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The Strange Death of Dr. Love
by Mark Wolf
UNIVERSE NEWS BROADCASTING STUDIOS. FEBRUARY 14TH, 2443
Matt Severson, the renowned broadcaster, mid-forties, darkly handsome with distinguished silver traces in his raven hair, adjusts his throat mike and checks his teeth in a mirror held for his use by a pretty twenty-something female intern.
He sits in an ostentatious leather chair before a small coffee table. A female guest sits in the same type of chair beside him. Two Caf mugs are arranged on the coffee table before them.
Her head shawled in a dark veil that obscures her features, the guest appears thin. An artificial titanium foot and ankle peek from her gray mid-length skirt.
“Thirty seconds, Mr. Severson,” his assistant, says.
“Thanks, Tina. Looking good here, I think.” Matt spends a few more seconds admiring his reflection before he waves Tina off. He turns first to camera one and smiles at his image on the small holographic heads-up monitor before him, then turns to camera two and repeats his gesture.
Satisfying himself that he remains devastatingly gorgeous, as usual, he nods to the cameraman. Above and behind him the words: THE STRANGE DEATH OF DR. LOVE splash across the vid viewer’s monitor. Wreathes of dark-crimson blood-roses border the white letters.
“You’re live in five, four, three, two, one…” the cameraman says, holding one hand up and counting off each finger.
Matt smiles his wry trademark smile and broadcasts when the camera light turns green.
“Good evening, Seven Star System’s viewers. This is the Valentines Day Special Edition Nightly News for 2443. It is an episode sure to be both controversial and graphic in its subject matter, so the material will not be suitable for younger viewers.”
Matt stops for a calculated and dramatic pause, reaching for his terracotta Caf mug and taking a small sip. He gives his audience time to shuffle off their younger viewers to other pursuits. Matt turns to camera two.
“Last night, for those viewers that didn’t tune in, my segment was on the militaries release of the Regrow technology to the private sector first developed by Dr. Damien Love.” Matt pauses to pick up his mug and turns back to camera one.
“Those viewers that watch me regularly know that I am very supportive of our military. For the last several years I have worked alongside our men and women in uniform as a forward war correspondent in our campaigns against the Sirian aggressors that attacked our colonies near the Sirius system.” Matt’s guest stretches in her chair, revealing her titanium calf.
Matt notes the exposure, frowns, then speaks. “If you follow stocks, today Mirror Labs, founded by Jeffrey Love, Dr. Damien Love’s younger brother, posted record profits as the news of the release of the Regrow technology became public.” Matt pauses again and turns to his guest, as if expecting her to comment. After a moment he continues.
“Tonight, I have with me a surgical nurse that worked with Dr. Love during the last days of the Sirian campaign. Her name, for this segment, is “Darcy”, a name chosen at her insistence. Her features have been shrouded and voice electronically modified to protect her from retaliation from parties unknown for her testimony.”
Matt takes a sip from his Caf, sits the mug down on the table, then leans forward. “Darcy. You told me your story earlier today. What did I say to you after hearing it?”
Darcy’s voice has a mechanical sound as she speaks. “You said you were very skeptical of my story and that you would need to verify
my identity before running it.”
“And I did exactly that. I watched you draw your own blood in my presence and I sent it to a lab to verify that you were the person you said you were.” The camera pans wide as Darcy turns toward the audience. Matt continues.
“The results were conclusive. You were Dr. Love’s surgical nurse and if the rumors were true, his lover. But you were not killed in the explosion that took Dr. Love’s life as everyone thought. Why is that?”
“Because I left after I set the explosives.”
* * * * *
Matt pastes a stunned expression on his face for dramatic effect.
“You set the explosives?”
“I did, yes.”
“Because Dr. Love was a monster. He deserved far worse.”
“Perhaps if you allow me to tell the story you told me earlier today, now…” Matt speaks gently as Darcy’s shoulders shake. Whether in grief or rage it is unclear to the viewers.
For a moment, Darcy remains silent, then she nods.
Matt speaks softly. “Darcy had been posted to Sirius 9, the forward medical base about six months before Dr. Love and she became involved. Her relationship to him prior to this had been strictly professional.”
