"Love without Boundaries"
He took the girl away in the night, into the distant wild.
“Where are we going?”
She could not see. When he passionately made his advance earlier that evening, her glasses was knocked off and crushed. In a raw but calculated move.
She was still running with half a smile behind him under the dim moonlight; the heat has not worn off. But it is starting to. She was sweating, a lot, especially when thinking about the fact that they have not been running on concrete for a while.
And that slow, low-pitched gurgling in the dark. It was killing her.
The room was full of stern faces. Most of them worried. Suddenly, someone stood up.
“Face it,” the detective said. “I’m the only one who is ready to fucking go out there in full biohazard gear, like I have done many times before, to catch this ‘hot’ doctor who is luring women of all fucking ages into the wild. I’ve gone after him before. I’ve been out there. Out of this world. Where you tell your kids not to go, and won’t even dare go yourselves. It doesn’t matter if there is an entire terrorist camp out there; you will not budge. You shudder in fear like the rest of the world just thinking about what lies beyond the boundaries. After the disappearance of the ninth hiker, I think I’m the only one who’s ever going enjoy to the great outdoors. And I’m going to enjoy it as fuck I tell you. I’m going to catch this fucking doctor, take him back here, and give him a taste of his own medicine.”
The room was silent. No one was particularly fond of the swearing, nor the puns.
The detective stood proudly.
The door opened. An old lady stood lifelessly.
“We caught the doctor on a street camera,” the detective said to the mother. “Your daughter has been kidnapped into the wild.”
The old lady collapsed onto the floor and wept.
The detective stared at the tears rolling off onto the linoleum floor. It glistened coldly.
The mother looked up. “And how did the kidnapper survive his first few times in the wild? If he’s survived before he’s sure able to find a way for my daughter to survive, right? Did all the other girls he kidnapped ever make it back?”
“We were never successful in capturing him. But we’ve managed to save two of the girls; they were brought back with only minor invasion and are undergoing radio and chemo with good progress. Sure the girls are sick, but they are alive. Your daughter will be too.”
The old lady stared right into the detective’s eyes. The detective took a step back; she could never take it when the family members did that to her. Entrusting their all in one soft, desperate look.
“I fucking hate hazmats.” The detective grabbed her crotch in her new orange attire.
She looked at what’s in front of her and stepped past the concrete boundary of her part of the world. And that same image engulfs her mind once again.
In the soft sunlight, a lab puppy, with downy blond fur. A little smile on the face with some tongue showing.
She opened her eyes and stared: a sea of off-white agglomeration, shifting slowly across the landscape. It is sometimes hard to see clearly with the naked eye; but she knew better. Those were corpses of crows and baby squirrels slowly decaying in the gluey mass.
It started from one dog. It was a pet, a beloved pet. Who later fell victim to the Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor.
Like all other cases of CTVT, the cancer starts as a lesion or a lump around the dog’s face or genitalia. Then it grows and spreads to other parts of the body in the form of a cauliflower-like growth, leading to pus and bleeding. Being one of the few known transmissible cancers, it spreads fast. From one dog to another, through biting, licking, or sniffing.
It then became the first case of animal-to-human transmission; the 8-year old girl who loved the puppy to death spent 4 months in quarantine and intensive radiotherapy; and another two years in chemo. She was surrounded by a doctor whom she loved and her ever-present parents. But she was no longer with her puppy.
She was in the hospital, and he was left unattended at home. The dog ran around the city searching for his favorite human being in this world, not understanding that it was the cancer on his left cheek that put them in this separation. Throughout the city he ran and the authorities were after him. Then his body was finally found out on a field, mutilated. Three teens who caught and killed the dog were hailed by the city as heroes, until two died of tumor invasion and dragged a sister, a mother, and two cousins with them to the grave.
The city turned against them all. The third teen later committed suicide, having suffered all forms of verbal and physical attacks for his inappropriate disposal and treatment of the puppy’s body – which should have been quarantined.
This was made apparent when other youngsters picked up pieces of what appeared to be rotting flesh and white goo from outside the city. For pranks. Their hands were vulnerable to the cancerous lesions, and it was soon understood that the tumor cells, capable of surviving in test tube conditions without an animal host, has been living as what only seemed like a fungal matter out in the wild.
These were cells eager for survival. Ravens, coyotes, raccoons, earth worms, stray cats, curious hikers, and other mystifying entities joined the crowd of corpses littering the wild.
The SEED project began to gain serious momentum.
Researchers feared that one day the tumor cells would break the animal-plant barrier to consume and absorb plant cells. Others write ferocious blog posts online about how it has already happened, showing aerial photos of a vast, growing glob. Its massive size warranted an investigation; to the surprise of scientists and the rest of the world, they were unable to detect any cells with the ability to photosynthesize. The fact that the amorphous, cancerous mass had already become a parasitic ocean without absorbing plant cells shook the nations.
