The Vitals by Tracy Sorensen

The Vitals by Tracy Sorensen

Author:Tracy Sorensen
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: 2023-06-20T04:50:18+00:00


There it is again, that unmistakable scent of iron, of fresh red blood cells. I sniff it out to a small hole in the wall on my left side. A line of blood cells is emerging from it, trailing down to the floor. There’s an odd noise coming from the other side of the wall. I stop churning and listen carefully. Yes, a muffled commotion emanating from Baby’s quarters, the loft studio she’s building over the remains of her nursery, at the junction between me and Panno and Rage. Sounds like an electric drill. Is she doing more renovations?

‘Hoy,’ I shout, through the wall. ‘Be careful!’

A spinning drill bit suddenly bursts through, enlarging the hole, sending a stab of pain through me. Baby sticks her adorable little head through.

‘Oops!’ she says. ‘Sorry, Gaster.’

She looks down at the trail of blood.

‘Wait there, I’ll clean it up.’ She withdraws her head and then, through the hole, a long paper drinking straw emerges, with its light blue spiralling stripe. Sucking from the other side, Baby manages to catch a few red blood cells, but it is a fairly poor effort.

‘Don’t worry about cleaning up, I can fix it,’ I yell. The straw withdraws, leaving a dark, oozing hole. ‘Just be more careful next time.’ I mix up a Spakfilla of proliferating epithelial cells, smearing them over the hole.

Shouting through the wall as I work, she begs me not to tell anyone because she is rebuilding her house for her mother’s surprise birthday party, and it has to be a surprise for everyone.

‘Mummy’s birthday is the same day as everyone else’s birthday,’ she tells me, as if I didn’t know. ‘Promise you won’t tell?’

‘Okay,’ I agree, mainly to get her to go away. I haven’t been feeling great, and fixing the hole has sapped my energy. A calming block of cheese? No, the very thought is sickening. A nap might help.

I wake to a loud slurping sound. I scramble to my feet, only to see a bigger hole, another straw. The entire area is now angry and inflamed. I yell for Baby, but get no response. Just the sound of hammering, electric drills and – possibly, in the further distance – demolition. What is she doing out there? Building a mansion? I notice the straw has now been implanted in my wall, like a tree root, with minor branching roots. She has plumbed the straw into my own blood supply.

‘Hey, Baby!’ I shout. ‘This is where I draw the line. Right here! Get rid of this bloody straw!’

There is no answer. Just a faint sucking sound as the leaky straw sucks my blood. I am furious.

Fuck her new house! Between Rage and Panno and me, and maybe Col, we should be able to dismantle her work and get her back into her nursery. Peri will need to give her a good talking-to. I’ll take it to the next Organ Board meeting.

It’s a shame, though. Baby has a very engaging personality. If she really needs a bigger place, we might be able to let her have it.


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