Bond cracked his eyes open and pain seeped in. Everything was too bright and washed-out for him to focus on anything; there was a luminescent rectangle made of agony that had to be an un-shuttered window, and the hateful bubble of torture to his right must be a lamp, while under his head…
Pillows? Soft, down-stuffed pillows. The coverlet he was under was full of feathers as well, too white and bright to be looked at directly. Everything smelled like sunshine and fresh air, with just a hint of lilac.
Bond felt his skull; it seemed to be in one piece, with a kind of crown made of bandaging holding everything together. He probed a little, and the pain made him grit his teeth. Bond felt lower, under the covers; his inspection by touch revealed him to be otherwise uninjured. Naked, but uninjured.
“You’ve been out for a long time,” said a feminine, accented voice. Frau Erma Duessler, Bond was sure of it. He blinked at the white form standing at the foot of the bed. He couldn’t focus properly. Drugs, or concussion? Either way, Bond was sure he wasn’t thinking straight.
“How long?” he croaked, his throat dry.
“Almost three days,” said Erma, crossing to the table where the vengeful lamp stood. Bond heard the sound of water pouring into a cup. Erma held it to his lips and Bond drank until the cup was empty.
“Where’s Susan?” asked Bond. Erma ignored the question.
“I’m instructed to take care of you,” she said. “Herr Zoeller would like to have a word with you when you’re feeling all better.”
“Would he?” said Bond, thinking as rapidly as he could in his degraded condition. If Zoeller wanted to interrogate him, he would do it when he was weak. He wouldn’t wait until he had regained his strength. A member of the Nazi High Command would know that much.
“And are you feeling better yet?” Fraulein Duessler asked. Bond marveled at her voice. It wasn’t the mature tones of a middle-aged woman; this was the laughing, playful voice of a young girl. She touched Bond’s face; her hand was warm and smooth.
“Oh,” said Bond, smiling impishly, “with the right nursing I’m sure I’ll improve dramatically.”
Erma pulled the covers up and slipped inside next to Bond. She was naked too, which, Bond considered, explained her apparent whiteness. The rest of her body was also warm, and also very smooth.
“As I said,” Erma purred, “I’m to take care of you.”
“Impeccable bedside manner,” Bond said. It was the last thing he said for quite a while.( Read more...Collapse )