Vanessa Marino, Leonine
One year ago — October 2015
The clinic was not too far from the administration building that Lucie had shown me the way to. We walked into the reception and Katrin showed me how to sign up to see the doctor, apparently there was also someone who took care of those metal arms and legs some people had.
I took a seat only for Katrin to speak up.
“Well, I’ve got to go to classes and refresh my doubles, but I’ll have one of them waiting here for you when you get out, okay? I’ll show you the way to your first class.”
I waited for a little while until the a door opened.
“That’s me. I came as soon as you asked.”
I got up only to see who or rather what had called me. Standing in front of me was a huge blue lizard in a white coat, it’s triangular head had four eyes and little dangling bits at the crown and jaw. I blinked. What was that thing? I’d never seen anything like it… It wasn’t a chimera, that I could tell, it was too well formed, its body was something you couldn’t just manufacture on the spot.
“Hello Vanessa, I’m Doctor Sij.” It said.
“What are you? You’re not a chimera are you?”
“No, I am a venusian.”
“My species come from another world, an alternate version of the second planet away from Earth’s sun called Venus in English, but we call it Sjarikt. I came to earth when I was younger and decided to become a doctor for humans.”
“Why for humans?”
“I always found your species fascinating and wanted to help.” She said, showing me her teeth in an odd smile. “Would you please follow me inside my office?”
I followed her inside and she had me sit down in a chair. She fiddled around a clipboard with strange letters I didn’t recognize.
“I’ve gotten results from your fellow chimeras from the Atlantic city pit, you all seem to have received the same cocktail of drugs; anabolic steroids, testosterone, mixed with excelsior and erythropoietin.” She said.
“I don’t know what any of those are.”
She went over each of the drugs, several times she had to stop and explain again because there were so many words I didn’t understand.
“— and so we will slowly get you off the drugs, if we stop at once it could be very dangerous to your health. One thing we need to discuss is testosterone, I was told you are a girl, is that correct?”
“Testosterone is the primary male sex hormones in humans, since it was added to your drug regiment it caused you to develop much like an adolescent boy would have; increased body hair, deeper voice, facial hair. If we stop that, your body will slowly begin to feminize itself; you’ll grow breasts, your body hair will lighten—” for a moment she kept describing what would happen, making sure to explain it’d take a few years for it to take full effect. “—Is that what you would like?”
“I would normally never recommend the use of Excelsior or administer it to someone who request it, but as you are already addicted and seeing your circumstances, there is minimal harm in maintaining the treatment, but serious risks in stopping it.”
“There is preliminary evidence Excelsior can cause neurological damage later in life such as dementia or alzheimer’s disease. However I’m afraid that as a human chimera, your natural lifespan is likely to be rather short, very few chimeras live to see their fiftieth birthday.”
I wasn’t sure how much fifty really was, I knew how to count a little but it just seemed so big…
“The gene therapy and mutagens used to create chimeras typically lead to some significant damage to DNA which in turn leads to an increase in the risk of cancers, the only preventive measure would be ablation of the affected tissues.”
“We would need to remove the parts affected by the chimerization process. I’m afraid that include your hands, significant amount of skin as well as many areas of your face.”
“No!” I jumped away when I realized what she wanted to do to me. “Don’t cut me…”
“Vanessa, I’m only discussing all the options.” She came closer and then sat on the ground next to me. “We are not the Syndicate, here you choose what happen to you and I will fight tooth and nail anyone who’d attempt to force you to go through medical procedures you don’t want, even if it would be for your own good.”
“You’re not going to do those things?”
“I would never do anything you don’t want me to do.”
She got up and offered me a hand. I hesitated but then took it, she helped me up and then sat back down.
“I’d like to run a few tests and establish a personal baseline for your health. Would that be okay with you?”
I nodded and she took me to another room.
“Now, if you feel any discomfort or anxiety, you can tell me. We’ll stop and try to make the tests more comfortable for you and reschedule if necessary.”
We went through some test, first drawing blood, I had to close my eyes and remind myself over and over that it wasn’t the same thing as back then, she was there to help me. Then there were most test, one of which had me lying down in a tiny metal tube, it was noisy and scary, I felt trapped.
“Vanessa, are you okay? Your heartbeat is speeding up.” The doctor’s voice came from a speaker.
“It’s very small in here.”
“It’ll be over in just a minute. Why don’t you close your eyes and tell me about your friends?”
I was surprised by her request but did as she said.
“There’s Isabelle, I really liked her, she was really nice but she often has these nightmares so we’d sleep together at night, that way I’d be there whenever she woke up. Then there’s Mark, he’s big but so nice, he taught me how to read a little, he loved to make stories too.” In the moment, remembering my friends, I forgot about the machine, I forgot about feeling trapped. I continued telling her about those who’d been with me all this time, choosing to remember the good moments that had kept us going.
“Vanessa?” the doctor interrupted me.
“We’re done here, you can come out.”
She took me out of the machine and I never felt so relieved in my life.
“This will be everything for today, you did really well and I’m proud of you. Let me show you out unless you have any questions?”
In the moment, I couldn’t think of anything, I shook my head vigorously. She lead me outside and just as promised I saw Katrin was waiting for me out there. I didn’t have the time to take a step toward her that Lucie was now there, right in front of me.
“V!” She said. “Zwantedmetogiveyouthis.”
She then practically pushed an envelope in my hand. It took me a moment to realized she’d even done that. I opened it and saw money. If it was a lot I didn’t know, I’d seen it before and knew what it was for but what a dollar, ten or a hundred meant in term of what you could buy was beyond me. All I knew was that a chimera was worth three thousand dollar, five thousand for the pretty ones…
“What is that for?” I asked.
She took a moment to breathe.
“Zainab said you might want stuff.” Lucie shrugged. “Like clothes and… things…”
She then took another thing out, it took me a moment to realize what it was, one of those old pictures, the one you can hold in your hand. It had everyone in it, in a big house, you could see the sun through the window and they were around a table filled with food.
There were four words clumsily written on it with a marker. It took me a moment to decipher them; Wish you were here.
My chest felt so heavy all of a sudden… Had I made the right choice leaving them? Zainab had said I could go and be with them if I wanted… I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Are you alright?” It was Katrin.
“I don’t know.”
“Wellimoutnowseeya.” Lulie said after looking at Katrin weirdly. With that said she disappeared.
“Is there something wrong between you and Lucie?” I asked.
“Ugh… It’s complicated.”
“We… Used to date.”
“Um… You know, be together? And do adult things.”
I looked away, my cheeks and chest getting really hot. “Oh…”
“Didn’t work out too well, because personal reasons I kind of don’t want to get into… Now come on, let’s get you to your first class of the year; gym.”