So I went to see the doctor at the chop shop a group of homeless men recommended in an effort to not die from the nonstop torture I had endured over the course of what seemed to be just short of eternity at the hands of a group of asshole Weresquirrels. Something no person should ever have to say to another in any twisted nightmare.
Nonetheless the one I was living at that very moment.
The building was only somewhat dilapidated which was actually saying something when compared to the rest of the area. I was in a very poor mood from lack of the drugs I had been fired to consume and the inset of withdrawal. I went from courier to junkie squirrel sex toy in less than three months. Another in the ling list of things I hope to never repeat. I was in a bad way to say the least. The fever was coming back as my body ran the gamut pain and craving. I didn’t really remember everything that had happened to me. Thank the Silence for that. My mind had blocked the worst of it and what remained was not pretty in the slightest.
A nurse bot greeted me as I staggered into the office. A sign above it’s station read Dillinger Eutis, MD. A series of what appeared to be generic medical degrees, most likely fake, lined the walls. The bot did a scan and took a rapid succession of samples from me as I stared into the retinal scanner as a form of check in. Then I was told to go into the back and strip down and wait for the doctor to arrive.
It felt like I waited there forever. Everything hurt. I kept trying to convince the bot to give me something for the pain but it seemed to be shut down or just ignoring me. Hard to tell with bots. As I began to drift off into a feverish sleep the door behind me slid open with a pneumatic whoosh and in strolled Dr. Eutis. I instantly hated him.
“We have good news and some bad news Mr. um, Dreary. Which would you like first?” the overly charismatic doctor announced as he entered the room, hand out like an overly orange panhandler. I could practically feel the spray tan flow into my eyes and hand.
Piss poor bedside manner in my opinion. Who walks in with a handshake and smile? No greeting whatsoever at first sight, this smug bastard just comes in and drops a bomb. Who does he think he is, the president? I have come to fuck your entire world over now gaze into my blue like the ocean eyes and shake my hand like a goddamned man. The withdrawals setting in and putting in a terrible mood that the cheery orange doctor only exacerbated.
“I guess the bad news first.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I have been going through a very rough patch lately. If it was possible for things to go wrong, they have in a way that would make Mother Teresa take off her habit and inject heroin directly into her eye while having group sex with angry one-eyed little people. I recently lost my job in delivery services. A package was delivered to a phantom company that said they never received it though they did. I was tipped just enough to appear to have sold the merch myself and fired and blacklisted from the only profession I had ever known. And it just got progressively worse at an alarming rate.
I fell into one of those spirals you see on the holovids. Lost my apartment, which was barely a step above squatting. Started to actually squat in a warehouse that turned out to be home to a particularly nasty group of weresquirrels who did not like strangers. I have had things done to me that no one should have to endure. Some I paid for, others were just life sawing at the tender bits with a salt based antiseptic. I figure I am in a bad way. A couple guys in an alley recommended this doctor they used, supposedly a real good guy who didn’t charge much at all for the downtrodden. Hard to find a decent chop shop where they weren’t trying to harvest your organs.
“Well the test results showed some very concerning things. It appears you have been in contact with some sort of gene decimator within the last week or so, possibly that you had sex with it in fact. Parts of your DNA have been overwritten and other key elements of health and stability are either outright gone or crumbling. There are two, no three, virulent types of herpes at war in your mouth, eyes and penis and your lymphatic system is on the verge of shutdown. I see, what appears to be anal tearing. I pity the poor son of a bitch that raped you, he is in for a very rude awakening within the next twenty four hours. How long have yoy been a junkie Mr. Dreary? I see signa of ched and synth meth withdrawals which cannot be pleasant as well. I could go on but I think you see that the prognosis is very grim,” then he flashed a winning smile. It was all white and straight and perfect. Crystal blue eyes, perfect teeth and orange skin to go with his full head of hair. Instant rage boiled in my veins, hopefully enough to mess with the herpes raging Armageddon on each other.
“You said there was good news?”
“I did? Oh yes I did. That is just a saying. Honestly the only good thing I can tell you is this suffering, which should be incredibly horrific and will only grow much worse, is nearly over for you. To ease your final moments I have prepared a couple prescriptions for you. And I want you to consider another, more experimental idea.”
“A suicide pill?”
