“That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.” – Bhagavad Gita
“Twenty-four millimeters. And it’s beating regularly.”
Francis Hart couldn’t believe what he just heard. He had been working on growing a human heart in the lab. Cells he put in Petri dishes had grown into beating blobs of tissue, which usually die off after a few days.
That was what it was just yesterday, but this morning it had actually grown into a tiny beating heart the size of a strawberry.
Francis asked Brian, his assistant, to look up who the cells were taken from. It’s usually people who donated their bodies to science – their bodies going under the scrutiny of medical students and researchers.
“Dr Hart? The record only says ‘John Doe’.”
“Stop the experiment we have now. We still have stem cells from this John Doe. Put them in a bigger container. I want to see how big this thing can grow outside the human body.”
The best heart transplant surgeon in the world, and one of the most successful medical researchers. That’s what the magazines said; what the collection of awards from medical conferences said. An unfortunate coincidence that he himself was dying of an incurable heart disease. Truth is, Francis was doing all of it for an entirely selfish reason. He had a plan: If he could grow a working heart in the lab, he could use it himself.
“I have a bad feeling about this, Dr Hart. It feels like I’m playing god a little. And this… this is not normal,” Brian looked at the petri dish with a look of fear and disgust.
Francis scoffed at Brian, “Your ‘feeling’ is not rational. It’s baseless. Imagine what we can contribute to science. To humanity!”
Brian shrugged, “I’ll go inject it with some cyanide.”
But it wouldn’t die. The heart was still beating. Five days later, it became a fully-formed human heart.
The team of surgeons was four hours into transplanting Francis’ new heart when Francis opened his eyes, breathing heavily.
“Oh shit. Give him a little bit more, we’re just stitching him up now.”
“Uh.. something’s not right, Doc. His readings are all over the place.”
The anaesthesiologist heard a scream, a loud crash and when she turned her head to see what happened, she saw Francis, who twenty minutes ago was on the operating table with his chest open, standing up and beating one of the surgeons to death. Francis then grabbed a scalpel and in one single practiced movement slashed open the necks of two nurses who were standing side-by-side, frozen by fear. That night Francis escaped the hospital, leaving a trail of bodies.
Brian saw the report on the news and raced his car down to the lab. He muttered under his breath.
“I knew it. I knew it! It wouldn’t have turned out well. It’s just too good to be true. That heart must have something to do with this. Dr Hart never listens to me.”
He had been doing some digging on John Doe since that day in the lab, with no luck. Now he was even more eager for answers. Brian spent hours sifting through his stack of notes and medical records – he wasn’t the most organised person and he’s starting to regret it. Worse, he had now run out of coffee.
“Might as well take a drive to Starbucks,” he thought. “A break might help.”
Just as he was putting on his coat, it struck him: Bodies of death row prisoners were donated to the hospital.
Brian scrambled to his work station and searched the city’s newspaper archive online. Thirty-first April. That was when the hospital received John Doe’s body.
He saw the headline:
The end of THORAX: level-5 supervillain executed.