• The Doctor's voice spoke to him in a harsh whisper. He was very old, and a rasp was all he could speak in.
    "Well don't be an idiot. Do you want that fixed or not?"
    Kamaru, the boy, stood in the doorway. Should he enter? The Doctor must be horribly angry since he was late. He always did get angry.
    The boy hesitated only for a second before shuffling in. The door shut behind him. He couldn't see at all since the Doctor always kept the cabin dark. Only a small candle was in a far corner, and that only lit up a book it was resting on. No help at all.
    "Hurry up, boy, I don't have all night. You look near death," the old man cackled in his hoarse voice.
    Kamaru walked in the voice's general direction. Three steps and his foot would meet the end of a desk. There it was. He went around it slowly, aware that beside it was a lamp. He didn't want to knock anything over.
    "You stayed out late today," the Doctor's mocking tone suddenly switched to a grave murmur, as if he had turned on a different channel.
    "I. . .lost track of the time," the boy said quietly. He winced, realizing how foolish his excuse sounded.
    "Lost track? Of the time? Boy, do you want me to go hungry? You'd better give me what you've collected now, before I break the other half of your spine."
    Kamaru hated it when the Doctor called him 'boy'. He knew why, though. The Doctor didn't recognize him as a person, and rarely ever used his name.
    Fumbling, Kamaru took the small, blue bottle out of his pocket. He couldn't see inside the house, so he held it out before him, waiting for the Doctor to take it.
    It was snatched out of his hand. Kamaru felt the claws on the old man's fingers as they stole the bottle away from him. He shivered. When he was alive his mother never let his nails grow that long.
    There was a gurgling sound. The Doctor was drinking what he had collected today. Without that bottle every night, the Doctor would go mad and get the contents himself. It was always a mess when the Doctor went out, and that is why Kamaru could not be late.
    "Ah, better. Let's go to the operating room, so I can fix you up. You look stupid. And what happened to your shorts? Why are they wet? Were you fooling around?"
    "I took a break," mumbled Kamaru, ready for another onslaught of cruel words from the old man.
    "Oh, a break, did you? Did you forget about me? No--don't answer that question. I'll tear you apart. Let's just go to the operating room."
    Kamaru lowered his head sullenly, and followed the shuffling footsteps of the Doctor's. He saw light coming up from the floor. That was the door. The operating room was always lit.
    The Doctor pushed the door open slowly, and the hinges creaked with age. Light flooded into the room. Kamaru had to adjust his eyes to the brightness as the Doctor pushed him in first.
    "Get on the table--no face down, you idiot! How am I supposed to work on your back if your stomach's in the air?!"
    The door shut. The Doctor was in here now.
    Kamaru had always been afraid of how the Doctor looked. He hadn't seen him at all until his fifth year working for him. And that was because he'd broken his leg so that the bone stuck out from the flesh. Little breaks Kamaru could fix himself, pop the bones back into place. But the broken leg was major, as was his now-broken spine.
    Kamaru was facing the wall, cluttered with shelves and jars and such. A bloody pair of scissors was on the table near him. He wondered how that happened. Probably just another experiment. He had to remind himself that he was just another experiment as well. He turned his head to look at the Doctor, the fourth time he had ever seen him.