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Mark awoke, blinking back a light in his left eye, then his right.

"Good," a man said, cheerily, "Everything's working." Mark didn't know the man's face but felt familiarity in the coat.

"You're a doctor?" he attempted to ask, but produced no sound. "Am I okay?" he tested. Silence. The man nodded.

"I'm a doctor," he said, "Doctor Sergei Mengele—no actual relation. And you're fine. Mostly. Certainly doing better than I'd expected." Mark tried to feel reassured, but couldn't even feel himself breathing.

"What's happened to me?" he mouthed, but the doctor was fiddling with a petulant pen.

Mengele glanced up, "So, tell me how you feel, Mark."

"Cold. And numb. Can you understand me?"

"Yes," the doctor beamed, "I can lip-read, actually."

"Lip-read?" Mark swallowed and winced at the sharp, cutting pain in his throat, "God, my throat hurts… Doc?"

Mengele was watching Mark's neck, as if utterly fascinated. He clicked his pen a few times; cleared his own throat.

"Would you like to eat something?" Mengele asked, "An apple slice, perhaps?"

"Um, no?" Mark mouthed, "I'm not hungry."

"Oh," Mengele said, slumping, "Okay. Makes sense." He wrote some notes, then glanced up again, "You said you felt 'numb'?"

"Yes. And I'm tingly, too." The doctor's brows arched.

"Tingly?"

"All over, but especially in my arms and legs. Like ghost fingers." Mengele snickered.

"Ghost fingers. Amusing!" He made more notes. Then, with a sudden frown, he added, "And sad—in a way. Those poor dogs…" Mark craned his neck, hoping to find a nurse.

"No, NO!" Mengele said, leaping from his stool, "Don't move around. You'll hurt yourself."

"What happened to me?" Mark said, growing frantic, "The last thing I remember is walking to my car. The lot was so dark, I—"

A door opened, then shut with a thud.

"Excuse me, Mark," Mengele said, stepping out of sight. There was talk in hushed tones.

Mark noticed a body lying on a metal table just behind where the doctor had been sitting. A corpse, with its flesh pierced by dozens of metal rods sporting thin, colorful wires. In some places, the nude had the skin flayed to show the flaccid muscle beneath.

"What's that there?" a man asked Mengele.

"What, that? A pet project," Mengele said, "I thought I'd dabble into some of my namesake's work—particularly his autojektor. In fact, we were having a conversation." There was a pause.

"We?" the man asked.

"Yes. Me and Mark."

Mark zeroed onto a tattoo on the corpse's right arm. He'd had his girlfriend pose for the preliminary drawings, so it was quite unique. He followed its voluptuous lines up to the shoulders of a… decapitated corpse. Glancing down past his nose, Mark saw wires and red tubes that pulsated like thick arteries, snaking from his neck in twitching tentacles. But there was no expanding chest. There was no racing heartbeat or chill in his uncovered feet. There was nothing of him. Not even a scream.

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Comment by Shakes on October 27, 2014 at 17:19

Angie, such an affable person writing such dark prose. This was with nerve tingling...the dread built up.

Comment by Angie_Fayre on October 28, 2014 at 9:41

Thanks for the compliment and the encouragement, Shakes! I've been working to hone my horror writing, but was worried that the dread wasn't building up enough in this one. I borrowed inspiration for the doctor from two real-life scientists in history (Sergei Bruyukhonenko and Josef Mengele), hoping that would help a lot in channeling the darkness the story--and the villain--needed. Glad to hear it paid off.  :)

Comment by Steph Ellis on October 28, 2014 at 9:47

Fantastic story.  Good build up of horror.  Always jealous of the ideas others come up with. :)

Comment by Angie_Fayre on November 1, 2014 at 0:03

Thanks for the compliment, Steph Ellis. And I know exactly what you mean with the jealousy thing; I wish I had come up with "The Career Plan". ;D

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