The Wingless Angel: Excerpt
The bone -carved dining table stretched across the narrow hall. It was thick like a butcher block, the bone warm to the touch from fresh, hot marrow that flowed into the structure through legs molded to the floor. It stood, sharp and silent, a massive, pristine sculpture that looked finer than the cleanest white marble.
The chef hurriedly set the warm table with food: spongy blood cakes accented with beads of bright green bile, a massive hindquarter muscle steak, heaps of tangled capillary pasta, and hot, fat- gravy spiced to perfection with sweat salt. For dessert he’d constructed a delicate confection: tiny lollipops of caramelized brain set atop thin bone stilts.
The chef wiped up a few red droplets from the stark bone table. Like all good chefs, he obsessed over the parts of his work that no one else would ever notice.
“That should do it.” He motioned to his Sapien. “Bring the centerpiece!”
The Sapien walked to the kitchen robotically and brought back a hairless human head, immaculate and smooth. Glazed lightly with fat, every facet of the head’s mouth, ears, and nose glistened. A masterful patchwork of skin covered the centerpiece, all the way down to the stubby neck. Only the most discerning eye could see that some of the skin- sections were stitched from different tones.
The chef instructed the Sapien to put the head down in the center of the table.
“Ahhhhhh . . . beau-tee-ful . . .” the Sapien said in monotone.
“Yes, yes, I know. But you have yet to see its true beauty, my stupid friend,” the chef said excitedly. He pulled two tools from his jacket: a pair of thin, bone pliers hinged with springy tendons, and a bone scalpel so sharp its blade could barely be seen when held to the side.
The chef set to work, attaching veins and arteries to a tender quarter-heart he’d assembled, sealing everything up with gummy, sinew putty. The heart consisted of just one ventricle, and was only strong enough to pump a small reservoir of blood into the head, giving it the strength needed for its performance.
“It took me three weeks to procure this tiny quarter-heart. Did you know that?” “Three weeks,” the Sapien responded. “Hearts . . . not . . . find . . . easy . . .”
“Not find easy at all,” said the chef as he wiped flecks of dried skin from his centerpiece. “A true masterpiece worthy of a great hero.”
And the feast was set.