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Bengali's New Art
By RD Rivero



"Bengali's New Art"
By RD Rivero
May 4, 2000

It began so innocently -- so innocently that unless you had known what
to look for you would've never stumbled on it -- my work, my art.
Although recently my demeanor, my behavior may have hinted of deeper
designs, no one could have foreseen the prodigal genius that I unveiled
-- a towering achievement that I admit was unfortunately short lived.
In the Tower of Omens Pumyra and Lynxo were my only companions -- oh and
Snarfer of course. I couldn't have done what I did without Snarfer or
Tygra. I worked alone, comfortably alone. I confess that I thought that
-- no, I felt that -- it was so because the other Thundercats didn't
like me in some way. I was sad and moody. Yes, I was depressed but after
a while I came to realize and to appreciate my good fortune.
Down in the basement I built a den -- I managed to set aside more than
ample room for myself, even Liono didn't have the spacious quarters that
I had. In order to disguise that wanton luxury, I kept the forward areas
open and there in that environment I setup my workshop. Hearths and
kilns, cabinets and benches, tools and implements were scattered
everywhere in a sort of chaos to others that to me was a well-ordered
perfection.
The chambers in the recesses were mine and I kept them private, locked.
No one was allowed inside although when I was at work forging I did
leave the doors opened to at least give the impression that there was
nothing wrong, that there was nothing to hide. In those back rooms there
was very little light, I preferred it that way and there were no
windows, only vents that circulated fresh air from outside.
In the morning I would arise and work on new or on old projects. Only
later, after nine in the morning, would I venture upstairs to eat
breakfast. For the rest of the day until evening I would perform my fair
share of Thundercat duties along with other small, spare miscellania.
Sometimes, though, when there was little to do I would spend those free
hours with Pumyra. Thenceforth, after dinner, if it was not my turn for
the late shifts, I would promptly return to my sealed apartment to read
-- yes, to read books that over time I had 'borrowed' from Snarfer, from
Tygra.
I have always had an interest in the sciences, especially biology. I
kept my passions and my desires secret -- there was no reason to bother
the others with that just yet. Not until I had honed and sharpened my
craft.
What craft? I was already a blacksmith, what more could I mean? In what
other activities could I engage? My new 'science' has no name -- even
now I am not astute enough, if such is the word, to name it outright.
Rather I shall describe to you that glorious new art-form and let you
call it as you will.
I said it was innocent -- as innocent as curiosity.
In the entire month of April, ---- there had not been one day without
rain. The ground, completely soaked, could not absorb that seemingly
limitless excess of water. The world that we knew had flooded, Wollo and
Berbil villages were swept away. The Warrior Maidens, even though their
homes were up in the trees, still suffered the ill effects of those
soaring, ravaging tides. Crabmen drowned those caverns that they used
for shelter. Castle Plundar was loosened from its foundations.
Strangely, only Mumm-Ra's pyramid escaped damage.
Pumyra and I were scouring, rummaging through a sprawled valley, looking
for survivors or victims. The rest of the Thundercats were out on duty
elsewhere performing the same thankless tasks. Luckily, she said aloud,
we had found no one, no one, no one.
And then I stumbled upon a heavy set of iron doors that the rapid
currents had done much to dislodge and to open free from a well-hidden,
subterranean vault. One of the large doors lay on its side on the sloped
hillside, the other was still on its hinges -- still barely on its
hinges. Pumyra had noticed it too but she didn't go in until after I
had.
Within I found that the chamber was unlit so I turned on a quartz lamp
that we had taken with us from Cat's Lair. Its smoky, blue light was not
at all hard on the eyes. I was in a crypt surrounded by the foul and
stagnant stench of death, mixed with water and mold. The very walls --
ornate plaster, concrete -- overgrew with multicolored fungi. It was
very hard to breathe and I wondered what the effect of that bad air had
on my lungs.
"The gases might be toxic," she said. I know she said more before and
after that statement but those were the only words I remembered. I was
too distracted -- by a large, flat marble table. Two small figures were
upon it, wrapped tightly in a coarse blanket. To be sure there were more
tables and along the walls where corpses -- placed there to rest through
the turning of millennia -- were deposited in thin, engraved openings.
