Nicola was in pain. The men who experimented on him—Henry, the one who usually bound him—Gary, and Jake—who always tried to question him about his making—had gone further than ever before today. They’d burned the skin on his chest in long, painful strips. They’d broken his femur and all of the bones in his right hand. The digital camera was trained on his cell, watching for signs of recovery. They would come often, observing him, taking photographs, and taking his blood. Before they had beaten and burned him, they had injected him with the serum they were developing. Henry had explained that the serum would eventually stop his blood from clotting, slowing the rapid healing that vampires experienced as a result of the mutation that made them.
He was chained today. Thick shackles laced with silver secured his arms to a chain around his abdomen and held his ankles together. He was naked. Before they’d broken his leg, they had taken the thin scrub pants he was usually allowed to wear. They’d gagged him with a thick rod of solid silver secured with a chain. They would come into his cell every few hours and he would smell their healing blood, but gagged and chained, he could do nothing but long for their blood. When they had their data, they’d tranq him again and he would wake up without the chains or the gag, but still trapped inside the silver cell. This was his life ever since he’d helped the little girl.
Most days, he was allowed movement. The cell was large enough for him to walk around and he often did pushups or crunches to pass the time and help him feel alive. His physique was in no danger. The vampire mutation ensured that unless he was starved for months, he would retain his perfectly sculpted body. He’d been lucky. When he was turned, he’d been a strong, healthy man in his prime.
Nicola’s memory was nearly perfect—another side effect of both his long life and his mutation. He recited the works of Shakespeare, Dante’s Inferno, Il nome della rosa, and even Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick. He was fed most of the time, both food and blood, and when they were not studying the speed of his healing, he was provided with scrubs to wear. But whenever they wanted to hurt him, he would be drugged and would wake up naked and chained.
The only time he ever spoke, other than to curse his captors, was to ask about Evangeline. Henry would always get angry then, banging the bars on his cell with whatever was handy. The scientist never spoke of his daughter directly, but Nicola could smell her from time to time, particularly when the new lab assistant, Miss Duffield, came into the room. Despite his situation, Nicola’s mind remained strong.
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