|Dolls: A Steampunk Fairytale
Author: Ruadhan PM
In a world where the American Revolution never happened, one of the four Princes of England rules with a foppish and loved existence. There is trouble brewing in the Americas and only an overly confident sky pirate has the skills to save his PrinceRated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Romance - Words: 6,456 - Published: 02-01-12 - id: 2993571
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Dr. Jeffery Bachner ran a hand over his face and rubbed the red marks left by his glasses on his nose. Dr. Bachner was by no means an unattractive man, he had very striking features; the doctor had short black hair that he kept neat and combed back, he had a sharp nose and defined cheek bones and jaw with small, almond shaped black eyes. His hands were large and his fingers long. Dr. Bachner was only one of many doctors in the great city of Childersberg, he really wasn't particularly special. Dr. Bachner was, however, one of the most determined men in the Americas.
Dr. Bachner stood from his table, leaving his medical journal open. He walked from his small, mostly empty office and into the halls of his practice. It was a rather small private operation. Dr. Bachner, for the most part, was a family doctor, he didn't need the mass of one of the larger state hospitals. It didn't make him any less of a good doctor, he just preferred to work with a select number of patients who would see him regularly.
The Doctor walked to one of the more discreet rooms where he kept patients who were too ill to go home. It was designed to be homey and at the same time easily kept clean. Black irises settled on the beautiful woman laying in the bed. How long had she been in such a state? He wracked his brain to think how long she had been so sick.
The doctor walked through the doorway, his white coat trailing almost ghostly behind him as he stroked a hand over his wife's cheek. She shifted into his touch and her lips parted, the beautiful woman.. In his mind she was still pleading him, begging him to save her.. To protect her.. A sharp tug ached at the man's heart. He just had to save her…
There was a silhouette in the doorway that he caught out of the corner of his eye, but Dr. Bachner would not look at directly. Not willing to admit he could actually see it. His nervousness overwhelming as he nearly collapsed into the chair beside his wife, his hand falling away from her cheek.
With every passing day, the doctor became more and more involved with his wife's condition, to the point of ignoring his other patients. No matter what he did, nothing seemed to help or better her state.
The doctor was sitting in his office again, comparing results and making notes in his journal about his, now, only patient. Dr. Bachner's hair was mildly disheveled and his glasses had bored so deeply into the bridge of his nose that the red wells looked like they might be permanent. Dr. Bachner looked up and over his shoulder as the bell over the outer door chimed. Hadn't he locked that door? "Who the devil.." Dr. Bachner rose from his worn leather seated chair and walked into his own waiting room. There, the doctor found a red head, pale as the moon with a speckled face and wide, toothy grin.
"I'm sorry sir, I'm not accepting new patients at this time." The doctor stood uncomfortably as the young man's wide grin turned on him.
"That's fine sir, I don't need a doctor." The young man wore plain canvas pants, that jingled peculiarly as he walked, held up by heavy looking suspenders. "Actually, I was sent to offer you help, not ask for m'self." The red head extended his hand to the doctor. "Mathew McGuire. M' boss would like to make you an offer." That wide grin so firmly in place, the slight hint of an accent, almost invisible, hand remarkably smooth for a man who looked working class; he hardly seemed a trustworthy man.
"Dr. Jeffery Bachner. What sort of an offer?" The doctor wasn't sure about such a suspicious fellow, but he was no the type to base judgment on appearances alone.
Mathew McGuire's grin widened further and he looked like his face might split in two. "He wants to help you save your wife."
Dr. Bachner felt his heart jump and his stomach tern. What kind of man did this McGuire work for?
The doctor sat by his wife's side. His elbows rested on his knees, chin rested on his folded thumbs as he stared at his lightly sweating wife.
"Elanor.. What should I do?" The doctor's mind was in turmoil. Dr. Bachner was not positive he could trust the Timepiece Gentlemen, but he was equally unsure he could save her on his own…
Dr. Bachner again ignored the image in the corner of his eye. The quiet voice in his mind was Elanor's, but the doctor was not going to admit that his longing to see his wife was causing him to hallucinate. Dr. Bachner stood so fast it knocked the wooden chair over.
"Elanor… I will restore you." Dr. Bachner walked from the room to his office. The doctor left his white coat on the iron rack in his office and retrieved his black leather overcoat. The doctor also took a parchment Mr. McGuire had left him with directions, an address and a time to meet with the Timepiece Gentlemen.
