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Anfangen (To Begin)

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“Bring in the next one.”

The command, spoke as quietly as it was, echoed against the walls of the room; cool tiles sending the words back at the man speaking.

Hearing his order, a slim orderly tipped her head in agreement before stepping back outside to fetch another subject, leaving the surgeon alone in the ward. Faintly, Yi Suchong heard a struggle of the nurses as they wrangled the next patient into submission, but ignored it- he was here to experiment, not pin down the latest dirty bawling child. Deciding to bide his time, he meandered to the large window facing into the operating wing, staring into the undulating water and the life that filled it. The old and fresh blood on his gloves had mingled, making them somehow both tacky and slippery as he slowly peeled the material off his right arm, placing the freed hand palm-down on the desk there. By the sounds of it, it might be a few minutes until the next subject was prepped, so he settled for leafing through his old notes until it was time again.

As he moved to turn the next page, the doors to the surgery wing slammed open, revealing one very flushed nurse and a frenzied little girl, both looking rather disheveled. As he watched, the fight seemed to drain out of the smaller figure, almost artificially- an idea further proved by the empty needle pinched in the nurse’s hands and the red pin prick barely visible on the child’s throat.

“She’s a hellion, this one.” the woman’s voice was high and agitated; as she steered the girl closer to the examination table with a iron grip, Yi could see the swelling of a small handprint shaped welt distorting her cheek.  Apathetic, she heaved the almost catatonic girl onto the table like laundry, before continuing. “The little brat even bit me!” Flushed with anger, she stopped and hastily knocked broken bits of long blonde hair from her uniform, leftovers from grappling with the child moments before. She opened her mouth again, possibly make another comment, but the Yi simply squinted at her with such contempt she turned tail and fled, nursing a bruised ego alongside her new scratches.

The procedure itself went smoothly, with minimal blood loss and successful implantation.

Staring at her pale, gaunt face, Yi did a mental tally of the implantations he had done that day- and found that his count landed solidly on twelve, meaning his daily quota was filled. He had another nurse wheel the sleeping child away once the stitches had been set, both eager to leave to his own research and to have the temperamental girl out of sight.

As quickly as possible, he halfheartedly cleaned the tables and equipment, dumping the bloodiest of the rags in the biohazard bags and chucking the soiled needles into a sharps box. Without bothering to remove the now-drying gloves, he picked up sheaths of research and paperwork, already imagining himself leaving the buildings’ hideous halls, and escaping the rows of annoying children filling its rooms. At least the pay was good.

He was a few scant feet from the front door when Brigid appeared, pulling free from the shadows like a tobacco-scented wraith.

“Oh.” he didn’t bother hiding his sneer. “You.”

“How many did you convert today?” She demanded, dark eyes unreadable as usual.

“Twelve.” Irritated, he waved the paperwork in her face, not expecting her to wrench the sheets from his grip and pour over them, intense.

“Fontaine says we are short.” Her eyes raced around the paper, scrambling to get a grasp on the data. She shuffled them so quickly she nearly dropped the pile, so desperate was she to be sure.“Kein, kein, that cannot be correct. I see only eleven.”

In response, he grabbed the forms back and counted through them himself, in the most condescending way possible.

“Mary Pickent. Linda Hoff. Barbara Walder. Patricia Saraceno. Carol Ricci. Susan Victoria-feser. Karen Storlazzi. Janet Sachs. Joan Pagett. Brenda Decius. Diane Simpson… and…” He flipped to the next page and read the final name aloud. The biter child, he realized. The one that screamed and hit.

“…Helena.”