“May as well be. Look I would never give anyone these pills unless it was truly a last resort. The man that made them may or may not have been a Nazi scientist. He may or may not have killed thousands with his insane experiments. He may or may not be my father in law. He says they cure all disease and can give a person superhuman abilities with a catch. He also said less than one percent survive. You can take these even with the obvious terrifying side effects but you are looking at maybe two months of intense pain before expiring. The worse these can do is kill you immediately. Think about it. Not for too long, but think about it.” He flashed another winning smile and, I kid you not flinched as he looked at my paperwork again.
So I was about to die. I felt empty. Not full of despair like a normal person would, just done. I never got to see the Hellions again. Nor visit my parents grave. Or fall in love. The idea of the Nazi death pills seemed like a cop out. If half of what he just rattled out was true they wouldn’t save much time. But he was right about the agony. My hands were shaking and my head was pounding like a meth addict trying to pull off an epic drum solo was behind my left eye.
“I have seen men assaulted by radioactive bear men in the former tundra of Northern Canada that had less scars than you. Frankly, the fact that you haven’t already committed suicide is the real story here. Once, when I first started my underground practice, a hermaphrodite had attempted to have sex with a piranha bird. Don’t know where he got the bird but it was a vicious little bastard. All teeth and feathers, with these strange metallic growths on each wing. I assume they were for swimming. Anyway, it was more of a mercy killing than surgery. On a scale of one to you, that was a three and a quarter.”
He just stood for a second, then reached into his white lab coat and pulled out a bottle of pulls and held them out for me.
Worst fucking doctor ever. I see he must have gotten his bedside manner from his Nazi father in law. Short, beautiful, orange piece of shit. I grabbed the pills he had in his hand and hoped that when I died I managed to projectile shit on him and the entire room. I dry swallowed four of them and laid back and positioned myself for most anal coverage. I sat with my sphincter canon aimed at him for nearly fifteen minutes. Instead of sweet release I actually managed to feel slightly better. He raised his eyebrows and made some notations on my paperwork. I dry swallowed another handful of pills.
Suddenly pain wracked my entire nervous system in rolling waves of brutality. I felt like one of the poor bastards in a werewolf vid I had seen as a kid. My limbs convulsed in agony and I felt my joints pop in and out of socket. This went on for hours, or felt like it at least. He stood making notes in rapid fire succession on his clipboard. Finally it ended and I lost consciousness. As the black overcame me I heard the doctor pull out his phone and dial.
“Herr Doktor? We may have a survivor. He has lasted thirty minutes so far. At least fifteen. He didn’t wait for me to tell him a dosage and I didn’t think it would matter.”
Then nothing. Sweet, sweet nothing.
I woke on and off, rare and short moments of lucidity marked by pain like I never imagined possible. In those moments I truly believed I had died and gone to the hell the sandwich board end of the world preachers and Knights of the Silence talked about. Once I had a vision of a brain floating on a jar and I swear it was watching me. Sometimes I would see the doctor staring at me with his bright blue eyes and scribbling frantically onto a datapad. I don’t know how long this went on. Machines beeping, wires attached to my head, neck and chest the only constant thing in my world beside the pain.
Finally I heard the doctor speaking out loud. It seemed like to himself. I was awake but exhausted and laid there silently with my eyes closed listening to him.
“Good looking male. Five foot eight inches tall, one hundred and eighty five pounds and gaining muscle mass at a rapid rate. Male pattern baldness I could fix with a couple pills but he looks good with a shaved head. No wedding ring. Wonder if he likes pizza? Hazel eyes with hints of yellow. Cute. Definitely my type. In and out of consciousness the last three weeks. Herr Doktor thinks he could be the first promising subject in the last one hundred and fifteen years.”
Great. Not only was I out for three weeks but it sounds like the doctor was developing a crush. I went back to sleep. Dreams of brains in jars and home dancing in my head.
— — —
Billy, Jeff and I were sitting at a table outside the swap meet having a discussion about the rumors of lizard men in the underground warren of sewers and the old metroplex. Billy was convinced they were real.
“My uncle knew a guy who got sprayed in the face by one. Melted his eyes out of his skull. Swore it was a lizard man.”
Jeff laughed at this. “Your uncle was fucking with you short stuff. There us.much a chance he saw a lizard man, one of these dragons as I am the fucking Silence.”
A voice popped up from behind us, “There have been sightings of Dragons all over the city. The first reported case was fifteen years ago on the West Side. Con Fed was trying to map out the Underground. Supposedly hunting a nest if vampires that were reeking havoc and taking people for food.”