As he left his practice, the doctor never noticed the discreet shadow that followed him in the darkness of the streets.
The Timepiece Gentlemen were surprisingly close, Dr. Bachner didn't even require or feel the desire for a coach. All to soon, Dr. Bachner stood in front of stone steps leading up to heavy oak doors. Dr. Bachner hesitated for just a moment.
There was that image again, just out of his sight. The doctor took the steps quickly and was knocking on the door before he noticed having made it up all the steps.
A slat of the door opened and the doctor stared into drooping, uninterested eyes.
"Yes?" The voice that accompanied those eyes was equally disinterested.
"Doctor Jeffery Bachner. I was told by Mr. McGuire that your leader wished to meet with me today?"
Those disinterested eyes rolled and settled on something lower. "Yes. I see your name. Please come in." The slat closed and the door opened. The man who stood there was of average height and slightly heavier set, but every detail spoke to his apathetic nature. His cravat was poorly tied, his pocket watch chain was held together with naught but wire and his hair was both unkempt and slightly dirty. What kind of gentleman was this doorman suppose to be?
"Ahh~ Doctor!" As apathetic as the doorman was, Mr. McGuire was equally spirited. From a doorway came red headed fellow, dressed like a humble workman, yet somehow still fancier then he should have been. "I'm glad you could make-" McGuire caught sight of the doorman and his grin turned into a frightening scowl, worthy of theatrical might. "Mr. Anglemire. Your cravat is a disgrace. Go fix it immediately."
It seemed for a moment that the man, Mr. Anglemire apparently, might have the idea to retort but the shift in Mr. McGuire's posture had him thinking better of it. Mr. Anglemire left in an apathetic manner suiting his personality.
Mr. McGuire's grin was back so fast Dr. Bachner wasn't certain the red head's face wasn't a flip mask like the dolls at the clockwork theater.
"Doctor~" The red headed man was right back to being pleasant. "Shall we go to your appointment now?"
Dr. Bachner looked notably uncomfortable, regardless he steeled his nerves and nodded.
The doctor followed Mr. McGuire through the busy hall. Servants shuffled about, quietly doing their work, other well dressed men passed them but stifled conversations when the doctor could hear them. It seemed suspicious behavior to Dr. Bachner but, again, he was not a man to judge solely on appearances.
Dr. Bachner followed Mr. McGuire to a large study kept behind heavy oaken doors with the strangest symbol embossed in the center of each door. To Dr. Bachner's eyes, it looked like a world encased by eight thorns, but they opened too quickly for him to study the image critically.
Behind the doors was an ornately decorated room. Finely crafted bookshelves filled the room, heavied with hardbacks and expensive bookends. There was a large desk with two plush chairs in front and one equally plush chair behind. In the third chair sat a man of extraordinary features; silken black and wavy hair that fell in loose tresses about his shoulders and obscuring half his face from the middle of his forehead to just below his left cheek.
"Dr. Bachner, I'm so glad you could make it." The man had a voice as smooth and silky as his hair looked. The bluest eye locked onto the doctor, like marble glass staring into obsidian. He stood and displayed the wealth of his attire, a silken cravat with a sterling silver pin that held a sapphire in the middle, brocade waistcoat and matching jacket. Everything about him exuded wealth, power and stature. "I am The Spider. I hope this will not take much of your time, I'm sure you would like to get back to your wife." The ebony haired man extended an alabaster hand towards the doctor.
There was something in the back of his mind, like the image in the corner of his eye, that made Dr. Bachner want to move away. He wanted to recoil from the offered hand and leave the place that seemed so full of secrets and people with two faces.
Against his own urges, the doctor took the Spider's hand and shook it firmly. "Not to sound ungrateful Mr. Spider, but why would you want to help me?"
The black haired man collected a small stack of papers and straightened them. "Dr. Jeffery Bachner, graduated with honors from Alexdale University. Started his practice in 1864 and married one of his nurses in 1868. You've been running your practice as a general practitioner and family doctor up until four months ago when your wife started to get ill. She developed mild and then severe seizures. Recently she has lost consciousness all together, you suspect paralysis. Have I left out anything?" The man smiled a sort of eerie half smile, as though half his thoughts were concealed by his hair.
