Dr. Zreech Nuang had a mind of a genius. I had always envied his assiduous and unwavering personality. This was back in the year 1998, when he dedicatedly and laboriously finished building his secret lab. One day he called me- his former assistant, to check his lab and help him with his covert projects. When he led me to a tool shed in Block-16, I was disappointed as I expected it to be his lab. But then he directed me inside and slid the enormous wooden trap door that rested right at the center of the floor of the otherwise empty room. I followed him down the stairs leading to a lab at the basement. It was- I’m not exaggerating- extravagant! What a stark contrast from the outer ragged appearance of the shed. The lab was huge and brightly lit with many small transparent doors along its walls. The equipment looked nothing short of the ones in the National Laboratory. I remember him telling me that he was the pioneer of this operation and had obtained funds from Athican National Research and Development Institute.
He described the experiments which he was planning to begin and honestly I was both impressed and disgruntled at his detrimental intentions. The man had a vision for our future which was overwhelming and I decided to abide with his instructions. This was, according to him, a small price to pay for the overall welfare.
I was instructed to bring 5 street kids; two girls and three boys, all between the ages 11-13. The children hesitated to come with me initially, but as they were homeless and had strayed farther from their parents in search of food, I could lure them easily with some money. I briefed them about visiting a doctor who would give them food and clothes, but I could still sense the fear and apprehension in their silent, defenseless eyes as they walked next to me.
The awe they felt looking at the underground lab was short lived and was immediately replaced with pure horror as the doctor pushed each child separately into a small cupboard sized room with transparent door. The transparent doors I later realized were one-way glasses. We could clearly see the children trapped inside the room, mute, three of them crying, but unfortunately the children could not see us. They were locked in dark rooms with air vents and no contact with the outside world whatsoever.
I turned to Dr. Nuang and noticed him watch them with a subtle smile. At that instance I wondered if he was insane but was quick to shun away a shudder which tried to creep within me.
An hour passed after we locked the children in the chambers, I could not keep myself from looking at the reactions of the trapped children. They had stopped crying and pounding on the doors realizing the futility of their actions. The two girls both about 13 years old had curled up and were lying down helplessly. The youngest of the boys was asleep and the other two stood against the wall watching the door expecting it to open any minute. Dr. Nuang had ordered me to keep a watch and observe the behavior of the children while he got busy setting up different apparatuses and preparing chemicals.
After about two more hours, I shoved plates of food into their cells which they ate hungrily. The begging and pleading, as I had expected grew as soon as I had opened the door to let them out to use a common bathroom at the far corner. They were again confined back into their cells in the same way. I could see the look of helplessness and devastation on their tear-stained faces as I was shutting the one-way glass door. After sometime one boy started clawing at the wall of the lab and as the noise traveled to other cells, all the children followed suit and started clawing at their respective walls unaware that we were watching their behavior. Little did they know about the horror that awaited them!
Dr. Nuang looked on irritably for some time and then asked me to turn on the button which released gasses into the cells through vents. The children were sedated 10 minutes later.
The children woke up next day afternoon. I could see that they were tired and most of them looked confused, maybe they were wondering where they were. The resigned look on their faces had a stark similarity with the look on the face of a middle aged man who stared at me from the mirror.
Once the children were fed, I got one girl and boy out of their cells and made them kneel in front of the doctor. They had both started crying instantly as they saw him walk up to them in a white coat with a syringe in hand. He asked them not to be afraid as the injection will cure them of all worries. He touched the tip of the needle at the base of the boy’s neck and injected a syringe full of Carizinone. He did the same with the girl too. Immediately the two dropped down flat on their faces.
The drug was invented by Dr. Nuang a month ago. He claimed that the by-product of the drug was very potent in the cure of ‘Ahora morbus’ (meaning horror disease) which was a devastating pandemic caused by a parasite thriving in poor hygienic conditions. It had proliferated across many countries, killing millions, and now threatened to infect our country as well. When infected with the parasite, the person does not show any symptoms until 10 days, after which in his last two days, the man just drops down all of a sudden into a comatose state as the parasitic worms of about 1 inch long reach his brain and skull. They then swiftly start chewing their way out through the openings in his face like eyes, nose and ears. The death of the person is rapid, unavoidable and irremediable making it the most dreaded disease in the world.
