The Little Surgery of Horrors
Chapter 9: Steam City
Location: Kanseville, Yorvlad's Surgery
Timeline: Day 6 - Evening
"This better be the right way, blondie" Colton growled as he followed Shanen through the alleys of Kanesville. Colton trusted him as much as he could trust anyone, which is not at all. The cowboy had his face almost completely wrapped in a bandana, and was keeping his head down, and yet he was terrified that someone in the military would recognise him. "How much further?"
"This is it." Shanen replied as they reached the mouth of the alleyway, ignoring John's mildly aggressive tone. His skin crawled as he looked toward the surgery, he hadn't even seen much of it the first time he had visited and he was still uneasy at what they might find. Instinctively his hand went to the pistol at his hip but he pulled it away again. "Let's go." He said as he led Colton down the alley.
"Ugh," Ashrieda grumbled from a few paces back, hands folded across her chest, and looking around suspiciously, before remembering doing so looked suspicious. Someone had to keep an eye out in case Yorvlad had people who would try something. Unlike the other two, she'd known him from when he was aboard the Steamhawke before, and he was creepy. She wondered if Shanen and Colton even remembered that she was there.
"Are you coming Ash?" Shanen called back to the dusky beauty, wanting to keep the group together both because of the nature of Kanseville these past few days and because of what they may encounter in Yorvlad's surgery.
Ash? Ashrieda raised both eyebrows. "Yeah, I'm coming," she insisted, bridging the gap between them anyway. "I'm just, you know, back here being back up. Don't feel like having anyone lose any extremities today."
He gave a small smile as she joined him and John although he was certain he had heard a terseness in her voice when she replied. Maybe she didn't like being called Ash? Shanen put such thoughts out of his mind as they gathered at the entrance. The door was unlocked from their previous visit and he pushed the door open gently before slowly leading the way inside.
"You weren't lying about the smell." Colton said from behind Shanen as they started looking around. He was happy to be wearing the bandanna indoors as well. "Smells like a slaughter house on a hot day."
"I'll take your word for it." Shanen replied. "It's worse than before" he commented , screwing up his nose. He spied a hankerchief on a nearby dirty table and almost reached out to grab it before deciding against it. Based on his last visit here, who knew what might be on a random cloth in Yorvlad's surgery.
The sailor glanced at this heavy gold wristwatch, "I assume no one has a problem if we hurry this up as much as we can."
"Fine by me" agreed Ashrieda. "But it's too dark in here, I can barely see anything."
"Windows are blacked up" observed Colton. After some effort he slid one of the windows open, the glass slicing into the rotting wooden frame. A scattered beam of light played over the room, the thick dust visible in the air. The office room in which they were standing looked old and bare. There were a few laboratory instruments scattered around but nothing that had seen recent use.
"There's nothing in here, I don't understand." shrugged Shanen.
"The smell's coming from over here." called Ashrieda.
A partition in the wall was hiding the entrance to the basement. From where Ashrieda was standing she could see down the staircase and into the blackness beyond.
Shanen came to where the young woman was standing and peered down into the shadows. Slowly he descended the stairs and entered the basement. As best he could tell, there was no obvious light source, a fact which he relayed to Colton and Ashrieda. "It's black dark!" He called back up to them.
"Holy hell!" Ashrieda exclaimed. "Don't you keep a light on you?" she asked Colton, fumbling in her pockets for something to ignite.
"We shoulda brought some flares from the supplies we dragged with us to Kaneseville. I only got my lighter". Colton produced a cog-covered contraption that fit in the palm of his hand. He squeezed it and sparks ignited the cigarette in his mouth. "Lamp on the desk over there" he nodded off to the side.
"Hello?" called up Shanen.
Ashrieda took the cigarette out of Colton's mouth and used it to light the alchemical lamp. It wasn't too bright, but it would do. "Let's go" she said.
Shanen waited as his two companions joined him with the lamp, which lit the basement in a murky glow. Various pieces of equipment commonly associated with a surgery were silhouetted under the dull light. "I know the Captain wishes us to find evidence of Yorvlad's indiscretions but that might be easier said than done if we do not know what we are specifically looking for."
"God damn wild goose chases" Colton muttered to himself. He spotted something out of the corner of his eye - with one hand he drew his revolver and with the other grabbed Ashrieda's arm. He twisted it higher so that the lamp she was carrying cast more light in the direction he was looking. "Hey!" she shouted. "Quiet!" he barked.
On the table in front of them lay one of the sources of the smell. The worker's overalls were recognizable, but they were cut off at the shoulders and hips, because so was the man. In place of arms and legs were what looked like cobbled-together pieces of scrap metal. They could see rusted springs, ratchets, and gears, roughly resembling the man's missing limbs.
"What in God's name is that!" shouted Colton in horror, gulping back his disgust.
"Christ." Shanen swore grimly as he looked closely at the abomination in front of them. "He's switched his limbs with bits of metal...." The young man swallowed another profanity, once again the image of the Doctor with a chloroform soaked cloth pushed itself to the front of his mind. Is this what Yorvlad had planned for him had the Captain not intervened.
"The militia should know about this." Shanen finally said.
"The militia? Are you out of your damned mind?" Colton was suddenly angry just at the mention of the word. "They're the last people we should go to."
"What are you talking about? There's no way they'd let this happen." asked Shanen.
"Guys..." spluttered Ashreida.
"If they see this mostrosity and link Yorvlad to us," continued Colton, "we'll all be joining Chago 'fore the firing squad."
"How're they gonna do that? They'll never find him. We'll just drop the message off at the watch post up the road. Let them clean this mess up!"
"Guys!" yelled Ashrieda. "He's still alive!"
Somehow, the workman was still alive. He sat bolt upright, his mechanical limbs springing to life, the gears rotating as he pulled himself to the edge of the surgical table. His face seemed long dead, with only his rasping breaths showing any indication that this man was anything but a machine. The monster dropped from the table before anyone could recover from the horrid sight, and lurched fowards in the pose of sleepwalker.
Shanen instinctively went for the pistol at his hip but thought better off it. The poor soul was alive, somehow and was a ghastly sight to behold but that didn't mean he necessarily meant them harm. "Easy there." The sailor called to the lumbering monstrosity. "We don't mean you any harm."
"Me neither" stated Colton, and shot the thing in the head. It tipped over, and became silent.
"What the hell did you do that for?" demanded Shanen, turning to face Colton.
"Either that thing was gonna kill us, or it was awake and screaming inside. I helped it. If I wake up like that one day, kill me, you got that?"
"So you're judge, jury and executioner now, is that it!?" He turned away angrily and nudged the dead man with his boot. He let out a small sigh, the anger already slowly draining from him. "Let's get the hell out of here." He said after a few silent seconds. "Tell the Captain what we've found."