(a Halloween short story)
Dr. Frank Austin is determined to succeed.
At the hospital where he works, they told him it was impossible. They told him he could not possibly do it. They told him it would be unnatural, strange, weird.
They told him he lacked the training, the skills, they told him he could not do it.
The more they told him he couldn’t do it, the more he was determined to accomplish it.
He’d show them.
The good doctor decided he’d succeed, he’d impress and shock them.
It would have to be a secret, of course, up to the very last minute. Up to the moment he revealed his masterpiece.
He studies all the little details, he persues all the alternatives. He applied himself to find out all he could, and knew how many had failed when they tried it, he analyzed their mistakes, making their knowledge his. He is now sure, despite the opinion of his friends and colleagues, he can indeed accomplish his goal.
First, he must obtain the… carcass. The body. It has to be big. It has to be enormous. He wants his colleagues to be impressed, astounded, marveled, and, of course, surprised.
But an empty carcass will not do. He has to make it flourish, to make it jump out and grab his colleagues.
Impossible. Ha! He’ll show them.
He tries first with average bodies, he has some success, yes, but some success is not enough. He wants total success, perfection, a magnum opus.
In the little hours of the morning, under a cap and a cloak, in a place where no one knows him, he examines them. All the fresh bodies he could want. But not just any old body will do. It has to be well-muscled, it must have been young, but mature, healthy, and big, when it was alive.
There, that one will do. Must have been a giant when alive. Just what he needs.
Then, all the parts and components. He must be careful, selective. The… ingredients, he smiles, must be fresh, otherwise, they will not be good enough for what he has in mind.
They must be vibrant, they must have been gathered mere hours before, they must be as fresh as he can possibly make them.
He puts on the protective garments, he doesn’t want to receive his colleagues and friends covered in blood or worse.
Handling the body is difficult, a gigantic specimen, no doubt.
First, the preliminary treatment. A solution of sodium chloride. He takes a risk and includes some glucose too, as well as some selected ingredients, he wants it to be perfect. The concentration was high, but he wants all the tissues appropriately infused. He leaves the body to absorb all the substances that would make it the glorious crowning achievement he is sure to accomplish, while he proceeds with the other preparations.
Oh, yes. Everything is vibrant, fresh, alive just hours before.
The peals of laughter echo from the walls. Of course, he’d be able to do it.
He measures, he times, he combines with the skill of the many hours of practice, with the experience of the many failures he’s suffered before this, his stellar try.
He masterfully wields the blades, he brought some instruments from his practice for this very purpose, so the clamps and scissors are put to new, unexpected uses. He carefully removes all extraneous tissue, anything useless is discarded.
Once everything that will go inside the carcass is ready, brought to perfectly balanced proportions, he goes forth with the delicate procedure of inserting it all in the body. Every little crevice, every little nook and cranny must be filled, no empty spaces allowed.
The many hours studying the anatomy of his subject come to his aid. His brow is now covered with a thin sheen of sweat. Will he be able to perform such a delicate operation? Will he be successful?
His hands tremble a little. The physical demands on him are starting to take their toll. He has been working for hours, and still, there is much to be done.
Finally, it is complete. The sutures are the only thing pending.
Here, he takes his time. A work of art, the sutures have to be discrete, delicate, they can not be allowed to show. His masterpiece must be beautiful too.
Finally, he steps back and gazes at his creation. It is resting there, complete. Now, for it to truly come to fruition, it must be carefully tended to for hours. It is not enough for it to be sealed and seamless, it must now be made presentable to his friends, a procedure that will take many hours, of patience, and dedication.
He takes a well-deserved breather. A glass of wine is in order. Maybe two. It is now in the process that will bring it forth perfect, blemishless, an absolute work of art. His art.
After a brief respite, he goes back to his labors. His friends are a few hours away from arriving, but he must make them welcome. In order for him to surprise them, he must make them believe he has done nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary.
He will receive them as if nothing was happening, as if nothing was amiss.
He places a selection of drinks, some hard, some soft. He knows his friend’s tastes, it is not difficult to be sure to please them all.
He takes pains to ensure they will feel welcome, but that they will be unsuspecting of his true intentions. They must not know until he is ready to reveal his creation.
As the hour approaches, he grows nervous again. Had he forgotten anything? Was his creation ready? Will it need more time? The humidity, was it adequate? The temperature, was it perfect?
He shakes his head. It’s too late. Too late! Either he will succeed or he will make a fool of himself.
His colleagues and friends start to arrive. A mummy and King Tut, a vampire and his bride, a werewolf or two. A green-skinned alien, a zombie and her friend. They are all taken to the patio. He doesn’t want any of them to stumble onto his creation prematurely.
They compliment him on his selection of libations. They seem happy that his previous obsession is gone now.
Ha! Will they ever be surprised!
He laughs and talks with them. The sun dips in the west and a cool breeze dries his brow. His nerves are taught as violin strings. The frustration of not being able to scape and check on his creation is almost too much. He must remain calm. There is nothing else to do.
Finally, his timer indicates the time has come.
He excuses himself.
He goes in.
The door opens and there, among the steam and the smells, his creation.
The color, perfect, the texture, ideal. He checks the temperature, exactly as planned.
He steps back. He has done it. He succeeded.
With a great effort, he places the specimen on a trolley and wheels it out to the patio where all his friends are gathered.
The exquisite aroma wafts all through the patio.
His friends all come up and admire his creation.
“Dr. Frank Austin, you have outdone yourself.” His best friend claps him on the shoulder.
Everyone is impressed and amazed by the huge turkey, perfectly seasoned and cooked. Soon, they cut it and the full food plates of moist, tender, perfectly cooked bird are distributed and consumed.
“Frank, it was a monster, I’ve never seen a bird that big, but what a delicious one it was.”
He has done it, they are all happy and satisfied.
Now, the question is, why did he bake a turkey for Halloween?