We suspended the two by their hands on an overhead bar with hinges, screwed up on the wall opposite to our worktable, so that they faced us as we worked on our experiments. We discovered that Carizinone reacts with the bile juice to create a by-product which could be used in making a vaccination against the Ahora Morbus.
After about two hours the boy woke up slowly and started hyperventilating. When I poured some energy drink in his mouth he began vomiting; greenish yellow bile fell down his ragged and unwashed shirt, most of it still stuck to his mouth. He tried to spit it but the sticky bile did not give way. He wailed loudly and I wondered what hurt him more- the vomiting, his hands being tied above his head for a long period or the humiliation he suffered.
We were occupied in testing his vomit sample but occasionally my mind would waver to the 3 children locked in the rooms who were cowering in a small corner of the already small compartment. The girl who was also drugged had not gotten up since the injection so I threw a mug of water on her face. She stirred, but just a little. I was glad she was alive and responded to stimuli.
Also read: 2 minute’s kiss
Dr. Nuang was visibly upset. The boy tied next to her fixed his extremely terrorized gaze on him as he stomped toward the girl. The doctor oblivious to it handed me a small box. He turned to the girl and slapped her hard. She stirred a bit but was still groggy and had not fully opened her eyes. With a solid expression he asked me to open his box and hand me a needle. I acted on it promptly. He picked up the needle which was almost as long as the needle of a syringe; pulled the girl’s eyelid between his thumb and forefinger and without a warning pierced it right in middle. There was a heart wrenching scream from the little girl as her eyes flew open with the sharp pain. The needle passed over her pupil and rested on her cheek opening her left eye. Her eye looked grotesque with the needle and the blood dripping down her eye. I turned away as he mercilessly followed suit with her other eye as well. My bile rose up in my throat but I quickly gulped it down. That was the first time I realized that I was terrified of him.
The girl was now howling in pain, blood dripping from her eyes which were denied mercilessly from closing shut. Her screaming seemed to infuriate him more. He pressed her cheek hard opening her mouth and forced down three tablets of Carizinone down her throat with a lot of water, almost choking her. Turning toward the boy he attached a feed bag around his mouth to collect his vomit. He then asked me to bring out another boy from the cell and despite his protests we tied him up next to the vomiting boy in the same way. The doctor administered another chemical isolated from the first boy’s vomit, into this boy. He wanted to test the antibodies he said. Once done, he turned to me and gave me the in-charge of the kids and the lab before he headed out. I broke out in a cold sweat as I could not fathom how I would manage all this alone. One look around made it evident that I was surrounded by a resigned form of mayhem.
All of a sudden everything seemed to happen at once; the girl started twitching violently, the first boy making dreadful sounds of throwing up in his bag and the second seeing the two started screaming and thrashing about at his chains. My frantic heart could not decipher all this and I took a rod lying nearby and started beating the three kids like a mad man to evoke much louder screams. I beat them till I was out of breath and energy. I was panic-stricken at the outcome of my violent outburst. The girl had stopped twitching and stood still, mouth and eyes gaping wide, small white worms crawled out through her mouth. I crept up closer to her to find that more worms were chewing their way of her tender flesh around the base of her jaw. The sight was so grotesque I had to clamp down my fist on my mouth to stifle what would have been a blood curdling scream. I was crying violently standing in front of the three as the first boy continued vomiting loudly and the second boy kept looking side to side with his wide horror filled eyes. The chemical extracted from the vomit started showing its effects and he began nervously chewing on his cheek and lips with such sheer ferity that I wanted to escape the horror of witnessing a man chewing himself alive. I wanted to protect myself from this mayhem. The safest place I could find was the cell next to the ones where the remaining two kids had been imprisoned.
I got into the cell and crouched myself into its safety and silence. I don’t know how long I had stayed there hugging myself and crying like a man gone insane, when the cell door was opened by a man towering above me with a smirk plastered on his face.
Dr. Nuang asked me to get up and follow him and I followed him in trance. I kept my gaze lowered to the ground as I did not want to witness the misery all over again. The room was oddly silent. He stopped in front of something that looked like a couple of stretchers. He started describing his next experiment to me and forced me to look at the other boy and girl who had been locked in their respective cells along with me. They were held tightly in place on the stretchers with metal cuffs that held at their ankles and at the shoulder arm junction. Both looked sedated with their hands crossed on their chest.
