As I have mentioned before I started writing my third novel at the end of October. It is inspired by my poetry series, Alive. Set in a fictional medieval world, Alive tells the tale of a villager who’s curse is used to attack another village. Instead of writing one page a day, which usually equals about three hundreds words. I am now committed to writing at least 500 words a day. It is a small change but will allow me to cut the expected completion of a rough draft down from June to April. I am excited about where the story is going but I also realize that the direction I am taking it in could be very controversial. However, the controversial story is the one I want to tell. Below I have the second excerpt from the novel. Along with the first excerpt, these pages account for chapter one.
About ten minutes passed before the cuts healed. Mason was doing a rough count in his head, to satisfy his own curiosity. He knew the cut was starting to heal before William left the cell. It was a sensation he became familiar with over the past five weeks. He could feel his skin stretching to sew up the holes that William created. It started with a burning sensation that gave way to a prickling one as the skin stitched itself together.
Mason peeled off the bandage and used his sleeve to wipe away the blood, revealing unmarked skin. He then put the bandage back on. He didn’t want to give William too much information yet. The longer William had to spend doing his tests, the longer Mason would stay alive.
These tests made it clear that Mason could heal quickly, but he was sure he could still be killed. There was a good chance his body might not heal from a severed head, and the village council must have thought the same thing. Maybe Mason’s head would reattach itself, but there was only one way to find out and Mason was eager to avoid it. He was also hoping that William didn’t have that test on his agenda.
About twenty minutes in, Mason heard footsteps approaching the door. Either his count was far off or William was eager to see his patient. The footsteps continued to the door, and then stopped for a few seconds. Mason heard the tell-tale clink of a key ring, then the sound of a door unlocking. The sound emanated from the base of the door this time though.
The straps pulled taut as Mason rushed to the foot of his bed, with his eyes fixed on the door. A panel slid open along the bottom, reminding Mason of the door he made to allow his dog to get out of the house. The bottom two feet of the door now revealed a food tray that was pushed into the room, sliding until it hit Mason’s feet.
Mason quickly gripped the tray with his feet and dragged it until it was at the head of his bed. From there, the straps allowed him to bend and lift the tray onto his lap. He looked to his right to see that the panel was already closed. The guard probably figured his job was done once the tray was in the cell, it didn’t matter if Mason could reach it or not.
The tray held three chicken legs and nothing else, which suited Mason fine. He knew meat was in shorter supply due to the recent raids, but it seemed like William also wanted to test Mason’s appetite. Mason could see the marks made when the guards deboned the legs, but he didn’t mind. Mason finished eating in a few minutes, leaving nothing but the tray. The tray itself was made from parchment, molded by a printing press into a single, thick sheet that folded up and formed a wall around the food inside. Mason tossed the tray back to the foot of his bed and washed his hands, barely able to reach the sink to his left.
By his count, he had another five minutes before William returned.
The door opened again in three minutes, by Mason’s count. William didn’t wait for the door to be closed behind him before he rushed to Mason’s bedside. The guards rushed to catch up to him, standing only within arm’s reach of William this time.
“Do you mind?” William said, as he reached for the bandage.
“Like you said, I don’t have a choice. Go ahead.” Mason said.
William offered a wan smile as he peeled the bandage back. He pulled a cloth from his robe and wiped away the blood, revealing the unmarked skin underneath.
“Amazing,” William said.
While William was fascinated, the guards both looked horrified. They both took a step backwards; as if they were worried the curse was contagious. It was, in a sense. A bite had apparently transferred the bite to Mason, but that appeared to be the only way for anyone else to get it. That didn’t matter to the guards at this moment. Protecting William was the least of their concerns.
“Not a single scar. Like anyone, smaller injuries heal faster. Took a few weeks to recover from your attack. What makes you special is that your injuries don’t leave a single scar. So many of our men have died in battles from injuries far less severe than yours. It’s possible that you could still die from old age, but I believe that if that does happen, it would happen much later than the average person. You weren’t affected by any of the diseases that normally kill someone after an animal attack. It’s possible that your body is able to resist infection completely. If we could find a way to transfer your healing to others, we’d never have to worry about raids again. If you work with me, you can save this village.” William said.
“How can you transfer it to others? Does the council want an army of…people like me?” Mason said. He still couldn’t bring himself to say the word.
“They want people with your abilities, without your alternate persona of course. Trying to create that is the greatest challenge.” William said.
Mason knew an army of soldiers that could heal from injury could protect Torville, but they could also turn against their people. The risk of coups and abuse of power would be amplified from people that didn’t fear death. As expected, there was something else that William wasn’t telling him. Probing for the truth wouldn’t get him anywhere right now. Mason kept focusing on the next full moon.
“Thanks again for your cooperation, Mason. It truly makes things a lot easier for all of us.” William said. Mason knew another test was coming.
William reached into the front pocket of his robe again, pulling out a syringe. The glass tube was about four inches long, with an iron handle and needle protruding from either end. The tube itself was filled with blood. At least that is what Mason guessed; he didn’t know what else the dark red liquid could be.
“I’m going to inject you with this; it will serve as one of the most important tests.” William said as he approached Mason again. “Is that alright with you?”
The second sentence seemed like an afterthought. Maybe William needed to maintain the charade of friendliness in order to sleep at night. Mason was smart enough to realize that the blood in the tube was altered somehow. Maybe it was tainted with some sort of chemical; a type of weapon that William was developing to kill Mason’s other half. Maybe William already had everything he needed and was now worried that the guard’s weapons wouldn’t be able to end Mason’s life. Mason realized that even if he was right, there was nothing to be done now.
Mason could feel his heart beating faster as it pumped his own blood. He extended his right forearm, seeing the veins bulging against his skin. William wasted no time finding his target and injecting the payload. The alien blood flowed into Mason’s body, and he held his breath as he waited for his body’s response. By the time Mason exhaled William was by the cell door.
“I’ll check on you tomorrow morning, good night Mason.”
Mason’s arm trembled as he brought it back to his lap. He knew the trembling was from fear. He was fine for now, but he worried what the future would bring. If he was injected with some sort of disease that could kill him from the inside, he might go days without seeing symptoms. William mentioned that Mason didn’t get any of the diseases that could normally result from an animal attack, and that was the only thing stopping Mason from panicking. He started counting again.
Twenty minutes passed, with Mason staring at the ceiling as he counted. Although he knew how much time passed, he realized he had no idea what time it was. He was losing track of hours and days. He only knew of the date for the next full moon because William told him, and William’s daily visits were the best indicator of time moving from day to day.
The cell door was never open wide enough for Mason to get a good glimpse outside. He only ever made out white walls. There appeared to be a hallway that led straight ahead, with no other cells in sight. Lanterns hung along the wall and there was one window carved into it about fifty feet down. There wasn’t any light filtering in from the window this time. It was dark out now, so it was probably at least seven o’clock already.
There was one lantern hanging from the ceiling, about twenty feet high and far out of Mason’s reach. The lantern wasn’t going to be in the room originally, William said it was only there due to his requests. Mason couldn’t be sure if William was telling the truth. Otherwise, the room would be shrouded in darkness for the entire day. There were no windows or openings of any kind, except the door, which was open for only a few seconds at a time.
This was his life now; Glimpses of sunlight, followed by one test after another.