Previously on the latest tale of Cassidy & Lloyd.
(If you want, buy their previous rampages for $2 by clicking on the covers below.)
Cover by Jon Hunsinger
Cover by Jon Hunsinger
Doctor Dragovic wakes up with a few incoherent mumbles when Chris enters the lab and has his men strap the prisoners down. The man rubs at his temples, which appear swollen and have strange edges to them. Groping around his paper-covered desk for his glasses, the bald surgeon yawns and shakes his head clear. Reaching to his pocket for a pen, he finds the spectacles, which are dotted with bits of ink. With a tired sigh, he cleans them off while heading for a cabinet to grab a fresh notepad for his new test subjects. Pushing by the soldiers, Dragovic gets a cart full of tools and quietly drags them into position. It is not until he puts on his glasses and looks up that his eyes light up and his moustache twitches in glee. He hurries over to Lloyd and checks for the koi-shaped scar, his cold hands making the serial killer jump. Pulling out a tape measure, he wraps it around the other man’s head and jots down the size before grabbing a saw off the wall. As an afterthought, the excited doctor puts on gloves, mask, and apron to protect himself from any blood spray.
“It isn’t the time for that,” Chris states as he takes the saw away. Being a foot taller than his companion, he tries to loom over the other man, but receives a lazy yawn. “There will be plenty of time to do whatever you have planned. I want you to make sure these possible abominations are telling the truth. She claims to be a lesbian and he says he’s bi. I have my doubts about the man, but I’ve heard stories about her. Best to be sure. Don’t want to do a reverse enlightenment and create abominations.”
“I really wish you wouldn’t call them that,” Dragovic says in a soft voice. He walks over to Cassidy and takes a sniff of her breath while his hand presses her stomach. “These people are still people. Some neurons or brain matter might be acting up, but never forget that they are human. At least that’s one way to look at it. The other is that this is completely natural, but neither of us are interested in that. You want to fix them and I want to find out what makes them them. Please cuff these two and leave. I don’t want to do the examination with non-medical personnel watching. It would be too embarrassing for the subjects.”
“You treat them too nicely, doctor,” the warlord growls, handing his men four pairs of cuffs and the keys. He sends the soldiers away first, his instincts telling him that Cassidy and Lloyd should not be left unguarded. “I don’t like this. Both of these creatures are dangerous. Johnathan and Elaine Custer want them dead for a reason. Now that they’ve seen our secret operation, they could expose us to save their own skins. The Custers think we’re tending to injured soldiers. If they found out that we’re working on the enlightenment campaign, they’ll shut us down. You need me to stay here and make sure nothing goes wrong.”
The doctor stares at Chris while he unbuttons Cassidy’s pants, his fingers delicately holding the zipper. “I will have to strip this woman naked. Are you willing to stay here will I complete such an intimate examination? What about when I do the same to him? People might think you are into this kind of thing. Be even worse if I discovered that they are not abominations. Do you want to take that chance?”
Staring at Cassidy in disgust and horror, Chris storms out of the lab and returns only to slam the door shut. Licking his lips, Dragovic rushes over to Lloyd and runs his fingers over the serial killer’s head. Hearing struggling behind him, he turns to see that his other patient is trying fix her pants. Finding her grunts and the clanging cuffs annoying, the doctor goes to help her and sticks a cherry-flavored lollipop in her mouth to keep her quiet. Happily returning to his prized specimen, Dragovic takes a relaxing breath and nearly falls asleep in an attempt to savor the moment. When he jolts back to full consciousness, the man carefully goes about taking Lloyd’s measurements.
“I won’t be able to get your weight unless you can tell me,” Dragovic says while he picks up a hacksaw. He taps the tool against the handcuffs, but thinks better of it and goes back to his tape measure. “Chris Tanner has no idea what he’s doing. So much variety here and all of it comes from the brain. Most of what we are isn’t conscious. Did you know that? I had a theory that our dreams tell us more about us than our words, but I could never prove it. My hope here is to discover what makes people like your friend the way they are. There has to be a difference in the brain. After all, all of us have a slight difference in brains to some extent. When did you realize you liked women? The question is to her, not you.”
