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Fantasticoe Spring 2005 Contents



Mark Pedersen


He had been following her for a little over a three weeks now, watching her every move, studying, waiting to find the right time. He had been watching her so closely it was like he had known her for several months and they had been building a relationship. She lived alone and worked as a secretary for some law firm down town. He knew where she lived, where she shopped for groceries, what her grandmothers name was and even her bra size. He also knew that she was an orphan and had only one living relative her grandmother who lived 600 miles away. It was all a matter of calculation, the time and the moment had to be just right and when you are going to kill someone you donít want to be to irrational about it. He had even talked to her once, very shortly, just in passing and only to get his first impression. It is very important, he thought, to at least get a first impression, it tells you a lot about a person. He had already gotten a little bit of an idea about her from watching but he just had to approach her. If you are going to kill someone you ought to know what kind of person they really are. So far he was not too fond of her, she had this aura about her that just sang of cockiness and, from what he observed, was quite often a stuck up princess. None-the-less, he has his rituals and he had to at least get his first impression. She had to make a trip to the grocery store so he decided this would the place to get it. She had to buy some personal items but for all he knew she could have been buying tins of lard for cooking, he wasnít stalking her he just needed his first impression. He carefully moved about the store and when he saw her coming down the aisle he was on he picked up something off the shelf, it really didnít matter what and made like he was inspecting it.

"Oh excuse me, Iím terribly sorry," he said as dropped a bag of potato chips right in front of her, being careful to make it look like an accident.

"You should be," she replied in a very stuck up and bitchy manner.

"It was only on accident," he said back to her.

"Whatever," she said again with a very bitchy tone and continued on her way down the aisle. He had confirmed his suspicions, she was not a good person, this was not going to be difficult. He had been planning and calculating his move for a little over three weeks now and he decided to make it today. She always took the same route home from the store, she walked down to 16th and over three blocks to Indore Pl. where she took the bridge over the river to the east side of town. He decided this was the best place for the hit since it was a relatively unused street and the bridge itself had been deemed unsafe for vehicular transportation long ago. No one was even supposed to be on it and it was scheduled for demolition next month. It was quite simply, perfect.

As he exited the store he made a call on his cell phone.

"Yeah itís meÖ I am going to do it todayÖNo I will tell you about it when its all overÖ No donít come down you will ruin the surpriseÖLook if you had wanted to see it you should have stepped up to the plate on this one and done it yourselfÖI donít care if you feel left out, I didnít get into this business to make you happy," and he hung up the phone.

He walked to his car and got in. He drove down to 7th and over to Indore and down towards the bridge. He parked a couple block before the bridge on 14th and walked the rest of the way. When he got to 16th he looked down to see if she had made it to 16th. She hadnít so he walked onto the bridge and put on a black ski mask. About half-way across the bridge he hid behind a one the bridges girders and waited to hear the sound of her high-heels tapping the asphalt as she walked across the bridge. When he finally heard her he waited until she walked passed him and thatís when he jumped her. He caught her by the throat from behind and yanked back on her body hard; so hard that when she tried to scream she found herself out of breath. Not that screaming would have done her any good, no one was within six blocks and on that side of town no one would care anyway. She struggled violently, swinging her fists wildly in the air and screaming. He spun her around and looked into her eyes and she a screamed again.

"Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! Someone! Please! Help me! Please!" she screamed

"Your not so cocky now are you, you stuck up bitch!" he spat at her.

"Get your hands off of me!" she squealed, again at the top of her lungs.

"Oh donít worry my hands wonít be on you for much longer!" he replied and he began to move her closer and closer to the edge of the bridge.

"No donít! Please! Donít! Someone help me! Anybody please! Heís going to kill me!" she wailed.
"Quit your crying you bitch, no one can hear you now except the Lord almighty, so you might as well shut your mouth."
"Why are you doing this? I have never met you before. I have never done anything to you."
"Oh you think so? Youíre more stuck up than I thought. Well maybe in death it will come to you once you haveÖpassed over."

He picked her up by her hair and by her legs and went to toss her over the bridge. She took one last swing at his face and missed, grasping instead his medallion swinging from his neck and as she fell pulled it off and took it down with her.

"Damn, it was nearly perfect, it would look just like a suicide, at least once I pick up the groceries she dropped, if she hadnít gotten hold of that," he thought to himself. "Oh well, no matter she will lose her grip on it as she falls asleep in that freezing water and it will sink to the bottom," he confidently reassured himself. He dialed a number on his cell again and said, "Itís done."

