“Just so you know, I’m not apologizing. I simply figured that you’d want an explaination,” I say while I put on my purple latex gloves.
“In the United States alone, 5.3 million people suffer from paralysis. Doctors have ways to help once the stroke hits or therapy after the spinal cord injury, but nothing to prevent it. Hopefully that statement won’t be true after you.” I smile at him.
“What are you going to do?” Zenith asks, pretending to hide his nerves.
“Oh, you are such a good audience; you knew exactly what to do, Zenith! Hmm, that just sounds wrong to call you Zenith. What’s your name?” I ask getting out my checklist of procedures.
Silence is my only answer.
“Don’t worry, doctor-patient confidentiality.”
Begrudgingly, “Derek Cromwell.”
“Well, Derek, do you have any familial medical history, especially paralysis that I should know about? Or any current medical issues you have?
“No. And unless if you count superhuman abilities as a medical issue, no.” I would have thought Zenith would have more quips like he does when he is out catching crooks and stopping robbers.
“You mean, your enhanced strength, stamina, and speed? That shouldn’t affect the results too much. But what can you do, never can find the perfect test subject,” I wave my hand as if dismissing the thought. “So you asked how the procedure is going to be done. I’m going to place these electrodes on you-”
“Are you going to stun me with that gun of yours, Stunner?” Derek sneers.
“I built the gun with the technology I am about to perform, yes. And my name is not that blasted ‘Stunner’ as the newspapers boldly dramatizes in the headlines. I am Dr. Erika Quint.” I stand a little taller proclaiming my name. Everyone else will hear my name in the coming months.
“Wait, you’re an actual doctor? That’s why you wear the lab coat? You’re not just a crazy mad scientist?” Derek struggles against his restraints to look at me better.
“Well, technically, almost doctor. My university decided it would be better if I continued my research on my own. I don’t have an angry vengeance thing going on; I understand sometimes people are afraid of genius and the following success.”
“No lust for revenge, huh. In all of my crime fighting, I thought revenge was a number one must on the villain checklist,” Derek says puzzled.
“Ug, I’m not a villain! I’m just ahead of my time,” I finish my checklist. “After the university set me free, other research facilities thought my cause was worth donating their equipment for.”
“You mean you stole millions of dollars in medical equipment and stunned anyone with your gun if they got in your way,” Derek hisses.
“We scientist have to do a lot to fund our research. Sometimes that is wearing a fancy dress and wine and dine the potential sponsors. Or sometimes you have to wear a ski mask and lab goggles and learn how to disarm security systems,” I say while putting the nodes on his bare skin.
“You’re a menace to society.”
“I am saving humanity.”
He barks something that someone might mistake for a laugh, “By stealing, putting countless in the hospital, and experimenting on me?”
“It’s always confused me how most people think that the few currently living outweigh the billions yet to be born. Sure, I take full responsibility for harming a handful of individuals, but it is an easy price to pay for saving millions.” I place the final node on his upper thigh.
“Wow, your deranged conviction. There is no way I can convince you not to do this?” I see, not for the first time, fear flicker in his eyes. But this time it stays there.
“Am I really that deranged? I mean, I really want to know. I am not experimenting on little children, the helpless elderly, or mothers and fathers who would leave orphans. It’s just you, Derek. No girlfriend, mother passed when you were a junior in high school, father estranged. A few close friends, but you always happen to be fighting Empress Entropy and miss hanging out with them. I don’t even think they’ll notice. The thing is, I didn’t pick you because you’re Zenith but because if my procedure happens to not be successful, you, Derek Cromwell, won’t leave a vast gaping hole in the universe,” I say sincerely.
“But . . . I -um . . . Zenith, I mean, I am saving people. This city needs me.”
“Honestly, this city is overcrowded with Heroes. Who needs you when there’s Spider-man or Daredevil? Or the freakin’ Avengers?” I position the lights at the perfect angle.
“Hey I helped the Avengers out once,” Derek says proudly, almost forgetting what is about to happen.
“You filled in for The Thing at poker night. And you lost almost all of your money to Hawkeye. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been planning this for a long time.” I start flipping switches on my machine.
“I’m twenty-three, I have a whole life ahead of me. I can save so many more people,” Derek pleads.
“You will save more people by taking part in this procedure, than you could in a lifetime.” Derek begins to protest, but I put in his mouth guard.
“I’m not going to sugar coat this. It will probably hurt. But you are saving humanity.”
I push the button.