“These”

Marrionetta peeked out from the wrought iron gate of the fireplace that separated her from the rest of the room. They were all still there, though. Three dead lever boys, a corpulent man with his circus ticket still clutched in his hand, and a goat that Lorelei had managed to rustle up from some nearby farm. Each had been decapitated, drained of blood, and butchered for their various physical effects.

Lorelei had graduated from humming little tunes to loudly baritoning around The Emerald House. Morning, noon, and night he was like a one man operatic as he skated his different knives through the bodies of his victims, choosing perfect morsels depending on their body types and what he had observed of their respective demeanors during life.

“These,” he pointed to the lever boys with a blade for Marrionetta’s benefit, though it was unclear if she could understand him through the block of her psyche, “are much better fare than what you find in cities. Fresh air. Physical exercise. Chronically underfed which creates near perfect conditioning for anything to do with the bones. Flexible. Growth hormones still swimming around in there. They could probably serve marrow like this in restaurants. But,” he laughed, “there would be a market shortage in no time.”

“Now this one,” Lorelei pivoted to the corpulent man. “Forget the bones. Forget every organ in the book. No good. All fat. But what he is good for…” Lorelei surged open a previously nonexistent pocket in the man’s torso. “The adrenals. A wonderful balance of provocation and soothe. Hungry! Full! Hungry! Full! The controlled oscillation makes them very reliable. Almost as good as a chemical battery.”

Marrionetta felt sick listening to both the butchering in process and the lecture. She lifted her eyes out of the fireplace and looked across the room at Lorelei’s office area. She noticed, maybe for the first time, that he had put something new on the wall. It was in a language she could’t read but recognized immediately. It was Visigoth language. It was German.

“The goats,” he carried on feverishly, “are mostly just for synthesizing tissue. Connectivity and all that. You can sterilize practically anything in boiling goat’s urine.”

The German schematic on the wall made an impression on Marrionetta. It overwhelmed her with fear and she looked away. Then she looked back again. She wasn’t sure she was reading it correctly. The schematic mapped out a crazy machine. She could tell it was enormous compared with the other things he had been making. But that wasn’t what disturbed her. The human figures in the middle drew her attention. There in the center were ten, childlike figures, each with a circle around where their hearts would be.

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