Dr. Bachner was thoroughly taken aback. "H-how… Could you possibly know all this…?"
"Four other doctors in the America's have experienced similar symptoms in their respective patients. I consider myself to be a sort of scientist and nothing fuels my curiosity like a good mystery." The black haired man walked out from behind his desk, he was incredibly tall when he was standing so close.
The doctor felt nervousness rising in his stomach, the image at the corner of his eye only just noticeable but ever there as though he should only glance to the side.
"More so, I love solving a mystery, especially if it can have a happy ending. Thus far you are the only doctor I've gotten to in time. I should very much like to try and help you save your wife and in the process, slate my own curiosity."
The Spider's proposal seemed both self invested and philanthropic, a mix that was terribly human and Dr. Bachner had seen many times… It made him seem more trustworthy than he had first appeared and the doctor nodded slowly. "If you have information on similar cases, I would gladly accept help. I am not too proud to cooperate for the well-fare of my wife and the advancement of science."
The Spider smiled. "I'm glad that we have an accord. Dr. Bachner, I shall send you eight men to accompany you and your wife to our facilities where we might more easily treat her." The tall man closed the folder with so much information about Dr. Bachner inside.
"Thank you Mr. Spider, I look forward to working with you in the future. Will you be publishing the results? I would like to read the finished article." Dr. Bachner adjusted his coat.
"Only if our work is successful Dr. Bachner, and should it be so, I would gladly send you the article before it is sent to any journals." The Spider's smile remained that strange half smile but it no longer put the good doctor so on edge.. Though, that image at the corner of his eye refused to rest and equally, he refused to give it the satisfaction of acknowledgement. He was just tired, there wasn't anything there…
Dr. Bachner left in the company of Mr. McGuire and seven other men who all looked like working chaps who could afford clothes too rich for themselves. It was very odd to Dr. Bachner, knowing that the Timepiece Gentlemen was supposedly just a club, a sort of gathering like the high class folk liked to do.
Dr. Bachner wasn't terribly surprised when a coach was pulled around for them to take back to his practice, it would be easier to transport his bedridden wife with a coach then on the backs of nine men; safer also.
The inside of the coach was amazingly spacious and well decorated, the same symbol that had been on the outside of Mr. Spider's door appeared again on the inside of the coach, when the door closed it formed a seal with the wall that looked very much like the world surrounded with eight thorns. Dr. Bachner had meant to inspect the insignia with greater criticism when his attention was drawn away, this time by Mr. McGuire.
"We're real pips you agreed to our bosses offer doctor. Real shame what happened t'those other folk, we hope we can save you from the same fate." There was a strange tone in Mr. McGuires voice that put the handsome doctor on edge… Something sounded off, not necessarily dangerous just… Off.. Like orange juice left in the sun too long but not quite long enough to go bad. Dr. Bachner was not sure what he wanted to feel about that.
The coach windows were not covered and in the corner of his eye he caught a flash of golden hair. Dr. Bachner caught himself before he broke his personal promise not to give in and look. He was not insane, he would not allow his imagination to get the better of him..
'Hold me safely…'
When they arrived at the building that functioned both as Dr. Bachner's home on the upper level and his practice on the lower level, the doctor lead his entourage into the building and to his still unconscious wife. Dr. Bachner stepped into the room and over to his wife first, he was a little surprised with Mr. McGuire halted the entrance of the other men.
"You get'er ready doctor. We'll take her to the coach when you've prepared." The red headed man with his distinct accent shoved his hands in his pockets. He was hardly the biggest man of the bunch but he seemed to have some manner of authority over everyone Dr. Bachner had met thus far with the exception of Mr. Spider.
Dr. Bachner nodded thankfully and went to his wives side. She looked paler then he had left her, he quickly checked her temperature, pulse, rhythm and how her breathing sounded.. She still seemed more-or-less stable but it was not all that comforting to him honestly. No improvement was better then a decline but it still meant he was at the end of his rope.
Delicately and with the skill of a trained professional, Dr. Bachner changed his wives clothes from the privacy of behind her curtain and carefully wrapped her in a gurney blanket. When he was positive she was well prepared, he summoned Mr. McGuire in. "Alright, she can be moved now." He bade, glad to be given the chance to check on her ahead of time.. For a man who looked so working class, Mr. McGuire had amazing manners and seemed to know how to deal with patients like a nurse in training.
