The Good Doctor's Tales Folio Three

BOOK: The Good Doctor's Tales Folio Three
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The Good Doctor’s Tales

~ Folio Three ~

Randall Allen Farmer

 

Copyright © 2012 by Randall Allen Farmer

 

The Good Doctor’s Tales
~ Folio Three ~

Author’s Introduction

This novella length document is a collection of short
pieces, stand-alone and otherwise, related to “Now We Are Monsters” (Book Two
of the Commander series).  As with the extra features common to DVDs, the
various parts of “The Good Doctor’s Tales” are not essential to the story “Now We
Are Monsters” tells; instead, they add to it.

 

White Lab Coats
(1964)

Smash! went the lab glassware, after Hap swept it off
the lab bench and down to the floor.  “No,” he said.  “No. 
No!
  This
damned thing has to be wrong.”  Hap – Dr. Harvey Littleside – continued on with
his tirade, his voice growing louder and louder, filling Dr. Zielinski’s drab
Harvard lab with angry echoes.

Dr. Zielinski had seen worse; Hap had trashed entire
labs several times, his reputation spoke of far worse, and his grant budgets
always needed a line item for replacement lab equipment.  Dr. Zielinski knew well
the third man in the lab, Dr. Kepke, and raised his arm to block his young postdoc
before he started his rush toward Hap.

At least Hap hadn’t sent any of their samples flying, or
any caustic chemicals.

“Where did you dig up this fossil from, anyway?” Dr.
Kepke said.  At least he whispered.  Zielinski didn’t consider Hap a fossil,
just a tad bit eccentric.  Hap hadn’t practiced medicine since WW II; after the
war his successful turn to full-time research turned him into a well-known
researcher, at least within his area of specialty, his papers cited twice as often
as Hank’s own.  Dr. Zielinski had studied under Hap at UMASS before his stint
in Korea.  Hap had been eccentric back then, perhaps more so.

“Colorado,” Dr. Zielinski said, deadpan.  “Dr.
Littleside is the top biomedical researcher on the subject of Transforms.  Give
him a little time.”  And respect.

Dr. Kepke winced, recognizing the name and perhaps the
(well deserved) reputation.

Hap returned to his work, after wiping his longish black
unwashed hair with his lab coat, already greasy and dark from previous wipes. 
Hap’s salt and pepper gray eyebrows told the story; he had found something, and
when the chase was on Hap’s eyebrows lowered and held steady.  Late afternoon
sunlight angled through the lab windows, slowly traversing the bland linoleum
floor, as Hap continued to work.

“So this is the man who identified
para-procorticotrophin,” Dr. Kepke said, calm after an hour, and after no
further outbursts from Hap; Dr. Kepke’s respect came in the form of a whisper. 
“What are the two of you crazies working on today?”

“Armenigar Syndrome Focus samples,” Dr. Zielinski said,
bemused at Dr. Kepke’s categorization.  Compared to Dr. Littleside, Hank was a
paragon of reasonable.

 

“Over here, you,” Dr. Littleside said.  To Dr.
Zielinski.  Hank smiled; when Hap got deep into his work, even getting a
pronoun from him was a sign of respect.  He walked over, Dr. Kepke trailing,
Dr. Zielinski eyeing the postdoc to keep him quiet and to keep him from
disturbing Hap.

“Found something, Hap?”

“Uh huh.  Finally.  The comparison between your Arm
samples and the Monster and Focus samples I brought with me from UCHSC” University
of Colorado Health Science Center, where Dr. Littleside served as their star
medical researcher and professor “I can definitively say you were right and the
establishment was…” pause, followed by a trademark hand slap on the lab bench
“dead wrong as usual.”

“Which contention?” Dr. Zielinski said.  Hap’s brash and
argumentative nature didn’t bother him, or his often overblown statements.  Or
Hap’s impatience with lesser intellects, which meant impatience with nearly
everybody.  To him, Dr. Zielinski was a ‘mere surgeon’, at best a dabbler in
research.  Zielinski’s true research specialty, epidemiology, Hap considered
barely scientific and, often, sleep inducing.

“Take a gander at this.  You tell me,” Dr. Littleside
said.  He bent over the prints in his typical hollow-chested manner, putting
aside his compass, ruler and slide rule.  “It’s in the comparison between these
ion-exchange chromatography and size exclusion chromatography results.”  Hap
spread out a half dozen of his fifty or so thermal paper prints from
Zielinski’s lab’s gas chromatograph across the lab bench, next to where he had
been working, not that many minutes ago, on the juice separations.  Several of
the prints, decorated with recognizable Hap thumb and fingerprints, were
smudged beyond recognition.  “Here, here, here.  See?”