Rural areas have been evacuated as precautionary measures. Even then, the cities were not safe. All streets have supervisory cameras and weekly exterminations (by fire and only fire, in order to avoid further mutations and resistances) which keep city premises free from the biohazard. The biohazard has been under control for a while now.
Until recently, when the famed Doctor threatens to cross those boundaries once again.
“A dozen of retarded women falling for one sick bastard. They won’t stop ‘til they fucking infect every tower in the city.” the detective yelled in her hazmat suit as she continues stomping across the bleak landscape.
“Let’s not drag this on,” the doctor said.
“Let’s not drag this on.” He said again. He then realized she wasn’t going to hear too well in the suit and rage. He tapped her on the shoulders.
In a swift motion, the orange bulk in front of him twisted around and had him on the floor. With a knife to his throat.
“Is it even legal for you to carry a knife?” the doctor said.
She ripped off the helmet. “Who’s going to catch me here?”
“You want the girl don’t you. You can’t kill me.” The doctor said to the detective.
“That’s why I haven’t.”
The doctor burst into laughter.
The detective was not impressed. “You picked the wrong place to commit crime really. I’m taking this one personally. There is literally no one here to save you except for me out here in the wild. I am not with the police. I’m private. That means, I can do what I like with you. And I am also the only one who can save you. I have a suit and I’m in a suit, and you…” her eyes widened.
“I’m not.” The doctor smiled in his blue dress shirt and off-white dress pants.
The detective held her head down low as she followed the doctor deeper into the wilderness. She could not explain what was happening in front of her eyes. His walk was almost a jolly skip. How could a human being be walking without any protection against the transmissible mass? The man walked confidently, stepping on the glob without a care and looking at the surroundings with much pleasure. He smelled the air, looked at the sun, and let his teeth sparkle.
“Eve!” he yelled towards a figure in the distance.
It was the girl the city’s been looking for. The victim had long blond hair and eye brows that frowned – but a smile on her face as she moved forward to embrace her kidnapper.
‘Stockholm bitch,’ the detective uttered under her breath.
“I was so worried about you.” The girl said. She noticed the detective and turned to the handsome doctor standing beside her. “Who’s this lady in orange? Your friend?”
“I am not his fucking friend. He’s not yours either. Come back home with me.” The detective commanded.
The doctor nodded to the victim. “Yes. This lady is an old friend.”
The doctor turned towards the detective, towering over her with his height. “Alice. Nice to meet you again.” He clears his throat. “I know your pain. I know the puppy you had. I’ve seen your tears, and the anger that drove you to become who you are today. Yes….it was an honor to be with you, all those years in the hospital. Don’t you remember who I am?”
The detective was still.
“Correct. I was your doctor. And you’re the little girl with the puppy.” he smiled.
“But….you’ve changed. So much.” the detective’s voice falters.
“I know, I’m hot now. Surgeon friends from med school…we were close after all these years. Some plastic was always on the back of my mind.”
“Yes, that, but not just that. Why did you change? Why the fuck did you give up your salaried life of caring in paediatric oncology in exchange for the life of a kidnapper?”
“Because, I really care.” The doctor said.
The doctor continued. “It’s true I’ve kidnapped numerous girls and older women and had sexual intercourse with them, but you have to know I have consent from every single one of them. My Eve here could tell you that.”
The blond girl tilted her head innocently and smiled.
“I apologize for scaring the rest of the city. But you have to know that I have absolutely no intention of killing any of these girls, nor allowing them to develop cancer by taking them into the wild.”
The detective could not hide her irritation. “How so? First of all, who in their right mind sees a bed of parasitic tumor cells as a make-out spot?”
I’m still the loving doctor you’ve known. I have simply decided to practice advanced medicine. You see this tumor, or rather, this Garden around us is not going away; for fifteen years now, we have not been able to exterminate it. Every day it threatens our city with cancer…at its peak we had 13% of the population infected. At our hospital, that peak was 21% amongst our staff. Every day, we sit and pray that none of the cells would go air-borne through further mutations. I cannot save humanity from this threat. But I have devoted my life to the search for the right woman who has the same biological immunity as I do. Open your eyes and see, Alice: my Eve and I here are not in suits.”
“So? That just means you’re both going to drop dead in a few days when the tumor gets onto you.” The detective said. “Except I’m going to take her back to her mother but leave you here with a knife in your throat.”
The doctor shook his head. “You don’t remember, Alice; this isn’t my first trip out here. I truly, have not been able to infect myself with the tumor.”
“You tried?” the detective asked in her harsh tone, which could not hide her surprise.