* * *


Amanda was getting prepped for surgery, she was cleaning herself and putting on a sterile gown. She left the hair cover off since that is where the operation was going to take place and they had shaved her head the night before anyway. She remembered being so sad when they cut off her hair. It was beautiful; long and blonde and naturally curly. It wasnít that she was conceited about her looks, it was a culmination almost of this whole awful mess she had gone through and she began to cry some more. She looked at herself in the mirror and her blue eyes were an even deeper blue since she had been crying off and on for about an hour. Any one watching her could tell that she was nervous. She could barely tie the knots of her gown around her slender body, not that those gowns are ever easily tied. Her stomach however was in stronger knots than that gown was ever going to be. Of course none of this was helped by the fact that she was still hooked up to that god forsaken computer that had been recording her thoughts and memories for a little over six weeks now. All of this combined had made a sad, emotional girl out of what used to be a strong and independent woman. She sat herself down on the edge of her bed and tried to keep from crying.

"What if it doesnít work?" she thought to herself. Had she made the right choice, were the risks reasonable? Just then her three and a half year old daughter, Haily, ran in and jumped in her lap.

"Mommy, mommy guess what!", the bright eyed, blonde haired, little girl shouted.

"What sweetie?", Amanda said with question but also worry.

"Daddy and me bought you flowers and a biiiig balloon in the fit shop," said Haily, she still had trouble with some words.

"Ha-ha thatís wonderful Haily, you know how much mommy loves flowers,", she said as she slowly realized, sitting here with her daughter that yes, the risks were acceptable.

She was going to be the first to go through an experimental new procedure, a total brain transplant. For fifteen years her doctor, Dr. William Kensington had been developing this new procedure, for people like Amanda who had brain tumors, or scarring from other injuries that were otherwise inoperable because it would destroy the brain. In a matter of hours her brain tumor would be completely gone, with no chance of a re-growth, since obviously she would have a new brain. As she sat there looking at Haily she began to think back on how long this whole ordeal had been, she thought back to the day she first met with Dr. Kensington with her husband Curtis a little over a year and a half ago.

"It is where the future is headed. We are reaching the limits with what we can do to repair organs," Dr. Kensington told her and her husband. He explained everything so clearly she had always thought. He had been first in his class at Northwestern University School of Medicine, and a neurosurgeon for twenty years and he still handled every little instrument and could recall any little minute detail as well as the when he had just learned it. Not just that though he was very charming and spoke very eloquently. It suited him nicely, since he was a very attractive man. He was tall a lean, he had probably been an athlete in college. He was very pleasant to talk to. He was definitely a man who he could trust to do this. He had been developing this procedure every day for the past fifteen years and it was the culmination of his career, she knew he would do a good job. However, Amanda was still the first, and there was and had always been one big question mark.

"The procedure calls for a step I have termed per-mem transfusion, which is a transfer of all the recipientís memories and personality from their brain into the new healthy one," Dr. Kensington told them after his little speech about the future.

"It seems risky to me doctor. Let me see if I am understanding, for months the scientists have to record Amandaís brain waves and thought patterns using a super computer?" her husband asked.

"Thatís right they are going to try to get all of her memories and her personality, which of course, are simple electronic impulses in the brain," he explained to them. "The trouble is, decoding these impulses into what they mean. This has to be done in order to make sure they are transplanted into the proper area of the brain. You see, neural signals in our brains are like a binary code, a series of ons and offs, 1's and 0's but they do still code specific messages. They must be translated to ensure that any signal they get or are sending is put into the proper area of the brain. You wouldn't want a neural impulse from your somatosensory cortex to create synapses in the occipital lobe, would you? Ha-ha," he said jokingly. Unfortunately his jokes were lost on Amanda and Curtis, they were lay people to science. They were both lawyers and had very little knowledge on such things not to mention neither of them found much humor in the whole situation, I mean who would?

"So how do these messages get Ďtranslatedí doctor?" Amanda asked.

"The super computer comes in again here as well, it could translate and then re-stimulate the donor brain, in the proper format," he answered.

"So what is so tricky about it if it is all handled by the computer?" Curtis asked.

"Itís programs are still written by humans and if we did not write the program correctly or if it interprets any signal wrong it could set things haywire, so to speak," Dr. Kensington explained. "This transfusion also requires that the other brain be wiped completely clear of all memories, and personality traits of the donor."

"That doesnít just happen when the person dies?" Curtis had asked s he remembered he had been a little suspicious at first.

"No, it does not in fact. We have discovered that they must all be wiped clear. These neural pathways when implanted into a skull and brought back to life retain their old memories," He answered.

She was snapped back to reality where her husband, mother and little sister had made their way into her room. She really did not notice anyone but her husband at that point. She was so in love with him, to this day she had never felt anything less for him. They met at Stanford University when they were both sophomores. He was the quarterback for the football team and he was so handsome she thought. He was tall and athletically muscular, not that bulky kind she found repulsive. He could have been the hottest guy on the planet though, that wasnít what she fell in love with. He was smart, smarter than her which she never thought she would find in a man. She loved it about him.

"Hi darling, how are you getting along in here?" her mother, named Mary, asked.

