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It was quiet – quiet, warm, and comfortable – a far cry from the hospital bed that Fleischer last remembered lying on.  When he finally pried his eyes open, he confirmed that he was in a bed, and, not even a hospital bed.  He was immediately treated to a piercing headache, though, and pressed a hand to his forehead, wincing.  There was no tug – no resistance from restraints, and that in and of itself was at least some reassurance.

No restraints, a regular bed, and – and a regular room?

Fleischer sat up quickly – and immediately regretted it.  He gave a small, uncomfortable groan, and covered his face with his hands as he waited for the room to stop spinning.  Once the world had stopped tilting and lurching, at least a little, he forced his eyes open again to get a proper look at the room.

It was about as far removed from the other places that Fleischer had woken up in as it could possibly get.  There were no ceiling tiles, or stark white walls, and the floor was covered in laminate wood – there was even a couch and a television set and, beyond a half-open door, a bathroom.  It looked more like an apartment than a hospital room, and it did little, if anything, to put the Medic at ease.

He finally thought to look himself over, as well, and threw the bedcovers aside so that he could do so.  The doctor was at least slightly relieved to see that he was dressed, albeit in a plain white cotton shirt and pants.  He wasn't surprised to see that his uniform was gone.  He was surprised, however, to see that he still appeared to be in one piece.  That didn't stop him from half-stumbling out of bed to check in the bathroom mirror, though.

Nothing was different.  Fleischer looked exactly as he had remembered himself.  There didn't seem to be even a single hair out of place, and that was part of what bothered him; everything appeared to be normal.  There had to be something, though – something he couldn't see, and he palpated his abdomen, and breathed slowly in and out, and tested all of his joints, and could find nothing added, or misplaced, or gone.

The Medic finally breathed a small sigh of relief, at that, and decided to start inspecting the room, instead.  It was well-furnished – aside from the couch, television, and bed, there was a wardrobe, a small table, a desk, and even a night stand with a little lamp on it.  They were quickly ignored, however, in favor of what appeared to be the exit.

There was nothing on the door to indicate that it could be opened from the inside, though – no handle, no knob, not even a card swipe – just an intercom set into the wall to the side of it.  Fleischer hesitated a moment before reaching for the device, and his finger hadn't quite pushed the button before it crackled to life, causing him to start just a little.  He was not surprised, however, to hear Isaac's voice come through.

"Doctor Fleischer," it started, cordial, as always.  "It's good to see you're finally awake.  Would you step back away from the door, please?"

As much as Fleischer would have liked to stay close to the door – to make a break for it when it opened – he knew that wasn't a viable option.  Escape wasn't likely when he didn't know where he was, never mind having nowhere to run to.  He stepped back several feet, then – far enough to make a quick run or leap to the door difficult, at best.

"Thank you," Isaac said, before the intercom crackled, and went out.  It wasn't long before the door opened with a hiss to reveal the man, himself – accompanied by a pair of armed guards.  The muscle remained just outside of the room, with another door – closed – behind them.  The fact that there was, at the very least, an airlock between the 'apartment' and freedom was not very comforting.

Doctor Davis seemed, naturally, unbothered by any of this.  He looked rather casual given the circumstances, leaning slightly against his cane and offering a little smile.  His expression, however, quickly melted into something considerably more serious, and even apologetic.  "I'm sorry we didn't inform you before moving you here," he started.  "You were sleeping like the dead, though, and I thought it might be a nice change of pace for you to wake up somewhere nicer."

Under more ordinary circumstances, it would have been a nice place to stay.  The room was plenty big, and well-furnished, and even had a window to let a little extra light in.  The window had no way of being opened, though, and the light filtering through the frosted glass wasn't quite right, somehow – and, the only exit from the room lay beyond an airlock.  It was nothing more than an exceptionally nice prison cell.

"You were out for almost thirty-six hours," Isaac said, once it was clear that no input from the Medic was forthcoming.  "I'm sure you are very hungry.  Is there anything you'd like to eat?  The cook staff here are quite talented."

Fleischer was silent for a long moment.  Insisting he wasn't hungry would be an outright lie, and he sure as hell wasn't going to be able to leave and get something to eat on his own.  "I can't say I have any particular preference, Herr," he started, "other than 'somezhing edible'."

That drew a small, amused chuckle from the older man.  "Do you like sauerbraten?  From what I understand, it's considered something of a delicacy in Germany."

"It is…" Fleischer replied with a small, thoughtful frown.  The meat was supposed to be marinated for days, though – not for a few minutes before it was cooked and served.  "And, I do.  I would… appreciate that, Herr," as much as he suspected it would be rather bland, given the short notice with which it was going to be prepared.  It was food, though – and, it at least seemed to be an effort at something that would be familiar to him.  

Isaac nodded quietly in reply.  "I'll see to it that your dinner gets here, soon, Doctor Fleischer.  Is there anything else you need?"

Fleischer could think of a lot of things – most of them being one variation or another on, 'some answers'.  He had the feeling, however, that if he did receive any, they would be evasive or vague at best.  "Nein," he finally replied in a rather subdued tone.

Doctor Davis regarded him for a moment, somewhat dubiously, before giving a little nod.  "Nurse Hayes will be along with your dinner, then, in a little while – and to administer an exam."

