Before perfection there is experimentation. I have a multitude of specimens at my disposal. All ripe enough to be picked. Age is not a consideration in my line of work. The patients live either way, until they are no longer needed. You may ask what happens to those no longer required. Well, life is short and the black market pays handsomely for fresh meat.

The alley stank of alcohol, its stench perforated the air. The clearing was littered with split bin bags, puddles from the earlier rain shower, and the single homeless man lying amidst buzzing flies. Dr Laech paced back and forth beneath the single flickering lamp that hung over the porch. There were always desperate people in the world. That was a fact but it didn’t normally take this long for customers to seek his aid. They had taken great risks since settling here but for his line of work that was to be expected. When people learned about who he was, it normally resulted in him exiled with a baying mob quick on his heels. After all what possibly demonic being didn’t get chased out of town in those days. Now, however, in the year 2015, he found the underbelly of society to be far more accepting of his profession. Corruption simmered in the heart of men, no longer were they obsessed with one single deity; this led many to choose the path away from god. The rise of atheism was a blessing to Dr Laech and he had witnessed this rising dissent with great joy. He was unique, in that he had wandered the earth for centuries invigorated by his passion; the surgical examination of the human condition. He even toyed with the brain on occasion but still, it remained too difficult to fathom. Humanity fascinated him. He aimed to create perfection with his experiments. He wanted to assemble something of beauty, something that humanity despite its divided nature could evolve to be. It was considered an impossible dream by many, but he persevered, and all for one thing– ‘the Entity’. A shapeless form that exists between worlds, lying in the darkness, it had become a myth in the Dark Ages, during a time that riled in discontent. It was granted a brief existence by the efforts of its children but treachery led it to be imprisoned once more, between the realms of heaven and hell. The void in between. Home to darkness, and some would even say the place of true evil.

Dr Laech saw someone approach, he signalled with his desiccated left hand for his companion, Cecilia, to welcome the new customer. She was a regular sight for these people, wearing a tattered brown shirt, and leather jacket. The many scars on her arms and the crusted blood in her hair made it clear she had been in the wars. They were two sides of the same coin in the end. For Cecilia, conversation was impossible since the Surgeon had long ago removed her tongue. She still held some of her youth, and vibrancy despite the disjointed figure. Her legs were also badly cut, and bruised. She appeared to be unfazed by this, stretching out her arm in an eloquent manner, signalling for this newcomer to stand before Dr Laech. The Surgeon scratched dead skin off his chin, and began the inspection. The scent of sweat was not too overpowering. But it still punctured his lungs. What he sensed was pure fear. Dr Laech perceived no indication that this man was here to give up some limbs. His stiff postured disguised the fear with a shield of vanity and confidence. That much was obvious to Dr Laech.

‘You think I came here to make a deal. Let me tell you who I am. I’m Inspector Jones. I came here to end your hellish activities.’

Dr Laech grimaced, he hated the word hellish, almost as much as he hated the word Devil.

‘You think I serve the one that lives in the pit. You are gravely mistaken.’

‘You’re all the same to me,’ said Jones.

Dr Laech gave a hearty, guttural laugh at that. ‘I am very different from the devils. Dare I say, I am far worse. I don’t need claws or teeth. All I need is your fear.’

‘You’re a monster.’

‘I know so why come?’ asked Laech, raising the knife, and tasting its tip.

‘To stop this madness,’ shouted Jones.

‘I don’t like your tone. Do you Cecilia?’

She shook her head. Dr Laech placed his grimy, rotten hand on the Inspector’s shoulder, ‘it would be unwise to fight me. For one reason; I’m immortal and you people are nothing but skin wrapped around a sack of bones.’

‘I don’t believe in your fairy tales.’

The Surgeon placed his desiccated arm around the man, ‘Let me tell you something, Inspector. Belief, faith, and your precious human conscious all stand for nothing in the grand scheme of things. Do you think the guy above cares about the one race that went strictly against his wishes, eating the apple and as such being cast down from Eden? A paradise lost because of humanity’s greed. You humans worship something that does not care for you, and never will.’

The man forced the arm away, ‘you’re a wicked person. So of course you would say that.’

‘I speak to you as a friend, fellow. We are merely here to do business; limbs are in high demand after all.’

‘I will stop you.’

‘You will try and you will fail,’ said Laech.

They watched as the man stormed out of the alleyway. They entered the building behind them. It was a small run down den; the main room was a living area with a broken TV and a couch that was covered in dirt and dried blood stains. Its cushions were ripped with the springs protruding out like spikes. Only Laech found it comfortable. The Surgeon watched in amusement as his hapless assistant Cecilia took her seat and struggled to get comfy. Loud moaning could be heard from the ‘Slaughter Room’. That man had been a nuisance since his struggle to come to terms with his murdering of his dearly beloved sweet heart. Cecilia looked at Dr Laech with those blackened eyes, a stare that he was used too. It was their way of conversing, that and hand signals. But he hadn’t needed to learn sign language. They understood each other well enough.

‘You think that mortal can do anything to us. I can tell you now, jail is no home for a thing like me. I could escape with ease.’ He slumped down next to her, ‘With that being said, I miss the old days. Do you Cecilia?’