"Oh just fine mom, I wish they served better food but what can you do?" she replied, almost sarcastically as though the food was her biggest problem, which her husband Curtis actually called her on.

"If you're concerned most about the food sweetie, you must be in shock," he said trying, in the way he always had to lighten the situation. That was what Curtis did, he never took a serious situation too seriously. She had always found it comforting but right now she just wanted him to be there for her, not make jokes out of what was happening. The three straight weeks she had spent in the hospital in addition to countless visits had been more than enough for her. She hated hospitals and wanted out.

"Yes I suppose I am," Amanda said quietly.

"So how long is this thing going to take anyway?" her sister Judy chimed in. She was the youngest child, younger than Amanda by almost 13 years, and was extremely naÔve her parents had sheltered her greatly when she was a child.

"Should be just a little over 20 hours, assuming no complications," Amanda explained.

"Well I donít like this one bit, claiming that everything we are is in our brain, what about our soul?" her mother stated, or maybe I should say re-stated. Since she was a devout Christian, she had been opposed to this since they day it was proposed; it did not seem right to her.

"Oh Mary, come off it already would ya? Youíre supposed to be comforting your daughter for at least one day right?" said Curtis quickly. He had never thought Mary had had much comfort for any of the three of her children and also he really just did not like her.

"I am very comforting, I think God and the soul is the most comforting ideas in existence," she said.

"To you maybe," Curtis retorted.

"If your not comforted by God then I am not sure you fit for existence," Mary Said.

"Everyone stop it right now, there will be no fighting right now," said Amanda, "I am much to tired to deal with you guys today, " which she really was but lucky enough the doctor and surgical team came in.

"All set to make history Amanda?" Dr. Kensington said with a comforting smile on his face.

"You make the history doctor, Iíll just live through it," she replied.

"Great, well you know the drill, the team is going to prep you, give you a sedative and do some final sterilization and then move you to the O.R. and I will see you down there." the doctor said very confidently, which was good to hear, at least if he was nervous, he wasnít showing it.

"Dr. Kensington?" her mother asked.

"Yes maím?" he replied.

"I still am not clear on something about the procedure." she said

"What is that madam?"

"Well this whole process of Ďforgettingí as you have so succinctly named it, why does that have to be done?" she asked. To her it didnít seem right, there shouldnít be, "something left over" after a person dies, their memories and everything should be with them in heaven.

"Well madam, you see what we humble scientists are going to attempt to do is essentially wipe clear any memories this donor brain has," he said, trying to keep it short since he had to be going.

"Uh-huh and how exactly do you do that?" Mary asked.

"Well its tricky, we have to literally destroy all neural connections that were created during this personís life time. The trick is to do it without destroying any brain tissue," he answered. "Is that a little bit clearer maím.?"

"Yes I suppose." she didnít really get it but she figured she never would plus Dr. Kensington was much too busy to give much more than s run around discription at this point.

"Do you have any final questions Amanda?" he asked.

"No doctor, just ready to get this over with," she sighed.

"It will be over very soon Amanda and you will have a new lease on life," he said and turned and gestured the surgical attendants to continue. The doctor left and the rest of his team continued to prep Amanda, and then they proceeded to take her down to the O.R. They wheeled her down the cold, hard hallway, typical of so many hospitals. They were almost to the elevator when Haily yelled out her.

"I love you Mommy!" Haily said as they wheeled Amanda out the door.

"I love you too sweetie!" Curtis said right after.

"I love you both so much!" Amanda said, already groggy from the sedative. Her mother and sister remained more or less silent. All they could do now was wait.

* * *

He picked up the news paper a week later; he read the paper religiously after a hit. He wanted to know what the police were learning, if anything. So far the hit hadnít gotten any attention other than, "just another suicide" one journalist put it. He had thought that that was rather cold but he was too proud of his work to worry about it too much. He began to read through it when he saw a headline "Miracle Medical Procedure Taking Place in Metropolis Tomorrow," it didnít really sound too interesting but he felt compelled to read it.

"Tomorrow morning Amanda Jones will be the first to undergo a total brain transplant." was the first line of the story, as he continued to read he saw he learned little bits about the procedure, he learned that the donor brain had to be wiped clear or forgotten and all of it seemed rather dull, in fact he was just about to stop reading when he noticed the word suicide as he scanned over the rest of the article.

"The brain is coming from a Jane Doe, who had committed suicide a week ago." he read. "It was chosen because of the hypothermia she had suffered when she drowned in the river."

All of this sent him into a panic, he snatch his cell phone off the table and dialed the number. No one answered, he tried again, still nothing. He knew he had to do something, if she got any of that girls memories of the murder she might be able to figure out who he was, he had to find out.

* * *

"Amanda? Amanda can you hear me? Can you hear me?" asked Dr. Kensington, who was standing over her bed with his usual comforting smile trying to wake her.

