"...and empty of his liquids, he found himself surprised that he still had as many tears to shed as he did that day."
I also think that we might see a new chapter for Momento Mori either tomorrow or Thursday.... :)
48. Binding To A Corpse
The healer had come in to cauterize the wounds on his feet, wrap them in bandages and check for further damage. Gerard debated with speaking to them, but doubt got the better of him. What if it wasn't the same person every time? What if speaking would blow the "friendly" healer's cover, if he was hiding anything at all? Gerard spent so much time arguing with himself, he did not notice the strips of dried fruit that the healer left hidden for him -- until the healer had been long gone, of course.
Strips of apple, mango, and strawberry. Gerard used to eat these all the time, during that life that was 1,000 years ago. He wondered if the healer had known that somehow, or if it was just a coincidence. He only took a tiny bite of the top of each flavor, tucking them away in the pages of the book for later. He had to ration, even if his taste buds begged him for more.
In no time, the blackbirds were back again. This episode brought only two of them in, but the second one that lagged behind the first carried with him a man sized crate. It was a cooper brown, metal, and seemed heavy. There were locks that sealed it shut.
Once they had dragged the box in, the first blackbird unloaded his pockets. He unveiled what Gerard could clearly see was two leather binds. The blackbird looked to be holding more, but whatever it was, he saved it for later.
They opened the crate, and a great stench burst forth from it --- the smell of rotting meat. Gerard gagged instantly, the aroma filling his nostrils with powerful force.
He was so preoccupied with the overwhelming smell that he barely felt one of the blackbirds lift him up into a standing position. The second one preoccupied himself with removing the content of the box, which, Gerard saw with another horrible gag, was the naked body of a grown man.
They laid down the body at their feet, and Gerard could see it's discomposure more clearly. It's mouth was agape, and there were empty sockets where it's eyes should have been. Its skin was a sickly greenish tinge. Its head was bald, and matched the color of the rest of him. But no matter how ugly the sight, none of it caused him to gag more than the awful smell it emitted.
Nonetheless, Gerard was about to get a much closer view. One of the blackbirds took the first leather bind and set it so that one part of it cradled the back of the corpse's head. The blackbird that was holding Gerard up then pushed him down, so that his face landed right on top of the corpses face. Their lips met in a vomit inducing kiss of rancid flesh.
Gerard retched, but the blackbird's wasted no time in securing the bind behind Gerard's head, so that they were tied together in a way that would not allow Gerard to turn his face in a different direction. Gerard's nose was literally pressed up against the corpses' twisted one, so that his nostrils could inhale the maximum amount of the scent it had to offer.
He tried to wriggle away with the rest of his body, but the blackbirds took care of that too. They took the second leather strap bind and used it to bind Gerard's and the corpses knees together in the same way they had bound their heads.
Finally, although Gerard could not see it, he felt them wrap a rope around his ankles that undoubtedly bound those with the corpses too.
So there Gerard was, pinned and tied up to this rotting, naked corpse of some man he had never seen. He looked to be about middle aged, and Gerard tried to search his mind to see if he knew this person at all, but in a sense, he almost did not want to know if he did. He concluded that it was probably just another prisoner. He must have died recently, too -- his body was decomposing, but only at the stage slightly before it would fall apart. Gerard almost felt envious.
He heard the two blackbirds shifting around objects above him, but his mind kept focus on not vomiting. If Gerard's own mouth opened, he would be in a near French kiss with the corpse and it's withered tongue, so to vomit would be to fill the dead man's mouth with bile. Unfortunately, a shaky breath caused him to inhale a fresh wave of his scent, and out poured the watery contents of his stomach, as well as small chunks that Gerard could only assume was the fruit pieces from earlier.
The blackbirds only laughed, for now not only was he bound to some rotting corpse, but he was bound to a corpse and covered in his own grime.
It did not take long before the smell of the rancid body combined with the former contents of his stomach to cause Gerard to begin retching again, but his mind soon became distracted by a different problem entirely.
The crack of a whip resounded and a sharp lash collided into his bare back. The piercing pain took Gerard completely by surprise, and he screamed and writhed as they inflicted a second lash. And then a third. And then a fourth.
They continued to whip him rapidly, and for a few moments, the corpse beneath him was forgotten in exchange for the burning in his back. But every time Gerard tensed or recoil in what little ways he could, he found himself bracing himself against the corpse, only bringing it closer to him.
The sweat that his body became drenched in mingled with the blood he was oozing, and the pair met with the vomit and the stench of the corpse. Gerard ended up vomiting twice before his stomach could throw up no more --- and empty of his liquids, he found himself surprised that he still had as many tears to shed as he did that day.
They stopped when there was no more uncut skin on his back, and left him raw and burning. Unbinding Gerard from the corpse would be left to the healer --- whenever he might decide to come.
Next Chapter: "Eat noodles with chopsticks, eat dumplings with chopsticks, eat sushi with chopsticks --- that's fish! Don't eat soup with your chopsticks, that's no good with chopsticks! And jello will slide off your dish!"