The vast crypt wound on and on, deeper into the hill.
"This one's new," she said of the cloaked figure that had grabbed my
imagination. "I don't think we should be here, the Wollos wouldn't --"
"Wollos?"
I unwrapped the heavy sheets a little, just a little. Underneath was a
female. She was young and by the dirt and fresh mud that covered her
face I realized that she must have drowned in the floods. I touched her
skin -- it was moist, it was still soft.
"Bengali!" -- she drew my hand away. The flesh on her cheek that I had
pressed down with my finger slowly regained its previous composure. I
looked at Pumyra, I looked into her eyes. Even now I don't understand
why she was afraid.
She dragged me out of there and we continued to survey our allocated
territory.
For the next few days I was kept from the crypt while we helped the
Berbils and the Wollos and Warrior Maidens rebuild.
I told the others back in the Tower that I was going out to get new
supplies -- ores, rocks, tools. I often take long to shop for those
sorts of items so it alarmed no one when I came back late. The truth? I
returned to the crypt. I examined the bodies at all stages of decay. I
studied how the fresh body of that young, female Wollo rapidly acame to
the effects of rigor mortis. How the skin hardened to the texture of
leather. How the eyes and the mouth rotted. How the body slowly, slowly,
gradually, almost imperceptibly 'melted' into a nauseating soup, a mass
of green, moldy tissues. By June ---- the heat and the insects, worms
and such had done a lot to devour what remained of that once-supple
body.
I found one excuse after the next to leave the Tower until at length it
was so customary and so habitual that I would come and go without saying
where I was headed off or at what time I would return. I made so many
trips to that house of death that I got used to the smells -- I also
always made sure that my trips were as fast and as quick as possible. I
would promptly go in and out so that the odors would not have enough
time to stick on to me or my clothing.
When I grew tired of watching the young girl's body, when it was
consumed to its bare skeleton and no longer entertained me, I again felt
saddened, depressed, though I had lost a friend forever. Exhausted by my
emotions I then began to explore the rest of the chamber. I almost got
caught on one of those endeavors.
I always kept the crypt doors shut whenever I entered and that's what
saved me. When I heard the Wollos pry the heavy, metal gates open I had
enough time to kill the light from the quartz lamp and duck down into
one of the lower levels. A small group entered with a new and wrapped
body. The funeral lasted three hours and was a cacophony of somber cries
and homilies. Chanting, singing.
Enveloped in the omnipotent darkness, every so often I poked my head up
to catch glimpses of what was happening.
The Wollos finished after what had to have been an eternity and when
they left they closed the crypt -- they fixed the damage the floods had
done to the doors. I was trapped, at least to the untrained eye I was
trapped. I waited until I was sure that I was safe from subsequent
discovered and with my hammer I beat down the doors.
The next day I was asked by one of the Wollo elders to repair the damage
that apparently a grave robber must have done to the crypt doors, or so
I was told. Pumyra was a little suspicious when she saw what was left of
the mangled, metal gates but she said nothing. In sum, it was a very
close call and I was lucky that I had gotten out of it relatively
unscaved. I never went back there again -- I didn't have to anymore.
It was about six or seven at night when I returned to the Tower of
Omens. I was in the kitchen supping when the stillness of the evening
was broken by the shouts of panicked screaming. Jolted, I arose from my
chair to where I believed Pumyra was -- in one of the bathrooms. I did
find her there, hysterical, she kept covering her eyes with her forearms
while she was standing on the bowl of the toilet.
"What's wrong, Pumyra?"
She was hesitant at first, at first but she shook out a few words:
"Frog! Frog, there's a frog in here!"
I laughed. "A frog has you all worked up? After all the mutants and the
lunatics, after Mumm-Ra, it's a little frog --"
"It's not little!" she shouted coherently.
I escorted her out and then I locked myself in -- to ensure that the
offending beast would not escape. I looked first around the shower
stall, the back window, the drain and when I was satisfied that the
creature was not there I managed to seal off that area as best as I
could. Then I worked down to the sink, once again I peered into the
drain and I examined the contents of the cabinet beneath and behind the
mirror above. I then moved on to the toilet. I lifted the lid, I poked
my head around behind the chest and the bow. I looked into the bowl.
