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Fleischer slowly blinked his eyes.  It was hard to force them open – to wake from his drugged sleep.  He couldn't count the number of times he'd been dragged to the operating room in the last several weeks.  He didn't want to, either.

His days had been set into a routine that never seemed to change.  Wake up, exercise, take a shower, eat breakfast, and brush his teeth.  The days were starting to blend together, and he was utterly helpless to stop them.  Even his meals were starting to lose variety – raw or barely-cooked meat.  Fleischer had surrendered his meals to the part of his brain that craved the way they were being served.

Fleischer had received a blank journal from Doctor Davis a few weeks ago, to 'write his thoughts in.' It was entirely possible that it was the younger doctor's only solace.  Writing and sketching on its pages was a reminder that he could still think, and had served as a useful, if fleeting distraction from the position he was in.

He sat up, and thumbed slowly through its pages – through his worries, and his confessions.  He had admitted to countless sins through ink and paper, all written meticulously in his mother tongue.  Fleischer had sometimes, upon waking, caught the scent of someone else on his journal.  Davis's scent was there, of course.  It was light, though, as though he had barely handled it.  There was another scent, though; the unfamiliar scent of someone who had doubtlessly gone through each page.

There was surely nothing worth noting in the journal's pages that the League didn't already know about.  Fleischer knew they were aware of his 'employment' by the Reich.  They probably knew exactly what his rank had been, and which camp he had been stationed at.

Fleischer had spilled much more personal matters onto its pages, though.  He'd had such a clear dream as a child; growing up to be a great doctor, like his grandfather.  He'd dreamed of healing the sick and mending the injured.  Instead he'd let a frightened horse back a hops-laden cart over his father and grandfather.  He'd let them die, and he'd let his uncle take over his life.  He'd let the man cow him into the joining the Reich.  He hadn't been there to stop the man from hitting his son, and driving Lukas and Sofia away.

He had dreamed of improving the human condition, and instead he'd worked in a prestigious hospital under a government that ordered sterilizations, and euthanasia.  He had dreamed of saving lives, and instead, he'd murdered his uncle – but, only after he had allowed himself to be pushed into the Nazi Party by the man.

Fleischer  had seen the worst that human beings had to offer their fellow man, and he had taken part in it.  He had prolonged the suffering of countless German citizens in that camp, and he had spent long days quarrying stone side-by-side with starving men in the brutal winters of Stalingrad.

He had jumped at the job offer from the League – it would mean three square meals a day, a roof over his head, and even a salary.

Fleischer hadn't been able to bring himself to complain about his treatment from the League since his fateful Respawn.  He had destroyed their hold at the Well base – of course they weren't going to return him to field duty.  Perhaps, he thought, not for the first time, he was finally getting what he deserved.  His dreams had drawn to an end long ago, and he didn't have the will to cling to the last remaining shreds any longer.

He would live on, though.  He would live on to be poked, and prodded, and thoroughly studied.  Davis's proclamation that the genetic changes would likely increase his lifespan brought Fleischer no glee.

He suddenly paused and looked down, only to realize that he had been idly writing as he had daydreamed.

God, please forgive me.  God, please forgive me.  God, please forgive me.

Nearly the entire page had been filled.  The script had grown larger and more frantic as it moved from top to bottom.  Fleischer stared at it for several minutes before closing the journal, and haphazardly tossing it back onto the desk.  Usually he would start his morning exercises, but, he couldn't will himself to stand, or even to move.  He finally started a little when he heard the sound of the airlock opening.  Nobody ever came through the airlock without announcing themselves…

…except, apparently, Nurse Hayes.  Not just Nurse Hayes, either.

"Beschützer…" Fleischer said, suddenly feeling frozen in place as he watched the nurse walk closer.

"Good morning, Doctor Fleischer," she greeted, offering a small smile.  She had a seat on the couch, and placed a covered tray – and the bear – on the coffee table.  Hayes patted the cushion next to her.

Fleischer hesitated a moment before finally closing the distance.  He hadn't seen Hayes in months, and was almost as afraid to scare her away as he had been when he'd had tentacles.  He finally took a seat next to her, and barely stopped himself from snatching up Beschützer.

"I brought you some dinner, Doctor Fleischer."  Hayes removed the lid from the tray, revealing a meal of well-marinated sauerbraten.  It was the first cooked meal he'd seen in well over three months.  Given the bittersweet smile on the nurse's face, he had the feeling it would also be his last.

"Thank you," Fleischer finally whispered, unable to stop tears from welling in his eyes.  For once, he did not offer an apology as he began to eat his meal, savoring every bite.  It tasted just as wonderful as it smelled.  It was gone all too quickly, though, and Hayes was thanked again as she handed over Beschützer.

