Day 92. 95 pages, 40,685 words.
By the time Predericon regained her strength and her senses, it was too late to even react to the grotesque sustenance the Bookwyrm had been providing, let alone object to it. And once she more completely collected her wits and examined the situation with a clinical eye, she realised how absurd and ingrained her instinctive response had been anyway.
The Bookwyrm wasn’t an organism, as such. And even if it had been, Predericon had eaten animal flesh plenty of times – often raw, sometimes still living. There was nothing particularly troubling about that. And the Flesh-Eater around which the Bookwyrm had been wrapped and imprisoned was inert. Inert, and as indigestible, not to mention far less objectionable, than the remains of Odium that Gyden had attempted to consume.
What was troubling was what the Bookwyrm was, and what was therefore providing Predericon with sustenance when she ate its weird squirming flesh. It was a higher register of life, as far or farther above her as she was to the simplest meodyne. This alone made it as inorganic, technically, as the Flesh-Eater, albeit a different tier of inorganic matter to that occupied by the synthetic construct. It wasn’t Divine, by its own admission … but it may have been a fragment of something close.
The flesh was, obviously, difficult to compare to anything she’d ever eaten. What it was most similar to, however, was raw honeycomb she’d eaten once or twice during stopovers in Parsedian City, on the edge of Heaven. Warm, soft, and apparently composed of small cells filled with thick, sweet nectar, the flesh-gobbets ceased moving so unnervingly after a few bites and left a small amount of chewy residue after consumption. It was, once she managed to overcome the unconscious revulsion of its appearance, actually delicious.
And its nutrient content was clearly phenomenal. After a half-dozen doses of the sustenance carefully doled out at well-spaced interludes by the Bookwyrm, Predericon found that she was neither hungry nor thirsty, and her physiology had returned to almost peak health. In fact, it went beyond recovery – she actually began to feel as though she was returning to the First Prime that had flushed through her body some hundred and fifty years ago.
The other possibility was that her Second Prime was arriving centuries early, and on reflection Predericon wasn’t sure which alternative was the more worrying.
There didn’t seem to be much she could do about it, but once the immediate danger was over she did her best to re-establish some caution, and restrict herself to eating the strange manna not when the Bookwyrm doled it out or when she felt a craving for it, but only when she felt herself weakening and growing listless from hunger. Over time, she was concerned that it would become difficult to tell the difference between the two states, although whether because something in the flesh was addictive or otherwise narcotic, or because it was simply so beneficial to her physiology that her brain was busily doing what it could to ensure she gorged herself on it, was impossible to judge.
As with the question of her revitalisation, there wasn’t much she could do about the addictive effect – all of Lelhmak’s specialised equipment had vanished into the darkness with him, and the scanning and medical gear left behind by Predericon’s friends could tell her nothing about the substance. Neither, for that matter, could the Bookwyrm. It had merely ‘considered the problem’, and then arrived at ‘sustenance’.
With her strength and focus restored, and the immediate future extending once again towards a more normal-length Molran lifespan – hypothetically at least – Predericon turned her attention back to the question of escape.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while walking to pick up my car.