When I had just about exhausted the possibilities I sat on the floor in
the center of the bright, blindingly bright room.
"Did you find it yet?" she asked from behind the door.
"Not yet, not yet." I turned my head to the side and noticed for the
first time that the closet door was ajar. It began to creak open almost
silently. A folded, yellow towel was in the process of falling from one
of the interior shelves of that linen closet. I stared dumbfounded while
the events proceeded. The towel fell onto the floor and it was followed
by a series of smaller, heavier items. Scissors and containers of
makeup, a can of shaving cream unused, unopened, all of that and more
fell upon the yellow towel. I heard a slight croak and the sounds of
bones snapping.
Recomposed I crawled to the scene. I pushed aside the weighty toiletries
to reveal the folded, linen cloth. It was stained and smeared in red and
there was an unmistakable bulge that could have only been the covered
form of a very large bullfrog. I peeled back some of terry cloth. The
amphibian was still alive, somewhat still alive. Its legs were moving
violently but it was getting nowhere for the upper portions of the body
were stiff and useless. Only the eyes seemed to have the power to move,
although all they did was roll around in circles. I doubted there was
anything at all to that since the head had been shattered clearly in
half, the gelatinous brain was spread out everywhere from that wide
rent, that open gash.
I picked up the small liter of items and put them back into the closet.
"I found it. I've got in one of the towels."
"Oh, thank Jagga!"
"I'll release it outside."
"OK."
I heard her walk away. I opened the door softly, silently. Instead of
going out into the surrounding, lush wilderness, I went down into my
locked room. Luckily that was not my night to stay up on watch so I had
all the time I needed.
I conducted my first, tentative experiment.
I knew then I would have to start small so that frog was more than good
enough. Indeed, it was quite a fortunate turn of events. I took a wooden
board, an old board whose absence I knew would be missed by no one.
Because the legs had not stopped moving I stapled them onto the board.
That only caused the body to flop so I resorted to staple the arms down
too -- it was a procedure that subsequently became the standard mode of
operation.
With a sharp carving knife I made a slit starting from right where I
guessed the neck was down to the crotch. The skin was loose, real loose
and was easy to peel off. There was blood, I hadn't counted on that, so
I had to move from the comfort of my desk to the cold tile of the
bathroom. There was better light in there so perhaps it was for the
best. In any case there was a lot of blood but the tub caught it all.
The skin was out of the way but then I had to contend with the real
flesh. The muscles that surrounded the chest were particularly difficult
to cut through but in a matter of minutes I had scrapped off the bulk of
what covered the ribcage. I then pulled out from a tool box a set of
thin, needle-nose pillars -- with them I snapped the individual ribs
apart and pulled off the front part of the chest.
The heart still beat.
I was relieved, I thought I had damaged it. Actually, I feared that I
would not be able to find it under the mess that were the internal
organs. The small, three-chambered organ was connected to the body by a
rather simple network of veins and arteries. I removed the heart after a
few small cuts with the tip of the knife and set it aside on another
piece of wood. What was left of the frog I ripped off and discarded --
tightly wrapped -- into a waist bin.
I had the heart on slab and it did not beat any longer. Somehow I would
have to fix that. I pondered the situation and for a while I thought to
myself, 'what was I doing?' I had to get the experiment to work, that
would silence the doubt that then welled in me.
I took two batteries and connected them in series with spare wires. On
the terminal ends I lightly welted two heavy wires and at the end of
those wires I attached tiny pins. One of the pins I embedded on one side
of the heart, the other I moved around from place to place. I scoured
only a small portion of the surface until, at length, I found the spot.
I secured the pins in place and there, on the wooden slab, next to the
battery pile the heart beat once again.
Still, I was unsatisfied. There had to be more, there just had to be
more. I found some thin straws and attached them into the small blood
vessels that came out of the heart. Then I connected the little pipettes
into a large reservoir that I filled with tap water. The heart beat and
circulated the liquid I provided.
I kept that slab in the bathroom under the sink. Every morning, noon and
evening I would spray fresh water over the beating organ. Then I got the
idea that instead of water I should provide it with a more nutrient
solution. While it was my turn to stand watch I wandered into the
infirmary and pulled out one of Pumyra's recipes for saline solution,
the kind often administered intravenously to patients in hospitals -- I
remembered that from the time I had to get my appendix removed.