Fleischer hugged the bear close, and couldn't stop himself from sniffling.  He didn't have the energy to sob, though.  He didn't flinch, or draw away when he saw Nurse Hayes slip a pair of capped syringes out from her sleeve.

"The Respawn system is offline today, for maintenance," she said, softly, offering another bittersweet smile as she uncapped one of the syringes.  "Isaac and his staff are at a meeting."

Fleischer managed another quiet, "thank you," before sniffling, again.  He hugged Beschützer close to his chest with one arm, and offered the other to Hayes.  He didn't flinch when the needle pierced the vein, nor when the plunger was depressed.  The syringe, small though it was, had been filled to the top.  Its contents were soon emptied into the Medic's bloodstream.

Hayes offered him another small, gentle smile as she withdrew the needle, and pressed a cotton ball against the crook of Fleischer's elbow just long enough to stop the bleeding.  Her patient's arm was soon freed up to wrap back around the bear.

Fleischer didn't bother to try and guess what kind of drug was in the first syringe – or in the second, still capped and waiting on the table.  His eyelids felt heavy, and so did the rest of him.  He murmured a quiet thanks as Nurse Hayes drew him closer, so his head could rest on her shoulder.

Things felt better that way – him hugging Beschützer, and the nurse hugging him.  Fleischer could find nothing to worry about, no matter how hard he tried.  His breathing was growing slow, and so was the beating of his hearts.  It was of no consequence, though.  Everything was peaceful in a way he'd never felt, before.  Everything was warm, and white, and beautiful…

"Rest well, Doctor Fleischer."  One last, bittersweet smile pulled at Nurse Hayes' features as Fleischer's body went limp against hers with a slow, shuddering sigh.
All right, folks, here it is... the end! Thank you all for taking the time to read, and if you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them. If you hated it, that's fine, just tell me why so I can improve!

This story is actually a couple of years old. I was feeling very nostalgic and decided to pick it up and re-read it, and I wound up realizing that it had actually been very well-written. This was also my first real attempt at a horror/thriller piece. I'm posting on here, now, because along with being nostalgic, I would also appreciate any thoughts or critique on it. I wrote this not too long after I published Bedside Manner, and haven't really written up anything particularly longer than drabble, since.

Post-Modern Prometheus is a sort of alternative/hypothetical sequel to First Do No Harm… and Comorbidity…

If you want to delve into the back story, I would definitely recommend reading FDNH before Comorbidity. Both of those stories are relatively old, though, and I feel like I have improved my writing and characterization a great deal since then. As a result, if you do like Doctor Fleischer, or my writing in general (which, if you do, thank you very much - my main hope when I post my writing is that people will get some enjoyment out of it) then consider picking up my book, Bedside Manner, in paperback or on the Kindle…

Fair warning, though, this being a horror/thriller piece, expect some disturbing content, though I am not really prone to using a great deal of blood and/or gore.

As a final note, the thumbnail image is in the Public Domain, and was downloaded from Pixabay…

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KlayBird Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2014
Awwwww!!! *CRIES!!*
They finally can't hurt him any more! At least he was mostly back to normal, but still....
I somehow thought that if there was a chance he and nurse hayse would of escaped together. *shrug*
So now we say goodbye to our beloved Dr Fleischer who has finally found peace, thanks to Nurse Hayes.
I'm glad ~someone~ gave him some mercy. Hope she can get out of there and cover her trail before 'they' find the telling what Davis is capeable of doing with access to the League's resourceses!
Just thinking what a madman scientist would do to a person on finding out his favourite 'toy' was dead.

Anyways, I very much enjoyed the ride, will there be any more pics of Dr. Fleischer like 'before' 'during' and 'after'? Just wondering.
Eat it up, wear it out. Make it do or do without.
Curiousity killed the cat, Satisfaction brought it back.
Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear.
Save the Earth, it's the only planet with chocolate!
When in doubt, FRAG OUT!!
shadowfire-x Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm really glad you enjoyed it! Like I said, though, this story is actually two years old. I might have a couple sketches of tentaFleischer lying around on my hard drive, somewhere. I am planning on posting another fic, though, albeit a very short one... just a little drabble regarding Dr. Engel.
KlayBird Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2014
Oooo! Going to be interesting since, if I remember correctly (?) the last we saw of him he either didn't make it through respawn and/or was waaaay worse off than Fleischer....
Go for it!
Man, so many people doing so much writing, why can't my muse work with me like that?
Guess I'll just have to sit back and enjoy all the cool stories. ;)
shadowfire-x Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, in TF2verse canon, at least, Engel died just after Respawn had been activated, so he did make it.
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September 29, 2014
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