Chapter 12: With Friends Like This

Keel was careful, but apparently not careful enough; the first thing Boras said when he came through the door a few hours later was, "What happened to all the blood?"

Crap! You didn't even consider this possibility, I scolded myself. I was definitely slipping, but not so much that I couldn't still think fast under pressure.

"I cleaned myself up," I said, garnishing the lie with an extra spoonful of cranky. Terrified, pissed off - maybe he wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Same galloping heartbeat.

"How?" said Boras. The deep lines creasing his face belied just how seriously he took his duties of jailer and warden.

I shifted my gaze to the white porcelain toilet bowl. "How do you think?"

"Why are you dry, then?"

"Because I came to hours ago - and I wouldn't have had to do it if you had done your job." He might not buy it, but luckily Boras had a secondary weakness: sass. And I was fairly confident I could annoy him into distraction.

Of course, he had weaponry of his own. "Shame about your face," he said. "You weren't half-bad looking once, for one of them."

Ouch. That was low. What I'd said hadn't been anywhere near that mean.

I'd somehow, erroneously, convinced myself the damage couldn't be too bad, since Keel hadn't said anything and he'd spent the majority of his time here looking right at me. But that'd been dumb. I should have known when it came to me, he only saw the blood.

He hadn't even asked my name. Still.

"Shall we see what can be done, then?" Boras said, obviously deciding to let the blood thing drop.

I shifted myself on the mattress so the lacerated side of my face was exposed and tilted my head. I'd didn't want him anywhere near me, but if he didn't doctor the wounds, no one else would, and it wasn't like Keel's tongue had any healing properties.

Boras said nothing as he disinfected the rawest areas and stitched up my cheek. The sharp, piercing jabs accompanying the clear thread he pulled through my skin soon coalesced into a single pulsing agony and I drifted away again. I didn't want to think of the extent of the damage, and every stitch was a further reminder of it.

When Boras was done with my face, he cleaned and wrapped my neck wound, but this time he had proper surgical dressing instead of that useless neck brace. Had they had to order more supplies now that the king had a new plaything?

"He's not coming today," Boras said as he packed up his makeshift medical kit - a black gym bag with assorted bandages, gauze and disinfectants in it.

My head shot up. Did he just read my mind?

"Rest up, and eat," he continued. "I know you weren't fed last night - couldn't let anyone in here with you ripped up like that - but it'll be brought right down." With that, he left my cell.

I ran my fingers over the mountain range of stitches trailing up the left side of my face. The next time I looked in the mirror, I'd be greeted by Frankenstein's monster made flesh. Will I even recognize myself? The human-world me seemed further and further away with each passing day, each new scar.

Live with monsters, become one?

I'd only begun to ponder that unsettling idea when the overabundant spread arrived. I gobbled it down, refusing to even wait for the guard to leave before I dug in with both hands. Not only was I ravenous, but eating distracted me from all the things I had no control over - including Keel. Of course, he was the other reason I was shovelling down dinner. I knew he'd show up later to drink from me, even if the king wasn't going to. And I didn't want to be too weak when he did.

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