As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page. You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.
The Loss of Pain
They had tried bathing him in pig’s blood. Then dog’s blood. Then the secretions of a certain stinging fish. They scarified the backs of his hands and rubbed arsenic and hellebore into the wounds. They immersed him in the Jordan River, and with each symbolic drowning he prayed to Saint Lazarus that the God of all Mercy might remember his answer to another captain and let him rise like Naaman with the skin of a newborn babe.
When the friar suggested castration, Sir Bernard drew the line.
“I would confess to many sins, good Friar, but lechery is not among them.”
“Try to see it in the light of Christ’s sacrifice.”
Bernard closed his eyes and covered his face. His commanding officer had told him the divine suffering of the leper was the closest analog to Christ’s suffering on the cross. Numbness would come first, followed by loss of muscle, then the slow decay of tissues he could no longer feel. It was not painful, he said. The man had worn gloves when he handed Bernard his discharge papers. They had burned his tabard along with his bedding.
So, why did we take this story? I fell in love with the writing in this piece from the very first read. It evokes a world in vivid detail and puts you deeply into the diseased flesh of a sympathetic character. Our concern was the lack of a clear speculative element. Amy addressed the speculative “feel” in revision, which helps. I wish it could be longer to do full justice to its themes, but it’s quite amazing even at this length. I hope you will agree. The original was 5500 words; final edit is 5400 words.
Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.