"Yes I can hear you, is it done already?" she asked still a little groggy.

"Yes it is, and thatís a very good sign, you remember what you just went through, memories intact all the way up until we took the scanners off of you!" he said with incredible enthusiasm. So far, so good it seemed. Amanda slowly began to become aware that her husband and daughter and sister were all around also.

"Hi mommy!" Haily said.

"Hi sweetie." Amanda replied.

"Amanda do you remember all of us?" her sister asked.

"Of course I do," she said.

"Excellent!" Dr. Kensington nearly shouted. "Iíll let you rest up a bit and then we need to run tests."

What a headache she had, and she still didnít have full use of motor functions, the stem cells used to recreate synapses with her new brain and her old nerves still hadnít fully grown in yet. If she moved to fast she would lose her vision for a second or feel numb in part of her body. This was normal the nurse told her, "Just a side effect," she said. But it still just didnít feel right, and what a crappy side effect. She was exhausted and with her family still around she just wanted to go to sleep, so she hit the button they gave her that dispensed demerol and she was out before she knew it.

"No, donít! Please! Donít! Someone help me! Anybody please! Heís going to kill me!"

"Quit your crying you bitch, no one can hear you now except the Lord almighty, so you might as well shut your mouth."

"Why are you doing this? I have never met you before. I have never done anything to you."

"Oh you think so? Youíre more stuck up than I thought. Well maybe in death it will come to you once you haveÖpassed over."

She caught a glimpse of her face in the reflective surface of his medallion he had on around his neck. It was huge and gaudy. She could see it wasnít herself and in that moment she was picked up and tossed over the side of the bridge. She managed to grab hold of the medallion before he threw her but she still fell into the freezing cold water which was being rushed down stream by a monstrous current. She didnít have a chance, before she knew it she was falling asleep from the cold and being sucked under. Finally she went under for the final time.

"aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh" Amber woke up wailing at the top of her lungs. "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!" she continued, before her husband could get to her to comfort her.

"Whatís the matter sweetie? What is so horrible? Your safe here, calm down," he said while stroking her hair.
"It was only a dream?" she asked.

"Yes sweetie you have been here the whole time, I havenít taken my eyes off of you," he assured her.

"It was so real though. I could smell him and I still feel his touch on my skin," she stammered.

"Well no one else is here but me. Your sister took Haily when visiting hours ended and only you and I have been here the whole time," Curtis had always been able to comfort her when she was in his arms and she did once again feel safe. The nurses had rushed in to see what the problem was but they found her calmed down and were relieved it was just a nightmare.

The next day Dr. Kensington was up in her room, making out orders to have blood drawn, and run a neurological battery, C.T. scan, E.E.G. and magnetic resonance imaging, the works. In addition a series of physical and psychological tests, "I want to make sure everything is functioning properly." he said "that includes your personality and memories." She had had enough psych and memory tests to last her a life time but she resigned herself to more since the tumor that had been steadily growing inside her was now gone. "I should have the results of these tests by this afternoon, weíll know more then and I will inform you of any problems in the morning. Until then I want you to try to relax. Any undo stress could be very damaging."

"Why do you have to wait until morning?" she asked.

"Well I need time to go ver all the results," he said.

"Oh ok. Dr. Kensington, do you think a possible side effect of this procedure could be more vivid dreams?" she asked, still curious about why her dream yesterday had been so real. "I mean it was almost like it wasnít a dream at all, like I had actually been there, I knew exactly where I was, I was on the Indore Place Bridge but I have never been there before how would I know that?"

"Yes I would expect you have different dreams, I mean all they are neurological impulses, possibly amplified by the recent surgery and increased stimulation of your brain. I wouldnít worry, they are after all only dreams, they canít hurt you," he patiently explained.

"Yes I suppose your right. Oh doctor just one more thing, who was my donor? Was it a girl?"

"Yes she was but we donít know who she was, she was a Jane Doe, the only reason we used her brain was because it had been so well preserved from hypothermia, why do you ask?"

"She got Hypothermia? How did that happen?" Amanda asked.

"They said they found her in the east river, apparently a suicide, having jumped from a bridge about twenty miles up river. At least thatís the best they could figure from time of death and current flow. The police never found evidence of anything to suggest it was more than suicide." As Amanda listened to all this she was absolutely stunned. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh no reason, just curious," she lied.

"OK fair enough, well get some rest after those tests and I will get the results and tell you how your doing just as soon as I know." he said with that same comforting smile and left.

"So she did actually die, in a river from hypothermia and drowning and she didnít jump," Amanda thought to herself. "I wonder how they couldn ít tell there was a struggle? She fought hard with him," Amanda thought to herself still not sure what to make of all of this yet. It was all happening so fast and it was so disturbing to think she had this memory inside her of this horrible thing and it wasnít even hers. She didnít know what she was going to do but she knew, it had to be made right, she felt as though this girl was reaching out to her from beyond and that it was her duty to make sure she could rest in peace.

