Part Seventeen: The
The trip to Electropolis was short and uneventful. Within a few urai, the transport had stopped
at the hospital. Jack was wheeled into
his windowless room and hooked up to the equipment already there.
“Hello, Mister Jones,” a yellow-skinned man with
dark hair greeted him once he was settled.
“I am Doctor Soto. I will be
monitoring your progress during your stay here in Electropolis.”
“Nice to meet you,” Jack returned the greeting.
“It is nice to meet you, too,” Doctor Soto
said. “How are you
feeling?” Jack noticed the doctor
had a strange, metallic glove over one hand as he retrieved the chart at the
end of Jack’s bed.
“Fine,” Jack replied.
“Hmm,” the doctor said as he examined the
chart. “Very good. It seems the little bit extra we put into
your travelling medicine has done its job.
Also, your little adventure on the way here has had some unexpected
benefits.” He put the chart back
and turned his attention to Jack.
“Your lungs are looking and sounding much better than they did in
New Sydney according to your chart. We may
not have to do as much there as we had anticipated.” He pulled a stethoscope out of his pocket and
put it into his ears. “We’ll run a
few tests in the next few days to see what exactly is going on there. Okay?”
“Sure,” Jack said as the doctor helped him sit
forward and put the cold diaphragm of the stethoscope against Jack’s back.
“Deep breath, please,” Doctor Soto instructed
Jack inhaled as much as he could then exhaled.
“And another,” the doctor said as he moved the
stethoscope to the other side of Jack’s back.
Jack took another deep breath then released it.
good to me,” Doctor Soto said as he replaced the stethoscope into his
pocket. “So, I doubt a full lung
replacement is going to be necessary. On
the other hand, your heart is a different matter which we need to
“Yes?” Jack said as he laid back.
“Well, you see, Jack … May I call you Jack?”
Doctor Soto asked.
“Sure,” Jack replied.
“Well, you see, Jack, we have to do something about
your heart. According to the reports we
got from New Sydney, the muscle itself is wearing out and the valves don’t open
and close like they should,” the doctor explained. “Now, we can go in and try surgery to correct
the valve issue, and we have medications which may strengthen your heart which
we can add to your current regimen, but all of that is only temporary. You would have to take the medicine for the
rest of your life, and we may end up having to increase the dosage as time
passes. The main reason we brought you
to Electropolis, however, is to try something radical.”
“Yeah?” Jack said.
“Yes,” Doctor Soto smiled as he brought out his
gloved right hand. “As you may have
noticed, my hand is a little bit different.
You see, it is a fully functional artificial prosthesis.” He held out his hand for Jack to examine,
turning it and flexing the fingers. He
clenched his fist several times then set his hand on the bed as he sat down on
the edge. “All of this is thanks to
the innovative medical technology the Technarch has brought to Shivek Nage and
the world of Niersala. Even as the
Technarch has given me my hand back, we want to do the same thing for you. If you are willing, we want to replace your
heart with a fully functional artificial one which will never wear out or cause
you any trouble, barring some sort of catastrophic trauma, of course.”
“Hmm,” was all Jack could think to say.
“Yes,” the doctor continued. “We were thinking we would have to
replace your lungs as well, even as the Technarch himself has had done, which
is why I think he has taken such a personal interest in your case. But with the improvements we have seen, that
may not be necessary. We could still
replace one lung, or even just a part of one, to see how you do, but that would
be up to you, of course.”
“Of course,” Jack agreed hesitantly.
“So, what do you think?” the doctor asked. “Do you want a temporary solution that
keeps you on medication for the rest of your life, or do you want the
artificial heart and/or lung?”
Jack just sat there, his head swimming with the
possibilities and implications of what Doctor Soto had just told him.
“Don’t answer right now,” the doctor said as he
stood. “We will give you a couple
of jer to think about it. I’ll be back
then for your answer. For now, just
relax and let the hospital staff take care of you.”
“Okay,” Jack said with a smile.
Doctor Soto left, and a nurse entered with a tray of
food. Jack thanked her as she left, then
a technician came in to check on Jack’s respirator and other machines. Jack picked at his food while the technician
worked. He put on his respirator mask
when the technician offered it to him with a hand which looked very much like
the hand of Doctor Soto.
“Does everyone here have artificial parts?” he
wondered. Jack breathed deeply of the
filtered air and thought about what the doctor had said. Eventually, he fell asleep, his meal
untouched and his mind troubled.