ALEX MORGAN - WILFRED’S PRICE
Currently residing in Colorado Springs, CO, Alex Morgan is an author who leans towards psychological/supernatural suspense and science-fiction. Alex has pieces of flash fiction published with Snow Leopard Publishing, The Stray Branch Literary Magazine, and is the 2018 recipient of the Colorado Authors’ League annual scholarship.
Alone. Tired. Confused.
In the unkempt basement of the talented and reclusive Dr. Price, sits his subject, simply referred to as “Wilfred.” Dr. Price is conducting a series of experiments to find a way to understand and reverse various forms of mental degradation. Wilfred is the perfect candidate due to his mental disabilities, elevated state of aggression, and that no one would miss him. But how he longs to be free. Staring up at the window in his cell, he perks up when he hears the nearing of footsteps, and the basement door creaks open.
“Wilfred how are we doing today?” Dr. Price asks in a doctor-to-patient tone.
“Go-odd. G-o-good.” Wilfred manages to get the words out, but not without struggle.
It wasn’t long ago that Wilfred was completely incapable of this level of speech. Even his butchered words show vast improvement for Price’s research.
“Wonderful! Wilfred, I have a question for you.” Wilfred staggers over to the edge of his cell and leans against the crude iron bars.
“Would you like to see what’s outside? How would you like that? To go outside finally.”
Wilfred’s eyes light up with excitement. After straining his mind from trying to say the word “yes,” he instead nods his head.
“Good, Wilfred. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear! But, you must do some things for me first, can you do that?” Wilfred looks at the doctor with a confused yet determined look.
“We have some new things to try. Tests, and some…other procedures—you’ll do that for me, right?” The doctor asks in a soft voice. “Of course you will! Right then. First thing, I need you to take these pills.” Dr. Price digs through his pockets, removing two sizeable grey pills
Wilfred stares at the pills, contemplating in his simple mind if they are safe, and glances back to the window. Sunlight pierces through the dust covered glass with thin rays of light that shine onto the cold, concrete floor of his cell. His gaze returns to his doctor, and he takes the pills, washing them down with water scooped from his bowl.
“You’re going to feel a little tired. Don’t worry, it’s a completely normal and expected side effect. Now, the real work begins tomorrow.”
Price exits the basement, locking the door behind him, and it isn’t long before he starts to feel the effects of the medication and blacks-out.
An entire day passes when Wilfred finally awakes to the sound of medical equipment being prepared. He stands, but quickly trips, falling back to the cold floor.
“Ah, Wilfred, good morning. You were fast asleep for quite some time, I thought it best not to wake you. You’re going to need all the rest you can get, after all.” Price turns to the cell holding a small piece of cake on a tiny plate.
Wilfred looks at the cake, salivating at the sight of the first piece of real, human food he’s seen in as long as he can remember. A chocolate frosted, white cake with some more red frosting drizzled on top.
“Oh, this? Of course you can have some! Please, eat, you’ve done more than enough to earn it!” Price slides the cake through the small make-shift doggie door recently installed in his cell door. Wilfred immediately devours the morsel. “Wilfred! What do we say?” Price scolds.
“Th-thh-th-aa-nnnk. You.” Wilfred struggles to say with his cake-filled mouth.
“Good—that’s a good man! You are welcome. Now, would you like to know why I keep you in this dark place, all by yourself? I’m sure you find yourself thinking about that quite often.” Wilfred continues to stuff his face, but Price has captured his undivided attention. “You see…how shall I put this? You, my friend, are a dangerous one...” Price moves over to the cell, grasping the bars as he gently presses his face against the cold iron. “To me, yourself, and society as a whole, really.” Wilfred almost chokes on the last bite after hearing such a shocking revelation. He would never think to hurt a fly.
“Yes, dangerous. They were going to put you down—like a sick dog, mind you. That is, until I intervened.” Wilfred looks at the man curiously with his dull eyes still holding a blank expression. “Surprised?” The doctor almost hisses, clasping the bars harder. “I convinced them that instead of just killing you, they instead place you under my special care. Wilfred, I am trying to help you. Your speech? Progress! And you have me to thank for that—only me. You would do well to remember that, my boy.”
Wilfred begins to feel dizzy as it becomes harder and harder to think.
“You will thank me someday. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday, you will.”
The room quickly fades, and he collapses to the floor. Price continues to prepare his surgical equipment, and he clears the operating table of any miscellaneous junk not necessary for the procedure. Walking over to the cell, he looks through the bars to make sure that Wilfred has been properly sedated.
The patient is out cold.
Unlocking the door, Price enters the cell, noting the pungent smell of feces and urine from his patient’s “bathroom corner.” Price grabs him by the arms, dragging him out as his limp body slides across the floor, thoughtlessly plopping him on the operating table. The doctor makes any last-minute preparations and begins the operation.
Several hours later, Wilfred awakes to a spinning room with a sharp pain in his side. He doesn’t feel right and is nauseated. He vomits brownish-red bile on the floor right where he sleeps. The room spinning around him surely isn’t helping his condition either. He clenches his side, feeling something wet.
To his horror, he sees that his hand is covered with blood. Wilfred looks down at the incision area and sees blood-covered stitches over a fresh wound, warm blood slowly leaks from the cut. The smell of warm copper almost makes him gag. Panicked, Wilfred screams, he screams so loud, his vocal cords begin to tear.
“What’s all of this ruckus? Wilfred? Wilfred?!” Price storms through the basement door. “Dear God, man, what is it?”
Wilfred points to his wound, and begins babbling nonsense, sobbing like a child.
“Yes, I know. That’s from the surgery.” The doctor explains to his frantic patient. “Your appendix, Wilfred, your appendix was—how shall I put this…it was done working.” Looking at his wound again, Wilfred tries to make sense out of all of this, but no matter how hard he tries to comprehend what the doctor is trying to tell him, his thoughts only grow hazier. “You would have died, had I not intervened. You can thank me later, ingrate.” The doctor approaches the cell and gently says through the hastily welded bars separating the two. “Don’t worry, it should heal up just fine. Just don’t go picking at the stitches.” Price pulls up a chair and sits a couple feet away from the cell with Wilfred keeping to his corner. “Oh, you poor soul. Do you know how many people you’ve hurt? It’s a shame—if not a crime—I didn’t find you sooner.” Price says with an earnest sigh. Wilfred’s only response is a blank stare. “Either that’s shock in your eyes, or just that usual confusion. Wilfred…a boy, his sister, and their mother. The whole family—those were the ones you hurt. That is why I keep you in here,” Price gently caresses the bars, “I’m trying to help you—no, I am helping you.” The doctor stands up from the chair and begins to exit the basement. “We’re almost there, I just know it.” Saying nothing else, he closes the door behind him.