The next morning when Dr. Kensington came in with the results of the tests, he reported that her blood work was all normal.

"Blood work is all normal Amanda and kidneys and other internal organs are functioning properly" he reported. "We have a possible complication however," he said with slight concern in his voice. "The problem with a transplant of the brain is not the fear of the actual organ being rejected since for there to be rejection your immune cells have to come into contact with the organ tissue. The problem is your cranial nerves and the spinal c ord at the point of attachment. They have not fully developed yet since the stem cells we implanted in your nerves to re-grow connections have not fully developed. Until that time, it is possible, however, unlikely that you are going to suffer from temporary paralysis and maybe even loss of consciousness. Also the possibility exists for erratic thought and speech patterns and hallucinations due to a mis-transmission of a signal from one neuron to the next, a crossing of wires if you will." He explained very thoroughly in lay terms.

"Well is there anything you or I can do in the mean time?" Amanda asked.

"We are going to monitor you very carefully for any deviations in heart, lung and other involuntary organ function which we can put you on life support if need be, however as far as the loss of consciousness, hallucinations and erratic thought and speech patterns all we can do is wait it out. Normally we would treat those with drugs but there is no chemical in-balance, nothing to treat," he told her.

"So the dreams I had the other night, were they a result of this do you think?" Amanda very carefully inquired.

"No dreams are localized within the brain, and in specific the cerebrum, the frontal lobe to be quite specific. The thing about that region is there is nothing that needs to re-grow. Any problems with dreams are due to an over-stimulation of the neurons during per-mem, also it could just be your having some kind of new dream, I wouldnít worry about it," he replied very confidently.

"Well, thank you doctor," she sighed, still mentally drained.

"I am glad to be able to help you, I hope this all turns out well for you because it means a new lease on life for you," he responded trying to comfort her and make her see what a gift she had been given.

"Yes I suppose it does," she sighed again and asked to be left alone to rest.


* * *

"No donít! Please! Donít! Someone help me! Anybody please! Heís going to kill me!"

"Quit your crying you bitch, no one can hear you now except the Lord almighty, so you might as well shut your mouth."

"Why are you doing this? I have never met you before. I have never done anything to you."

"Oh you think so? Youíre more stuck up than I thought. Well maybe in death it will come to you once you haveÖpassed over."

It was the same dream as before amanda saw a reflection in the medallion, it was not her and she was tossed over, holding onto the medallion as she fell, pulling it down with her. Again she was being pulled down stream by a sweeping current of freezing water. She could hear herself scream only when she popped above the surface and hear herself think she was going to die only when she was pulled under. Again she went under one last time and then it was over. Amanda woke, not screaming as before but determined. That poor girl had been killed and she was going to find out who did it.

"I have to remember more about the murder," she thought to herself. "There has to be more to the memory, it is so terrifying but there has to be a clue in it somewhere." she told herself.

"Mommy, mommy I missed you!" Haily said as she ran in to her motherís room.

"I know I missed you too sweetheart," she replied somberly. Amanda was obviously troubled but Haily of course was ignorant to it. As soon as Curtis walked in however, he could tell instantly.

"Sweetie whatís the matter? Is there a problem? How were your tests?" Curtis inquired. Amanda felt she had to tell him so bad, he had always been there for her, since they were college sweethearts, as long as she had known him, every step of the way. She decided she had to tell him. If it was a dream it would get sorted out, but she knew, especially in her condition she would need help if it was indeed what she feared and he was the only one she could truly trust.

"No dear everything is fine Dr. Kensington reassured me everything was normal, its just do you remember when I woke up yesterday?" she asked.

"Yes, of course, how could I forget you were terrified," he responded.

"Well I am not sure it was a dream.....I think it is a memory," she explained, "I think I am remembering the woman whose brain I have last memory. her memory of her death."

"Are you sure, I mean Dr. Kensington said that they extracted all of them. He said they checked and double checked," he said, "You really think they missed something?"

"Yes I do, and I think it is for the best that they did. I donít think she committed suicide Curtis, I think she was murdered," she said very quietly almost whispering. "I see it all so clearly and I just know it. His eyes, his smell.....his.....Of course," she said out loud.

"What? Amanda what is it?" Curtis asked.

"He has a tattoo on his neck," she explained. "He has a tattoo on his neck of a small serpent around a sword with a star for the handle."

"How are you so sure?" Curtis said now with more doubt and skepticism than worry.

