Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A Cloak of Falcon Feathers

(a writing prompt from Trifecta)

The two men watched, seeing unseen, as the young woman on the monitor moved her arms and hands and fingers.

“Tai-Chi?” said the younger man.   The name badge on his white coat read  Frankl.   He could not take his eyes from the screen and the constant intricate gestures.

“No,” The older man was short and white haired.  Nobody pestered Doctor Kessler about name badges or rules and regulations.   “Not Tai-Chi.   They look more like yoga mudra, but not from any tradition I know.”

“You do yoga?” 

“I read books,” said Kessler testily.  

The woman had been found wandering in Munich, stark naked, stumbling and her inability to respond to the presence of others had led to her being given over into the care of the Planck Institute.   She’d been catatonic for just over a month.

“When did the gestures start?”

“A week ago,” Kessler said.   “About the same time that the tattoo on the nape of her neck started to fade.”   He smiled like a chess player.

Frankl kept his eyes on the woman and her deliberate complex dance of hands and fingers.   He could not see the back of her neck, her blonde hair was in a long braid.

“Tattoos  don’t fade,” he said, “Unless it was henna or some temporary-“

Kessler showed him a photograph.   The design was black and angular and looked like a pair of spiders with interlocking legs.   “A tattoo.   And it’s gone.  And now this.”


“I know.   The same gestures over and over.  Twenty four distinct patterns then they repeat.  Minor variations.”  Kessler nodded to himself.  “Getting more precise I think.”

“Some obsessive compulsive syndrome?”

“Clearly.  But nothing I’ve seen before.  Damnation…”    Kessler’s nose had started bleeding, he raised his hand to wipe the blood away.   The woman stood gracefully from her cross-legged position.   Frankl reeled, suddenly dizzy and the monitor screen flickered briefly.

“My damned nose,” Kessler muttered pressing a handkerchief to his nostrils to staunch the blood.

“She’s gone,” Frankl said, “She’s just… gone.”