The following content is provided for free as a sample of Bridges, the third book in the Lost Humanity series, by H.S. Kallinger. Please feel free to share this page, but be kind and don't copy and paste the text elsewhere.
Book three of the Lost Humanity series
Korn was blasting from the stereo a few feet from my ear as I sat down in the padded black chair. Sarah was chattering happily with the guy sitting on the swivel stool next to me. His nickname was Paradox, they had known each other for over a year now, and I was the one who introduced them. Right at that moment, I wondered if I should be regretting it while he pulled on purple nitrile gloves. It covered the art on his hands, but left plenty for me to work out as it crawled up his arm.
I eyed the little tray with its sealed plastic implements with trepidation but didn't display any indication that I wasn't completely on board with this. He was attentive to his work station, checking that he had all of his instruments in their autoclave packets. Adrenaline was flowing freely, and a part of me wanted to jump up and run out of the shop without a backward glance.
Another part of me was actually excited.
It had taken Sarah years of pestering to get me in this chair, and I wasn't going to disappoint her by wussing out just because that needle Paradox was opening was large enough for me to see that it was hollow. It wouldn't poke a hole in my ear; it would slice it with the razor edge.
“Just the one today?” Paradox asked me.
“Yeah,” I answered.
“Heh, I'm getting you to pop your piercing cherry,” Sarah giggled. That, right there, was why I was in this chair. My wife had been lamenting that she couldn't get any new piercings for another month at the least, so I had finally caved on her long-time wish of stabbing me with metal.
“Speaking of cherries, have you picked your ink yet?” Paradox asked her.
“I don't know,” Sarah told him. “Nothing has passed the six month test yet.”
“Her bedroom walls can't pass that test,” I commented. Paradox turned to me, grabbed my earlobe and drew on it with a purple marker.
“You guys have separate bedrooms?” he asked and held up a mirror, showing me the positioning of the indigo dot. I nodded, and he cleaned the area with a long q-tip. Then he applied a disinfectant while I rested my head against the chair.
“Have to. Her art stuff takes up an entire room,” I explained.
“This seems to have passed the six month test,” he commented, pointing to Sarah's belly. She laughed.
“I don't know that I want a giant belly tattooed on me.”
“I did a footprint on a belly this morning. Lady said it was the spot her mini was always kicking her. My wife has a handprint on her boob from where ours was always blocking my access. I got his name here.” He turned over his wrist and showed that a branch of his tentacle tattoo had letters for suckers, spelling 'Joe.' “Those critters make good creative material.”
There was some crinkling noises, and then Paradox turned back to me with a pair of forceps and affixed them to my ear. He lifted up that needle I had been glaring at, and it disappeared to the side of my head.
“Okay. Take a breath, and I want you to let it out on three,” he said. I took a breath. “One, two, three.”
As I breathed out, I felt a sharp pain in my ear. Well, Sarah had been right that it wasn't a big deal. Sarah pulled out her phone and pointed it at me. I stared at her as she took a picture of the needle sticking out of my ear. Then she backed up and took a picture of Paradox positioning the little U of metal against the needle. He pushed the needle out with the jewelry and then put the needle back on the table. He turned back to screw the ball in place.
“Okay. Just leave it alone unless you want to do sea salt soaks for a few weeks. If you do that, you just mix non-iodized salt—not table salt, that would suck—into hot water in a clean shot glass or disposable cup and cover your ear with it for five to ten minutes. It's on the care sheet you get.” He cleaned up my ear while he talked, and Sarah took more pictures.
My ear throbbed a little, but that was to be expected, especially with a larger needle. I had picked a ten gauge, which was six sizes up from standard and eight to ten from a piercing stud. Sarah approved heartily. Paradox held up the mirror for me to look, and I just looked like me with a horseshoe earring in my ear.
“Thank you,” Sarah said to me and kissed my head.