Yet again, Wilfred is left alone in the quickly fading light, with nothing but his own depressed mind to keep him company. Dr. Price’s progress is evident, though. Wilfred’s speech capabilities were nowhere near where they are now, and it has only been a couple of weeks. Wilfred lies down on top of the thin, stained, sleeping mat with his mildew covered pillow tucked close to him. He rolls over and faces the wall, trying to make sense of everything that has happened today, but becomes frustrated with how hard it is to think, and then starts getting a headache from the strain of his own frustration. Wilfred spends his next couple waking hours sobbing in the corner, against the wall, until the sandman grants him the only release he has in this world.
“Up and at ‘em Wilfred!” Price calls out from the basement door. Wilfred’s eyelids slowly slide open from his brief slumber, revealing his empty, ashen eyes. “Aww, what’s the matter? Oh well, I guess you’ve lost interest in leaving your cell. I’ll just take my things back upstairs and let you get back to pitying yourself.” Wilfred sits up when he hears the slightest hint at freedom. “Oh? Good then. Today, you’re going to take your first test. It’s a special test I’ve designed specifically for you. Do you understand what I’m saying, dear Wilfred?” Wilfred nods as he craws towards the bars.
“Good! Wilfred, how do you feel about puzzles?”
Wilfred stares at the doctor, and stutters “Puuuz-zzl-ees a-rre fuu-fu—”
“Of course they are!” Price says enthusiastically. “Here, you’ll start with this one,” Price slides the puzzle set through the doggy door. “It’s an easy sixty-piece puzzle. And look! It even has a kitty on it. Kitties are nice, aren’t they?”
Wilfred nods and begins examining the adorable picture of a cat printed on the box.
“You have one hour to put as much of this puzzle together as you can. I’ll be back shortly, good luck. I have the utmost faith in your abilities, Wilfred.” Price exits the basement, dead bolting the door behind him. Alone with the puzzle, Wilfred begins his trial. Examining the board for several minutes, Wilfred manages to formulate a strategy. He starts with the corners, a clever tactic for someone of his intellectual capacity to employ, and then works his way along the edges.
The puzzle is about halfway complete, and it’s only been about forty minutes. But his progress begins to slow, and things become fuzzier with only one piece left. Holding it triumphantly while staring at the single space left on the board, he tries placing it down, but it’s in the wrong position. Frustrated, he tries again, and again, and then once more. Unable to figure out his error, he bursts into tears. Fresh droplets slide off of his cheeks and fall on the puzzle, soaking into the soft cardboard pieces. Crestfallen and angry, he begins to smash the piece into the board with pain starting to pulsate throughout his hand. Smashing and pounding, his knuckles begin to bleed, yet he continues his tantrum.
The basement door creaks open and Price approaches the cell. Ashamed and defeated, Wilfred dares not look his doctor in the eyes, dreading the punishment for his failure. The doctor leans in against the bars, observing the unfinished puzzle next to the deeply disturbed and broken man, smiling with a sense of achievement.
“Wilfred, very good! Although you didn’t finish it, you showed vast improvement today.” Wilfred is still focused on the puzzle, and still upset because he couldn’t make that last piece fit properly, and unsure as to why he is receiving praise for failure. “Don’t you see? Dear, dear Wilfred, this is progress!” Reaching into his coat pocket, Price removes two familiar gray pills.
“Now, take these pills.” Price orders in an unsettling tone, rolling the two moderately sized pills through door flap. “Go on, take them.” He says in a colder voice that Wilfred isn’t used to, giving him reason for hesitation. “Now!” Not wanting to anger the doctor any further, he swallows the pills. “Good, good! You’ll feel that sun on your face in no time.” The doctor smiles and turns around, leaving the basement without saying anything else. An all too familiar sensation washes over Wilfred as the dizziness returns along with nausea. The harsh concrete floor welcomes Wilfred once more as he falls into another drug induced sleep.
A beautiful wheat field tinted with a soft, golden, almost surreal glow stretches as far as the eye can see with Wilfred standing at the edge. When he turns around, he sees a house and curiously enters. The manor is gloomy, dark, and lifeless, as if not a soul had lived here for quite some time. Despite this making Wilfred uneasy, he presses on. Crossing the desolate, cobweb covered living room, he ascends the staircase that creeks with each step taken. Upon reaching the top, he hears a woman’s scream. Rushing into the next room to see who the victim is, he gazes upon a horrifying reflection of himself. It’s different though, more proper. More like an actual person.
The doppelganger kneels over the woman’s corpse, and then Wilfred hears the blood curdling cries of two children. Again, he sees the same thing he saw with the mother, but this time, the reflection turns around, looks at him, and then begins to sob. The room starts to stretch almost infinitely, the bodies vanish, and the room turns into a surreal version of his cell. Through the weeping, his reflection utters the words “I’m sorry, Wilfred.”
With a banshee-like wail, Wilfred springs up in a cold sweat. He remembers what the doctor had mentioned earlier, that he had hurt a family. Straining his mind, he tries to make sense of what his reflection said and why he would have said such a thing. These thoughts start making him uncomfortable, so he begins to drown them out with incessant sounds and movements. Tugging at his hair, rocking back and forth in the corner, and pacing around the cell exhausts Wilfred after a few hours, allowing fatigue to set in, making it slightly easier to fall back asleep.
Wilfred awakes to the sound of loud sipping. “Ah, good morning.” Price has been sitting across the room watching Wilfred sleep, legs crossed, nursing a cup of coffee. “Sleep well?” Wilfred attempts to reply but is cut off as soon as the doctor hears the first syllable. “Not important. Wilfred, take these pills.” The doctor slides them under the door and Wilfred reluctantly picks them up.
“Wa-a-aattt-errr.” Wilfred points at his empty water bowl.
“Oh, for the love of—here, take this.” The doctor hands him a cup of dust covered water that has been sitting near the table with the surgical equipment. Wilfred takes the cup and gags the pills down. “You know, friend.” Price says in a sincere voice, standing from his chair and giving it a good push across the room with his foot. “You sicken me—you really do. I want to vomit every time I look at you. Every time I think about you. Sometimes I think maybe I should have let them take you and put you down. Let’s see, a hanging? Not bloody enough. Firing squad? No, too quick. Lethal injection? Out of the question, too painless. But, whenever I find my thoughts growing darker and morbid, I remind myself…remind myself why I’m doing this. All of this. Wilfred, this isn’t just for you, but for everyone like you. I promise to cure everyone who’s just as sick as you are. Just remember one thing, just one thing for me, this is all your tiny mind has to do.” Price moves closer to the cell and slowly squats down, sliding his hands down the bars, pressing his forehead firmly against the metal, as if trying to fit his entire head through the gap. Clenching his teeth, he stares deep into Wilfred in the eyes with an unsettling smile, uttering something Wilfred will not soon forget, or even understand. “This is your fault. This is what happens when you cross me, you fucking liar.”