Matt pauses looking to see if Darcy has anything to add. When she doesn’t, he continues. “He was dating some of the other surgical nurses. He didn’t start making overtures toward Darcy until he stopped dating them. Word was that the others had been transferred.” Matt decides to question Darcy.
“And then you and he became involved. What was he like?”
“Charming, romantic. He brought me blood-roses every day for a week before he asked me to dinner the first time,” Darcy says.
“Tell us about these blood-roses. They’re native to Sirius 9, and are rather unique, are they not?”
“Yes. They are native to Sirius 9. What makes them unique is that they are a vampiric carnivorous plant that grows in a rhizome colony. They can snare anything smaller than the native elephant-sized mammals called Blorfs and suck their blood dry. That includes humans.”
Matt shudders. “They weep, do they not?”
“Yes. After Dr. Love and I made love the first time, he told me about the crimson tears of the blood-rose and that those tears were the blood from their victims. It made me sick.”
“What was Dr. Love’s reaction to that?”
“He laughed and said nature’s mechanisms were delightful.”
“That sounds gruesome.” Matt takes a sip of his Caf and watches Darcy lift her own cup up and carefully raise her veil to take a sip. Her thin lips and a determined chin are all that viewers can see.
When Darcy places her cup back onto the coffee table, Matt continues.
“Let us move directly to the events that took place exactly one year ago today, February 14th 2442, Valentines Day,” Matt says.
“In the story you told me earlier today, you said that Dr. Love had invited you to his home and lab complex for the first time that day. Why was it the first time?”
“Dr. Love had several top secret military projects going on in the complex in addition to his duties as a Battle Surgeon. He said it had taken him time to get the clearances for me to be anywhere near the complex,” Darcy says.
“But that wasn’t really the truth of the matter at all was it?”
“No. He had another agenda in mind for me all along.”
Matt raises his eyebrows in question. “And that was?”
“He wanted me for one of his guinea pigs,” Darcy says.
* * * * *
“Guinea pigs?” Matt leans forward in his chair and picks up his mug.
“Dr. Love needed humans for his experiments.”
Matt looks skeptical. “Go ahead and tell the story of that night. We will let the viewers form their own opinions from it.”
Darcy speaks. “As I told you earlier today, Dr. Love invited me to his home for dinner. I didn’t know what to expect. He had always treated me to expensive dinners off-base at the one high-end restaurant in New Sirius City.” Darcy stops and shifts in her chair.
“And on that night he did the same?”
“No. Actually, when I arrived he showed me out to his garden where he had a barbeque grill fired up and was already cooking hamburgers.”
“Hamburgers? Were there cattle on Sirius 9?” Matt asks.
“No, and I said he must have gone to great expense to have the meat shipped there. He just smiled, flipped the burgers and asked how I liked mine.”
“And so, you ate the hamburgers. Then what happened?”
“He poured me some wine and we chatted for a while. I started to get really sleepy. I think I realized that he must have put something in my wine just before I passed out,” Darcy says.
“So you passed out, and when you woke?”
“When I woke up, I was in a operating room and lab. I was flat on my back. I could hear female voices pleading with Dr. Love.”
“Pleading? What were they saying?”
“They were begging him to kill them and to stop what he was doing to me.”
Matt turns to camera two with a serious expression on his face. “Now, viewers, I must warn you that this story has not been verified and has a level of depravity in it. Go ahead, Darcy. What was he doing to you?”
“He was amputating my leg.”
“Amputating your leg? Why?”
Darcy shudders. “Dr. Love was working on the Regrow technology. The other three women in the lab were prior subjects of his experiments.”
“What happened next?”
“Dr. Love held my leg up for me to see. The women were screaming and crying. I was numb from the spinal and local. I couldn’t believe I was looking at my severed leg.”
“He spoke to you about it then. What did he say?” Matt says.
“He told me that his most important experiment required sacrifice. He went on to explain that in order for limbs to be regrown, a solution of human flesh and super growth hormones from an amphibian native to Sirius 9 had to be prepared. Then he placed my leg in a stasis chamber while he closed my surgery.”