After being given permission, Mr. McGuire lead the other men into the room and they carefully lifted her up and onto the hand gurney from the far wall. They carried her to the coach where she was carefully placed on the back and secured in.
Dr. Bachner retrieved a few of his more recent journals but left the older ones in the drawers. He returned to the coach where his escorts had already taken to the inside with the exception of two who were riding on the back with his wife to make sure she stayed secured and one who was with the driver at the top front. He was thankful for their careful planning and got into the coach where somehow things looked different.. That shadow he kept seeing seemed larger in the corner of his eye and he couldn't for the life of him see anything but Mr. McGuire's, now, intimidating grin… There was just something about those large teeth something about… It was then that Dr. Bachner realized Mr. McGuire's teeth were slightly pointed, his canines and incisors were slightly elongated and the matching bottom teeth reached up as well. They folded perfectly together which was why he had never noticed before but now something was different. Suddenly Dr. Bachner was feeling very much like an owl staring into the darkness of the barn and seeing what could either be a cat or a fox hiding in wait for him to fly too low… Unlike an owl though, Dr. Bachner was not sure how high he'd been flying and just what would put him at the mercy of those intimidating jowls.
"So.. Mr. McGuire.. What do you do for a living?" He asked slowly, deciding that perhaps conversation was the best way to satisfy his nervousness. It was just that he wife was traveling in her condition, once she was stable again he would feel better and Mr. McGuire would not look so intimidating once they returned to proper lighting. Dr. Bachner was sure it was just the dimness of the coach that made his teeth look so strange and pure white.
Mr. McGuire hadn't exactly been staring at Dr. Bachner, so much as in his direction. When he heard the doctor's voice, equally eerie eyes with whites that seemed to glow like his teeth in the dimness focused on Dr. Bachner. "Well, I do whatever Mr. Spider asks of me." He answered a little shadily, but his smile widened in a way that made his face look over-stretched. "Recently, I take messages back and forth for the boss, and I escort his colleagues and clients." He sat back comfortably in the spacious carriage.
Dr. Bachner noticed how the other five men seemed to exchange knowing glances at Mr. McGuire's explanation. It made the doctor uncomfortable. "Oh," the dark haired man tried to steel his voice so his discomfort wouldn't show. These men were to help him in transporting and caring for his wife. There was no reason to think ill of them. "I.. I was unaware that the Timepiece Gentlemen ran any businesses, I was under the impression that it was a sort of club for sophisticated men. What kind of services does Mr. Spider offer?" Dr. Bachner wondered if he had begun asking too many questions when Mr. McGuire's face turned kind of dark…
"Mr. Spider offers help to many people, some like yourself, some who have uniquely different problems. Mr. Spider is a very generous man, he offers help to those who would receive it from no one else." Mr. McGuire's face lightened a bit as the coach pulled to a stop and waited for one of the other men to get out and open the door. "Ah, here we are." He announced, his strangely bright smile right back in place.
Dr. Bachner tried not to be further unnerved by the way Mr. McGuire could flip between faces like his entire head was a theatrical mask. He was the last man out of the coach and found himself thoroughly disconcerted by the place he had been taken too.. It was a nice enough looking place, three stories up, all brick and stone in construction. It looked like a tiny hospital except there were bars inside the windows and there didn't appear to be a single light on. There was a short brick fence surrounding the building, perhaps six feet tall and a large iron barred gate that had no one to open or close it.
Dr. Bachner turned his attention to the men who had begun picking up his wife on her gurney and stayed by their side. There was not much he could do to help them, but he felt nervous leaving her alone with strange men, even though they would likely do nothing to harm her, he felt a need to stay by her side none the less.
Dr. Bachner watched as the gates hauled themselves open. Apparently linked to a mechanical device that did the work of however many men it would have taken to open the gates. How it had opened without direction was probably the more curious occurrence that the good doctor would have liked an answer to.
Inside the building was really not that much better, instead of the oil lamps that the less financially inclined had, or the new current lights run from some steam powered electrical current that only the richest could afford, there were dimly glowing lamps that looked like there were stones where lighting glass or candles should have been. It struck Dr. Bachner that he would like to know what made them glow, but he had the feeling he had already asked too many questions.
Dr. Bachner followed the men with his wife to a lift. The building may have looked dim and even cheap but it was clear no expense had been spared. Lifts were expensive to have installed and typically required a man good at engineering kept on hand to work it properly.