Wilfred’s heart begins to race as the room spins around him and the doctors harsh, yet vague words echo in his head. It only takes a few seconds for the drugs to take hold of Wilfred, who collapses onto the concrete. Pleased with the results, Price stands up and walks over to the record player in the basement and pushes the needle down on a familiar piece by Beethoven. The good doctor has adored classical music as far back as he can remember.
Price preps his work station and ensures everything is in order. He opens the cell and drags Wilfred’s unconscious body from the cell, plopping his dead-weight on top of the operating table.
“Shall we begin?” He asks with a gleam of morbid excitement in his eyes. “Oh, yes. Yes. We. Shall.”
He makes an incision where the spleen is located. After a deep cut, the doctor digs his hands inside of the man. Wilfred’s unconscious body writhes and squirms as the doctor’s hands fish around his innards. Price scoops out his warm, dripping organ, placing it on the table next to him. Digging through the drawer, he removes a needle and thread. “In and out…in and out. And In and out! That should do it, shouldn’t it?”
Wilfred gasps for air, waking up to find himself back in his cell. To his horror, he looks down at his fresh wound and sees a poorly stitched incision with gauze wrapped with reused bandages. The blood still soaks through the wrappings. He clutches the area, shrieking at the feeling of something missing.
Wilfred crawls back to the only place he feels even the slightest bit of safety, a damp, mildew covered spot in the corner with nothing but a single urine-stained mat and dirty pillow.
“Wilfred, are you listening? Wilfred, I think it’s finally that time.”
His heart races as the doctor speaks. Fear overwhelms him as he thinks of what the doctor has planned for him next. The cell door opens, and with every inch, his heart throbs faster and faster. Not knowing how to handle himself, Wilfred begins screaming desperately, hoping someone might hear him, might help him. But it is just them, alone together.
“It would be a shame if this lovely day went to waste, wouldn’t it?” The doctor says with a smile, standing in the doorway holding a pretty pink leash. “Wilfred, it’s time to feel that sun shine on your face.”
Wilfred perks up with a newfound sense of excitement one would see in a puppy, almost forgetting the horror he awoke to only minutes ago, trying harder than ever to ignore the pain, even it’s just for a little bit.
“You promise to be a good boy, don’t you?” Wilfred crawls to the doctor, hugging his legs out of pure joy.
“We aren’t going to have any mishaps, are we?”
The doctor shakes him off and wraps the leash tightly around Wilfred’s neck. Price walks his pet out of the basement, and as they walk through the house, Wilfred is filled with awe…but also, a feeling of familiarity. He recognizes some parts of the house from his nightmare, but doesn’t remember ever roaming around the house, or life in general before he became Price’s patient.
It is warm outside, and the sunlight is soothing for Wilfred. He looks up, closes his eyes, and basks in its glorious golden warmth. It’s everything he has ever dreamt of, and more. The patient feels some semblance of peace finally, even for just one, single serene moment. Price interrupts Wilfred’s moment of tranquility by tugging on his leash, and the two continue their walk around the estate. The doctor pulls him towards the field out back, but through Wilfred’s tortured eyes, he doesn’t see a field, but a sprawling meadow of pure splendor. As they approach, they gaze upon the seemingly endless rows of wheat. Wilfred recognizes this field as the one from his dream, the only clear thought he’s had for some time. Thoughts and questions fill his mind as he wonders why he would dream about this place in particular.
“Would you like to know why I took you outside today? Hmm? Why we’re just simply staring out into nothing?” The doctor asks as he glares down at him. Wilfred looks up at the man but avoids any eye contact. “Wilfred, do you remember that family I told you about?” Wilfred slowly nods, his attention redirected to the field. “Good. Those people used to live here. This was their home.” The doctor wipes his glasses as his gaze is lost upon the field. “Wilfred. That was my family.” Price says in a low, measured tone. “I was away for business, and while I was gone, they were murdered.” Price takes a deep breath. “When I was notified about what happened, I returned immediately. I wanted to kill who did it—I wanted them to suffer, oh, yes. But, when they showed me who did it,” Price smiles, and almost chuckles at the thought, “I saw nothing more than a babbling retard. After I put my emotions in check, I no longer saw a murderer, but an opportunity. Wilfred, don’t you see? You and me, my dear boy, are bound by fate.” Price smiles as he puts his glasses back on.
Wilfred reflects on what Price had just said, which gives him a migraine. Price looks down at Wilfred and tells him, “I hold no grudge towards you. Not anymore.” The doctor smirks at him. “You can’t help being such a pathetic invalid.” Not helping the man’s post-surgery condition, Price violently yanks his leash, pulling him to the ground and choking him a bit.
“Off we go, back to your cell. We have more tests to do. More work.” They begin to make their way back to the house, and when they’re back inside, Wilfred notices a locked door. Something about this room strikes him as odd, familiar, and terrifying—all at the same time. He stops moving along with the doctor as he takes a moment to examine the door, then he reaches his hand slowly towards the door knob. Price looks back and sees where the man is trying to go and violently yanks on the leash.
“No! Bad Wilfred! That room is off limits. Do you understand me? You want to go outside again, don’t you? It felt good, didn’t it? All of that freedom? You will never feel anything like that again if you don’t listen.” Wilfred looks back at the door, but his desire for freedom overtakes his curiosity, so he complies and continues to crawl next to Price as they head back to the basement.
Price locks the door behind Wilfred as he reenters his cell. “Right, next test. Solve another puzzle for me. You have one hour, just like last time.” A similar puzzle set is slid through the doggie door. Wilfred examines it, and notices that it has less pieces, and they are bigger.
Wilfred begins working on it, and about forty-five minutes in, he is half way done. But same as the last puzzle, concentrating becomes nearly impossible. Again, with puzzle piece in hand, he stares at the board, trying to figure out how to place it. It’s right there, an obvious space shaped perfectly along with the piece he’s holding, but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot fit the piece in.
“Time’s up. How did we do today?” A voice calls from the top of the stairs.
Wilfred reluctantly slides the board underneath the door. A few moments of silence, and finally Price approaches the bars, grasping them as he presses his face against the bar, knowing full well that this man is no longer capable—and hasn’t been for some time—of posing even a minor threat.
“Wilfred. Do you have any idea what this means?” Wilfred sits on the floor and cups his hands over his face, crying into his palms, afraid of what’s in store for him. “My boy, this is…progress!”
Wilfred opens his eyes, confused as to how failure could possibly be considered “progress.” Wilfred was so sure of himself because this one was even easier than the last, yet he managed to do worse.
“Wilfred let’s celebrate.” Price slides cake under the door. Specks of mold cover the moist cake, and a piece has already been cut out.
“N-o-o-no c-ca-c-c-c-c—” He remembers well what happened last time he ate this cake.
“Eat. The. Cake. Eat the fucking cake, you shit!” Price shouts.
Wilfred is not used to the doctor yelling, and does not wish to anger him any further, so he submits and eats the slice, gagging the whole time. Wilfred slides the cleaned plate through the doggie door.