We all turned in unison to see a guy slightly taller than Billy but not as tall as Jeff and I who are the same height. Pale and thin with glasse he looked like a geek but carried himself with confidence. I had seen him around a few times, usually with his face in a datapad surfing the web. I never heard or saw him speak to anyone before. He had a reputation as an oddity. His parents were shot in an alley in front of him when he was nine. He stayed with his grandparents after moving from Downtown to the outer fringe.
“I fucking told you that were real! Listen to the vampire hunter!” Billy exclaimed.
“Actually I am a ghost hunter. There is no real proof of vampires. Although rumor has it the CEO of Con Ed has dealings with something of the sort.”
“Oh fuck this. Dragons, ghosts and now you add Silence be damned vampires? Bunch of fucking morons we have here Gear. The tooth fairy and leprechauns next? Maybe the Winter Queen herself gonna join this party?” Jeff laughed.
We all laughed. And talked for hours. After that the three had become four. Just enough to be a proper gang. It didn’t hurt that Lin was a wizard with tech and the web. If it weren’t for his abilities at hacking Billy would have never graduated on time. Just never get them started on dragons in the underground.
— — —
I opened my eyes and found myself staring at a brain in jar. I let out a scream as it bobbed up and down. An electronic voice rang out, “The prodigal patient awakes! My ubermensch!”
“What the fuck is going on here! Doctor! Dillinger!”
Dillinger calmly walked into the room and eyed the situation. “Mr Dreary, good to see your hazel eyes again! I see you have met Herr Doktor.”
Suddenly it felt like my brain was being assaulted. Flashes of bodies locked into a rictus of agony. So many of them, hundreds if not thousands of them. And for so very long. Doctors lining the patients up and forcing them at gunpoint to take pills. Not doctors, soldiers in uniforms I had never seen. Interwoven on top of this was my sleeping form, muscles spasming. I was thrashing back and forth, soaked in sweat and screaming in silent terror. More soldiers filling huge pits with dead bodies. Prisoners in striped clothing burying them.
Then sweet nothing again.
“Seems das ubermensch is still a bit broken Dillinger. Fetch the headband diffuser, it may be psychic back…”
When I woke up again the brain was still there. So writing it off as some nightmare was put of the question. I sat up weakly and looked around the room. This didn’t look anything like the doctor’s office I had been in. It was a well kept library, like in the vids. There were books, honest to Silence paper books lining the walls. I had only seen them in person at museums. It was probably worth more creds than most CEOs could ever hope to earn. Or steal for that matter. I knew this was no dream because there is no chance my brain could ever have imagined this.
The brain, Herr Doktor as Dillinger referred to him turned to face me. I think. Hard to tell really, just a mass of tissue in a jar with no eyes really made it a guessing game. “Easy Mr Dreary, you have slept three and a half weeks now.”
“Where am I?”
“My home, the last bastion of civility in this god forsaken sprawl. How are you feeling my friend?”
“It sounds much nicer than guinea pig. Would you prefer guinea pig?”
“What is a guinea pig?”
“Long extinct rodent. Domesticated. Also a term for someone used in an experiment. Fitting, no?”
“Let’s stick with Gear then. What the fuck are you? Another guinea pig? The father in law Dillinger mentioned? The Nazi?”
“So, right to it then? No foreplay? The problem with people now, in this age of enlightenment, is a lack of proper manners. Instant gratification from holovids, datapads, nanos and the like. Technology has removed the human touch from things.”
“Says the brain in a jar.”
A hollow laughter filled the room. “Touchè young Mr Dreary. Indeed. I suppose technology has removed some of my human touch as well. You must be famished. Let me summon breakfast for you.”
I got up and strolled around the room, looking at the books on their shelves. I marvelled at them, “May I?”
“Of course, books are to read not left as decoration.”
I let me fingers trail along them as I read the titles. The Scar, American Gods, On Mythology, On the Road, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I had never heard of any of them. Books on science, philosophy, and biology. One stood out to me though, The Adventures of Phlegm Hardly. I pulled it out and looked at the cover, a brightly colored picture of a man with green hair holding a pistol in one hand and pointing a finger at some sort of monster rat. The rat looked to be in pain and little squiggly lines were going from the man’s finger to the rat’s head.
“My dad used to love the old Phlegm Hardly vids. Talked about him all the time when I was a boy,” I said as I turned the yellowed pages.
“Ah, Mr Hardly. I knew him quite well.”
I laughed at that. Hardly was supposed to have been the original hero of the City long before it was divided into Corporate sections. Before trams and the fall of the government. My dad said he was one of the few heroes that operated here when it was still called Dallas Fort Worth. That was over a hundred and fifty years ago.
“Really? I don’t recall a floating brain in any of the vids my dad made me watch.”
