This is a creative writing experiment, shamelessly stolen from the Chopin Manuscript: a serialized story where each author writes a different chapter. The members of this blog are each writing their own chapter, and we’re calling ours the “Cakepan Manuscript”. This is our second story.
For this story we used a random plot generator, which gave us: “The story starts when your protagonist gets lost. Another character is an anesthesist who is researching something terrible.” You can start reading at Chapter One, and each week we will post a new chapter until we reach the thrilling conclusion!
We hope you enjoy!
Chapter Four: Going Down
“Where are we going?” Russ asked.
The ride down to the basement was a quick one, and Russ noticed that there were twenty buttons marked on the elevator control panel in addition to those marked R and B. Russ felt his stomach rise as they neared the bottom, and when they stopped, the elevator doors opened onto a long, narrow corridor.
They hurried down the hallway and rounded a corner to another secured door. Again, Udo swiped his card across the electric card reader and a set of double doors swung open into a large room filled with metal tables. Three of the tables had corpses on them in various stages of dismemberment.
“I hope you’re not squeamish,” said Udo. Strangely enough, Russ felt oddly at ease amid this gore. He walked over and looked into a stainless steel tray filled with organs: a heart, a pair of lungs, a gall bladder, and a severely damaged liver. “This guy was a boozer,” thought Russ, and he could see from the dissected lymph nodes lying next to the fellow’s open chest cavity that this patient had developed a virulent form of cancer. But how did he know that?
“Check this out,” said Udo as he pulled back the skin on top of the patient’s skull. The frontal bones had already been sawed away to reveal the brain. Yet this was a specimen unlike anything Russ had ever seen before.
“Good God,” said Russ. Instead of a normal-looking brain with its curled and spongy tissue, this brain appeared mutilated—even dissolved. “It looks like someone poured acid into his head.”
“And he’s not the only one,” said Udo as he walked over to the next table and peeled back the face of an old woman. Again, the skull had already been sawed open to reveal the brain tissue, and again, the tissue was pocked with gaping holes like the surface of Swiss cheese.
“What the hell would do something like this?” asked Russ. “Is it viral? No. Bacterial? Maybe. Chemical? Yeah…that could be it. Give me the autopsy reports.”
Udo did as commanded, and Russ skimmed through the details of the medical histories, processing the patients’ previous health conditions, surgeries, prescription medications and dosages—all with a mental dexterity that both baffled and frightened Russ. “Why on earth do I know all this?” he thought. “How is it that I can’t remember where I live or who my family is, but I can look at a cadaver or a medical chart and tell with one glance what killed the poor sucker?” Still, Russ felt some comfort in being able to focus on something and find at least a vague semblance of clarity.
“Are there others?” Russ barked. “Others with brains like this?”
“These two, plus five more that were shipped out last week,” said Udo.
“To be cremated, I presume?”
“Exactly,” said Udo. “They don’t appear to share any pathologies. Drinking killed this one, that woman died of heart failure.”
“What about the others. Any surgeries? Travel outside the country?”
“One had a knee replacement, another a facelift twenty years ago. Ordinary stuff. They all died of the usual geriatric conditions. The only thing they really had in common is that they were all patients here.”
“What kind of patients?”
“These brains don’t show any signs of Alzheimer’s.”
“No, but they all came from the 14th floor.”
This revelation stopped Russ cold. “The 14th?”
“Yep, that’s the Alzheimer’s ward. And there’s one other thing I’ve noticed. They’ve all got a mark at the base of their skulls—just left of the vertebrae. Come look.” Udo lifted the woman’s shoulder so that Russ could see the back of her head. There it was: a tiny blue dot, no larger than a bug bite.
Instinctively, Russ felt the back of his neck and noticed a tender spot. “Do I?” he asked.
“Let’s take a look,” replied Udo.
At that moment, they heard footsteps coming down the hallway, and after a loud mechanical click, the double-doors swung open with a bang.
(Continued in Chapter Five)