“Do you like Beethoven?” Price asks in a calm voice, as if there wasn’t just tension between them. Wilfred remains silent, mostly because he doesn’t really know what Price is talking about. “Ah, of course you have no idea who he is, you filthy little creature.”
Price walks over to the record player and puts on the same record of Beethoven’s music he always does. Suddenly, Wilfred feels his heart begin to race and his eyes become heavy with a familiar sensation. At least this time, he manages to stumble over to his sleeping mat before falling down.
But this time the room doesn’t fade to black. No state of blissful unconsciousness. No sleep. No escape.
“Fantastic. The paralysis is setting in much faster than I had thought.” The doctor says to himself, opening the cell door. “Can you still hear me? See me?” Snapping his fingers in front of his eyes to elicit a response, Wilfred lays motionless, unable to twitch even a finger. Only his eyes continue to function, producing a steady stream of tears. “Of course you can. Very good.” Wilfred tries to move, to try and fight back, but the only thing he can do is just lay there and cry while he watches everything. While he feels everything.
With the sound of a gentle symphony in the background, Price drags Wilfred’s motionless body out of the cell and onto the operating table. This time he ensures the restraints are especially tight. Unnecessarily tight, actually, ensuring they cause pain. “Can’t have any ‘accidents,’ can we? I need you alive,” He whispers into Wilfred’s ear, “so very alive.” Wilfred’s body may be numb and paralyzed, but his damaged mind remains unaffected by the sedative. “I must admit, I am quite excited to try this new procedure. Wilfred, we’re making medical history together here, don’t you see?” The doctor picks up a marker and draws a line from the bottom of the sternum, down the center of the stomach, to about half an inch below the belly button. Wilfred’s bloodshot eyes follow the marker ever centimeter of the way. Price picks up his surgical blade and leans over Wilfred, his lips inches from his victim’s ears. The doctor’s cruelty would make even Prometheus shutter. “Remember, this is your fault, and you have nobody else to blame but yourself.”
Wilfred tries to respond, but with his speech impediment now paired with paralyses, the only thing that comes out are some slurred sounds and drool. Price gently pushes his index finger against the man’s lips, hushing his whimpers. While still making eye contact with Wilfred, he slowly slides the knife inside. Price drags the blade down to the center of his gut, enjoying every moment—every millimeter. Though his body felt numb earlier, he feels every bit of the pain. Once the blade reaches its destination on the other end of the line, the doctor sets the blade back down on the table. He inserts both of his hands into Wilfred’s stomach cavity. Unfortunately, for Wilfred, the doctor has taken every precaution possible as to ensure that his patient doesn’t die. Not yet.
All whilst the specimen witnesses his own dissection, his heart pounds, his vision blurs. “You’re going into shock. It’s best if you just let it happen—try not to panic.” Price says without pausing the procedure. Wilfred finally passes out from the shock, but not before he is able to witness the doctor sifting through his guts with a sadistic smile stretched across his face. Another memory to add to his vast collection of nightmares.
“Morning.” Price glances up from his cell towards the voice. Wilfred approaches the door with Price’s breakfast in hand.
“And, how did we sleep, Price?”
Price puts forth as much effort as possible to push the words out. “G-g-g-o-g-ood!”
“I’m happy to hear that! Price, I’d like to introduce you to some people today. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Price looks up and scrambles towards the door.
“Y-e-es!” He exclaims with joy.
“Fantastic.” The doctor opens the door, holding a pink leash. Price looks at the leash with fear. “This?” Wilfred chuckles. “Oh, Price, I would never do anything that would hurt you, this is just a…precaution.” After a few moments of hesitation, Price finally allows Wilfred to put the leash around his neck. The doctor escorts him out of the basement.
“Price,” Wilfred gestures towards a cautious looking group of people. “This is my family—our family.”
A boy, his sister, and their mother all greet Price. Price can’t remember the last time he had seen another person other than Dr. Wilfred.
“Gross! What is it, daddy?” The little girl asks with a disgusted expression, scrunching and twisting her face at the sight of Price.
“Katie be nice. He is a guest in our home, and my friend. In fact, I would even consider him part of our family now.”
“Adam, I want it gone. Just look at it.” The mother says with disgust.
The little boy hides behind his mother, shying away from the man.
“Please,” Wilfred pleads. “I’m so close. I need him—do you have any idea what this means for me? Look at the poor soul, he has nowhere to go. And he’s certainly not going back to that wretched place!” Wilfred removes his glasses and begins wiping them off with a cloth from his pocket. “I expect him to be treated no differently than any of us. I want you to show him what kindness is. To show him what compassion and love means. Teach him to differentiate between right and wrong. What it means to be part of a family—loved by a family—so that one day, he too can finally feel what it’s like to be normal. To be a thinking man accepted by society and free to do what he chooses.” After some thought, the mother sighs and shakes her head and gathers the children, taking them into another room. Wilfred looks down at Price and smiles, who is looking right back up at him. “Don’t worry, friend, I’m here, and I’ll always be here.”
Wilfred gasps for the day’s first breath, awaking from yet another dream. He rolls over, curling up from the immense pain in his stomach. He remembers being strapped to the table while the doctor had his hands sunk deep inside his gut. Unable to properly articulate his emotions, Wilfred starts yelping, tugging his hair and crying.
“Wilfred, Wilfred…Wilfred!” Price has been sitting in the basement, watching the poor man sleep for some time now, just like he usually does. Wilfred screams, pointing at the wound as he chokes up some blood. “Normal—that’s a completely normal side-effect. Now, the pills. Take them.” This time, he throws the pills at Wilfred through the bars. Knowing what horrid suffering the doctor inflicts upon him after he swallows these capsules, Wilfred refuses Price. Those pills are always followed by terror and nightmares, something Wilfred has become all too familiar with. “Don’t make this harder than it has to be, just take the fucking pills! You would like to go outside again, wouldn’t you? Hmm?” Down on his knees, Wilfred begs the man for mercy, but speech has become a near impossible task for him, so only incoherent noise comes out. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the only hopeful thing he has left in his life now, the window, the outside. Freedom. Vibrant sunlight pierces through the window. Oh, how he longs to feel the warmth on his cheeks again, even if it’s just one more time.
Although he no longer trusts the doctor—or anything, anymore—he chokes the pills down with no water provided. He will endure the next torment the doctor has planned for him, all for just another moment of freedom.
“There, that’s a good boy.” The doctor begins to walk back upstairs when he stops. “Oh, I almost forgot,” Price turns around and walks back to the cell. “I forgot to give you this.” Price pulls out a crumpled piece of paper. “Your reward. You’ve done more than enough to earn it.”