The heart continued to beat for more than a week. The batteries were not
dead, rather the heart had stiffened and the flesh had greened in rot.
Quickly I set out to find a new frog.
For the next year or so I was content with tinkering with amphibians but
know that I did more, much more. I understand if some of what I've said
here sounds familiar. The Warrior Maidens and the Wollos often tell
stories of mad scientists who, by shear will, created living creatures
from the parts of dead ones. Know that I took the next step but before I
did that I had to experiment, I had to see what I could do and where I
could go.
I kept excellent notes and observations and when I perfected the ability
to cut out the heart and keep it alive for two weeks I got bored. The
next time I added a twist. I cut off one of the arms and sewed together
the main vein and artery of that limb to the heart which then circulated
a new, more potent saline solution that had enough vitamins and
nutrients to keep a man alive. For more than ten days I kept both the
heart and the arm alive and further, I found that by applying specially
controlled voltages I could make the arm move around, flex the fingers,
those sorts of things.
The next innovation came when I decided to keep the head alive, too. Of
course that required more saline solution but by then I had a factory of
it, I could produce it at will. I figured by then that I should brush up
on the circulatory system because it was getting harder and harder to
figure out what blood vessels to attach and in what order.
Somewhere along the line I figured out how to attach nerves -- well, not
really. Rather, I merely attached a long wire from the base of the
severed skull where the brain breaks off into the spine and attached the
cord through the use of alligator clippers, onto those parts of the
limbs were I had noticed thick and dense coaxial nerve bundles. Added to
the wire was a weak source of voltage just in case the brain could not
produce enough current on it own.
Success! By Jagga I could not be stopped. Now that I had the head, too,
I found that the limb responded to external stimuli. Of course slower
and uncoordinated but it responded none the less. The eyes reacted and
sometimes the mouth would open and close. All of those body parts took a
toll on the nutrient solution and for that reason the more complicated
arrangements could not last for more than five days.
The shortest example lasted less than a day, I suppose. I left the
wooden slab with the head, heart and leg all attached inside the cabinet
under the sink. That was at night. When I awoke the next morning the
situation was apparently normal although I noticed that the battery pile
was no longer on the wooden slab and that the slab itself was not
exactly where I had left it. I put everything back together the way I
had intended it to be but when I returned again at noon, I stood in
shock at what I saw. The cabinet doors under the sink were slightly
ajar. The slab with the frog parts was on the floor, the heart was still
beating, the leg was still kicking. Unfortunately the saline solution
had spilt all over the tiled floor when the frog had knocked itself out.
I couldn't save it, by the time I reached the scene the organs were too
stiff to continue.
The frog experiments were on the whole so common and so successful that
the sound of those little beating hearts echoed in the darkness of my
apparent at night in a paced and uneven symphony -- more than anything I
did not feel alone anymore.
So I could take animals apart and keep them alive at least for a while
but I wasn't done yet.
The next great breakthrough in the course of the evolution of my art
came when I stumbled upon a stray cat while hiking back to the Tower of
Omens with a new frog specimen. The cat was large and friendly enough to
approach me. I decided then that I had to use mammals in my next
experiment. I didn't want reptiles since they were basically glorified
amphibians and birds were simply too messy.
Carefully I put the cat in the bag and carried it under my arm into my
room. I did not want the others to see or else I might never be able to
do my work on the animal. And what work I had to do! Suddenly I was
struck by a blaze of inspiration. I set down upon the desk and began to
draw the blue prints -- I won't tell you now what I had in mind but
rather I will describe to you the steps, the procedure involved in my
first, my very first step into this, the larger world of my art.
Foremost I cut the head off while the cat was still in the bag. I
decided then that I would only use the brain stem. I took some of the
ribs and with wires I fashioned a small 'box' from the thin, mailable
bones. I then stuffed the brain stem into the 'package.' To the end of
the nerves that stuck out of the cartilage enclosure I attached strips
of nerves that I had peel from the spinal cord. I then had myself a very
rudimentary central nervous system.
