Chapter One: The Miracle of Modern ScienceMature

London, 31st of December 1843

Molly came to life as slowly as skin heals over an open wound. Her first memories of Dr. Meriwether flitted in and out of her mind like shadows through a broken shutter. She heard his voice for the first time in the same way a fetus hears its mother's voice while still in the womb. From a distance, yet from the closest proximity possible.

The tingles and troubles of life slowly imposed themselves upon her reconstructed form as she lay flat on her back in his surgery, deep in the basement of his London residence, a secret from all, including his son. Her first truly vivid memory consisted of a flood of vomit streaming from the corners of her mouth, clogging her airways, causing panic to flare in her chest. She tried to move, but her bones and flesh stuck as though set in clay. She knew how to lift her head, knew how to sit up. She knew, because she vaguely remembered a time in her life when she could move, but somehow - somehow, she just couldn't move. She felt heavy. Laden with alien materials.

Vomit spurted from her mouth once again, but most of it ran backwards into her windpipe. She was drowning.

Her head rang with the screech of metal on metal, sparks literally flew inside the newly installed left side of her face, and sent shivers through her limbs and spine. She threw herself suddenly upwards, pressed her head between her knees and expelled the contents of her stomach onto the operating table, blood rushing to her head, her new heart kick-starting to life.

As soon as she had stopped heaving, and her airways were clear again, she examined herself. She was naked, aside from a band of cloth which concealed her small breasts, and a loose skirt which covered her from the waist to the knees. Her right side seemed unchanged, as far as she could tell, aside from a few rows of stitches which had only begun to heal. But her left arm was completely remodeled with heavy brass and gold, which reacted to her movements just as her old flesh should have. The brass and gold continued down her left side, curling slightly to encompass the bottom of her abdomen and the thigh of her left leg.

Panic set in as the entire ordeal rushed back in a matter of seconds; the agony, the machines tearing into her flesh, the screaming which she eventually discovered were coming from her own throat, and finally, the blackness which she had thought had come to consume her forever. Yet here she was.

A door opened across the lab, and the face of her savior appeared, wrinkles and cheekbones lit from beneath by the flickering lamp in his hands.

"My.... My...." He stammered, and she wondered how she should proceed.

Introduce herself? But she barely remembered what had happened to her, let alone who she was. Ask who he was? But that would have been rude. I should thank him for saving me, she thought. Yes. Gratitude and courtesy. Surely that was the way to proceed.

"My good sir," she said, her voice creamy and deep. She stepped down from the operating table and extended a hand towards the man. "I offer you my sincere-"

He grasped her in his arms and held her close. She stiffened, arms rigid by her sides, hair standing on end upon the skin that remained on her skull. 

"A miracle," the man whispered into her neck as he continued to embrace her. "A sheer, unadulterated miracle of modern science." He released her, wiping a tear from his cheek. "Do.... Do you have a name?"

"A name?" She felt puzzled, and shook her head.

"Oh dear. Well, sit on down. We have a lot we need to talk about." The flustered, emotional man gestured back to the operating table, but then changed his mind and silently offered his own seat next to it, the seat she remembered him sitting in for hours on end as she struggled with consciousness.

She took the seat. "I imagine we do."

 

London, 24th of December 1844

Over the next year, Dr. Meriwether helped to build Molly as a person. Not just physically, but in the ways that really mattered. He taught her reading, writing and math, which came easily to her; she always had a feeling that she had acquired these skills in a past life. He also instilled in her a knowledge of right and wrong, culinary prowess and jigsaw puzzles.

Dr. Meriwether had a lot to teach about life. Unfortunately, his ended without warning on the 23rd of December 1844. 

So less than a year after her second life had begun, Molly sat in a damp, dingy office in the dirtiest and seediest part of London, across the room from her surly foster brother, and the pompous young lawyer that Dr. Meriwether had hired to deal with his will as a favour. An old school friend of Warren's, apparently. It seemed like a stupid way to choose a lawyer, but Molly had never picked a fight with Warren, and she wasn't about to begin.

Warren, twenty-one and clad in a sharp black suit of his father's, clapped his hands together and looked pointedly at Molly. "If you're ready to sit up straight and pay attention, we'd like to get this started?"

Molly lifted her head slowly, deliberately. It annoyed Warren to no end when she didn't immediately pander to his demands. She eyed him up and down. The suit pathetically hung from his slim frame. No doubt he would have it burned and replaced with a tailored one as soon as the lawyer signed Dr. Meriwether's accounts over to him.

"Seeing as you seemed to be paying us no attention whatsoever," Warren snapped, "this is Mr. Silus Splendid. Father placed his Last Will and Test-"

"I know, Warren," Molly said. 

Warren pressed his lips together, and tensed his legs, as though he were about to launch himself across the room at her. Mr. Splendid placed a hand on his shoulder, and he snapped to attention.

Mr. Splendid flashed Molly a smile, but it was cold and never reached his steely grey eyes. He pulled a thick brown folder across his desk and leafed through to the first document. "Let's begin, shall we?"

Warren clapped his hands together yet again, this time more vigorously, and leaned forward in his seat in anticipation. "Yes. Let's hear what Father is leaving for the best boy in London this year."

The End

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