The harder she scratched away at her forearm, the quicker the flesh fell away. From outside the containment unit, Dr. Elana Miles and Dr. Mark Rustenburg watched in dismay as the patient screamed with pain. It was unbearable to watch, she had scratched so far that muscle peeped out, and blood gushed over the arm. Unable to watch, Dr. Miles turned away, but Dr. Rustenburg stood captivated by this medical wonder. Despite the pain, the girl kept going, willingly knowing it would only lead to more pain. She was like a rabid animal, wild, with an unquenchable lust for blood, desperate to escape herself it seemed.
“Well doctors, what do you think?” A tall man stepped out from the shadows, grinning from ear to ear, as if watching a show.
“I think I’m going to be sick.” Dr. Miles mumbled, her back still turned away from girl.
Dr. Rustenburg shook his head in disagreement, “I think I can cure it.”
The tall man smiled, clapping his wide hand on Dr. Rustenburg’s small shoulder, “Good man! We have all the equipment you could dream of just down the hall, in your new lab.” The doctor nodded, scurrying down the hall to begin his work. Dr. Miles remained, still unconvinced. She had spent her entire life studying the human mind, and knew that it was impossible for the mind to turn on the body in a way such as this. She turned back to the girl, who now lay on the floor, exhausted from the attack, yet still absentmindedly scratching.
“You can help her.” The man was right behind her, standing over her shoulder with arrogant authority. “But what do you get out of it Mr. President?” She said bluntly, still staring at the girl.
“This disease could spread, all I want is to prevent that from happening. I’m sure you want the same.”
Dr. Miles didn’t respond, she bowed her head, pondering her role in this experiment. A week ago she was blissfully working at the university, teaching advanced psychology to the eager minds of tomorrow; now she was in some secret base, the weight of the unbelievable on her shoulders. She stared at the girl, who was covered in her own blood, screaming and rolling on the floor. Perhaps she could help her.
“What do you want me to do?”
“It’s quite simple really, find a cure.”
“Yes, simple.” She murmured to herself.
Dr. Rustenburg was already busy at work, mixing chemicals and testing them on rats. He looked up when Dr. Miles entered the lab, his eyes darting back and forth.
“Exciting isn’t it?” He laughed, “We get the chance to cure the unimaginable.”
Dr. Miles studied him, her years of psychoanalysis kicking in; this was a man obsessed with his work, a man who got high off his own success, an unstable man.
“I suppose.” Dr. Miles pondered, walking over to her side of the lab. A shiny new computer was set up on the desk, rows of cabinets lined the wall, and a bookcase filled with information stood out against the cold steel walls. Dr. Miles walked along the edge, running her fingers over the spines. She thought back to the girl, what could have caused such a disturbance of the mind? The mind’s job was to care for the body, to keep it alive. Suddenly, she stopped in the middle of her floor, her superior mind racing with thoughts. She looked over at Dr. Rustenburg, he was taking a blood sample from a rat to compare to that of the girl’s. Dr. Miles shook her head, he wouldn’t find what he wanted in blood. Suddenly it dawned on her, she had to talk to the girl. Learn her name and story. She rushed past Dr. Rustenburg, bumping his shoulder, and causing him to impale the rat with the needle.
“Sorry!” She called, more sorry for the rat. She rushed out of the lab and back up the stairs, stopping in front of the door to the containment unit that held the girl. Two guards stood on either side of the door, glaring as she approached them. With defiance in her eyes, Dr. Miles flashed her badge. “I want to talk to her.”
The guards exchanged a wary look, before finally nodding. “We need to tie her down first, she’s dangerous.”
“Don’t you dare.” Dr. Miles snapped. She pushed past the guards, reaching to open the heavy metal door.
“If you get hurt, we won’t be held responsible.” One of the guards warned.
“Fine.” The door closed behind her with a definite click. The room around her was pure white, with a single white cot in the middle. The girl sat up when Dr. Miles entered, her hair matted and her eyes wild. The smell was overpowering, a mixture of feces and sweat. Dr. Miles took a deep breath, and began to walk toward the girl, who had curled into a ball on the cot.
“Please...leave.” The girl whispered.
Dr. Miles stopped walking, surprised the girl had spoken first. “Don’t worry, I’m here to help you.” She gently whispered back.