Next, of course, was the heart and lung system. Because the mammalian
heart was larger I found it easier to work with than with the frog's. I
found the two nerves that controlled its beating and attached them to
the nervous system. I also gathered all the spare blood vessels I could
-- I would need them for later. The biggest problem I had was with
respect to the lungs.
I needed at the least one lung but to do so I had to devise a system, an
elaborate system. I put the lung -- that still had a segment of bronchi
attached to it -- into a small box opened at both ends. At the bottom I
attached a segment of the diaphragm muscle, at the top and all the way
around the rest of the device I wrapped muscles tightly so that no air
could get into the box. The lung was sealed within, only the bronchial
pipe and a couple of blood vessels stuck out. To make sure that the
contraption worked, I attached low-powered electrodes to the diaphragm
-- it expanded and contracted and lo and behold air went into and out of
the lung. I attached the heart nerves to it so that the lung would
breath at the same pace as the heart.
Then I needed a digestive system. Well, I kept part of the esophagus and
the stomach, no pancreas, no gall bladder. Everything else I left the
way it was except that I shortened the intestines and got rid of the
anus. Fortunately the network of blood vessels around the alimentary
canal were pretty much intact. What worried me were the nerve
connections but it was my first try so I figured that it would be all
right if it wasn't entirely perfect.
The kidneys were last. No bladder, no urethra. The kidneys would simply
spew out the urine.
That hotchpotch of reworked organs I spliced together all the major
blood vessels. I took the skin that I had carefully peeled and began to
sew the organs into the flesh. The lung 'machine' and the brain I also
secured safely. At the last minute I added an extra twist. Actually, it
had begun as an accident. One of the legs was still attached to the skin
-- I had forgotten to remove it in my excitement. I decided to keep it
in place, rework the vein and artery connections with it and at the same
time attached it to the end of the nervous system.
All that was needed was a jolt to start things going. I had worked
quickly and managed to finished the job so far in under two hours so
there was no real danger, as far as I was concerned that the experiment
would fail because the organs would not have been 'dead' for too long. I
took a small battery pack and attached one terminal to the end of the
brain stem and the other to the heart. Lo and behold, the organ beat
once more, the lungs inhaled and exhaled and the leg began to twitch.
Carefully I sewed the skin shut and stepped back to examine my work. I
had transformed the cat surgically into an animal of my own creation. I
laughed, I jumped up and down slapping my hands together. For a moment,
for a brief moment of orgasmic pleasure I knew then what it was to be
God.
There in the bath tub was the new creature. It was compact, a
sausage-shaped ball of yellow, stripped fur. Two holes stuck out from
the 'head.' One was for the lung, the other, larger one emptied into the
stomach. The other end also had two holes, one for the bowel, one for
the urine. The single leg was at the center.
I picked it up gently, I could feel all the organs with my hands so I
had to be gentle. I put the body onto the floor and watched with glee as
the creature began to crawl in circles around the room, on the tiled
floor. Already I was making notes in my mind for my next design. I knew
then that I would have to better protect the internal organs, perhaps I
would keep the ribcage intact in some way. I knew also that I would have
to better understand the workings of the digestive system, the endocrine
system and how to attach nerves, blood vessels. How to rework organs
into new and more vivid forms and arrangements. How to keep more of the
brain and sensory apparatus.
That first, transmutated creature I created I named Pumyrite and it
lived for nearly a month on nothing more than saline solution and a few
scraps of well-chewed meat. There was no excessive bleeding and I was
surprised that the flesh was not rotting, not stiffening. What
eventually killed it, I thought, was that the brain -- or what I had
made of the brain -- could not handle the stress of the new, reworked
biology.
In the experiments that followed I found ways of keeping most of the
brain intact. Eyes, ears all worked, surprisingly well for those
specimens responded to all the normal stimuli in their transmutated
forms. I kept the ribcage intact and there I housed the major internal
organs. I confess that I cheated with regards to the digestive system --
I hardly touched those parts but I played around with, say, attaching
the mouth directly onto the end of the stomach. I also kept most of the
kidney-bladder system although I always removed the sex organs.
Once I had gotten the insides to work the way I wanted them to, where I
really began to develop the art was in the formation of the body. Using
the chest as the base, I designed around it. Sometimes I put the 'head'
-- really where the eyes and mouth were -- on the same side as the legs.
