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It was dark when she awoke. So dark, she couldn't see the mess they had made of her. But pain penetrated the murky fog which had kept consciousness at bay for...who knew how long.
She opened her eyes and could see perfectly even though the room was still dark, but it felt strange, unreal. She was able to make out the edges of the bed on which she lay, the dresser, the chair and the mantel of the fireplace across the room, but saw each of these only in varying shades of gray. The space was small but surprisingly warm, even without a fire burning high and hot in the hearth.
A sheet was pulled to her shoulders and a heavy quilted coverlet had been draped over the lower half of her legs, but for some reason she didn't think that was the reason why they felt so...weighted.
It didn't feel like a hospital room, but she instinctively knew that it was. She had the thought that this wasn't the first time she'd opened her eyes to find herself in this bed, although she couldn't remember how long she had been here. The reason why eluded her as well.
She turned her head and fought a rush of dizziness. The door was closed, and she thought it was probably locked as well. Only a small amount of light filtered into the room from the square of glass inset in the panel of the door.
Yes, still a hospital, no matter the pretty trappings they had used to try and disguise it.
She could hear sounds of life beyond the door, the voices and footsteps of people moving past her room. She paid it all very little attention, it was her own body she needed to see now.
Lifting her arm felt strange, probably because it was heavier than it should be. Horror and bitterness formed a salty lump in her throat as she held her hand out in front of her face. She took a deep breath before clenching the fingers into a fist. After a long moment, she opened the hand again, spread the fingers. She used her otherreal handto touch it.
Smooth metal fingers. Hard burnished curves.
Surprisingly warm, but empty and completely alien. She twisted the wrist. Its movements felt ghostly, even though she knew the appendage must be responding to her body's commands and not its own.
She didn't know how long they would leave her alone and she needed to see the rest. She awkwardly shoved the bed sheet aside and looked at her legs. Bile burned up her throat along with a fractured moan, but she forced it back down.
They were monstrous. She stretched out her arm, but then drew it back and dug her fist into her churning belly. She couldn't imagine standing and moving on the unnatural combination of iron posts, balls and gears they'd fitted her with. Oh God. She would never dance again.
Finally, she lifted her good hand to her face, but stopped short of poking her fingers into the new mechanical eye that helped her see so well in the dark.
The door opened. The man who entered was dressed in shadows, a dark jacket over dark trousers, with only a little of the light from outside to show his facescruffy with an over-long beard. He stepped closer to the bed, and she instinctively pulled away, deeper into the pillow.
"Ah, I'm glad to see that you're awake again," he said. "I hope we won't have any more trouble from you."
"Who...who are you?" Her voice came out as a raspy croak that was hard on her throat.
"You don't remember? Well, then I'm Dr. Helmholtz, of course." The gaze he drew over her body was impersonal, assessing, clinical.