[Excerpt from a Butcher's journal]
Leona looks worried when I come home at night. She's looking for that spark; our love, the life we had just two years ago. All our ambitions.
But the more she pulls at me, the more I resent her. The more I bury all that.
When her father was killed at the carriage station, I gave up my studies at the Academy of Natural Philosophy. Somismanaged were theirfinances, with so many debts in arrears, that her mother and younger brothers would have been ruined had I not. My work feeds us all and keeps the rent paid to that shriveled old leech Wainwright.
I hate this work, but in the time of the plague, it takes all one's efforts to stay afloat of the desperation; the blood and the rats. There are bribes that must be paid to the Lord Regent's City Watch and Barrister Arnold Timsh's Dead Counters. Offend the wrong bureaucrat and your home is seized and you're off to the Flooded District. So it falls to me.
Every day, I drive my screaming saw into the beasts, eyes wide open.I studied them for years at the Academy and on my trips into the field. Now, working in the slaughterhouse, the wrongness is like a wound in my head. At first I worked in a numb state. Then my predominant mood was anger. Now the wound is scabbing over and on some days I feel a kind of power. My whole existence is meat. All there is in my mind is meat, death, bones and song. The terrifying songs, they come to me in my sleep now.
I look into the great eye as I take away life slowly. There's a kind of deep connection, with the beast knowing I'll be coming back again and again, removing pieces for hours, sometimes days.
They sing for us, a funeral lament that causes me to tremble.
Leona and I still share a bed, but the more she tries to make me feel something, the more I recede. The person I was is dead now.