// THE LABORATORY //
I woke up early the next day and turned on the television. In my short time here, I had developed a habit of watching certain programming early in the day. There was a channel where children’s shows bled into what they called “public access”. Some of the programs weren’t in English, but I watched them anyway. It was all so fascinating to me.
I still held on to a glimmer of hope that my parents would come rescue me. The Doctor Trelaine had planted within me the seeds of doubt and they trickled through my everpresent silence like heavy rain. But I still held on.
That morning, Autumn did not bring my breakfast. The grey-haired man Doctor Trelaine was monolithic in the doorway.
I DIDN’T EXPECT TO SEE YOU THIS MORNING.
I had been looking forward to the morning’s mealtime break from the monotony that was my captivity.
But my quiet would be peppered with his intense presence. I turned off the television so that my mind would be unencumbered.
I HAD AN OPENING IN MY SCHEDULE AND I WANTED TO ENSURE THAT YOU WERE COMFORTABLE AND ABLE TO FREELY ENJOY ALL THAT WE HAVE HERE AT THE HOSPITAL.
My first vain hope was that he was offering unsupervised use of the library.
But it was not to be.
I HAD HOPED YOU HAD GIVEN WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT SOME THOUGHT.
I knew better than to speak without absolute clarity.
YOU’RE AN EXCELLENT CANDIDATE FOR RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY.
My teeth. He was still talking about my teeth.
IT WOULD BE AN EXCEEDINGLY QUICK AND EASY PROCEDURE. HARDLY “SURGERY”, IN FACT.
I WOULD REMOVE THE INCOMPLETE SET OF TEETH AND SET THE PRIMARY SET IN PLACE.
THERE WILL BE NO PAIN AND YOU CAN CHOOSE WHETHER OR NOT YOU’LL BE AWAKE FOR THE PROCEDURE.
I WOULD SUGGEST YOU GO UNDER GENERAL ANESTHESIA BECAUSE THE SOUNDS OF THE EXTRACTION CAN BE…UNFORGETTABLE.
I’D RATHER NOT LEAVE YOU WITH SUCH A MARK IN YOUR MEMORY.
NOT WITHOUT MY PARENTS’ ADVICE.
KEVIN, YOUR PARENTS DIDN’T EVEN TELL YOU THAT YOU’RE A VAMPIRE.
I’M NOT A VAMPIRE.
YOU’RE NOT TODAY BUT YOU WILL UNDERGO THE CHANGE. I CAN SEE IT IN YOU.
YOUR FATHER IS ONE, TOO.
MY FATHER IS NOT A VAMPIRE.
VAMPIRES CAN’T HAVE CHILDREN.
I HAVEN’T FIGURED THAT ONE OUT EITHER BUT HE CERTAINLY IS A VAMPIRE.
I’M SORRY HE NEVER TOLD YOU.
DON’T TALK LIKE THE NURSE.
The words coming out of my mouth don’t seem quite mine.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT SHOULD THE THIRST FALL TO YOU, YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO FULFILL THAT NEED.
IT IS MY JOB AS A DOCTOR TO SEE ALL MY PATIENTS ABLE TO CARE FOR THEMSELVES.
YOU’LL HARDLY BE ABLE TO FEED WITHOUT MAIMING, EVEN KILLING YOUR SUBJECT.
LET ALONE SATISFY YOUR HUNGER.
THAT IS NOT SUSTAINABLE.
A SINGLE SET OF CUSPIDS SHOULD PROTRUDE AGAINST YOUR MORTAL TEETH. TWO IS ALL IT TAKES, THOUGH I’VE HAD PATIENTS MAKE DO WITH ONE.
BUT YOU NEED THE TEETH TO BE SET STRAIGHT AND THE REMAINING REMOVED.
I WANT TO SEE YOU FLORISH, KEVIN.
Was there a set of vampire’s teeth in my skull?
I’M NOT SO SURE THAT I’M A VAMPIRE.
NO, YOU APPEAR TO BE A CHILD.
YOU EAT PEANUT BUTTER LIKE THE REST OF THEM.
YOU BREATHE, YOU SLEEP.
BUT YOU ARE NOT LIKE THEM.
I sit still, wishing him gone.