The girl chuckled a defeated laugh. “That’s what they all say.”
“Have other doctors tried to help you?” Dr. Miles pushed gently, testing the girl’s willingness.
“Many...yes many.” The girl had unfurled a little, but her back was still to Dr. Miles. Suddenly she sat up completely, “Leave. Leave now.”
Dr. Miles stood firm. “What’s your name?”
The girl spun around on the cot, her eyes scared and angry, “Leave! I don’t want your help!” She spat, “Don’t you think you people have done enough? You said you’d help me, but you didn’t, you made it worse! So much worse….” Her thin arms began to shake, and grey tears streamed down her face. “Please”, she sobbed, “Please….”
Dr. Miled nodded, this interaction had not gone as she had imagined. Slowly she began to back away, not taking her eyes off the crying girl. When the doctor had first seen this girl all she’d seen was a vicious animal. But in reality she was just a girl broken by modern medicine. Dr. Miles had seen enough, and she needed to get out of this secret base.
He was waiting for her outside, the guards on either side of him. Dr. Miles wasn’t surprised, the guards were obvious tattle tales.
“Dr. Miles, we need to talk.”
“No thanks, I’m leaving.” Dr. Miles crossed her arms, knowing full well the stance she was taking.
“Dr. Miles, you had no authority to speak to the patient.” He growled, his height seemingly growing with his anger.
“I’m her doctor aren’t I?”
“No. You are my doctor, and your sole purpose is to cure her.”
“You and I have a different definition of cure then.” Dr. Miles stated, raising one of her eyebrows.
“Listen here.” He stepped forward, sticking his face right up to her own. “You should consider yourself honoured to work for the President. You have been hand picked out of millions, are you really going to give up this opportunity?” He sneered down at her, this was a man who always got his way.
Dr. Miles didn’t blink, she just stared deep into the President’s cold eyes. “Yes.”
He stood back up. “I’m sorry to hear that.” With a single wave of his hands the guards had tackled her, snapping handcuffs onto her tiny wrists. Dr. Miles struggled on the ground, fighting to escape their grip.
“Take her to the lab.” The President ordered, before walking back into the shadows.
It was different from her lab. Another secret lab. It resembled a hospital more than anything, with cots lining the walls, and patients wailing in pain. Dr. Miles gasped in horror as she was dragged to the back room. They threw her into a long chair, similar to that of a dentist’s. They tied her down with leather straps along her arms, legs and head. She looked up at the crumbling ceiling, for once in her life very much afraid about what was about to happen.
Another doctor walked into the room, carrying with him a large suitcase.
“What are you going to do to me?” Dr. Miles whispered, her voice wavering.
The doctor snapped open the suitcase, revealing a long needle and a glass filled with a strange serum. He took out the needle, emptying the serum into its container. It bubbled and fizzed, like a pop that had been shaken up. This was not something that belonged in the human body. In any body at all for that matter.
“All right, I’m going to need you to take a deep breath.”
“Get away from me!” Dr. Miles screamed, fighting against the straps that bound her.
“Deep breath. And...” He didn’t even pause to let her breath, just stabbed the needle into her upper arm. It went deep, nearly cutting through her vein. Dr. Miles writhed and screamed as he pushed the end, sending the fizzy serum into her bloodstream. It went in thick, creeping slowly through her veins, she could feel it as it moved toward her heart, her brain.
“What...have you...done to me?” She sputtered, but it was too late, the serum reached her brain, knocking her unconscious. The last thing she saw was the doctor wiping her blood off the needle.
They were inside her mind, her body. She had to get them out. Get them out. But how? Scratch, yes, she could scratch them out. They had put it in her blood, so she would bleed them out. It was logically her only choice. She didn’t have much of a nail, but she scratched never less, peeling away through the layers of skin. Small droplets of blood began to appear. Yes, yes, good, good. She scratched harder, biting at the raw skin to help it along. Her once wondrous mind was long gone, consumed by the drugs. This was her life now, this tiny white room that smelled like BO. Once a day they brought her food, and let her go use the restroom. No one else visited her. Did she even have a family or friends? She couldn’t remember. All she could remember was a girl, sitting in a room like this. Telling her to leave. Leave, leave, you must leave. Had she left? Was she gone? Yes, she was gone. Her mind was gone, her will was gone. It was all gone.