Hap’s work using the gas chromatograph was, as always,
exemplary.  He was a wizard at selecting the proper particle sizes for his
columns to get optimum baseline separations.  Dr. Zielinski recognized only one
of the fractions Hap pointed out.  “Juice,” he said, circling the signal on
both the ion and exclusion results he recognized as para-procoticotrophen with
his pencil.  Hank stopped and frowned.  “Wait – what’s this?” he pencil
pointed.  “If you put these two results together, you end up with a juice
fraction nearly a quarter of the juice itself in this sample.”  He knew about
the other biomolecules in juice; para-procorticotrophen picked up similar sized
biomolecules with ease.  These annoying contaminants always interfered with the
analysis.

“Exactly.  That’s fraction K-17, as I’ve written up
before.”  Another pause, another hand slap on the table.  “Means Monster.  This
is a sample from a multi-year old Monster.”

Dr. Zielinski knew about K-17 from the literature.  The
lab work behind this was outside of his normal skill set, unfortunately.  He
had never seen K-17 show up in the raw data, and hadn’t realized how large a
weight-wise proportion it was in Monster juice, or how large a proportion any
of these fractions were.  A cursory glance showed over a half dozen other fractions
between a tenth and a half percent by weight of juice itself.  They couldn’t be
contaminants.  He vowed to refresh his gas chromatography skills and examine these
anomalies himself; thanks to Hap’s inadvertent prod Dr. Zielinski now had a new
research avenue to investigate.

“Here’s your Armenigar Syndrome Focus samples,” Hap
said.  “Notice how K-17 is absent from all but two of them, the same absence…” 
Hap rearranged papers, sending three thermal prints to the floor.  “…seen in
Focuses.”  Hap pounded his leg on the floor and swiped his lab coat sleeve
across his hair.  “Proof, real proof, that Arms are not the Monster version of
Focuses, but are a distinct Major Transform variant.”  Hap snorted.  “Note I
used the colloquialism ‘Arm’; calling them ‘Focuses’, in any way, is completely
wrong.”

Dr. Zielinski paused and reflected on Hap’s statement as
Dr. Kepke and Hap started a discussion on the detail of Hap’s procedures and
logic.  Hap’s work wasn’t a surprise.  Based on other, less scientifically
verifiable, evidence, Zielinski considered the Focus and the Arms distinct
Major Transform variants, and had so for years.  However, having firm
biochemical proof of his assertion pleased him greatly.

He reached out and picked up the Arm sample prints with
the K-17 in them, at 1.3% and 0.8% respectively.  The first was from Sarles,
after her draw of the male withdrawal victim, the other, older sample, from
Rose Desmond after her interrupted draw.  Dr. Zielinski didn’t say anything,
but from those samples he concluded that although Arms weren’t the Monster form
of Focuses, or failed Focuses for that matter, things could happen to them might
make them part-Monster.

Based on his experiences with Desmond and Sarles, from
the time period where these samples originated, being a part-Monster wasn’t
good for an Arm, no, not at all.

 

---

 

“I’m thinking I’ve about had it with Transforms,” Dr.
Kepke said.  Dr. Zielinski had managed to talk Frank into driving.  Middle of
the night, called out on an emergency like this, was new to Dr. Kepke.  Dr. Kepke’s
inexperience wasn’t Hank’s only problem – the expression on Glory’s face hadn’t
been at all pleasant when he informed his wife he needed to hustle off to deal
with yet another Transform emergency.  At 2 AM on a Monday morning.  He was
lucky his postdoc was available at all, after a late Sunday eight hour surgery
shift.

“Think of all you’re going to be learning,” Hank said,
and smiled.  “Focuses in trouble, wounded Transforms, insane political games.  You
never know what’s going to happen next with the Transforms.”

“As long as what happened to you in Phoenix doesn’t
happen to me,” Frank said.  Hank shook his head.

“You can’t just wish them all away, Frank.  If the MRC
model is correct, they’re our future.”

“Bah.  All Transforms from a single mutation?  A
disease
triggered
mutation?  I don’t believe it in a minute, and neither do you.”

“True, the reality must be more complicated than the
standard model, but the standard model is on the right track.  Turn here.”

They turned into the driveway of the vegetable truck
farm, and wound their way up a short hill to the plateau where all the Transforms
lived in their dilapidated mobile homes.

“Creepy place,” Frank said.

“Looks better in the daytime.”  Well, at least a little. 
The Focus here wasn’t one of the kindly ones.

Five men stood watch, wary, their weapons out and their
posture itchy.  Hank frowned at such an open display of weaponry, but based on the
panicky phone comments they had every right.  One of the guards ran up and
shined a flashlight on Dr. Kepke’s face.  He rolled down the window.