Sometimes I had one leg and one arm. Sometimes I kept the limbs, the way
they were or jumbled up. On one of my more favorite examples I put the
arms and legs on the back close, close together in a way that evolution
itself could have never dreamed of. The vast array of the uniqueness of
my designs were a testament to the limitless, inexhaustible powers of my
genius. Nature had provided me the blank canvas on a planet of animals
and I had given back one new sculpture after the next -- living
sculptures the products of my own hands. Nothing I ever did as a
blacksmith could amount to the same.
I got better and better. I was so good that after only two years I could
churn out from those plain, ordinary cats new and different-looking
beasts in under an hour. And they lasted! They lived for months and
months -- the only draw back was that I had to curtail my activities or
else I would have been up to my neck in those living works of mine. So,
at night, when it was my watch, what ever excess of animals I had in my
apartment I would simply release in the wilderness.
On my free time, even when Pumyra was with me, I would go into the
forest and try to look for my creatures to see what had become of them.
I found the corpses of a few, birds and other animals had eaten them
out. Once or twice I found them alive, crawling through the underbrush.
I don't know if Pumyra noticed them -- quite frankly, by that time we
had grown apart.
No, my work, my art had transmutated me as well. I was caught up and
drawn to it. When ever I could, when I wasn't on watch, when I didn't
have any Thundercat duties to perform, I would go into my room and work
on new ideas, new creatures. My smithing suffered but then that didn't
interest me anymore.
Then there came a time when even those cats no longer amused me. I
needed to find another animal, a larger animal, a new, unchiseled slab
of marble to work with. Once again I was saddened and depressed and
moped around in my apartment in the semi-darkness.
I had reverted to the frogs again and all around the room were small
wooden boxes where amphibian hearts beat and legs twitched. I kept a
couple of those reworked cats, too -- I named them Kat and Kit. There
was a knock on my door and once again there was that spark of
inspiration.
"It's time for dinner," Pumyra said. "You've missed dinner now for
almost a month."
I heard her clearly but my mind was elsewhere, certainly not with
dinner. "I'll be right up."
"You've been acting weird, Bengali."
I had my door slightly ajar, my head, my neck stuck out, my body in the
way of the view of the interior. "What do you mean?"
"Distant. You're so distant."
"I'm private --"
"No, you never were before."
"I don't bother you with the mistakes I see when ever I look at you."
"Excuse me?"
"You heard me! You're not perfect --"
"At least I don't live down here in the dungeon, Quasimodo!"
I slammed the door shut in her face -- I kicked it but that accomplished
nothing. I would show her, I would show them all. Hell, I'll never eat
dinner in that place again. I sat at my desk and began to draw --
Pumyra. First the digestive system, then the skeleton, then the muscles.
Second, I began to circle those parts that I was going to use and
crossed out the rest, the junk that could be thrown away. I was detailed
and exact -- I would turn her into my most intricate, my most perfect
creation yet. Yes, that's what was wrong with her, she needed to be
improved. All the makeup, the oils, the fragrances -- it was a cry for
help! How could I have been so blind for so long?
I knew then that if I could improve on what nature had left raw and
unfinished that she would be happy -- that she would understand and that
maybe, just maybe, I might be able to open up to her that new world that
my art had created.
By that time I had more than five thousand pages of notes. I categorized
them and I organized them into binders and books. I took Snarfer's
biology texts and Tygra's journals of medicine, anatomy, It took me a
week but at the end I worked out on paper exactly what I would do to
her. I made copies of the instruction sheets, numbered them and hung
them in the bathroom to serve to guide me along the way.
The day came and I could not delay the operation further.
It was my turn to stand watch but instead of heading up to the Tower
control room when the hour arrived I stayed back in my apartment. I kept
the door wide open, I kept all the lights off except for those of the
bathroom. I stayed in a remote and darkened corner under the shadows of
the desk ready in wait for the moment to arrive.
"Bengali!" The female voice cried. "Bengali, where the hell are you?"
She had become more and more testy those past few days. "It's your turn
tonight or have you forgotten?" She was walking down the stairs -- I
could hear her distinctly over the sound of the heartbeats of the cutup
frogs that adorned my room the way plants would adorn the rooms of other
people. "If I have to go down there, I swear you're dead!"
