I’ve always enjoyed serial fiction. Something about the episodic nature of short pieces of fiction linking together into a larger story is just fun. This piece, Hands, is the first part of a series dedicated to the setting of the current novel, temporarily titled, Doppleganger.
I owe inspiration for writing this piece to a few people. The most recent would be Christiana Ellis, and her 2016 project Phyllis Esposito: Interdimensional Private Eye. I also owe kudos to Andrew Eckhart’s original draft for his novel, Last Mage. The original version of his book was shared as a serial fiction series on the home site of the Last Mage series. Final call out to T. K. Eldridge, and her current serial project. Each of those is worth your time, so give them a read after you check out the below.
“It’s ergokinesis induced neuritis, Mr. Travis,” the doctor had said. “The pain. The numbness. Your difficulty handling small objects. I understand the requirements of your performances, but if you keep it up your hands will be paralyzed within a year.”
Glen looked at his hands. The tips of his fingers were all pale, the remnants of blisters almost done healing. Around them scars from burns and scabs dotted his digits and palms. He tried to flex the right hand but the pinky and ring fingers barely moved.
The doctor’s visit had been about an hour ago. Dr. DeProspero had been adamant about Glen’s treatment. About the magic. It just hadn’t seemed fair. Glen knew people decades older who still performed above his grade and had no problem with this. A few burns, but anytime someone handles a fire it’ll burn.
A window beeped at him and he cursed at himself. Glen had forgotten to call Deron after the appointment.
“What’s the good headline?” Deron said, his wide grin extending to the points of his gaijin ears. He was in his cubical in the heart of some office labyrinth. Glen tried to smile but Deron could read him too well, “That bad huh? What he say?”
“To cancel the show, wrap up and seek a more health inclined endeavor,” Glen said. He checked his surroundings to make sure he wasn’t going to be in someone’s way in the call. A few pedestrians but this part of New Castle was fairly quiet this time of day. Even the chariots on the street were pretty rare.
“Might as well. He said I’d go into full ‘Peripheral neuropathy’ in my hands and possibly my arms if I keep working. Maybe twelve months. Tops.”
Deron frowned. “Not even if you lay off hand magic?”
Glen shook his head. “Not even that. He says I’m already showing signs in my feet, and there are patches on my back that are mostly numb. You know the ones.”
“The ones I see nothing there but you’re always asking me to scratch or rub.”
“Yeah,” he said, wishing he had one of those massages right now.
“Great. Good job turning something sweet about us into another dark spot.”
Glen cringed, “I didn’t mean.”
“Oh baby,” Deron said, his eyes going wide. “Oh I didn’t mean you! I meant the doc. I’d never say something like that.”
“I know,” Glen said. He sighed in relief but still felt a bit of heat on the back of his eyes. “I know you wouldn’t. It’s just been a rough morning so I’m a little easily set off right now.”
“I understand, Glen. Are you headed home?” Deron said as he glanced to the side of the cubicle at a wall clock.
“To the theater. Going to talk to the dragon.”
“Okay. I’ll be out of the office in about three hours. How about I come by the theater with a car and we go out tonight?”
“That sounds great.”