Chapter 3 “The Pearl” 31

Back at the station, Cala watches in silence as Nataniel prepares the corpse of the demigoddess for autopsy. Standing by the door, her eyes linger on the blueish skin of the female, her skin made pale by the bloodless livor of death.

“Do you ever talk to them?” the Constable finally asks, her arms crossed over her chest as if to keep the touch and scent of death in the room from reaching her hands.

“Do I ever do what?” Nate asks back in absent tones, the focus of his attention remaining on his current task.

“Talk to the people you autopsy,” Cala explains, her voice solemn and restrained.

Nate looks up at Cala, his eyes unfocused for a moment as if doesn’t even recognize her. As her words sink in, his gaze once again moves down to the cadaver. “I don’t autopsy people,” he says flatly. “I autopsy dead bodies.”

Cala rolls her eyes at this. “All right, then. Do you ever talk to the dead bodies?”

“No.” Nate shakes his head. “I don’t talk to di dead, di dead don’t talk to me.” He looks up at Cala once more, smiles and winks. “We have a deal.”

The Constable quickly looks away, hoping her cheeks don’t look quite as red as they feel. A quick glance back at Nataniel and she sees he is again focusing on the corpse. “They just look so… exposed, lying naked on the table like that,” she notes. “Like, they’re not entitled to dignity anymore.”

The doctor merely shrugs. “Están muertos, cariño. They don’t even care if I defile di bodies.” His head shoots up at her, his brows furrowing. “And I don’t defile di bodies. I just try to find out how dey died.” He pokes the cadaver’s shoulder lightly. “Muerta, de qué moriste?”

Sighing, Cala watches Nataniel working for a minute, whispering a short prayer for the demigoddess’ soul as she does so. “Bye, Nate,” she says, once the prayer is over.

Hasta, bella,” the doctor replies, raising his head for a moment to watch her leave.

Now alone again, Nate leans over the body and starts inspecting the roof of the corpse’s mouth, looking at the crossbow bolt sticking out and thinking of a way to remove it. A wandering glance catches the demigoddess’ still-open eyes and Nate straightens up, feeling somewhat uncomfortable around a cadaver for the first time in a long time. He hesitates for a moment.

“So…” he half stutters. “Que tal? How are you doing?” He thinks about it for a moment. “I mean… besides being dead.”

Only silence answers his queries. “Imbécil, Nataniel!” he admonishes himself,shaking his head at his own silliness. “La chica está muerta, no te va a responder.”

Resuming silence he works on removing the bolt. It takes half an hour to do so, mostly due to the absolute need to avoid the deadly, poison-laced tip. When the corpse finally relents and lets him have his prize, he smiles contentedly, examining the bolt under a lamp.

“Did you know that a handmade crossbow bolt can be as unique as a fingerprint?” he comments to the dead demigoddess, satisfaction at his accomplishment almost making him feel comfortable with the one-sided conversation.

“What are you doing?” Syro’s voice rings all of a sudden, startling the good doctor and almost making him drop the bolt.

It takes Nataniel a couple of deep breaths before he can explain, “Well, I’m just… having a little chat with di body. So it doesn’t feel so…” he gestures vaguely, bolt in hand. “Strange.”

“That’s just stupid!” Syro exclaims. “It’s a dead body, Nataniel. It doesn’t feel at all.”

“I know that!” Nataniel retorts. “Shouldn’t you be analysing some water, or something?”

“Yes, about that…” Syro looks down at the vial in his hand and reaches forward, offering it, the clear liquid it contains sloshing slightly inside. “Do you mind drinking this?”

“Is that di evil water?!” Nate inquires.

“Oh, come on, Nataniel!” Syron waves him off with his free hand. “Water is not evil! A bit bland at times, but not evil per se. Besides, I boiled it.”

“Vete de aqui con la agua mala!” Nate yells at him. “I’m not drinking that!”

Syro looks at his friend with sincere disappointment. “I thought you were a man of science, Nataniel. We who are educated need to sacrifice for knowledge.”

He offers the vial again.

“I give already at di church! Go sacrifice your own body!” Nate shoos him.

Syro stares at the doctor for awhile but eventually relents and leaves.

Waiting to hear the door to Syro’s workshop close, Nate then returns to the task at hand and whispers to the corpse, “Don’t pay attention to him. He’s a bit loco en la cabeza.”

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