“I wasn’t… like this then. I still had a body. A failing one, but a body nonetheless. Phlegm was the first successful experiment. My original working guinea pig you might say.”
I stared at it in disbelief, “You are trying to say you made Phlegm Hardly into a hero? One hundred years and some odd years ago you were around and did something to him like you have done to me? Bullshit. That is impossible.”
As I said this Dillinger came in with a tray of food. It smelled delicious and my stomach rumbled loud enough to illicit a hollow laugh again.
“Eat first then we shall discuss the rationale of impossible and impractical.”
This was all too much. A talking brain and a tall tale. A library. I felt dizzy and brought my hands to my head where I felt a metal band around my temples. I made an effort to pull it off and Dillinger put a hand on mine and shook his head no.
“Leave it on for now. You need time to acclimate first,” he said. Concern and a hint of fear in his voice.
“Acclimate? Is this some kind of weird sex thing? I heard you talking about me while I was in your office.”
He looked shocked. “I don’t know what younger talking about Mr Dreary.” He blushed as he said it.
“You were saying I was cute. Talking about my bald head and eyes.” I stared at him and saw the confusion in his face.
“I never said anything of the sort. Oh Silence. Oh bleeding knight on the hilltop,” he muttered staring from me to the brain.
“Very interesting. Seems young Mr Dreary has already developed some unique, attributes. Interesting indeed.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about but I heard him. Your son in law had some interesting ideas about me.”
Dillinger managed to look even more embarrassed and slowly backed out of the room. Herr Doktor just chuckled again. “Eat my friend. Then we shall have an honest discussion.”
The food smelled so good I didn’t even argue any longer. Eggs and bacon with fried potatoes that didn’t even taste like any I had ever eaten before.
“What is in this? It is delicious.”
“Nothing. Nothing at all. None of the additives your body has gotten used to processing. I have no need to eat but I still enjoy the art if animal husbandry and farming. After we chat I will show you around. My complex is surely like nothing you have ever seen before.”
As I finished Herr Doktor spoke again, “The headband you are wearing is a psychic dampener. I believe you have developed special, ahem, powers from the pills you ingested. Now if you would kindly remove it, I shall explain who I am to you.”
“You are not the first success Gear. In fact, you are the third. Kindly remove it now.”
I did as he asked. And promptly was driven to my knees. It was so loud in here. A million voices screaming at one time. My nose began to bleed. I fell into a ball and clutched my knees to my chest.
“Breathe,” A voice whispered. It felt like it was directly into mind. “I am speaking directly to your mind.”
“Who is this?”
“It is I, Herr Doktor. I need you to follow my voice, mine alone. Block out every other voice until mine is the only one you hear.”
I did as he coaxed. Slowly I felt them all fade away. The deafening roar become a subtle rumble. Then that slowly faded until it was just me and the voice of the disembodied brain.
“Good, good. I am assisting your mind in quieting the outside noise. Soon you will learn to do this yourself. With practice you will one day be able to enter other minds. Influence their thoughts. Control them. Destroy them. It is all up to you.”
“That sounds terrible. I don’t want any of this. What have you done to me?”
“You did this Gear, remember?”
The day at the office, the choice. I saw myself grabbing the bottle from Dillinger’s hand and swallowing the pills. Taking another dose. Then falling to the floor in spasms.
“And you took more than the recommended dosage. Had you shown restraint you would have seen that four pills was all you needed. Instead you ate fifteen. I cannot wait to see the affect that many will have on you. You will be either a monster or a marvel. Possibly a drooling imbecile. This is uncharted waters.”
“Fuck is right my friend. Indeed. Now let me introduce myself to you properly Mr Gear Dreary. My name is Josef Mengele. That name means nothing to you I am sure, but trust me it was once feared and spoken in hushed tones. Long, long ago.
I was born in March of the year 1911 in a town in a country that no longer exists in the European City State. A happy child, I loved my family and skiing. My brothers and I would ski happily down the mountains all winter. This was before weather control was implemented, before we knew how we had devastated the planet’s natural order and were forced to take matters into our own hands for the sake of survival.
It was a different world then. Beautiful.”
As he spoke images flooded my mind. Like he projected a holovid directly into my skull. I could smell the flowers, feel the bitter cold wind on my cheeks as I smiled down the mountain with him. I was in awe, A passenger along for the ride with his tale.