I was silent all the while.
Basked in the bright ambient light of the bathroom I saw Kat and Kit
crawling on the floor on their three and two limbs respectively.
"Bengali?" she asked softly. She stood in the open doorway, her hand on
the inner frame. I could see the outline of her features in the shadows.
I could see her eyes wander around the panorama of my personal chamber.
There, she was curious, too, there. She entered. She saw the two
creatures on the floor and she picked one up. Carefully, gently she drew
closer to the light of the bathroom.
She creamed and dropped Kat. The poor creature let out a noise of it own
-- a noise I had never heard any of my animals produce before. When it
hit the ground it stumbled around awkwardly on its legs then crawled to
Kit. Together the two receded into the shadows.
"What, by Jagga!" She was still and quiet and for a moment I feared that
she had heard my breathing. Instead she approached one of the night
stands and turned on a lamp. The mild, warm glow barely lit the room
beyond the immediacy of the night table but it was bright enough for her
to be able to see what was in one of the frog boxes. Up she pulled the
lid and out came another violent shriek. That time she shook her arms
and turned her head to the side where she threw-up on my bed.
I could have chuckled but I kept my peace well-hidden.
I heard her run back then I saw her peer into the open bathroom. She
asked: "What evil has been at work here? What have you been up to,
Bengali?"
Pumyra reached out with her hand and brought the door to complete
openness. Noiselessly, at the same time, I got up from my crouched
position and waddled closer to her. She entered the bathroom and went to
the drawings I had made that hung on a makeshift clothes line that I had
run from one end of the facilities to the other. She grabbed one in her
hands and pulled it down, free.
She studied it in her hands then let it drop. It swayed profusely
forward and backward, caught in the slight and imperceptible currents of
the air before it came to rest unseen on the floor in the chamber
within. I arose, I stood directly behind her -- she had not noticed that
until she caught my image on the mirror that hung over the sink.
She screamed but that ended very quickly.
The buzzer in the control room had not stopped ringing for about an hour
and I wondered when, if ever, Lynxo would wake up to check on the
situation. Then I remembered that Lynxo was in Cat's Lair and that
Pumyra and I were the only ones in the Tower. Yes, it had been over an
hour -- the operation had taken much longer than I had expected but then
there was a whole lot more blood than I had expected. I was relieved
that the bathtub could catch it all.
I stood there before the porcelain basin. It was halfway full of blood.
Floating in the liquid was Pumyra's new body seventy-five percent
complete. Over in the sink, again in its own juices was her head -- or
what was left of it any ways. I decided to break for a while, it would
have to be a short while, I could not be long from my business.
I went up to the control room and reset the alarm. The buzzing stopped
at last but then radio sputtered to life. Impatient, I picked up the
receiver.
It was Liono, in Cat's Lair and he began: "Who's in charge over there?"
"I am."
"Why haven't you responded to --"
"I am busy."
"What are you talking about? Busy? You're supposed to be on watch --"
"I am busy. Liono."
"Put Pumyra on the line."
"Pumyra is busy."
"Don't give me that, I want Pumyra now. Someone has to know what's going
on around there."
"You want, Pumyra, I'll give you, Pumyra. We're coming over. We'll be
there in two hours."
I let the radio drop -- the receiver dangled in the air suspended from
the black, elastic cord. I could still hear Liono in his triad, barking
orders like the best of the mutants but I ignored that. I headed right
back to my room to complete my project.
It was already midnight when Pumyra and I reached Cat's Lair. The skies
were dark, the moon was out but strangely no stars were visible -- the
lights from that huge building blocked them out effectively. The lights
were on everywhere and everyone inside was no doubt awake wondering what
was up with me and Pumyra, I supposed.
The bridge was extended and we walked across its span. Actually I
walked, she crawled slowly -- if she had been faster on her feet I'm
sure we would have arrived earlier. No, I didn't blame her, after all,
she didn't have enough time to adjust to her new physical reality.
I held her hand in my own when we walked up the steps to the front
doors. She was in the lead, she was better at climbing and she could
thank me for that. The entrance was unlocked and we entered with
impunity.
I could hear the Thundercats arguing, debating from the main hall.
