© 2018 G.N. Jacobs
Carmen Alcantros had most of the bleeders under her strong fingers pushing back against against the water balloon straining to pop in her hands. Sweat ran freely down over her dark eyebrows gifted from a certain painter in the maternal bloodline. Even here with a heart in hand and exposed by use of a chest spreader, the nearest nurse not handing over tools found a rag. But, the feel at her fingertips said the smallest leak in the family would find a way around her grip.
"We're losing him!" Carmen said her volume increasing to match the din in the room. "Hurry up on the pump bypass...please! I think I know where the extra bleed is, but I don't have enough fingers! Size three clamp!"
The rag nurse nodded under her cap and stepped over to another table where the patient had been black tagged. The tray kit hadn't been touched but still the nurse took no chances pouring the vile smelling local spirits that just barely qualified as ethanol over the tools. Carmen still couldn't believe people drank that green liquor that shared elements with absinthe, flambé brandy and neutral grain spirits. She dunked the tools and torched them with a flint chip ducking out of the way of the blast before taking off the soot with a second dunking. Probably only Mad Cow prions would survive.
Soon enough twelve clamps held the beating heart together long enough for Carmen to pull out her hands to guide the tubes for the bypass. Suddenly the pulse raced at three times optimal for this delicate procedure giving the feel on her hands of a snare drum beating out Ready before a firing squad did its worst. The rag nurse came over again mumbling words that seemed to make her hands glow blue.
The heart stopped at the nurse's touch and the bypass tubes found their way to the arteries and veins going around the damaged heart. At a nod, the dwarf manning the hand crank put his back into pumping blood around the heart. Carmen had seen enough masked medical practitioners and their eyes to know what could come next.
"Tellaria, don't," Carmen instructed. "You've been going for hours on this shift. Save your spells for defibrillation, serious microbes and the like. The hand crank is close enough. We train this way."
Tellaria nodded agreement before putting a hand to her temple. She widened her stance leaning against the table with the now dead black tagged orc. Her surgical cap loosened revealing the tip of her elfin ear and a strand of previously silvery hair now sweat streaked to the wet inky black of squid ink.
"Doctor, I need food," Tellaria asserted. "I will continue when..."
The nurse on the tool tray yanked off her gloves and found an emergency mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich in her hip bag. Tellaria nodded gratefully chewing her food. Carmen briefly noted the interaction between Tellaria, the tall she-elf that really should be jumping on the hero human king in this story, and Dellerna, a wellbit she said she was. The nurses shared a watery eyed look that portended much in the way of sapphic passion. And then they went back to work by way of the water bucket and the same filthy green spirit. New gloves went on and it was time to sew up the heart.
"Doctor, I wonder when your magic will catch up to you," Tellaria said. "The note from your mother said you were a witch."
Carmen shrugged sewing up the last suture and clearing her hands and metal tools from the chest cavity. Tellaria feeling the bump from the sandwich made her hands glow and – ZZZZZZZZT! – started jolting the still heart back into sinus rhythm. It was on the fifth jolt from the she-elf that Carmen lived the answer to her question, when a jolt of blue flame arose from the nearby candle bay up into the mirrors on the ceiling and flowed into Carmen.
"Ahhhhhhh!" Carmen blurted spinning in circles.
When it was over the paper surgical cap had caught fire. Tellaria mumbled more words that conjured the magic equivalent of a water balloon splashing her new friend's hair and scrubs. Fire and scorched hair averted, Carmen stood as tall as her five-five spine would allow with a glint to her blue eyes that presaged lots of megalomaniac words some likely written by Shelley.
Tellaria touched Carmen on the cheek and reeled her in for a hug. The she-elf could feel how her body grounded and shunted the nascent power away from the newborn witch. Carmen sat on the floor breathing it up well past 50 breaths per minute in short sharp gasps. And then it was over, leaving Carmen with a strange bluish heads up display over her field of vision with sliders indicating internal power, connection to the local field and a blank section for spells learned.
Tellaria gently lifted Carmen up from the floor and touched the quivering cheek.
"Show me, Carmen," Tellaria said. "I'm curious."
Carmen felt her new friend in both the physical and mental realms which manifested as a curious double image with lots of vibrato to her speaking voice. And then the heads up display and double images disappeared as Tellaria firmly held Carmen's cheek.
Think of a word or phrase you'd never say, Tellaria said in Carmen's mind.
Naked singularity, Carmen heard herself think.
Repeat it three times.
Naked singularity. Naked singularity. Naked singularity.
The heads up display cleared from Carmen's field of vision. Tellaria reeled her friend in for a hug and gentle kiss to the forehead.
"Say your word once to activate your connection to the magic," Tellaria said matter of fact. "Say it three times to clear it."
"How does this work?"
Tellaria took Carmen outside into the warm night air. "Some magic happens just by saying the phrase you need in a sufficiently old and disused language and willing it so. The rest requires ritual, ingredients and whole books of sayings. For the first type, you're only limited by your imagination and the interplay of you and your surrounding magic. The second type drains everything within reach, you, your mother and the cute little lap dog living in the corner house."
"Teach me," Carmen requested.
"That was your mother's intent sending you to me," Tellaria said extending her hand. "Now it's a fair trade, your medicine for my magic. We begin tomorrow."
Carmen leaned into the hug from the she-elf wizardess. "You've got magic why do...Owwww!"
Tellaria pinched her new pupil. "Silly girl! Magic as we understand it doesn't directly heal people. You have showed me to redirect common spells into the body for medical purpose like replacing the lightning that stops a heart, but direct healing has always been the province of our Holy Men and Women. Not terribly fair, but there it is."
"So we'd need a cleric?"
"Cleric Shmeric!" Carmen blurted. "Who needs a cleric?"
Tellaria shook her head. The moment was interrupted when the dwarf that had manned the hand crank came running out.
"Ladies, my brother just turned against us!"
Tellaria and Carmen shared a look before running into the ward.