She looked away, anxious.

‘Yes, the chase was the most thrilling thing about it; manipulating fog, and constructing soul destroying hallucinations. It was an enjoyable game but we now have our saviour.’

She didn’t look sure as she scowled in the general direction of the Slaughter Room, where the man they had named Adam was kept. More crying was heard this time, and even some obscenities.

‘He is annoying but what human isn’t. It will take time but he will adjust. He just needs time to settle.’

She folded her arms.

‘And yes, we will deal with our new problem. All in good time my dear.’

The next day, the Surgeon entered the slaughterhouse. It was a stench that excited him. It had so many smells, some fresh, and some decades old. His prisoner, Adam, sat in the chains of his own filth. His ripped white shirt was stained brown , his face was greasy, scratched, with hair that clung to his face in large clumps. He looked more famished than usual. His body was riddled with multiple stitches since the Surgeon had begun working on him. Despite this, the man hadn’t changed much since they first met.

‘There is one thing,’ Adam muttered.

‘Go on.’

‘Mr Saxon, the man who helped me back at the motel, what did you do to him?’

The Surgeon didn’t do much but stare expressionlessly at Adam, ‘Mr Saxon is here with you.’

‘Is the man still alive?’ said Adam stirring, sitting up.

Dr Laech pointed in the direction of a mangled bug ridden corpse.

‘You bastard!’

‘You asked about your friend. I answered. Now, I do have a request. A simple one. It is that you murder a particular nuisance that has cropped up.’

‘For what possible reason would I do anything, let alone kill, for you.’

‘If you comply, you will no longer be chained here.’

Adam appeared to be looking up, and had his eyes closed. Sighing he said, ‘Fine, I’ll deal with him, but why not do it yourself?’

‘I can’t afford any more distractions, Adam. My work here has already been delayed and I have a tight schedule.’

‘Seriously?’

‘Yes, what do you think? That I just assemble limbs for a living? Oh no, you miss the big picture Adam. The world is changing, you best be prepared. We are in this for a very long time.’

‘So what’s his name?’

‘Inspector Jones,’ answered the surgeon.

‘You want me to kill a cop?’

‘You killed your wife.’

‘That was… different.’

Dr Laech shook his head, ‘You and I both know, and that it is exactly the same principle. If it makes it easier, I can alter your perception of him.’

Adam held his hands up, ‘there’s no need. I will kill him.’

Dr Laech was true to his word, and even had Cecilia bath him despite it being a struggle to convince him that she wouldn’t hurt him. Cecilia was strange, yet in her own way there was some remaining beauty there if you looked past her disfigured, pale and crumbling skin. Her actions were smooth, precise and methodical. He noticed how she walked in a formal manner and even carried things as if she were some kind of waitress. It made Adam realise that she wasn’t just the Surgeon’s shadow, she was something more entirely. If only she had a tongue.

‘How long have you worked together?’

She paused and upon pressing her finger into his back, she appeared to draw a number.

‘One thousand four hundred years?’

She scratched yes into his back. It caused him to flinch slightly. She began writing something else but between the pains of her sharp nail like claws digging into his back, and the fact it was difficult to grasp what she was trying to say, he could only piece together an idea.

‘So the Surgeon predates even the Dark Ages? Correct?’

Yes was the answer.

‘Must be lonely for you both,’ said Adam.

No.

‘You enjoy his company?’

Yes.

‘I can’t argue with that.’

A few minutes later, he was very clean much to Laech’s distaste. The man revelled in filth. But it was necessary if Adam were to kill the investigator. He was wearing an old blue shirt, and jeans that had holes in them. His shoes were a bit small, and cramped his feet. Still it was better than nothing. He tried to persuade himself.

‘So how did you get these?’

Dr Laech looked surprised for once, ‘Charity.’

‘Really doubt that. As you do realise, you are a desiccated corpse.’

‘I never said they give it willing. For all you know they now reside with your old friend.’

Adam decided to not say much more, he was about to leave when Cecilia grabbed his arm. She didn’t look tough but she was stronger than he expected. Those nails now leeched onto his arm.

‘I can see things through your eyes, Adam. There will be no escaping me. Understood? No wandering. You must kill the Inspector.’

‘I will, and I never planned too. I know what you do to people. We don’t have to get along, but then I don’t have a choice.’

The Surgeon bared his teeth, ‘that’s the spirit.’

Adam just shook his head and left the Den. Strangely he could feel the Surgeon’s approving thoughts. He wondered if this same trick applied to Cecilia. It wouldn’t surprise him.

The station was a short twenty minute walk from the Den. It was the first time in months since his. In captivity, he had saw how Dr Laech was a ruthless man driven to create perfection. This insane goal, somehow involved him, the Adam. Not his true name. But one he had been forced to adopt. Cecilia was different, she remained a silent mystery to him but he felt that there was still some humanity there, hard to believe but he doubted Cecilia had always been this way. There was more to them both that he didn’t know, he had many questions but not all the answers. The evening was settling in, he would not have much time to take out the inspector.

