The giant at the office door handed Giles the letter. Gile stared at Bib in awe for a few moments, then began to read:
I received your present, it was very thoughtful of you. I am happy to report that my mother’s skull is heavily cursed. The last person who touched it, apart from myself, now works for me as an undead revenant slave.
You have made my work so much easier, I’m an uncertain as to how I might ever fully repay you. Actually, I believe I have an idea in that regard. I shall keep it a secret for the time being, and give it to you as a surprise soon. Do no fret, the wait will not be long.
Yours most sincerely,
Mr O. Underby
Laughing, the surgeon sat at his desk to hastily sketch his own letter and have it sent to the Bucket:
I am in receipt of your letter. If you think “curses” and superstitions are going to frighten me, you are quite mistaken. Believe me, sir, I’d do it again. In fact, I’d piss on your father as well, but I doubt even your mother knows who he is.
Dr. G. S. Berithos
Still chuckling, Giles went upstairs to relax. Curses? Ha. He had broken his fear of Underby and now the fool was grasping at straws with wild claims of vexes and curses. It really was pathetic. He set his feet upon the ottoman and settled in with a nice Madeira.
He woke a few minutes later, a fire burning in his lower back. He stood quickly (a mistake that, God the pain!) and went for his chamber pot. But nothing happened, except for an increase in pain. Nature was calling and he could not answer. The pain was dull then sharp, intensified, burning, aching, all throughout his flanks and back. It nearly had him doubled over. He fumbled for a tablespoon and the laudanum bottle, then tossed the spoon aside and gulped the tincture straight from the bottle. Giles had never before suffered from stones, and he was certain this was a calculus. He didn’t have the family history, the diet, or the habits that led to the affliction. As the pain dulled and he drifted off to opium-laced dreams, he reassured himself again and again that curses were not real…