The silver fluid, shot through with black filaments, seemed to move of it’s own volition within the syringe. In a sense it was. Millions of nano-meds, furiously spinning their screw like flagellum, frantically swimming nowhere.
As he wiped his forearm with an alcohol pad he thought of his students, his staff. They sounded sincere, concerned, but he knew they were mocking him. Eight years later they still mocked him.
“You’re so brave to come back to work Doctor.”
“After such a tragic accident, I don’t see how you can do it coming in day after day. I couldn’t live with the pain.”
“You’re an inspiration to us all.”
He knew they were laughing behind his back. His horribly twisted back. He saw, even after eight years, the look of disgust that flitted momentarily across their faces as they looked upon the ruined, melted remnants of his own.
Viciously, he rammed the plunger down forcing the viscous fluid deep into his vein. A chill ran through his body, followed by a momentary shudder. He blinked twice, peered about the room and let out a sigh. “Well, that wasn’t so… .” A primordial wail burst from his throat and echoed off the walls of the laboratory.
He fell to the floor, his body wracked with blinding pain. His skin was an undulating membrane, resembling mice scurrying under a sheet as his musculature and skeleton writhed to refashion themselves.
It stopped. He lay on the floor panting. He knew it wasn’t over. The brief episode had left him exhausted. He needed fuel. He needed food.
Slowly, painfully, he made his way to the student’s lounge where he assaulted the snack machines, tearing at the glass, cutting strips of flesh from his hands and arms as he greedily wolfed down their contents.
The pain began again with a vengeance. This time the pain itself howled out of his mouth, as the nanites did their work. Repairing the damage caused in that accident so long ago. Repairing the damage, and making improvements.
The pain finally stopped. He made his way slowly to the basement office they had relegated him to, and regarded himself in the mirror. “Not bad,” he remarked, rubbing his stubbled chin. “Not Bad.”
Shedding his now torn and tattered clothing, he pulled a duffle bag from beneath his desk, and dressed himself in the extra set he had brought. Anticipating the outcome, he donned a sweater that normally would have been two sizes large in the shoulders, but now fit quite snugly.
The once too tight jeans now required a belt but wrapped his thighs like a glove. He checked the mirror a second time. “Not bad indeed,” he leered.
Dr. Jason Kiel, walked into the Lion’s Den Irish Pub and surveyed the scene. It was a typical college bar. Swaggering, drunken kids with Greek letters adorning their shirts. The intellectuals sat alone or in twos and threes pontificating animatedly over exaggerated cups of espresso.
At the bar, sitting alone, was one of his students. A pretty little sophomore. Pert, perky, scrubbed pink in a tight sweater and jeans. The bitch.
“Call me a broken troll,” he muttered.
He pulled up a stool beside her and leaned over the bar, motioning to the bar maid, “Bass and a whiskey and whatever the lady is having.”
She turned to him and smiled broadly, taking in his chiselled features and broad shoulders. “I haven’t seen you in here before. I’m Cassie… and you are,” she asked extending her hand.
He took it and gave her a smile that never touched his eyes.
“Call me… Hyde.”