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Solitary, Page 1

Quelli di ZEd

Carmelo Massimo Tidona


  Series “Nocturnal”

  episode #3

  Translation from Italian to English by

  Carmelo Massimo Tidona

  for Zed Lab


  Copyright © 2013 Zerounoundici Edizioni

  Copyright © 2013 Carmelo Massimo Tidona

  ISBN: 978-88-6578-234-7

  Cover: image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

  Work autonomously proposed by the author, not submitted to selection from the publisher


  Grace Elmond paced the corridors of her clinic with the nervous movements of a caged beast.

  Almost all of her employees were busy in the fatiguing task of doing nothing at all, and not by choice. In that case she would have simply fired them. The truth was they had nothing to do.

  The inflow of patients had started decreasing gradually days ago, soon becoming close to zero, without any real explanation.

  From an humanitarian point of view, maybe, that should have made her happy. From her personal point of view it was a curse, and most of all it didn't make any sense.

  It was quite unlikely that no one in the city needed any medical care, or any of the other services she provided. She couldn't even consider the possibility that her patients were going elsewhere, since the best professionals of the field worked for her. There weren't many “elsewheres” to go to, nearby, and those few that were there weren't worth taking into consideration.

  The only real competition had always been those from the temples of various gods – of which Tejarak had a remarkable supply – who provided more or less free healing to their followers. Nothing to really worry about. Priests weren't able to cure just anything, and for sure they did not waste their time for other kinds of needs – as far as she could remember, she had never seen one of them taking care of crow's feet or cellulite – and most of all she couldn't believe that the entire city had become so religious all of a sudden, especially considering that the wide variety of the population of Tejarak inevitably led to having more inhabitants then there were temples to satisfy their need for faith.

  Still her waiting room – as she could see with her eyes now that she was walking through it, in case she had ever needed any additional proof – was empty, and there were no scheduled appointments for the rest of the day. She could only hope for some emergency.

  She went to the entrance and opened the door, peeling outside as if that could somehow bring new patients in.

  She looked out and saw no one walking down the alley leading to the clinic, either coming or going. Of course, who could ever be leaving if no one had arrived?

  The only living being in sight was a big black cat curled up in the sunlight right in front of the door, that when she arrived raised its head and looked up at her with a pair of bright green eyes.

  She shooed it with a kick.

  The cat drew back, hissed arching its back, then went away.

  Grace closed the door.

  She was about to go back to her office, without any real reason, when she saw a woman coming out of one of the corridors and cross the entrance hall. She was not too tall, casually dressed, with red curls flowing over her shoulders and lazily bouncing as she walked.

  «Good morning», she said, startling her.

  «Good morning», the woman replied in the unsure tone of someone who is answering a greeting for sheer politeness, but has no idea of who the other person is. Than a flash of awareness crossed her eyes. «Oh... you are doctor Elmond, aren't you?»

  Grace nodded. «And you are Amanda Sheldon». Even without the help of her good memory, it wouldn't have been hard to remember the name of the only one person booked for that day. «You've been here for doctor Lyana.»

  «A routine examination.»

  «I suppose everything is fine», Grace remarked, automatically looking down and Amanda's breast. Lyana was a very skilled witch, there had never been any problem with her patients, still she was very careful and never failed to check their progresses as long as needed.

  Amanda couldn't help noticing where the woman was looking. It was quite obvious, nonetheless she felt unease and was about to explain her why exactly she had needed the care of an expert in breast modeling. She didn't want to give her that satisfaction, though, and managed to just answer matter-of-factly, «Yes, no problems.»

  «I'm glad to hear this.»

  Amanda forced herself to smile and went away.

  It was the second time ever that she had met that woman – the first being the day she had had to go to the clinic for her surgery, and then they had exchanged maybe two words if not less – and it was enough to list her among the people she would never send a birthday card to, even if she had known when to do that.

  Her attitude was incredibly arrogant, as if she was two or three meters above the rest of the world population. She thought herself lucky that she didn't have to deal with her for her problem. Having one of your breasts ripped away by a raging gremlin was unpleasant enough even without the additional bonus of discussing the subject with a woman like that.

  Fortunately, doctor Lyana was completely different. Dealing with her it was almost possible to forget that she came from the same race as her mother, the woman she had met only once and she didn't have any interest or desire to meet again. Actually, the fact that she belonged to the fairy people was quite evident, if you knew where to look. Her features where too delicate, her frame too slender and graceful to be human, and her eyes betrayed her true age, or at least hinted that she was much older than the twenty or twenty-five years she showed. How much wasn't something Amanda was able to assess, but she believed that number should have been multiplied by ten, at the very least. After all, fairies were virtually immortal, they didn't age nor they show in any way the signs of passing time, thus as far as she knew she could have been a thousand or even a million years old. What she knew for sure was that she was very good at her job. She had recreated her breast almost from nothing, making the ugly scar on her chest disappear without a trace.

  When she opened the door to leave the clinic, Amanda found at her feet a black cat, blissfully curled up under the sun.

  The feline slowly lifted its head, as if her coming had disturbed it while it was busy in some very interesting philosophical dissertation, and looked up at her with two piercing emerald-green eyes. It didn't even try to move aside.

  «Hey!» she exclaimed with a smile, switching instinctively to that particularly stupid tone people almost automatically starts to use when talking to a baby or an animal, as if talking that way could somehow allow them to understand whatever was being said. «What are you doing here? I don't think you need breast surgery».

  The cat tilted its head on a side like someone who just heard a very poor joke. Then it stood with a smooth, typically catlike movement, and approached her, rubbing against her jeans with a seducing attitude.

  Amanda sat on the balls of her feet, moving slowly not to scare it, and scope it up in her arms. It let her. She examined it.

  It's fur was smooth, soft and glossy, very clean. It didn't look like a stray cat, yet it had no collar or tag, or whatever could identify it as belonging to someone. That didn't mean much, though. It was very likely that somewhere a little girl was desperate for the loss of her kitty, although actually it was rather a big cat.

  Amanda decided to bring it along. She was going to the police anyway – to pay a visit to Shim, who had just recovered after a nasty adventure – so she could leave it there in order for it to be brought back to its rightful owner.

; Caressing and petting her new friend, she hit the road.