A Short Story by Imani “Clio” Lang
Artist: Jake Overton
May 19, 2018
I only give pieces of myself,
Because a hole has become a part of me,
Located at the seams of my torso-
No many can ever know what my anticipation craves…
Anticipation wears many clothes,
She wears black whenever she faces a new day; a new person; a new challenge
She wears red whenever she thinks she`s in love or in distress
She dresses in white almost never because humanity has never known its purest shape
Except when her back is touching the porcelain corners of the bathtub
And the sun hurts her eyes when she breathes,
She listens to blood dripping down her legs because it`s the only thing that can tell the truth
“These scars? I think that they add character”, she says to her captor.
If only she could rest in paradise, she pleads to herself.
“This is paradise. This is all that`s left”, he reads her mind.
Then he takes her other leg off…..
“Thank you for doing this”, she says to him even though he didn`t respond to her previous statement.
“Why? Why thank me?”, he scoffs at her while replacing her right leg with the mechanical leg. She doesn`t dare look down for she fears she would see her femur bone exposed. His name is Gael but his friends call him Acid. He`s a doctor that was sued for medical malpractice then he disappeared off the face of the earth.
“What made you want to do this kind of work? You are so skilled with the anatomy of the body that you could really change people`s lives”, Ginger replied.
Acid pauses for a minute to look at her with a few dots of blood scattered on his face. It surprisingly highlighted the blue octaves around his irises when he looked directly at her. His hair was black, like a violet black underneath the yellow hue of the single light above them so he could see exactly where else to cut her. He slowly kneels out of the chair next to her and rubs wipes the sweat off her brows.
“Soon you will be whole again. This is what I was created to do. Make people new again, but the world isn`t ready for it yet”.
Ginger slowly turns her head to the right to face him and says, “What do you mean?”
“Before my wife died, we find out that she had lung cancer. I found an ancient way to save her by replacing her lungs with that of a coelacanth. An exonerated species of a fish that could replace their vestigial lung with fat if that lung ever dies. There was a way to evolve her white blood cells with that of the fish.
“I found a fucking way to fight lung cancer, but the board never agreed to it. So, they fired me.
They even tried to kill me”.
The term ‘they’ was referencing the higher authorities of the government controlling medical procedures. While listening, Ginger slowly loses her energy and starts passing in and out of sleep. Gael immediately gets her some water. The coldness from the water woke her up as it touches her lips. https://www.nbcnews.com/science/weird-science/ancient-human-size-fish-breathed-lungs-n428416
“You can`t move your new leg now but you will be able to tomorrow. Its called a strata series. I had it made in Russia when I first started experimenting. You will be okay now. “
Ginger smiled lightly.
“Will I be free? Tomorrow, will you let me go?”, she asked him with sincere hope and tears running down her cheeks from both pain of her leg and fear in her heart that her family will never see her again. Gael doesn`t answer her but he tucks a lock of her brown hair behind her ear.
“I will always be with you darling. You remind me so much of Raina. The way your eyes look when facing the sun, when you sleep, when you were dancing that one night at Savanna.”
He was talking about the night he first saw her. She captivated him with how she sang with her band called Amoeba. Watching her and how she lived became a recurrence with him. She attended University of Columbia as a freshman studying physics and that`s where Gael started watching her for six months. Even her Facebook posts, the times of when she got home from school and when she was hanging out with her friends.
Ginger breathed a coarse breath with blood trickling down her cheek. Gael was tidying up the surgical area and started mopping the floor with bleach. The warehouse was wide, and it lay in a basement corridor that was located under his house or his confinement per se. For years Gael has witnessed how the human body works when experimenting on his victims. Ginger wasn`t a victim. You see; Ginger wanted to die. Which made the perfect experiment for Gael.
Her parents were getting divorced around the time her depression hit her the hardest. Gael had found her standing on top of the University roof from which he followed her to. The roof was always abandoned, and Ginger would visit it often to write her songs. It was her secret place.
When Gael saw her from behind the door on the rooftop, he immediately rushed out to talk her out of it.
“No! You don`t want to do that. Don`t step off that ledge! Life is too precious”, he yelled at her.
“Why not? Everyone hates me. My parents are splitting up and now I have peripheral artery disease. My parents are too busy thinking about themselves and don`t even notice me anymore”.
“You have a lot to live for Ginger. You can`t give up now”, Gael pleaded with a coarse tone.
“How do you know my name?”, she turned and looked at him with her eye brows furrowed. No one was outside, and the sun was setting so basically everyone was in their dorms already.
“Wh-what if I told you that you can have a brand-new life? Outside of all this chaos. Having to go to school, having to impress boys to date. Fuck all of that, I can build you a whole new world”.
The wind is picking up and his black hair covers his glasses. Ginger remains silent with a weird look on her face while sniffling.
“You sound like a mad man”, she chuckles then says, “There`s no such thing as a brand-new world. Only this reality”. Her right leg barely lifts off the ledge to jump then Gael catches her mid -air. They both fall backwards, and she writhes and starts to scream.
“Let me go! Let me fucking go you fucking freak!”, she cries uncontrollably.
“I`m trying to save you, you crazy woman!”, he covers her mouth hard. So hard that she can`t catch her breath then she stops moving altogether right there on the ground in his arms. He catches his breath a few moments while taking in the sweet smell of her hair as he slowly stands up then lifts her up in his arms and into the night they went.
On the first night of the confinement, Ginger woke up and then started screaming to get out of there. It was one of the most terrifying nights of her life. Gael brought her food and anything she wanted but he just wouldn`t let her go.
