Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Curse/Or: Chapter 5, Scene 3 (first part)

It was another thirty minutes before Teresa was finally seen by the doctor, due to the confusion engendered by a screeching fire alarm and the subsequent efforts to shut it off before the fire department kicked the doors down. Dr. Rauche was a small, troll-like man, with thinning gray hair that was migrating down from his head and into his ears and nose. There was appreciable irony in the concept of an ugly man who nonetheless made people beautiful. She wasn't sure if he simply did not give a shit how he looked, in which case she admired his self-confidence, or if he compensated by working in a field where women begged him to put his hands on their bodies to improve them, in which case she admired his honesty of purpose. Either way, she found his physical ugliness refreshing, and the way his eyes were almost popping out of his head as he took her blood pressure nearly made her laugh. "Something wrong, doc?"

He blinked owlishly before removing the stethoscope from his ears. "Ms. Reyes, I have honestly no idea how it is you're still alive."

Now it was her turn to look perplexed. "What, the gunshot? I thought you were one of Netty's people, you were used to all this mystic hoodoo shit."

He shook his head. "No, not the gunshot. Even if we ignore the manner in which you were healed, people have survived far worse injuries with the appropriate medical care. What I am talking about is this," and he indicated the gauge on the pressure cuff. "Your B.P. suggests you're moments away from a stroke. Your lung function is terrible, and your breathing sounds like bits of gravel in a blender. When I get back the results of your bloodwork I fully expect to see a toxic level of nicotine and other carcinogenic substances."

He absentmindedly chewed the end of his pen as he consulted her chart. "According to your history here, your diet is horrible, you haven't engaged in any form of meaningful exercise in recent memory, and for the past twenty years all you've done is lie in bed and smoke." He looked up at her from his little rolling stool. "According to all of this data, just the effort of standing up should kill you. I've no idea why you aren't dead yet."

She briefly considered telling him about Tommy, just to see how he would react to the concept of a magical cancer-spreading tumor. "Clean living, I guess?"

He scoffed, repositioning the pen deeper into his mouth. "Please. There's nothing at all clean about how you live. I could probably pave my driveway with the tar in your lungs. This goes beyond any sort of healing, magical or otherwise. According to this data, not only shouldn't you be alive, but you can't be alive. No human being can operate under this level of hypertension and emphysema and still move, let alone survive a gunshot." His back teeth had gotten hold of the pen and were going at it vigorously.

Teresa snapped the fingers of her good hand to get his attention. "Yeah, I'm a miracle of medicine. Are you gonna do something about my hand or not?" she asked archly, shoving the wounded appendage under his nose as the doctor, lost in his thoughts, leaned forward out of unconscious habit. The tip of the pen in his mouth hovered above her hand, still fused and bandaged to her lighter. It pulsed warmly with magical power, and suddenly the end of the cheap plastic pen was aflame.


  1. I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those stories where the protagonist dies in the end.

  2. Wow, I had assumed that Teresa was maintaining reasonable health by projecting the ill effects of her lifestyle onto others. Now it sounds more like the parasitic entity providing her powers is barely animating her corpse!

    Now to see whether her powers seem to be slipping out of her control - Injury? Early warning system? A hint at the factors influencing the time constraints the group is operating under?


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