15. A Man of a Thousand Pieces

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"Frederic ... you ..." I had never truly expected this dreaded and magnificent moment would ever arrive. "This is ... You've done it, I can't believe ..."

Frederic's reaction was the last I had foreseen. This was by far the champion of his many lifelong achievements, and under any other circumstance I could tease a rare smile as I praised him. But not this time. Frederic had a face like a funeral procession.

"Read on," he replied, and he flicked ahead a few pages. "You have to know the truth."

From that point I noticed a marked change in his handwriting. It seemed distracted, crossed-out, hurried, and then I discovered why. The compound of Frederic's creation, of course, did not stay merely theoretical. Corgaine had begun to figure out ways of purifying it for practical use and had succeeded on rats and pigs, though it nonetheless shocked me learn that once he had experimented on animals he'd moved further afield onto a human subject.

A country girl, Frederic's writing informed me, who they nicknamed Faith, had died aged seventeen of blood loss following the illegitimate birth of a baby boy. Her mother and father, so sick and desperate for money to raise the newborn, sold their daughter's body when Corgaine's dour-faced aide came knocking.

It seemed the man named Harry Fairchild had become less an aide in recent years and more Corgaine's means of 'acquiring' bodies. I recalled then how he'd seemed so impartial to giving me directions to the victim in the alley and, in hindsight, felt almost insulted by it; that the whole time I was oblivious to any diabolical undertakings before I arrived at that moment.

According to Frederic's notes, Faith had been their first success at instilling life back into a cadaver through artificial means, though she was not their first donor – if I may use the term so loosely. Though wholly disturbed to find that Corgaine had finally disgraced himself to such an abominable pursuit of grandeur, I knew from the wicked ideas we had once shared in confidence within mere months of our acquaintance, that buying human subjects was an act not below him.

I skimmed the particulars of the purification, preparation and administration of this questionable compound, but it seemed once all that had been done they'd kept Faith in the upstairs of the lab for observation for two nights before she gained consciousness enough to escape ...

Ending up in Glasten General's women's ward.

I almost dropped the journal from my grasp as I realised the momentousness of it. Corgaine had brought a girl back from the dead. She was no historical reincarnation of some wraith, no creature Haas had called a vicche ... she was the product of Frederic's brilliance and Corgiane's lunacy, and together they had created something science could not yet define. Something that had haunted every person it had encountered until the day I saw her scattered into a thousand pieces.

It was clear Frederic's unstable compound did not restore life in a manner that even he understood. And yet, Frederic's notes told that Faith had lived in a limp, dream-like state for some days before her final fate. I could not begin to piece together at the time how I felt about this realisation. It was a complicated cocktail of disgust, pride, fear and relief, which all together rendered me numbed in body and mind.

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