"I can see it Curtis, I can see it in my head. It is like my own horrible memory and I know what it is. It is a traumatizing to me as it must have been for her and she focused in on that tattoo." she said, almost angrily.
"OK, OK sweetie. What can we do about it? How many people have tattoos on there necks in this city? How would we even begin to look for one of someone like this? Why donít we just tell the police and Dr. Kensington?" Curtis asked clearly dumb founded by all of what was happening.

"No, no police, no Dr. Kensington" she snapped. "He was in here this morning telling me about my test results, he thinks anything I do or say or think is going to be a problem of 'crossed wires' as he put it. The police wonít take this seriously and nothing will get handled."

"So...what do we do then?" he asked as though he had a million ideas.

"Dr. Kensington told me they found her on the bank of the river. Thatís the east side of town, and if no one came to claim her body she is probably a nobody, a runaway, a drug addict, something like that which means the east side of the river plus I Ďrememberí it being on the Indore Place bridge. She must have been crossing it to go home," Amanda was frantically explaining.

"So what makes you think her killer will be on the east of the river, or even on that side of town, why would he dump her body, much less commit the crime in the area of the city he lives?" Curtis blurted, still running to catch up.

"He knew her, he says to her in the dream that she might remember him, once she has passed over. He knew her Curtis. Go over to the east side of the river and check out the tattoo parlors over there, see if anyone remembers doing some work on someone like that.", Amanda practically ordered.

"The east side of town?" Curtis almost shouted, "Are you crazy? Ií ll shot or stabbed or both."

"You asked where we start, thatís where we start." she said again with the ordering tone in her voice. "Just go, there needs to be justice brought to this man and it is crucial for my recovery."

"OK sweetie, I will go in the morning, before all the gang bangers wake up," Curtis said resentfully. What about him not needing to make a recovery?

* * *

In the morning Curtis got in his B.M.W. which he knew was going to stick out like a white guy at a Snoop Dog concert but it was all he had. He drove to the east side of town and stopped in the first shop he came to. It looked like it had been built in the 19th century and as he looked inside he could see the guy behind the counter didnít look much younger.

"Good morning," he said as he entered.

"You lost or what boy?" the old man snapped from behind his counter.

"I am wondering if you could help me."

"Yeah? Well you donít look like the tattooed kind and you look like you do alright for yourself, maybe you should be helping me," the old man mocked.

"Ha-ha, thatís very funny sir, but I am actually looking for someone," Curtis replied.

"What makes you think I would know them?" the old timer said.

" Well this person has a very distinct tattoo, itís on their neck," Curtis asked.

"Well whatís it of?" the old man spat.

"Itís a serpent wrapped around a sword with a star for the handle ," Curtis said hoping this might lead somewhere and he could get the hell out of there.

"Nope, canít say I can recall doing anything like that to anyone. I sure as hellíd remember too, thatís not a very common tat," he said, crushing any hope that Curtis had.

"Are you sure?" Curtis asked again urgently.

"Look boy I said I donít remember. I donít take kindly to people who think Iím lying so I think you can git outta here," the old crony barked.

"Alright, alright I am leaving," Curtis said in an angry tone.

"Donít take that tone with me be boy just cause Iím old doní t mean I canít still whoop your rich ass up down these walls," the old dude shouted as Curtis was leaving.

"Well what a waste of time that was." he thought to himself. He got back in his car and sat for a moment thinking. "If every place is going to be like that this is going to be a very long day." He continued around the east side for a while visiting many of the tattoo places in the phone book. He was on his way to one of the last ones when his cell phone rang, it was Amanda. He answered it and before he could even a get a hello in she was whispering very intensely into his ear.

"He was here! He was here! He was in my room, get back here now!" she whispered but she might as well have been yelling.

"Sweetie, wait, what?" Curtis asked, puzzled while he was turning his car around to go back to the hospital but it was too late, she had hung up already. Curtis raced back to the hospital trying to get his wife on the phone again but she would not pick up and the worst thoughts ran through his mind. How could he have found her? How could he have known about her? Why would he risk it? How would he know her memories might still be in Amanda? Most important of all what if he was too late getting to her? He had tried calling her room and the nurses station, trying to get anyone to go and check on her but he couldnít get anyone. All those horrible thoughts ran through his head and before he knew it he was pulling in to the drop off zone of hospital.

"Hey you canít leave that here. Hey you canít leave that here!" door man shouted at Curtis as he raced by him and inside.

"Tow it" Curtis shouted back as he ran to the elevator. "Come on, come on, come on," he said, urgently hitting the call button for the elevator. "Fuck it," he said finally he giving up and running for the stairs. He climbed the four flights of stairs to her floor and ran down it. He found her, awake and in her bed waiting for him to get there.
"Curtis he was here, he was dressed as an orderly, he came in changed my bed pan, brought me a new gown and began to look at my I.V. That was when the nurse walked in and asked him what he was doing and he walked out," she said.

"What did he look like?" he urgently asked.

