Willow never remembered blood smelling this bad before. The white walls of the emergency room threw it back into her face, doubling the odor. They stood in stark contrast to the gaping carcass before her. Wit every breath, its abdomen oozed black blood.
She had never seen this symptom described in any textbook. Only fiction came anywhere close. The fluid smelled sharp and radiated heat. Sweat beaded on her brow as she put her gloves on. At least she had this minor protection. The thought of touching the patient made her shiver.
Enos, the professor, motioned for her to continue. “Go on. This is a test, after all.”
Willow took a deep breath of foul air and spread the wound with a retractor. Swallowing, she dipped the forceps inside the body cavity. Her hands wavered, and her knuckles grazed the open tissue. She cringed as she felt the organs move around her knuckles in time with the patient’s breathing. “Abdomen has been punctured,” she muttered. “Resulting in intestinal injury.”
“Good,” the professor nodded. “This man was injured while working in a mine. A magical device for detecting noxious gas exploded in his presence. So what do we do?”
“Search for and remove debris.” She bit her lip and nudged the tissue with her tools, looking for shards of iron. A sliver appeared as she poked, and she lifted it out, dropping it into an alcohol solution. Two more appeared as she continued. She rescued the first, but when she reached for the second, it dissolved as she touched it with the tongs.
She scanned around once more for debris, but the cavity was empty. It seemed impossible for an explosive to leave so little shrapnel, but every search turned up clean. Maybe the patient had been lucky.
“Next, suture internal injury.” The professor nodded. Willow used her clean sleeve to wipe the damp hair from her eyes. She reminded herself of her brother’s advice: this is just like sewing. She took the needle with her forceps and slid it through the tissue. She looked down at her first successful stitch. Perhaps this would not be so bad. But as she watched, the thread dissolved in the liquid around it. She tried a second, and it melted again.
As she moved, the breathing tissue around her became more erratic. She threw her magic into it, forcing the tired cells to double. But her tendrils of energy faded as they pushed into the veins. Still, her fingers darted back and forth, suturing an organ within. But no magic could help. It would not close.
She almost didn’t feel the heart fail. Her work kept her too distracted to notice the flesh settle. When she finished the stitches, it no longer moved. Her own heart began to race, foiling her attempts to check the patient’s pulse points for a beat.
“I’m afraid you can’t do anything else.” Enos stood and put his hand on her shoulder. “What would you have done last?”
“Finally, repair external injury and dress the wound.”
Enos nodded, “ I cannot afford you full marks, but you will pass.”
She wiped off the forceps. Once cleaned, she noticed the steel tips of had begun to corrode. “What kind of gas does this? What mine did he work in?”
“The prison work-camp a few miles north of here.”
Prison? “How did he get there?”
“Running an illegal gambling ring. As doctors, we pledge to rescue the injured. Even the worst people.” He led her to the sink and turned on the tap for her. She threw the gloves. which now had holes worn in their fingertips, in the garbage. As the water ran down her shaking hands, he sighed, “There will be some people you cannot save.”
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. - 077/100 Themes.
Professor Enos is a strange man, but without him, Willow and Rivek would not share the bond they have. Enos gives Willow an advanced opportunity to work with him in surgery, and forces Rivek to do lab cleaning to bring up his grades. However, he wants to teach more than science, and he has ulterior motives for all his actions.More Art Featuring This Character:
Enos Voltier and Willow Solan belong to Grace Fong,