Are you sure about this, Nonagesimus? I’m just saying — look, I know you’re very sad about all of this, but the chances that you’ll absolutely fuck yourself up — all right, all right. I’ll do it. Your funeral.
Go and sit down. I am not having you faint when I’m in the middle of cracking your skull open. You’ve got your tools all ready, how convenient. Let’s see. Scalpel, bone saw, distilled water. Hammer and awl.
Where did you even find these? No, don’t answer. I don’t want to know.
I’m going to need to examine your head first if you don’t want me to turn you into a vegetable. I have to know what I’m working with, and this whole Lyctoral perception stuff is so inconvenient .
[fingers start brushing your scalp]
Don’t make that face at me, you asked. I can imagine so many ways I would rather be spending my afternoon. Here we go — occipital, parietal, temporal, frontal. See, I do know my skulls, thank you very much. God, Nonagesimus, I do not understand you bone people. It’s so boring . So solid and predictable and barely any squishy bits, how dull. Your skin is unreasonably smooth, by the way, it’s really not fair, with all that grease paint you’re caking on every day.
Goodness, your hair is short. At least I won’t have to shave you, that really would be too much.
Are you going to disable your pain receptors? No? [scoffs] It’s not a competition, you silly thing, there aren’t any prizes. I know it’s just going to heal over, but it’s not going to be pleasant.
[end of brushing sounds]
Oh well, have it your way. Do you want something to bite down on at least? Alright, but I’m not going to be the one putting your teeth back in. You’re bringing this on yourself.
This is your last chance, Nonagesimus. I’ll walk this back now — I’ll adopt the sweetest good humour about everything you’ve done for me already — if you admit that you are running away . And running away is for fools and children. You are a Lyctor. You have paid the price. The hardest part is over. Smile to the universe, thank it for its graciousness, and mount your throne. You answer to nobody now.
Oh, no need to insult me. It’s not my fault you can’t look yourself in the eyes. It’ll be worse for you in the end.
All right, sister.
Hand me the hammer and awl. I’m going to use my left hand for the hammer, so if this goes tremendously wrong, you can blame Babs for it.
This is going to hurt.
Time to absolutely fuck you up.
[brushing sounds continue]
There, that’s the dermis out of the way. Ugh, I know you’ve got some weird redemption-through-suffering thing going on, but I only have so many clothes, so I am going to pinch off your blood supply or we’ll never get anywhere. Yuck, I almost got covered in nun-juice. I bet you have rituals about that, don’t you? All the youths go wild about it on the Ninth.
I’m putting the hammer down, this will be neater with the saw.
Do I remember my osteology… Going through the periosteum, that’s it, careful, don’t want this to heal over all messed up, down to the cortical bone — this is such a bad idea, Nonagesimus, I don’t know why I agreed to this — and the cancellous layer down to the marrow —
[a sharp tap]
There we are. Last one — and we’re through. Beautiful. Practically textbook. I can almost see the appeal.
One very horrible, idiotic, madwoman’s craniotomy. I have to say, for an evil bone nun, that’s a very pretty brain you’ve got there. Let’s wash this out so I can see what I’m working with. Look in the mirror so you can see what I’m doing. I’m going to take the scalpel now, geeeently, [a scratchy squishy noise] push down on this tissue, can you see? Stop crying, you silly thing, this is what you wanted. This is the area you want, if you are actually going to do this.
Fuck, you really are. Alright. I have no idea what this is going to do to you. I am not taking care of you if you turn into a vegetable. There it is, that’s it, stop now. That’s enough. Shhhh. There you go. Talk to me. Fuck, Nonagesimus, say something.
Alright, that counts, that’ll have to do. I am going to close you back up now. You are already healing over, so I have no idea if this was even worth the mess you just made. Let me just regrow your frontal bone [several short taps]… cover this all up with fresh skin… hmm, good as new.
[end of brushing sounds]
Hey, hey, don’t faint yet. Let’s get you to bed, you foolish thing. If you’re going to die on me, at least spare me the effort of having to lay you out. Gently now, there you go. God, you look horrible. I know you are going to pass out at any moment, of course you are, you just put your brain through a blender. I promise I’ll only mess with you a tiny little bit. Maybe I’ll grow your hair back, just to be contrary.
And you’re asleep. Good for you. Maybe you’ll even wake up again.
You naive, love-sick fool.