Roaches and rats. He hears them scurrying about in the darkness.
Gags as a dozen feathery legs dart across his lips. He sits
up quickly, but not quickly enough. Razor-sharp teeth draw
blood from the crusted scabs covering his back. Without thought,
he snatches the offending vermin and hurls it across the room.
A sharp thud followed by a dying squeal. The effort nearly
He knows what comes next. He should. It's the same nightmare
he's had for several weeks. He fumbles for a scrap of match
and bit of candle. He lights the wick, shielding it from the
guards outside. Remy bites back the inevitable nausea. He
throws off the moldy shred of fabric that passes for a blanket
in the camps.
The meager flame reveals a growing patch of gangrene on his
left thigh. Maggot infested. Ripe with the musty stench of
decay. He pours a bit of the melted candle wax into another
dish, waits a moment, then braces himself as he transfers
the warm wax to his leg. He stifles a cry as the liquid tallow
oozes into the worm holes. When the wax cools and hardens,
he peels it off, removing the dead larva.
Something wriggles across his right thigh, then his chest,
shoulders and back. Remy raises the flickering candle closer
to his body. Swarms of white, wriggling bodies crawl across
his skin. He recoils. Losing his balance, he falls off the
bed, falls into darkness.
The stench of decay mingles with the burn of lime as he falls
an impossible distance into the Genoshan death pits. Corpses
rain down on top of him. He gasps for air. In vain. Before
his eyes, black flies land on the dead, lay eggs, and hatch
maggots. Over and over again, the cycle plays out, impossibly
filling the pits with writhing worms in moments.
The skin on his hand begins to itch unmercifully. He claws
at it, unwittingly releasing a nest of maggots burrowed in
his palm. The itch spreads, fueled by the lime. Everywhere
Remy's nails touch, his skin splits into gangrenous patches
to nurture the death worms. He feels an itch, then a crawling
sensation across his eyes.
His eyes snap open to darkness. A shaft of light strikes
his sweat-soaked body. His heart pounds. His body trembles
from the surge of adrenaline coursing through his veins. He
runs the back of his hand across a parched mouth. Tseidel
turns from the lamp back to Remy. He flinches as she runs
her cool hand across his fevered brow.
Her gray eyes darken with concern. He does not sleep well.
He does not eat as he should. Even though it has been weeks
since his return, he is little more than a living skeleton.
There is no life to his eyes. Only dark circles betraying
his restlessness. Even now, Tseidel can feel his ribs and
hip through thin skin.
Remy eases out of bed. Even after being moved back to his
own room, he finds little comfort. He shrugs into a robe,
then takes a moment to check the gauze on his left thigh.
The infection has nearly cleared. He turns back to the bed
and kisses Tseidel on the cheek to ease her fear.
"Jus' need some air, Tseidel, don' worry, eh?"
He leaves. Tseidel gathers the thick blankets close, wishing
for Remy some bit of comfort. Wishing for them both, a bit
Continued in Chapter
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