The station’s reception area was warm, and inviting. It was a welcome release from the chained imprisonment of the Den. He had almost forgotten what normal company was like. A few people sat to the left of him but it was very quiet they were too engrossed in their newspapers, or completely oblivious as he walked up to the desk. Cecilia had done a fine job in at least making him look respectable.

‘I’m here to see Inspector Jones.’

The receptionist looked up, ‘He’s in his office, and may I ask why?’

Adam sighed, ‘It’s regarding a case he is working on. I came from a branch outside of town, it’s to do with the unusual activities that have surfaced here .’

‘Right,’ she appeared to doubt him. ‘The Inspector is busy, do you want me to ring ahead arrange for a later date?’

‘I need to him now.’

‘Do you have any I.D.’

Adam found a piece of paper in his pocket and went to place it on the desk. As she reached to grab it, he drove a knife into her hand, trapping in a growing pool of blood. She cried out, staring in shock as those around them remained oblivious to her predicament.

‘No one will save you. He’s here too.’

‘Who?’ she whimpered.

The Surgeon stepped out from behind Adam.

‘The Inspector’s office is at the end of the hall.’

Adam removed the blade, ‘Thank you.’

They both watched as she fell back passing out from blood loss.

‘I should have expected that you would do this.’

Laech placed a hand on Adam’s shoulder, ‘I work in ways you couldn’t imagine. I will remain here and deal with the other witnesses, let you soften him up. I forgot to mention. I need to operate on him. He knows something.’

Adam shrugged, ‘Okay, I’ll incapacitate him.’

‘Good.’

The hallway was long, with dull white painted walls on either side. There were a few notice boards that had paper pinned to them. As he continued to walk to the end of the hall, the light fell away as cold air constricted him, the ceiling light’s glass exploded, its shards bouncing off the grime covered floor. The corridor seemed to age with each step, the colour fading, with the white paint cracking, and falling away.

Dr Laech’s powers were stirring.

When he reached the door he knocked three times. There was no response, so he kicked the door open. The man’s desk was neatly arranged, with notes and a picture frame of his family. He had a cabinet on the left with books, statues and a few trophies. Adam entered, and Jones stood up.

‘What the hell is this?’

Adam was silent.

Jones soon realised and stood up, walking with confident strides he faced up to Adam.

‘You’re with that thing.’

Adam smiled.

‘I take it your here to kill me,’ exclaimed Jones. ‘I guess I could just walk out or even cry for help.’

The man went to leave but the door slammed shut of its own accord; he pulled on it a few times but the handle wouldn’t budge. The visible distress amused Adam. The Inspector began hammering on the door like a madman. The aura of confidence fading with every hit on the door.

‘It took me a while to realise this Inspector, but there is no escaping your fate.’

Adam removed a knife from his belt and darted forward. The Inspector was too slow to stop the blade as it pierced his shoulder. Adam threw the man to the floor. He watched as blood began to coat the carpet a vibrant red. Adam watched as Jones crawled on his back towards the wall. Adam reached down and grabbed the throat, lifting him with ease. The man tried to wrestle free but Adam’s strength was too great. He forced him up against the wall, pressing the blade into the throat. The Inspector wheezed, becoming limp.  

The door swung open now with ease, and a long shadow was projected on the table. Dr Laech walked slowly towards the desk, and with one swipe of his hand, the books and computer were now a chaotic cluttered mess on the floor.

‘Lie him down!’

Adam lowered the knife and punched the man in his gut. He picked him up and laid him down on the table. Jones was trying to wrestle free but Adam kept him held down. His eyes never left the meticulous Surgeon who had since begun arraying tools on the floor next to him. They weren’t exactly clean but that didn’t surprise Adam.

‘How long will this take?’

‘As long as is needed, Adam. I need his brain.’

‘Why?’

Dr Laech licked the blade and smiled, using the surgical knife he began to cut away at the skin across the top of the head. It didn’t take long. Adam noticed that Jones had ceased struggling. No longer needing to be held down he could see the surgeon was crouched now, his rubber gloved hands stained with a flowing river of blood. He began cutting slowly, removing segments and tasting the raw flesh, chewing it loudly. He offered a piece to Adam. He adamantly refused.

‘You’re disgusting.’

‘I have an acquired taste for flesh, human flesh is no different from the animals you eat on a daily basis.’

‘So what’s special about Jones?’

‘He knows me, well the people he really works for do,’ swallowed the Surgeon.

Adam watched as the brain continued to be dissected and picked apart in tiny morsels. In a few minutes the Surgeon had gleamed the man of his secrets, he was nothing now, nothing but a shell.

‘Do you have your answers?’

The surgeon nodded but stood up uneasily, ‘Adam, head back to the Den. I will clean up here.’

Although hesitant, Adam obliged.

Dr Laech touched the palms of the Inspector, whose eyes fluttered open, and darted around wildly.

‘I feel nothing. My thoughts are so empty.’

‘We share them now.’

‘Oh.’

‘Yes, oh. I need clarity what is the name Solomon to you.’

‘Solomon, oh. Oh. The Solomon.’

‘Yes the Solomon.’

The man gave an abnormally large smile, ‘Well I hate to be vague but, he is the one.’

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