“Yes. Out of despair. I wanted to find a cure so bad, for all the pets, children, parents, our city, and the ecosystem, really. When we realized as a city how severe the CTVT problem has become, it was the first time in my life I’ve felt so incompetent. It was also my only failure in my life. My compassion and competency were the only things that made me human. You’ve seen how I looked back then, Alice. I was ugly. Downright hideous. When both my compassion and professional skills as a doctor were failing me, I made a decision out of despair: to become a victim myself. To become yet another careless researcher unaware of the tumor cell’s capacity to survive without a host. I wanted to become a CTVT patient like you were, so that my useless body could then be used to find a cure. And if my body could not provide a cure and I died from the cancer….I’d be freed from my pain of being useless and incompetent and helplessly watching people die around me every day. It was a win-win situation.”
The detective choked a little. “You’re helpless, doc. I respected you as a good paediatrician back then but didn’t know your life counted on it. Stop with all this non-sense. Stop putting these women and the rest of the city at risk. We haven’t had an infection in the city for years until you started crossing the boundaries again.”
The doctor continued on cheerfully. “Then I realized my plan failed utterly. Because I simply could not be infected by the parasitic cancer cells. Surprising huh? In fact, I ate it but was still okay.”
“We eat it every day and live off it,” the blonde added quickly. “There are clean parts in there, you just avoid the animals.”
“That’s right,” the doctor continued. “I knew then, that there was hope for humanity – we can co-exist with the cancer. There will be a new breed of humanity that will be able to co-exist peacefully with this intriguing life form. I am that Adam; but I needed Eve. So I went around, finding women. First, I had to do the unspeakable. I intentionally exposed them to the tumor while they were unaware, and monitored them closely to see if the women were resistant. The majority were not, as expected. I came in as the boyfriend slash surgeon slash hero who cured them of the most terrible disease, but left them after saving their lives. Oh, I broke many hearts – but, I never broke a single body. As their, should I say, intimate partner, I could carefully watch the tumor – which always started at the skin. Excision was easy, nothing really different from a wart. And as I’d hoped, after a great number of excisions, I began to meet these women who would not develop the tumor even after repeated attempts of intentional CTVT infection. I took those out to the Garden, for the ultimate test. If she was the one, the Garden would most certainly accept her.”
“They were willing to come out here with you?” The detective asked.
“Good question, none did. Not even my darling Eve here; I’ve always had to use some sort of coercion, or what you would call kidnapping. You’ve saved a few of them; none would have told you the full truth of my plans and aspirations. The truth is, they know they have nothing to gain in exposing the real story behind my kidnappings. You have to understand why none of the girls you’ve saved were willing to help you catch me. It’s not that they don’t know where I live, my number, and the most intimate details of my everyday life. No. They were not casual encounters at all. They are lovers who succumb to the greatness of the plan I have for humanity, the self-sacrifice that has become a daily routine for me, and the sorrow that they were not the one to fulfill the mission to save humankind.”
“You are insane. Insane. I was going to suggest you to fucking clone yourself instead of this Adam and Eve thing but I’d rather die than know that there’s more than one of you on earth and I’m pretty sure the rest of humanity is with me on this one just because you’re fucking out of your mind – what about the rest of us? What about the rest of us once you find Eve? What about the rest of humanity?”
“Your puppy. He was a good dog wasn’t he? You loved him, and love him still.” The doctor’s voice was soft. The detective, shaken.
The doctor continued. “It is ironic how you hate the tumor which took your puppy’s life, the tumor which made your entire family the most despised human beings in this city. You’ve even had to change your name, didn’t you Alice? Anyhow. What you don’t realize is this: the cancerous white mass around you is your puppy. It was part of him, and now still holds his cells somewhere across this land. This mass is natural. It is nature. In fact, it is the only living thing that will live to the end of the earth. Your puppy created the ultimate living being.”
The blonde beside him spoke, with new-found confidence in her voice. “Alice, look at me. I am not a victim. I am a researcher. We used to think that the cancerous mass all around us is a primal soup of ever-evolving cells which can give rise to new life.”
The doctor cut the blonde off and continued. “Yet we were mistaken. This mass is the end of it, the ultimate product of the process we call evolution. You have to realize, taking me and Eve out of the picture, you are the one in the biohazard suit while the Garden is relaxing and living all around you – where it pleases. You are at Its mercy; you can’t kill It with your stupid knife. But it can kill you. Easily.”
“I have fire. We have fire. I am a complex organism.” Alice refuted.