Dr. Bachner filled into the lift with the four men carrying his wife and Mr. McGuire who seemed to be the engineer they were in need of. He stepped over to the switch board that seemed to have an obnoxious amount of levers and switches. Mr. McGuire seemed to have no trouble navigating the confusing mess and with the sound of pressurized steam releasing from above, the lift began to descend with only a slight jerk. Dr. Bachner didn't care for the sharp motion for his wives health, but he supposed it was better than a flight of stairs.
Dr. Bachner held back the question of how the other three men would be getting down to wherever they were going as it was only him, Mr. McGuire and the four men carrying his wife. He felt like a guest in another persons house, and somehow wherever they were going was personal; too personal to ask questions to the host about.
The lift stopped with the same less-than-subtle jerk that it had started with. There was a loud hiss of steam and Mr. McGuire cranked the doors open. The new room was brighter, there were more lamps along the wall and on tables, the same strange crystal lamps that he had seen on the first floor.
The dark haired man stood out of the way as the men carrying his wife took her from the lift and started down the stone walled hallway.
It all looked very gothic to him, with the slight mist that hung in the air and the heaviness that seemed to exude from the dark gray stone walls with only the strange constant light from the crystals. "Mr. McGuire… What are those?" He risked a question, despite feeling the distinct air that no more would be taken.
"Ah, the brightener? Yes, a terribly uncreative name. I'm afraid the scientist who developed them was not a man of very much imagination. They are hallowed quarts, inside is some sort of bio-lumi-esence or some such." Mr. McGuire dismissed with a wave of his hand.
"Bioluminescence?" Dr. Bachner hazarded.
"Yes, that's it." Mr. McGuire nodded agreeably.
Dr. Bachner decided not to press. He couldn't see Mr. McGuire's face, little doubt he was smiling, but the good doctor decided that he had pressed his luck for hospitality and answers as far as he dared with the volatile man.
The hallway stretched beyond Dr. Bachner's clear view, but they did not walk that far. The entire place gave the man a feeling of being inside a dungeon; it was not a particularly pleasant feeling and it was one that was only further ingrained when they stopped in front of a heavy wooden door with a metal ring for a doorknob and a large keyhole. There was a small metal square about face height, Dr. Bachner could only assume it was a window; it appeared to open outwards.
Mr. McGuire stepped forward to unlock the door and allow the other four men inside, he then turned to the doctor and handed him a thick iron key. "Here, should you have need to come and go and want to make sure no one will disturb your wife in your absence."
Dr. Bachner took the key and quickly shoved it into his waistcoat pocket. "Thank you." His reply was automatic and he was equally automatic in following Mr. McGuire inside.
The room was lush, but did not take away from the feeling of a dungeon and now worse, a torture chamber. There were two wooden slabs, although his wife had been lain into a soft bed in one corner with posts and a canopy. The walls were the same black stone and the lighting inside was done with oil lamps rather than the crystal lamps that lined the wall. The lower light made the room terribly dark and it was difficult to see what machinery lay past the wooden tables. He was given little time to investigate on his own either as Mr. McGuire guided him politely over to his wife's bed. He noted on the way that there was a large cabinet and heavy oak desk in the corner opposite his wife, they were lit with their own oil lamp.
"She can stay here where you can attend her and learn the processes the Boss thinks will save her life." Mr. McGuire said easily, distracting the doctor from his observations with his wife's care and prospect of returning.
Dr. Bachner spent the next several weeks away from fresh air and the warmth of sunlight. Underground time was meaningless, and he spent much of his away and reading the notes and literature on the procedure Mr. Spider though would save his wife's life.
"To transfer a mind safely, a comparable body must be provided or the mind will reject it as a body rejects a transplanted organ." Dr. Bachner frowned. He had never heard of a successful organ transplant, why Mr. Spider thought a procedure that seemed so much more complicated would work was beyond the doctor.
"Doctor~" Mr. McGuire's voice lilted in a sing-song manner from the doorway.
"Over here Mr. McGuire." Dr. Bachner didn't even look up from the paperwork he was reading to properly acknowledge the dandy.
"Dear Doctor. You don't look well at all. Have you been sleepin' properly?"