IF YOU’RE TO UNDERGO THE CHANGE, THEN YOU’LL NEED A FUNCTIONAL SET OF TEETH.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM WHETHER WE’D BROUGHT YOU IN OR NOT.
WHO KNOWS, YOUR PARENTS MAY HAVE SOUGHT ME OUT.
I HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT FOR SUCH THINGS.
A SPECIAL TALENT FOR WHAT?
I CAN SHAPE THE MORTALS’ FLESH.
I hoped he did not mean what I feared he meant.
AS IF IT WERE CLAY.
His intonation sends shivers down my spine.
I AM CONFIDENT IT WILL BE A RELATIVELY SIMPLE PROCEDURE.
THE TEETH ARE HELD IN PLACE BY THE FORCES OF FRICTION. SOME FLESH JOINS THE TWO BUT IT IS SOFT.
THE GUM IS A STRONG STRUCTURE BUT IT YIELDS TO MY TOUCH.
WE’LL SET YOUR TEETH IN PLACE AS THEY SHOULD BE IN ADULTHOOD. REMOVE THE MILK TEETH.
I’LL SIMPLY PUSH THE GUM –
I had heard enough. I was sick to my stomach.
IT’S AN UNAPPETIZING DESCRIPTION; I APOLOGIZE.
BUT IT WILL BE QUICK AND PAINLESS.
AND YOU’LL BE WELL-EQUIPPED TO HANDLE THE CHALLENGES AHEAD.
I could not look at him.
I’LL RESHAPE YOU.
YOU’LL BE ABLE TO JOIN YOUR KIND.
It was all too perverse. I longed for somewhere safe.
I CAN EVEN PUT THE EMPTY GUM BACK WHERE IT SHOULD BE.
YOU’LL EMERGE FIT AS A FIDDLE.
ARE YOU SAYING I SIMPLY SHOULD HAVE LOST THE TEETH WHEN I WAS YOUNGER?
I HAVEN’T DONE A DETAILED EXAMINATION BUT THAT IS MY SUSPICION, YES.
MOST MORTALS BEGIN TO LOSE THEIR TEETH AROUND SIX YEARS OF AGE AND COMPLETE THE PROCESS OF REACQUISITION APPROXIMATELY AT YOUR CURRENT AGE OR A LITTLE OLDER.
IT’S A PROCESS THAT COLORS THEIR YOUTH BUT LEAVES LITTLE LASTING DAMAGE TO THEIR PSYCHE.
HAVE YOU EVER LOST A TOOTH?
I thought of my breakfast, sitting abandoned on its tray, shining on the wrap.
NO. NOT THAT I KNOW OF.
The very word ‘tooth’ seems childish.
But would I prefer the term ‘fang’?
I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAS DELAYED THE LOSS OF YOUR FIRST SET OF TEETH.
I’VE ALWAYS LOOKED LIKE THIS.
IT IS PROBABLY DUE TO YOUR UNUSUAL PARENTAGE.
THE PART OF YOU THAT IS MORTAL WAS UNABLE TO COMPETE AGAINST THE EXTRANATURAL.
At least he’d stopped debating whether my parents were my parents.
I THOUGHT I WASN’T MORTAL.
I thought I was a monster.
IMMORTALITY IS SOMETHING ONE GROWS INTO, RATHER THAN BEING BORN.
WITH ONLY THE FEWEST OF EXCEPTIONS.
WE ARE ALL BORN SQUEALING AND PRONE.
YOU SHOULD NOT BE ASHAMED OF YOUR APPEARANCE; I’VE SEEN FAR WORSE IN MY TENURE.
I AM NOT ASHAMED.
But that was a lie.
I AM NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD FEEL ASHAMED.
YOU DID NOT LIKE THE TERM “BIRTH DEFECT”, BUT YOU MIGHT RECONSIDER IT.
THE PROCESS BY WHICH NEW BEINGS ARE BROUGHT TO THIS PLANE IS A MESSY ONE AND EVEN THE OVERLORD HERSELF CAN GET THINGS A LITTLE OUT-OF-ORDER.
THINK OF YOUR PROCEDURE A LITTLE CORRECTION OF THE CHAOS THAT IS THE NATURAL WORLD.
I ran my tongue over the inside of my bottom teeth. It was one of the only areas of my maw that could be considered smooth.