Wilfred picks up the picture, uncrumpling it, revealing a photo of a cheerful family with a large portion of the top right corner torn off. A mother and her children all posing together for a family picture. The doctor leaves without saying another word. Not to Wilfred’s surprise, he begins to feel the medication’s effects. He tumbles over to his mat and misses, falling on the cold concrete floor.
The next morning, Wilfred awakes to a violent yank on his neck. Price already has the leash wrapped around him and starts to lead him out of the basement. Dazed, barely knowing who he is, where he is, or what’s going on, the Wilfred has no choice but to follow his doctor.
“Wilfred, I have excellent news!” Price exclaims. “I think I’ve done it. I’ve finally done it! We’re going to change so many lives, you’ll see.” The two stop outside the same field as they did the other day. “Wilfred, my friend, I couldn’t have done this without you.” Wilfred stares off into the distance with a blank look in his eyes. The praise of the doctor, however, does evoke some feeling of worth from Wilfred, granting him the first shred of happiness since the first time he was able to go outside. The two look silently out on the golden field as the sun begins to set, as it always does. The rustling flowers and grass blow in the warm, Summer breeze. The sun dips behind the mountains many miles away. The doctor hands Wilfred some more pills and the poor man is too tired to deny it.
“W-w-ha…” He tries to ask something, but forgets how to speak entirely mid-sentence, tearing up at how frustrating it is.
“Time to go home, Wilfred. You still have one more test to complete.”
Wilfred’s responds with a grunt, followed by a stream of drool.
The two make it back down to the basement, and the doctor drags Wilfred back inside his cell, locking the door behind him. “Okay, this is the last puzzle.” Price smiles. “I’m sorry, our last puzzle. We are a team, after all, aren’t we? We are in this together—have been from the beginning, dear, dear friend.” His smile reverts back to a grimace. “Again, same rules apply. You have one hour.” Price slides the puzzle under the door. Wilfred stares at it with empty eyes. The puzzle is merely a block with variously shaped holes where you fit a circle, square, and triangle.
After fifty-three minutes of working on it, he’s only managed to fit the square through the correct hole purely by luck. Seven unsuccessful minutes tick by, then he hears, “time’s up,” come from the other side of the door. Despondent because of another failure and inability to perform such a simple task, Wilfred slides the unfinished puzzle slowly through the doggy door. There’s several minutes of silence as Wilfred awaits his scolding.
“Wilfred.” Price finally says in his low tone. Wilfred retreats into the urine stained corner, afraid of the consequences his failure might bring. “Wilfred…we’ve done it! Finally, we’ve done it! Take this, and please, do enjoy the rest of your day. You’ve certainly earned it!” Price tosses a slice of that cake through the bars. “And remember, we’re back at it early tomorrow, so try not to tire yourself out too much. Oh, and Wilfred, that cake you’ve been enjoying so much,” Price looks back to Wilfred. “It was her favorite, too.”
Now alone, Wilfred curls up in the damp corner and stares at the wall. He begins to cry with thoughts of suicide begin to cross his mind. Even dire thoughts such as those provide him with more comfort than what he finds in a normal day. Wake, wait, eat, suffer, cry, and sleep…this is his life, and a life where the only solace he can find is in his dreams is no life worth living, he thinks to himself as he sobs into his lap.
Wilfred finds himself in the same nightmare he had not too long ago, and hears that same woman scream. Rushing to help all over again, he bursts through the door, and he’s shocked when he doesn’t see himself like last time, but instead sees the doctor standing over her body. Something is off about the look in his eyes. Remembering the children, Wilfred rushes to their rooms, and again, there stands Price over their corpses. Price notices Wilfred, and without saying a word, begins to chase him through the house. Wilfred approaches that same room the doctor deemed off limits. With the real nightmare gaining on him, Wilfred frantically turns the door knob, and as he enters the forbidden room, the doctor turns the corner and lunges after him. As soon as Price makes contact, the dream ends, and Wilfred awakes.
“You know what to do.” The doctor says in a cold, monotone voice.
Wilfred spots the pills Price tossed in his cell while he was asleep and puts them in his mouth, but is unable to swallow them, the pills simply sit there. Price impatiently hands him a cup of water that had been in the basement long enough for a thin layer of dust to settle on top. Wilfred pours the cup of water into his mouth, but the pills don’t go down with the water. Rolling the cup back under the door, the doctor looks at the man. Wilfred sits in the dimly lit, excrement covered corner, and Price can barely see him, but assumes he complied and swallowed the pills, as he always has. As soon as Price moves away from the cell, he spits them out in the bathroom corner. The first time he’s missed a dose. He sits in his dark, lonely cell, thinking about his dream. Trying so hard to remember details—or anything for that matter. He can’t remember much except for that mysterious room the doctor doesn’t want him to see. He needs to find out what’s inside.
Price walks back towards the cell. “Wilfred! Today is a big day, a very big day.” The doctor says, unlocking the cell door. Wilfred backs away into the corner, as usual, and then he hears something different, a loud dinging sound from upstairs. “You--you! Don’t you fucking move or make a sound. Do you understand me?” Price storms back up the stairs neglecting to lock the cell. Realizing this was probably his only chance, Wilfred quietly crawls to the door and hesitantly pushes it open. It’s time to see what the doctor was hiding so carefully, but Wilfred knows in his current state, he wouldn’t be able make it far before the doctor easily catches him. But, maybe he can at least find the answers to all of this, find some meaning behind the dreams he’s been having. He staggers from the sloppy surgeries, if he moves too fast, he risks injuring himself further. Fortunately for him though, the estate is quite large, and the room he needs to go to is on the opposite end the front door is. Moving as hastily as his broken body will allow him, he arrives at the door and fidgets with the door knob until it opens. To his surprise, it is not locked. The room is full of old, dusty research equipment, documents, and an empty wine glass. He crosses the room and bumps into a projector with a reel already loaded on. After a few, stressful moments of trying to figure out how to power the device on, he happens to drag his thumb across a large switch that reads, “ON.” The footage shines on the wall in front of him.
“Day thirty-seven. Still no solid, tangible results. The subject has shown some improvement in certain aspects, but it’s not the progress I had hoped for—or need, for that matter. I’m going to up the dosage on his medication, again. Hopefully I actually get some results this time. I feel for the poor man, I can see the pain and frustration in his eyes when he tries to communicate. But, I’m close—so close, I know it.”
The clip ends, leaving Wilfred confused. The only reflection he’s seen of himself has been in the urine puddles on the floor of his cell, but he still recognizes himself to some extent. His head starts to hurt as memories and feelings rush into his head. Rummaging through a pile of film, he selects another recording at random, and then feels something familiar as he manages to load it into the projector.