Dr. Bachner thought the concern in Mr. McGuire's voice sounded quite faked, but made no mention of it. Over the weeks he had discovered that much of Mr. McGuire seemed false, all his emotions seemed to disguise something else, but Dr. Bachner had kept his thought to himself.
"Properly enough to work." Dr. Bachner removed his glasses to scrub at his eyes and the bridge of his nose.
"Good, good." Mr. McGuire nodded and looked oddly solemn. "Have you reviewed much of the materials?"
Dr. Bachner arched an eyebrow. "Almost."
Mr. McGuire nodded in that overly enthusiastic way that made it look like his head was only loosely attached. "Good, good. Well, come on then. Mr. Spider has something he wants you to see."
Dr. Bachner stood slowly. "Does he?"
Mr. McGuire turned without answer and lead Dr. Bachner from the dim room and deeper into the hall that the doctor was becoming ever more certain was a refurbished dungeon.
Dr. Bachner walked without a word between himself and Mr. McGuire for nearly five minutes through the winding, labyrinth like hall. Just as he was about to break the silence and ask how much further, Mr. McGuire stopped in front of one of the many heavy wood doors that lined the walls and knocked. The voice inside was to faint for Dr. Bachner to make out, but he assumed it had granted entrance as Mr. McGuire opened the door. Dr. Bachner entered shortly after the Irishman and had to school himself to prevent an obvious and inappropriate reaction. He was unable to keep his jaw from clenching shut.
"Ah, Doctor. I am so glad to see you have already absorbed so much of the material."
Dr. Bachner could hardly focus on Mr. Spider at all, for on one of the two tables behind him laid a body that looked remarkably like his wife's. "Y-yes… I found it very interesting…" For the sake of propriety, he managed not to blatantly stare at the woman, but he could not manage to ignore her presence either.
Spider let an almost smile cross his lips at Dr. Bachner's reaction. "They did a magnificent job. Don't you agree?"
Dr. Bachner, even looking directly at Mr. Spider, found himself terribly distracted. "I'm sorry, who?"
Spider gestured at the body on the bed, giving Dr. Bachner leave to inspect it. "The engineers. I only gave them pictures of your wife to work with but the doll came out almost identical in appearance."
Dr. Bachner had been reaching out for the woman's face, at one word his hand stayed. "Doll…?"
"Yes. This is your wife's transplant doll."
Dr. Bachner just stared at the doll for a long minute. "What is it made from?" He went from completely entranced to clinical in a breath.
Mr. Spider made to stand opposite from Dr. Bachner on the other side of the table. "Gear. I believe mostly copper and gold were used for the best conductivity and least chance of corrosion and rust. Some form of sturdy alloy was used for the bones and a special sort of oil for the blood. This body is only meant to be temporary you understand. A place to safely keep your wife's soul while you mend her body."
Something in that logic struck Dr. Bachner as flawed, but the desire to see his wife's smile, to hear her voice and feel her embrace… It proved to powerful for his own sense of reason. "Yes, of course." He looked up at Mr. Spider and noticed, not for the first time, the strange expression on his face. It reminded Dr. Bachner of a magician who just successfully fooled his audience into believing his magic trick. "How long until we are ready for the procedure?"
Mr. Spider smiled, now looking a bit more like a spider greeting a butterfly. "We are all prepared. I can walk you through your part and we can begin first thing tomorrow, after you've had a bit of rest."
Dr. Bachner nodded. "Please walk me through it then."
~~After going through the procedure in detail with Mr. Spider, Dr. Bachner felt strangely assured of the probability for success. He returned to the room where his wife slept and sat at her bedside.
Something flickered at the corner of his vision and Dr. Bachner squeezed his eyes shut. He could almost feel the pass of a breath over his ear and hear the softly pleading voice…
'Please save me… My love.. Don't let me go…'
Dr. Bachner let out a shaky breath. He could not lost it. He was so close to having his wife back. He was simply tired. How many hours had he slept in the weeks since her condition worsened? How long had he spent pouring over medical journals and publications written by advanced surgeons? He was just tired and his desire to see his wife healthy was manifesting as an auditory hallucination. Dr. Bachner pressed his forehead to hers. She still had a fever but it had lessened over the past few days. Both a worry and a relief. Dr. Bachner stood and stretched, he decided it was time for him to get some rest. He wanted to be fresh and clear for the next morning to minimize the chance of accident or mistake during the procedure. Perhaps when he woke, the hallucinations would be gone completely, now that he was so close to his goal. He could still see a figure in the corner of his eye that he refused to look at directly…
Dr. Bachner woke with a start. He hardly remembered falling asleep. "Yes?" He opened his see to find Mr. Spider standing over him. His inky black hair hanging around his face like a curtain.
