Destructive Testing

Mary used a stainless rod to nudge the severed hand an inch closer to the wrist stump. Seconds passed before the fingers finally twitched and tendrils snaked across the gap. They inserted into the arm like angry wasps implanting their stingers and tugged at the hand until whole again. The line of the cut faded into a thin scar.

The corners of her mouth turned up and she scribbled on her clipboard.

“Released me or I’ll gut you,” said the undead man, fangs bared.

Mary shivered, heart pounding. He was a commanding presence, even bolted to her autopsy table.

She took the #10 scalpel from the tray, reconsidered and took the more claw-like #12. She made a fresh series of incisions along his side, leaning away to avoid the clenching and stretching of the reattached hand. Black blood oozed like sap but within seconds the cuts quivered back together. She looked at the man. His gaze was acid and hard to hold but she did. Weeks without sustenance and he still knitted back together, although the scars were more pronounced than earlier.

She made a note on her clipboard and set it aside. She could continue the experiments but they were growing redundant. She sighed. Tonight was as good a night as any other.

“If you do not—“

“Quiet!” The unaccustomed strength in her own voice surprised her, but he stopped speaking and that was good.

Mary drew a full syringe from the man’s his arm and tapped the vein bulging beneath the strap at her elbow. “A girl’s gotta know her limitations, you know.”

Ω

William R. Wood lives with his wife and children in an old Shenandoah Valley farmhouse turned backwards to the road. He was born in South Carolina, grew up in the US Navy, and travelled the world until he ran into himself, somewhat painfully. His fiction can be found in anthologies from Living Dead Press and House of Horror. His shorter works are offered by Flash Me Magazine, Alienskin Magazine, Nanoism, Tweat the Meat, and Outshine.