“That wasn’t the worst of things to come, was it?” Matt says.
“No. After he closed my wound he tilted my bed up so I could see the other women.” Darcy begins to sob.
Matt reaches across and places his hand atop Darcy’s. He waits patiently for her to pull herself back together. “Take your time, Darcy.”
Darcy takes a minute before she stops sobbing, sighs, and sniffs. She turns and looks directly into the camera. “The other women were all quad-amputees. In the place of their normal limbs they had truncated hands and feet; even flippers.”
Matt regards her in horror, stunned into speechlessness. Before he regains his voice, Darcy continues.
“Dr. Love pressed a button on the wall and a door opened. For a minute nothing happened. Then a Sirian entered the room.”
“Sirian? Are you accusing Dr. Love of being in collusion with the Sirians in addition to these terrible experiments?”
Darcy turns toward Matt, then continues. “Dr. Love walked over to it and started talking to it in a language that sounded like a dog fight.”
Matt turns toward camera one. “Most of our viewers realize that Sirians are very much like the canine family of our own world, excepting they are bi-pedal and have hands like ours with opposing thumbs.”
“Dr. Love put his arm around its shoulder and walked him over to us. Then he said this to me: “Darcy, this is my friend, Dirnok. Dirnok comes from an ancient race of star travelers. They had star drives while the Egyptians were building pyramids.”
“The Sirian looked at me. I could see intelligence and hunger in its eyes. Dr. Love stepped over and opened the stasis chamber where my leg was stored and pulled my leg out.”
“Dirnok is hungry, Darcy,” he said. “Then he took my leg over to a cart and picked up a bone saw and severed the foot from the ankle and gave it to Dirnok. Dirnok took it with his hands and shoved it into his mouth and chewed on it, like a dog does a bone.”
“Oh, this really is horrific,” Matt says.
“Then Dr. Love went on: “Darcy, the Sirians visited Earth during the time of the ancient Egyptians. They befriended man and taught him maths and sciences well beyond their contemporaries. They were forced to leave Earth when they contracted a deadly disease. I
think it might have been rabies. The Egyptians venerated the Sirians in their religion and arts as Anubis.”
“Anubis? The God of the Underworld?”
“Yes. While Dirnok munched on my foot, the Doctor continued to fill me in on his experiment.”
“Darcy, you are privileged. I finally believe I have gotten the proportions and ingredients right. You will be the first person to receive the full and perfect benefits of my Regrow technology,” Dr. Love said.
“Dr. Love took the rest of my leg and tossed it into a commercial blender. He then poured in some chemicals and three of the common Sirian purple frogs that are everywhere on Sirius 9.” Darcy pauses for a second as Matt pales.
“Oh, it gets worse. After he mixed up the concoction he frowned. It seems like there wasn’t enough human flesh. He turned to one of the other nurses and smiled.”
“Patricia, my dear. You won’t miss that flipper will you, my dove?” Dr. Love said.
“Patricia started screaming. Her other limbs were truncated. She couldn’t protect herself from what was to happen next.”
“What did the Doctor do, Darcy?” Matt says.
“He picked up the bone saw and cut off Patricia’s flipper. Without any anesthetic.”
Matt stares at Darcy, speechless for a moment. Then he speaks.
“Darcy, I know this is difficult for you, because I know what is
coming next. Please continue when you are ready.”
Darcy starts to speak a few times before she is finally able to get her words out. “He tied a rough bandage over her trunk then tossed Patricia’s flipper into the mix. After he combined everything he came over to me and inserted a feeding tube into my nose and down to my stomach.”
Darcy shakes her head in denial of her memory. “Then he poured some of the concoction into a feeding bag and hung it next to my bed. He went on to pour the remainder of the mix into the feed bags of the other three women and talk to me”
“There, there, Darcy. Don’t resist me,” Dr. Love said. “This isn’t the first time you’ve eaten human flesh, you know. Didn’t you enjoy the hamburgers? Ellen provided those.”