“It was idyllic. A good life. I graduated and pursued studies in anthropology and medicine. Joined the military as was expected of men of my age. My studies turned to genetics. The group of military I was in got folded into another more powerful entity. A new party as it was. One that filled me with purpose and drive. I was a natural soldier, a model for this new regime and quickly rose through the ranks. But I was shot in 1942 and sent back to Berlin, judged unfit for further military service.
I was devastated. But fate, and the Nazi party had bigger plans for me. Had I been born in America my path could have been very different. I may have been a force for great good. Maybe developed cures for disease and saved many lives. But I wasn’t. Instead I was a doctor and sent to Poland to work at the internment camps with the Jews and Slavs.
Conditions at the camp were less than favorable to put it nicely. Many unsavory acts were committed, atrocities they would later be labeled. But here I began my scientific experiments.”
The images that flashed through were horrifying. Torture, murder, vivisecection, I wanted to vomit the food roiling in my stomach. The lengths man would go to in search of scientific discovery. Of war.
“Don’t worry, I am applying pressure on your bilateral vomitation center located on your lower brain stem. You will not vomit. Relax.”
“What kind of fucking monster are you? Sick and depraved monster.”
“Yes. I was a monster, in horrific times, terrible means are required. I don’t expect forgiveness. I don’t require it from you or anyone. Now be silent and let me continue.
The Jews and Slavs were to be exterminated by order of the Nazi party. A purification of the human genome to better the world. An ideology many believed to be important for the entire race. One I backed completely out of duty for home. Falsely it turned out but time is the great revealer of all truth. I studied twins mostly, and dwarves. Any genetic oddity sufficed in my insatiable need to understand.
The war turned though and I was forced to flee. I moved about through Europe before fear made me leave my son and soon to be ex-wife for greener pastures in South America. I tried to turn a new leaf but my craving for knowledge won out and I began experimenting again. I had success running a farm and a pharmaceutical company that were merely covers for my true goal. I sought to eradicate defects from humanity. To expand the latent powers of the human mind. But my past always seemed a step behind me, the Jews hungered for justice. I had developed rudimentary cloning in the mid 1970s. The clones were unfortunately defective in their own rights but I used one of myself and staged my death in 1979. As the net from the hunt for me was about to close, I had a stroke while swimming in Brazil. A series of false flags led to the eventual exhumation of my remains and they were identified as certainly my own.
I did what they would least expect and moved to Dallas, the skeleton of this city we now occupy. I expected I would die here, penniless and alone. Cancer of all things began to ravage my body and in a last attempt at a cute I took the forerunner of the pill that saved you Mr Dreary. And it woke the powers you are beginning to exhibit in me.
But I had no one to train me in their uses. I was effectively crippled as the voices of the city screamed in my mind. I could not separate my thoughts from the chorus. It was during this period I truly understood the folly of my former beliefs. I lived and died with them all, Black, Hispanic, Jewish, every person that came close enough to be part of the web of thoughts. This hodge podge of humanity. And I realized they were all the same. Living with the same joys and sorrows, regrets and loves. There was no difference in any of them.
This broke me as much as the lack of control. I faced the hard truths of my existence. My many crimes against humanity. But I was still selfish, still a man. So I found a way to control this. It took years. I roamed the streets and eventually mental institutions until I mastered my mental power. When I was finally whole I doubled my efforts to make these powers available to anyone and everyone.
I had learned my lesson and only tested them in willing people. Usually those at the end of their lives due to illness. It wasn’t until the year 2015 I had my second success. Phlegm Hardly, a punk rocker who was in an acccident became my crowning achievement. My newest formula not only opened his mind but greatly strengthened his body. He became a hero. But you have already heard most of his tales They have lived on long after he left this mortal coil. And I was alone and dying from old age.
The formula I had ingested had added years to my life, but at one hundred and twenty my body had no more to give. My mind was strong but my flesh was weak. I had nearly perfected my clones by this point, they no longer fell apart after six months. The decay was more like the gradual atrophy all bodies go through. I had planned to have my brain inserted into one of these able vessels.
But alas, this too did not go as suspected. My brain was inserted into a jar of nutrient rich solution. Before the insertion into a new body I was betrayed. By the time my clones found me, it was too late to be viably replaced into a body of my own. And since I have been as you see me now.”
“That is the most fucked up thing I have ever heard in my life. And I have heard some shit. Fuck. I think I need time alone to process this steaming dump you just took all over my mind.”
“I understand. If you would be so kind as to place the dampener back on I shall leave you to your thoughts.”
As I put the headband back on a heard a whoosh and when I turned back the floating brain of Josef Mengeles was no longer in the room.