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The First Thing I Notice

copyright 2003, by Natasha Von Lecter

Disclaimer:    These characters were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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The first thing I notice is a thud, followed by a thump. A strange feeling of disorientation, then the rich smell of earth in my nostrils. I realize Im on my back in the dirt. The odor of earth is replaced by the acrid tang of gunpowder the sticky sweet stench of.something. Something I know. Somethingand then the white-hot searing pain erupts in the twisted ligaments of my shoulder, just below the collarbone. Oh godits the smell of burning flesh. Im down. Im shot. My eyes flash open, but my vision swims. I cant focus. How long has it been? Where is he? Is he dead? Dr. Lecter, is he dead?
My vision goes dark, and somewhere deep inside my mind a scream echoes down the halls of my synapses. Ive failed. The scream fades. So do I.


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The first thing I notice is the way the bullet tears through the fabric of her shirt, and embeds itself deep in the tissue of her shoulder. The bang of the gun sounds a split second later, like an afterthought. . It drives her back, throwing her to the ground and knocking her out. The knife in my hand slices through the last of the leather that binds me. Free. I should bolt from this barn and never look back. I could be to a car in five minutes. On the freeway in ten. In an hour Id be on a plane to Beounes Aries. There is only one hitch in my plan. She lies bleeding at my feet. I feel the dark cold tendrils of rage slithering awake inside my heart. There is blood on her shoulder, and I did not put it there. I hear the pigs straining against the rotten wood of the dilapidated pen. If teeth are meant to devour her flesh, it will not be theirs. My arms support back and knees and I draw her into my arms. Her head lolls into the indentation just below my collarbone. A thin stream of blood seeps into the grooves that traverse my knuckles.


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The first thing I notice is the grass. I feel as if I am being cradled. Rocked. Held like a child. The grass below me slips away and I move forward, not of my own volition. He is carrying me. I feel safe, and I battle the reflex to second guess that feeling. He is carrying me. I should be terrified. I should scream for help. I should quietly slip into insanity. He is carrying me, and I am not afraid. And then my chest tightens. I look back down and I see his feet. Naked and bare in the grass. I am suddenly acutely afraid of the dangers hidden in black-green waves of the moonlight turf. The last thing I remember is a silent prayer to banish all glass, and nails and snakes that may lie in his path.


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The first thing I notice are the keys, shining with conspiratorial light as they dangle from the ignition of the van. I support the golden crown of her head. I place her ravaged body on the reclining seat with the pious devotion of a pilgrim with an unblemished lamb to lay across the age-stained altar of a thousand bloody sacrifices. My fingertip slips across the gunpowder staining the soft arch of her check. This blemish only intensifies the perfect beauty of her imperfect face. Her eyes flutter open and search the hazy darkness above her. Her breath hitches, and they flutter shut. Time is of the essence, and I flick on the engine.


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The first thing I notice, are cool, crisp sheets caressing the soft curves of my naked body. And then Im awake. Fully and startlingly awake. And alone. I try to rise and scan the room, but my body is not yet on par with my mind. And then I am not alone. He is standing above me, his dark, liquid eyes tinged with concern. His hands are sheathed in latex gloves, which seem like a twisted parody of white gloves, next to the dark fabric of his impeccable suit.

Dont try to rise, Clarice. Ive taken the precaution of stabilizing your shoulder.

I try to shrug my shoulder and realize it is tightly bound to the bed with a leather strap. His handiwork is impressive.

There is a bullet lodged in your shoulder, about an inch and a half below your collar bone. It needs to be removed.

The words hang crisp and clear over us, and he makes no move to touch me.

I have no morphine for you Clarice, and Im afraid this will be quiet painful. I can take you out if youd prefer.

This time he does touch me, his finger stroking the conduit of my lifes blood, just below the corner of my jaw.

A moments pressure, then darkness. I think I can safely guarantee youd stay out for the entire procedure.

He has given me a choice, and so I exercise it.

Id prefer to stay awake, Dr. Lecter.

He nods, and I see respect creeping into the lines of his face. I am suddenly overcome with relief that he is alive. I fight the urge to weep with joy. His hand moves away from my neck momentarily, and then he is swabbing alcohol across my neck and chest. He moves with a clinical precision, assuring that no speck of bacteria remains to sabotage his handiwork. My glance drifts to the small table beside him, and I notice the implements lay neatly on a pristine white handkerchief. A needle, and white cotton thread, the type used to truss roasts or poultry for the oven. A small nondescript bottle of alcohol, and a pair of long, slim tweezers. And the familiar curve of his serrated blade Harpy. He has killed with that blade. My mind pages through memorized pages of case files, recalling the particular angles and curves of the wounds it inflicts. And now it is my turn to feel its bite. Whether it will heal me or be my undoing has yet to be seen.


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The first thing I notice is the surprising lack of damage to the nerve endings. Pressing the skin aside, peering inside the mysterious tissue, I can see the ugly silver-black shell of the misshapen bullet. I fight the urge to dig inside and wrench it free; splattering its blood-soaked mass against the wall. I focus on my breath, and when Ive schooled my thoughts, I raise my eyes to hers.

Im going to make a small incision now, then remove the bullet. Are you ready?

Her jaw clenches, and I feel her heart beat quicken under my hand. She nods her head. I hold my Harpy deftly, a different grip called for in this situation. I press the tip to her wound, and concentrate as the skin blooms open under the steel. The sound of her sudden intake of breath reverberates through my ears. I set the blade aside and steal a glimpse at her pained face. It is exquisite to watch her process pain. I savor her reactions like the bittersweet flavor of dark Belgian chocolate.

Most people try to escape the pain Clarice, to run from it. When we try to evade it, we become its prey. Dont run from the pain, Clarice. Embrace it, and it looses its hold on you.

She nods again, and I am struck with the desire to kiss her lips, softly, gently, to taste her fear and her resolve to fight.

Hold your ground, Clarice.

She is a masterpiece. I take up the tweezers, and begin my repairs.


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The first thing I notice is the cold that radiates off the tweezers. The chill seems to spread through me, and I have to concentrate all my efforts to keep from shaking in the cool air. And then, penetration. His finger has slipped inside my flesh, and my body is flushed with a warmth that feels like burning. My eyes snap open and meet their mirror in his. The air crackles around us, and I am acutely aware that the relationship between us has forever altered. He has been inside me. I am infinitely grateful that he has allowed me to remain with him through this journey. He has given me a choice. And I have remained with him. A loud clink shakes me from my thoughts. The bloody bullet lies in the small metal cup in his hand. Relief washes over me, and I feel my body starting to betray me. My eyelids flutter, and I am overwhelmed with the need to sleep. As my eyes loose the battle to stay awake, I catch one last glimpse of him. He is holding the bullet close to his face. His tongue emerges from between his lips, and grazes the blood-tinged edge. And then darkness. The last thing I hear is the sound of a bullet clattering off the wall.

FIN

copyright 2003, by Natasha Von Lecter

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