"If you are ready, the equipment is prepared."
Dr. Bachner sat up and scrubbed his face. "Yes. Thank you. Have you moved Elanor?"
"No. I thought it best for you to be awake, in case you wanted to look her over and assure her stability first."
Dr. Bachner nodded. "Thank you Mr. Spider, I'll do that now." He stood to find he had fallen asleep in a straight back chair. His neck cloth was untied but not removed. How tired had he been precisely? Dr. Bachner checked his over quickly. There appeared to be no change from the previous day. "I believe she is safe to move."
Mr. Spider nodded. "Very well, Mr. McGuie." Spider rose his voice to be heard from outside the room.
"Sir?" Mr. McGuire appeared in the doorway, his crooked, to-wide-smile plastered firmly in place.
"The doctor is ready and the patient is stable. Let us not miss our opportunity."
"Yes sir." No sooner had Mr. McGuire disappeared then was he back and with four men and a gurney following him.
The four men loaded Dr. Bachner's wife with due care.
"Well then Doctor." Mr. Spider took a long leading step before starting his brisk pace.
Dr. Bachner followed only a couple steps behind. Following Dr. Bachner were the men carrying his wife and Mr. McGuire behind them. The walked seemed almost longer the second time and Dr. Bachner had to resist the urge for idle chatter. About half way, he though of a legitimate topic to fill the hall with something other than the dulling sound of footfalls. "Refresh me, if you will, so that I am comfortable with the order, on the procedure?"
Mr. Spider gave him a long look over one elegantly held shoulder, but his voice was light. "Once we have your wife attached to the transplant doll, we will start the current fluid. Once the doll has had a full cycle, we will then turn on the other pump and supply fluid into your wife. Then we flood the room with Ether mist, the specialized air will make the transfer more fluid and allowed greater conductivity at lower levels." Mr. Spider's steps were hardly audible over the boots of his men, or perhaps he just walked light. "We with then supply a current to start the transfer reaction and power it. If it works, we will see a response in the doll and the current will be shut off."
Dr. Bachner nodded. He was starting to worry again, but they had already arrived at the treatment room and there was no going back.
Mr. Spider entered the room first and immediately walked to the empty table that stood parallel to the one with the doll. His men brought the gurney in and set Elanor with due care on the table. Mr. Spider then strapped her down.
"Is that entirely necessary?"
"The current can cause muscle convulsions. We don't want her severing the connection part-way through from an involuntary motion."
Dr. Bachner nodded, but remained disconcerted by the sight of his wife strapped down to an operating table. He watched as Mr. Spider hooked his wife and the doll to a transplant machine that would supposedly facilitate the transfer of the soul.
"Alright Doctor, from here we must leave you. If there are too many present we risk imprinting fragments on the doll and increase the risk of rejection. Do you remember the order?"
Dr. Bachner nodded. "Yes, and Mr. Spider?"
Mr. Spider smiled his queer magicians smile again that made Dr. Bachner nervous. "Thank me when this is over."
"Very well. I will see you when it is finished."
"I will return in two hours. That ought to be plenty of time." Mr. Spider left then, followed by his employees and left Dr. Bachner alone in a locked room. Dr. Bachner heard the solid 'click' from the lock.
He moved to be in front of a large control panel behind the transferring machine. "Transfer fluid." He flipped a switch that began feeding a thick, iridescent fluid into the transfer doll. After he saw it draining from an exit tube, he turned on the feed for his wife.
'Darling… When it grows dark… Will you bring me light?"
When the fluid began to exit his wife as well, he put his hand to a lever. "Ether mist." He pushed the lever up. He could neither see nor smell it, but after a few minutes the room began to feel heavy.
'My love… Don't let me go..'
Dr. Bachner took hold of a the heavy lever on the wall by the panel. "Let the current run." As Dr. Bachner flipped the lever, the visage that he had so carefully kept to his peripheral flooded to the center of his vision and all he could see was his wife, clad in white and reaching for him. "Elanor" The room erupted into electricity, drowning out the sound of the doctor's scream.