“So, you wanted to die, huh? Now you must tell me why on earth would you want to live!” he stormed up the stairs back to the kitchen while closing the door.
“Let me out of here! It`s not your right to decide who lives or dies”, she yells as he slams the door shunt. She cried herself to sleep for weeks, but sometimes Gael would come and talk to her. He listened to her and took care of her. The room where she lay in was filled with his wife`s memories and pictures of his medical certificates over the course of ten years. She eventually gave up on trying to break out of her imprisonment because he had made her feel comfortable in it. Oddly enough, cognitive behavioral therapy suited her and provided relief from the outside influences of life.
Some days, days in which he called them her “free days”, she would practice the flute and write poems while he prepared meals for her. He wouldn`t let her do anything other than artistry. He didn’t trust her around knives. At least yet.
Of course, phones didn`t exist but she knew that her family would go to the ends of the earth to find her. There wasn`t TV or any loud noises in the house. Occasionally he would let her look outside, but she always wore a five-foot chain that was far enough for her to maneuver to the bathroom, her room or the living room. The house was in some hills but by the time it was night- she was confined in the basement.
Over the course of time she started to appreciate who he really was. He didn`t even look bad; he was just an average looking guy in his late thirties. No one would ever peg him for the genius he really was.
Fast forward three months, Ginger had finally accepted the fact that she would probably die.
“You will never die. As humans, we fight time more than we think. We`re always causing war and misfortune for ourselves when really; the inevitable enemy is time”, he had said after reading her mind again. He puts the mop on the wall and then puts his hands under her arms out of the tub. He then carries her up the stairs to his room where she can recover. He takes her shirt off and then washes her with a rag. Propped up with a pillow in total comfort, she falls asleep.
“Now, the second part of this experiment starts today”.
On the table he straps her down while connecting all codes from his computer to the machine wrapped around her head called a halo system that sends radar from her brain to his brain.
“After this I don`t want to do this anymore. I want to get out of here, so we don`t have to hide behind these walls any longer”, she said to while he held her hand and smiled at her. He barely smiles at anyone, but he can`t help not to with her. He leans toward her to kiss her diligently. Ginger smiles and closes her eyes as her favorite music by Layla Frost turns on. Then:
Gael stopped her heart while transferring brain stem data from the computer to her system so that her neurons and dendrites would cooperate with the new cells. Her mechanical leg was already healed so all she needed was the rest of the codes of his brain to connect and then she could be whole again. New again.
The computer makes a series of noises as the codes work through the wires connected to her brain. There is only one minute to transfer from his codes that he inputted from his brain to hers before she dies without ever having the chance to come back. Gael has the resuscitation machine in hand, but the computer is taking too long. He quickly clears the screen by pressing enter. His alarm on his phone starts ticking signaling that he has ran out of time.
Cursing to himself, he dislodges the chords and resuscitates her. She didn`t wake up. He resuscitates her the second time and she still didn`t wake up. One last time, his face is red and sweat is pouring from his face as he tries to bring her back to her flesh.
One last hit with the resuscitator and still nothing.
“And here I thought I found the one”. Gael weeps next to her as he kisses her repeatedly “Wake up! Wake up!”, he lightly taps her face hoping she would come to but to no avail. He turns the computers off and shuts the system down. Standing there for a minute he takes his glasses off and thinks to himself, I thought I found the one’.
The sun outside starts to come up and the bright light shines on the chandelier above them. Gael holds Ginger`s hand while sobbing.
“I am the one”, said her small voice. The words barely dripped from her lips as she opened her eyes and wriggled her index finger in his hand.
“Oh My God! It worked.”, he looks her up and down in disbelief. “You`re alive”. In truth she was. This time she was a different person. Her senses were twice as much than before. She slowly lifted her head while Gael cries in amazement of her breakthrough. “Help me up”, she whispered. Gael releases the halo system from her crown.
Her legs were both chromium now and her chest felt like it was on fire from the constant punching of the resuscitator. Ginger`s hair was drenched in sweat as her body tried to regain energy that was lost. Gel flushed more saline into the IV in her left arm, so she could gain more strength.
The coelacanth leg twitches for the first time; signaling ready for use. She lifts her leg over the table onto the floor and watches as the robotic sutures flex giving it a human feel.
“This is the moment I`ve been waiting for ….
“my entire life…”
They finished each other`s sentence then looked at each other.
“What`s it like to die?” he asked her.
“There is no such thing as time. We`re all here for a reason”, she replied.
She walks toward him steadily with her mouth agape in awe with her arms held out toward him in case she fell.
“This is remarkable!”, she squealed as tears left her eyes in happiness.
“We fucking did it! Gael you can save lives now! “
“Ginger, you one would never believe me. They`d take you away from me and put your family in danger if they knew about you,” he said somberly.
“Sometimes we`re only to live what was meant for us. Then we must take everyday one at a time. Would you like to be free now?”, Gael asked her while looking away.
Ginger misses her family no doubt, but this could be an invention of a lifetime. She now has two minds and a new leg. Her DNA is crossed with his. The world isn`t prepared for something so drastic so he may be right. As she stares unto the sun outside, she thinks about that time she stood upon the ledge ready to end her life. Her being under after the coelacanth crossing made her see how much she wanted to live. The sun draped her body in light and blue crystals shined on her arms and her pelvic bones like tattoos. The new DNA prickled through her skin like new veins.
“I`m already free”, she replied.