To know everything is to know nothing at all.

By Hiranya Sundar

“La tristeza de un hospital” by Hugo_Alexandre  | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 cc-iconby license iconnc license iconnd license icon

He remembered staring at the tear-stained printer paper unable to comprehend it at all. 

RBC Count — 7,300 — normal.

Platelet Count — 34,250 — normal

Brain White Matter Composition — 15% — abnormal

Brain Grey Matter Composition — 85% — abnormal (see specialist)

He shuddered, dark brown eyes speckled with red, as he read the line over and over again.

He was a monster, a murderer according to this sheet of flimsy white paper.

The cold, undeniable facts said so: his brain had an issue — he had an issue — yet he couldn’t believe that it was true. He didn’t have a single violent bone in his body; he couldn’t hurt a fly even if he wanted to. 

Hell, he hadn’t even swatted the bee that stung him the other day, earning a nasty, swollen bump on his forehead. 

It all seemed so long ago, so far away. 

His previous annual check-up, when he was 18, was all normal — not one number in the wrong place. 

But this year, as soon as the results touched his fingertips, he was carted away in a strait-jacket, fingers turned purple with asphyxiation. 

Laying on the frigid slab of marble that seemed to suck the heat from his body, he finally realised it was pointless. He was dead man breathing. Living just to die — all because of one ludicrous test. 

He shivered, chafing his hands on the metal straps that held him so tightly in place. The room was pin-drop silent for a moment. 

A woman came in, pushing a rusty metal cart that seemed to scream a metallic cry. He had seen her before, somewhere on some TV, sparkling, marble like eyes and hazelnut hair. The grim reaper, Azreal in flesh and bone, his executioner. 

She grabbed a needle, the modus operandi, a humane way to dispose of humans.

“Please, they wouldn’t let me tell my family. Could you tell them I’m sorry? That I’ll miss them?” His voice was hoarse with anguish. At first glance, her face shimmered with something akin to sympathy, but was easily recognized as poorly veiled her apathy. 

“I cannot promise anything.” Her voice was melodious, practiced through a number of repetitions. 

She flicked the needle, spilling drops of emerald-green liquid onto the table. 

His heart pounded. Could she hear how loud it was?  The drum beats: one-two, one-two, one-two and all over again. It was a countdown to the inevitable. One-two, one-two, one-two…

He screamed as the needle punctured his veins, fire coursing through him at the speed of light. 

The countdown was even louder now as the throbs in his head matched the pulsing of his blood. 

She watched, face warped into ambivalence, as her victim shrieked, again and again, writhing on the table. 

Then it stopped. It always did. 

She picked up the needle, quickly disposed of it in the biohazardous waste container and walked out, her heels making stiletto clicks on the linoleum floor. 

“Poor kid,” she muttered in the backroom to her colleague. 

“Stop thinking like that. If he were out on the streets right now, who knows what would have happened. ” the other woman muttered before turning back to the vial of scarlet which she gingerly placed upon the shelf. 

“True. His grey matter density was severely lacking, more than I’ve ever seen. You know, I had an uncle with the same condition. In those days, he killed two people already when they sentenced him.” The grey-eyed woman bantered. 

“Yeah. Thank God we get rid of criminals like them.”

She was in the waiting room, idly chatting with her doctor. 

“I don’t understand why they make me come here. They know I’m fine.”

“The government wants your records updated. You of all people should know that. ” The doctor grabbed her hand, to which the woman flinched backwards. 

“What are you doing?” she asked rather rudely. 

“We need your plasma to check for CMV.”

“When did this come about?” the woman said indignantly, eyes flashing like a thunderstorm about to break. 

Her doctor sighed. 

“The government wants your blood to document your yearly health assessment. Compliance is necessary.” 

Before the woman could react, the doctor grabbed her finger and pricked it, squeezing out a globular droplet of blood with warm, practiced hands. 

The woman winced, hiding her irritation beneath a mask of nonchalance. Her blood was hers what did her doctor think she was doing? 

The doctor led the woman through a maze of corridors to a small, pristine chamber with a large contraption in the center. She placed her head into the opening, hearing the familiar click-whiz of the MRI machine. 

“Your results will be out shortly.” Her doctor said in that same monotone voice, though her face was bright with uncontrolled surprise. The woman noticed the dark brown of the doctor’s eyes — she had seen them before, perhaps the other day. 

Her doctor printed out the results. 

She smiled, seizing her paper with confident nonchalance. 

At first, she wasn’t able to comprehend the document. 

RBC Count — 6,400 — normal.

Platelet Count — 33,270 — normal

Brain White Matter Composition — 12% — abnormal

Brain Grey Matter Composition — 88% — abnormal (see specialist)

She shuddered, gray irises speckled with red as she read the line over and over again.

She couldn’t tell if the world was counting down for her or if her heart was beating hard enough to double her over.

It hurt to breathe, to think. 

She found her mind wandered inanely to the man she had executed just a while back. Did he feel as she did now? Hopeless, despondent even, with a tinge of numbness at the tip of her fingers as they loosely gripped the incriminating sheets. 

“It isn’t possible!” she yelled at the doctor. Her storm-grey eyes have lost their shimmer, as they clouded over with unshed tears. Her voice was hoarse, her movements fractic, almost insane as she lunged away from the guards holding a straight-jacked, ready to cart her away like a broken object needing a quick fix. 

“Ma’am, I need you to relax.” The doctor’s voice was cold, unfeeling, needle-sharp. 

She found herself lying on a marble slab, the cold of it pulsing thickly through her veins, turning blood into ice. 

 It was all so familiar, she shuddered violently, patches of her limbs chafed red as they rubbed against metal restraints. 

It wasn’t real, was it? 

Let me just be dreaming she pleaded to a metaphysical force unseen. Her face was warped into emotion that had been unused for years. 

She noticed the vaccine, thin and gleaming in the fluorescent light. Her breath caught, her thrashing reduced from the fatal yet simple threat. 

“I swear to you, I have never hurt a single thing.” She begged, desperation creeping onto her face. 

Her doctor turned to her dark brown eyes flashing, as she mentioned “Perhaps it was all those children you were assigned to dispose of. I bet you hurt them.”

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