I was tired of the torture he was putting the young children through but was too scared to raise a concern. I turned to the Doctor with a blank look, cleverly disguising the horror I was going through underneath. He described his next experiment and I knew that the suffering imposed on the children would play a second fiddle when compared to the execution that I had to witness. At least they were spared from watching it.
As instructed I brought out the power saw with sterilized blade, turned on the power and as the blade spun in motion, I advanced first toward the boy. Beads of perspiration covered my face and my body was wet with sweat. Dr. Nuang was holding the boys limp palm and stretched it tensely outward from the stretcher holding it perpendicular to his body. I lifted the saw and with one stroke I severed the child’s hand off. Blood spattered across our faces. And the severed a limb which was cut at the forearm lay twitching in the doctor’s hand. He immediately wrapped the amputated body part in sterile gauze moistened with sterile saline solution and covered the boy’s wound with pressure dressing.
The same was followed with the sedated girl on another stretcher. I wondered if I was already insane to be carrying out this inhumane task. But without hesitation I cut off the young girl’s delicate hand at the same as marked by the doctor. Blood spurted obscenely and we were covered in blood and a considerable amount entered my mouth. I fell down shivering with the saw next to me. But there was no going back. I had done something unforgivable. The doctor dressed the open bleeding wound of the girl in the same way- as though the children were mere lab rats and not humans.
I barely had time to collect myself when the doctor started switching the two amputated arms. He set to stitch the girl’s cut limb to the boy’s arm. To my dismay the horror did not end with just amputating the body parts; I had to even assist him with the transplant surgery which required attaching first the bones and then the vessels and nerves. I had never seen what happened behind the ICU of a hospital, but this scene uncovered the barbaric side of the hospital. I had a flashback of my college lab where a dead rat lay on my table and I stood perspiring over it with a scalpel in hand.
The grueling task lasted about 6 hours, but time seemed to inch by painfully slow. In the foregoing turn of events I had completely forgotten about the three kids tied to the iron bar at the far end of the wall. I scrambled over to them. The girl who had died was nowhere to be found. The boy with feed bag on was no longer vomiting and his body had slackened. I wondered if he was alive. The other boy tied next to him provided a ghastly picture. He had chewed away his cheek in a manner where I could see his bloodied molars. Mangled blood ridden flesh hung loosely around his jaws. I could see he was breathing heavily. But he had stopped chewing. I realized they had been deprived of food and water from a long time. I will surely go to hell for chickening out to go near and give them as much as a drop of water.
Also read: A midnight encounter
As I was looking at them apathetically, I heard a grim commotion above us. I was still in a haze wondering if this was how hell looked, when we heard loud banging on the sliding trapdoor above. It was then that I assumed that this had to be my most scary instance. With a loud crash I heard the trapdoor give away- then the footsteps and then more commotion. I felt a punch on my face and I remember nothing of that night.
Next day I woke up all alone in a dingy cell with bars and a horrible stench of urine and human excreta. I was shocked and I screamed. I saw men in uniform march toward me and beat me. I blacked out.
Next day I woke up aware of my surroundings. I mustered up the courage to ask the man who came to give me breakfast, “Why am I here?”
The man snorted a sarcastic chuckle and replied, “After murdering four children you have the audacity to ask the question. Only the girl with a boy’s arm was able to survive the trauma. You are quite a beast!” and he walked away with an indescribable expression- a mixture of contempt, disgust and disbelief.
I found out later that Dr. Nuang was in an asylum as he was termed mentally unstable and was scheduled to undergo treatment.
17 years later
It’s been 17 years since I’ve been serving this sentence. I will be released in a week. Two days back I demanded the guard to give me a book and a pen as I wanted to write. Actually I have been waiting to share this story with someone, anyone. I cannot live with this secret any more. Last week I received a letter.
“Thank you for never leaving my side.
My final request to you before they hang me (which would be in a week)
-finish what we had started.
I knew what he had wanted me to accomplish. I have never felt this lonely in all the years I’ve spent in jail. I must be insane to be ready to continue the experiments again. This is actually the most scared I have ever felt. But I can’t forsake it.