The Ehrlich Interlude

He awakens inside an iron mold. Tightness, unyielding, across his limbs and chest; his head resting on a stone. Light, indeterminately grey, illuminates his surroundings. He struggles desperately, rests, struggles again and, like an insect emerging from its cocoon, drags himself from his prison. Falling to the floor, he observes the rumpled bedclothes: a carapace of linen, sculpted folds holding their frozen form. He shivers, retreating.

Downstairs, his father is at the kitchen sink, scraping the charred rind off a slice of toast. His large, watery eyes stare sightlessly across the kitchen, mouth open, forming words. Black specks hang, suspended in the air. Experimentally, he pushes against one with a fingertip: immovable. He draws back his hand, crying out as a tiny particle pierces the skin, passing through flesh. A drop of blood wells in its wake and falls to the floor. It breaks against white tiles and freezes instantly: a ruby coronet.

My God, Ehrlich he thinks, realising. You’ve actually done it.

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