"He was younger, with brown hair and green eyes. He was kind of fat but not big and he also had an earring in his left ear," she replied.

"Well what do you want me to do?" Curtis begged, still almost in complete bewilderment that all of this was happening.

"Keep yourí eyes open. Heíll be back, he knows somehow. I donít know how but he knows," she ordered.
"Ok Sweetie. I am just glad youíre safe." he said.

He had to get some sleep and so did she, they were both so exhausted, mentally and physically.

Curtis woke up startled in the middle of the night, Amanda was still asleep, "She looks so beautiful" he thought, he would do anything for her. He was very hungry though. He decided she was safe in her room, he could go down to the cafeteria and get a sandwich, even though it was closed they had stuff to buy after hours. He headed for the elevator and hit the button. As it came to the fourth floor a man got off. Curtis looked up for a second glanced and him and stepped on the elevator. As it began to close he stuck his arm out and stopped the door. The look of the man was running through his head. "Green eyes, brown hair, earring andÖ..the tattoo!" he thought. "Hey! Hey you! Orderly! In the white jacket!" he said running off the elevator. Apparently the man knew why he was being yelled at because he took off down the hall. "Call security," Curtis yelled to the nurses as he ran past the nurse's station. "You son-of-a-bitch, stop!" he continued to yell. Of course the man did not stop, he ran down the floor and into the stairwell. As Curtis made it to the stairwell he listened for steps, and looked down and then up. For whatever reason the man ran up the stairs. Curtis continued to give chase, the thought that the man might have a weapon never crossed his mind, all he could think about was he had tried to kill Amanda and that he would if he was given the chance. He practically jumped up the stairs taking them three or four at a time, all the while looking up to see what floor the man got off on. Finally the man ran out on the seventh floor. Once Curtis reached this floor, he paused for a second and opened the door slowly to make sure he wasnít waiting him on the other side. As he opened the door wider he could tell no one was there. He carefully went on to the floor and looked up and down the hall. He was on the O.R. floor, only four operating rooms and some supply closets were on this floor. Only the elevator and those stairs they had just come up were available to get off the floor. He slowly proceeded to check out each O.R. individually. The first was clear and the supply closet across from it was also. By this time the thought of him being armed had become apparent to Curtis but he put it out of his mind, he would die before he let this man go free. The second O.R. was empty as well. Around the corner he could hear the elevator bell ring and he raced over to see what it was. Much to his relief it was security.

"How did you know where we were?" Curtis asked with a big sigh of relief.

"Video cameras," one of the guards spoke up. "Where is he? We lost him when he came up here, no cameras in the O.R.ís."

"I don ít quite know I have been searching for him. The first and second ones are clear and so is the supply room across from the first," Curtis replied.

"OK sir, weíll finish checking it out we need you to stay out of the way, someone escort him out of here," the guard said.

"Come with me sir," another spoke up. He was escorted to the elevator when he heard a loud crash behind him. The killer had jumped up behind one of the guards and had him by the neck with the guards night stick. Both Curtis and the guard ran to help the other guards trying to subdue the killer.

"Back off or I'll crush his trachea I swear," the man said panicking. "It wasnít supposed to be like this. He lied to me, he lied to me. I swear I will choke him, he means nothing to me."

"Stay calm sir, nothing is going to happen here" a guard said.

"That son-of-a-bitch lied to me, he told me she was supposed to get what was coming to her, he lied to me," he kept shouting. "Hey, hey you get back, Iíll crush his throat, I swear I will."

"Not a chance!" Curtis said and lunged at them, knocking them both to the ground and releasing the killers hold on the night stick. The other guards followed and in the ensuing madness Curtis ended up with the night stick.
"You were going to kill my wife!" said Curtis as he cracked the killers head with the stick, "You son-of-a-bitch!" He hit him again, and again and again until the guards who had been pulling him away, finally got the night stick away from him and pulled him away. The man lay there beaten and bloody.

"Sir, heís out. Heís out sir. Weíll take care of him, its ok. You need to calm down." one of the guards said.

"What do you think he was babbling about? Who said that? Was someone else behind it you think?" Curtis said to a guard.

"No idea buddy, I just work here."

* * *

"Well, Amanda, you did it. He is going to be in jail for a long time. Your testimony will be allowed into evidence with my expertise behind it, it should be a lock. He will be imprisoned for the rest of his natural life." Dr. Kensington told Amanda and her family.

"I canít believe what non-sense this has all been." Amandaís mom spoke up, "Tell me again why you had her memory?"

"Come on Mary, we have explained it fifteen times, it wasnít erased." Curtis said in frustration.

"I guess I just will never understand science," she replied.

"So did they find any I.D. on him or anything?" Judy asked.

"Yeah Judy, he was carrying a library card, his name is Jake Gibwud, he is some kind of contract killer, they have been looking for him for a long time. He claims to only kill the immoral, at least that is what the police say. They have been after him for years," Curtis answered, having taken a great deal of interest in the case.