“And that is precisely our downfall. Think about what cancer is: it is a quest for your cells to become stronger. Once it has indeed become stronger, it can break free from surrounding cells; it can enter your blood stream; it can exit your blood stream; it can find a new home; your skin cells can even live in your brain. Metastasis is an amazing biological feat. All in all, cancer is a positive mutation that ultimately kills you, but it survives. It thrives. You were not fit enough for it; you could not co-exist with these stronger cells you had, and so you fell sick. What kills you is not cancer. It is the rest of you and its inability to co-exist with it. Now let me ask you this: have you ever heard of a unicellular organism develop cancer? No. Never. It is because when it mutates, it is still only itself – consisting of one cell. It is the cancer cell. For a hypothetical organism with two cells, when one cell mutates to become stronger it might become “cancer” to the other cell – resulting in death. If however the two-celled organism is lucky, perhaps the second cell may be biologically compatible with the cancer cell – and thus the two-celled organism survives the positive mutation we know as cancer. However. The probability of that lucky, random survival decreases for a hypothetical three-celled organism, as now two other cells must be compatible with the mutation. It decreases again for a four-celled organism. And again for a five-celled organism.”
“You can easily see for yourself, how an organism like you, consisting of trillions of cells, will not be lucky enough to have all of your other cells be compatible with a mutated cell. The only option is to remove the positive mutation, or cancer, from your entity. Which is not always possible, neither through medicine nor through your immune system. Realize this; positive cellular mutations, the driving force of life which we believed to have created us as supreme organisms on this planet, comes with a higher risk of death for more complex organisms. In other words, unicellular organisms, being nearly unable to die from cancer, are truly the fittest. We’re not. How can a complex organism consider itself the fittest, when it fears the very driving force of life as cancer?”
His voice softened. “We were never meant to be. We were lucky to have existed in history.” The doctor looked down beneath his feet. “Look down. What you are witnessing here is survival of the fittest. The Garden which you despise is a diverse ecosystem of different cells, always mutating and evolving. Sometimes the single-cells join together and survive together; you may think of them of colonies, like spore colonies, but what we have here is more like an entire encyclopaedia collection of colonies. A galactic variety of cells are always being born – and dying as we speak. They are constantly evolving, mutating, all as single-celled organisms, fueled by the need to survive and the incessant radiation near the edge of our world. You will never, ever, take all of them down."
Alice stood with her mouth open as she then watched the doctor strip. With the blonde. They laid down naked, lovingly, and stretched their bodies against the white mass enveloping their flesh.
“You are not going to do it right in front of me are you?” the detective asked.
The doctor raised up his head to get a better view of the detective. “Alice, it is the only way to prove to you that you and your puppy have led humanity to new heights. You should be glad. I’ve been waiting for years, really, years just to be able to tell you the good news. That the Garden, or, your puppy, is truly beautiful. And that humanity will thrive with it. I’ve always thought about the angry little girl in the hospital bed. Thought about why something so bad could happen to her, and if good could come out of it. Witness now, the good, the procreation of a new humanity.” The man answered.
“What is that on your shoulder?” Alice asked.
The doctor was still smiling. “What?”
“Oh my gosh,” Alice raised her voice. “Oh my gosh that –”
The doctor stopped smiling. “What is on my shoulder?”
The blonde screamed. “Oh what the, no! NO, just NO!”
“Fuck it,” the doctor said as he started feeling up the tumor with his thumb. “Fuck. This be my fate.”
The clouds were dark and it was raining.
The blonde and Alice held each other side by side. The blonde was crying.
And Alice too.
The doctor was calm. “I could excise this. Don’t cry girls. Remember, I am a surgeon after all.” He smiled again. “But I will not. I am not Adam.”
He stood up straight and tall, completely naked, and held his arms out.
He was beautiful. Every muscle and bone sculpted to the finest detail.
“I hope they don’t mind some silicone.” And he fell back. Resting, sleeping in the Garden, letting it crawl. All over him.
In the dark of the rainclouds, a voice was low and calm.
“Tell my mother I love her, and that I am doing well. Tell her I killed the doctor who kidnapped me, and therefore I cannot return to society. Tell her I live peacefully, and that I am not living in fear in the wilderness. Tell her I smile every day and think about her.”
The blonde held Alice’s face close to hers. “Promise me, Alice. Please. Say this to my mother. And only this. Let me stay here.”
Alice looked into the blonde girl’s eyes and did not say a word.
Alice stood up, and headed back towards the city.
Across the field, there was a voice yelling – as if a little girl had just lost something very important to her. Something like a pet puppy.
“I’m telling you. Don’t. Ever. Harm a man or I will have to kill you. Find him. Find Adam. Find love. Live well, and never ever kill yourself. Never even think about it. I hope you fulfill your dream. And…if you ever find out you’re not the one….your mother is waiting for you. We have doctors. We are able to help you and we are happy to help you. The city is always here. And it thanks you. For carrying on.”