Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Voyage of the Minotaur - Chapter 10 Excerpt
“Kafira’s fanny. You look like crap,” she said.
He grabbed a towel and threw it around his waist and then stepped over to look in the hanging mirror on the cabin wall. He did look like crap. He looked thin and pale and weak. His cheeks were sunken and his face was pasty white. Most grim of all were his eyes. The whites of his eyes no longer deserved of that name. They were beyond bloodshot. The blood vessels had completely ruptured and every bit of surface outside of his irises was solid, uninterrupted red. He felt unsteady. His knees wobbled slightly.
“What day is it?”
“It’s exactly one week since anyone on the ship has seen you. That’s what day it is. Have you eaten anything in the last week? Have you had a drink, and I mean of water?”
Terrence looked over at the nightstand—at the pitcher of water, now empty, and drinking glass, now lying on its side.
“I had some water…earlier. Yesterday, I think.”
“Bloody hell, Terrence. I can’t believe you’re doing this again.”
“On a first name basis now, are we?” he asked.
“Don’t give me that crap. Who took care of you last time?”
“You’re not my sister.”
“No,” she agreed. “And you’re not your sister either, so shut the hell up. Get some clothes on. I’m going to get some water.”
Yuah picked up both the pitcher that had held drinking water, and the pitcher that matched the wash basin in the corner of the room and left the cabin. Terrence quickly moved the tiny blue bottle to the ammunition pouch of his pistol belt. The dressing maid returned after a few minutes with both pitchers full of water. She took the first and filled the glass from the nightstand, handing it to Terrence. The second pitcher she poured into the matching washbasin on its stand. Then she left once again. Terrence drank the water in the glass and then washed his face. Yuah entered again, this time with a plate containing a crumpet with jam and a glass of milk, both of which she handed to him.
Terrence sat down and ate, though this made his stomach a bit upset. Yuah stood over him and watched as he downed every single bite. Then she pulled a small brown bottle from her pocket.
“Lie on your back,” she ordered. “I nicked this from your sister.”
She pulled the stopper from the bottle and poured a little bit of the liquid within into his right eye.
“Owe, dammit! Are you trying to blind me?”
“Shut up. This is a healing draught,” she said, pouring more into his other eye. “You’ve got a lot of nerve, asking if I’m trying to blind you, when you’re rubbing that crap into your eyeballs.”
“What do you know about it?”
“I know it all,” she said. “Go ahead. Ask me anything. White Opthalium. Visio. See Spice. Made from rare enchanted lotus blossoms and blue fungus from Southern Enclep, whipped together with a little bit of witch-doctor magic. All designed to take you away from your problems in the real world.”
“How do you know all that?” Terrence sat up.
“I did my research a long time ago. Someone had to take care of you, you know.”
“Yes. I remember. So why did you take care of me… then, I mean?”
“I had quite a big crush on you then, not that you ever noticed.”
“Why would I notice? You were a skinny little kid.”
“So why are you helping me now?” he asked. “Do you still have a crush on me?”
“Don’t you wish? You’re important to this expedition. Whether you believe it or not, your sister needs you.”
“Are you going to tell her about this?”
“Are you kidding me?” asked Yuah. “She would be right pissed if she found out about this. Not to mention, half the colonists would want to pack it in if they found out you were off your trolley.”
“You think I’m mad, then?”
“Yes, I do,” she said.
They sat in silence for a moment.
“It doesn’t matter anyway,” he said. “I’m all out. I didn’t even realize we had left port. I was planning to go back and get more at the marketplace.”
“That’s for the best then. Your sister wants to see you. She was trying to find you this morning and couldn’t. When I went to get her healing draught, I told her you had food poisoning, and wouldn’t be about for a few hours.”
“Thanks,” said Terrence.
“Come over to her cabin and I’ll draw you a bath. You need it. Then you can shave and have something more to eat and whatever else.”
“What about Iolanthe?”
“She was just leaving to go up to the observation deck and meet Lieutenant Staff. I doubt she’ll be down for hours. I think she’s going soft for him.”
“Iolanthe? Don’t be stupid. She’ll never go soft for anyone.”