“Dr. Zielinski?”

“Over here,” Hank said.  For his efforts, he got a
flashlight beam in his face.

“Great!  They’re in the old farmhouse.”

Dr. Zielinski exited the car, and followed the man,
trailed by Dr. Kepke.  The man led them to a small two-story farmhouse, a weather
beaten turn of the century wood frame building in dire need of a new paint job
and substantial siding repair.  Lights shown through all the windows, despite
the pre-dawn hour.  Yes, they had an emergency to deal with.

“That him?  Yes, that’s him, alright,” a woman’s voice
said.  The voice belonged to Focus Abernathy, a Focus for nearly five years.  He
knew her from years ago, when he had bartered medical treatment for testing
time during his research into the subtle differences between fundamental and
supplemental juice, and more recently, when he collected the data for his paper
on the scientific basis for Focus charisma.  The latter turned out to be a
bust, not because of any technical difficulties, but because a couple of Focus
VIPs said ‘pretty please’ and sweet-talked him into not publishing his paper on
the subject.  More importantly, Focus Abernathy was one of the two Focuses who
cooperated on training him to resist Focus charisma – it didn’t do him any good
as a doctor when the Focuses he dealt with kept spinning him around on his
heels with their charisma and messing up his diagnoses and surgical techniques.

“Good morning, Focus Abernathy,” Hank said, and
introduced Dr. Kepke to her.  “So, where are these gunshot victims?”

Focus Abernathy frowned.  “Follow me,” she said, unhappy
to be caught up in the crisis.  Focus Abernathy tried to keep her head down as
much as possible, and relied on the more politically savvy Focuses to keep the
world from crashing down on her head.  Like most Transform households, the
Abernathy household was quite poor, because of discrimination against Transforms. 
Focus Abernathy needed all the help she could get.

Hank followed the Focus through the kitchen and into the
dining room, where he found two people laid out on the floor.  When he entered
the room, he stopped cold when he recognized the wounded Focus, and cursed passionately
in his mind.

“You got me Zielinski!  Marcia…”

The voice, a commanding contralto, came from a normally
stunning Mediterranean bombshell of a Focus.  This morning, though, Focus
Biggioni appeared to have gone nine rounds with Cassius Clay.  They had her
laid out on a couch, covered by a thin sheet showing too much of her wounds.

“Good morning, Tonya,” Hank said.  “I thought you were
going to give up fighting the Monsters hand to hand.”

Tonya lowered her eyebrows and glared at him.  “Shut up
and start working, Zielinski.”  Several of Tonya’s crew stopped their bustling
and gathered close, hiding smiles.  He saw money change hands, the winner
snarking about white lab coats, which Hank and Dr. Kepke did currently wear.  “Todd
here’s gutshot, and he’s bleeding internally.  I can’t support him much longer
before I fall into my own healing trance.”  Although Focus Tonya Biggioni was
one of the most abrasive and difficult Focuses he knew, she managed to be
brilliant, logical and fair-minded, often at the same time.  He cut her a lot
of slack because of her competence.  He also enjoyed his verbal sparring matches
with her; unlike with most Focuses, he didn’t have to hold back.

“Get the trunk, Frank,” Hank said, referring to the almost
passable portable operating studio he carried in the trunk of his Mercedes.  Nothing
moved, and Hank turned to see his assistant standing, hand over his now pasty
white face, eyes glued to Biggioni.  Dammit!  Biggioni leaked charisma like a
broken water main, as well as blood.  Hell, Focus Abernathy appeared unsteady
as well, not from the blood and gore but from the sight of her doctor standing
up to the Focus VIP.

“Do what the quack said, go get the trunk,” Tonya said,
and Frank split.  Running for his life, most likely.

Biggioni was also one of the major reasons Hank invested
time and effort into training resistance to Focus charisma.  She was a hell of
a dangerous Focus.

Gunshot wounds, though?  The rare Monster able to use
firearms would not likely ever face Tonya.  Things clicked in his head.

“So how much juice damage did you do to this Arm,
anyway, Tonya?” Hank asked.  “You leave her alive?”

“I didn’t do anything of the sort to her, she…”  Tonya
said.  She interrupted herself and clamped her mouth shut.  Glared at Hank.  “I
wasn’t going to talk about that, you… 
This is not for public consumption.

Pain lanced him, behind his eyes.  Hell, she wanted to
trick the damned information out of his head with her charisma!  He turned away
from Tonya and set his teeth, focusing his mind on past smells and current
smells.  Baby formula smells worked wonders, as well as the faint odor of cooked
cabbage in the farmhouse.  Anything to drag his mind away from Tonya’s damned
charisma.

BOOK: The Good Doctor's Tales Folio Three
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