“I looked over to one of the nurses that had a fresh bleeding bandage on her lower leg. She nodded and broke down, wailing.”
“Yes, I needed to see how your body assimilated the flesh before I allowed you to join the others. Now, I have some business to attend to with Dirnok, but I will be back shortly to check in on you,” Dr. Love said.
“Dr. Love and Dirnok left by the door Dirnok had entered from. I could feel the spinal and local wearing off. I was still pretty numb but I have always had some resistance to anesthetics.”
“The others saw me getting up and pleaded for me to kill them. I only wanted to get to the comm phone on the wall. I started to pick it up to call for help but couldn’t do it when I saw the expressions on the others faces”
* * * * *
“So, here are the four of you, all victims of Dr. Love’s experiments. Three of you are helpless. You have just had a leg amputated and are weak. You have the chance to call in and get help and you don’t take it. Why not?” Matt says.
“Along with the suffering I saw in the others faces, Beth, the first victim, went on to tell me that if the military didn’t actually know the extent that the Doctor had gone to in his experiments, they might still provide the Doctor with legal counsel to get him a nice safe country club sanitarium instead of the death penalty. For that matter, the military might have gone on to permanently keep us from testifying.”
“You are saying the military would have had you all killed?” Matt asked.
“At that point, and even now, I don’t know. The Regrow technology had nearly unlimited possibilities for returning wounded soldiers to the war. Would the military consider us expendable in the light of the potential greater good? None of us wanted to take that chance. That’s why I got plastic surgery and insisted on having my face and voice disguised for the interview”
“So what did you do, then?” Matt says.
“I prepared a fast acting curare-based anesthetic injection and hid it on me, then waited for the Doctor to return.”
“He wasn’t gone long, was he?”
“No. When he returned, he explained to me that he had gone to
see Dirnok off. He said Dirnok monitored the numbers of medical ships that landed on Sirius 9 as part of the Sirians’s war intelligence.”
“Then the Doctor turned to Beth.”
“Beth, my sweet. My Valentine. How long has it been since we embraced? Since we shared pleasures? Have you missed me as much as I have missed you?” Dr. Love asked.
“He turned his back to me and started to remove his clothing. Beth watched in horror as he undressed. I used his inattentiveness to get up and slowly and quietly make my way up behind him.”
“We must have our pleasures, my darling love. How else can we remain human in this darkness of war?” Dr. Love said.
“Dr. Love made his way over and stood over Beth, obviously physically aroused. When he climbed up onto her bed and bent over her I plunged the needle into his neck.”
* * * * *
Matt is quiet for a few moments as he absorbs Darcy’s words.
“Not only did the Doctor perform amputations, he also raped the amputees. I think I can begin to understand what comes next.”
“When Dr. Love fell to the floor, the others helped me perform the surgeries. Two were nurse practitioners and walked me through the procedures. We started with his sexual organs and finished with his arms and legs. I used no anesthetic other than the curare,which was mostly a muscle relaxant. He felt most of it” Darcy says.
“And that isn’t all is it? That wasn’t the worst that happened
to the Doctor.”
“No. I blended his flesh together and put it into a feeding bag and inserted the tube into the Doctor.” Darcy turns toward camera one.
“He died when his stomach expanded and burst from his own flesh.”
“You murdered the Doctor, and then?”
“Beth told me where Dr. Love had installed explosives to destroy the lab in case he found he needed to. I still don’t know whether he was hiding what he was doing or not. Anyway, none of the women wanted to live so I set the explosives and left. I never would have came forward to tell my story had I not heard that Dr. Love’s brother and the military were going to profit from the sufferings of others,” Darcy says.
Matt turns to camera two as it pans back for a wide-angle shot of the set. “That is all we have time for this evening. This is an incredible story. The military and Mirror Labs will have to respond to this before they can move forward.” Matt turns to Darcy.
“There are still questions in my mind. Does the technology still require the use of human flesh to work? Does that mean that battlefield casualties provide the raw materials for the successes of the Regrow technology in operating theaters over the last year? Stay tuned for tomorrow nights episode for the answers. For now this is Matt Severson reporting for Universe News.”