Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad

Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad by Kealan Patrick Burke, Charles Colyott, Bryan Hall, Shaun Jeffrey, Michael Bailey, Lisa Mannetti, Shaun Meeks, L.L. Soares, Christian A. Larsen Read Free Book Online

Book: Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad by Kealan Patrick Burke, Charles Colyott, Bryan Hall, Shaun Jeffrey, Michael Bailey, Lisa Mannetti, Shaun Meeks, L.L. Soares, Christian A. Larsen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kealan Patrick Burke, Charles Colyott, Bryan Hall, Shaun Jeffrey, Michael Bailey, Lisa Mannetti, Shaun Meeks, L.L. Soares, Christian A. Larsen
scuttled them, too? She had the means, though ... not to mention the Wren county prosecutor said there wasn’t enough money to go to trial, so Iva picked up the tab.
    “So what was the big, deep, dark secret you suppressed, Iva?”
    “It’s very easy to grind someone into submission when you’re starving them,” Iva said. “And it’s even easier to hem them in if you convince them—if they believe—you have occult power.”
     

     
    1912
    “Miss Fredericks, can you tell us about this picture?” Vining asked, handing it to her.
    “That’s a picture of me and Maggie. Margaret Woodbridge. When Callie and I were growing up, Maggie was our nursemaid, and even after we were adults she stayed on with us. She was like a second mother, really. And ...”
    The photo had been taken a few weeks after Maggie had come all the way from Australia to rescue her and Callie. The telegram. Callie sent it—somehow sneaked it out of the filthy cabin they shared at Lakemere Rest Sanitarium. Maggie, bless her, had sailed immediately, but she wasn’t in time, because Callie’s weight had dropped to 40 pounds.  Iva felt her face flush. Is that what she looked like almost a month after Maggie had taken her away from that terrible place? 
    Her face was nothing more than a skull thinly layered with dark flesh. The eyes themselves were vacant, glittering; her gaze, empty—as if impossibly remote and infinitesimally tiny stars had been caught inside the deeps of her eye sockets and flickered there indifferently ... meaninglessly. Her cheeks were smudged hollows with the sere look of ancient parchment. Her pale hair lay in knotty clumps, barely concealing huge bald patches. Her starched dress—size four—had been pinned, but it was still so oversized it appeared as if it might fall from her slight frame the instant she stood up.
    Vining passed it to the jurors and Iva could see them cringe with revulsion. Looking at the picture was like looking at a ravaged mummy that had been spelled back to half-life. Worst of all, Iva clearly remembered how she carefully primped—so she’d look her best.
    His voice startled her. “Miss Fredericks, how did you come to be in this condition? In this photo you weighed sixty-eight pounds—not kilos, pounds . And before you began “treatment” with Mrs. Burkehart, your weight—completely normal for someone who stands five feet, two inches tall—was one hundred four pounds. How did it happen, Miss Fredericks?”
    Iva’s chest heaved, her stomach knotted, but she took a deep breath. “She advertised—the only doctor , she called herself—who was a licensed fasting specialist. She advertised that she’d cured everything from syphilis to ulcers to blindness. Over and over, she told us and stated in writing, ‘All functional disease is the result of improper diet,’” Iva said. In her mind’s eye, grim sequences and flashing images unspooled.
     

     
    Callie unwrapped the pamphlet with such excitement, she tore the paper .
    Iva read it, but Callie studied the damn thing and within hours of its arrival could quote whole passages verbatim. Iva knew that some of their relatives thought the girls had too much money and too much time and that, as a result, hobbies and interests became fads with them. Aunt Caroline said as much when the girls refused meat at her table: “Being a vegetarian is a luxury—those who work for a living can’t pick and choose what they eat. If you girls were shipwrecked, you’d soon enough be eating fish and fowl.”
    So, when they decided to take the fasting cure, they told no one.
    Gretchen Burkehart professed to be uncertain about whether they were candidates for her cure. Callie told the osteopath she had a tipped uterus that caused awkward pains. Iva complained of a feeling of torpor in her limbs.
    They expected massage and a carefully controlled but bracing diet that would cleanse them. They expected to be in a lakeside rest home with awning-covered balconies.

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