“Do you know what it was like? It was a long time before I could think of it.”Gene Wolfe, The Shadow of the Torturer
Her right hand was creeping upward, toward her eyes. I caught it and forced it back.
“I thought I saw my worst enemy, a kind of demon. And it was me.”
Her scalp was bleeding. I put clean lint there and taped it down, though I knew it would soon be gone. Curling, dark hairs were entangled in her fingers.
“Since then, I can’t control my hands… I can if I think about it, if I know what they’re doing. But it is so hard, and I’m getting tired.” She rolled her head away and spat blood. “I bite myself. Bite the lining of my cheeks, and my tongue and lips. Once my hands tried to strangle me, and I thought oh good, I will die now. But I only lost consciousness, and they must have lost their strength, because I woke. It’s like that machine, isn’t it?”
I said, “Allowin’s necklace.”
“But worse. My hands are trying to blind me now, to tear my eyelids away. Will I be blind?”
“Yes,” I said.
“How long before I die?”
“A month, perhaps. The thing in you that hates you will weaken as you weaken. The revolutionary brought it to life, but its energy is your energy, and in the end you will die together.”