“Day four. Subject is adjusting as expected to his new environment, despite the negative reaction from my family. He tends to throw outrageous tantrums when left alone for too long, probably a lingering effect from his isolation during his time in the asylum. He becomes lonely—very lonely, and I feel for him. His caretaker warned me about him, she said he was ‘violent.’ I don’t believe this man to be inherently violent, not one bit. He’s an innocent man longing to be heard and understood. But, no matter how many times I try explaining what would have happened to him if I hadn’t taken him in, he still doesn’t understand why I must keep him locked away, even though I’ve done everything I can to make him feel safe, even welcomed. In fact, the man seems to dislike most things. It was Ben’s birthday yesterday, and I even shared a small piece of his birthday cake with him, but he didn’t even seem to appreciate that. I need to make more headway if I’m to cure him. If I am successful, then people like him won’t have to endure such suffering within their own mind anymore.”
The footage cuts out, and again, the man talking so eloquently is the same man who couldn’t even solve a child’s puzzle. With tears filling his eyes from a migraine brought on by thinking too hard, he struggles, but manages to load another film at random.
“Day twelve…well, progress was made today, just not in the way I anticipated. During one of his tantrums, I wondered how he’d react to music. I put on an old record I managed to dig out from my collection. To my surprise, that seemed to calm him down quite a bit. When he seemed a bit more tranquil, I attempted to communicate with him. To my surprise, he actually communicated without screaming or trying to smash the door down. After speaking with him for a bit, I decided calling him ‘subject’ or ‘patient,’ doesn’t do much for his self-esteem, so I started listing off some names. The man shook his head at some, while violently spitting at most of the others—that is, until I suggested ‘Wilfred’. He seemed to like that name, compared to the others, at least. Although, I constantly remind myself not to become too attached, I can’t afford to let my emotions interfere with my goal.”
His head pounding even harder now, Wilfred collapses to his knees, and is confused as to why he is calling someone else by his name. Another film is loaded.
“Day thirty-two. Astonishing results were produced today—albeit, with some unintended side effects. Just a few days ago, I decided to give Wilfred Katie’s old puzzle to help improve his problem-solving skills. Katie adored the kitten on the puzzle, and the picture seemed to bring him some peace as he worked. Although, originally intended for research, the puzzle itself actually gave the man something to do in his free time, so I let him keep the puzzle. His problem-solving skills have improved significantly since then. At first, Wilfred would get extremely frustrated with it, but once I upped the dosage of his medication, it only took him about an hour to solve it, which is quite impressive considering the lack of success we’ve been having. I think now is the time to challenge him and see just how much potential my reworked formula has. Starting tomorrow, I will increase the difficulty of his tests each time I administer one. Hopefully, he won’t become discouraged and frustrated too quickly. Lastly, but probably his most impressive feat, was this morning when I checked on him, Wilfred clearly, for the most part, said ‘good morning’ to me”
Immediately, the memory of the unfinished kitten’s face comes back to him. That was the first puzzle he remembers doing, and then he remembers his “reward,” the picture of that family, specifically, the little girl. He hurries to load the projector with another film.
“This is astonishing! Day sixty. Wilfred’s IQ has risen significantly since I’ve began the experiment. Admittedly, I’ve tripled his dose for faster results. An unethical act, yes, I admit—but necessary. I’ve done away with any form of restraints while taking him on his daily walk. I still try to avoid Martha and the children because they simply can’t comprehend the way this man feels like I can. Ben and Katie have been caught sneaking down into the basement, taunting Wilfred. Of course, their misbehavior doesn’t go without a firm punishment. Not only is it abusive and rude, but it’s also detrimental to my work. And of course, not a day goes by without Martha asking when ‘it’ will be gone. I still don’t—and won’t anytime soon—have a definite answer for her. As far as I’m concerned, Wilfred will be fit to leave after he’s sat down with us at the dinner table while we all enjoy each other’s company. Then, and only then, will I allow society to take him back.”
Wilfred’s intellectual double pauses for a moment and wipes his glasses, as if pondering something that’s been troubling him. The recording continues.
“Before I conclude this recording, I’d like to note something for future reference. Although probably my own fault, or perhaps the children are to blame, I’ve noticed that Wilfred’s cell tends to be left unlocked some mornings. I haven’t paid much mind to it, considering there is no mess or injury, and nothing in our home is broken. I’ve asked Wilfred about it, and he just stares at me with his usual confused look. I can’t imagine him having the capacity for such a mischievous stunt such as this. I’ll have to speak with Martha about keeping a better eye on the children while I’m away. I’m not terrible concerned, the man can barely navigate the basement, let alone an estate of this size. I suppose my mental and physical fatigue is finally catching up with me. Martha has been complaining about me rambling more often and sometimes I lose my trace of thought mid-sentence, however brief it may be. These tireless nights I spend buried in my research are taxing. Next time I stop off in town, I’ll need to pick up more coffee.”
Wilfred becomes overwhelmed with memories, but distant memories, almost unfamiliar. Memories he didn’t think were his, until he had seen this footage. He remembers the nightmare he had with the children and that woman. He begins to recognize some of the massive textbooks in the office. Without the medication corrupting his mind, thinking becomes a bit easier. But amidst his mental clarity, he finally realizes something he wishes he hadn’t. A boy, his little sister, and mother, all living happily with their talented and reclusive father in their large and comfortable home.
With his head feeling as if it’s about to explode, he can hear the front door slam. With curiosity overtaking his instincts for self-preservation, he inserts the next film laying on top of the cluttered pile with haste. The footage rolls, and Wilfred is petrified. It’s his doctor. It’s Dr. Price, but not his Dr. Price, not the one he’s come to know. Price is wearing dirty, older looking clothes, stained with blood and sweat. He stares curiously into the camera until he finally stutters the words, “good. Mo-o-orning. My-my n-n-name…” Price glances behind him and sees a degree, a Ph.D., in fact, hanging on the wall, and then he looks into the camera with that same smile that haunts Wilfred’s thoughts. After watching the man curiously sift through a pile of clutter, he stumbles across a lab coat hanging in the corner and puts it on. He looks back down at the diploma he’s holding, and sounds out, “D-d-oc-ctor Ad-d-am P-r-prrr-i-c-c-e.”
Dr. Adam Price, a brilliant and well-respected doctor, sits in his study with sullied undergarments, a scarred mind, and missing organs. He uses his desk to steady himself as he stands up, and then uses a pile of books for support, but the books come toppling down on top of him. He glances at some of the books and notices that they’re all medical textbooks. From various surgical procedures to writings on psychology to encyclopedias, they look like someone had been reading them recently, and then it all comes to him. Dr. Price, or Wilfred, has been learning, studying. Amidst his discovery, his thoughts are interrupted when the study door creeks open.
“Wilfred, tsk tsk tsk. Didn’t we agree not to open this door? We did, didn’t we?” The doctor looks over at the film and the pile of books, realizing he must have figured enough out and the whole ‘doctor’ charade was over. But it doesn’t matter, not at this point. “It’s going to be alright, I’ve already forgiven you. See how kind I am? See? To show you how nice and merciful Dr. Price is, we’re going to get all of those nasty thoughts out of your head.” The real Dr. Price looks at the imposter in absolute horror pleading and begging.
