Here's the next chapter in the Hand Bones saga for 3WW. The words are incubate, nightmare, and vanity. You can see the first part of the story below in the previous entry.
What madness compelled me to follow the gloomy young man down the concrete stairwell I cannot determine, but my feet carried me toward the nightmare that awaited. I prayed that the smells that bloomed stronger with each step did not foretell my unseen fate. Only one aroma was familiar to me – that of embalming fluid – and the others carried a more ominous source. Perhaps it was some sense of vanity that propelled me forward, some false sense that I could not be harmed.
When we reached the bottom of the steps it took a moment to understand what images beheld my sight: Pods of frozen human bodies similar to those of fantastical tales of cryogenics, these lined upright against the far wall, and before them several haphazard rows of coffins which appeared to carry the residue of fresh soil. At the center of the room was a massive wooden table covered in dark stains that I could not, would not allow to linger in my sight.
The young man turned to me and I shuddered at the deadness in his black eyes.
“Frozen, preserved or fresh?”
I found myself without voice and he offered his recommendation of fresh hand bones, which were of the utmost delicacy, particularly when seared over an open flame.
“I’ll prepare them for you,” the young man said, and before I had the slightest understanding of what plans he had in store, he produced a bloody cleaver.
The fear that had incubated within my viscera suddenly burst to life and rendered me nearly paralyzed. Somehow I managed to stumble backwards, believing the young man was about to serve me my own limbs.
Instead he pushed up his sleeve, rested his hand on the stained chopping block, and whacked off his own hand at the wrist.
The fingers twitched on the table as if beckoning me. The young man wrapped his bloody stump in his butcher’s apron, his face pale and sweating, but the only screaming came from my own throat.
He named a price for his hand that far exceeded my means.
“I cannot pay!” I exclaimed, still entwined in the horror of his action.
Now the young man’s face turned from white to red. He leveled the cleaver at me like an accusation and said, “You are wrong.”
To be continued again…