The Doctor


"Medical malpractice. First degree kidnapping. Conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. Tampering with a dead body. First degree murder…"

Everett shifted uncomfortably in his seat as the clerk read out the charges. He almost couldn't believe it. This is how they get you, he thought. God damn it.

"All rise."

He stood.

"I understand the defendant wishes to plead guilty?"

"Yes. I-I mean, yes, your Honor. That's correct." Shit. Not exactly projecting confidence.

The Judge — a rather stout, dark-skinned man in his mid-seventies — did not react. "So you've reached an agreement with the prosecution?" He gestured to the leading state's attorney, seated parallel to Everett's public defender. "Mr. Moore?"

"No, your Honor. The defendant has not reached an agreement with the prosecution at this time. In fact, it was my understanding that the defendant had refused to enter negotiations altogether." Murmurs filled the courtroom. The Judge turned back to Everett.

"Is that correct, Mr. Mann?"

"Yes, your Honor."

For a moment, the Judge seemed almost taken aback. "Mr. Mann: you stand accused of multiple violent felonies. If convicted, you face a maximum sentence of life plus one hundred forty-five years, and a fine of upwards of two hundred-thousand dollars."

Everett winced.

"You have declined to reach a plea bargain with Mr. Moore… and elected, of your own accord, to enter a guilty plea. Do you fully understand what you are about to do?"

"Yes, your Honor."

"Would you like the opportunity to consult with Mr. Edwards before affirming your decision?" Everett turned to his public defender. Thomas Edwards — a resigned-looking, unassuming white man in his mid-forties — was already half-asleep.

"Uh, no, your Honor."

"Alright." He paused. "Do you have… anything to say for yourself, before I announce your sentence?"

Suddenly, Everett piped up. "U-um, yes, actually, your Honor. I do." This is it, he thought. Weeks of practice, planning, and forethought had all lead up to this moment. He had already taken a gamble pleading guilty. Would it pay off? Surely, now, they will understand, he reassured himself. Surely, now, they will see reason. They have to. Surely…

He took a deep breath, and began to speak.

"I needn't comment on the nature of my research. This is not a matter for the courts to meddle in. I accept responsibility for my crimes, insofar as I acknowledge that I committed them. I refuse to accept responsibility for my pursuit of knowledge. Everything I did, I did for the good of my fellow man." He paused. "And… t-to the families, that I hurt. I'm sorry. But it had to be done! I mean, isn't that what science is all about? Making sacrifices? And b-believe me, I have. I have made sacrifices. I've sacrificed my humanity. My conscience. And… and… I mean …"

He stammered off. No one said a word.

"I see. Is that all?"

No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO! Everett wanted to scream, but managed to suppress the breadth of his anguish as he stood to address the court, one final time. For all his wit and passionate rhetoric, Everett Mann was not a particularly inspiring public speaker. Or a very sound legal mind. He could read the expression on the Judge's face as well as anyone else. It wasn't close to enough.

"Yes," he said, meekly. "That would be all."

The Judge chose his next words carefully. "Given the… facts of this case, the plainly heinous nature of the crimes, and the defendant's ardent refusal to accept responsibility—"

Refusal to accept responsibility? What? Everett stood. "Your Honor, I was merely trying to—"

But the Judge would have none of it. "Mr. Mann, please be seated." Everett considered protesting, but thought better of it. He sat down, defeated.

"Given these… aggravating factors, I find it appropriate to sentence the defendant to no less than the statutory maximum of life imprisonment, plus one hundred forty-five years — to be served concurrently — and a fine of two hundred-thousand U.S. dollars. Are there any objections to the sentencing at this time? Mr. Edwards? Mr. Moore?"

The courtroom was silent.

"So be it, then."

Everett could feel his stomach churning. This can't be happening. Not now. Not when I was this close…

He cursed under his breath. "God damn it. God fucking damn it."

It was over.


Everett paced in his cell. The three days since he had arrived at the Ohio State Penitentiary had been nothing short of an absolute nightmare. The walls of the small room were damp and cracked; Everett feared they would collapse at a touch. The floor was unusually sticky, emitting a strange odor best described as a mix of rotten eggs and horse shit. Solitary confinement.

He had been moved after he made the mistake of telling his cellmate his name. Apparently, his little "experiment" had made the papers. "The Mad Doctor", he cursed. "What a joke." The taste of toilet water was still fresh in his mouth.

Everett's ruminations would not last, however, as the sudden sound of footsteps grew closer to his cell. He heard the awkward jangling of keys emanating from the hallway outside. No sooner than a second later, the door was thrown open, momentarily blinding him as the light reached his eyes.

"MANN!", someone shouted. "You have a visitor."

The sight of the guard was a welcomed break from the monotony of his confinement. "A visitor?" he said, bemused. The guard spoke up.

"Yeah. Your attorney. Mr… what was his name again? Forget it. Come with me."

Everett bemusement turned to confusion — and, soon, anxiety — as he considered the guard's words. "My… attorney? But I don't—"

"Whatever", the guard dismissed. "Come with me."