“N-no. Pl-l-e-a-a-se. I-I-I wa-wanted t-o h-h-h-he—”
“Remember, you did this—all of this.” ‘Dr. Price’s’ patience runs out, caring not to listen to the man’s pleas. “Was it worth it? Any of it?” He smiles and laughs as he grabs “Wilfred’s” scrawny legs and drags him out of the room. He struggles, screams, cries, trying to slow the doctor down, knocking over more books as he does. His eye catches a particular book that fell, and something about it strikes absolute fear into his heart. The book looks almost new, as if someone had been reading it just this morning. Lobotomy: A Modern, Medical Approach, is written across in bold, underlined lettering.
“Well, now that you apparently remember enough to know who I really am, I should tell you…” Wilfred stops dragging the feeble man down the hall, and digs his knee firmly in his chest, leaning as close as possible without touching the man. “I killed your family, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Oh, yes. That field you love gazing at during our ‘special’ walks? That’s where I buried them. Maybe on our next walk, we’ll pay them a visit.” Wilfred says, colder than ever. Wilfred stands up off of Price and continues dragging him through the halls, then down the stairs into the basement where the surgical table has already been hastily prepared. Price’s world is collapsing around him, breaking down as each memory returns. A man trying to further the good of mankind while helping a hopeless soul along the way. It was the very soul he was trying so desperately to save that finally broke his own. The new Price straps his limp body to the operating table that was never intended on being used in this sort of manner. “But, there is one thing I didn’t lie about. All of this? It is completely your fault in every sense.” He finishes strapping the Price in. Wilfred looks at his new replacement with glossy, tired eyes. “Oh, yes. You see, the medication you had been giving me, in fact, did help my… ‘disabilities.’ Just not all of them. Turns out, Adam, your medication did make me smarter, but my newfound intellect came with more…intricate thoughts. You see, it never took away those…other desires. I was able to surrender myself to my inner sadist more than I was ever could have. I wanted others to feel pain, to suffer, and now I’m even more capable at doing just that,” He leans close to the bound man, and whispers, “hurting you.”
The leather holding him to the table is so tight, it begins to cut circulation off to his extremities. The new doctor continues. “After so much time of being called ‘retarded,’ and ‘broken’—looked at like some pet by all of you, your family, and the rest of this Goddamned world, I realized it was time to change things. It’s hard to diagnose someone who can barely speak or function as a dangerous sociopath, now isn’t it? However, I can’t blame you for this oversight.” The new Wilfred struggles to speak once again. It tears him apart inside knowing how well he was able to articulate himself before all of this.
Wilfred callously turns to him and shoves two more of the pills in his mouth. “Swallow!”
Lacking the strength to struggle, the pills slide down his throat. Painfully. The ‘doctor’ almost hisses through clenched teeth. “You are not sorry. You have never been sorry. You have never felt sorry for me—you only used me as a perfect little project to further your own career. You don’t think I remember? The day you ‘rescued’ me? I remember that self-righteous look on your face as you signed those release forms.”
“Shut up! Don’t try to tell me you ‘cared. You never cared!’ When a mutt is picked up from the pound,” he grinds his teeth, “it isn’t supposed to see the inside of a cage again. Isn’t that all I am to you? Just a mutt you picked out from a selection of all the other mutts? It must have taken you some time to convince yourself it was for the greater good. Or was it purely ambition?” He smiles. “Greed, perhaps, doctor?”
“Hush. Shh, shh, shh. Don’t you worry, I’m going to be a kinder, better, more merciful ‘Dr. Price’ than you ever were.” Instead of the proper leather band usually placed in the patient’s mouth, a filthy rag that had recently been used for God knows what is lying on the table next to the other surgical equipment and is shoved in the patient’s mouth. “I was so, so happy to finally be free from that Hell. I couldn’t understand what was really happening at the time, only that I no longer had to live there anymore. No longer would I be mocked, beaten, humiliated, and kept locked away. I was so excited! And then…then you just left. You left me. Like it was nothing! Like I was nothing!” Through soiled cloth, the man begins to sob as his eyes become bloodshot, filling with confusion, anger, and regret. Wilfred continues as he traces various lines on Price’s head. “Usually, when an owner adopts a mutt, the owner takes it home with them. Treats it like family. But no, instead I watched the sun set and rise from my barred window for several more days. But I still wasn’t angry—oh no, my hated didn’t manifest until you brought me here. I looked at you as if you were my savior, when in fact, you were just another captor, and I was just another prisoner. Yes, yes, indeed you saved me from that cesspit they call an ‘institution,’ but only for you to throw me into another cell.”
Wilfred walks behind Price and begins rubbing his temples, getting a feel for the area. “Any thoughts of happiness and freedom were ripped away from me in a moment. It took me a while to come to terms with it. Mind you, that’s why I threw so many tantrums at first. Realizing I may never see the outside world again, and realizing how much time I would have, I spent many, many hours—days, even—learning how to be you, and while I was learning, I happened to learn a few other interesting things.” Wilfred walks over to the record player and puts the same record of Beethoven on from earlier. “Your plan was to make me all better, right? To ‘cure’ me? And then what? parade me around like some trained pet? You wanted your reward, that prize, the money--your fame. You could have cared less about me—about what happened to me. Who cares if the medication would have killed me? Who cared what happened to me once you got what you wanted, right? That’s all that matters, after all, what Dr. Price gets, right? Oh, you poor pathetic mess.” I’m sure even with your mind dwindling away, you’re still curious how I managed to reduce such an intellectually superior man to a mere pile of drooling flesh? Price struggles to meet Wilfred’s eyes with his own. “You see, the only way to escape was to lull you—and your family, of course—into a false sense of safety. I made sure to behave extra well so you would take me outside and show me more of your wonderful home—excuse me, my wonderful home. Oh, the insufferable behavior I tolerated from those brats…I really did enjoy ‘disciplining’ them, something you obviously failed to do.” His laughter goes from a low chuckle to a devilish outburst. “Can you remember when you first started allowing me to use eating utensils? Look back to your cell once more and remember the window you looked up to every morning. That little bit of hope you had only because I allowed it. Once the puzzles became too easy, I turned my attention to a more challenging one…a way out. After several days of tampering with that window, using the forks, knives, and whatever the hell else you were so gracious to provide me with, I was able to escape. Of course, I couldn’t just up and leave, oh, no. I needed more of that medicine of yours before I left. I will admit, thinking, learning, speaking, and well, everything was so much easier and clearer after only about a week, but I couldn’t let you discover that I was improving so fast. I knew before I escaped, I had to find more of it. That’s when I happened across your study.” He takes a deep sigh. “I’m sorry, my study. I really need to work on that, don’t I?” Wilfred cleans his glasses once more before the procedure. “I saw everything—learned everything, I studied your recordings. Where do you think I learned how to speak so well? I will admit, you knew what you were doing with that formula of yours. So well in fact, that my mind had become unshackled from the constraints of an unfortunate birth. Every night, I explored. I stood over your bed. I watched you breathe. I watched you dream. I watched your wife toss and turn, depending on how warm or cool the bedroom was, and I must say, you both are extremely deep sleepers. Then I watched your children sleep. Those annoying, bratty, inconsiderate pests of yours. While watching you all dream, I dreamt also. I dreamt of all the wonderful ways I could kill each and every one of you. Drag a knife across your throats? Set your home ablaze? Smother and strangle your children? Yes, all of those thoughts eased me to sleep at night and I anticipated the day I could make those dreams reality. But then I realized I needed you for just a little bit longer.”
