((Eep! I meant to post this ages ago–sorry, Fargazer!
Feel free to comment.))
It was over a day before Dr. Martel’s body was discovered. His volunteer nurses at the clinic were well used to his absences, but he always sent them a daily note telling them whether they could expect him the next day or not. But this time, as time passed and they received no word, they went to the owner of the warehouse for help. He tried knocking at the door of the underground laboratory, but there was no answer. Then he went around to the small windows, looking in each one in turn. Finally, at the lone open window, he managed to see just enough to send him hurrying to the Militia headquarters.
Bookworm Hienrichs hurried back with the man after hearing his tale. She waited as he pulled out an extra key and unlocked the door to the laboratory. After a moment’s pause in the doorway, to take in the general lay of the room, she walked forward, a bit hesitantly, not looking forward to what she’d see. Indeed, the sight of it sent her wincing back, swallowing down a bit of nausea. Controlling her stomach, she went back to the body.
“Not much doubt about the cause of death,” she said, seeing the deep gashes on face and neck. “But what caused these?”
“Well,” the man replied, “I do know his work here involved cats. He’d been trappin’ them all winter.”
“Cats, eh?” Bookworm squatted down and peered at the scratches. “That seems consistent with this. If he was carrying one, and it lashed out with fore and aft legs, catching him off guard…” She looked around. “Then it could escape through the open window.” She quickly stood up again, trying to clear her nostrils of the still-strong scent of blood. “What was he doing with them, I wonder?” The warehouse owner shrugged.
Bookworm peered inside the other rooms–first the room with the cages, then the W.C. When she peeked into the third room, she was quickly drawn in, taking in all the journals and notebooks scattered on the desk and shelves. She opened one at random and flipped through it. Caught by something within, she sat down, flipped back to the beginning, and began reading more closely.
Several minutes later, a few other Militia members arrived. Bookworm abstractedly directed them to remove the body, and the mechanicals–she wasn’t too sanguine about being able to glean anything from them, as they looked relatively primitive, but it didn’t hurt to have someone take a look–and went back to her reading.
Some time later, one of the Militia members returned. “We’ve cleared out the main room, Miss Hienrichs. Anything in here we should take?” She didn’t say anything, didn’t even look up, so he said more loudly, “Miss Hienrichs?”
She finally looked up, and he started at her pale face. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Do you know what this…man was doing?” she finally said in a choked voice. She went on to tell him what she’d gleaned from the journals around her–the desire to prolong life through brain transplantation, the experiments on animals and humans to learn the workings of the brain, the attempt at the intermediate step of transplanting a living animal brain into a human body. And the deaths–the many, many people who had seemed to succumb to natural, untreatable illness, but who, in fact, had been hurried out of the world by Dr. Martel to feed his experiments.
“We need to take this back,” Bookworm said, gesturing around the office. “All of it.”
It took several Militia members several trips to gather and transport it all. But finally, Bookworm stood outside the lab, waiting for the warehouse owner to lock it up. She took one last look at the laboratory.
‘This is a horrid thing to say,’ she thought. ‘But good riddance to you, Dr. Martel. Good riddance.’