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"Nursing Injurious...."   By: Mitchell Gil Maltenfort   April 2003

"Abel, take your soggy eyeballs out of the girl's cleavage."

"Well, you're the one who poked them out..." eyes back into their sockets.

"Actually, this girl represents a moral dilemma for us," "Does she belong to me, as she wishes, or does she belong to you, as she dreads?"

"What, you don't want her?" said Abel, looking at Cain incredulously with his reinstalled eyeballs.

"Oh, I wouldn't mind her...but it's a matter of integrity. After all, our stories traditionally end in a scream. If she was locked up with you, she'd scream." He had an idea. He had a wonderful idea. It had to be a good idea, since it was orginally Cain's.

"So is she a secret, or is she a mystery?" Abel asked his brother.

"Excuse me?" Cain replied. The lack of a stutter from Abel threw him off stride.

"Is she a mystery, to ponder and share, or a secret, a hidden burden to carry alone?"

"Well...that's actually a _good_ question. Some cobwebs must have fallen out the last time I cracked your skull. All right, let's examine the evidence -- and let's start with that nurse's outfit that she's wearing. She's practically an anatomy study right there, so there's not much in the way of secrets. What's hinted at is definitely a wonder to ponder. But as is, she'd fit on either of our covers."

"Or between?" Abel volleyed.

"Shaddap. Still, our stories have to have _tension_, besides the tightness of her dress. All right...let's try the lady or the tiger. That would be you, you ol' maid, or me. Imagine this girl, out in the cold -- probably wishing she'd worn a bit more -- and knowing she could only go into one of two doors, but never to leave. One is yours and one is mine."

"She's read the stories. She knows our houses don't look the same."

"True...all right, let's assume she's already here. If she's reading this story, she's here now anyway....editing, rewriting, fantasizing. She's asking herself what would we do if she was right here. Would we treat her as a guest? Would we challenge her? Would we protect her from the Hectae, or would we leave her to fend for herself?"

"If we don't tell's a secret, and she's mine!" Abel said.

"Shaddap. Look at that picture again...and _look_ at it, carefully. See how she holds that hypodermic. Stop drooling...sorry, I meant don't drool more than _usual_. She's got it right up against an ample target. Now even a hack like Isabella or you could see...all that would have to happen is for someone to bump her from behind..."

"And then?"

" depends. What's in the syringe? Did she load it herself, did she get it from a friend, was it switched by persons unknown? Air embolism or poison -- same thing. Paralysis -- she'd adorn a nice wax museum somewhere. I could keep her in a mustier corner. Insanity -- she'd be in the dreaming forever, while her real body decays. And of course..who bumped her off, so to speak?"

"Who? Who?"

"Shaddap, fat boy. It's a mystery..."

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