They’d made jokes - and talked about what they’d have done to them if it wasn’t for their orders.

Violent, sexual things.

Things she could still hear in the whispering of the blade.

She used to think luck was something that was only the domain of the Aleph, but she’d learned how to make her own luck here.

That’s how she’d lured him, and it was how she’d gotten access to the scalpel.

Originally, she'd wondered if killing him would be worth it. He was so weak, it should have been trivial. But now she knew that if she was careful, these baselines could take a lot of the right kind of abuse.

She couldn't cut too deep, or he’d bleed to death before she was done, but not too shallow or he wouldn't plead. That was the only thing making this worth it.

Her first cut, the one that had started this, had made his screams nothing more than frantic rasping and gurgling - but her name, she found, had the tight curves that made him thrash the most.