds later, he couldn’t remember what he’d meant to say.

A minute after that, he couldn’t remember what he’d thought was so important anyway.

The wolfman formerly known as Rex Ambruglio lifted one lazy leg to scratch the itchy place at the back of his ear, then yawned his big jaws wide. Carefully, Mira approached, human hand extended with its fingers in a wide, placating gesture. “Are we all better now? Do we feel like being a good boy?”

She started as the wolfman lunged forward—but relaxed as all he did was shove his great, furry head beneath her hand in a pleading gesture. With a small chuckle, she scratched his neck, earning a guttural sound of contentment.

“You know,” she mused, “we might have stayed married if you’d acted like this before.”

The words didn’t make any sense to him. But he nuzzled close to her and thumped his tail against her, enjoying the familiar smell. He didn’t have the word for it, but the concept was clear. Home.

At his side, Dr. Mira Bergman just smiled.


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