That didn't surprise the Medic very much.  Exams had been extremely regular since his arrival at the League facility.  The explanation that he was being checked for any kind of slow-onset degradation from his Respawn seemed legitimate enough, but, that didn't mean Fleischer had to like it.  He just nodded, though, and returned a quiet farewell that was offered to him by Isaac just before the man, and his guards, disappeared back through the airlock.

It was the airlock, perhaps, that disturbed Fleischer the most.  In the hospital room, he had at least been able to see out into a hallway when the door was opened.  It wasn't exactly like he had attacked anyone, or made an attempt to escape, either.  He couldn't help but wonder what had transpired in the last supposed thirty-six hours that merited increased security.

On the matter of security, there was also the issue of cameras – and searching for them offered Fleischer something to distract himself with.  It was difficult to look under and behind things, however, when every piece of furniture, barring the desk chair, was bolted to the floor.  The lamp was even attached to the surface of the nightstand, somehow.  He couldn't even find screws on the plates over the light switches that could be removed, or even worked loose.

He scoured the room for what seemed like an hour, but, it was hard to be certain without a clock.  The Medic was still in the middle of his search, in fact, when the intercom crackled to life so that Nurse Hayes could announce her arrival.

The nurse, as always, smiled at him as she walked in and, as always, was not accompanied by any guards.  "Hello, Doctor Fleischer," she greeted, before setting the tray she was carrying on the table in front of the couch.  "There was a dinner today for some of the head medical staff – we asked the cooks to make sure there was extra," she stated with a little smile.

A dinner planned in advance would certainly give whoever was making the meal plenty of time to properly prepare it.  That would explain, then, why the sauerbraten looked and smelled so good, and, when the Medic finally sat down and had a bite, why it tasted so good, as well.  He hadn't realized how hungry he was until he started eating, which he couldn't help but feel a little guilty for, with Nurse Hayes sitting and waiting for him.  It only made him feel slightly better when she insisted that it was fine and, really, he should take his time.

Fleischer, nevertheless, wound up eating a little faster than he usually would have.  As nice as his nurse was, he wanted his exam to be over with as quickly as possible.  Nurse Hayes did not, fortunately, have a tendency to draw out exams.  Fleischer couldn't help but notice, however, that her hands felt warmer than he remembered.

"Everything looks good," the nurse said with a little smile, draping her stethoscope back over her shoulders.  "Is there anything you need, Doctor Fleischer?" she asked.

There was nothing, however, that Fleischer could think of – no valid excuse to ask her to stay just a little longer.  She probably, after all, had other patients to get to.  "Uh… no… thank you," he finally replied.

"Alright, doctor," Hayes said, smiling a little once again as she picked up the empty tray.  "If you do need anything, just use the intercom.  And," she continued, "make sure to get plenty of rest.  It's getting late, and you're still recovering."

Fleischer nodded in reply, and offered a quiet farewell as the nurse took her leave.  A glance to the window revealed that it was getting dark outside, as odd as the remaining daylight looked.  He couldn't even pin down what, exactly, was so odd about it.  He tried not to think about it too much as he slipped into the bathroom, and he couldn't help but be more than a little surprised that he could actually lock the bathroom door.  He realized, of course, that the lock was probably only for his peace of mind – there would be nothing, he was sure, to keep his 'benefactors' from opening the door if they wanted.

The thought that there were very probably cameras watching was something that the Medic tried to push far from his conscious mind as he stripped.  It took considerably longer than he wanted, too, because his fingertips felt a little tender, and it almost hurt to grasp anything very firmly.  Removing his clothes, then, was a somewhat delicate affair.

As obsessively clean and tidy as Fleischer was, however, he felt little joy in stepping into a shower.  He took solace in the fact, then, that he had a whole private bathroom to himself.  It was better than having to share a row of stalls with a whole team, and it was, of course, immensely preferable to the open community showers in the labor camp.  The thought of the latter made him shudder, and lead to him even starting a little when the cold water hit.

Thankfully, the water warmed up in a hurry, and the warmth was enough to get Fleischer to start to relax, even if only a little.  He washed quickly, and thoroughly, and suddenly realized that once he was done he had just wound up standing under the warm spray.  He quickly snapped the water off, and grabbed a towel.  He didn't even try to pretend that he wasn't in a hurry to get dried off and dressed.

There was no more light coming through the window by the time Fleischer finally emerged from the bathroom, and the bed was looking awfully inviting.  He made one last sweep of the room, though, trying to spot any sign of a camera, or a listening device.  It was a fruitless search, though, and he finally decided to turn out the lights and retire to bed.

The Medic hardly fell asleep when his head hit the pillow, though.  His body was tired, but his mind refused to sleep.  There was a lot to think about, and very little of it, if any, was very comforting.  It seemed obvious, really, that he wasn't just being kept and monitored for his health, and it was to the daunting question of 'why?' that he finally dozed off.

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…

KlayBird Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014
Woah, I guess the League(s) main research facility (I assume that's where they now have Dr. Fleischer) must be quite extensive. They probly have others who have gone through respawn by now but yeah Fleischer would be really unique! I hope he gets out and we can learn more of the facility. [Insert "Tune in next time" mysterious music]
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