“I’m not going along with this,” Cassidy retorts, causing drool to flow out of the corner of her mouth. She does her best to speak around the lollipop until she gets annoyed and spits the candy out. “You don’t seem like a terrible person, doctor. Just curious and eccentric. Plenty of mad scientists around these parts. If you don’t like what Tanner is doing then release us and we’ll stop him.”
“Oh, I don’t really care what he does with my discoveries,” the doctor admits as he cuts away Lloyd’s shirt. He pulls out a camera to take pictures of the scars, his attention lingering on one above the man’s heart. “Amazing that you survived what looks like a deep stab wound to the chest. Much older than the rest. Although, I’m more concerned with your brain. I need to contact a psychologist that I know and get her to speak with you. There must be a lot of information you can share about being insane before the collapse and continuing to be so in the aftermath. Sadly, that means I can’t get into your brain for a few days. Oh, I so want to crack open your skull and take a look. Maybe I can convince Chris to transfer you to my other office. I have all I need to get a scan and it’s less of a trip for my friend. Not to mention I would have an assistant since Reuben stayed home again today.”
“Can we please go back to you not caring about what Captain Creepy does with your discoveries?” Lloyd asks, his leg stretching toward the tool cart. He curses when the doctor moves everything back into the corner. “Probably wasn’t sanitary anyway. As I was saying, I would think a professional like yourself would be upset that your work is being used for sinister purposes. You don’t seem like a bad guy. The pursuit of knowledge is great, but it’s tainted by the corruption of the findings. Haven’t we learned anything from that old guy with a whip fetish or the one where the monster either talks or grunts?”
Stretching his arms and yawning, Dragovic drags his chair close enough that he can still reach out and touch Lloyd. “It is a shame, but it always happens. I have no control over what people do with what I discover. Once the knowledge is made public, it’s no longer my property and I move on to the next mystery. For example, I have uncovered that the difference in the brain of something like your friend is the same as it would be between you and I. That doesn’t mean I will let her go. Perhaps scanning her and another while in the act would give me more information, but Chris would never allow it. Not unless I give him a reason why such a thing would help him with his goals.”
The sound of rattling handcuffs causes Dragovic to spin around in his chair, his eyes remaining slits as he watches Cassidy slipping out of one of the bonds. He calmly gets up and heads for his desk while the mercenary finishes getting free. The man’s back is turned, but he sees Lloyd’s reflection in a mirror, the serial killer signaling for his friend to make a run for the door. With a syringe in his hand, Dragovic calmly moves his chair out of the way while Cassidy makes her move. The doctor sprints across the room and gets behind the mercenary before she realizes what is going on. He stabs her in the thigh and injects the mild anesthetic, which makes the woman groggy. Keeping an eye on her face, he takes her by the wrist to lead her to the table and check her pulse. Hoisting Cassidy back into place, he locks her back up and goes to look for an orange-colored bandage.
“It was a quick estimate for the dosage, but I’m sure she’ll be fine in an hour,” Dragovic explains while he checks the mercenary’s eyes. Realizing that he needs to have some measurements for her, he lazily gets his tape measure. “Haven’t had to run like that since I was running late at an airport. Baggage claim was a mess. Now, what are we going to do? I need my friend here to help, so I can’t cut you open. Perhaps I can make a hole and get a peek inside your skull.”
“Why are you so obsessed with my brain?” Lloyd blurts out, lifting his right leg toward his face. Using his teeth, he pulls a needle out of his shin and goes about picking his cuffs. “I came prepared this time. Didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. Though, I did worry it would get stuck in there with all the jogging. Probably shouldn’t do the leg next time since I think I pulled something. Not in the good way that makes some gods cry and others grab popcorn. Now, about my question.”
“I want to learn about madness,” the doctor admits, a syringe already in his hand. Making sure there is no threat of an air bubble, he gently moves Lloyd’s head and jabs the needle into a vein. “Your brain must hold so many secrets. Do monsters like you have missing parts or are some bigger than others? Will your brain look normal, but there is something off with the fluid or the nerves? Maybe your skull is too small, so the pressure causes you to commit horrible acts for pleasure. It’s even possible that none of this is true. More importantly, can it be reversed? So many people are plagued by the madness that you accepted long before the collapse. In fact, you have blossomed in this world. This is why I’ll tell Chris that you’re like your friend. I refuse to let such a perfect specimen be taken away. Sleep well and we will see each other soon for more discoveries.”