Everett was ushered down the hallway, through the prison's central atrium, down a dozen stairwells, and into the conference room below. How big is this place?, he wondered. Along the way, he was greeted with mocking chants, spit, and the thumping of feet. For a moment, the prison seemed closer to a menagerie of caged birds, manically hawking at the sight of their scornful master. "MAD DOCTOR, MAD DOCTOR!", they screamed. "OPEN ME UP, WHY DON'T 'YA?"

But Everett remained unphased. When the noise finally dissipated, and the door slammed behind him, Everett was greeted with an unfamiliar sight. The man standing before him was not, in fact, his dispirited public defender, Thomas Edwards.

He was older — perhaps fifty-five — and well-dressed, with black slacks, brown oxfords, and a grey suit and tie over a pearly white undershirt. His long, receding grey hair was combed back to the base of his neck, and neatly trimmed at the front and sides. Thick black-framed glasses and a scraggly beard covered the worst of his wrinkled face. His fair skin was scarred at the hands and wrists, which he quickly moved to conceal once he noticed Everett staring.

The text on a red nametag at the lapel of his suit was just barely legible.

Merle Hart

South Cheyenne Point Legal Aid

"Ah, hello! Dr. Mann, is it? Please, have a seat." He reached out to shake his hand. Everett returned the gesture. "Merle Hart. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Dr. Mann? The use of the title unnerved him.

"I'm flattered, but it's just mister, now. Ever since… you know."

"Yes, you've made quite the name for yourself. "The Mad Doctor"!" He laughed. "Personally, I thought the "Butcher of the Bay" had more of a ring to it, but I digress. Now, let me see here…" Hart grabbed a large manila envelope from beneath his folding chair, removing several documents and setting them on the table, and began rummaging.

"I'm sorry, who are you, exactly?", Everett asked.

"Me? My name's Merle. But you already knew that, didn't you?"

"Yes, you told me. I meant—"

"I'm just busting your balls. Hey, lighten up, buddy! I'll get to that in a minute. Ah, here we are!" He seemed to find what he was looking for. Everett felt a growing pit in his stomach as he glanced at the stack of papers on the table. He recognized some of them — printed photographs of old family gatherings, his childhood home, his graduation from university. His laboratory.

"Everett Abbott Mann," Hart began to read. "born May 29th, 1958. Currently twenty… eight, years old? Is that right? Happy belated birthday. Parents died in a car accident when you were four. You were raised by your uncle, who went to prison when you were fourteen for murdering his… girlfriend? That's nice. Guess this sort of thing runs in the family, huh?" He smirked.

Everett was not amused.

"In spite of this, you graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1980, and from Harvard medical school in 1984, going on to establish a highly successful practice in Columbus, Ohi—"

"That's enough. How the hell do you know all of this? Who are you? Answer me!", he pushed. "Guard! Guaaarrdd!", he yelled. "Hey! I don't know this guy! Let me out of here! Let me— oh, no."

Everett was so caught up in his fit that he almost didn't notice the gun pointed at his head from across the table.

"Simmer down a bit."

Everett raised his hands, shaking. Hart sighed, and put away his pistol.

"Calm down. I'm not going to hurt you." He paused. For a moment, they sat in silence. Hart seemed to be in deep thought. "I apologize for not being… forthcoming, in arranging this meeting. I think we've gotten off on the wrong foot here. I'll be frank with you, Rhett. Can I call you Rhett?"

"Sure", Everett replied. He wasn't about to get smart with the eccentric stranger with a gun.

"You're in some deep shit, Rhett. Deep, deep shit. But I want to help you. Your methods are… unorthodox, yes, but your vision is clear. What you did — what you discovered, rather, was groundbreaking. And it would be a damn shame for these talents to go to waste while you're rotting in some state penitentiary for the next fifty years." Hart looked through him. "We need you, Rhett. We need people like you at our organization."

The gears in Everett's head started to turn. He didn't bother to ask who "we" was. His fear and bewilderment turned to an all-consuming panic as he took in what the stranger had said. He doesn't… he couldn't, no, that's impossible. The prototypes. I thought I… I…

"What I… discovered? And what would that be?"

"Now's not the time to be coy. We found your toys. Before the feds, thank god. The courts may have seen a butcher, but, then again — they didn't know what we know, did they? We've been monitoring your work for some time. You aren't as slick as you think you are. And we weren't the only ones. The UI... well, I suppose you wouldn't know what that is. Luckily, they were so engrossed with all the… er, bloodshed, that they didn't think to dig any deeper."

Everett was at a loss for words. "What are you getting at here?"

"You were faced with a dilemma. Pursue your findings. Bend the very laws of existence to your whim. And create something to move humanity towards a more advanced, enlightened future." Hart closed his fists into a dramatic gesture. "But at a terrible cost: a human life. The life of a child, no less." He leaned closer. His tone grew quiet, and dreadfully serious.

"And I'll tell you something, Rhett: you made the right choice."

Everett remained stone-faced.

"This… organization."

"Foundation", Hart corrected.

"You want… me?"


Everett thought for a moment about everything the man had said. But only for a moment. Then, he smiled.

It was quite simple from there, really.

"Where do I begin?"

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