As usual, it takes me some time to get back into a book, especially if I’ve spent the first few days of the month distracted by something like, uh, I dunno, scouting locations for the book.
But, now, after about a week of concerted work, I’m getting my legs under me. Blood remains in the water, but it is receding.
Should I include an excerpt? Ah, sure. Raw stuff, still needs more research, but, here you go:
“Hey, hey, hey,” I said. “Why would you want me to use the isolation tank?”
“Because Carrington got infected after a spirit journey she took here,” Heinz said. “A journey which just might have taken her into faerie, given our current theory. And since I have the magical affinity of a wet noodle, and wouldn’t know a faerie from a star on Broadway—”
“Troglodyte,” I muttered, glaring at him. “Fine, fine, fine, I’m the best suited for this … this suicide mission—”
“No!” Wilz said. “If you really think this will hurt you, no go. I don’t need the liability.”
I sighed, then stared at Heinz.
“In my professional judgment,” Heinz said, “if this was a normal infection, one of the hundreds of people who’ve used this isolation tank would already have been infected. If this was a magical infection, you would already have been infected by your prior exposure. And if there’s magic here at all … you’re the most likely one to find it.”
“Fine.” I said. “Fine—”
“I … will show you to the showers,” Wilz said.
Ten minutes later, I returned from a quick splashdown, holding tight to my body a big, warm, white fuzzy robe provided by Wilz, as Heinz looked at me with quite the smirk. I glared at him, then turned the glare on Wilz, who recoiled in a mix of surprise and curiosity.
“No commentary!” I said, peeling off the robe quickly, bare to my metal bikini. “Zipit!”
Wilz took the robe, then drew his hand across his mouth, glancing at Heinz.
“Okay,” Wilz said. “We’d rather not have to flush this water after each use, so—”
“Don’t say don’t pee in it,” I said, pointing at him. “I know that already! I’m an adult!”
“Yeah, well,” Heinz began.
“And you’re not!” I shot back.
“I didn’t personally put Doctor Orleans in the tank,” Wilz said. “I don’t know what was said, so I don’t know how to recreate the conditions that she, er, he, experienced while in there. All I can tell you is to lie down, to relax … and to keep your head above water.”
“I hope there’s a headrest,” I muttered.
“There is,” Wilz said. “Let me help you in—”
The Epsom salt laden water of the tank was warm, thick, almost tacky as I went in. The tank made soft booming noises as I moved, strangely muffled by the outer padding. Wilz helped me straighten out to level, then guided my head down to a horseshoe-shaped rest.
The door of the tank closed … and I was left in darkness.