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Excerpt from Hermes' Viper:

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On her daily rounds, she had witnessed his grief and constant struggle for life, his gasping for breath on the edge of air hunger close to the hysterical panic of suffocation. Oh yes, he desperately needed sleep, deep obliterating sleep to erase his misery forever, and tonight the time had come. She leaned over his arm and Bruce lifted his head, squinting sideways out of puzzled searching blue eyes. He gave her a look of recognition; then relaxed. A hush and utter stillness hung in the atmosphere while she worked rapidly to draw blood from the needle already in a vein. Then she injected a few drops of clear fluid from a tiny syringe hidden in her palm, and turned to watch. The strange haunting odor of perfume, suddenly deviant in the sweat of excitement, drifted over the bedside. Surprise crossed his visage; then a wave of muscle flickering passed through his cheeks before his face went blank in the neutrality of total paralysis, and began to swell and to fill like a full tide cresting, and his chest stopped moving. She looked directly into his frightened gaze, smiled, and began to hum a tuneless noise almost soundlessly. In the vanishing light of his eyes, a luminous image of recognition sparked and faded, as if he knew in his last second the gleam of rapture on the triumphant face of death. In panic he tried to shake his head, he tried to speak, he tried to shout, he tried to suck in air, he tried to lift his helpless limbs, all to no avail. In the tumultuous melee of his impotent terror she still watched, still smiling as he slipped into oblivion. She continued to look on, mesmerized, seeking a greater depth of understanding, but saw nothing more than the ugly and disturbing enigma of the once human face now transformed into a lifeless mask.

Lily trembled as she lifted her basket of test tubes and stepped quickly out of the SCU, and the alarm on the cardiac monitor went off. She walked casually down the hallway into a restroom, grabbed a handful of paper towels, wet a few of them, and locked herself in a stall. She placed the basket on the tank top and sat on the commode lid. The miasma of perfume rose around her. She removed her blouse and with the wet towels scrubbed the perfume from her underarm areas, then carefully patted her skin dry.


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