Liono's voice rang loudly above the others and I think that my name was
on their collective lips. Pumyra and I stood behind the locked double
doors of the chamber -- I listened until the internal murmurs had died
down sufficiently.
With one swift kick I busted the doors open, the heavy doors. Everyone
in the room turned to face me. Everyone in the room was silent. Liono,
at the back by the windows, looked though he had to change his
underwear. Most of the rest of the Thundercats were seated around him.
Only the snarfs and the kittens were close enough to see me and Pumyra
clearly. The boy's eyes widened, his mouth -- his whole jaw -- dropped.
The girl screamed in terror and ran to Cheetara who only then arose from
her seated position.
Pumyra and I stepped out of the shadow to collective shudders, murmurs,
Cheetara screamed in unison to WileyKit.
"What's that? What the hell is that, Bengali?" Liono asked.
"Can't you recognize her?" The Lord of the Thundercats shook his head.
The others were stunned silent. "It's Pumyra." I looked down upon her.
"I fixed her."
"You did that?" Cheetara asked through shaky, stuttered words. "You did
that?"
"Yes. This is my new art from, I've been cultivating it for years. What
you see here is my greatest creation to date, what you see here is the
ultimate expression of Pumyra. This is what she has always wanted to be
but could never achieve. This is the perfect beauty that nature could
never in a million years never conceive. There, look at her! Look at
her! She is the future!"
I studied her body. She wasn't more than four feet tall, all that was
left of her bulk was her chest from the waist up. Though I had removed
the breasts, I had left most of the rest of the details untouched --
except of course for what she had inside. Her internal organs had been
completely reworked. She had only one lung, for example, because I need
the space for the brain. You see there was no head, no neck either. The
torso simply ended in a stump from where the trachea opened unblocked.
The mouth was below that, there were no lips, no tongue, rather it was a
tube I had formed from muscles into which I had sewn teeth. The eyes --
the complete eye sockets complete with lids and glands -- I placed in
the upper portions of the ribcage in that gap of flesh between the bones
and the shoulders. The ears -- those parts of the ear that actually
sensed sounds -- I left imbedded under pockets of fat in the abdomen
between the legs. The arms had been shortened, too, I had removed the
forearms and attached the hands directly to the elbows. Of course I also
switched the right and left hands and on top of that reversed them once
again by putting them on palm outwards. I had done a slightly different
number for the legs. I did away with the thighs and with the kneecaps. I
chopped the shins and removed the thin bone -- I wish I could remember
the name of it. The feet were then connected by muscles and by tendons
alone -- there were no joints, there were no ankles anymore.
I stood back in marvel, overtaken in the aura of the living testimony of
my brilliance. I looked at my hands, at my body -- I was covered in
blood, I had not even bothered to wash-up after I had finished
transmutating Pumyra but then I was so caught in the shear genius, in
the unmistakable genius of my creative power that I didn't care.
I began to laugh, slowly then without restraint. I laughed so hard that
my stomach ached, that tears came to my eyes -- my sides could have
split open, my guts could have toppled out onto the floor. I fell to my
knees then looked up at them, at the Thundercats.
"Look at this! Look at what I've done!" I reached out with my hand and
grabbed Pumyra -- for some reason tears had fallen from the corner of
her eyes that she kept covered with her lids. I grabbed her shoulder and
her body shook. I gasped -- in my haste to show off my masterpiece I had
forgotten that the stitches and the wounds needed time to heal and after
that long trip on foot to Cat's Lair the stress proved too much. Her
chest, her body split open across the seam that I myself had carved into
her and all that hard work, all those organs flopped out onto the floor
everywhere with gallons of blood pouring from veins, arteries that had
all loosened, that had all come undone.
Pumyra fell to the side lifeless though the heart -- attached to a small
nuclear battery -- continued to beat, continued to spray blood into the
air in short bursts.
I grabbed some of the brain matter in my hands and stood up. My grip was
too strong and the fleshy goo seeped through the gaps between my
fingers. On my feet I looked around at my terrified audience.
"I, I, ha, haha, hahaha, hahahahahaha! I --"
I fell onto the mess of what was left of Pumyra's body cackling and
gagging in the deep and circulating pool of blood that had formed on the
floor.







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