"How did he find out about it , the procedure I mean?" Judy asked.
"Apparently, despite being a cold blooded killer he reads the news, or at least hears it some how. We wonít know for sure but he must have heard about her procedure and that they had taken the brain from a Jane Doe they found the river," Dr. Kensington explained. "We wonít find out any complete details for quite some time is the problem. He is in a coma from the severe beating Curtis gave him."

"Way to go Curtis." Judy applauded before she was smacked by her mother.

"So he obviously felt the need to kill whatever might be left of her," Dr. Kensington surmised. "He would have gotten away with it probably if he hadn't tried to come after her. Poor bastard he must have felt like she would get what was coming to her, some people are just psychotic I guess," Kensington said.

"What did you just say Doctor?" Curtis said.

"I know, psychotic isnít exactly a good term to use but those people are just so frustrating," Kensington said.

"No, no the other part, you thought she would get what was coming to her?" Curtis asked.

"Just a guess, who knows what they think." Kensington said, "Now if you all will excuse me, I have tests to look over." and he went for the door.

"Right well anyway I guess it is a good thing he did come looking for her, now the killers can be brought to justice," Curtis said just as Dr. Kensington was exiting the room. Kensington paused in the middle of the door way.

"You mean killer right?" he asked.

"Of course, what did I say?" Curtis replied.

"Nothing, I guess I am just getting old," Kensington said.

* * *

"I need to draw some blood." the nurse told the cop guarding Jakeís door.

"Well O.K. Donít they usually have nurses do that stuff.?" the cop asked.

"I am a nurse."

"Oh sorry I thought you was a doctor, seeiní as how you ainít a woman." the cop replied.

"Its quite alright."

"Go right in." the cop said. The man entered the room and walked over to the bed. Jake was laying there with tubes in his nose and mouth. It was quite a site to see, quite a beating he had been given. The man pulled a syringe off his platter of instruments and pulled back on the plunger. This filled the syringe with air, nothing but air. He went to go inject it into Jakeís neck when the lights flicked on.

"What are doing Doc?" Curtis asked with the cop standing right behind him.

"I was drawing some blood," Dr. Kensington replied.

"I thought you high and mighty doctors all had the nurses do that stuff, plus arenít you a neurosurgeon?" Curtis remarked.

"I need it from a certain region. I am running tests on hisÖ cerebrospinal fluid for his attending. What are you doing here anyway, that cop is supposed to keep you out of here," Kensington stammered.

"Well when I explained to him that you werenít a nurse, you were a doctor he was more than happy to let me in to find out what was going on," Curtis explained.

"How did you know I was down here," Kensington asked, slowly putting down the syringe.

"I never could quite get over what you said in Amandaís room. ĎGave her what was coming to her.í I believe it was."

"Yes, what is your point?" Kensington asked.

"Well you see, he said the exact same thing to all of us up in O.R. right before I beat him senseless." Curtis explained. "You see doc, if it had been me I would have said something like Ďhe was doing the right thingí or Ďdoing society a favorí; something else."

"Ha-ha, wow, what compelling evidence Curtis. I am truly amazed. Ha-ha, he was a killer of immoral people, I could have said anything," Kensington chided.

"Well it wouldnít have been had we not caught you with a syringe full of air two inches from his neck." Curtis said.

"Drawing blood," Kensington said.

"With air already in it the syringe?" Curtis replied.

"Standard procedure."

"Maybe or maybe it was to give him a fatal embolism," Curtis charged.

"You donít know what your talking about," Kensington spat.

"Oh if you only knew. I handled a case like this once. A murderer injecting old folks in homes with air to give them strokes," Curtis explained. "One thing I donít get why did you have to have someone killed?" Curtis asked.

"The brain has to be completely preserved for the operation to work. Someone would have to die in a way that would allow for that; like hypothermia," Kensington said.

"Jesus Doc, you mean no one just randomly dies from hypothermia?"

"I couldnít risk it."

"So why her?"

"I didnít have anything to do with that, all I wanted was for him to kill somebody. We needed it, for your wife, I did it for your wife," Kensington said.

"You did it for yourself and now you are going to jail for it."

"Yeah I guess you caught me, your just too smart for me," Kensington said slowly putting his hands behind his back as though he were going to be cuffed. "I guess youíll just have to slap the cuffs on me andÖ" in the moment he swung his arm around from behind his back and drew a .45 revolver. Curtis went to duck but the officer had already drawn and he put Kensington down with two shots in the chest.

"Crazy doctors." he said as the pistol smoke cleared. "You never know what years of stress will do to a man."



Terry Heller for his teaching this class.

Robin Cook for inspiring me to write my own medical sci-fi story.

All of the people in my creative writing class for your ideas.

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