Wilfred picks up a very large, long, thick needle. “The further into your research I found myself, the more I was able to learn.” Wilfred approaches Price and grabs his jaw, forcing him to look him in the eyes. “An interesting note I came across in your study late one night, was about the medicine. I learned that the medication targets specific parts of the brain that are damaged or deteriorating. This deterioration inevitably leads to various…issues, if not death. When given to someone with that degree of brain damage, such as myself, it reverses that damage, repairing any decay.” He lets go of Price and walks back towards the table where all of his surgical tools are. “But, it has another effect…quite spectacular, really. When given to a person with no inherent genetic defects—such as the great Dr. Price—it affects the individual quite violently. Side effects may include,” he picks up a small mallet, “confusion, frustration, blurred vision, memory loss, fatigue, slurred speech…essentially replicating how I felt for all of my life.” Price smiles. “Up until now, of course.” Wilfred whistles a tune as he walks back over to Price, who has one eye half closed as he drools on himself, trying hard to stay conscious. “I’m sure you felt safe enough in the middle of the country to not concern yourself with proper home security. Who was even around to break in, after all? Once I’d figured out where you kept those wonderful little capsules, I started poisoning your water over a couple weeks with small doses. The powder inside them mixes perfectly with water, leaving no trace of contaminates. It wasn’t until one day, I seized my opportunity when you opened the cell to take me on another one of our strolls. It wasn’t hard, the medication had already taken a firm hold of you, so all I really had to do was give your head a good smack against the bars. And, well, I think you can guess what I did next if you remember the stains on my clothes in my first recording.” Wilfred ensures the contraption holding Price’s head in place is tightly secured as he glances back at a drawing of the human brain. “Then, I shoved those pills down your throat until you gagged. And then more. And more. And when you finally forgot who you were completely, I kept going.” The new Dr. Price aligns the needle with calculated precision.
“Don’t worry, these nasty thoughts will be gone soon enough. Because, unlike you, I am a benevolent doctor capable of mercy.” He begins moving the mallet back and forth over the nail, making sure he’ll hit it correctly first go, and smiles ever so widely, changing his tone to an upbeat, happy one. “We are going to change the world, you and I!” With one final swing of the mallet, the large needle is driven through the Price’s skull, causing him to shriek only for a moment. His screams fade into soft screeches, then softer yelps, and then to nothing as his mouth hangs open with drool dribbling out. His eyes, lost, hollow, and glazed over.
Today, Dr. Price successfully completes his first lobotomy on his first patient, Wilfred. The first of many, many more to come.
“Dr. Price, I think I speak for my colleagues when I say this is absolutely astonishing. These notes and records—well, they were quite something in themselves, but seeing the results of your work in the flesh is…” Another member of the medical board speaks up. “Yes, quite impressive. You said this man used to be a dangerous sociopath? Too dangerous to exist within society?” Dr. Price looks down at Wilfred and smiles. Wilfred continues to stare blankly off into space as he drools on his plain, white shirt.
“Absolutely, before I happened along this poor man, he suffered from delusions of granger, was controlling—manipulative almost, and had many violent tendencies. You see, they were going to put the man to death, and then I cured him--saved him.”
The board members whisper amongst themselves. An older man, probably the most senior member speaks up. “Dr. Price, this is revolutionary and absolutely remarkable work you’ve done here. If what you claim is true, then your studies could reshape how prisons, hospitals, and other institutions inoculate dangerous criminals, along with a great deal of other things. The possibilities are endless and far beyond anything I’ve seen in all my years acting as a member of this board.”
The woman chimes in. “Yes, and if what you say about what this man used to be like, how dangerous he was, this could be invaluable to psychiatric practices everywhere.” Dr. Price smiles with a sense of well-deserved achievement.
“I am so very glad you find this as groundbreaking as I do. And again, thank you for taking time out of your day for us. The funding the board has so graciously allotted me will allow me to delve even deeper into the mysteries of the human mind and body—perhaps one day, even the spirit of Man.” Price turns to Wilfred. “Time to go.” He says, yanking on the leash.
“One moment, I would like to ask his name.” Price turns around.
“Of course, It’s Wilfred.”
The younger man speaks up. “I think we’d all like to hear it from him. What’s your name, fellow?” The man asks Wilfred.
Staring off into the distance with hollow eyes, Wilfred drools on himself before he finally attempts to speak. Words, now almost impossible to grasp slip from him easily, but he manages to utter, “H-hhee-lp. M-mmm.” as he looks up at his doctor. The man desperately and painfully slurs, pleading with glossy, tear filled eyes, pointing a shaking, bony finger at his “benefactor.” Price looks at him furiously, afraid of being exposed for what he really is. The board members all look at each other, then back to Wilfred, and then finally direct their attention back to Price, and after several silent seconds, the woman speaks up.
“Doctor, I must say, your patient’s response…is shocking, to say the least.” Her gaze maintaining a studious and stern look as she removes her glasses, gently wiping away whatever filth may had been on the lenses. The woman then smiles as she stares at this tortured soul with starry eyes. “Nobody would help, or even give this man a chance, except for you. Dr. Price, you are a credit to the medical field and a role model for any exceptional minds ready to help change the world.” She turns her attention to Wilfred. “Yes, that’s right, he did help you, didn’t he? Maintaining a positive relationship with one’s patients is an admirable quality.” She smiles, along with the other members. “Keep up the good work, Dr. Price, and we look forward to seeing the results of any further research.” The other board members smile with her as they dismiss the two.
“Come now, friend.”
Lowering his head in both compliance and acknowledgement of his hopeless situation, Wilfred stands up, his legs shaking from malnutrition, and lets his leash guide him as he leaves the meeting with his doctor.
“No need to fret, not too much longer with this treatment of yours, and you’ll no longer feel resentment towards me.” Price pauses. “Or pain. Or suffering. Even hatred.” Price then smiles his usual, sadistic grin. “Or happiness. Love. Comfort. The warmth of another’s affection. You will come to know what I have lived with for so long. What more could such a curious mind wish for than to experience the very thing he has been obsessed with for so long firsthand? Come now, Wilfred, we have so, so much more work to do.”